After a busy week for the Milwaukee Brewers, let's take a look at how the Winter Meetings and the Contract Deadline influenced the club.
I think anybody could've predicted the winter meetings for the Milwaukee Brewers. There was no question this franchise was in desperate need of starting pitching. To fill a much needed vacancy, the Brewers signed veteran Randy Wolf to a 3 year/$29.75 million deal. They didn't stop there, however. The Brewers then signed RP LaTroy Hawkins to a two year deal, setting up a very solid back end of the bullpen.
While some may argue Wolf's deal was too long and pricey, the Brewers got exactly what they needed. Other pitchers such as Doug Davis and Jarrod Washburn would've only compounded the problem, not solved it. The one question I have with the Wolf deal was the length, but let's face it, he wouldn't have come to Milwaukee without that third year. While 2012, and 2011 for that matter are tough to swallow, Wolf is well worth the $10 million he will be paid next season. Sure the last two years are a risk, but when you try to get free agents to come to Milwaukee risks usually have to be taken. Having said that, this contract is no where near the deal Jeff Suppan received from the Brewers. Wolf is much better and has shown his ability to strike out batters, while limiting walks. That is something Suppan just cannot do. Can we please stop comparing these two contracts? Suppan is nowhere near as good of a pitcher as Randy Wolf is.
Signing a reliever was not really a concern until the injury to Mark DiFelice surfaced. When a void was created, Melvin pounced on Hawkins after two amazing seasons pitching out of the Astros bullpen. If Hawkins is able to maintain that type of production , Milwaukee will have one of the best late game combos in baseball. If not, while $7.5 million is a risk, it won't set back this franchise too much.
Tendered Contracts Deadline
With eight active players to make a decision on, Doug Melvin had to decide the future of this ball club. The three main decisions can in the form of Dave Bush, Jody Gerut and Mike Rivera. When I first started hearing reports from Melvin stating he would explore all options on these players, I was nervous to say the lease. Releasing Dave Bush and Jody Gerut made absolutely no sense and would've put this organization's depth in serious jeopardy. When a team lack starting pitching, how does letting go a solid pitcher with minimal risk make sense? When a team is unsure as to the actual talents of a young, struggling CF, how does releasing a proven option make sense? They don't. While Bush and Gerut will cost this team nearly $6 million next season, the risk was far too great to release either player. Both are capable of being integral parts of next season's club. If Bush is healthy, he becomes one of the most attractive options in the starting rotation. Gerut provides a great 4th outfielder off the bench, although he should start over Carlos Gomez right now. The Brewers were smart to renew their deals, but it was surprising it was even a question in the first place.
When Mike Rivera was let go, I was shocked to say the least. Sure he would be getting a raise, but after only making $415,000 last season, it wouldn't have been that much money. While I like Rivera in his time as a Brewer, I really don't think he could succeed if he saw consistent playing time. With Gregg Zaun, the Brewers are asking for around 120 game out of him. That left an extra 40+ games for a backup to start. While Mike Rivera looked good in limited, and I mean limited action, his minor league numbers suggest he wasn't ready to take over those 40+ games. The Brewers have better options in the minor leagues and it really didn't make sense to renew Rivera. I was hoping they wouldn't renew, but I was surprised they actually didn't.