With talk of upgrading the Brewers roster continue to float about, is a deal imminent?
While few specific rumors have surfaced, we can speculate on which players may be available and what needs the team may want to fill. So let’s have at it, shall we?
If the Brewers make a deal, it will likely address one of the following areas:
Bullpen: Rollie Fingers has been banged up and less dependable than he was last year, making the contributions of the other relievers all the more important. Other than Jim Slaton, can the Brewers count on Jamie Easterly, Jerry Augustine or Dwight Bernard? No. The Brewers could use at least one dependable addition to the bullpen.
Starting Rotation: It’s been a sticking point all season. Pete Vuckovich is the undisputed ace, but then what? Mike Caldwell, when not throwing a fit about whatever it is that ticks him off this week, can be good on occasion. But at 3-6 with a 5.04 ERA, he’s far from dependable. Moose Haas has been up and down, but overall he’s been the second best starter on the staff with a 4.05 ERA. Bob McClure is the “other” lefty in the rotation (along with Caldwell) with a bloated 4.56 ERA. Randy Lerch is the true definition of a number five starter with a 5.25 ERA. In other words, the Brewers have one ace, a number three or number four starter in Haas, and three number five starters. One trade probably won’t be enough to make the changes that are necessary here.
You Can Have Him
There’s one player the Brewers would just assume give away, but they’ve been trying unsuccessfully since the spring. No one wants him.
Roy Howell: Howell’s tirades have become tired. Granted, while playing under Kuenn he’s been quieter since he’s actually getting playing time. But he’s third on the depth chart at third base, and could easily be dealt if the Brewers can get a need in return.
Oh, you want him?
These are players who likely aren’t the centerpiece of any trade discussion, but could come up as a throw-in or minor deal:
Marshall Edwards: He’s a valuable defensive replacement in the outfield, but offers little else.
Ed Romero: He’s nice to have in case Gantner needs a breather, but that’s about it.
Mark Brouhard: Still young and with promise, but the Brewers have depth in right field.
Ned Yost: If the Brewers keep Simmons, there’s really no need to have three catcher-capable players on the roster.
Rob Picciolo: Recently acquired from Oakland to fill a perceived need, but he rarely plays.
Jerry Augustine: His 6+ ERA is a bit misleading due to the 12 runs he allowed in Kansas City on May 11, but he’s rarely used.
Randy Lerch: Sometimes passable, sometimes awful. Easily replaceable.
Jamie Easterly: With a 3.32 ERA, he actually has been pretty good this year. But the Brewers may not trust those results if an offer comes their way.
Dwight Bernard: Like Easterly, his results (3.66 ERA) haven’t particularly bad, but he’s also a body that shouldn’t be very difficult to replace or upgrade.
Likely discussion starters
If the Brewers do make a deal, don’t be surprised if it involves one of these players. They not only are available, but may be attractive to other teams:
Ted Simmons: He’s yet to live up to his reputation as a catcher with a big bat since putting on a Brewers uniform in 1981. The Brewers have three players capable of catching, and Simmons may be seen as the veteran presence that another team needs as a final piece of the puzzle. His name’s been floated around for a while now, and he’d likely already be gone if Buck Rodgers were still around.
Charlie Moore: It comes down to depth. While it would be helpful to have Moore around to split right field duties with Mark Brouhard, he’s one of three players who can catch. And he’s capable of hitting .300, so other teams may covet him. He also demanded a trade during the spring before being assured he’d get a shot in the outfield.
Mike Caldwell: He’s not performing for the Brewers, but other teams will think a change of scenery could light a fire under him. And they may be right.
Moose Haas: Would only be dealt in a package deal that would give the Brewers an upgrade to the rotation.
Don Money: Very valuable as a designated hitter, but the Brewers could take a hit on offense to improve their pitching staff. One of three third basemen.
Bob McClure: Like Haas, he could be dealt in a package deal to improve the rotation.
Could be available, but at a price
It would seem highly unlikely that any of these players would be traded unless the Brewers received an offer they couldn’t refuse:
Paul Molitor: His age (25) and production would make him very hard to deal, but given the depth at third base a trade would have to be considered if the Brewers could get a young, top of the rotation starter in return.
There would seem to be no way the Brewers would trade these players due to age, depth or value to the team:
Cecil Cooper: He may not get the credit he deserves around the league, but fans in Milwaukee know he’s been the best first baseman in baseball the past few years. The team has no back-up plan for him.
Gorman Thomas: He’s a leader and a big power bat in the middle of the lineup. Most importantly, there just isn’t a viable back-up plan.
Ben Oglivie: See Gorman above. Benji isn’t going anywhere.
Pete Vuckovich: The team’s only dependable starter. No way he’s going anywhere.
Rollie Fingers: The heart and soul of the bullpen, if not the team. Fingers may be having a down year, but his experience in the postseason makes him irreplaceable.
Jim Slaton: He can start, pitch long relief or get saves when Rollie is unavailable. And he’s productive. He can’t be replaced.
What do you think? Which players should the Brewers be looking at trading and what areas should they upgrade?