What should the Brewers do in the 2012 Winter Meetings?
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The 2013 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 Houston 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 Nashville, Tennessee this week, the Brewers could pull off a sizable trade, plant the seeds of a significant free agent acquisition, or do absolutely nothing.
A.V. Club contributors and Brewers bloggers Tyler Maas and Vince Morales of Miller Park Drunk put on their GM caps and discuss Milwaukee’s off-season, the team’s biggest needs, and players they’d like to see donning the Brewers barley sprig next season.
Tyler Maas: Despite the club’s dreadful and injury-riddled start to the 2012 season, the Crew and its largely unfamiliar cast managed to re-enter the National League wild card chase and play meaningful baseball into the last week of the season, even after trading Zack Greinke. Much of the credit for the late season resurgence is owed to the makeshift pitching staff that filled in admirably for Greinke post-trade: the injured likes of Chris Narveson and Shaun Marcum, as well as the ineffective Randy Wolf—even by Randy Wolf standards.
While the seasons of
Johnny Marco Estrada, Mark Rogers, and Mike Fiers were all encouraging, those three, in addition to Narveson and Yovani Gallardo, don’t exactly scream playoff team. Thankfully, it appears Milwaukee is on the hunt for a veteran starter to round out its young and scantly experienced staff. After Greinke—who, contrary to popular belief, is unlikely to pass up $150M simply because he likes Milwaukee’s small-town feel and big city amenities (e.g., Bronze Fonz, Dave & Buster’s)—there is a steep drop-off in free agent pitching. With their track records and 2012 lines, Edwin Jackson and Kyle Lohse likely require pricey long-term deals. The idea of inking ancient ex-Cub Ryan Dempster isn’t all too enticing, especially when you realize most of his best games have been against the Brewers. To me, the best options left are Brandon McCarthy—who, if nothing else, will say funny things about Milwaukee on Twitter—and, ahem, Shaun Marcum.
Am I missing anyone, Vince?
Vince Morales: What about Dan Haren, whose medical report was so dicey that the Cubs said “thanks, but no thanks”? Or Derek Lowe as a far less attractive, baseball version of Paul Rudd’s character in This Is 40? Of course, the Brewers could always just re-sign Carlos Villanueva and tell him that making him a full starter was something they meant to do in 2010, but it slipped their mind and that they are really, really sorry he had to play in Canada.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter who they sign as a starter because it will never match the combined baseball boners brought by the Greinke and Marcum acquisitions two off-seasons ago. The next starting pitcher is going to be a lot more Braden Looper than Ben Sheets. Which is fine. I think we’ll end up very happy with the younger guys who should combine to make a very serviceable, slightly above average rotation. The real focus needs to be on overhauling a bullpen that lost the season and ruined at least 47 days of my summer. The names don’t matter as long they fix it.
Of course, nobody really cares about relievers. What the world wants to know is JOSH HAMILTON OMG IZ HE COMMING 2 MILWAKEY!?
TM: Short answer: no. Longer answer: I really hope he isn’t. As sexy as the prospect of a star like Hamilton coming to town is (and that’s not even accounting for those eyes!), the Brewers, frankly, don’t need him. A lack of offense wasn’t the issue last season. Plus, compared to current alternatives—Carlos Gomez and Nori Aoki—Hamilton would be a huge defensive downgrade. That, mixed with his approaching 32nd birthday, the Brewers not using a DH, the reported $25M annual sum he’s seeking, and certain vices he has, makes Hamilton and America’s drunkest city an unlikely pairing.
With Mat Gamel coming back from injury and Nyjer Morgan’s release leaving a Logan Schafer-sized hole, the only position player I see Milwaukee nabbing is a cheap veteran infielder to pinch hit and fill in at a variety of spots. Someone like Jason Bartlett, Jeff Keppinger or—break out that retired shirt jersey—Casey McGehee. That is, unless the team goes forward with Corey Hart at first (which it should), in which case, maybe a reserve RF like Scott Hairston is a possibility. I could be missing a few names.
VM: How sad is this Brewers offseason when we are openly discussing who will be this year’s Mark Kotsay? I mean, I love that we have a good team that is just a few moves away from the 2013 NL Central championship, but it’d be nice to rosterbate just a little. That being said, I’d much rather see the Brewers sign Eric “Pride of Menasha, WI” Hinske over Casey McGehee. Watching him strike out in 2011 took years off my life and I fear if I have to start watching him do it again, I might start looking like him. And I’d rather not have pubes growing on my chin, thank you very much.
The truth is that there isn’t much to get excited about for the Brewers on the free agent market this season. All of the fixes, the really great moves that are going to carry them back into contention, aren’t coming at the Winter Meetings. The fix to the bullpen might be Michael Olmsted, a hard-throwing righty recently added to the 40-man roster, and the savior of the rotation could be the mythical, minotaur-like creature known as Healthy Mark Rogers. The secret of 2013’s success is going to be youth, but that isn’t exactly the kind of thing that sells tickets.
The Brewers need to make a big splash and make the move that can recapture some of the magic lost in Aaron Rodgers’ majestic porn ’stache. They need to open the checkbook and sign the guy the fans want, the guy the team needs, and the guy they never should have let go in the first place. That’s right, baby, I don’t care what it costs. It’s time for the Brewers to bring back Lyle Overbay. We’ve suffered long enough.
TM: Here, here! Otherwise, I’m sure Junior Spivey isn’t busy.