MLB Trade Speculation: 3 Trades to Help the Brewers Win the NL Central

Joel PenceContributor IIIJune 5, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: 3 Trades to Help the Brewers Win the NL Central

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    Nyjer Morgan has been an important addition to the Brewers.  Does Doug Melvin have any other deals in mind?
    Nyjer Morgan has been an important addition to the Brewers. Does Doug Melvin have any other deals in mind?Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Everyone knows the Milwaukee Brewers are going for it all this year. 

    With Prince Fielder's impending free agency, general manager Doug Melvin has no choice but to do whatever it takes to get the Brewers to the playoffs. His recent waiver claims of Daniel Ray Herrera and Josh Wilson are the wrong moves to help the Brewers. 

    So what are the right moves? Here are three potential trades to land the Brewers back in the playoffs.

Power Bat on the Bench: Jim Thome

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 10: Designated hitter Jim Thome #25 of the Minnesota Twins comes out for a curtain call following a two-run homer off Jerry Blevins #13 of the Oakland Athletics during the eighth inning of their game on April 10, 2011 at Target Fie
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Most days, Milwaukee boasts a bench of Craig Counsell, Mark Kotsay, Josh Wilson, Wil Nieves, and Carlos Gomez. Yikes! Talk about underwhelming. 

    Jim Thome can change that. Despite being 40 years old and dealing with a quadriceps injury, Thome can hit for power off the bench and get on base. 

    Thome will be eligible to come off the disabled list when the Brewers travel to Boston and need a DH for interleague play.

    The issue remains: Do the Twins wait until Thome hits 600 home runs (currently seven away), or do they trade him and give him another chance at a playoff run?

Backup Plan: Brad Hawpe or Michael Cuddyer

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 3: Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins is greeted by third base coach Steve Liddle #9 after hitting a solo home run against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning at Kauffman Stadium on June 3, 2011 in Kansas City, Missour
    G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

    In case the Brewers are not able to obtain Thome, some remaining options to consider could be Brad Hawpe and Michael Cuddyer.

    While neither is having the season they are capable of having, this is telling of how badly the Brewers could use power off the bench. 

    The Brewers only have two of their five bench players slugging over .300 in Carlos Gomez and Josh Wilson. I do not put much faith in either of those two players being able to hit a late home run to tie or win a game when necessary.

    Hawpe and Cuddyer are both able to hit home runs. Both are versatile as well, with Cuddyer being able to play first, second, third, or a corner outfield spot.

Starting Shortstop: Rafael Furcal

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 29:  Rafael Furcal #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Florida Marlins in the third inning at Dodger Stadium on May 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Marl
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Yuniesky Betancourt has lived up to most fans expectations in that he hasn't produced for the Brewers at SS.

    While his defense has slightly improved from past seasons, his offense has fallen off from last years breakout season. The Brewers certainly could use an upgrade, and a healthy Rafael Furcal would do that.

    There are two issues in acquiring Furcal: money and health concerns. 

    Furcal is owed $13 million for this season and will be a free agent. Due to his injury woes, the Dodgers financial woes, and Furcal's contract, it may not take very much to acquire him. 

    The Brewers can wait out the reported two to four weeks Furcal will be sidelined, but they may end up looking elsewhere.

Backup Plan: J.J. Hardy or Jerry Hairston Jr.

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    A Brewers/Hardy reunion would be fun to watch
    A Brewers/Hardy reunion would be fun to watchNick Laham/Getty Images

    If the Brewers and Hardy can get past their issues from 2009, whereby Milwaukee sent Hardy to AAA at the end of the season and delayed his free agency by another year, they are a great match.

    Hardy brings solid defense to the table and has shown to be able to hit better than the Brewers current options. 

    A reunion for a playoff run would make for a great story as Hardy came up through the Brewers farm system with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks.

    Jerry Hairston Jr. fits the definition of a utility player who could play shortstop. Hairston would provide depth at multiple positions in the event of injury and could get on base at a much better rate than Betancourt.

Left Handed Relief Pitcher: Sean Burnett

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    VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Sean Burnett #17 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during Spring Training Photo Day at Space Coast Stadium on February 25, 2011 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Fast forwarding to potential playoff match ups, the Brewers could see the potent left-handed hitters from the Philadelphia Phillies or Cincinnati Reds. With that in mind, the Brewers could use another pitcher to get left-handed hitters out, and Sean Burnett can do that. 

    Lefties are hitting just .188 against him, making him a valuable acquisition.

    The Nationals might not be motivated to trade him due to being inexpensive, effective, and under contract for an additional year, but the Brewers sure could use him.

Backup Plan: Hideki Okajima or Stand Pat

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 14:  Pitcher Hideki Okajima #37 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 14, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.   The Angels won 5-4 in 12 innings.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Ima
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    In a roll of the dice move, the Brewers could look for Hideki Okajima to reclaim some of his previous magic. Okajima was once very dominant against lefties, but through the past two years has not fared well.

    He has certainly not met the Red Sox expectations and, as a result, remains in AAA. Okajima recently stated he would like to be traded.

    While there are many other options for left-handed pitchers, none of them would provide a serious improvement over current veteran right-handers or in-house option Mitch Stetter. 

    The Brewers may make a move for the sake of making a move, but if they are not able to acquire Burnett or Okajima, they should stand pat.

Hotly Contested NL Central

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    Brandon Phillips avoids Albert Pujols
    Brandon Phillips avoids Albert PujolsDilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The NL Central race will be fun to watch with the Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds all vying for the division lead. Doug Melvin needs to continue to find ways to improve the Brewers to help justify the offseason trades and gutting of the farm system.

    While players like Jose Reyes or Heath Bell would be amazing for Milwaukee, I don't see them as realistic as the Brewers have one of the worst farm systems in baseball to trade from.

    My suggested moves would cost around $8 million and would not tax the farm system badly. 

    Of course, there is some risk in doling out that kind of money, especially for some players who have injury concerns. But with Prince Fielder likely gone after this year, can they afford not to take the risk?