He will call up infielder prospect Mat Gamel from AAA Nashville on Thursday to replace the struggling Brad Nelson.
The tactical aspects of the move are simply to have a better hitting left-handed pinch-hitter for the upcoming series against the Cardinals, as well as for Gamel to serve as the DH in games in Minnesota next weekend. Gamel might even get a start or two against a right-handed pitcher, if Bill Hall continues to hit righties poorly (.212 BA), and Craig Counsell (also a lefty that is hitting .360 versus righties) starts at shortstop over J.J. Hardy (hitting .247 against righties). The Cardinals are slated to start three righties this weekend. But Gamel is actually hitting lefties better this season--.425 to just .291 against righties.
The strategic implications, however, is that the Brewers have started the clock on Gamel's MLB experience, and he'll likely become a so-called Super Two player in '09, which means that the Brewers will lose control over Gamel's contracts a year earlier--in other words, Gamel's protected six seasons with the Brewers will now run from 2009-2014 instead of 2010-2015.
Obviously, Melvin views the upcoming series against the Cardinals as critical to maintain momentum and forsees that the NL Central could wind up coming down to just a game or two at the very end. With the Cardinals in the race, handing the Redbirds an extra loss this weekend could very easily be the difference between Milwaukee making the postseason instead of St. Louis.
Here's hoping Melvin's gamble pays off.