If there has been one thing Doug Melvin has excelled in during his time in Milwaukee, it's getting good value out of his bench. That continued this season with Jim Edmonds and also allowed Melvin to grab a nice return when the veteran was dealt today.
Jim Edmonds was sent to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for outfielder Chris Dickerson. Another example of how finding value in the offseason can translate into great value at the deadline.
Edmonds, 40, played tremendously for the Brewers this season. In 217 at bats, he has a .286/.350/.493/.843 line. One thing I criticized Edmonds for this offseason was his defense. Although Edmonds clearly doesn't possess the speed he once had, he still played a very good centerfield this season. His 7.0 UZR this season is his highest since he posted an 8.4 UZR for the 2005 Cardinals.
So what does a great bat and solid defense translate to? Despite not playing everyday and battling injuries, Edmonds was able to rack up a 2.5 WAR. Given the market average of $4 million per 1.0 WAR, this Brewers $800K investment is very successful. According to fangraphs.com, Edmonds worth this season is exactly $10 million. With Drew Stubbs struggling in centerfield, Edmonds is an excellent pickup for the stretch run in Cincy.
Dickerson, 28, is an absolutely brilliant pickup by Melvin and the Brewers. He has shown an ability to show patience at the dish and has shown decent power for a centerfielder. Combine that with very good defense and fans can understand how valuable Dickerson could be to the future of the Brewers. Speaking of the future, Dickerson will not eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. He is cheap, under control and good, three things that are very nice in a player.
Like I said, Dickerson has always had a very good understanding of the strike zone. Throughout his minor league career, he has drawn a free pass in about 14% of his plate appearances. His 6'3", 230 lbs frame has also lead to some power. He has 35 extra base hits in 357 big league at bats. As usually is the case, that big body has also lead to some holes in his swing, leading to a high strikeout rate. In those same big league at bats, Dickerson has fanned 30% of the time. Although high strikeout rates can be a cause for concern, if he is able to balance them with walks, he should prove very valuable.
Another very nice attribute in Dickerson is his glove. In just shy of 850 innings in the outfield, Dickerson has a 10.4 UZR. Every scouting report I have read praises Dickerson's strength and accuracy with his arm. Those are two things that are tough to find in center. The Brewers are looking for a longterm solution in centerfield. I really like Lorenzo Cain, but having another player, like Dickerson, can only help.
Dickerson first broke into the majors in 2008 with the Reds. In limited playing time (102 AB), he was able to post a .413 OBP and an OPS over 1.000. His power regress a bit in 2009, when he posted a .743 OPS in 255 at bats. Despite the drop off in power, Dickerson was still very selective, walking 13% of the time en route to a .370 OBP.
Hampered by injuries this season, Dickerson is currently rehabbing in the minor leagues. He broke a bone in his hand back in April on a swing and only was able to log 44 at bats this season. In his current rehab stint, he is murdering the ball. In 43 minor league at bats, Dickerson has homered three times, walked nine and has an OBP of .528, with a 1.296 OPS. Granted that's a very small sample size, but I'd say he'll be ready to join the Brewers very soon.
This move really impacts three other Brewers. Trading Edmonds made a ton of sense, because it translated into immediate playing time for Lorenzo Cain. Considering the Brewers playoff chances are pretty much non-existent, playing Edmonds did nothing for the future of this club. Until Dickerson is able to join the team, Cain should start everyday in center.
Adding another centerfielder also means the Brewers are not impressed with Carlos Gomez... and why should they be? Gomez has been absolutely terrible this season and shows no signs of being a productive player in the foreseeable future. The J.J. Hardy trade was an absolute joke. It's time to admit that and move on. Not renewing Carlos' contract is a move that makes too much sense. Another Brewer who will likely not rejoin the team is Jody Gerut. With Dickerson and Cain sharing the majority of the playing time in centerfield, Gerut's days are likely numbered. As long as Joe Inglett remains on this club, giving the Brewers another outfield option, I don't see Doug Melvin using a roster spot on Gerut.
No one really wanted to see Jim Edmonds leave, but this move was an absolute must for the Brewers. After announcing he would likely retire after this season, keeping Edmonds would've only hurt the Brewers and the development of their young players. It is smart to not just save face and play for a couple of meaningless wins at the end of the season. With the farm system severely lack in outfield talent, landing Dickerson was an excellent acquisition for the Brewers. Celebrate Milwaukee.