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What the Brewers Must Do at the Trade Deadline

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What the Brewers Must Do at the Trade Deadline
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, it is no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers need to add a starting pitcher if they want to return to postseason play.

The Brewers are tied with Houston and Chicago in second place behind the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals, and need an arm to break away from a crowded division.

But as great as it would be for Milwaukee to be the center of the baseball universe yet again this trade season, the Brewers should show some restraint in trading for Toronto's Roy Halladay or Cleveland's Cliff Lee and aim for an innings-eating fifth starter that won't require a king's ransom.

It is well-known that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi wants a bounty for Halladay, and it would probably take some combination of Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Brett Lawrie, and others to bring him to Milwaukee.

That is too much to give up, after Milwaukee has made several deals over the past few seasons to deplete their system.

The only way that Brewers GM Doug Melvin can make that trade is if he is certain that Milwaukee can make and win the World Series during Halladay's year and a half with the club.

While I love the philosophy of going for it all, would Halladay atop the rotation make the Brewers better than Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and perhaps a Boston or New York?

With the Brewers other holes, I can't clearly say they pass those clubs.

Boston's Brad Penny or Arizona's Doug Davis would be better fits for Milwaukee at the back-end of the rotation if they can acquire either for a mid-level prospect or two.

The Brewers need a guy that can give their overworked bullpen a blow, and both veterans can give a team seven solid innings most times out.

Milwaukee desperately needs someone to take the place of Mike Burns and his 6.21 ERA, and with Dave Bush at least two to three weeks away from re-joining the rotation, the Brewers need an arm as soon as possible.

Jarrod Washburn has been another name mentioned if Seattle decides to be sellers at the deadline, but his numbers are a bit misleading as he pitches at cavernous Safeco Field with perhaps the most athletic outfield in baseball.

He scares me.

Penny is especially intriguing, considering how good he was for the Dodgers, going 16-4 in 2007 and starting the All-Star game for the NL.

He currently sports a 5.02 ERA in Boston, but escaping the AL East and its brutal lineups can do wonders for a stat-line. Additionally, his contract is up at the end of the season, so it's hard to imagine Boston asking for a whole lot in a deal.

With the Red Sox being one of the few teams in baseball with pitching to burn, the Brewers need to find a way to bring him in.

Milwaukee needs more than just a starting pitcher however, and should look to find another outfield bat and another bullpen arm as well. 

Guys like Brad Nelson, Chris Duffy, and Jody Gerut have given the Brewers nothing, and Milwaukee desperately needs to find someone who can get a hit off of the bench.

Milwaukee is currently last in the NL in pinch-hitting, a stat largely attributed to their backup outfielders batting like little-leaguers.

I haven't heard many specific names, but clearly the Brewers need an outfielder that can handle the bat a bit.

If only Tony Gwynn Jr. was still around.

Melvin recently said in a radio interview that the market is so competitive for starting pitching, that he has been looking to upgrade the 'pen as opposed to overpaying for a starter.

With guys like Mark DiFelice, Mitch Stetter, and Todd Coffey seemingly pitching every day, it would be wise to find some cheap reinforcements, especially if the asking price for starting pitching stays so high.

The Brewers have had rumored interest in Baltimore's George Sherrill and can perhaps patch their pitching woes by bolstering their bullpen instead.

With the division still there for the taking, a solid deadline deal may be the difference in a tight Central race.

Doug Melvin has his work cut out for him.

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