Milwaukee Brewers: Was Trading Casey McGehee a Mistake?

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Milwaukee Brewers: Was Trading Casey McGehee a Mistake?
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Casey McGehee, a dead fastball hitter, had the best season of his career in 2010.

The former Cub hit .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBI in his first full season as a starter. Batting behind Prince Fielder, McGehee was a dangerous hitter. The Milwaukee Brewers thought they had struck gold by acquiring the third basemen from their bitter rivals, the Chicago Cubs. A year later, however, their thoughts had changed.

The then-28-year-old was mired in a season-long slump in 2011. His .223 batting average was the worst among starters in the National League. His power numbers decreased dramatically and no longer had the knack to drive in base-runners.

McGehee's on base percentage dropped over 50 points. Pitchers were figuring out that McGehee had trouble hitting breaking balls and started avoiding giving him fastballs. The Brewers once-dangerous five-hole hitter was becoming a liability.

As the playoffs came around, manager Ron Roenicke had a decision to make. Should he stay with the struggling McGehee at third, or should he replace him with veteran utility player Jerry Hairston? Roenicke went with the latter, which turned out to be crucial to Milwaukee's postseason success.

A little over a month after the 2011 season ended, the Brewers signed the 33-year-old and former rival Aramis Ramirez to a three year deal. Three days later, Milwaukee shipped McGehee off to Pittsburgh and acquired hard-throwing reliever Jose Veras.

Aramis Ramirez seems to be a home wrecker for Casey McGehee. The reason the Chicago Cubs placed McGehee on waivers was because they had no spot for him, as Ramirez was their third basemen. Now Ramirez comes to Milwaukee and kicks McGehee out once again.

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After three seasons in Milwaukee, two of them as a starter, McGehee was given up on by the Brewers organization.

Although it is very early, people—myself included—are beginning to wonder if sending McGehee away will come back to haunt the Brewers.

Ramirez is a better third basemen and a more proven hitter then McGehee, yet he is four years older at the age of 33. After a dreadful season in 2010, he hit .306 with 26 home runs and batted in 93 in 2011, winning him the silver slugger award.

However, 2012 seems to be on it's way to be a repeat of Ramirez's 2010 season: He is in a 4-for-35 slump to begin his Brewers career, his on-base percentage is a pathetic .179 and opposing pitchers are no longer afraid to face him.

Granted, Ramirez is a notoriously slow starter. He is only a .250 hitter in the month of April. Still, his batting average is well behind that of.McGehee, who is hitting .308 to begin the new campaign. After striking out over 100 times a year ago, McGehee has only struck out twice in 26 at bats.

McGehee's main focus during the offseason was to try not to do so much at the plate. "I think I’ve got plenty of baseball left in me to where I’m not ready to take on a coaching role," he told the Bradenton Herald in late February.      

Milwaukee is paying Ramirez $6 million this year, and will eventually be paying him $16 million in 2014. If the Brewers had kept McGehee, they would be paying him a little over two million. If they had put more faith in McGehee, they would have had more money to try and sign Jose Reyes or make a bigger offer to Jimmy Rollins.

As Ramirez gets older, his productivity will decline, which is becoming more evident this year. The Brewers gave up on McGehee too soon and they very may well regret it in years to come. It will be interesting to compare Ramirez and McGehee's stats as the season progresses.

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