Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Meetings Preview

One of the most important time period in baseball kicks off on Monday: The Winter Meetings. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the Brewers club, so let's take a look of some possibilities that are being rumored.

Jeff Suppan for Juan Pierre

It is a trade that make some sense financially, but being beneficial to the Brewers is up for debate. Pierre has two year remaining on his current contract. He is scheduled to make $10 million this season and another $8.5 million next season. Suppan is in his final season and will make $12.5 million, while also receiving a $2 buyout when the Brewers decline his option next offseason. So essentially the Brewers would be adding $4 million in payroll if they complete the deal. While Pierre had a phenomenal 2009, he has shown little in his career to suggest he could actually contain some value to the Brewers. By all accounts, Pierre's 2009 was a fluke season surrounded by constantly terrible production just about every other year. Sure Suppan really contains no value for this team, but I would rather just shed the contract at the end of this season and free up the money as soon as possible. While Pierre doesn't sound very attractive, that doesn't mean Suppan couldn't be traded for an equally bad contract. The Diamondbacks are considering releasing Eric Byrnes, who is set to make $11 million in the final year of his contract. Byrnes has been an awful hitter the last two season, but a change of scenery may be in order. He has always played very good defense and would have some value as a 4th/5th outfielder in Milwaukee. With the Diamondbacks losing some of their pitchers via trade and free agency, Suppan might help bridge the gap for one season. The Brewers would probably have to throw in some cash, but I think this trade makes sense for both teams.

Free Agent Pitchers

Well as many of you know, the Brewers have essentially been linked to every pitcher in baseball. As the offseason goes on, the picture begins to fill out for pitchers. Arbitration offers are now in and in a weak market, some pitchers are considering accepting to wait until next season. Carl Pavano is currently pondering accepting the arbitration offer the Twins gave him. I truly believe Pavano is poised for a bounce back season, and the Brewers could easily beat the arbitration offer. In the current contract, Pavano will not make more than $4 million next season, which seems like a very small risk for a pitcher with huge upside.

The other "top" starters are demanding large contracts lasting many years. John Lackey is seeking a contract greater than A.J. Burnett's $82 million deal last winter. While Lackey is a phenomenal pitcher, there is no way the Brewers can afford to hand out that kind of contract. That is why I feel it is essential to pursue pitchers willing to sign short term, with one exception. The Brewers have been linked to Randy Wolf on numerous occasions. He is currently seeking a three year deal at about $10 million per season. Wolf's K:BB ratio has consistently remainder very solid. He has shown the ability to stay healthy and would not be a terrible sign. I usually am opposed to long term deals, but there are much worse things than three deals to a pitcher like Wolf.

One of the bigger mistakes this club can make would be to sign Doug Davis to a long term deal. I really do like Davis. I don't know what it is about him, but he always seems to post better numbers than he should. His poor K:BB would suggest a below average pitcher, yet he consistently has been pretty good. While I would like to think this could continue, his luck is going to have to run out. Walking more than 100 batters is not a good sign. Davis is only getter older. His walk totals continue to rise and his strikeouts continue to drop. If any deal on the market has Jeff Suppan written all over it, Davis is the pitcher. The Brewers really need to steer clear of Davis, especially for a long term deal.

Brewers pursuing Rafael Betancourt

When the Brewers were originally linked to C.C. Sabathia, there were reports of the deal including Betancourt, but nothing ever happened. In my book, he is one of the better relievers in baseball and an excellent setup option. He made $3.35 million last season and is setup for a substantial raise. I'm not sure it would be in the best interest of the Brewers to sign Betancourt to a large contract before working out the starting pitching problem. While he would be a nice pickup, the Brewers bullpen is in decent shape as is.

The winter meetings are always one of the most exciting times of the year. Trades and signings can pop up out of nowhere. With the roster having so many unanswered questions, Brewers fans better be ready an interesting couple of days. Stay Tuned.

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