In a move that should surprise precisely no one, the Brewers today purchased George Kottaras’ contract from Triple-A Nashville. In a previous stint with the Brewers this year, Kottaras went 7-26, a respectable .269 with 4 rbi in 26 at bats. But Kottaras has raked since his demotion, to the tune of .343 with 4 hr and 21 rbi. He returns to the major league club just in time for a series with his old team, the Boston Red Sox, for whom Kottaras played in portions of 2008 and 2009.
I highlight Kottaras’ offense in the paragraph above to contrast it with that of the player sent down in his place, Wil Nieves. In 50 at bats with the Brewers this year, the backup catcher has hit only .143 with no rbi. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for a backup catcher (Nieves is, after all, very proficient defensively), but that Randy Wolf refuses to allow Jonathan Lucroy to catch for him. That means Nieves’ bat finds itself in the lineup essentially every fifth day. And when you combine his weak bat with those of Yuniesky Betancourt, Casey McGehee, or Carlos Gomez, it is no wonder the Brewers have had trouble scoring runs.
Take Monday’s game against the Cubs, for instance. In both of his at-bats, Nieves came to the plate with runners on. In the first attempt, he ground into a double play to end the inning after Hart reached on an error. In the second attempt, Nieves ground out after Betancourt doubled to lead off the inning. I’m not trying to pin all of the Brewers’ offensive woes on Nieves, but the Brewers lost that game 0-1. You’ve got to find some way to get those potential runs home.
Hopefully Kottaras can add some much-needed pop to the lineup. He will likely find himself catching Randy Wolf every fifth day (what is it with that guy, anyway?), so he’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue the success he had on the farm.