It feels like I’ve only written one of these articles in over a week.
That’s probably because I have only written one article (#33 Eric Farris) in the past eight days. That’s because a significant chunk of the 30’s are consumed by coaches, plus one number is unavailable (thanks for the memories, Mr. Fingers!).
All that said, let’s get right into today’s profile:
Last year the position was manned by stalwart and lightning rod Yuniesky Betancourt. Betancourt brought relatively ineffective play, a penchant for making the routine seem incredibly difficult at times, but also a knack for coming through when you least expected it.
Yuni B. was shipped out following the 2011 season and Alex Gonzalez (who will be profiled on March 26th) was brought in to be the starter. Despite his inconsistency, the one thing Betancourt could be counted on for was answering the bell.
He started 146 games at shortstop for the Brewers in 2011. Alex Gonzalez won’t be doing that and therefore a capable backup is needed this year more than it was last year.
The thing is, the capable backup options on the 25-man roster all dried up this offseason as well as Jerry Hairston, Jr. followed his wallet to Los Angeles and Craig Counsell retired from the game altogether.
For Maysonet, opportunity is knocking loudly and clearly.
This is not just some organizational guy who continues to play at Triple-A simply because he’s been there for a while and nobody better has come along. Maysonet, 30, has seen big league time with the Houston Astros in parts of two seasons. He has started 17 games at the Major League level.
So how did he come to the Brewers anyway?
After the Astros made him a 19th round draft pick in 2003, Maysonet made his debut just over five years later on September 7, 2008. The Astros designated him for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot in September of 2010. The Brewers, being perilously thin in the upper levels of the minors as the shortstop position scooped Maysonet up on a minor-league free agent contract which was signed in mid-December of that same year.
The Brewers have used Maysonet primarily in the shortstop role, though he is capable is playing second and even third if necessary.
He’s got the arm strength and range to play short (despite a team-high 23 errors last year), but in order to beat out fellow non-roster invitee (though 11-year MLB veteran) Cesar Izturis for the job he’ll have to contribute something offensively.
In 2011 for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Maysonet hit .290/.347/.386, with 111 hits in 383 at-bats. The thing holding Maysonet back though is that his batting average is what’s commonly referred to as an “empty” one. He did have 29 extra-base hits, but only three home runs. He also doesn’t run as evidenced by his two stolen bases in three attempts. As for the run production stats, he only scored 57 and only drove in 39.
In this series of profiles I am focusing on the men that have a chance to make the roster and provide a legitimate contribution either from the 40-man roster or, in this case, as a non-roster invitee. Backup shortstop is the most open competition in camp and therefore anybody in big league camp that can play the position warrants consideration.
All that being said, and while I’m not saying that Izturis is necessarily the answer either, there is a reason that Yuniesky Betancourt was the starter all year and that when they needed a backup middle infielder in July and for the balance of the season in 2011 it wasn’t Maysonet’s number was not called.
Could he change the minds of those in charge and warrant himself a spot on the 25-man roster? Sure. That’s why he’s there. He’ll even earn some points when not playing is Izturis’ poor defense continues much longer. But the problem facing Maysonet is simply an overall lack of impact ability.
Bottom line: He’s a nice piece at Triple-A and in a short-term pinch he probably could man the post for a handful of games, but I honestly feel like it would take a major event for him to beat out yet another mercenary.