Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let the Offseason begin...

With CC Sabathia finally signed, the handcuffs have been removed from the Brewers and they can finally focus on improving the team as opposed to appeasing fans. I'm going to throw on my GM cap and show you how to get the Brewers to the playoffs in 2009. First, let's address the starting rotation.

As it stands the Brewers rotation is set at Gallardo, Parra, Suppan, Bush and McClung... hardly striking fear into the hearts of opposing hitters. Two quick moves take the rotation from mediocre to above average. Gallardo is a special talent and though he may be a year away, he's still a capable ace and I feel comfortable giving him the keys to the castle. So really we just need to solidify the two spots behind him. On the free agent market, I have always liked Jon Garland, and I believe we can get him for around $13 million a year for four years. His numbers don't blow you away but the guy has pretty good peripheral stats and he can step up in the big games. In two career postseason starts, Garland is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA going an average of 8 innings per outing. Having Garland, Bush and Parra behind Gallardo effectively gives you three number three starters which most teams would be very grateful to have three pitchers of their quality to follow their ace. Now for the fifth spot. Suppan has proved that his best days are behind him and he's not getting any younger. I propose we explore a trade rumor that emerged a while back. Let's find out whether the Yankees are still interested in Mike Cameron. Originally it was speculated that we could ship Cam (and his $10 million salary) to New York for Melky Cabrera and Ian Kennedy. With the vast surplus of starting pitching that is expected when the Yankees finally put their checkbooks away, Kennedy becomes 7th or 8th on their depth chart, but I believe that right now he's a solid, young 5th starter that has a lot of potential and can develop into a middle of the rotation guy. Cabrera is merely icing and he can battle with Tony Gwynn Jr for the starting center field spot. That gives the Brewers a final rotation of Gallardo, Garland, Parra, Bush and Kennedy while getting rid of Cameron's bloated contracted in favor of two quality players making the minimum. Also, in case of injury which Brewers fans are well familiar with, McClung and Villanueva are two serviceable stop-gaps. What about Suppan? I'll get to that next.

The Brewers need to get a closer and with dropping the bulk of their expendable cash on Garland, they will probably need to address this need via the trade. One familiar GM has let it known that his all-star closer is available for the right deal, and he's let it known that he's looking for bats, which the Brewers have plenty of... Jack Z is reportedly shopping J.J. Putz and we've got an over-weight slugger that would make this deal a no-brainer. J.J. Putz for Prince Fielder would be a bonehead move so some auxiliary players are going to need to be involved. Adrian Beltre has a bloated contract and for some reason has outstayed his welcome in some fan circles in Seattle. Beltre only has one year left on his deal for $12 million, this allows the Brewers to give top prospect Mat Gamel one more year to develop. He's a gold-glove third baseman that has an above average bat. In return, I suggest we take on Beltre's unfavorable contract in exchange for one of our own, Jeff Suppan. To sweeten the deal by including a mid-level prospect, like Taylor Green, Lou Palmisiano or Angel Salome. I bet Jack is more than eager to get some of his former draft picks over to Seattle. J.J Putz anchors the bullpen and Beltre removes any need for Bill Hall at third making him available for my next move.

Ask any baseball fan about San Diego's offseason plans and 99% will say the name Jake Peavy, but I'm going to argue they have more pressing needs. Can anyone name their starting second baseman? And with Khalil Greene in St. Louis, who knows who their leading candidate for shortstop is? With Hall available as an above-average shortstop and Rickie Weeks always a threat to realize his potential, I believe that is more than enough incentive to pry Adrian Gonzalez from their hands. Fill two holes (very difficult holes to fill by the way) and only create one that is relatively easy to fill. No brainer right? Gonzalez provides the Brewers with a left-handed slugger that can more than adequately fill the void left by Prince Fielder at the ridiculous price of $3 million in 2009. To fill the second base spot left by Weeks, the Brewers merely have to call up Alcides Escobar and slide Hardy to second. To recap the 2009 Brewers roster according to Justin, the linuep looks a little something like this (including 2009 salary)...

1. Tony Gwynn Jr. CF/ Alcides Escobar SS - $400 K
2. Alcides Escobar SS/ Melky Cabrera CF - $400 K 
3. Ryan Braun LF - $745 K
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B - $3 MM
5. J.J. Hardy SS - $5 MM (arbitration estimate)
6. Adrian Beltre 3B - $12 MM 
7. Corey Hart RF - $3.5 MM (arbitration estimate)
8 Jason Kendall C - $4.6 MM

TGJ/Melky Cabrera - $400 K
Mike Rivera C - $400 K
Mike Lamb Corner IF - $400 K
Hernan Iribarren Middle IF - $400 K
Gabe Kapler type utility outfielder/veteran - $1 MM

1. Yovani Gallardo SP - $400 K
2. Jon Garland SP - $13 MM
3. Manny Parra - $400 K
4. David Bush - $5 MM (arbitration estimate)
5. Ian Kennedy - $400 K

David Riske - $4.25 MM
Jorge Julio - $950 K
Todd Coffey - $1 MM
Seth McClung - $1.5 MM (arbitration estimate)
Carlos Villanueva - $400 K 
Mitch Stetter - $400 K
J.J. Putz - $5 MM

That gives the Brewers and opening day payroll of $64.545 million. This allows the Brewers plenty of payroll room to improve the team via trade during the season as needed and also save money to re-invest into the team in future years.

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