MLB Trade Rumors: Why Do the Milwaukee Brewers Say They're Contenders?

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MLB Trade Rumors: Why Do the Milwaukee Brewers Say They're Contenders?
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We’ve seen a lot of questionable decisions in the run-up to this year’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Nationals have refused to move the soon-to-be-gone-anyway Adam Dunn without a getting an elite prospect in return. The Twins traded away one of the game’s top future backstops for an overrated closer. And the Rangers reportedly tried to get the Marlins to add ace Josh Johnson as a throw-in in their deal for Jorge Cantu.

But the most ridiculous, self-delusional announcement I’ve heard all year came last night, when the Milwaukee Brewers announced that they were canceling their fire sale because they decided they were close enough to be contenders after all.

The Brewers currently sit in third place in the NL Central—certainly a respectable standing, especially considering that theirs is the biggest division in baseball. The Red Sox, Tigers, and Dodgers are all taking the bronze in their respective divisions, and certainly none of them have given up on the playoffs.

The problem is, no other third-place team is seven games below .500.

At 48-55, the Brewers don’t seem to be eating their Wheaties this season. They’re nine games behind the first-place Reds and 8.5 games in back of the Cardinals, the unanimous preseason favorites to win the division.

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They shouldn’t be looking for any solace in the Wild Card race. The Brewers are in eighth place for the consolation spot, 10 games behind the Giants.

According to BaseballProspectus.com’s playoff odds (calculated by playing the rest of the season a million times), the Brewers have a 0.3838 percent chance of making the playoffs. In other words, the odds are 261:1 against.

So why on earth do the Brewers think they have a chance?

That’s not meant to be a rhetorical question, but it is one because I can’t think of a single possible rational reason for GM Doug Melvin to wake up in the morning and say his team is in it to win it.

If Milwaukee wants to have its delusions of grandeur, that’s fine. It’s not my problem and hey, nothing wrong with optimism.

But if the Brew Crew doesn’t sober up fast, they’re going to regret it for years to come.

The Brewers have two of the best trade chips in the baseball in Prince Fielder and Corey Hart (assuming he returns from his wrist injury tonight, as expected). Both of them are among the game’s most coveted power hitters and are due to hit the free agent market after next season—in other words, they probably won’t be around long enough to see the Brewers make a serious playoff run.

With most of the other frequently discussed available outfielders (Cody Ross, David DeJesus, Jayson Werth) now off the market, Hart could spark a last-minute bidding war between a half-dozen teams tomorrow if he proves himself healthy tonight. If Matt Capps got the Nats Wilson Ramos from the Twins, Hart could certainly fetch at least a couple B-plus prospects.

Then, of course, there’s Prince Fielder. While Milwaukee’s initial demand from the White Sox—Gordon Beckham—was obscene, the Brewers wouldn’t have to settle for much less if they were willing to eat a substantial chunk of his salary.

The fat lady is singing in Miller Park, no matter what the front office says. The only race Brewers fans should care about at this point is the one involving anthropomorphic sausages.

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