Gamel broke out in 2011, hitting .310 with 28 home runs and 96 runs batted in. With the departure of Prince Fielder, Gamel had an excellent chance to show his stuff at the major league level.
Unfortunately for Gamel, he started slowly. Over 75 plate appearances, he hit .246 with only one home run and a .293 on-base percentage. Yesterday, however, he hit the wall. Literally. When Gamel’s right knee hit that wall, his season came to an end and the Brewers suddenly confronted a lack of depth at the position. (As an aside, I am pretty familiar with ACL injuries – this was an odd mechanism for an ACL injury, and the fact Gamel stayed in the game for the remainder of the game is a testament to his pain tolerance).
The Brewers are 11-13 and floundering in the National League Central. Where do they look for help?
Travis Ishikawa is probably the short term solution. Ishikawa strikes me as a AAAA player with limited upside and limited power production. The best we can expect from him is likely the 9 home run, 39 runs batted in season with the Giants in 2009. His horrific K/BB rate, however, will likely keep him from achieving even this limited standard of success. For what it is worth, Ishikawa started today.
Brooks Conrad is a utility man by any other name. I like him better than Ishikawa, however, and I think he could get a long look with the Brewers now. Keep in mind Conrad posted years of 24, 22 and 28 home runs back in the late 2000s in the minor leagues, and hit 8 home runs in 177 plate appearances with the Braves in 2010. He is currently sporting a .390 average in AAA.
Corey Hart is a potential option to play first base. With Carlos Gomez, Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki in the outfield, the Brewers could move Hart to first base and look for help in the outfield.
Of course, it is also likely the Brewers look outside the organization for a platoon partner at the very least.
For purposes of your free agent bids, Tom Haudricourt believes Conrad and Ishikawa will platoon at first base, and I find it hard to argue with him. It makes sense in the long term, and both players are worth bids in NL-only formats.