Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009

Chiming in on the Brewers' Busy Week

By Nicole
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I may be the only woman in the greater Wisconsin area to say it, but JJ Hardy never really did it for me and frankly I’m more than a little sick of the implication that I’d be against the trade merely because I’ll miss Hardy’s baby blues.

A lot of fans are really against this trade, but I can’t get too up in arms about it. Hardy was on his way out the door and the Brewers were trying to get as much as they could for him. He’s been dangling for at least six months and I have no doubt Gomez was the best someone offered for us.

As I mentioned in the post with the Boston Globe article, the Brewers may have had Hardy out there for awhile, but it’s obvious they had very specific requirements they were asking for in return.

The weirdest part about the whole months-long drama is the “shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot” move of sending JJ to the minors. It automatically devalued him. That’s not to say that we were ever going to get a Clay Buchholz for him, but we basically showed every team we didn’t think he had the stuff. It was a very weird managerial choice.

Despite the thousands in lost t-shirt and jersey sales, this was still the right move. Much as I hoped it wasn’t the case, the Brewers could not afford to keep Mike Cameron and in Gomez they got another defensively talented center fielder. I can handle the loss in offensive numbers – there are other bats in the lineup that can provide a power spark – but had we lost the defensive prowess of Cameron, it would have been a tough blow to take.

Fans are upset about the move, but though I’m beginning to question his eye for pitching talent, I do still trust Doug Melvin’s judgment. He knows his butt is on the hot seat and he knows the pool of available players is thin. He didn’t move Hardy just to move him. He took the best deal he could get and ran with it. I believe that.

As for JJ – when it came down to it, Alcides Escobar is just so much more exciting to watch. Fans seem to be worrying about the errors, but since both Mat Gamel and Rickie Weeks are on the team, errors are something we’re quite accustomed to. Al wasn’t particularly error-prone in his time with the club last season and I certainly didn’t cringe every time he picked up the ball as I did with Weeks two seasons ago

Escobar has the speed that has been missing in this lineup and if Weeks comes back strong, their base-stealing ability could be a huge boon for this team. Snagging free bases and moving guys around the carousel may be able to help make up for some of the lost power in the 2010 lineup.

The thing fans have to remember is that trades like this are going to continue to happen. Ryan Braun is the only player that is tied up long term. We’ve been spoiled with this solid group of young, talented, exciting players that we brought up through our system. We’ve seen them together for multiple years and we’re comfortable with them. Every time one gets traded away fans will be upset, hurt and feel that we didn’t get enough in return for them. We’re severely emotionally attached to these players. Hard core fans have been following the careers and paths of Fielder, Hart, Weeks, Hall, Hardy, Braun and Gallardo since they were drafted. That’s a lot of years to invest and that’s why it’s so hard and heart-breaking when they leave.

Milwaukee’s payroll and small-market team status mean that they aren’t going to be able to keep all these players long-term and it’s going to feel like betrayal when Prince is gone in a year or two because the Brewers can’t afford the salary he’s going to demand (and deserve).

Only time will tell, but right now I’m thinking the biggest loss the Brewers have had over the past few seasons isn’t CC Sabathia – it’s Jack Zduriencik. As our director of scouting and draft guru, it was Jack Z who brought all these now-household names to our system.

Fans have to hope that without him at the helm, the Brewers can continue to draft and grow talent, because that’s how baseball works. It’s cyclical and the Brewers have to hope that they can continue to have prospects grow through the farm system. We’re not the team that’s buying multi-million dollar players – we have to be the team that’s selling them and getting as much as we can for them.

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