Quick Hops: One Discussion of Two Free Agents

Adam RyggContributor IFebruary 13, 2010

When I have a couple of things to write about at the same time and don't feel like making separate posts about each one, I combine them under a heading I like to call Quick Hops.

Every now and then, I get some information passed along to me. You can take the information for what it's worth to you. At this point, after all, I am just a fan of the team that enjoys sharing his thoughts about it.

So, with that disclaimer out of the way, let me pass along what I've been told.

Doug Melvin and his staff are getting their ducks in a row on a pair of free agent contracts. Please understand, this does not necessarily mean that offers will be made to the free agents in question. All this means is that the Brewers are interested enough to get some things in order...just in case.

The first name won't come as a surprise to you if you've been paying attention to the Brewers' offseason activities. I do have a couple of additional specifics to pass along though about the potential contract.

Free agent left-handed pitcher Mark Mulder could be offered a minor league contract complete with what I've come to call a "Jeff Weaver clause" in that if Mulder isn't a part of the 25-man roster by a certain date, he can request to be released from the contract.

This functions the same way as the language Jim Edmonds had written into his contract, but while in Edmonds' case the cut off date is March 25, I was told the Mulder date would be June 15. That should be more than enough time to prove if his multi-year rehab is paying dividends or not.

Again, Mulder's name is not one that should be cause for wide eyes at this point, but the next name just might be.

In what was being mentioned as one-year deal with player options for years two and possibly three (though personally I would think a mutual option on the third year would make more sense), the Milwaukee Brewers are apparently thinking about offering a contract to the former two-time World Champion, the former Red Sox idiot and Yankees heartthrob, Johnny Damon.

The Brewers have a decent stable of outfielders at this point, in quantity at least if you want to argue about quality. They'll have no trouble fielding five guys to roam the outfield grass without adding Damon to the mix. That being said, Damon is an accomplished hitter and would look pretty damn good standing in that batter's box to either lead off the bottom on the first inning on April 5 or possibly wait on deck as Rickie Weeks takes the first hacks of a new season.

I must suggest that this information be taken with a grain of salt, however.

The main reason for this being that the Brewers are currently dealing with an inflated payroll. In order to make this contract offer even a possibility, I would think that the team would first want to move all $4.8 million of Corey Hart's contract to somebody else's roster. That would clear up needed dollars that could then be paid to Damon.

More than the money though is the fact that Johnny Damon has never exactly had a strong throwing arm. There's a reason he was playing left field for the Yankees, and as evidenced by the Yankees trade for Curtis Granderson it wasn't because Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are future Hall of Fame members.

No, Damon's arm strength isn't exactly ideal for center field, let alone where the opening would be in right field should Hart be on the move. That's why once it became evident that the Yankees were going in another direction from Damon, most level-headed Brewers fan didn't bother considering Damon as a free agent pickup for Milwaukee.

In case you haven't heard, we have a pretty good left fielder named Ryan Braun.

Could the Brewers be considering a move for Braun though? No one will argue that Braun's conversion from infielder to outfielder has been remarkable. Is Braun capable of playing right field at least as capably as he's been handling left field to this point?

Braun's arm is plenty strong to play right field. He can run down fly balls with the best of them assuming his path to the ball is true. What's more, with Carlos Gomez to one side, it's not like Braun has to be an all-world defender on balls in the gap as even if Gomez can't catch them, he'll usually be able to cut them off without Braun's assistance.

If Braun doesn't move, and Damon is still brought in, could he platoon in center field with Gomez? Would they take their chances with Damon's arm in right field because Rickie Weeks has been known to be above average as a cut off man?

Then again, all this is moot if the Brewers can't find a taker for Corey Hart in trade. Then again, they might not even be looking to trade Corey Hart. Again, let me remind that what I am saying is simply that the Brewers are getting their proverbial ducks in a row in case the situation presents itself in which making an offer to Johnny Damon becomes in the team's best interest.

Sure is fun to speculate though, isn't it?