Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who would you choose?

Last year the Milwaukee Brewers gave up top hitting prospect Matt LaPorta in the C.C. Sabathia swap. It was a good trade without a doubt for both teams, the Brewers made the postseason and LaPorta immediately became the Indians top prospect. That's old news though.

LaPorta was sent down today and the Brewers new top-hitter, Mat Gamel has seen playing time mostly against right-handed pitching. In my mind, as well as in the minds of many Brewers fans, these two hitters will always be linked. One the Crew kept, one they didn't. So let's lay out the facts and compare two very good young players.

Mat Gamel is left-handed and has shown good pop since his call-up, hitting his first major league home run in his second at-bat. Through the minors he's looked like an all fields hitter and batted .306 coming into the season. Good left-handed bats are hard to find, especially ones that can play every day, against lefties in the minors this year he hit .425 with five of his eight home runs. Defensively Gamel's not going to win any gold gloves, but neither is LaPorta.

Matt LaPorta
has big-time power from the right side. He was well known in the baseball world well before being drafted for the moonshot home-runs he hit in college and high school. He raked through the minors before playing in the Olympics last season, then raked for the Indians Triple-A affiliate before he got his call-up. LaPorta's got massive power and will, by many accounts, be a star in the show.

By the numbers: Neither player received regular playing time, and the Indians think they are still contending which is probably why LaPorta was sent down. Comparing what they have done though, in 21 career at-bats Gamel has three doubles, one homer and driven in five. He's also struck-out seven times and walked just once.

LaPorta managed 42 at-bats before being sent down. He had one homer, one double and four driven in. That's one less double and one less RBI than Gamel. He walked four times though and did manage to swipe a couple of bases.

Gamel will only see playing time against right-handed pitchers and only as long as Bill Hall continues to struggle. The Brewers next interleague road series is June 15 when they play against the Indians and follow it up with three at the Tigers. Might we see the Crew matchup against their former top prospect? Doubtful. But don't expect Gamel to stay on the bench too long after that.

It was a no-brainer for the Brewers to give up LaPorta, they didn't have a place for him to play and needed both a left-handed bat and a third baseman. Gamel fit both those needs.

But if you had to pick between these two hitters which would you take? I'd take Gamel, a good left-handed bat is too hard to pass up.

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