Milwaukee Brewers: Looking Ahead to 2009

Joel KochSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2008

Now, by no means am I a Milwaukee Brewers fan. I'm writing this article because I respect the Brewers. After saying that, I for one hope they tank in 2008 and 2009. Go Cardinals baby :-)

Anyway, here we go. The Brewers recently traded away Matt LaPorta and Rob Byson for CC Sabathia. Those are two good prospects that could make an impact. Byson could be a successful closer and LaPorta is going to hit the snot out of the ball.

Reports also say that the player to be named in this trade is 3B Taylor Green, currently at high Class A for the Brewers. So they put a lot of their eggs in one big basket, so to speak.

The Brewers are eyeing their first postseason berth in 26 years by landing Sabathia. At the same time, they're looking at the future. Yes, I did say future. By landing Sabathia and not signing him long term, they will land two premium draft picks in the 2009 draft.

To the Brewers, this is as good as finding the Holy Grail. The Brewers draft extremely well. Exhibit A: Matt LaPorta, their 2007 first round pick.

The Brewers are also losing Ben Sheets to free agency, as they know they have no chance at signing him either. That's their number one and number two pitchers gone. In return? Four premium draft picks. That's a nice consolation prize.

I know what you're thinking. You want me to get to the point of my article, their 2009 outlook. OK, fine, I'll do that. Let me start it off by naming three people: Angel Salome, Mat Gamel, and Alcides Escobar. These three players are going to play big roles in 2009.

How will they play big roles? Let me tell you.

The Brewers are going to be shedding (assuming I'm correct in my assumptions) close to $27 million in payroll. That's a lot of money for a semi-small market team. There's a way for them to save most of it and still put out a strong team in 2009.

Let's go through a rundown of the to do list I made for them.

Trade 1B Prince Fielder, 2B Rickie Weeks, and OF Hernan Iribarren to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Matt Cain, LHP Ben Snyder (Double A), High Class A RHPs Tim Alderson & Dan Otero, Low Class A 2B Nick Noonan and OF Tayler Creswell.

OK, let's examine this. The Brewers want to sign Fielder long term, but Fielder doesn't want to stay. So, obviously, he needs to go. He can be easily replaced (hold on to your hats Brewers fans, I'll tell you why soon) and so can Weeks.

Weeks is a decent player on both sides of the ball, but he needs to be moved. J.J. Hardy is too good to not hold on to, so you have to move Weeks. Why? Alcides Escobar shifts from SS to 2B and becomes Hardy's newest double play partner. That's a middle infield that could last a lifetime.

Iribarren is included in this trade because San Francisco is in a rebuilding process and would like Major League ready players. So, he fits this mold easily. Plus, for them to part with some of these players, they would more than likely want a third player involved.

Fielder can become their new Barry Bonds (minus the steroids) as he can be their builder. They can build the entire team around Fielder. Add in Weeks, and they have a new right side of the infield in one move. Sure, it did cost them Cain, but that can be overlooked when Fielder crushes balls left and right into McCovey Cove.

Cain has the stuff and the makeup to become something great, he just pitches on crappy teams. His career ERA is 3.85 in 89 starts (556.1 innings pitched, which averages out to be 6 1/3 innings through his 90 games). That's impressive.

Think of his numbers when he's on a good team. Match him up with Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo, and that's a potent 1-2-3 punch that matches up with the Rays.

The prospects involved create more depth for the Brewers. They receive one Double A pitcher (who, by the way, is left handed and has pitched 100 innings in 18 games, all the while being 9-4 and has an ERA of 2.52) and four Single A players.

Alderson is a good looking starting prospect that could use some polish, but should flourish in the Brewers' system. Otero is a closer and is putting a hurt on the minors this year with a 0.55 ERA and 22 saves in 31 games. Add in two young good hitters in Noonan and Creswell, and anyone can see that this trade could pay big dividends on both ends.

OK, this trade just left the Brewers without a first baseman. Oh, what shall they do? Maybe sign Mark Teixeira? Before you start laughing, think about this. They have $27 million freed up money, plus more coming at the end of 2009. You have room in the middle of your order and you need a bat who hits with authority.

Teixeira fits the mold. Here's what happens:

Brewers sign 1B Mark Teixeira to a seven year, $130 million contract. Years one through three, the contract calls for $17 million. Four and five call for $19 million. Year six calls for $20 million and year seven is $21 million. There is a $22 million club option with a $3 million buyout.

Yes, that's a lot of money, but you can afford it! You just shed a lot of big contracts in Ben Sheets, Mike Cameron, and Eric Gagne (remember, I said I was assuming early on). So, you get one of the premier hitters in the game to tack into your lineup. Plus, you sign him to an expensive contract, but it is still affordable.

Yes, I know, you lose a draft pick here after you picked up two for Sheets and Sabathia. Let's examine this though. Assuming the season ended today, the Brewers would have the 24th overall pick in the draft.

Let's say that Sheets and Sabathia go to big market teams. So, we'll assume Sheets is signed by the Texas Rangers and Sabathia signs with Detroit (this is assumptions only for purposes of the draft). That means that the Brewers receive picks 16 and 19, while losing 24. I consider that fair enough, based on the fact that they move up in the draft.

Onwards and upwards to the next portion. Bill Hall has been bouncing between the outfield, shortstop, and third base the past several years. He needs a position that is his and his alone. He won't find it on the Brewers. He needs to find it elsewhere, maybe say L.A.?

Trade INF/OF Bill Hall and 1B Brad Nelson to Los Angeles Dodgers for RHP Chad Billingsley and Double A RHP Jesus Castillo.

Hall needs a change of scenery, he's said it himself. Plus, in L.A., he can play SS or 3B. They also land Nelson, a good looking hitter with a lot of pop. I know this is probably one guy the Brewers don't want to give up, but that's what it will take to pry Billingsley away from L.A.

In Castillo, the Brewers land another good pitching prospect to add to its depth. In Billingsley, they not only receive another good young pitcher to add to their rotation, but they also control him for several more seasons. Also, with this trade, the Brewers now have a full rotation (with Suppan fitting in as the number five) and can compete.

After the trade of Hall, the Brewers should purchase the contracts of Salome and Gamel. Gamel will slate in as the starting 3B and Salome can become the backup to Kendall and possibly start over him.

Not only do all of these trades and signings give the Brewers a seriously talented team, but it also keeps them young. They lose one late draft pick and pick up two early ones. They dump two unhappy players for a crop of prospects and two young, dominant starters. They also add in a strong veteran to the mix to help them want to win.

All in all, the Brewers get stronger, the Giants get the young talent they want and two building blocks and the Dodgers land themselves a new SS. It's all win-win, now they just have to make the moves.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on what the Brewers should do.