Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Upcoming Month

With baseball's trading deadline approaching fast for players who are not required to clear waivers by July 31st approaching fast, I thought I'd look at who could be headed elsewhere this upcoming month. The team has played well as of late, winning 8 of their past 12, including the first two of a seven game road stretch to reach the All Star break.  It's a delicate situation when determining if a team is either a seller or a buyer when the trade deadline approaches.  To the casual Brewer fan, since the club is only three games under .500 and six games back in the wild card race, those individuals would think GM Doug Melvin should be a buyer and go for it.  Not to mention the fact that they would have to jump in front of the seven teams ahead of them in the wild card standings.  Well, those fans couldn't be further from the truth.  Before the season started, it was blatantly obvious that this team was not going to contend for a playoff berth.  Melvin has his eye on 2006 and beyond, not for the remainder of this essentially worthless season. 

With that said, there are some obvious candidates to be with other teams come four weeks from now.  There aren't as many teams that are going to be having a fire sale of talent at the trade deadline with some of the usual candidates are still hovering around with playoff aspirations, meaning what the Brewers have to offer to other clubs will hopefully net a larger return.

Some of the obvious names that could be moved are in the bullpen.  While the 'pen as a whole has been very effective, it has wavered as of late.  It seems that Ricky Bottalico will be shipped out.  He has the least amount of ties to the club, has a reasonable contract, can provide "veteran leadership" to a contending club as he has been a serviceable closer before, and he will be a free agent when the season is over.  Even after he blew up before my eyes this Sunday with me in the stands, he still has a decent 3.93 ERA.  Ricky has been on record as saying that he would give his right arm to go back to Boston and play for the Red Sox.  Boston could be a likely destination, what with Keith Foulke imploding on a nightly basis.  I wouldn't expect more than a fringe AA prospect or two in return for Bottalico. 

Julio Santana also has been drawing a lot of attention from other teams.  I would actually prefer if the Crew held on to Santana, as he has proved himself to be almost invaluable in the bullpen.  He can consistently throw in the high 90's, and has a plus breaking ball when able to locate it.  He has an amazing strike out rate of 32 K's to 28.2 innings.  Santana also makes at/near the league minimum and would bring back more value in a trade than Bottalico would.  I'd actually prefer that Melvin keep Santana around unless he gets offered a deal that he cannot refuse. 

Derrick Turnbow also could be another candidate, albeit less likely.  T-Bow is just another one of Melvin's nuggets that he got for virtually nothing and turned into a quality, contributing big leaguer.  It is apparent that Turnbow does not have the greatest control in the world, fitting into the term "effectively wild" almost perfectly.  He is 17 for 19 in save opportunities, has an ERA of 2.50, has struck out 33 in 36 innings, and is a very effective ground ball pitcher for someone who throws as hard as he does.  If Melvin does deal Turnbow, it would be another example of buying low and selling high, as would be the case with Santana.  Since some teams overvalue the closer role, Melvin might be able to fleece a team by giving up a top prospect who is major league ready in return. 

Out of the rest of the pitching staff, I think Tomo Ohka has the best chance of being shipped off.  While he has been a pretty decent pitcher over his career, he obviously doesn't fit into the Crew's next winning team.  His style of pitching also is not conducive for Miller Park, as Tomo is an extreme fly ball pitcher and Miller Park is like a band box.  Melvin has already dropped hints that he expects to ship Ohka out before the trading deadline. 


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