The Grand National Championships

September 19, 2008

When Disaster Strikes…

Is not just the name of the seminal Busta Rhymes album. It could be what happens to the Brewers in these next few months. I mean, let me tell you a story of what could happen.

A. The Brewers miss the playoffs. This means the player to be named later in the Sabathia trade will be the Brewers choice, and likely a man of no consequence.

B. The Yankees cull Bobby Abreu and Carl Pavano from the payroll, and use the balance to take C.C. Sabathia as the Angels sleep.

C. Ed Wade does his best Jerry Jones and his boy Sheetsie gets 5 years and 70 million.

D. The Brewers do not want to be too splashy in terms of free agency. It’s a big year, but the Brewers aren’t gonna try and get above 80 million dollars if they don’t have to.

And let’s be honest, I am going to make estimates based on precedent and other details in terms of contract. But the fundamentals will be sound.

And so? A journey of a wannabe GM begins…now.

Returning Payroll: Here’s where it begins. What cost the Brewers about 35.5 million in 2008 is going to become prohibitively expensive. Fielder starts arbitration, Suppan, Hall, J.J. Hardy, Bush, Corey Hart and maybe even the versatility of the Ginger McClung will all receive million dollar-plus raises. You aren’t going to see it double, but 26.5 million dollars later? The Brewers stand at 62 million dollars.

Options exercised? CF Mike Cameron ($10,000,000 +3 million dollars from 2008); INF Craig Counsell ($3,400,000 +600 thousand dollars from 2008 and it hurts because he sucks.)

Free Agents Re-Signed? LOOGY Brian Shouse ($2,200,000 +200 thousand dollars from 2008); OF Gabe Kapler ($1,000,000 +200 thousand dollars from 2008); 3B Russell Branyan ($750,000 +350 thousand dollars from 2008).

So now we stand at $66,200,000. If the Brewers sign no other free agents, here’s your 25-man roster.

C- Jason Kendall
C- Mike Rivera
1B- Prince Fielder
2B- Rickie Weeks
3B- Russell Branyan
SS- J. J. Hardy
IF- Billy Hall
IF- Craig Counsell
LF- Ryan Braun
CF- Mike Cameron
RF- Corey Hart
OF- Gabe Kapler
OF- Tony Gwynn

SP- Manny Parra
SP- Yovani Gallardo
SP- Jeff Suppan
SP- Dave Bush
SP- Seth McClung

RP- Mark DiFelice
RP- Luis Pena
RP- Tim Dillard
RP- Brian Shouse
RP- Carlos Villanueva
RP- David Riske

CL- Salomon Torres

So what do the Brewers need? Obvious need is obvious. Pitching. And as for that I do have a premise as to how the Brewers can generate some pitching.

Trade Prince Fielder

I know, it sounds crazy. But he’s still team controlled for another couple of years, and with Scott Boras in tow, there’s no chance that he’ll give Milwaukee a year of his Free Agency for an extension. So, expect the Brewers to quietly shop Fielder this offseason. A likely scenario? The Angels lose Teixera via Free Agency. The Brewers quietly swoop in and get a young starter from the Angels for Fielder. We’ll call him Joe saunders. So we’ll move Gamel to first base and we’ll do the Bruss Brall at third.

So now where are we? 23.8 million dollars.

Move #1: Sign Juan Cruz (3 years/9 million dollars)

Juan Cruz is a power pitcher. Juan Cruz generates a lot of strike outs. He can have his issues with lefties, however? He is a righty killer. I think his issues with lefthanders may keep his price down, but a savvy manager of bullpens can keep him as an ace 7th inning guy/righty killer.

Move #2: Sign Bartolo Colon (1 year/1.25 million Team option for 2010 at 2 million)

But with a twist. You make Bartolo Colon a middle reliever/closer candidate. His limited time as a Red Sock last year shows that he has an ability to pitch. But as a starter he’ll fall apart. So, you sign him as a middle reliever with incentive bonuses and hope he’s another Eckersley or Kerry Wood.

Move #3: Three million dollars for veteran starting pitcher reclamation projects.

There are plenty of options in the injured starter who showed talents previously. Obvious Mark Prior is obvious. But here’s what I’m thinking. Show me something in a Chris Capuano, a Mark Mulder, and a Russ Ortiz and hope one of them hit.

Move #4 Sign Joe Nathan (3 years/39 million dollars)

Perhaps this is colored by yesterdays taint punch of a collapse, but Joe Nathan may actually prove to have some value in the new economy. The Brewers are going to be contenders, or at the very least close to contention, jumping on the Joe Nathan bandwagon with all deliberate speed while everybody’s all fired up for the twisted steel and sex appeal of Fransisco Rodriguez? You can get good value.

And in these five moves? Your Milwaukee Brewers are ready for battle in 2009.

New 2009 Roster?

C- Kendall
C- Rivera
1B- Mat Gamel
2B- Weeks
3B- Branyan
SS- Hardy
IF- Hall
IF- Counsell
LF- Braun
CF- Cameron
RF- Hart
OF- Kapler
OF- Gwynn

SP- Parra
SP- Gallardo
SP- Suppan
SP- Bush
SP- McClung/Russ Ortiz/Chris Capuano/Mark Mulder

RP- Bartolo Colon
RP- Juan Cruz
RP- Brian Shouse
RP- Salomon Torres
RP- Carlos Villanueva
RP- David Riske

CL- Joe Nathan

And with JJ Hardy, Mike Cameron, and Jason Kendall as trade bait as some of the Huntsville 8 show off their readiness? It’s a beautiful thing.

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