Posted by Steve
Brewer fans are already lighting up message boards with anger over the newly announced trade: J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez. If you listen to them, Doug Melvin just mishandled the Brewers most valuable trade chip.
I suppose he may have, but I’m not convinced. Since Hardy laid an egg this year, I’ve been saying it’s extremely difficult to gauge his trade value. Of this I’m certain: nobody was going to give up established starting pitching for him unless it was a bad contract. Before last season, sure. But Hardy really hurt the Brewers by slashing his trade value.
As far as Carlos Gomez is concerned… Well, yeah I admit he was one of the players I mocked the most in baseball. His offense in the majors to this point has been awful (.292 OBP). And can’t stand how often he attempts to bunt. But, just bear with me and consider the following:
- Gomez is still only 23, and will be 24 this season. His OBP in the minors was .339, so there’s reason enough to believe his offense could/should improve.
- His defense in center field is even better than Mike Cameron’s. He’s blazing fast and will cover a ton of ground in center. I really like that the Brewers are putting an emphasis on defense. I was afraid of a Corey Hart/Jody Gerut platoon in center, which would have been a big defensive downgrade from Mike Cameron.
- This, of course, means the end of Mike Cameron’s run in Milwaukee. That’s too bad; he is one of my favorite Brewers ever. But, this means the Brewers save a ton of money. Between Hardy and Cameron’s salaries, the Brewers have slashed $14.5 million off last year’s payroll. I say last year only because it’s hard to say what A. Hardy would have received in arbitration or B. Cameron would have required to bring back. Still, it’s a big chunk of change that can now be spent on pitching. They could actually afford someone like John Lackey now (not necessarily saying they should, just saying they probably could).
- I didn’t see Hardy as the Brewers biggest trade chip. I think Mat Gamel has more trade value, and unfortunately I expect him to be traded. If he goes, it will definitely be for pitching.
- The Brewers could do what the Twins did with Gomez. They often played Denard Span, a superior offensive player, in center field, but subbed in Gomez late in a game when they got a lead. When the Twins were trailing late, they’d sub in Span for Gomez. The Brewers could do this with Jody Gerut.
- Female fans are sure to be devastated, but thankfully this trade is heartthrob for heartthrob. Gomez was number two to only to All-World, Mr. Sideburns himself, Joe Mauer in Minnesota among the ladies.
So, there you have it. Obviously you should decide for yourself whether to like this trade, but I am alright with it. I will say that while I’m “alright with it” as a Brewer fan, I love it from a Twins perspective. They can play Denard Span every day in center field, and they get what should be a big upgrade at shortstop. The Twins haven’t had a good shortstop in years. Of course, this is all dependent on Hardy bouncing back, but their only risk if he doesn’t is giving up a guy who played part time for them.
I’m not pleased to see Hardy go. I still think he’s the better bet over Escobar to have a better year this season. But, the Brewers aren’t trading Escobar, and they can’t afford the luxury of keeping two good players at one position when they have such huge pitching needs.
When it boils down to it, this trade was spare part for spare part. Both players had fallen out of favor with their teams, and each is moving to a team that has a bigger need for him.
Finally, I’d just like to add that I seem to have cemented myself as “that Brewer fan that people know.” How do I know this? Because in the first hour after this trade hit the press, my phone lit up with text messages. I heard from people I haven’t spoken to in weeks, even months in a couple cases. “Gomez for Hardy!” “What do you think of the trade?” “Gomez!? Really!?” etc, etc.