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The Case for Nomar

As I posted my comments about the 25-man roster last night, I pondered whether anyone left on the market was worth picking up.  I immediately thought of the available pitching (Morris, Washburn, etc.) and the mega-millions it'll take to sign any of them.  However, roguejim made the one suggestion that makes a lot of sense to me: Nomar Garciaparra at third base.

Nomar, once upon a time, was a solid defensive shortstop, so presumably he could hack it at the hot corner.  (He played there some last year with the Cubbies.)  Nomar has expressed willingness to play just about anywhere, and I'd imagine he'd be credible in centerfield, too.  

Not too long ago, Nomar was an eight-figure guy, the sort of player who'd be raking in one of those $55/5 contracts this offseason.  Now, because of injury, he's unlikely to go for anywhere close to that.  The right incentive-laden deal might land Nomar for $3-5mil with a possible ceiling in the $8-10m range.  As the Brewers have made virtually no moves to increase the payroll (the Overbay deal probably results in a net decrease for 2006), there should be room.

While whichever team signs Nomar will have to accept the risk that he'll manage no more than the 230 ABs he did last year, the upside is tremendous.  Last year was the first time since his rookie year (1996) he didn't post a batting average above .300, and he's going into his age 32 season--no reason to believe he's fallen off a cliff, never to return.  

Imagine an opening day lineup that looks like this:

  1. Brady Clark, CF
  2. Rickie Weeks, 2B
  3. Nomar Garciaparra, 3B
  4. Carlos Lee, LF
  5. Geoff Jenkins, RF
  6. Prince Fielder, 1B
  7. Damian Miller, C
  8. JJ Hardy, SS
  9. pitcher
[feel free to rearrange 2 through 6 to fit your personal preferences]

And with Billy Hall ready to step in as DH, or at 3rd letting Nomar DH, that's a good lineup for interleague play, as well.  

This gives us tremendous flexibility.  With Billy as supersub and Corey Hart on the big-league bench, there are two guys who can step in to every non-battery position except for 2B and SS, and Nomar could move over to either of those, in a pinch.

It's time, Doug: make the call!  

There's one more free-agent on the market who I think the Brewers could make good use of.  I'll write about him tomorrow.