Back From the Dead

Alright, well a lots happened since my last post, so let’s get knee deep in this thing.

Carlos "I love Milwaukee, but not in that way" Lee is gone to Texas in return for Outfielders Kevin Mench and Lance Nix and closer-turned releiver Francisco Cordero. Jorge de La Rosa went, thankfully, to Kansas City for Tony Graffanio and a minor league pitcher was sent to Phillidelphia for David Bell.

Minutes after hearing of the Lee trade I was somewhere between irate and flabbergasted, positive that we could have gotten more for Lee and couldn’t believe that our Crew would let him go. This of course gave way to a more logical and cooler head once I had to time to go over it and then find out more information once I got home. Almost a month later, there is no doubt in my mind that this trade paid off, both for the interim and in the long run. Cordero, in my mind, was a god send. He’s saved nine games so far and looks to have exercised any demons he had as a closer back in April. And I like the promise for next year of having, hopefully, a mentally healed Turnbow as a setup man for Cordero. Mench and especially Nix, were for all intense and purposes, throw-ins. We needed another outfielder who was major league ready and got that in the oversized Mench. He’s handled the bat well on the season but has been spotty since his arrival in Milwaukee. Much of that, however, can be attributed to his switching leagues. He’s, no doubt, a better outfielder then Lee, but obviously doesn’t provide the same pop with his bat. Nix has shown great promise in AAA Nashville and went 1 for 4 today in his first game with the Brewers, and against Roger Clemens, no less. His offense was supposed to be his question mark so if he can continue to improve that, there’s another outfield spot covered.

Graffanino and Bell were basically washouts, I think. We gave up little to get them so anything they provide will be gravy…and gravy they’ve been. Graffanino’s hitting .333 since joining the Crew, plus 11 doubles (which I believe is tops on the club in that span) and a solid 2B. Bell on the other hand has only provided a nominal bat, aside from a few outstanding games, but his defense has been very impressive. Both were huge additions for the club after losing Weeks for the season and we might as well cross Koskie off the list too. It is at this point that I have vested full faith into Doug Melvin (when was the last time he made a trade that didn’t pay dividends in one way or another).

As a team we, as No. 3 put it, "Find some traction." Like the Brewers of old, we can’t seem to find a way to bring our pitching and hitting together for any length of time. Our bullpen is second in the National League in ERA, but our bats have been dead. And I don’t think we can completely attribute that to the loss of Lee because he was cold when he left. We’ve yet to go on a real run at all this season and we’re usually good for one 7 or 8 game winning streak a season, so hopefully that’ll happen soon. Five games out from the Wild Card in mid-August, isn’t a bad place to be. It could be worse; we could still be in the AL East.

In the end, I think the trades made this year at the deadline were all good ones. True, we don’t have the explosive bat of Lee anymore, but we don’t have his below average glove either. No one would plays that poor of defense and lack of hustle, regardless of his offensive numbers, is worth 70 mil. It’d be great if we were in in the AL, but alas, we aren’t so it’s good we dealt him. Now, not only does that free up money, but now we don’t have to worry about that all-important lynch pin. If Lee would have gotten hurt or got into another second half long slump, we’d be screwed. At least this way, we have a couple of other good players to rely on instead of just one. It’s how Oakland and Minnesota built up they’re playoff-caliber teams and it’s the way we’re going to have to do it as well.

I hate hearing "next year" as much as any other Brewer fan, but I sincerely believe that next year could be the year we make a run at a playoff spot. We’re not completely out of it yet this year, but with a healthy Hardy and Weeks and if Hall can manage his strikeouts more we’ll have a very good infield. And if we can send off Jenkins or Clark for pitching, we’ll have a good pool to pull from for the outfield with Cory Hart, Tony Gywnn Jr., Gross, Mench and Nix (if we do decide to keep the latter two). And if we do keep Jenkins, hopefully he can get over his leg kick and fix his swing for good. I think it’s going to be tough to find someone that’s willing to take over his salary though, other than Boston or the Yankees.

So with an eye to the future and a ear on the present, hopefully we can take a good run into September and at least get close to the Wild Card race and have some good momentum to build on for next year. I’ll be on here for the rest of the season and can’t wait for ’07.

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