Welcome to the 2010 MLB off-season: the time of year where even the most atrocious of organizations shine in the limelight.
Now, let's get down to business as usual.
The 2010 free-agent market is bustling with great potential talent; talent that could indeed contribute to a gifted, capable Milwaukee ball-club.
With that being said, GM Doug Melvin has shockingly elected not to look into the free-agent market for possible starting pitching.
Despite there being a few too many big-name free agents out there to possibly ignore, the Brewers are still looking into improving the rather disappointing ball-club of 2010.
In a season that seemed to be a slight downturn for nearly the entire franchise, there still were a few shining moments that only added to our anticipation for the 2011 season.
But, as expected, it is not enough to openly criticize. So today is dedicated to a fresh start 2011 Milwaukee baseball year. Let's take a look at some possible free-agent signings worth the risk; beginning with the positions most needed to be filled.
Although the last few catchers for Milwaukee have been less than impressive, there certainly is hope for an offseason signing.
With the addition of a power-hitting Catcher, you could make the argument that Milwaukee contains the league's best pure hitting ball-club.
The offensive production between both Jonathon Lucroy and George Kottaras (not including Greg Zaun) only amounted to 142 total hits, with a BA of .290. Along with a combined total of 13 HR, and 52 RBI, there is much work yet to be done for this catching unit this off-season.
Possible Free Agents: Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Josh Bard, Yorvit Torrealba.
The most likely of candidates would have to be Barajas, coming off a 2010 season that included appearances with both the Mets, and finally the Dodgers.
Barajas' 2010 statistics: .240 BA, 17 HR, 47 RBI
Although the possible signing of Barajas is not yet favored in Milwaukee, I do believe this acquisition would make complete sense.
The addition of Barajas would bring in veteran, timely hitting at a cost no more than $500,000 per year. Whether or not Milwaukee signs him as a one-year rental player or a three-plus year addition remains to be seen.
The Brewers are long overdue for an above-average hitting catcher. This could be the answer Doug Melvin and company are looking for.
Most Milwaukee fans wouldn't consider this to be a first order necessity this offseason; however, the lack of an official day-to-day center-fielder is a must.
Despite the fact that All-Stars Ryan Braun and Corey Hart inhabit a majority of the outfield, there is nothing quite like a power-hitting, defensively-skilled center-fielder.
Since the departure of Mike Cameron, the center-field position has been inhabited by the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gomez, and Joe Inglett.
Despite fair production from a multitude of players, the Brewers need to step up and sign a worthy free agent. Consistent production from every outfielder is what this team needs.
Possible Free Agents: Jermaine Dye, Jason Werth, Xavier Nady, Marlon Byrd, Coco Crisp.
Werth seems to be a bit of a stretch, but Xavier Nady and Coco Crisp are two consistent proven veterans that are obviously more than qualified to manage the outfield in center for 162 games. However the addition of Crisp would benefit the Brewers most, adding speed and base-running skills only few posses.
Crisp's 2010 statistics: .279 BA, 8 HR, 51 R, 38 RBI.
Crisp may be a bit too pricey for Melvin to pull the trigger, with a 2010 salary of $5,000,000. However, health and age may be finally catching up to him, and the Brewers would be (at best) willing to gift Crisp with a three-year deal worth $5.5 million.
All in all, Crisp's addition is not likely, but his talents remain unquestioned even at the ripe age of 31.
A handful of games were lost in 2010 due to the lack of talent in the bullpen, and while the Brewers have now declined the option on Trevor Hoffman, there are big shoes yet to be filled this winter.
As for the entire pitching staff last season: 4.58 ERA (26th), 733 ER (25th), 35 SV (24th), .267 opponent's batting average (25th), and only 7 shutouts (24th).
Improvement is needed and the demand is nothing less than a priority looking ahead to 2011. If the Brewers want to contend in 2011, a handful of free-agent relief pitchers will need to be signed (no matter how much Doug Melvin contradicts the fact).
Of course, fresh, young arms will be brought up from Nashville to replace a select few that may have been let go since the end of the regular season.
Possible Free Agents: J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Mike Gonzalez, Ryan Madson
Free agents: RHP Bush, LHP Chris Capuano, INF Craig Counsell, LHP Davis, RHP Hoffman and C Zaun
Eligible for arbitration: RHP Todd Coffey, 1B Fielder, OF Carlos Gomez, INF/OF Joe Inglett, RHP Kameron Loe, LHP Manny Parra, RHP Carlos Villanueva and 2B Weeks
Player options: None
Club options: Hoffman ($750,000 buyout), Davis ($1 million buyout), Zaun ($250,000 buyout)
Non-Tender possibilities: Coffey, Inglett, Parra, Villanueva
Tough spot for the Brewers. However, I do think Doug Melvin and company will get the job done.
Craig Counsel is (without question) the MVP coming off the bench for the Brewers in 2009. With a .289 BA, 38 RBI, along with 22 2B in the 2009 season, there is no debating how important Counsel is coming off the bench.
With the recent hire of new manager Ron Roenicke, the Brewers have elected to put forth direction to the franchise. Whether or not that is a good direction remains to be seen.
You have to feel extremely confident in how Doug Melvin has already put forth the effort in hiring a new manager, only a day after the official season ended. Hopefully this trend continues until spring training rolls around.
This team has been widely known for its extreme potential over the past few seasons, and until progress has been made, the criticism will continue.
But, honestly, I love the Milwaukee's chances heading into next season. St. Louis continues to underachieve, Cincinnati will lose some key starters, Pittsburgh is still Pittsburgh, and Chicago is just plain bad.
The changes will be there, however the possibilities are endless for the Brewers leading up to 2011.
Dealing Prince Fielder away for pitching seems to become more and more apparent by the hour. But there seems to be a shining light at the end of the tunnel. How Doug Melvin and the Brewers reach that light will determine how this franchise operates for years to come.
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