Crew shake-up: Castro, Hall out; Hardy optioned
MILWAUKEE — After his team lost for the 22nd time in 35 games on Tuesday night, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin apparently decided it was time for a shake-up. In a trio of decisive moves Wednesday morning, the team:
– Dismissed pitching coach Bill Castro, an 18-year veteran of the coaching staff who did not make it through his first season as pitching coach. Triple-A pitching coach Chris Bosio will replace Castro on an interim basis.
– Optioned slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy to Nashville and promoted co-top prospect Alcides Escobar to take his place.
– Announced that infielder/outfielder Bill Hall, the organization’s longest-tenured player, had been designated for assignment. Outfielder Jason Bourgeois was promoted from Nashville to replace Hall.
All three moves were likely difficult ones for Melvin, given Castro’s and Hall’s long service to the team and the fact Hardy is two years removed from an All-Star appearance. Melvin was to meet with reporters at 3 p.m. CT at Miller Park.
The GM did address Castro’s dismissal in a statement.
“We appreciate and admire the dedication and tireless work ethic put forth by Bill Castro over the last 18 seasons,” Melvin said. “A move like this is never easy to make, especially given Bill’s longevity with the organization and considering how hard he worked to reach this position.”
Castro pitched in the Brewers organization from 1970-80, then returned to the club as a Minor League coach from 1988-91 before taking a job on the big league staff. He was the bullpen coach for six different managers from 1992-2008 before realizing a long-time goal and being named pitching coach on Nov. 7, 2008.
But injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan and inconsistencies throughout the staff have marred the Brewers’ 2009. After the team’s 13-6 loss to the weak-hitting Padres Tuesday night, the Brewers’ pitching staff ranked 27th in the Major Leagues with a 4.84 ERA while allowing a Major League-leading 151 home runs in 112 games. The staff also issued 421 walks, fifth-most in the Majors.
Bosio, 46, was the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitching coach in 2003. He was in his first season as pitching coach at Triple-A Nashville, a staff that entered Wednesday tied for second in the Pacific Coast League in team ERA (4.05) while allowing the fourth-fewest home runs (83).
The Brewers’ second-round Draft pick in 1982, Bosio pitched in the Majors for Milwaukee (1986-92) and Seattle (1993-96). He will wear No. 43 beginning Wednesday night.
Bosio’s won’t be the only new uniform number on Wednesday. Escobar (No. 21) and Bourgeois (No. 16) will replace two of the team’s most underachieving players.
Hardy, the subject of trade rumors virtually all season, was hitting a career-low .229 with 11 home runs and 45 RBI, including .220 with 13 RBIs since July 1. That wasn’t good enough to hold off Escobar, who was batting .298 with four home runs, 34 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 109 games at Nashville. He’s considered Milwaukee’s co-top prospect along with third baseman Mat Gamel but already has a taste of the big leagues. Escobar was among Milwaukee’s September call-ups last year, then earned a spot on the playoff roster after second baseman Rickie Weeks suffered an injury.
Bourgeois is more unknown to Brewers coaches and fans because he missed much of Spring Training while recovering from a broken thumb. The right-handed hitting speedster batted .316 in 105 games at Nashville with 36 steals. He appeared in six games with the White Sox last season.
He replaces Hall, who remains stuck in a three-year slump and briefly was optioned to Nashville last month. Hall was quickly called back after Corey Hart underwent an appendectomy, and Hall went 3-for-15 in four games since his return including a start on Tuesday night in which he hit a two-run home run. Overall this season, Hall was hitting .201 with six homers and 24 RBIs.
The team has 10 days to trade Hall, release him or assign him outright to the Minors, an assignment Hall could refuse. For the first time since 2002, he is no longer on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.
The team stands to take a major financial hit because Hall is making $6.8 million this season and is due $8.4 million in 2010 as part of the four-year, $24 million contract he signed after belting 35 home runs in 2006. The deal also includes a $500,000 buyout of a $9.25 club option for 2011.