Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers made headlines this offseason with trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. The moves have brought great expectations for the 2011 MLB Season as well as the national spotlight to the small-market team—something Doug Melvin is no stranger to.
Melvin gained national notoriety as the GM of the Texas Rangers when he offered Alex Rodriguez a $252 million contract—the largest in MLB History. The contract did little to improve the Texas Rangers and Doug Melvin was fired soon after the 2001 season—Alex Rodriguez would later be traded to the New York Yankees in 2004.
Doug Melvin spent the 2002 season as a consultant for the Boston Red Sox before being hired as the new GM for the Milwaukee Brewers in October of that year.
In his eight seasons as general manager, Melvin has taken the franchise from irrelevance to a competitive club. In 2008, Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers reached the playoffs for only the second time in team history and the first time since 1982. Now heading into the 2011 MLB Season, the Brewers are primed for another playoff push.
His success as a general manager has been due in large part to the smart and timely trades he has made since holding the front office position with the Brewers.
Carlos Lee came to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2004 in a trade that sent Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and Travis Hinton to the Chicago White Sox.
Lee immediately became the face of the franchise and in 2005 he and Ben Sheets helped lead the Brewers to a 81-81 record—the team's first .500 finish since 1992. Despite a slight hiccup in 2006, the 2005 season would mark the Milwaukee Brewers resurgence to baseball relevance.
That season Lee hit 32 HR and 114 RBI on his way to a NL Silver Slugger Award and All-Star Game selection.
Midway through the 2006 season the Milwaukee Brewers were forced to trade Carlos Lee due to impending free agency. Doug Melvin sent Lee and Nelson Cruz to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Kevin Mench, Laynce Nix and Francisco Cordero and Julian Cordero.
Based on recent seasons from Cruz and the inability to resign Francisco Cordero, most Brewers fans agree that the trade was the worst by Doug Melvin in his time with the team.
Lee would later go on to sign a six-year $100 million contract with the Houston Astros.
Salomon Torres was traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 for Kevin Roberts and Marino Sales.
Closer Eric Gagne was signed by Doug Melvin during the same offseason and it was assumed that Torres would pitch in the 7th and 8th innings as a setup man.
As is common in sports, things didn't go as planned. Gagne got off to a terrible start and would end the season 10-17 in save opportunities.
Due to Gagne's struggles, on May 11th, 2008, Salomon Torres became the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Torres proved to be instrumental in the team's playoff run and earned the save in the team's single NLDS playoff victory against the Philadelphia Phillies.
He finished the season 28-35 in save chances with 51 strikeouts and a 3.41 ERA before retiring in November of that year.
Richie Sexson was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2000 from the Cleveland Indians for Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard and Jason Bere. That trade was in 2000—prior to Doug Melvin joining the Brewers.
It is the 2003 trade that sent Richie Sexson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, Craig Counsell, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano and Jorge De La Rosa that is one of Melvin's best.
Overbay appeared in 159 games in 2004 and hit .301 that season along with 16 HR and 53 doubles. He would go on to play two more successful seasons with Milwaukee before making way for Prince Fielder.
Capuano started 17 games for the Brewers in 2004 and in 2005 he compiled a 18-12 record and 3.99 ERA.
Both Counsell and Spivey were in the Opening Day lineup that year and Counsell is still with the team today—after two seasons with the Diamondbacks in 2005 and 2006.
Richie Sexson played in only 23 games for the Diamondbacks in 2004 and left the team after the season to join the Seattle Mariners.
Zack Greinke was traded in 2010 from the Kansas City Royals to the Milwaukee Brewers for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi.
It may be premature to call this trade by Doug Melvin one of his best as Greinke has yet to throw a pitch for the Brewers. However, in considering the team's desperate need for pitching, it seems appropriate.
The Brewers finished with a 4.83 ERA in 2009 and followed it up with a 4.58 ERA in 2010—good for 15th and 14th in the NL, respectively. The addition of Shaun Marcum and Greinke in the offseason should immediately improve those numbers and has Brewers fans abuzz.
Zack Greinke is only two seasons removed from winning the Cy Young Award in 2009 when he posted 2.16 ERA along with 242 K and a 1.07 WHIP.
If the Milwaukee Brewers get a season half as good from Greinke in 2011 they are almost guaranteed to make a run for the playoffs.
CC Sabathia was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers midway through the 2008 MLB Season. The Cleveland Indians received Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson and Michael Brantley in exchange.
Sabathia made his debut a day after joining the team and beat the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park. It was the first of 11 wins for Sabathia with the Brewers and the beginning of a stretch of pitching unlike any ever seen before in MLB history.
He pitched in 17 games for Milwaukee and compiled a 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 128 K. But even more impressive was his durability.
Three of his first four starts with the team were a complete game. His 10 for the season were the most by any pitcher since Randy Johnson in 1999 and none were more important than his performance on September 28th when he threw a 4-hitter against the Chicago Cubs to clinch the NL Wild Card for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Sabathia would later go on to lose his start in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies, but his pitching down the stretch was the primary reason for the Milwaukee Brewers making the playoffs in 2008.