Hardy to Twins for speedy center fielder

It didn’t take long for the Brewers to make the trade everybody saw coming. 

The ticker tape was still falling in Manhattan on Friday when the Brewers dealt shortstop J.J. Hardy, a staple of trade rumors this year, to the Twins for speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez. The Brewers announced the trade on their official Twitter feed.

The move could have multiple consequences: 

–  It eased the shortstop logjam between Hardy, a former All-Star, and Alcides Escobar, the organization’s top prospect, essentially handing the baton to Escobar for 2010.

– It gave the Brewers their center fielder and perhaps their leadoff hitter, making Milwaukee even more unlikely to pursue two of outgoing free agents. Mike Cameron, who manned center field at Miller Park in each of the past two seasons, and Felipe Lopez, who was excellent in the leadoff hole after a July 2009 trade from Arizona, will probably move on. 

[True, at least in terms of the center field half of that paragraph. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he left a message with Cameron on Friday explaining that the Brewers would not pursue him in free agency. And Melvin reiterated his commitment to second baseman Rickie Weeks, meaning there probably isn’t a place for Lopez.]

– It could allow the Brewers to use second baseman Rickie Weeks in a spot other than leadoff. Weeks has always been viewed as a future run-producer, but was forced to the top of the order out of necessity.

[Nope, at least according to Melvin in a conference call on Friday. He said the Brewers will leave Weeks in the leadoff hole and let Gomez develop his hitting skills elsewhere in the order.]

Gomez does not turn 24 until next month but has already played parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues. In 348 games, he’s a .246 hitter with a .292 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, 99 RBIs and 59 stolen bases in 70 tries.


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