Brewers finalize deal with Lamb
Third baseman seems likely to platoon with incumbent Hall
LAS VEGAS -- The Brewers closed the deal with free-agent third baseman Mike Lamb on Tuesday morning, inking the veteran to a one-year contract that had been in the works for several days.
Lamb, 33, finished the 2008 regular season with Milwaukee after he was released by the Twins five months into a two-year, $6.6 million contract. The Brewers will pay him the league minimum -- $400,000 -- and the Twins will be on the hook for the rest of the $3 million they guaranteed Lamb for 2009.The Brewers are seeking left-handed bats this offseason and they liked what they had in Lamb, who hit .273 (3-for-11) in his brief stint with the Brewers and was not eligible for the postseason roster because Milwaukee didn't acquire him until Sept. 5. Lamb is a .277 hitter in parts of nine seasons with the Rangers, Astros, Twins and Brewers, and his best years were in Houston, including a 14-homer, 58-RBI season in 2004 and a 2006 campaign in which he batted a career-high .307. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was the Rangers' GM when Texas took Lamb in the seventh round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft. He's likely to split time at third base in 2009 with right-handed hitter Bill Hall, though Melvin said Monday that prospect Mat Gamel -- another left-handed hitter -- will also get a chance to win playing time. The knock on Hall in recent seasons is that he struggles against right-handed pitchers, to the tune of a .713 OPS in 2007 and a .557 OPS in 2008. He's also guaranteed $15.7 million over the next two seasons including a 2011 buyout for $500,000. But Hall is plotting a comeback. He underwent LASIK surgery in October and said he now has 20-15 vision in his left eye and 20-10 vision in his right. He described the improvement in one word: "Tremendous." "My vision is perfect and the doctor told me I had no worries after the surgery," Hall said Tuesday. He has been working out this winter but has yet to pick up a bat, a milestone that could come next week. Hall wore glasses as a child and then switched to contact lenses once he got more serious about baseball, but always had problems with depth perception and dry eyes. He won't blame his offensive struggles over the past two seasons on his eyes. "I'm not going to blame anything on my contacts, but my contacts did give me problems," Hall said. "I'm anxious to try out how I can see the baseball with my new vision." Hall said he hadn't heard from Melvin since the end of the season, and he apparently missed new manager Ken Macha's phone call a few weeks ago. Hall is preparing just like he did last year at this time, to be the Brewers' starter at third base. Milwaukee's 40-man roster stands at 37.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.