Posted by Steve
News! One day after the season, and we already have 2010 news to talk about.
First things first. The Crew put a nice cap on a disappointing season by sweeping the Cardinals in St. Louis. If that in any way has a negative effect on St. Louis as they head into the playoffs, I’m all for it. In fact, I will say right now that if the Cardinals do not win the World Series, it will be because they ended the season on a low note–thanks to the Brewers.
An 80-82 record for 2009 stinks, but since I’ve been all about 2010 for the last two months, we can easily make it a good thing! That record is in the bottom 15 of MLB teams, which means the Brewers can sign a Type A free agent and still keep their first round pick. I don’t necessarily expect them to do so, but at least it’s an option.
Slipping through the cracks on this crazy Monday afternoon (apparently there’s some football game tonight?) may be the news that Trevor Hoffman has quickly re-signed with the Brewers for next season. The deal is for $8 million, and Buster Olney reports that there is a mutual option for 2011.
Spending $8 million on someone who will soon be 42 years old is generally a good way to build a bad team, but Hoffman is definitely an exception. Hoffman was fantastic this season: 1.83 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 3.43 strikeout to walk ratio. At worst, he was one of the top 20 relief pitchers in the majors.
Hoffman is getting a raise from the $6 mil he made in 2009, and $8 mil for a closer is about the most I’m comfortable with. He has a great track record, though, and has showed no sign of slowing down. The Brewers have every reason to expect him to be a good closer again next season.
The other move I’d like to see get done quickly is the re-signing of Mike Cameron for another year. Cameron made a comment a few weeks ago along the lines of being “willing to make sacrifices” to come back next season. That certainly seems to mean a pay cut, or at least no pay raise.
There’s a sentiment that bringing back Hoffman and Cameron eats up money that should be spent on starting pitching, but I don’t agree with it. These are productive players who are worth their salary. There are other ways to trim the fat off the payroll and free up space to acquire pitching. The Brewers should make the following moves:
- Non-tender Seth McClung. He was awful this year and will be set to make a couple million bucks next season. No need to spend that on his 1.03 k/bb ratio.
- Decline Braden Looper’s $6 million option. Looper was bad this year–below replacement level, in fact. His “production” should be replaced and improved upon by a newcomer.
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT RE-SIGN JASON KENDALL. He was quite possibly the worst everyday player in baseball. Seeing his $4.25 million salary come off the books is a beautiful sight to behold. I’d much rather let Jonathan Lucroy, Angel Salome and Mike Rivera battle it out and split time. It probably still won’t be very productive, but it can’t be any worse than what they had this season–and it will be cheap. Plus, the Brewers are likely to have one black hole in their everyday lineup next year (Escobar), so they can’t afford to play both Escobar and Kendall.
- Decline David Weathers’ $3.7 million option. Weathers is no longer good. His overall numbers this season are poor. There’s no reason not to give some youngers guys a shot next year. Someone like John Axford is likely to put up at least the 1.5-ish whip that Weathers brings, only he’ll do it for the league minimum. I will miss his new nickname used in the BIS office, though: Jeff Karstens’ dad.
I’m also pretty much resigned to the fact that the Brewers will probably be trading J.J. Hardy, which means at least $4.5 million more off the books (before the salaries of the player(s) they receive in return).
That’s roughly $20 million right there that can be trimmed without losing very much production. I’d much rather save money there than save it by letting actual productive players (Hoffman and Cameron) walk.
Finally, we’re on to Ken Macha. He is being brought back next season, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Doug Melvin was not the driving force behind the firing of Ned Yost, and it’s not surprising that he wouldn’t want to fire a manager that he hand-picked one year ago.
I’m not crazy about the move, but I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world. He’s certainly not as bad as Ned Yost. What’s funny is Macha and Yost seem to be polar opposites in a lot of ways. For the first two months of the season, I thought Macha did an outstanding job with bullpen management. Meanwhile, “Ned Yost” and “outstanding bullpen management” have never been used in the same sentence until this one was created.
Yost’s strength was with a young team with no pressure to win. He wasn’t bad when Fielder, Hart, Hardy, Weeks, etc. were all breaking into the big leagues and nobody expected the Brewers to win games. He was protective of his players to the point of absurdity. But when the team’s talent grew, Yost was in way over his head.
On the other hand, Macha has only managed winning teams until this season. He isn’t afraid to criticize a player in the media, which is fine. He never did anything over the top, and to be honest it was refreshing after listening to Yost say “Soup pitched great!” so many times in 2008. Because he’s only had winning teams, I didn’t realize that he apparently hates playing young players. His mishandling of Mat Gamel all season is embarrassing and completely inexcusable. He abused Yovani Gallardo. He wasn’t even crazy about playing Alcides Escobar full time when J.J. Hardy was in AAA. He said Josh Butler would get a start. Not only did he not give Butler a start; but Butler was sent home before the season even ended with only four major league innings under his belt. That Craig Counsell continued to get starts in September was also an embarrassment. Counsell had a good season, but you know what you have in him. September is the time for non-contenders to get a better look at their young players, and Macha just refused to do that.
Here’s hoping the Brewers field a more talented team next year, because I’m guessing (okay, hoping) that Macha is more equipped for that type of team.
Say, this was fun. I really enjoyed getting to use the Sha-wuuhhh?? tag again for nostalgia’s sake.