If you think Mike Cameron sucks, I will fight you.

Posted by Steve

Before I get started, allow me to explain this title.  It references a couple things.  First, I was at a New Year’s party this year and a guy I didn’t know pretty much started yelling at me when I said Mike Cameron was a good player.  Secondly, I came across a Mariners blog awhile ago that said something similar about Adrian Beltre.  I liked it.

I think I’m a pretty positive person by nature.  Therefore, despite all the bad things worth talking about this season, I feel like discussing some positive news.  Today that comes in the form of Mike Cameron’s possible return.

Adam McCalvy, Brewers beat writer at MLB.com, has a blog entry that quotes Cameron saying he wants to return and that he’s willing to “make a sacrifice” to do so.

I’ve come across several fans who fail to see the value of Mike Cameron.  They hate the fact that he made $10 million this year.  When discussing next year’s team, many posters at brewerfan include Cameron’s salary among money that can be used elsewhere to improve the team.  Problem is, you won’t find anywhere else to spend that 10 mil that will give you as much value as Mike Cameron.

WAR, fangraphs’ win value stat, a attempts to quantify a player’s total value.  Largely because of his great defense, Cameron is one of the most valuable players in baseball.  Cameron ranks 32nd in WAR in all of baseball this year.  That puts him ahead of players such as Ryan Howard, Victor Martinez, Justin Morneau, Brian McCann and David Wright.  In case you were curious, Prince Fielder is 12th in WAR and Ryan Braun is 24th.  Among center fielders, Cameron is fifth in UZR (defensive metric), eigth in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging percentage.  He’s and fifth in WAR among all center fielders.

In other words:  Mike Cameron is a very good baseball player.

It’s hard to know what Cameron meant by “make a sacrifice,” but I’m happy to hear he’d like to return.  It could get tricky, because with the year he’s had, offering him arbitration would certainly give him a raise on his $10 million salary from this season.  The Brewers probably won’t be interested in bringing him back for more than the 10 mil.  Frankly, you can’t ask him to take a big pay cut after the season he’s had, so if I was Doug Melvin I’d offer him an eight million dollar deal with a mutual option of 8 mil for 2011.  That would rival what he’d get on the free agent market, yet it’s not anything too risky for the Brewers.

The Brewers do have players whose ties should be cut in order to save money next season.  Braden Looper, Jason Kendall and Seth McClung fit in this category, but Mike Cameron does not.  Anything that you could sign for Cameron’s money will bring back less production than Cameron himself.

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