Trading places: a few friendly suggestions before Sunday’s trade deadline
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It’s no secret that trades have played an invaluable part in the Milwaukee Brewers’ success this season. Going out and nabbing two top-of-the-rotation arms in Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum last winter has helped give the Brew Crew one of the most fearsome starting rotations in all of baseball—not to mention one of the best staffs in team history. Without the spring training trade that brought Nyjer Morgan to town, the team would still be reeling from the loss of Carlos Gomez, and not privy to antics like this and this. Snagging goggled closing great Francisco Rodriguez gave Milwaukee an unmatched and much-needed setup man during the All-Star break. Even Wednesday’s swap of triple-A catcher Wil Nieves (and his remaining $275k salary) for just $1 made fiscal sense, and probably scored GM Doug Melvin, like, some Rolo candy.
With all the quality moves the Brewers front office went out and executed both before and during the 2011 season, the team could just hold pat and likely remain well within the parameters of the playoff hunt (unless Ron Roenicke develops a sudden grudge against Corey Hart or something). But as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, the Brewers could conceivably look into adding some personnel to fill the minor gaps evident in the otherwise sturdy and expertly crafted National League powerhouse. Here are some suggestions to organizational holes Milwaukee may address before Monday, and a couple new names you could soon see on the lineup card.
Coming up short
To his credit, Yuniesky Betancourt has lived up to expectations since coming over as part of the Greinke deal last season. Unfortunately, expectations of his performance going into the season were unreasonably low. We can try to say some nice things about him, but the fact of the matter is a sub-.275 OBP, a tad over 10 walks, and range comparable with frozen pond water isn’t acceptable for a full-time shortstop. That lingering problem mixed with Rickie Weeks’ recent stop on the disabled list puts the Brewers in position to pluck some infield depth before the deadline.
The club had been connected to rumors of bringing on Dodgers infielder Jamey Carroll. But, indicating L.A. was seeking too much for the 37-year-old, Melvin wasted no time after Weeks’ injury to call up Eric Farris from Nashville, and send Tampa some cash ($1?) in exchange for former Brewers deadline acquisition Felipe Lopez. Lopez has struggled with the Rays, but can hopefully reclaim some of the magic he left in Milwaukee when he hit .320 (.407 OBP) and clubbed 32 RBI over 66 games with the team in 2009. However, Lopez and Farris will probably spend the majority of the time at second, which doesn’t exactly solve the shortstop quandary. Until Weeks returns, try to digest the sight of an ugly three-headed monster comprised of Craig Counsell, Josh Wilson and—sadly, the best option of the three—Yuni B.
Front and center
Nothing against T-Plush, Mr. Easy Breezy, Mr. Gotta Be Startin’ Something, or any of the other alter egos contained within capable crazy person Nyjer Morgan, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another (non-Mark Kotsay) option to help patrol center field. Carlos Beltran is off the table—and both B.J. Upton and Hunter Pence will be too costly—but there are some fruitful-while-much-less impressive names still on the market. Jerry Hairston, Jr. could be an apt alternate to log some innings in center, as could Coco Crisp.
The Crew has also been rumored to be kicking the (very expensive) tires on Sox outfielder Alex Rios, who’s owed over $35 million between now and 2014. Chicago would have to eat A LOT of that salary and send at least one other player in exchange for Mat Gamel, who they’d apparently seek in return.
Though relief isn’t paramount on the front office’s to-do list, a team can’t have enough experienced and skilled arms in its bullpen as October approaches. It might be wishful thinking—especially for a team that already has four current or former closers in its pen—but former Brewers 9th-inning man Mike Adams would be a solid (though costly) relief lynchpin. Hey, is Derrick Turnbow available?