Monday, August 31, 2009

Compensation Confusion

One of the more confusing rules in baseball has to be the way teams are compensated when losing a draft pick. If you already know these rules, you can scroll down to the fourth paragraph.

Depending on how good a certain player is, he is given the label of a Type A, B, or outright free agent. If a team signs a Type A free agent, that team loses either their first, or second round draft pick in the next amateur draft. If the team who signs that pick finishes in the worst 15 teams in the league, their first round pick is protected. The other 15 teams have to lose their first round pick if they make a Type A signing.

Type B, or outright free agents don't cost the team who signs them any picks. However, a team who loses a Type B free agent receives a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds. Outright free agent receive no compensation to the team that loses them. All of this hinges on the team offering the free agent arbitration. Some players aren't offered arbitration because of the fear that the player will accept.

This system has been flawed for quite some time now. This season, Jason Kendall is a Type B free agent, while being one of the worst position players who plays everyday in baseball. Last season, the Brewers failed to get the Yankees first round pick because Mark Teixeira was rated as a better player. If Ben Sheets would have been healthy he could have landed in New York and the Brewers would have received a third rounder as compensation for Sheets' being a Type A. However, I think the two players who were hurt the most last offseason were Mark Grudzielanek and Juan Cruz.

Surprisingly, Grudzielanek and Cruz were labeled Type A free agents after last season. This is one of the worst things you can hear if you are a player. A Type A free agent is so much less attractive to sign because they cost a high draft pick. Subsequently, the value that the player had drops significantly. Cruz ended up signing with the Royals for two years/$ 6 million. This was well below market value and entirely because of his free agent status. No one would touch Grudzielanek and he remained a free agent until after the draft when it wouldn't cost that team anything for him.

The one good thing about this system is it is going to help the Brewers this season. The Brewers have soon to be free agent closer Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman will be a Type A free agent this season. Because of this, Hoffman is much less likely to garner the interest that he would if he wasn't a Type A. The Brewers are certainly going to offer his arbitration this offseason and I would be surprised if another team paid more than the offer to get an aging closer, while losing one of their top picks.

Another interesting case is Cubs starter Rich Harden. Harden's injury problems have been well documented. Harden has been injured at least once each of the last five seasons. When healthy, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Cubs are actively trying to trade Harden before today's deadline with the Twins. They are reluctant to offer him arbitration because of his injury problems. I can't see a more perfect scenario for the Cubs. A one year deal for Harden is ideal because of how little they are risking. If a serious arm injury happens, he is off the books after this season. I still am unable to figure out why the Cubs wouldn't keep him and offer him arbitration this offseason.

Although the current system may be flawed, it is the only thing stopping large market teams from completely dominating the free agent market. Cheap options remain a possibility for small market teams. When they do lose a player, they can try and replace him via the draft. All the more proof of how incredibly important young, cheap players are in major league baseball.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Constitutes a Good Baseball Team?

I was recently having a conversation with one of my friends about how good of a season Prince Fielder was having. Fielder by all accounts is a below average first baseman defensively, but is completely killing the ball this season. My friend replied, "you don't care about defense. You would take eight Prince Fielder's to play everyday and be terrible defensively."

Now it's tough to accurately judge what makes a great defender by just watching the games. I have heard all season that Ryan Braun is a great outfielder and that Jason Kendall is an amazing defensive catcher. This was, of course, stated by the Brewers broadcast team and really doesn't have any factual basis behind it. Sure Ryan Braun didn't make an error for over a season, but was he really playing good defense? No.

The other night, the Brewers were tied with the Reds in extra innings. There were two outs and a runner on second. Darnell McDonald was batting and hit a fly ball to left field. This was a routine play by all accounts, but Braun ran in and then back only to watch the ball sail over his head. The run scored on the play and the Brewers lost 4-3 after failing to score the next inning. Braun was not charged an error on the play, so in the boxscore, it might appear that it was a clean double for McDonald. Sure Braun wasn't charged with an error, but everyone would agree that he should have easily made the play.

The fact of the matter is that errors really don't tell how good a player is defensively. That is why it is so important to rely on advanced fielding statistics. They are able to determine things that are not visible to the naked eye.

With that being said, let's go back to the topic of what really makes a good baseball team. Would eight Prince Fielder's win you a ton of games? Offensively, yes. Defensively, no. Sure the team might score eight runs a game, but how many balls could Prince run down in the gap? Probably very few. So what is essential in the makeup of a baseball team.

It is very easy to pencil in great hitters in hitter friendly fielding positions. The easiest positions to play on the field are first base, right field, left field and third base. That is why I have always said it is key to fill those spots with great hitters. Anyone can play first base, that is why it is so important to have a great hitter playing there.

The more difficult positions to play mean that that player can afford to not be as effective on offense. Those positions include catcher, shortstop, second base, and center field. Now, I'm not saying that you can afford to run out terrible hitters in those positions, but the talent level in batting between a shortstop and first baseman is usually astronomical. So what would my ideal team be?

It is very easy to plug Hanley Ramirez in at short and Joe Mauer at catcher, but that's really not fair. Most teams are unable to be as fortunate as the Twins and Marlins. So here is what I would look for in a line up. Obviously, the easier positions to play would have to be able to hit. There is really no sense in starting a non-power threat at first base considering how many options are out there. So say I was able to pencil in good hitters at 1B, RF, LF and 3B, what else would I need?

I never believed in an all glove, no bat player. Off the top of my head Nick Punto comes to mind. There is no reason that Punto should be making $4 million a year for the Twins. Don't get me wrong, he is a great defender, but he has no business being in an everyday lineup. So, although I would lower the bar offensively, the "toughest" positions would still have to hit. I think this is why I like Mike Cameron and J.J. Hardy so much. Cameron is a great centerfielder, but he is also able to hit for some power. There are not many CF's that are able to do this. That is what makes him so valuable to the Brewers. Likewise with Hardy. Although he has struggled mightily with the bat this season, he is one of the better hitting shortstop in baseball.

When a team is able to pencil is a good hitter in a position that rarely yields offensive production, is makes that player much more valuable. Just think of what Joe Mauer is doing this season in Minnesota. Joe Mauer is posting a ridiculous OPS of 1.064 at the moment. The league average OPS for a catcher is .719. An OPS of 1.064 is amazing for any position, but a catcher, that's just insane. He leads the American League is OPS from, usually, the least productive position offensively Mauer is much of the reason as to why the Twins still have a chance this season.

So when I think of what kind of team that I would like to see, it's really not that far off from what the Brewers had this season. Of course, an upgrade would be needed at catcher, and Corey Hart's production would have to improve, but this team has a really good makeup. Also, at the start of this season, the Brewers had a healthy Rickie Weeks at second.

With Weeks coming back next year and Mat Gamel coming up, next season looks very promising. The Brewers need to sign a cheap option at catcher and cut ties with Jason Kendall. Of course the pitching is a huge question mark, but this team is as far off as some think. So to answer the question, what I would want is something very similar to what the Brewers have going.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

OK, This is Getting Out of Control

I just got back from the Brewers action packed 8-6 loss against the Cincinnati Reds. Anytime the home team posts a five spot in the ninth to tie it, it was a great game. I found the excitement of the Brewers comeback overweighted by my frustration with Ken Macha's use of the bullpen. It is really starting to get out of hand.

I have mentioned numerous times on this blog of how poorly Macha has managed the pitching staff this season. I think that he can be to blame for the second worst earned run average in the National League.

Tonight, Macha threw Todd Coffey for three straight innings, in which Coffey threw a season high 46 pitches.

Although Coffey has shown an ability to go multiple innings before, there is no telling what kind of stress this is putting on his arm. Including tonight, Coffey has pitched more than one inning 19 times this season. He has pitched in back-to-back games 12 times. Although Coffey has been successful this season, this can only last for so long.

The majority of Coffey's overuse has come recently, while the bullpen has begun to falter. The first half of the season, the Brewers had one of the best bullpen's in the league. That bullpen was flourishing with great work from Coffey, Hoffman, DiFelice, Carlos Villanueva and Mitch Stetter. Everyone but Coffey and Hoffman have pitched horribly since then. Hoffman is unable to be overworked because the Brewers, simply, haven't had leads to bring him in. That is not the case for Coffey.

Lately, it seems that there is no lead too small or large for Todd to appear. Just last week Coffey pitched a scoreless 7th inning while the Brewers were leading 10-2. What is the point in using Coffey in a decided game. That is the reason we traded for David Weathers and Claudio Vargas. Those are the types of pitchers that are able to eat innings and help save a bullpen.

In his third inning tonight, Coffey gave up two home runs and the Brewers lost 8-6. What was the point in Coffey coming back out for the 13th? The only viable reason would have been that the Brewers were running out of pitchers. However, this was not the case. The Brewers had three pitchers remaining in their bullpen. Deadline acquisitions David Weathers and Claudio Vargas were not used. Lefty specialist Mitch Stetter was not used, even though Joey Votto was leading off the 13th. There were other options, but Macha has the most trust in Coffey. Sometimes, it seems that he only trusts Coffey.

This has been my biggest problem with Ken Macha. He seems to get his mind set with just some certain guys.

Mark DiFelice had a rough week against lefties earlier this season, where he surrendered a couple of home runs. Since then, DiFelice has been used primarily as a ROOGY (righty one out guy). That term is thrown out for someone who can't get lefties out. Although for that week he struggled, throughout his entire career in the minor leagues, he handled lefties pretty well. There is no question that Mark handles righties better, but that doesn't mean that he can't also get lefties. Anybody with DiFelice's control and ability to strike out batter should not be working in the fifth inning constantly- a role that Mark has found himself in lately.

I just wanted to point out one case in which Macha has lost trust in one of his relievers. There are for sure many other instances. The important thing is to regain the trust that he had earlier this season. The reason that this bullpen worked so well was that Macha had more than two pitchers that he trusted.

Coffey hasn't lost his effectiveness yet, but it has to be coming soon. Reliever pitchers in major league baseball are so delicate. Constant overuse of the will lead to ineffectiveness. Coffey is under control for the Brewers for a couple of years yet. There is no reason to waste his arm trying to finish .500 this season. I'm just saying why risk one of our best relievers to finish one game better. In the big picture, it's just not worth it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Should the Brewers Sell?

Lately, there has been a lot of talk that the Brewers should sell off some of their future free agents. This list includes Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, Mike Cameron and Trevor Hoffman. The real question is would this help the Brewers franchise?

A lot of writers have labeled it a no brainer to sell trade these players. While it may make some sense, I think it really depends on what you get back.

The Brewers have two type B free agents out of these players. This means that if the Brewers were to hang onto these players until the end of the season, they would receive a sandwich pick (between the 1st and 2nd rounds) in the amateur draft. To get the draft pick, they would have to offer the players arbitration and have them decline and sign elsewhere. The two players are Mike Cameron and Jason Kendall. I have no idea how Kendall is considered a type B free agent. I really think the current system that is in place needs to be examined if a team losing Kendall receives compensation.

Cameron will for sure be offered arbitration, but Kendall certainly shouldn't. Although the Brewers risk losing the compensation pick, they shouldn't risk having Kendall accept and have him for another season.

The other two players are Trevor Hoffman and Craig Counsell.

Hoffman will be a type A free agent. This means that along with the sandwich pick, the Brewers would receive a top pick in either the first or second round.

Counsell, despite have a great 2009 will not make the list as a type B free agent. So if he walks at the end of the season, the Brewers will get nothing for him.

After looking at this, I do agree the Brewers should sell some players. With Kendall, the Brewers could save $1 million this season. He shouldn't be offered arbitration in the offseason, meaning he wouldn't be of any value for the remainder of the season (not saying that he was of value at all this season). I don't know how any contender could have interest in him, but if there is a taker the Brewers should make the deal.

Counsell is not going to get the Brewers any compensation after this season, but only makes $150K for the rest of the year. With his play this season, he could be of value to a contender. He is a very versatile player that could fill a void. Off the top of my head, the White Sox would make sense. Their second base job has been up for grabs with both current players struggling. I do also think that he could net us a semi-decent prospect in return. Even if he does leave, he has always said how much he likes Milwaukee and probably would want to come back as a free agent next season.

With Cameron and Hoffman, the sale doesn't seem as easy as you would think. If the Brewers trade either player, we would lose the draft picks that we could receive for them. With Hoffman's season so far, it is likely that he would be attractive to any team looking for a one year closer this offseason. Cameron seems like a very underrated CF and probably would receive some interest in the free agent market. I am a huge fan of Cameron and I would like to see him back next season. An option could be to trade him and then pick him up in the offseason.

If either Cameron or Hoffman is traded, the Brewers would have to get a good prospect in return. Hoffman is worthy of a player who could match a first rounder and Cameron should be worth at least a player with the caliber of a second round pick. This is what makes a trade for either of these players so tough. What team is going to give up a top prospect for a month of Cameron, or Hoffman.

Although it might look like a no brainer, these trades are so tough to finish. Instead of working with the entire league, the Brewers are working with just the team that claims that particular player. This is why a lot of big players are not moved after the July 31st deadline.

I say we get rid of Kendall and Counsell because it would be beneficial to cut cost, while also maybe getting a prospect. We might as well put Hoffman and Cameron on waivers and see what happens. Worst case scenario, we pull them back and nothing happens. It's really not a no brainer in trading these players, although it is a no brainer to at least see what we might be able to get.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brewers True Money Values

There are many different statistics that can be measured in baseball. That is what makes the game so great. How can you determine the actual value of a player to a baseball team. Lucky for us, in this age, we have systems that are able to calculate the true value of a player to a given team. What a great era we live in.

Baseball sites are able to plug in a players statistics and determine what he is actually worth to that team for that given season. I have found this to be a great way to analyze how effective a player is/can be for a team.

Personally, I feel the best way to determine the true value of a player is to take his actual salary and compare it to what he is actually worth. This gives you an example of how good a player is based on the contract he signed. For example of I sign John Smith for $5 million and he has a statistical value of $7 million for my team, I just netted a $2 million profit.

Of course, not all players are in their free agency years. It is tough to rate a player like Rickie Weeks considering the Brewers are not paying him what he would garnish in the free agent market. So for this article, I am going to shy away from looking at players values differences (between actual and statistical) that are still in their arbitration.

The Brewers are an amazing case when looking at true money values. Statistically, the Brewers offense alone is worth $87 million, that ranks fourth in all of major league baseball (1st in the NL). The bad thing for the Brewers is that the pitching has only been worth $12.5 million, that ranks last in all of major league baseball. A trend that produces that kind of difference in quite alarming.

The Brewers most valuable player this season has been Prince Fielder who is on pace to be worth over $28 million this season. What a truly remarkable season Prince is putting together. He is still putting up that type of value despite having a below average fielding ability. Prince is making $7 million this season, so he is essentially netting the Brewers a +$21 million return on their investment.

Ryan Braun ranks second among Brewers with a true value on pace for $25 million.

Brewers fans may be surprised who ranks after those two in value.

The Brewers third most valuable player this season is Mike Cameron. Many fans seemed confused when the Brewers exercised his $10 million option last season. There is a false conception that Cameron is not a good hitter because he "strikes out too much" and "doesn't come up with clutch hits." Cameron has played stellar defense in 2009 and has also seen his walk chart soar. For these reasons, along with solid power numbers, Cameron is on pace to have a true value of $18 million dollars. That nets the Brewers +$8 million profit on the option "they shouldn't have exercised."

Behind Cameron in position players value is soon to be 39 year old Craig Counsell. Counsell signed a one year $1 million deal with the Brewers this offseason. Counsell's defensive abilities have always been a plus, but no one could have foreseen his season at the plate. Counsell is on pace for an actual value of $14 million, which nets the Brewers a +13 million profit.

For pitchers, Yovani Gallardo has been the only valuable starting pitcher the Brewers have had. Gallardo is on pace to have a true value of $16 million. The next closest starter is Manny Parra who, believe it or not, is on pace to have a true value of just under $6 million.

The other top values for pitchers have come out of the bullpen. Todd Coffey is having an incredible season and is on pace to lead relievers with a $8 million value. Following closely behind is Trevor Hoffman whose value is $7 million. Hoffman will end up earning his salary even though he is rarely given save opportunities and missed all of April.

So what is dragging this team down?

Two of the more harped on Brewers this season have been J.J. Hardy and Bill Hall, but in terms of value, there are others to blame. Hardy's defensive ability has been amazing this season. Even though he is having his worst season at the plate, he still will have a value of about $7 million by seasons end. Hall was making $6.8 this season and actually has a true value of nothing. His defensive ability has offset his terrible numbers at the plate.

The worst offensive player for the Brewers in 2009 has been Jason Kendall. According to league average, having Kendall, rather than an average catcher has cost the Brewers an incredible 17.7 runs this season. That means if he keeps up this pace, having Jason in the lineup the majority of the time will cost the Brewers 23 runs this season. For a reference point Prince Fielder is on pace to have a positive 55 runs for his play this season. Although having Fielder in the lineup helps, there is no reason that Kendall should have started all season long.

The second worst offensive player this season has been J.J. Hardy. Having Hardy start everyday has cost the Brewers offense 12 runs this season. However, Hardy is able to offset and gain back those runs with his incredible fielding ability and arm strength. With his fielding, Hardy constitutes a player that has generate 1.4 wins this season above what a replacement could have. Yes, Hardy has not played up to potential this season, but it is not his fault the Brewers are where they are.

This article is purely a look at the statistical analysis of the 2009 Milwaukee Brewers. I, myself have become increasingly frustrated with this team over the past couple of months. When a player fails to come through in a "clutch" situation we find ourselves angry at him. That is the beauty of statistics. They take an object approach to looking at the game of baseball. It is not J.J. Hardy's fault this team is where they are. Mike Cameron is not a bad player, although many people will tell he is. Statistics don't lie.

Brewers Hit Rock Bottom

Last night, the Brewers fell to four games under .500 for the first time since early April (4-9). What has been so alarming is how badly the Brewers have looked in the process.

The Brewers playoff chances have been slim for quite some time now, but during Sunday's Brewers game, fans were actually starting to see some good baseball. The Brewers carried a three game winning streak into Sunday and had a 5-4 lead with two outs in the eight inning. That's when things started going wrong.

Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer and the Astros went onto to defeat the Brewers 8-5.

The Brewers then traveled to Pittsburgh to face the last place Pirates, a team they usually dominate. The Brewers were swept by the Buccos without putting up much of a fight.

The Brewers now find themselves 58-62 with 42 games remaining in the season. According to, the Brewers have a 1% chance of making the playoffs. As much as it pains me to say this, it is time to start looking to next season.

While it is still possible the Brewers make the playoffs, the grim reality is it's highly probable that they don't. The Brewers need to do a couple of things for the remainder of this season.

1. Limit Yovani Gallardo

The Cincinnati Reds just lost their top starter in Edinson Volquez to Tommy John Surgery. He is likely going to be out until 2011. The Brewers need to start to watch how Ken Macha is handling Yovani. There have been far too many starts this season where Yo's pitch count has climbed close to 120 pitches. Young starting pitching is too valuable to risk at this point in the season. Yovani's arm has never has to shoulder the kind of load he has dealt with this season. Is it really worth risking 2010 to go after a couple extra innings with Yo? Of course not. With Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan coming back it should take some pressure off Yo to throw 120 pitches every outing. At least I hope it will.

2. Determine what to do at catcher

Let's face it, Jason Kendall is way past his prime. He has been a drain on this team the entire season. Fans should know something is wrong when "start Mike Rivera" is being yelled constantly. Not to say that Rivera isn't an alright backup, but he has no business starting everyday in the major leagues. I have posed the possibility of using McGehee behind the plate. Other internal options include Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy, although they may not be ready to perform at the major league level yet. If the Brewers are not able to find a solution inside the organization at catcher, it is time that one is acquired. The offense this season has been amazing, just think if Kendall wasn't in the lineup everyday the number we could put up.

3. What to do with management

There has been a lot of public outcry over the way this team has played this season and somebody will be held responsible. While I don't feel that Doug Melvin made any moves that killed the organization's chances this season, he might be the scapegoat. Mark A has shown that he will step in if he feels the team in under performing (I still think that the Hardy/Hall moves were his doing). Ken Macha also has to be careful, this team is under his watch. There is no reason that the group of players the Brewers have should be 58-62, and someone I think will be gone after the season.

The season, as bad as it is right now, is not over yet. Hang in there Brewer fans. It could be worse, we could be watching the 2002 Milwaukee Brewers (56-106).

Hall Sent to Mariners

Bill Hall was just traded to the Seattle Mariners for Ruben "Buddy" Flores. Hall had been rumored in trade talks with the Cincinnati Reds, but a deal was unable to be reached.

The Brewers DFA'd Hall last Wednesday giving them 10 days to make a trade involving Hall. When the Brewers decided to make this move, they made it very difficult on themselves to trade Hall for a decent return.

Ruben Flores is a 25 year old pitcher who was closing for the Mariners Single A affiliate.

Flores was a 12th round draft pick of the Mariners back in 2003. He really hasn't been able to move through the system well. Throughout his career, Flores has shown good strikeout numbers. He is averaging just under 10 K/9 in his minor league career. He has struggled to find the strike zone, walking 5.4 per nine innings. He has been used mainly as a reliever in his professional career.

The biggest part of the this deal for the Brewers was how much it was going to cost them financially. The Brewers agreed to pay the entire remainder of Hall's 2009 salary. That means Hall will receive about $1.6 million from the Brewers this season. In addition, the Brewers have agreed to pay a "large portion" of Hall's 2010 salary. I'm hearing from a couple of different sources that this could be as much as $7 million.

By trading Hall, the Brewers saved $1.9 million off of next seasons salary.

I would think the Brewers should have been able to get a little more value for Hall. I understand that they were working around a deadline, but a 25 year old closer who is in A ball seems like a odd return. I would like this trade more if the Mariners would have picked up more than just $1.9 million. If the Reds really were willing to make a trade straight up for one of their starters, I don't understand why the Brewers were unwilling to pull the trigger. If you are going to get a lower level prospect, you have to be able to lose some of his salary.

It is tough to beat up Melvin for this move. When the Brewers DFA'd Hall, it didn't seem like a move that Melvin would make. Was he pressured into this move by management? I don't know, but DFAing Hall really forced his hand. They have to pay Hall's remaining salary this season anyway, why not just hold onto him and try to work a deal this offseason?

When an organization makes moves out of frustration (like they did last Wednesday), it puts a lot of pressure on future moves. The Brewers handcuffed themselves when they made this decision.

For the Mariners this seems like a good trade. They essentially got Hall for nothing. They gave up a pitcher who ran out of opportunities in their organization, and they only need to pay Hall $1.9 million over the next season plus. Who knows, Bill might just need a chance to play everyday. He will get that chance in Seattle with little pressure on him to perform.

In the back of my mind I thought that Hall might be headed to the Yankees. New York has been looking to shed Kei Igawa's contract for quite some time. Igawa is signed through 2011 (one more year than Hall) and is owed $9 million over the next two plus seasons. Igawa has pitched solidly in AAA for New York but is not going to break into the rotation in the big leagues. The Yankees already didn't have room for Phil Hughes so Igawa is likely never going to start a game for New York. I would have loved to see Igawa traded straight up for Hall.

It's tough to grade Melvin based on this trade. There is no telling if there was any truth to the rumors involving the pitchers mentioned above. There was said to be some interest in Hall, but how much? Hall has batted poorly for three straight seasons. He was owed a ridiculous amount of cash for the next season plus. Getting $1.9 million back might have been a great move by Melvin, there is just no way of telling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bill Hall to the Reds? Arroyo/Harang as a Return?

There have been numerous reports that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in acquiring recently DFA'd third baseman Bill Hall.

When the Brewers designated Bill for assignment last Wednesday, I thought they were going to have to eat the remainder of his salary. I guess I never thought that we could actually get someone to take his contract, let alone get somebody decent in return.

Reports are that the Reds are considering parting with either Bronson Arroyo, or Aaron Harang, in order to acquire Hall. Both Harang and Arroyo have already cleared waivers, so a trade involving either of them would work.

Both Arroyo and Harang's contracts are up in 2010, although both have options that come with expensive buyouts. Arroyo is on the hook for $11 million next season and Harang is due $12.5 million. Arroyo's 2011 team option is for $11 million, with a $2 million buyout, although that option could increase to $13 million based on his innings pitched. Harang's option is for $12.75, but immediately jumps to $14 million if he is traded. Harang's option also becomes mutual if he is traded, and it comes with a $2.5 million buyout.

The Brewers are on the hook right now for Bill Hall's 2009 contract ($8.4 million) and his 2010 buyout ($.5 million). That means that the Brewers will have to fork out a total of $8.9 million to Hall in 2009 even though he won't be playing for them.

So what would a trade for either Harang or Arroyo mean?

The more attractive of the two pitchers is Harang. He has a K/BB ratio this season that is 3.5/1. Although his last two years in Cincinnati have been disappointing, he has been an unlucky pitcher. His BABIP is second to worst in MLB (only trails Manny Parra). He also suffers from the Great American Ballpark's small design. Before those two bad seasons, Harang posted three consecquetive seasons with ERA's in the threes. In two of those seasons, he struck out over 200 batters.

A trade straight up for Hall would put the Brewers on the hook for an additional $1 million this season and another $6.1 million next season. A pitcher of Harang's quality is clearly worth a one year deal at $6 million. Keep in mind that the Brewers signed Braden Looper to a one year/$6 million deal last offseason. Something tells me that Harang would pitch a lot better than Looper has this season.

The other option would be Bronson Arroyo. This seems a little more likely for the Reds to do. After three solid seasons in Cincinnati, Arroyo's strikeouts have considerably declined this season. During the three years prior, Arroyo averaged 7 K/9. This season, although his walks have remained low (3.1 BB/9), his strikeouts have fallen to just 5 K/9. Arroyo would look just as attractive to the Brewers as Harang had his strikeouts not completely fallen off this season. He still is a solid pitcher that pitches in a very hitter friendly park.

Arroyo was recently in the news when he predicted that his name would be on a steroid list in the future. He took an enhancer that was not illegal, although Arroyo thinks that it may have been tainted with steroids. He has since stopped using the drug.

An Arroyo-Hall trade would put the Brewers again on the hook for an additional $1 million this season. In 2010, again assuming both options are declined, the Brewers would have an addition $2.1 million next season, or $4.1 if he reaches he innings pitched bonus. Again a contract that small seems like quite the bargain for Arroyo.

A trade straight up for either of these players seems like it would be a dream for the Brewers. I honestly figured the Brewers wouldn't get any return on Hall, let alone some solid starting pitching. Harang,or Arroyo, would instantly be plugged in the two spot, behind Yovani Gallardo, in the Brewers rotation. They would pitch for next season and would greatly help cure the 2009 pitching woes.

Sure Bill Hall has killed the Reds in the past, but he is not the same hitter he was a couple of years ago. It is unwise to acquire a player based solely on performance against your team. The Brewers signed Jeff Suppan and cited his success in Miller Park as a reason. I think they would like to have that one back.

I don't know what the Reds are thinking in this trade. Although a little pricey, Arroyo and Harang's contracts are not that bad. It seems odd that they couldn't find value for trading these two. It is important to note that Walt Jocketty did just acquire Scott Rolen to play third base. I don't know where Hall would play, but you can't put this trade past Jocketty. Like the Rolen trade, this seems to make no sense. Hopefully Doug Melvin is able to swing a deal before Jocketty is able to realize it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bullpen Dilemma

After a frustrating loss in the series finale to the Houston Astros, it seems a little odd on how the Brewers have been managing their bullpen of late.

Braden Looper was pulled after the sixth inning with the Brewers leading 5-4. Ken Macha decided to give the ball to Claudio Vargas to protect a one run lead in the 7th inning. Vargas walked one, but kept the lead after tossing a scoreless frame.

After the Brewers then failed to score in the 7th, Macha sent David Weathers out for the 8th. Weathers was slated to face Berkman (switch hitter), Lee (righty), and Blum (switch hitter). After walking Berkman to start the inning, Weathers was able to strike out Lee and get Blum to groundout. With a base open at first, the Brewers elected to pitch to Hunter Pence, rather then walking him and going after Ivan Rodriguez. Pence proceeded to hit an opposite field two run home run, giving the Astros a 6-5 lead.

Rodriguez had been a terrible hitter this season and has seen his power completely diminish. It's tough to think why the Brewers pitched to Pence with Rodriguez waiting on deck.

The thing that seemed so surprising was that the Brewers didn't elect to use Todd Coffey. Coffey has been lights out this season and has been an excellent setup man. So why did the Brewers use him?

Coffey was getting an off day because he had pitched in the first two games of the series. This is the biggest problem that I have had with Ken Macha this season. Macha has considerably overused his better arms in the bullpen.

The first two games of the series, that Coffey both pitched in, were well in hand. Coffey pitched the 7th inning on Friday night with the Brewers already up by eight runs. Coffey then tossed a scoreless ninth inning with the Brewers winning by four. I can understand using Coffey in yesterday's game, but there was no reason that he should have pitched on Friday night. Why use one of your best bullpen arms in a game that is well in hand? He was forced to go with Weathers tonight because he wasted Coffey when we really didn't need him.

Macha needs to learn to trust the other members of the bullpen. There is no pitcher on the Brewers that Macha should be worried about protecting a large lead. It not only frustrating that we could have won today, but that he might be overworking these guys and hurting their arms for next year.

Claudio Vargas is a pitcher that should be inserted in a mop up role, not Todd Coffey. Today's result could have been different if Macha would have been smarter on Friday and Saturday.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Are the Brewers Pitchers Unlucky?

When the Brewers pitching staff started out the year so effectively, many fans were talking about how good the pitching was. I said to many people I talked to that the pitching staff was overachieving and would probably not keep it up.

Since the great start, the pitching has been horrendous. It seems those same fans that were enthusiastic about the pitchers are now slamming the staff.

There is no way the Brewers pitchers were as good as they started. The important thing to remember is that they are not as bad as they have pitched over the last two months. The Brewers staff falls somewhere in the middle.

The whole season I have looked at how effective the bullpen has been. That has not been the case over the past couple of weeks. The starting pitching is to blame for this. It seemed for quite some time that the Brewers starters were only going five innings, or less, every game. That would leave the remaining four, or more innings, to the bullpen. After a couple of weeks of this, even the best of bullpens are going to get worn down. That shows just how important starting pitching in baseball is.

Injuries and ineffectiveness certainly haven't been prevalent this season. Nothing hurt the Brewers more than when Dave Bush went down over a month ago. Manny Parra was also demoted to the minor leagues after an inability to find the strike zone. The pitchers that replaced them in the rotation didn't get it done on two fronts. Not only did Mike Burns and Seth McClung struggle in the rotation, they just didn't pitch deep into games. As the season progresses, two inning starts don't only hurt your chances of winning that game, they kill your bullpen.

After mentioning Parra, I thought it would be fun to pass on something I just read about him (credit to Coming into today's start, Manny Parra had the 14th highest career BABIP (batting average of balls batted into play) with at least 200 IP in major league history. This season, when hitters make contact against Parra, they are hitting .365 (before todays start). The league average for pitchers is right around .300. Today, Parra went 5.2 innings and struck out seven. That means that Parra got ten of his 17 outs via his defense. Against Parra today, the Padres had 13 hits. This means that Parra BABIP today was .565 (13-23). With the start, Parra's BABIP raised to .377 (139-369). The next pitcher with the highest BABIP this season is Aaron Harang, who is .030 points lowers at .347. That's just plain bad luck, not only today, but all season.

There is no way that those kind of statistics can keep up. BABIP is essentially a stat that determines one's luck. If someones BABIP is too low, he is a very lucky pitcher. These averages will even out eventually. Parra is a good pitcher when he throws strikes. Maybe fans will understand when Parra is so reluctant to put the ball over the plate. He is in fact the 14th unluckiest pitcher in baseball history (pitchers with at least 200 IP), with a .350 BABIP in his career.

Many people like to discredit this stat. They argue that if a pitcher has better stuff, or is just a good pitcher, his BABIP would be lower than a bad pitcher. I will compare Jeff Suppan (a bad pitcher will bad stuff), to Tim Lincecum (an amazing pitcher with amazing stuff). It might strike you as odd that these two pitchers have identical BABIP averages this season (both .318). This is why I feel that if you are able to limit walks and strikeout many hitters, you will be a good pitcher in the major leagues. Lincecum is able to accomplish both those things, while Suppan is not. That is why Suppan is averaging more than three more earned runs per nine innings than Lincecum. Suppan's ERA sits at an embarrassing 5.27, while Lincecum leads the majors with a 2.19 ERA.

Another pitcher that has seen a big digression this season is Braden Looper. Although his BABIP is right near his career average, his ERA sky rocketed. What is the reasoning behind this?

Looper has a very respectable 4.06 career ERA. This season, it currently sits at 4.99. His ground ball to fly ratio this season is 1.35-1, as opposed to 1.56-1 for his career. That is a slight increase in fly balls, but not enough to warrant a full run higher in ERA. One stat that jumped out right away was that Looper is currently allowing 1.91 HR/9. That is opposed to a career HR/9 of 0.98. So how can someone's HR/9 jump nearly one per nine innings? I guess when warning track fly balls start going out. This season, when a pop up/fly ball is hit off Looper, 18% of the time it goes for a home run. That is up more than 6% from his career average. I know that Miller Park is considered a hitters park, but no where near that much.

The luck of the Brewers pitchers is going to have to start to change. They are not walking batters at a ridiculous rate. The strikeouts are also fine. They shouldn't have a team ERA of 4.9, they are just too talented.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brewers Continue with Moves (Claim Doug Davis)

The Brewers have claimed Doug Davis off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. If something is worked out, this will be his second stint as a Brewers.

Davis, 33, is 7-10 this season with a 3.62 ERA for the light hitting Arizona Diamondbacks. He has consistently proved that he can eat innings, while walking and striking out a good amount of batters. I wouldn't say that he struggles with control, but that he is more stubborn than wild. He will walk you if he would rather pitch to the next batter.

He is owed about $2.6 million for the remainder of the season. Davis also projects as a type B free agent. This means that if he is let go at years end, Davis would land the Brewers a compensation pick in the next amateur draft.

I am hearing that the Diamondbacks are not fully intending to deal Davis. I don't understand why they wouldn't make this trade, especially if the Brewers gave up a semi-decent prospect in return. It essentially comes down to $2.6 million vs a sandwich pick in next years draft. If I was the D'Backs I would seriously try to get this trade done before the 48 hours is up. It makes more sense to deal Davis and get a prospect and free up money in return.

So, if it happens, how good of a move is this? It really depends on what the Brewers give back in return.

Considering his type B status, I would think the D'Backs are going to want something in return. If we are able to swap Davis for a mid to low level prospect, this is a great trade for the Brewers. He will, at the very least, be able to eat some innings for this overworked pitching staff.

I personally like Davis a lot. He can be frustrating at times to watch, but it can't be much worse than what the fans have seen for the last two months.

It really just boils down to what the Brewers gave up in return. As for now, I like what the Brewers are thinking here.

Blame Storming Session (Heads Roll)

The Milwaukee Brewers, coming off an embarrassing 13-6 at the hands of the San Diego Padres, decided today that they hit rock bottom. It was time for a change.

The Brewers started the day by firing pitching coach Bill Castro.

Castro has not faired well in his first season at the position. I don't think that the Brewers ineffectiveness is completely Castro's fault. He was put into a tough situation with what he had to work with this season. However, somebody had to take the fall and Castro's pitching staff was ranked second to last in the national league. It's a lot easier to fire a pitching coach rather than revamp the entire staff.

The next move came when J.J. was optioned to AAA Nashville. To take his spot, the Brewers called up Alcides Escobar to start at SS.

When this move first came out I thought to myself, "why?" I thought it was going to kill Hardy's trade value. I then realized the thinking behind it.

Hardy was struggling with the bat and will probably be outproduced by Escobar for the remainder of the season. That's not why Melvin made the move, however. If J.J. spends more than 20 days in the minors, he will have to wait another season before he qualifies for outright free agency. Look for J.J. to come up right after those 20 days, no matter how he performs at AAA. At first, I thought this move would hurt his trade value. I couldn't have been more mistaken. Even if Hardy is traded, he will be under that teams control through 2011. With him still being under arbitration, his value to the Brewers, and other clubs, skyrockets.

The Brewers insisted that this wasn't the reason behind sending Hardy down. They stated that he needed to go and have fun and stop pressing. They said that AAA Nashville was the best place for him to regain his form. Although I highly doubt this was the reasoning, they had to say something to try and get Hardy to buy it.

Either way you look at it, it seems that Alcides Escobar will be the future shortstop of the Brewers. This move really won't effect his service time much because I think he will be the opening day starting shortstop in 2010. I just think Hardy's days as a Brewers are numbered at the moment.

The final move occurred when the Brewers DFA'd Bill Hall and used his roster spot to call up OF Jason Bourgeois.

Hall has looked completely lost at the plate this season. Melvin says that there has been some interest in Hall. If a team does take on Hall's contract, I'll be shocked. He is owed another $2 million this year, followed by $8.4 million next season. Hopefully someone has interest in him and will take some of his remaining salary.

Bourgeois, 27, was playing solidly for Nashville this season. He doesn't have much power at all. He is a guy that can get on base somewhat and steal some bases. He is a switch hitter, so he will probably get a few starts in RF while Hart is returning from injury. The only other right handed hitting bench player that could play the outfield was Hall.

This team has not performed to the level that they are capable of. Something needed to be addressed. I was shocked that they released Hall, which basically forces them to eat the remainder of his salary. The Hardy move was complete genius on Melvin's behalf. I am looking forward to watching Escobar everyday. Lets hope he is everything he is cracked up to be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Melvin Interview; Interest In Padilla

I just heard Doug Melvin's interview on 1250 WSSP in Milwaukee. He had some rather interesting comments regarding the future of the Milwaukee Brewers.

One of the first things that jumped out at me was how much Melvin liked newly acquired infielder Felipe Lopez. From Melvin's comments, it would seem that the Brewers have great interest in keeping Lopez past this season. I, for one, like Lopez a lot. The only confusing thing about that comment, is where does that leave J.J. Hardy?

Melvin next addressed that by using his patent, "we're not motivated to move him" line. It seems whenever Doug has said that in the past the player has been moved. I am not so sure on how much I like trading Hardy. This offseason, Hardy's trade value was off the charts. He was coming off two stellar seasons with his bat and glove. This season, although he has remained a great defender, his batting stats have regressed. He has posted a .228/.300/.367/.667 line in 368 at bats. One of the things that made J.J. so valuable was his ability to hit out of a spot (SS) that rarely generates much offensive production. I wouldn't sell J.J. right now. His value is much lower than what he can be worth.

Melvin's final comments related to this past offseason. He discussed how relieved he was that he didn't bite on some of the other, higher priced, pitchers this offseason. He cited the poor work from John Smoltz and Oliver Perez as examples. This is one thing that gets overlooked when grading Melvin this year. If the Brewers would have wasted their money last year, they wouldn't have any flexibility this coming offseason.

Today, it was reported that the Brewers may have interest in recently DFA'd pitcher Vicente Padilla. Padilla signed a gigantic $33 million deal just 2 1/2 years ago with the Rangers. If the Brewers did get him, it would not be in any trade. There is no way they would be willing to eat any of the remaining money on his contract. I don't really see the point in going after Padilla. With Bush coming back soon, I really don't see him as much of an upgrade of what we already have.

Monday, August 10, 2009

John Smoltz

John Smoltz was designated for assignment after his most recent drubbing at the hands of the Yankees. This gives the Red Sox ten days to try to work out a trade and shed the remainder of John Smoltz contract. The Brewers have been named by a couple of publications as a suitor for Smoltz.

Smoltz, 42, is certainly not a long term solution for the Brewers, but would certainly help this season. After Sunday's loss, the Brewers fell six games behind the front running St. Louis Cardinals. The real question Doug Melvin needs to answers is are the Brewers playoff hope completely finished?

I still have hope for this season. The Brewers have shown the ability to play good baseball. This is the same team that went 25-6 over a stretch this year. I think that 88 wins is going to take this division. The Brewers have nine games remaining with the Cards and seven games against the Cubs. If the Brewers are able to play well, they could gain ground very quickly. If the division is won at 88, that means the Brewers would have to go 33-18 over the final 51 games.

An acquisition of Smoltz would surely help the Brewers chances in winning those 33 games. Lets break down what a trade for Smoltz would mean.

Smoltz is owed about $2 million in base salary for the remainder of this season. There is also a clause that the Red Sox have to pay him $35,000 each day he is on the major league roster. The Brewers would have to pick up this if he is acquired in a trade. That adds about $1.5 million to his salary, making it about a $3.5 million investment for the Brewers. I think would be a route the Brewers would not like to take. Smoltz has a proven track record of being a great pitcher, but from what he has shown thus far in Boston, after his surgery, $3.5 million seems like a lot.

The Brewers best option on Smoltz would be to wait for his outright release. The Brewers, if they were able to get him interested, would only have to pay him the league minimum for the remainder of the season. There are a couple of problems with this strategy. The Brewers would not be the only team interested in Smoltz. Also, if Smoltz was released, there is nothing to say that he wouldn't retire.

If the Brewers were able to acquire Smoltz who would be the odd man out in the rotation? When Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan come back, the Brewers rotation would be full. The starting five would be Gallardo, Bush, Parra, Looper and Suppan. Parra has seemed to find his stride and Suppan is probably the worst pitcher of the bunch. I just don't think that the Brewers would put their $40+ million investment in the bullpen. So I think the Brewers would move Parra to the bullpen if Smoltz was acquired.

Smoltz has been less than stellar this season, but by no means do I think he is done. His K/BB ratio was well over three in Boston. Opposing batters were hitting over .340 this year against him. He was giving up close to a HR every four innings. Those are numbers that will not continue to happens to a really bad pitcher, let alone Smoltz. He would be moving from the AL East to the NL Central, a transition that any pitcher would love.

The fact of the matter is that Smoltz does have something left in the tank. This is the same pitcher that dominated the Brewers last season. I would be even more interesting in him if the Brewers were right in the thick of things. The Brewers have to decide if they have a chance at the playoffs. If they think they do, a Smoltz acquisition would go a long way to help those chances.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stormy on His Way Back

The Brewers just traded for David Weathers from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later.

Weathers, 39, has about $1.2 million left on his contract this season. The Brewers will have a club option on whether to keep Weathers next season. The option is for $3.7 million with a $400K buyout if the Brewers decline the option.

Weathers has pitched effectively for the Reds this season as the setup man. He has posted a 3.32 ERA in 38 innings. He don't throw very hard, but he knowns how to work the outside corner of the plate.

This move is to help the Brewers overworked bullpen. Lately Macha expressed concern over Mark DiFelice being tired. He said he was going to have to look at other options to bridge the gap to the eight inning. I would assume that this move make Weathers the Brewers new 7th inning guy.

Weathers contract is not going to kill the Brewers payroll. His option is not likely to be picked up. This means essentially the Brewers are on the hook for $1.7 million over the next two months. I don't completely hate the move, considering we didn't have to give anything up, but it seems like we could have gotten equal production from internal options.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Casey McGehee: What to Do?

When the Milwaukee Brewers broke camp, they surprised a lot of people when they placed Casey McGehee on the roster over Mike Lamb. No one would have thought that just four months later, McGehee would be protecting Prince Fielder, batting fifth in the Brewers order.

McGehee played his entire career in the Cubs organization. He put up solid, but not great numbers consistently throughout his six seasons for the Cubs. After a brief September call-up, McGehee was placed on waivers by the Cubs after last season. The Brewers picked up McGehee and have watched him deliver this season.

After Rickie Weeks was injured in early May, McGehee was cast into a big role on the Brewers. He started to split playing time at second base with Craig Counsell. He was then thrown over to 3rd base after Bill Hall continued to struggle. He now finds himself in the Brewers lineup consistently.

Although hampered by an injury, McGehee has looked incredible this season. In 67 games, McGehee is hitting .320 with nine home runs and 35 RBI in 193 at bats. His .899 OPS is third on the team only trailing Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

One of the things that GM Doug Melvin liked so much about McGehee was his ability to play so many positions. He has played a number of positions, including catcher, in the minor leagues. He has only shown a nice ability to play defense this season. His range has been hampered by his injury, but he rarely makes errors throwing the ball.

McGehee has surely been a surprise for the Brewers this season. Now, what should we do with him?

Rickie Weeks will be back next season. Mat Gamel is the third baseman of the future for the Brewers. So you are left with a couple of options.

McGehee is under Brewers control until 2013. This means that he is not eligible to a free agent until then. This is a huge reason why McGehee is so valuable. If he was already eligible for free agency, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion, he would probably be gone after the season.

McGehee, 26, has played catcher before in the minors. Could this be an option going forward? The Brewers don't have a can't miss catcher in their system. Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy are probably not going to be ready for a couple of years. Jason Kendall is bad and Mike Rivera (although he is killing the ball tonight) shouldn't be an everyday player. This seems like the most logical place to put McGehee.

The other option would be to trade McGehee. This would be a sell high technique on a player that has never put up the numbers he is this season. The real question is what do you think you could get back? McGehee, by himself, will probably not land you an ace. So would it be wise to package him with J.J. Hardy after this season to land a top tier (2-3 in the rotation) pitcher? It could be an option.

The best thing to do seems to mold him into a catcher. If he is able to give the Brewers some offensive production from the catcher's position, his value to this team is amazing. This is a great problem to have. Who would have thought we would be in this situation when McGehee made this team? Certainly not me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Baseball's Not Fair

"Life's not fair."

When you were growing up, did you ever that comment from your parents? I know I've heard it more than a few times. In my previous post relating to the Brewers basically releasing R.J. Swindle, something dawned on me. Baseball is like life, it's not fair.

Each organization in baseball assigns scouts to find talent that will help the team. These scouts are usually wowed by one thing, "raw talent." In a pitcher, that would be an ability to throw very hard, or have great break to your pitchers. In a position player, that would be the ability of blazing speed, great fielding ability, or the ability to make contact. These players that have that "raw talent" are given chance after chance to succeed in the major leagues.

On the other side of the fence, there are a lot of players that don't have this "raw talent," but are still able to put up solid numbers. I will use Brewers relief pitcher Mark DiFelice as an example.

DiFelice was drafted in the 15th round of the 1998 MLB amateur draft. DiFelice doesn't possess a 100 MPH fastball. He doesn't wow scouts with a large number of great pitches. In his time with the Brewers, he has generally thrown one pitch, an 82 MPH cut-fastball. The one thing DiFelice does possess is amazing control. He is a smart pitcher that knows how to get people to hit what he wants them to. This is how DiFelice has been able to succeed for the last year and a half. The amazing thing about DiFelice to me is how it took him so long to actually get his shot.

The Milwaukee Brewers are Mark DiFelice's fourth team. He never was able to make it to the major leagues with the first three. He has played independent ball for two different seasons, his most recent coming just three years ago. My question is how did this guy never get a chance to succeed at the major league level?

Mark has had great minor league numbers everywhere he has pitched. His career ERA in ten combined minor league seasons is 3.51. He has posted a K/BB ratio of almost five to one (1016-221). In the minor leagues, he was only averaging 1.6 BB/9. He was a starter for the majority of his early career and was never even given a chance. Mark made his first major league appearance last season in Boston for the Brewers. He has only succeeded in his time with the Brewers.

Over the past season and a half, DiFelice has thrown 60 major league innings. He has become one of the best relievers in the Brewers bullpen. He has struck out 59 batters, while only walking 15 (a 4/1 K/BB ratio). It is easy to say that Mark has played amazingly for a guy that didn't even pitch in an organization's minor leagues just three years ago. So what is the reason for the long road to the majors?

After the Brewers released R.J. Swindle today (someone with similar success as DiFelice and limited chances in the majors), I started to understand why these guys didn't get a chance. The only thing that makes sense is that these guys don't have that amazing "stuff" that scouts look for in pitchers. Both of the them top out in the high 80's. The truth of the matter is that you don't have to throw in the high 90's to be a good pitcher. The name of the game is location and movement. Both Swindle and DiFelice have those two things while other, "raw talented" players don't.

The best example I can think of as a "raw talent," with "great stuff" that is not a good pitcher is Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera pitched for the Baltimore Orioles for a number of seasons before coming to Washington this season. He has since been released, and picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He just keeps getting chance after chance to show something that is not there.

During his final three seasons with the Orioles, Cabrera posted ERA's of 4.74, 5.55 and 5.25. He showed no ability to locate any of his pitches. He walked over five batters per nine innings during this time. His strikeouts began decreasing, basically losing any value that he would have. In his final season with the O's, he walked 90 batters, while only striking out 95 in 180 innings. This being such a terrible season, the Orioles released Cabrera. After three bad seasons, Cabrera was given yet another chance with the Washington Nationals.

In the offseason, Cabrera signed a one year deal with the Nationals worth nearly $3 million. Why Cabrera was given this contract is beyond me. Sure the guy throws hard, but he has no idea where the ball is going and is not a talented pitcher. In nine games (eight starts) for the Nationals, Cabrera went 0-5 with a 5.85 ERA. He walked 35 guys in 40 innings, while only striking out 16. He was released by the Nationals after this horrendous display of ability. You would think that this would have ended his career, no it didn't.

Just a couple of days ago, Cabrera signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was given a opt out clause if he doesn't play in the major leagues by a certain date. My question to you is why does this guy keep getting chances?

The answer is the same reason why pitchers like Swindle and DiFelice are not given chances. The "stuff" that scouts see. Sure Cabrera throws harder than both pitchers, but is he anywhere near as good? No, people just think that he is magically going to gain control and turn into the next ace of their organization. Why do teams waste their money going after players that cannot pitch, while letting quality pitchers with proven stats rot in the minor leagues?

Stats are what run the game of baseball. Why are so many pitchers overlooked when they have proven an ability to pitch at all the levels leading up to the major leagues? Maybe the "stuff" and "raw talent" these scouts should be looking at is control and an ability to actually pitch and not 100 MPH fastballs that the pitcher has no idea where it's going. An 82 MPH cut-fastball with control is more effective than a pitch that consistently lights up the radar guns while walking batters on four pitches.

Am I Missing Something?

The Milwaukee Brewers made a strange roster move today. They designated R.J. Swindle for assignment in order to make room for Jesus Colome.

When a team designates a player for assignment, they have 10 days to do one of the following. They can trade the player, release the player, or they can place the player on waivers. If he is not claimed by a team, he can be sent to the minor leagues. The benefit of DFAing someone is that it clears a spot on the 40-man roster.

I cannot understand why the Brewers took this approach. Swindle is a very good pitcher that was never given a chance in the major leagues. He was only allowed to pitch six big league innings for the Brewers. Anybody can get lit up in six innings. It is just too small of a sample size to get an accurate judgement on a player. If someone were to judge Yovani Gallardo solely on his performance Tuesday night, he wouldn't be considered a good pitcher. It is so tough to accurately judge young talent without an extended look at the player.

Swindle really deserved a shot. He absolutely dominated AAA this season while he played for the Nashville Sounds. In 43.3 innings, Swindle posted a ERA of 1.03. He struck out 41 batters in that time, while only walking 13.

I think one of the reasons I like Swindle so much is the movement he is able to generate on his pitches. He throws three pitches consistently. My favorite pitch is his 52 MPH curveball. Every time Swindle throws that pitch for a strike, the batter is completely frozen. Here is a link to Swindle's baseballcube page. He has put up amazing numbers everywhere he has pitched.

I wish Swindle the best going forward and think that he will be a very good major league pitcher. I'm disappointed that the Brewers showed no patience with him. He has already been claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Swindle's replacement on the Brewers roster will be Jesus Colome.

Colome, 30, has an amazing arm. He has always struggled with control and location while pitching in the major leagues. He pitched very well in his brief time at AAA Nashville this season. Colome didn't surrender a run and struck out 11, while only walking two.

The only problem is that Colome has only pitched seven innings in the Brewers organization. I think it was a little premature to DFA Swindle based on 6.2 innings of poor work in the majors and promote Colome based on just seven innings in AAA.

One good thing about Colome is that he is able to go multiple innings. This is something that Swindle wasn't able to offer and something that this team desperately needs. The bullpen has been overworked due to short starts and needs some help eating up innings. Colome at the very least should be able to provide this.

I hope that I am wrong about Swindle, but I think the Brewers are going to regret this move in the long run. Colome wasn't going anywhere. There was no rush to make this move after only seven innings of work that we saw from him. I would have waited until more work was displayed before I gave up on a young lefty like Swindle.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Comments Have Been Opened

I just realized that you needed to be a member to post a comment on blogspot. I just changed it so it is open to anyone to post. Please keep it clean. I look forward to reading what you guys think.

Anthony Witrado Needs To Be Fired

After the over hyped incident last night, I found it very funny how the next day interviews were handled by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Anthony Witrado.

Last season, I was able to land an internship at WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee. I worked as a sports intern during the fall semester. I was fortunate enough to get to go to a lot of media events involving the Brewers. I met many different personalities in the field during my time at WISN. I ran into just about everyone that works covering the Brewers. This was the first time I met Anthony Witrado.

Witrado worked his way up from covering Prep Sports for the Journal Sentinel into a beat writer that covered the Milwaukee Brewers. I saw some of his earlier work and thought one thing, he wasn't very talented. How he was promoted to the current position he now holds is beyond me.

The first time I saw him was in a press conference with Ned Yost after a Brewers game. Witrado was decked out in his usual work attire of baggy jeans and a FUBU shirt. He had a very distinct personality about him. He gave off the mentality that he was better than everybody else. This translated in his writings frequently. I looked at a segment where Witrado answered questions for fans labeled the Brewers mailbag. Here are some actual questions that Witrado answered. Great professionalism, eh?

Q: John of Pittsburgh - I've only read a few dozen emails, but I must say to Anthony that you come off as an arrogant know-it-all, yet you don't even seem to have the reporting knack to find out how they clean the bleachers/seats at the park (a legit question). I'm fairly sure this won't make the mailbag, but you should know that this is the way you are seen to one outsider (Yes, still a Buccos fan after all the losing :( ... sigh) I hope you can take this as simple constructive criticism and not a personal attack. Regards, JS

A: Anthony Witrado - They wipe them with a towel, although it's not like I sit in the ballpark after games studying the fad of cleaning up after people. I'm too busy knowing everything.

Q: Justin of Milwaukee - Anthony, you come off like an arogant prick with your responses. Valid questions are only met with sarcastic non-answers. Doesn't take much to be a Brewers beat writer, does it?

A: Anthony Witrado - Usually not.

Q: Jeff of Fredonia - How does an idiot like you keep his job?

A: Brewers Mailbag - I know people.

I am not saying that these people were completely respectful to Witrado in their questions, but wouldn't you expect a little bit more out of a professional journalist. This type of behavior would be common on a middle school playground, but not in a major newspaper.

One of the reasons Witrado seems to be popular with some fans is the constant negativity he displays. I have the great pleasure of going to many games to watch the Brewers play. My biggest problem with the fans of my hometown is how negative they are towards the Brewers. I heard so many people write the team off with two weeks left last season, Witrado included. The Brewers made the playoffs, and everyone jumped right back on the bandwagon. For how much criticism the Brewers take, you would think the majority of people in Milwaukee are Cubs fans.

Witrado frequently points out the negative in any situation that he is presented with. Just take one glance at a game log on the Brewers Blog on He will write one or two lines when the Brewers do something well. As soon as a lead is blown, an error is made, or a big situation is screwed up, Witrado begins his assault on why the Brewers are not a good baseball team. I have held in my frustration up until this incident with Prince Fielder and Guillermo Mota.

For some reason, Witrado was given the responsibility of representing the Journal at the game last night. After the game, Fielder went after Guillermo Mota outside the Dodgers clubhouse (See post below for details). Witrado admitted that he was in the press box still, and did not see what happened. Witrado stated that he went down to see what was going on and saw an enraged Fielder that was "cussing" in front of everybody. I was eating lunch today when I first saw Witrado's name appear as a guest on ESPN today. I thought the entire situation was overblown and couldn't believe that ESPN was focusing so much on it. Witrado recognized this, and future interviews, as a chance to be cast into the spotlight. He made it publicly known how immature Prince Fielder's actions were. He gave a first hand account of what happened when Prince stormed into the clubhouse. The problem with that was that he already admitted to not being there. I was unable to obtain the interview with ESPN, but was able to get audio from his interview with 1250 WSSP in Milwaukee.

I understand that this national spotlight for Witrado is big, but why would he handle it the way he did? He basically bashes Prince, and the Brewers, for the entire interview. This is the team, and star player, that he covers for a job. If I was a Brewers player, I would not give this guy another interview for the remainder of the season. He is a jerk that will throw anyone to the wolves in order to look out for himself. The anchors on ESPN could have cared less what Anthony's personal opinion were anyway, they wanted to know what happened. Anthony Witrado was in the press box at the time of the original incident. How can he give an accurate representation of something that he didn't see?

It's not that I have a personal vendetta against Witrado; I just think somebody should shed light on a no talent jerk. He gets paid to cover the Brewers and works for the fans. He treats the fans like crap with condescending answers to serious question. He has one job to do, keep the fans interested in the Journal Sentinel and the Brewers. Being a jerk to the people that basically employ you is a bad idea. He took a minor incident and made it into a huge spectacle on national television. He needs to be fired, not only for this incident, but a couple of years of poor work.

I'll leave you with one final quote...

Q: Adam of Milwaukee - Hey Anthony, there are so many great blogs about the Brewers that in my mind serve as mainly a way for people to get excited about this Brewers season. I don't see anything wrong with that! Do you!

A: Anthony Witrado - Not so much, but those people are also not in the clubhouse gathering inside info like Tom and I. Blogs are all good as long as you know which ones are informed and which ones are just fans. I also hope people don't mistake the people who write the fan blogs for actual journalists. But to better answer you, no, I don't see anything wrong with it.

You're right Anthony some blog writers aren't actual professional journalists, yourself included.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Prince-Mota Situation

Last night, the Dodgers took exception to the Brewers pitchers hitting Juan Pierre and Manny Ramirez. In a 13 run game, Guillermo Mota intentionally threw at Prince Fielder. It you haven't seen the video, it is right here.

Mota was completely out of line and I thought Prince showed pretty good restraint after the pitch. It turned out that Prince waited until after the game to show his displeasure. Fielder "stormed" to the Dodgers clubhouse after the game in order to confront Mota. A video of the incident has been leaked and can be seen here.

I find it quite funny how calm Russell Martin was in describing Fielder's "temper" that he has seen before. By all accounts Prince is a player who plays with emotion. He had a right to be upset about what happened. Marin later admitted that the pitch to Fielder was intentional. I wonder how calm Martin would be if he was nailed with a 95 MPH fastball like Prince was. Something tells me this nasty temper that Prince has would have shown up in Martin.

So Mota hit Fielder, how blatant was the pitch? Well aside from the post game comments, the Brewers had to think something weird was going on in the ninth. Right before the pitch to Fielder was delivered, you might find interesting what was going on in the Dodgers bullpen. Ramon Troncoso was warming up behind Mota. Okay, so why was it weird that a reliever was warming up? The Brewers were down 13 runs, with two outs, and the bases were empty. If that doesn't show how obvious this pitch was, then I don't know what would.

The was no reason that the Dodgers should have been retaliating in the first place. The two pitches in question were an 85 MPH fastball that nicked Manny Ramirez's jersey, and a 80 MPH slider that hit Pierre on the elbow. If we were going to send a message, I think we would have gotten our money's worth. It was not like a Dodgers player was injured with either of the pitches that were thrown.

The news came down today that MLB is considering suspending Fielder for his actions. My question is, what actions? What did Fielder do that was so wrong? He never made it into the Dodgers clubhouse. He never hit anybody. The only thing Fielder did was make it known that he was angry about being hit.

Mota has had famous run ins before with bean balls. He hit Mike Piazza on two different occasions. The second at bat can be seen in full here. Keep in mind, this was in a Spring training game. After the game, Piazza supposedly entered the Dodgers clubhouse screaming "Where's Mota." He was later fined $3000 by MLB, and suspended five games. Piazza had a right to be angry, but was what he did really worthy of a five game suspension?

Prince never went into the clubhouse. He restrained himself well on the field. So what is Prince looking at? According to reports, the Piazza suspension was only for conduct after the game. What he did was similar to Fielder. Is Prince really going to get five games? I surely hope not. This teams needs Fielder badly right now. An extensive suspension to the Brewers best player might kill their playoff chances.

The one thing that MLB needs to look at is a long suspension for Mota. I have no respect for a guy that thinks it is okay to throw high 90's fastballs at hitters intentionally. It is not like this is his first instance. He clearly thinks that this is alright for him to do. He needs to be made an example of. I can't believe how cowardly Mota is after watching that Piazza video. He tries to injure Piazza and when Piazza challenges him, Mota runs away and makes a beeline for the dugout.

If major league baseball suspends Fielder, it would be a shame. I don't think his actions were out of line. It will be interesting how they are able to justify a suspension where nothing really happened. Prince didn't hurt anyone. His actions occurred under the stadium, away from fans. The only person that should be looked at is Mota, in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Every Team Has One

It seems that in today's game of baseball, every team has that one player that has that extra something that just can't be defined. That extra something is hype by the media to make a bad player look like he helps a team. The Brewers player is Jason Kendall.

Kendall was one of my favorite players when I was growing up. He was a mainstay at catcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He played nine seasons for the Pirates and was one of the best catchers in baseball. He consistently posted an OBP in the high .300's. In his best full season, Kendall hit .320/.412/.470/.882 in 579 at bats. He combined those amazing offensive numbers with solid defense. He was near the top every season in throw out percentage of base stealers. That Jason Kendall was an amazing baseball player.

The current Jason Kendall, who catches every day for the Milwaukee Brewers is not. He is at the tail end of his career and possess no hitting ability whatsoever. His defense has also begun to suffer this season. With a lot of fans looking for an answer to why this team has played to mediocrity, look no further than the Brewers current backstop.

In 2008, Jason Kendall was a bad hitter. He somehow managed to get 516 at bats and played in all but 11 games for the Brewers. In those at bats, Kendall posted a .246/.327/.324/.651 line. For a player with that kind of line to get over 500 at bats is inexcusable. Kendall was able to show some value to the Brewers with his defense that season. Kendall threw out 41 of 96 base stealers in 2008. According to advanced fielding statistics, he was able to save the Brewers 14 more runs than the average catcher. So to sum up his 2008, he was a bad hitter that gave the Brewers some solid defense. I wouldn't be that upset if the experiment would've ended there. The problem was, with Kendall starting 149 games, his 2009 option was required to be picked up.

This season, Jason Kendall is making $5 million with the Brewers. With Kendall posted a below average 2008, 2009 has been that much worse. He has completely lost any ability to hit. Right now, he is mired in a 0-18 slump. With this slump, he has dropped his average to .228. His OBP has gone down to .313. Here's the worst part, he is slugging an incredible .269. That puts his current OPS at .582, terrible even for a catcher. For a reference point, Bill Hall is having the worst season of his career at has an OPS 12 points higher than Kendall.

There are three arguments that I have heard to back up Kendall over the past year (I am going to quote them because I hear them all the time).

"Jason Kendall is a great defender."

Although Kendall had a solid 2008 with the glove, his 2009 has not been good by any means. He has only thrown out 13 of 61 base stealers this season. That is just over 20%. Those are not the stats of a good defender.

"He calls a good game."

I find it very funny to hear everyone say he calls such a good game. Early in the season, this was drilled into our heads by the Brewers TV team. I have not heard a mention of this as soon as the pitchers began to struggle. This team is nowhere near as good as they were last year in the pitching category. Kendall received too much praise when he was given so much to work with.

"We don't need him to hit, we already have hitters."

I am not going to argue that the Brewers don't have a great offense, they do. I never understood why Kendall should be able to put up horrible numbers and bat four times everyday. Think how many more runs the Brewers could score if they had even an average catcher hitting. One bad player shouldn't average out a Prince Fielder, or Ryan Braun. You should never allow a bad player to play.

Jason Kendall is not to blame hear, the Brewers are. They needed to recognize a bad player and pick something else up. With all the talk of trading for someone at the deadline, I never heard a catcher mentioned once. I'm not saying that Ken Macha could have done that much differently. Mike Rivera is not a good defense, or offensive catcher. His career numbers are .244/.299/.379/.678. It's tough to say if he would be any better than Kendall, but he couldn't be much worse.

Kendall's contract is up after this season. He is already in a severe downtrend in his career. The Brewers should have no ideas about resigning him to a contract. This is what worries me the most. I could easily see them bringing him back with a 1yr/$2m contract. It wouldn't be the money that would kill the Brewers, but the fact that he is going to play frequently again. I'm not sure that what we have in this organization is ready to some and catch in the majors yet. The Brewers need to go out this offseason and sign a cheap catcher that can actually hit. This is the only way to stop the Jason Kendall reign of terror.

My Tough Luck Road Trips

I have been a Brewers fan for my entire life. My dad raise me this way. I can remember going to Brewers games back in Milwaukee County Stadium as a five year old. Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the game.

Every season, we go on a family road trip. I guess the idea of a family road to us is a little different than most. For our trips, we wait for the Brewers schedule to come out and decide what city we want to go to.

It started out back in 1997 when we went to the first interleague series in Brewers history. For my 9th birthday, my father took my brother and I to see the Brewers play the Cubs in Wrigley Field. Now, 12 years later, I have been to 11 different stadiums (including Miller Park and County Stadium). At those nine road stadiums, I have been to 18 different series, all involving the Brewers. So what happened along the way?

The stadiums that I have been to have all been within driving range. So as you might imagine, I have seen almost all of the ballparks within ten hours of Milwaukee. I have been to the old and new Busch Stadiums. I have been to both of the stadiums in Chicago. I have been to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. I have been to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. I have been to PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I have been to the worst stadium in baseball when I went to the Metrodome a couple of years ago. My most recent stadium that I was at was Progressive Field in Cleveland, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

I know what a lot of you are thinking. Out of all those stadiums, why would Progressive Field be so important to you? I will admit that probably half of the stadiums are nicer and probably have had better teams that the current Indians roster. Although similar to Milwaukee, Cleveland wasn't the best city to visit either. So why?

When my dad and I take these trips, we go all out. When we go to a city, we go for the entire series. Over the years, this has been my biggest mistake.

In all of those other stadiums that I have been to over the years, the Brewers never one a single series. Now I'm not talking a series sweep, I'm saying two out of three, or three out of four. Not once did this happen until this season when I was in Cleveland, when the Brewers swept the Indians in a three game series. This was my 18th different road series. So how does someone have the luck of seeing just one series win in 18 tries? I don't know, but what was even more painful was the fashion the Brewers lost these games in.

I have seen the Chicago Cubs walk off five different times against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. I watched Derrick Turnbow give up a, 2 out, 2-run, game tying home run to Shannon Stewart in the Metrodome, a game the Brewers eventually lost. I have seen Henry Blanco hit a game winning single (yes, that Henry Blanco). I've seen the Brewers be shut out on ten different occasions. I have seen the Brewers swept three different times. I have seen the Brewers combine for 11 hits in an entire three game series. My personal favorite, I've seen Royals fans jump up and down screaming "We Want Donuts" after their 11th hit in a Sunday game against the Brewers. Let me explain that one.

Apparently the Royals offense of 2006 was so bad, that when they pounded out 12 hits in a game, Krispy Kreme would give every fan in the ballpark a dozen free donuts. After Dan Kolb lobbed another high 80's fastball down the middle, the feat was complete. Kauffman Stadium erupted. So after watching the Brewers get shut out 6-0, my dad and I decided to redeem our donuts. We figured at least we would get something out of the deal. We were informed that the promotion goes into effect the next day in Kansas City. It just so happened that that was the last game of the series, and we were driving to Chicago to watch the Brewers and Cubs the next day. After doing some research on the promotion, I have found out that only 1% of the people in the ballpark actually redeem this promotion. I wonder if they tell fans some bogus story every time the Royals are able to do this.

To be fair to the Brewers, they weren't really fielding the best teams when I was going on these road trips. I happened to go on two road trips during the infamous 56-106 season of 2002. Great planning, eh?

So, as I said Cleveland will always hold a special place in my heart. For once in my life, I actually got to see the Brewers play well on the road. Maybe the tide is turning. We might be able to plan these family road trips and not only worry about getting a run, but some wins to go along with them.

The most important thing about these stories is how much fun I have had along the way. There is no question that the Brewers could have fielded better teams in my lifetime, but that still didn't take away all of the enjoyment. If you have been contemplating taking a road trip to a baseball game, do it. The Brewers are a much better team to watch nowadays.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trade Deadline Losers

I described the winners of the 2009 MLB trade deadline in a post below this one. Now it is time to reveal the teams that made some head scratchers in July. I am depicting the losers of the deadline.

Worst Deadline- Cincinnati Reds

For some reason that is beyond me, the Cincinnati Reds labeled themselves as buyers at the deadline about a week before July 31st. The team believed that they were in contention for the NL Central title. Right now, on August 3rd, the Reds sit 14 games under .500 and are tied for dead last in the Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to baseball prospectus, they hold a less than 1% chance to make the playoffs this season.

The Reds started out deadline week by trading for Seattle Mariners outfielder Wladimir Balentien. Balentien was just designated for assignment a couple of days prior and was probably going to be released by the Mariners. Trading for Balentien wasn't the worst move in the world, but they gave up a solid prospect in return. The Reds shipped reliever Robert Manuel to Seattle for Balentien. Manual, 25, was named the best reliever in all of AA last season by He was pitching great for the Reds AAA affiliate at the time of the deal. In his brief time with the Mariners, he has already thrown 4.1 scoreless innings in the major leagues. Why would you give up a good prospect for someone who may be able to sign for nothing in a couple of days? Puzzling.

The Reds then rounded out their trade deadline by acquiring Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays. Don't get me wrong, Rolen was having a great season for the Jays and would have been a nice addition to a contender. The problem is, the Reds are not a contender. The only thing they are contending for is the cellar with the Pirates.

Rolen is 34 years old. He is putting together a nice season, but there is nothing to suggest that he will keep this up. He posted two sub .800 OPS seasons in 2007 and 2008. The worst part of this deal is the amount of money Rolen is owed over the next year and a half. Rolen has about $15 million left on his deal over that time. The Blue Jays did give the Reds an undisclosed amount of money, but still. The Blue Jays in return received the Reds current 3B Edwin Encarnacion, along with two young pitchers with potential. Josh Roenicke, 26, pitched for the Reds and was a solid arm out of the bullpen. The other player, Zach Stewart, was a 22 year old starter pitching in AAA with good numbers.

This trade was horrible on two fronts. The financial aspect will hurt the Reds next season along with the talent they gave up, which may hurt them for many years to come. Stewart looks like a promising young starter, while Roenicke has looks good in his breif major league career. Encarnacion has struggled this season, but not too long ago he was considered one of the Reds top prospects. He could out produce Rolen next season while playing with the Jays.

With how confusing those trades were, it was the trades the Reds didn't make that made less sense. When they labeled themselves a buyer, they eliminated a lot of interest that was there for their older players.

Francisco Cordero is putting together a solid season for the Reds. With all of the interest that George Sherrill received, could the Reds have been able to ship Cordero, and his contract, to a contender for prospects. Cordero has about $30 million left on his deal over the next 2.5 seasons. A closer is not worth that kind of money, let alone to a failing franchise like the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds also had other pieces that would have drawn interest. David Weathers and Arthur Rhodes have pitched well this season. The Reds could have swung both of those players to a contender that may have parted with a decent prospect in return.

The Reds have a decent core of young players to build around with players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, and Johnny Cueto. They should be focused on locking these players up. They will not have the kind of money to do that if the continue to make foolish roster decisions. The fact of the matter is that the Reds not only missed a chance to give themselves financial flexibility at the deadline, they dug a bigger hole with Scott Rolen.

Dishonorable Mention- Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays play in the toughest division in baseball. The AL East is a tough division to win in because of the amount of money that the Red Sox and Yankees are able to spend. Couple that with the young talent of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Blue Jays chances aren't very good.

The Blue Jays had the most coveted trading chip at the deadline in Roy Halladay. There was plenty of interest by numerous teams that were in the Halladay sweepstakes. Toronto missed a golden opportunity to close the gap by hanging onto Roy Halladay at the deadline. I just don't understand why teams, like the Blue Jays, put a similar team out on the field every season and expect something to change. What they have been doing is obviously not working.

The Rays figured out last season that the way to combat the incredible amount of money that New York and Boston are able to spend, is with young home grown talent. The Rays opening day salary in 2008 was just over $43 million. The Yankees checked in at $209 million (missed playoffs) and the Red Sox were at $133 million. The Rays were able to outplay both of those teams with young, inexpensive talent. This should give the Blue Jays the idea of how important young talent can be.

The Jays opening day salary in 2009 was at $80 million. That $37 million more than what the Rays had available in 2008. If you are able to acquire good young talent for a Halladay, you are able to use that extra money on the market. So it is possible to contend with them beasts in the AL East. You just have to be smart about how you do it. The Jays were not smart by hanging onto Halladay and will pay for it. Sure they could trade him in the offseason, but teams are willing to give up more for Halladay with that extra two months included.

The only reason they are not the biggest loser, is the Rolen trade. I still have no idea what Walt Jocketty was thinking.

Trade Deadline Winners

It is very easy to say that teams who acquired a big pitcher/hitter are the winners of the trade deadline. Sure that general manager may have made their team better, but at what expense. Did he sell the future of the franchise at an attempt at a World Series this season? Let's take a look at the real "winners" of the 2009 MLB trade deadline.

Biggest Winner- Pittsburgh Pirates

To the uneducated fan, what the Pirates did in July made no sense. They traded their most recognizeable players for prospects that many have not heard of. However, what Neal Huntington accomplished at the deadline was remarkable.

Huntington was able to ship off one of the most overpaid players in the game in Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. Wilson was sent to Detroit, along with starter Ian Snell. What was even more incredible was that Huntington was able to acquire decent talent in return. He was able to pry 1B/C Jeff Clement away from the Mariners, along with former Cub Ronny Cedeno and three minor leaguers. Clement is a solid bat that will help the franchise in Pittsburgh turn it around.

Huntington also sent off 2B Freddy Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants. In return, he received the Giants fourth best prospect in pitcher Tim Alderson. Sanchez was also making a hefty contract this season. He was due another $2 million this season, along with an $8 million team option next season that the Pirates would not have exercised.

They then shipped reliever John Grabow and pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, and minor leaguer Josh Harrison. This is a great package for them to receive for Grabow who is a free agent at the send of the season. Hart and Ascanio have great arms and come very cheap for the Pirates. I was a little surprized that they traded Gorzo who was having a great season in AAA and still has potential to return to all-star form.

I personally thought that they could have got a little more for Adam LaRoche. Hunter Strickland has potential to develop into a solid major league pitcher, but Argenis Diaz doesn't seem like he can hit at all.

The fact of the matter is that a team like the Pirates cannot afford to make mistakes with large salaries. They got rid of Wilson, Sanchez, and Grabow and got talent in return. You can't field the same team season after season and expect something to change. The Pirates look like they are in the right direction after these moves. The main reason this franchise was set so far back was former general manager Dave Littlefield. The Pirates got rid of him and seem to have a savvy GM in Neal Huntington. At least he understands baseball a little bit.

Honorable Mention- Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians parted with two of the biggest chips this deadline in Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.

They first sent Lee and LF Ben Francisco to the Phillies for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. The Indians were unable to get J.A. Happ in the deal, but instead replaced him for Knapp. Knapp is currently in the lower stages of the minors but has all the makings of a stud. All of the others in the trade have great potential and could be the cornerstone for the Indians franchise for years to come.

The second trade fell after the Lee trade was done. The Indians sent Victor Martinez to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. Masterson was putting together a great season for the Red Sox mostly out of the bullpen. He has shown an ability to start, which he has done 15 times for the Sox over the past two years. Hagadone is starting in AA and pitching very well. He is averaging 11.5 K/9 while posting better than a 2-1 K-BB ratio.

The one trade that I think they should have made was Carl Pavano. He is a free agent that leaves at the end of the season and may not even reach type B status. If he is unable to, the Indians wouldn't receive a sandwich pick (pick between the first and second rounds of the amateur draft) in next years draft. It seems foolish to not get anything for Pavano. There had to be interest in him and his 4-1 K-BB ratio. I saw he threw eight innings of one run ball last night for the Tribe. He may still be able to clear waivers and be traded this month.

If there has been one thing the Indians have been short of, it has been pitching. With these two trades, they secured a solid future on the mound. They gave up two cornerstones of the franchise and have been criticized greatly for this. They were good moves that Indians fans will like in the future.

Later today I will be posting my biggest losers of the trade deadline.