With the current state of the Milwaukee Brewers, who now resemble their Triple A Nashville Sounds team more than a collection of Major Leaguers, I thought it might be entertaining and amusing to dial up some Brew Crew players from yesteryear who could certainly help the team if they were still, indeed, in the organization.
This isn't an exercise to call out general manager Doug Melvin for moving a chess piece then wishing he didn't take his fingers off for a snap-back retreat. Let's just have some fun and conjure up thoughts of what a baseball team in Milwaukee might look like had they stood pat with certain players, and the digits they are compiling with their current clubs translated to similar numbers with the Brewers.
How terrific would Cruz look in the Brewers outfield the last handful of seasons? Imagine Braun in left, Hart in center and Cruz in right. We have to imagine it because Cruz was dealt to Texas in the six-player Carlos Lee deal in 2006 when it became apparent Lee would not sign a long-term deal to stay in Milwaukee. The Brewers got Francisco Cordero, who didn't stick around as a closer for very long, plus Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, while the Rangers got an eventual All Star in Cruz, who tore it up in the 2011 post-season.
To borrow the popular "you have to give up something to get something" slogan, a desperate and pitching-thin Brewers team parted with their former top draft pick to get Shaun Marcum in return from Toronto. Without Marcum, perhaps the Brewers never have made it to the post-season in 2011. But how would Lawrie look at third base right now? A terrific and gifted young player with a fiery attitude, Lawrie has been compared to Ryan Braun for his upside ability. Two Brauns on the same team? Wishful thinking.
Same formula here as the Marcum-Lawrie deal, because to acquire Zack Greinke from Kansas City, the Brewers had to part with four prospects, including Milwaukee's starting shortstop. Outfielder Lorenzo Cain and Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress would have been nice complement players had they stuck around, but Escobar was the big blow for a team that is coughing dry heaves when it comes to cultivating major league ready shortstops in their farm system. Escobar fields well, as Brewers fans remember, and is now hitting over .300 with the Royals. Escobar would certainly been a nice piece in the Brewers current infield, with an upside to continue blossoming at only 25 years of age.
While we're at it, the fourth player in that Greinke deal was a Double A pitcher at the time of the transaction, but currently pitches in Triple A Omaha for Kansas City. Odorizzi is a former first-round pick of Milwaukee in 2008 who has moved up the organizational food chain of Kansas City. When injuries occur in the big clubs rotation, it sure would be nice to bring up someone like this right-hander, or at the very least, have someone lurking in the minor leagues like Odorizzi who is ready to pounce on a starting job very soon.
His medical chart was all over the board, but Chris Capuano was a fighter who came back from Tommy John surgery twice. The left-hander couldn't convince the Brewers he was ready to remain a reliable starting pitcher following the 2010 season, so he latched on with the Mets in 2011 and then this season with the Dodgers, where Capuano is reborn on the bump. Capuano has made nine straight starts giving up three earned runs or fewer, with a sparkling ERA of 2.14 over 10 games started. His 7-1 record in Los Angeles has been one of the more underrated pickups of the season, and the 33-year-old was always a fan and media favorite at Miller Park.
If the Escobar idea doesn't float, how about still having the services of Hardy? The cost was Carlos Gomez, which at the time was one of those one-for-one, change-of-scenery trades made with the Twins. Yes, Hardy struggled at the plate in 2009 and was even sent down to the minors in August of that season. Now with the Orioles, Hardy has decent pop with 10 home runs and 24 RBI during the first two months of this season, projecting out to similar numbers he mustered in 2011 (30 HR, 80 RBI).
One could nit-pick, dig deeper and pine for the days of Carlos Lee, Jerry Hairston and Tony Gwynn, who were either traded or sent off to find greener pastures with another club. But not every deal makes the fans put on their fantasy GM cap and wish they were in charge of player personnel moves that wouldn't backfire or cause head-slapping regret seasons later.
After all, who seriously wants Matt LaPorta back?
backwards (and obvious) thinking from the guy who stuck a microphone in his father-in-law's face and forced the man to do play by play for an entire half inning in one of the most uncomfortable moments ever shown on television during a Brewer game.
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