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.