What to do about Geoff Jenkins?
One of the biggest questions this off-season for Brewers GM Doug Melvin will be determining the status of Geoff Jenkins for 2008. Jenkins is the longest tenured Brewers player having been with the team since being their first round draft choice in the 1994 draft. Jenkins is a career .278 hitter with 211 home runs. He is an underrated outfielder with one of the strongest throwing arms in the league.
In his tenth season with the Brewers, Jenkins has hit over 20 home runs seven times. He started his career in right field but moved to left field in 2005 when the Brewers acquired Carlos Lee. He returned to left field this season to make room for Corey Hart in right.
Jenkins has played in 118 games so far this year, with 14 games remaining. Only 3 times in his career has Jenkins played in more than 140 games. He is no longer an every day player due to his lack of productivity against left-handed pitching. Jenkins is only hitting .222 against lefties as opposed to .269 against righties.
Jenkins salary is at $7 million this season and the club holds an option for the 08 season. If they pick it up, he is slated to make $9 million however they can buy it out for $2 million. There are a few options the Brewers have if they decide not to keep Jenkins.
2007 first-round pick, Matt LaPorta, is still more than a full season away from being ready for the Majors. The team could choose to go with the stop gap of Kevin Mench and Gabe Gross for 2008 until LaPorta is ready in 09. Gross would fill Jenkins spot as a left-handed bat with a powerful arm in the field.
A second option would be to move Bill Hall to left field and insert Tony Gwynn as the every day centerfielder. Gwynn would add speed to the lineup and it would allow Hall to have some pressure taken off of him defensively. In turn, Hall would hopefully be able to rebound at the plate from a sub par 07.
The third and perhaps most popular option with fans would be to acquire Reds outfielder Adam Dunn. There was a lot of talk at the trade deadline of Dunn to the Brewers for reliever Matt Wise, outfielder Tony Gwynn and a minor-leaguer. The Reds hold a team option on Dunn for 08 and GM Wayne Krivsky is no fan of Dunn. Should Dunn become a free agent, Milwaukee would be a very good fit for him. The team would have the ability to throw a large contract his way and he would slide into Jenkins old spot in left field. The thought of him in the lineup should leave Brewers fans salivating. A potential lineup could look like this:
1. Rickie Weeks 2B
2. JJ Hardy SS
3. Ryan Braun 3B
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Corey Hart RF
6. Adam Dunn LF
7. Bill Hall CF
8. Johnny Estrada C
Putting Dunn in the 6-hole allows a righty-lefty-righty-lefty stack of Braun, Fielder, Hart and Dunn. That would be the most feared foursome in any lineup, in baseball.
Now Dunn may be a bit pricey for the Brewers and if LaPorta is progressing to a point where Melvin sees him as a starter for 09 and beyond, Jenkins will have one last hurrah with the Brewers.