Monday, Feb. 9, 2009

Brewers acquire Braden Looper?

By Nicole
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Pending physical exam (Ben Sheets will tell you how important that is.)

Tom H has the story on his Brewers Blog

Melvin confirmed earlier in the day that a deal was in the works and his quotes to Tom H were interesting:

I asked Melvin what made the Brewers stray from their previous statements that they didn't plan to sign a pitcher on this market because they'd lose financial flexibility down the road to add a better pitcher. He said they did a study of the pitchers who might become available and decided their contracts were too rich and it would involve trading players they'd want to keep.

"We do lose flexibility by making this decision now," said Melvin.

"But it's hard to pass up a guy that would have led our staff in innings pitched (199) last season. He's durable. He grinds it out and throws strikes. We needed some innings."

I asked Melvin if another factor in going after Looper was that the market had come down since the beginning of the winter. Wolf just signed with the Dodgers for $5 million guaranteed.

"That has an impact," said Melvin. "It matters if a player wants to be here, too."

In other words,  Looper expressed mutual interest. He'll stay in the NL Central, where he is familiar with the other foes.

The Brewers were going to be reporting to Spring Training with just five starters - one of whom is the much-more-comfortable-in-the-bullpen Seth McClung. With no room for error and a fairly sub-par staff to begin with, it wasn't looking pretty for the Crew.

Milwaukee was reportedly interested in Looper earlier in the season, but decided he was out of our price range.

Savvy Doug Melvin has held out and now it looks like the discount shopping has begun. Looper will likely be taking a pay-cut from the $5.5 million he made last season.

Though Looper's ERA over the past two seasons has been in the 4.5 range and he's not known as a strikeout pitcher, the Brewers are obviously drawn to his durability-he pitched 199 innings last season, 14 more than anyone on our staff.

According to MLB.com's Brewers reporter Adam McCalvy:

The latest negotiations mark a bit of a change in club philosophy from just two weeks ago, when Melvin and Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio hinted strongly that there would be no additions to the starting rotation before the start of Spring Training. Instead, they floated the idea of holding spending at its current level -- about $82 million, pending the outcome of outfielder Corey Hart's arbitration case -- to allow for flexibility early in the season, when the Brewers could try to acquire a top pitcher via trade from a team off to a poor start.

Perhaps those ideas were floated as a negotiating ploy, perhaps Looper's asking price had fallen to a point that made more sense for Milwaukee, or perhaps Brewers officials simply had a change of heart. By Monday, Melvin was singing a different tune.

 

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