The Brewers have been asked repeatedly, “When are you going to trade Prince Fielder? Where is Prince going? Who are the Brewers going to get for Fielder?”
On Saturday night, I think we got our answers:
1. Not anytime soon.
The Brewers shocked the baseball world and - instead of being sellers – became buyers. 2009 Cy Young Award-winner Zack Greinke has been acquired from the Kansas City Royals for a slew of players and prospects.
To say that the Brewers are all-in for 2011 is an understatement. They’re all-in for as far as the eye can see. In the past few weeks, they’ve dealt their top hitting prospect, Brett Lawrie, in the deal to get Shawn Marcum from Toronto. Now they’ve dealt their shortstop of the future, Alcides Escobar, as well as a potential starting center fielder in Lorenzo Cain and arguably their top pitching prospect in Jake Odorizzi. Jeremy Jeffress, another young prospect with a big right arm, was also included in the deal.
This was a deal that the Brewers had to make. With Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Marcum, and Randy Wolf, they have a pitching staff that’s now as good as anyone’s in the NL Central - and maybe even better. The Brewers became World Series contenders with this deal and if it takes dealing all those future prospects to make that happen, you do it. They did it.
The window of opportunity for teams like the Brewers is much smaller than other teams. If losing Prince Fielder is a foregone conclusion, then Doug Melvin decided to pull the trigger now. Rather than try and piecemeal a deal for Prince now, why not keep him for as long as they can, and try to win?
When the team traded for CC Sabathia in 2008, Milwaukee got the hottest pitcher in baseball for 2 months. However, if the Brewers had had CC for the entire year, they may not have needed to over-use him as they did for those last eight weeks of the season. Ben Sheets may have been able to rest up for October, instead of throwing until his arm practically fell off.
The Brewers have bought themselves the luxury of playing a marathon season by acquiring Greinke now, not the sprint-to-the-finish-line season they had in 2008. If all goes well, it allows the entire staff to just go out and try to pitch normally, rather than be perfect each time out–which CC basically had to be, and was, when he donned a Brewers uniform.
Greinke followed up his 2009 breakout season with a ho-hum season in 2010 for Kansas City. Still, Brewers GM Doug Melvin is banking on Greinke not duplicating his 10-14, 4.17 ERA last season, but instead, getting something closer to the 16-8, 2.16 ERA he had in ’09.
The Brewers also received SS Yuniesky Bettancourt as part of the deal, plus some money to help cover part of his salary. Bettancourt is a career .272 hitter who smacked a career-high 16 HR and drove in 78 runs last year while playing for both the Braves and Royals. He’s a serviceable player whom the Royals are happy to be rid of after acquiring him from Atlanta just last season.
If taking an overpaid shortstop and sending a gaggle of talented, yet unproven, youngsters is all it takes to get an ace in the fold, the Brewers are happy to oblige.
About the Author
Written by Scott Johnston
Scott Johnston is a longtime Sports TV Producer/Writer from Los Angeles who now lives just outside of Boston. After a long career at KCAL-TV in L.A., where Scott covered such things as Kirk Gibson’s HR, Hank Gathers death, and Magic Johnson’s retirement, NBA ll-Star Game MVP performance and subsequent return to the NBA. His favorite team is the Oakland A’s and whomever happens to be playing the Yankees, USC or the Cowboys on that particular day. Scott left his staff position at KCAL and formed his own small production company in 1996 while continuing to freelance there and at other stations, including WTTG in DC for two years. His company, ProTVSports, started out covering one team during Spring Training in 1997 but now covers six of the Cactus League teams. He also covers tennis and golf events during the year and has had the privilege of covering 5 NBA Finals, including two of the last three. Scott loves all sports, but considers baseball to be his favorite. He loves politcs, reading, movies and his wife and two daughters—not in that order!