Posted by Steve
Before I get started, I want to say that I used my best judgment and ultimately decided to end the tarnation streak at three. I could have gone with something like, “What in tarnation is wrong with the starting rotation?” or “What in tarnation can the Brewers get in the trade market?” but it just felt forced. Nothing kills a joke like overuse, so I decided to tuck away the tarnation tag until it truly fits.
I’m feeling one of those cheezy radio commercials here that are played during a game. You know, the ones that try to relate something like banking, truck driving or insurance to baseball.
In baseball, you should never make a trade just to make a trade. The same goes for blogging! Don’t use a tarnation tag just to use a tarnation tag. Before using a tarnation tag, be sure it adds to the enjoyment of the post. For more information, call the Digger’s Hotline.
Anyway. Things have been pretty ugly as of late. One of the more active threads on BF right now is discussing whether the Brewers should be sellers at the deadline. That’s jumping the gun in my opinion, but something will need to be done before long if the Brewers are going to make a serious run for the playoffs.
I’ve said I felt the offense would improve to the point of making up for the drop in pitching from last season. So far, the offense has been good but not great–fourth in the NL in with 4.77 runs per game compared to seventh (4.63 runs per game) last season. That won’t be enough to overcome for the poor pitching.
I didn’t expect the starting pitching to be very good as a whole to begin with, but it’s been even worse than expected. They’ve had one good start in the last eight games. Yo’s last start was good, but I’ve made light of his recent struggles. I’m also getting concerned about his heavy workload. Bush and Looper have been very hittable lately (and Bush’s arm fatigue wrinkles things even further). As amazing as it sounds, the only pitcher pitching up to his capability over the last month is none other than Jeff Suppan. What’s worse is the struggles of the rotation is taking a toll on the bullpen, which was stellar over the first two months.
Things wouldn’t be so dire if it wasn’t for Manny Parra. He’s really screwed the pooch. Dan went over why Parra is probably set to bounce back at some point, but the fact of the matter is it’s a very poorly timed implosion on his part.
Before the season, I assumed that in order to make the playoffs, the Brewers would need to bring in another solid starting pitcher to improve the rotation–at least a number three-type starter. I still feel this way. The problem is, quality starting pitching is not as abundant as it was around last season’s trade deadline.
Injuries have taken a toll on the trade market. Jake Peavy was probably a lock to be traded somewhere (already was but vetoed the trade to the White Sox), but his foot injury may have him sidelined past the trade deadline. This was a bit of a relief to me, because there was plenty of chatter that the Brewers were in talks with San Diego to acquire Peavy. I was all ready to write an anti-Peavy post, but his injury made the point moot. In a nutshell, my reasons against Peavy were mainly his hefty contract, but also his decline in numbers, drop in his velocity and moving out of a friendly pitcher’s park.
Roy Halladay, a phenomenal pitcher, was recently put on the DL–to be fair, he was only an outside shot to be traded this year anyway. Erik Bedard is another good pitcher who could be traded but recently went on the DL.
Matt Cain was a popular trade target for some fans, but the Giants are hanging around so far and won’t deal him if they’re still in contention for a wildcard spot around the deadline.
Complicating the matter is the Brewers have told teams that Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar are untouchable. That means you can cross off guys like Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cain anyway.
I’m ready to make a pitch for my number one trade target. Before I say who, keep in mind there is no CC Sabathia readily available this year. There isn’t even a Rich Harden. The best pitcher who could be available is Cliff Lee, but he’s under contract for next year; therefore Cleveland is likely to ask for a ton. I’m not even sure they’ll trade him, because they might want to keep him to make a run next season. To find a match, you need to identify the best pitcher likely to be available that won’t require either Gamel or Escobar. In my mind, that pitcher is Erik Bedard.
Bedard had been a good to great pitcher in each of the last five seasons. He’s having an outstanding 2009 so far: 65 2/3 innigs, 2.47 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 65 strikeouts and 22 walks. So far this season, he’s been an ace.
So why, then, would the Brewers be able to acquire him without giving up Gamel or Escobar? Here’s why.
1) Bedard is injury prone. He only threw 81 innings last season. He’s currently on the DL with “shoulder fatigue,” which is never a good sign. I wouldn’t even be discussing him, but an MRI revealed no structural damage and the plan as of now is to have him back in the rotation before too long. If that ends up not happening, this entire point is moot and I’ll have to live with the fact that I wasted 20 minutes typing about an Erik Bedard trade.
2) He’s not a workhorse. He will in absolutely no way come close to what Sabathia did last year. And I’m not referring to performance, as nobody should be expected to put up the numbers CC did last year, but I’m referring to innings pitched. Sabathia consistently went deep into the game, and made several starts on three days’ rest. Bedard won’t do either of those things. He has one, count em, one complete game in his entire career. He’s generally a six inning pitcher, which is almost exactly what he’s averaged per start this season. Not that that’s bad, but coupled with his injury history, it lowers his price to trade suitors.
3) Here’s the big one: he’s a free agent at the end of this year. Therefore, it would be another rental situation. The Brewers gave up a top 100 prospect in Matt LaPorta for a rental last year, but that was for a Hall of Fame-talent pitcher. There’s no way they’d give up Gamel or Escobar to rent Bedard, nor would the Mariners expect them to.
A Mariners-Brewers trade is also logical because Jack Z is Seattle’s GM now, and he’s obviously extremely familiar with the Brewers’ system. I’m sure there’s plenty of players in Milwaukee’s system that he’d love to add.
If Bedard doesn’t work out, there are some lesser pitchers who could be available. Another free agent-to-be the Mariners have is Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season in years. His stuff isn’t as good as Bedard’s, but he’s more durable and therefore less of a risk. He actually probably wouldn’t even be that much cheaper than Bedard, and I’d be just about as pleased to get him.
Same goes for Randy Johnson. The Brewers could get him without giving up Gamel or Escobar, but as I mentioned with Matt Cain, the Giants won’t trade him as long as they’re playing fairly well.
Another decent-yet-unexciting pickup could be our old friend Doug Davis. He’s another guy in a contract year.
Any of these players I mentioned are better than most of the guys in the Brewers’ starting rotation right now. The ideal pickup would be someone who’s better than everyone besides Gallardo, but there just aren’t many fits for reasons discussed above. Regardless, the Brewers should be able to right the ship if they can add a solid pitcher. If Manny Parra can get his head on straight as well, they’d be back in good shape.
Oh, and I’m still giving this the What in tarnation?!@ category even though it’s not in the title because I discussed why it wasn’t getting the What in tarnation?!@ category. Wrap your mind around that one.