When Mark Attanasio visited the Fox Sports Wisconsin booth a little less than two weeks ago, it was pretty clear changes would come following his next meeting with Doug Melvin & Co. He wasn’t happy with the way the Brewers were playing, and that was before the team tied a club record for single-month futility by going 6-22 in May.
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised with the flurry of moves on the first weekday in June, but there’s still a lot to take in. The short version of everything: Mike Fiers was sent back down to the minors following Sunday’s disaster start in Philadelphia, Alex Gonzalez was given his outright release, Scooter Gennett was called up from Nashville, and 3B/PH Juan Francisco was acquired from Atlanta for minor league LHRP Thomas Keeling.
Get all of that?
The Gennett move will grab most of the headlines. Rickie Weeks has shown small signs of breaking out of his season-long slump, hitting .267/.313/.333 over the past 10 games, but has seen his playing time gradually decrease. Jeff Bianchi, hitting .269/.283/.365 in 52 ABs this season, hasn’t been much (if any) better.
Gennett has been one of the most-talked-about prospects in a pretty mediocre Brewers farm system. Hitting .297/.342/.376 for Nashville this year, it’s hard to imagine the Brewers bringing him up to sit on the bench in Gonzalez’s old utility role. Gennett is a contact hitter, but won’t hit for much — if any — power, if you couldn’t tell from the .719 OPS in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Only 11 of his 60 hits this season have gone for extra bases, and his career high for walks in a season is 31 in Low-A. Despite his dimuntive stature (the 5’10″ listing on baseball-reference is generous), he’s not fast and not a gifted defender.
Basically, he’s probably not the savior for second base. But the “Anyone Is Better Than Weeks” crowd now has their guy.
Francisco was designated for assignment by Atlanta last Friday, losing his half of their third base platoon to Chris Johnson, who becomes their full-time third baseman. Francisco’s career numbers leave a little to be desired — the .254/.299/.431 slash line reinforces the fact that he should probably be a reserve, but he’s a left-handed bat with some pop that could play really well in Miller Park. His career platoon splits are about as drastic as you’re going to see — he’s hit .270/.319/.476 against righties and .175/.202/.213 against lefties. And if you’re wondering, he’s played all of 3 innings at first base in his professional career, and that was in Triple-A three years ago.
So no, Fat Juan is probably not the answer at 1B (although just about anyone would be an upgrade over the production the Brewers have seen there), and he’s probably not Aramis Ramirez trade insurance. What he is is a potentially fun offensive player, and really, after the month we all just sat through, we could use some fun.