Monday, September 2, 2013

Brewers, Reds Quiet at Trade Deadline

For the second consecutive September, the Brewers find themselves in spoiler mode, and the Reds right in the thick of a playoff hunt and Central Division title.  The non-waiver trade deadline and playoff roster trade deadline have both come and gone, and given the position of both of these teams, it comes as kind of a surprise to me that both teams did not make more moves.  The Brewers moved K-Rod to the Orioles pretty early for an A-ball third baseman with a lot of promise, Nick Delmonico, and also recently traded reliever John Axford to the Cardinals.  It's not necessarily a shock to me that Axford was traded - the Brewers do not need, nor can they afford, a $5+ million middle reliever in his 30s - but to trade the guy to a division rival is pretty uncommon (unless this is part of some ploy to have Ax work as a double-agent and pitch bad for St. Louis on purpose).  

The Brewers have a number of expensive contracts nearing their end, an outstanding bullpen, and some exciting young players in their future - it seemed like the perfect season to have a firesale.  Unfortunately, that word is not in owner Mark Attansio's vocabulary, and understandably so.  After all that went on with Ryan Braun and the team not being very good this year, the Brewers attendance figures were already bound to take a hit, and that is something a team in the smallest media market in the country cannot afford.  The Brewers rely more than most teams on high attendance figures to sustain growth, and selling off a lot of talent would be a deterrent to that.  I think if it were up to GM Doug Melvin, from a logical baseball perspective, it makes sense to try to trade players like Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, and Aramis Ramirez, all of whom have are owed a lot of money next season and are past their prime, and I think any smart baseball fan would understand that.  It just makes sense to get something for a player you're not going to (or shouldn't) resign anyways while he still has value, and save some money in the process.  But I think to Attanasio and the casual baseball fan, that sends a message you are "giving up," and that is not something the Brewers can afford.  This team is in a very delicate position of having to try to win every year while still developing their minor league talent and being fiscally responsible.  They could not financially withstand to do what Houston or Chicago is doing right now, and I understand that.  But, several big trades have depleted our farm system, so in turn the Brewers have had to rely heavily on free agent contracts to fill in the holes, which is not a model for sustained growth.  These things ebb and flow and there is finally a crop of exciting young players waiting in the wings, and I hope Brewer fans can be patient with these players.  If fans can put up with probably one more down year, and the front office has the sense to move some large contracts, I think 2015 and beyond will be exciting years with a nucleus of young talent, just as we had coming up 10 years ago.  Regardless of the product on the field, it's a true testament to the organization and the fans that Miller Park will have over 2.5 million fans walk through the gates again this year, which is more than a lot of playoff teams - including the Reds.

Speaking of the Reds, they are sort of in the opposite mentality of the Brewers.  Both teams have had the philosophy of locking up a group of core players, but that is about where the similarities end.  Despite being very competitive each of the last 4 years, the Reds have been notorious for not really making a big splash with trade deadline moves.  Whereas the Brewers have been selling the farm to get to the playoffs, the Reds are not willing to sacrifice the young players they have in their future for maybe a handful of more wins in one season.  You could certainly argue either line of thinking has its pros and cons, and certainly neither is wrong.  I think this year, the Reds are probably thinking that getting Johnny Cueto and Ryan Ludwick back from injury and having Billy Hamilton on the bench as a September call-up are just as good as trades, so there is no real need to make any moves.  The Reds obviously have it in their minds that they have their young talent locked up for a number of years, including an outstanding rotation all under contract, so there is no need to go all in for one year.  We've seen that backfire before with the Nationals and Pirates - after two years not really making big moves, the Pirates finally made some trades this season.  You can look at young talent as trading chips, or as the future of your team, and different general managers have different lines of thinking.  For instance, the Rangers have stockpiled talent for so many years and now have so much of an overabundance that they can afford to make these Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster 3-month rental trades, and it's working out well for them now, but soon they will be a lull as the Brewers are now when they need to restock the farm system.  There's no denying the Reds need an extra bat on the left side of the field, and it would have been nice to see them make a move for a utility guy, but some teams would rather be more even keel than go all out for a season, and that's respectable.  It's very hard and rare to be like the Cardinals who just seem to have young stud talent fall into their laps every year and win every single season.

Brewers 59-77, -20.0, -16.5 WC (3 v. Pirates, 3 @ Cubs)
Reds 76-61, -3.5, -- WC 
(4 v. Cardinals, 3 v. Dodgers)
Twins 59-76, -20.0, -16.0 WC (3 @ Astros, 3 v. Blue Jays)

Erik - 11 (+30 worked)

Peter - 41

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