Sitting at 49-43, tied for first-place in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers have been flying relatively under the radar for most of the season, but have an awfully dignified goal in mind as the second-half of the regular season gets set to commence.
The goal: win the World Series.
It's a lofty goal for a team with virtually zero postseason experience (the Brewers have reached the World Series just one time in their existence), but owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin have Milwaukee on the right track at the midway point of the season.
After trading for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, the Brewers were able to add two top-tier arms to their slowly decaying rotation. Thus far, Greinke carries a disheartening 5.45 ERA and a 7-3 overall record and Marcum boasts a 3.39 ERA and 7-3 overall record—a profound improvement from 2010, but the Brewers need another upgrade of quality arms to reach the ultimate goal.
There's always a high demand for quality relievers around this time of year and the Brewers are no exception. Thus far, Milwaukee maintains just three relievers with at least 25.0 IP and an ERA under 3.00 (LaTroy Hawkins and John Axford).
Some argue bullpen issues are the only thing holding this Milwaukee club back at this point in the season, and GM Doug Melvin is well aware of the growing concern—as he expects the market to heat up much closer to the all-important July 31 deadline.
As Melvin told reporters:
"The toughest thing is you call a club and ask them about a player, and they say, 'You think we're out of this?' You call up a club and the GM takes it the wrong way if you ask about a player. You tick them off. If I was out five games, six games, I'd been ticked off, too."
An extremely limited market doesn't help much, either. Nevertheless, when you take a look at Milwaukee's primary areas worth addressing at the deadline, there's no disputing that experience bullpen arms top Melvin's wish-list.
With that in mind, who could Melvin be targeting with just two weeks remaining?
Rumors suggest Milwaukee could already be in the works for San Diego's very own Heath Bell.
Probably one of the most overlooked closers in the game today, Bell has already converted 26 saves in 27 opportunities and carries a healthy 2.43 ERA in addition to his already impressive résumé.
What would it cost?
According to MLB Trade Rumors:
"Though the Padres haven’t begun exchanging offers for players like Heath Bell and Mike Adams, discussions will likely intensify at the All-Star Break and the Padres have told teams that they’re ready to take offers."
From the looks of the market, the Brewers will be very aggressive with their pursuit of relief arms, and Bell seems to make the most sense.
But, for now at least, it seems we are reduced to playing the "waiting" game.