For the first time in (my) recent memory, July 31 will actually mean something to the Brewers and their fans. They’re in contention in the NL Central and Wild Card races and can be on the buying side instead of the selling side for a change. The big wild card is, of course, slugger Carlos Lee sitting on the final year of a two year contract. Brewers management have been saying all season that if the Brewers are sill in contention once the deadline approaches, they’ll have no reason to trade Lee. Owner Mark Attanasio has also reportedly said that cost will not be an issue in trade negotiations this summer. He is willing to spend the money on starting pitching should the ability arise. The Catch-22 is that the only teams that have any quality pitchers are those already in a race for their respective leagues, so they have no need to trade them away. Even if they did, the would command such huge compensation that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. The only pitchers I could see us getting, with money not being an option, are Barry Zito and Dontrelle Willis. Zito is also in the final year of his contract and A’s GM Billy Beane has said that they don’t want to renew his contract at the end of the year so they’re looking to get compensation for him now instead of simply losing him to free agency later on. I say that this is a possiblity for the Brewers because the Beane isn’t interested in high priced players (which is why they’re letting go of Zito in the first place). His Moneyball philosophy of building up younger players through the farm system with prospects can be beneficial to the Brewers since we have so many in the works. We might be able to get away with dealing someone like Corey Hart or Tony Gwynn Jr. and still keep Lee. I haven’t heard anything confirming this though and trade rumors have begun to die down since Zito’s been performing better as of late.
Willis could also be a possibility since the Marlins, with the exception of their recent surge, are well out of any playoff race. The trouble though is that their roster is already chock full of young players and I’d doubt that they’d be willing to take anymore from us. Plus, I don’t think a straight Lee for Willis trade would be worth it.
The latest trade rumor is a trade for Greg Maddux of the Cubs. While this would be good for us, it depends on what they ask for him. Maddux is a future Hall of Famer, and has vetern know-how in the playoffs, but is having a bad first half after starting 5-0. It’s not just a lack of run support either as his ERA is a very non-Hall-of-Famer-like 4.89. It’s widely known that the Cubs hold Lee in high regard because of the way he dominates Wrigley Field. The problem for them is that they don’t have anyone worth giving up of the caliber of Lee except Derek Lee, but that would basically be a washout so that wouldn’t make sense. I’d be willing to part with someone like Brady Clark or Gabe Gross and Zach Jackson for Maddux (or some variation of), but Carlos can’t be anyway involved in the decision.