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Offseason Decisions by the Brewers
Posted by herbilk (3216 days ago)
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Now that the season is over, the Brewers will need to make some key decisions heading into next year. They already hired Ken Macha as the manager and it looks like they'll need to find a new pitching coach since Mike Maddux is likely heading to Texas.

Last offseason GM Doug Melvin made it clear that his priorities were 1) improve the defense, 2) improve the OBP, and 3) improve the bullpen. He upgraded the defense by moving Ryan Braun to left field and adding Mike Cameron to play center. Not much was done to improve on their OBP as it appears the cost to add that these days is steep. Lastly, he took a bunch of stabs at some relief pitchers. Some worked out - Salomon Torres, Guillermo Mota - while other failed - Eric Gange, David Riske. In the end, the Brewers put enough together to win 90 games and make the playoffs for the first time since 1982.

This year's wish list looks fairly similar, though the needs aren't as severe as last season. An upgrade on defense would still be warranted, though they weren't as bad as in 2007. The bullpen was still sub par during the seventh and eighth innings, yet again, it was better than in 2007. OBP is probably the biggest weakness of this club, but it's also probably the hardest to address.

Here are a few key points for the offseason.

1) Pick up the $10 million option on Mike Cameron and play him in center. I'm not completely sold on this one, but they have no other competent option to play center and it's just a one year deal. I don't really care very much that he strikes out a lot, I only care about production, and Cameron was one of the most productive center fielders in the league last season.

2) Find something for the hole at third base. Bill Hall keeps sliding farther and farther out of the picture. He still has two years remaining that will pay him $6 million and $8 million dollars, making his contract very hard to move. Some people have suggested calling up Mat Gamel, though this would probably hurt the team defense more than any gain in offense. As noted before, moving Hardy to third base is also an option.

3) Find at least one top end of the rotation starting pitcher. For the Brewers this usually means trading a position player. I've heard rumors of trading Hardy to the Twins for one of their young pitchers, though the Brewers may need more than that. Trading Fielder is also an option, but it would be harder to replace his value on offense.

The Brewers will make a big deal about making CC Sabathia an offer, but it's likely just for show so that the fan base believes they gave it a shot. In the end, they are likely to be happy with the first and second round picks that they'll get for Sabathia and Ben Sheets.

I think right now the Brewers are probably an 85 win team. They'll need to make a few shrewd decisions during the offseason to bump that number up to 90 and give them a shot at another playoff run.

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JesseLSiegel commented 3208 days ago
Starting pitching is a huge concern for the Brew Crew. Losing Sabathia and Sheets makes them a mediocre squad really. You're really banking on filling the void with Nick Blackburn or somebody like that from Minnesota?
herbilk (Blog Author) commented 3203 days ago
Hardy's value is more than Nick Blackburn so any trade involving him will net more. They started last season with Sheets and no Sabathia. Let's say that they don't resign Sabathia, but Sheets decides to come back. That would give them the same rotation that they started with last season. They were 49-40 when they traded for Sabathia last year and they did all of that without Yovanni Gallardo. They'll be more than mediocre if they resign Sheets or sign another free agent starter.
vtadave commented 3203 days ago
Why don't the Brewers deal Cameron and try Rickie Weeks in CF a la B.J. Upton? He's athletic enough to make the transition and who know, it could help his offense as well. Play Escobar at 2B and use the money to fill the Sabathia/Sheets void and find a bullpen.
herbilk (Blog Author) commented 3202 days ago
yeah, they could try Rickie in CF, but I have my doubts that he'd even be average out there. He's a tremendous athlete, but incredibly un-smooth (is that a word?) at just about everything. As an example, he's never been able to figure out how to bunt for a base hit. I'd be willing to bet that he never even attempted one bunt for a base hit all of last season. I'm not saying that it's something he should do every game, but to be so bad at it that you never do it? He just has a really hard time getting his body to do what he wants, from what I can tell.

As for Escobar, he's got gold glove potential at SS and that's where his future lies. I also think he needs to spend at least a little time at Triple-A before coming up to the majors. He's played all of nine games above Double-A in his career. I'm not very high on starting him in the majors on opening day.

JesseLSiegel commented 3198 days ago
I doubt they will re-sign Sheets. What happens then? The Brewers will hover around .500, if that. Even though Braun and Prince are obviously monsters, I just don't think Yovani Gallardo in the rotation for next year is anything close to a viable fill-in. He has all the tools, but is injury prone and a bit too inexperienced still.
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