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Kottaras Designated for Assignment; Changes Afoot

                CREDIT: US PRESSWIRE

Backup catcher George Kottaras was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday.  In a related move, Jonathan Lucroy was activated from the disabled list and is in the starting lineup for the opening game in a series against the first-place Washington Nationals at Miller Park.  The move implies that Kottaras lost out on the backup job to Martin Maldonado, who has performed in superior fashion at the plate and defensively since Lucroy was injured in late May. 

This is likely the adjustment for which most Brewers fans had hoped; Maldonado is four years younger and has shown a great ability to block pitches behind the plate.  He’s managed to hit .275 with five homers and 19 RBI while playing as the primary catcher for the last couple months.  Kottaras has slumped badly since April, but he also hasn’t played much. 

George Kottaras has been good as a Brewer.  He hasn’t always hit well, but he’s been a solid backup catching option, an OK pinch-hitter, and, for better or worse, a good caddy for Randy Wolf’s preferences.  The Brewers were certainly lucky to have him around (in Nashville) when Wil Nieves imploded on them early in 2011.  This time, though, Kottaras is likely headed elsewhere.  Some other team will probably take advantage of the fact that the Brewers now have 10 days to trade, release or put him through waivers. 

The Brewers may even regret losing Kottaras, should he head to another team, but it doesn’t make sense to keep three catchers on a roster in most cases, unless you have the benefit of September call-ups.  They are in a great position due to Maldonado’s surprising production in the big leagues.  Maldonado was a great minor-league signing in free agency by the franchise in 2007.  Kottaras will be missed if he leaves, but he’ll always have the cycle he accomplished last year in Houston as one of his standout moments as a Brewer. 

As the Zack Greinke circus kicks into high gear, the Brewers made a couple other interesting transactions, sending shortstop Jeff Bianchi to Nashville for more seasoning and calling up longtime minor-league reliever Jim Henderson.  It will be an interesting handful of days ahead as the Brewers try to figure out how best to pivot from a 2012 flop to what will hopefully be a promising 2013.