This is one is a series of posts where we grade each team on their groovy trades and signings and whack them for their wasteful wheeling and dealing.
What did the Brewers need? Pitching. Last season the team’s FIP was the second highest in the majors, and they finished 15th in the NL with a 4.83 ERA.
What did the Brewers get? First, the team signed Randy Wolf to a 3-year deal. Last season Wolf posted his lowest ERA since 2002 and, more importantly, threw 200 innings for the first time since 2003. Better yet, the Dodgers inexplicably declined to offer Wolf arbitration, so Milwaukee didn’t have to forfeit a draft pick.
Next, Milwaukee signed Doug Davis, who is nobody’s idea of an ace but is pretty much a lock for 200 innings and an ERA between 4.00-5.00. Davis is consistently underrated, and landing him on a one-year deal was a smart move for a team that gave Jeff Suppan 30 starts last season. (Suppan’s WAR has been below zero the last two years.)
To free up cash to sign those pitchers, the Brew Crew traded shortstop JJ Hardy for inexpensive CF Carlos Gomez. Then they let CF Mike Cameron depart via free agency. Hardy’s departure was inevitable, as the Brewers had already turned over their starting shortstop job to Alcides Escobar. But while Gomez’s defense is outstanding, it’s unlikely he’ll hit enough to warrant an everyday gig in center. The Brewers are betting that Gomez will improve on his .286 career wOBA, and I for one wish them luck, but do not share their optimism.
Finally, the Brewers signed RP LaTroy Hawkins to a 2-year deal that was more than they should have paid, but not nearly as bad as what the Astros gave Brandon Lyon. And Milwaukee added C Gregg Zaun to replace Jason Kendall, who signed with the Royals.
Will these moves be enough? MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes doesn’t think the Brewers did enough to improve their pitching. He says:
Playing around with CHONE’s innings projections for the team’s expected six starters (and limiting Suppan’s impact) gives me a projected rotation ERA of 4.46. That would’ve ranked ninth in the NL last year.
I’m inclined to agree with Tim. In 2009, The Brewers had one of the league’s three best offenses (along with Philly and Colorado). Modest improvements in what was a truly horrid pitching staff should improve Milwaukee’s chances, but the Cardinals are still the team to beat in the NL Central. The Brew Crew will need bigger than expected performances from the likes of Manny Parra, Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart if they’re going to sniff the postseason.
Final Grade: B
Notable additions: Carlos Gomez, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Gregg Zaun, LaTroy Hawkins.
Notable subtractions: J.J. Hardy, Mike Cameron, Jason Kendall, Bill Hall.
C: Gregg Zaun
1B: Prince Fielder
2B: Rickie Weeks
3B: Casey MeGehee/Matt Gamel
SS: Alcides Escobar
LF: Ryan Braun
CF: Carlos Gomez
RF: Corey Hart
SP: Yovani Gallardo
SP: Randy Wolf
SP: Doug Davis
SP: Dave Bush
SP: Manny Parra/Jeff Suppan
CL: Trevor Hoffman