Talkin' baseball: What should the Brewers do in the off-season?
Two bloggers weigh the team's options before the '10 campaign
The ’10 baseball season is still months away, but another season is already underway—free agency. For one brief period, every team has the same record (though Pittsburgh is somehow still in last place), and the upcoming season begins to take shape. With the winter meetings—the All-Star Game of the baseball transaction season—taking place in Indianapolis this week, the Brewers could pull off a sizable trade, plant the seed of a significant free agent acquisition, or do absolutely nothing.
A.V. Club contributors and nearly heard of Brewers bloggers Tyler Maas and Miller Park Drunk Vince Morales stopped writing on each other’s Facebook walls about which Brewers they’d have sex with (Manny Parra and Ryan Braun, respectively) to touch on Milwaukee’s off-season, the team’s biggest needs, and players they’d like to see donning the barley sprig in 2010.
Tyler Maas: In September, I would’ve bet my favorite Remetee (the expensive one with the skulls) that Brewers management would’ve waited until now to start dangling J.J. Hardy in front of teams. But instead he was immediately dealt to Minnesota for the speedy but largely unproven outfielder Carlos Gómez. Personally, I’m okay with the deal. It gives Milwaukee a semi-capable centerfielder on the cheap. However, it’s also a telling sign that Mike Cameron will not be re-signed. How do you feel about the trade?
Vince Morales: How do I feel about the trade that replaced my favorite player with a guy whose career on-base percentage is .292? I feel like Dudley on Diff'rent Strokes after he left the bicycle shop. I feel like Marcellus Wallace in the pawn shop with Zed in Pulp Fiction. I don't feel really good about it, Tyler. The Brewers had the third best offense in the NL last year and a lot of that can be attributed to my man Cameron, who posted a manly-man OPS of .795—or as I like to call it, 172 freakin' points better than Carlos Gomez. Using some ridiculous stat that I don't fully understand called Wins Above Replacement that includes hitting, defense, bathroom hygiene, and smiling, Cameron was worth 4.3 wins in 2009 and Gomez was worth 0.7 wins. Meaning the team is 3.6 wins worse than they were last season thanks to that trade, so we got that going for us.
Doug Melvin, being a sane person, didn't think that Gomez to Cameron was any sort of upgrade. No, he wants to use the money saved on Cameron and spend it on pitchers—sweet succulent free agent pitchers who will make up those lost wins and then some. There are some pretty sexy candidates out there and some Star Jones-y ones. Among them: John Lackey, John Smoltz, Randy "Hungry Like A" Wolf, Joel Pineiro, Doug Davis, Brett "What the fuck you say to me bitch?" Myers, and the unfortunate favorite Jarrod Washburn. Who do you see the Brewers targeting this off-season? Personally, I think that unless they sign John Lackey, CC Sabathia, Rollie Fingers, and a kid from the bleachers whose arm injury miraculously left him with an incredibly powerful pitching arm, I don't think the pitching can make up for what they lost in Cameron. Then again, I once said his name during sex so maybe I am biased.
TM: Beyond Lackey, Washburn, and (to a lesser extent) Davis, that’s a pretty unimpressive list. Between the team electing to decline Braden Looper’s mutual option for next season, and ditching salary in the Hardy deal, I’d hope to Christ this penny pinching is leading to a high profile pitching sign. But to answer your question, I would actually like the Brewers to take a risk and go after either Erik Bedard or Rich Harden. Both are Canadian (which gets Doug Melvin and Gord Ash’s rocks off historically) and former aces. Yes, both are Type B free agents, so it’d cost Milwaukee a draft pick, not to mention an assload of money. Additionally, both hurlers are far from the posterboys for durability. But to me, the possible reward these pitchers represent seems a lot more worthwhile than signing some shitballing old name like Washburn to a hefty 4-year deal. They should at least wait until Jeff Suppan is gone before doing that again.
Other starters I wouldn’t mind Milwaukee signing as short-term stopgaps: Carl Pavano, Justin Duchscherer, Vicente Padilla, Noah Lowry (could be a steal) and (ugh) Ben Sheets. That is, of course, if Sheets hasn’t yet injured himself or died in some freak Nintendo, toxic shock, or sandwich-related accident.
VM: I love high-risk/high-reward guys that could potentially not play a single inning for the team as much as the next nihilist, but I just can't wrap my head around Sheets. On the one hand I remember him feeling "slighted" by the Brewers last season and running off to Texas despite the fact that the Brewers offered him arbitration, the Rangers offered him nothing, and he didn't pitch a single inning for either team. On the other hand he's one of the best pitchers the Brewers have ever had. Of course he's a risk, but 150 innings of Ben Sheets is better than 300 innings of Jeff Suppan or 1,500 innings of Braden Looper. If the Brewers are going to sign a "former ace lookaying to prove he's still got it" then it HAS to be Sheets. The reward of succeeding with Sheets is much, much greater than those other guys and it’d be nice for fans to dust off their No. 15 jerseys one more time.
Of course, there’s a good chance that the “new guy” doesn’t come via free agency, but through a trade. You once told me you’d “have no problem bidding Corey Hart’s ugly turdcutter adieu to net a cheap and promising pitcher.” I imagine you still feel that way, but would Corey be enough and whom could he net? No Gamel talk please.
TM: I do still feel that way. Hart is a good enough player, but his defensive ability is on par with his at-bat song selection, and he has the plate discipline of a pre-gastric bypass Carnie Wilson. But after a disappointing ’09 campaign that found him losing his power and stolen base numbers (and his appendix), I have to imagine his value has dropped significantly since 2007 and ’08, when he was making more 20/20 cameos than Hugh Downs. Meanwhile, he—in his second season of arbitration eligibility—is due for a raise.
I’m no GM, but I think Hart and a mid-level prospect could get an okay No. 3 starter. Then again, there’s no set replacement for Hart in right (save for Jody Gerut), so it might be best to hold on to him and hope his trade value improves. I, too, would hate to see Gamel go. But he’s a valuable chip to throw on the table right now, so why not field some offers?
On the subject of offers, the Brewers have a shitload of free agents who may not return. Craig Counsell, Seth McClung, Todd Coffey, Jason Kendall, Felipe López, Frank Catalanotto, Mike Cameron, Braden Looper (declined his option, but could still be signed), and David Weathers all have uncertain futures in Milwaukee. Which of these would you like to see back? Why?
VM: Leaving out any personal bias I may have, there are three and only three players on this list that the Brewers absolutely must re-sign. Catalanotto because my life is incomplete without hearing The Outfield’s “Your Love” regularly. And Coffey and McClung because if there is one thing that every playoff team needs, it’s a big, out-of-shape ginger reliever with a Twitter account and no idea how to type or spell.
TM: Imagine if Coffey was on Twitter. “Watchin’ a Segal marathon on Spike TV n eating a 12-egg omlette stuffed w/dark chocolate frosting and cream cheese. I’ll unnecessarily sprint 150 feet L8r. Training’s a B.” They have to bring that guy back.