Free Agents and Trades... Oh My

The 2009 Milwaukee Brewers had some pretty good statistics in a number of areas. Trades have helped the team.


Baseball is a numbers game. Looking at the statistics of a team, you can determine if they were a competitive ballclub. The 2009 Milwaukee Brewers had some pretty good statistics in a number of areas.

The team socked 182 home runs, scored 785 runs, and had an OBP of over .340. All of which ranked them in the top 3 of the National League. The one number that was not so impressive: 5.26. The number represents the combined earned run average of the starters.

As great as Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are they have no control over what happens on the mound. The number was so poor that it caused GM Doug Melvin to address the issue, and several others, through free agency and trades to make the ballclub more competitive in the 2010 season.

The starting rotation underwent a major overhaul. Braden Looper was allowed to leave because he was the worst pitcher on the staff, which is pretty remarkable when you consider he led the team in wins. Unfortunately, he also had an ERA well over 5 and allowed a league high 39 home runs.

Jeff Suppan, the high priced free agent acquisition of 2007, is now in a fight for a role in the rotation. He put up his lowest win total since becoming a starter, had an ERA over 5, and allowed 25 home runs. Both Manny Parra and Dave Bush also had poor seasons with ERAs of over 6 and combine win total of 16. The one lone bright spot in the rotation was young ace Yovani Gallardo. He had his best season as a starter with an ERA of 3.73 and a team high 204 strikeouts in 185 innings pitched.

In the off season, Doug Melvin went right to work. He signed Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, and LaTroy Hawkins. Randy Wolf and Doug Davis automatically fill two starter roles while Hawkins takes over the 7th inning reliever role. Randy Wolf was signed to a huge three year deal due to his effectiveness as a starter. With a 2009 season that saw him win 11 games with the playoff bound Los Angeles Dodgers, also saw him put up a low ERA of 3.23. He only allowed a total of 77 earned runs in over 200 innings pitched. Is he an ace?

No, but he makes the starting rotation unbelievably better. Melvin then went out and signed ex-Brewer Doug Davis. Davis did only win 9 games but that was on a very poor Diamondback team that scored under 4 runs per game when he was on the mound. He was second on the team with 22 quality starts, pitched over 200 innings, and had 146 strikeouts.

LaTroy Hawkins may be the most important signing of the off season. Though he is not a starter he brings much needed relief to a bullpen that was taxed by the end of 2009 due to the ineffectiveness of the starters. Hawkins brings veteran savvy and an ERA in 2009 of a miniscule 2.13 in 65 games.

Melvin did not just retool the pitching staff; he made big changes to the rest of the team as well. Three players that began as starters in 2009 are no longer with the team. Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, and Bill Hall are all gone. After JJ Hardy showed he was unable to turn his season, or career, around he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez.

With that trade completed veteran Mike Cameron, and his $10 million, was no longer needed. He was allowed to leave and test the free agent market. Bill Halls’ services were no longer required with the emergence of rookie Casey McGehee. Hall, who has not been the same since he signed a huge contract after the 2006 season, was traded to the Seattle Mariners in the middle of the 2009 season. Jason Kendall, who was a great defensive catcher but could not hit the ball if was placed on a tee, was also allowed to leave via free agency at the end of the season. To replace him the Brewers signed Greg Zaun.

All moves made in the offseason by Melvin have helped this club get better across the board. When your team plays in the smallest market yet brings in the 6th highest attendance rate in the league, changes need to be made when the club fails to meet expectations.

The 2010 Milwaukee Brewers have the same expectations as the 2009 team; compete for the Central and make the playoffs. There is no doubt the team has been upgraded in all areas. The team has so much depth with the starting rotation Spring Training will determine who will start and who will be delegated to the bullpen.

They have increased team speed and dropped players that could no longer play at a high level. All of the upgrades should lead to an increase in statistics across the board or in some cases lower statistics. Baseball is a numbers game, if the Brewers can increase their team statistics it will lead to a much improved and possibly playoff bound 2010.

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