Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Busy Week

Like many Brewer fans, I was excited for this offseason to begin. This is probably one of the biggest offseason's in franchise history. Soon after the season ended, the Brewers immediately began the critical six months ahead.

The Brewers first resigned closer Trevor Hoffman to a one year deal with an option for 2011. The contract is for $8 million next season and $7 million in 2011.

There are a couple of things look at when examining this signing.

1) Price

When I first saw the contract details, I was surprised. The Brewers had leverage on Hoffman. Hoffman was a type A free agent and was probably not going to sign elsewhere for much money. With that being said, there was no chance the Brewers were going to part ways with Hoffman. In his year here, he immediately became a fan favorite. On top of that he was simply amazing at the back end of a demolished bullpen. Also, Hoffman is only signed for one season. It is risky to sign a pitcher to multiple year contracts because injury is much more prevalent. The one year deal for Hoffman is nice, especially after how good he pitched last season.

2) Age

Trevor Hoffman's incredible career is coming to an end. In a couple of days, Hoffman will be turning 42. Some have criticized the Brewers for signing him for a relatively large deal. I can't see the argument with those people. Sure Trevor is getting older, but he still is one of the best relievers in baseball. His strikeout rate per nine innings the last two seasons has been 9 and 8K/9. He still possess amazing control, walking only 20 batters over the past two seasons. Age aside, if he continues to miss bats he will continue to be a solid pitcher.

3) Marketability

Shortly after the contract was finalized, Doug Melvin stated how important it was to lock Hoffman up right away. He wants to use Hoffman to pursue other top free agents. Hoffman has throughly enjoyed his time here and could be a nice pitchman to help garner interest to Milwaukee. Let's face it, over the past couple of decades many free agents have never taken Milwaukee seriously. Hoffman may help this and land the Brewers a new impact pitcher next season.

After the Hoffman signing occurred, Doug Melvin came out with some interesting comments regarding plans for next season.

-Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not going to be traded.

Ryan Braun being traded was insane, but Prince seemed to make some sense. I highly doubt Fielder will remain with the team past 2011, so that now becomes the window to win. Sure Fielder could still be traded in the future, but if they are not willing to deal him now, the offers are only going to go down from here.

-The Brewers will try and add two starting pitchers for next season.

One can very easily read between the lines here and note the Brewers currently have five starting pitchers. Jeff Suppan's spot in the rotation is not guaranteed, nor should it be. Suppan is a bad pitcher who, if he starts every five days, constantly hurts the Brewers. He is consistently digressing and should not be counted on next season.

The real question is who are these two starting pitchers going to be. The Brewers finished the season 80-82, which ranks 17th in MLB. This means that if the Brewers sign a type A free agent, it will cost the Brewers a second round pick, rather than a first rounder. The one type A free agent that makes sense is John Lackey. Lackey is a great pitcher that would fit nicely in Milwaukee. Also, being a type A free agent might limit the interest shown in Lackey. It would take a hefty contract over multiple season, but Lackey would be a huge addition to the rotation. The other pitcher is up for debate. I would suspect the Brewers would be going after someone in a trade, but if not, John Smoltz and Justin Duchscherer look like nice chances to take.

-The second baseman for next season is Rickie Weeks.

This is not really news. Rickie Weeks was off to an outstanding start in 2009 before going down with an injury. Lopez will be offered arbitration and will sign elsewhere. With him being a type A free agent, Melvin's trade for Lopez in July looks like a absolute steal. Two draft pick will come in return for Lopez, netting the Brewers a nice gain.

-There is interest in J.J. Hardy, even after his rough 2009.

There is no question that Hardy had a tough time at the plate in 2009, but he still remains a fabulous shortstop. He is the perfect candidate for any team searching for a shortstop. I think Hardy will rebound at the plate in 2010, but not while playing for the Brewers. I love everything that Hardy bring and he was a big reason the Brewers made the playoffs in 2008. Good luck to J.J. going forward.

-Casey McGehee is the top choice at 3B in 2010.

This was the most troubling news. There is no question that McGehee had a fabulous 2009, but can we expect the same next year? I highly doubt that Casey can consistently post the line he has this season. The Brewers top prospect has been Mat Gamel. He has hit well at every level. It seems dumb to give up on him after one season. The sample size on both players is alarming. The Brewers are willing to give up on Gamel after 128 at bats and give the job to McGehee after 355 at bats. Gamel has consistently outperformed McGehee throughout the minor leagues. Sure Gamel has trade value, but so does McGehee. I really hope the Brewers don't trade Gamel this offseason. I have a feeling he is going to be needed in the near future.

After all this news was released, the one common thing is the future is now. The Brewers realize that Prince could easily be gone in two years and are willing to go after it during that span. It will be an exciting two seasons if this is the case, but is it worth risking the entire future of the franchise? I don't want to sit through another decade like the late 90's/early 2000's. Hopefully the Brewers can contend without selling the farm. One thing is for sure, this is going to be one fun offseason.

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