May 24, 2009

Peavy talks signal new era in Milwaukee

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 3:23 pm

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Tuning in to my local sports radio station last week, as I regularly do on weekdays at 3:15 P.M. I was blind to the fact the Padres and White Sox had struck an agreement that would send Jake Peavy to the Windy City’s South Side. However, rumor had it Peavy was more than likely going to nix the deal. Simultaneously, a deal between the Brewers and Padres had been unofficially announced, and speculation was that it involved the ace. And because Peavy has stated he’s wanted to stay in the NL it only got hopes up even higher, only to crush them after it was reported to be a mere swapping of Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jody Gerut. In recent days, the whispers have led many to question: how crazy would the Brewers’s front-office be if they decided to go after Jake Peavy (AKA, to do this all over again)?

A lot of fans have criticized Doug Melvin the past few years for expending the team’s farm system: first, grabbing reliever Scott Linebrink from the Padres for three players in 2007, and then C.C. Sabathia from the Indians for four players, including their top prospect Matt LaPorta, last year. Criticism against the trades argued both Linebrink and Sabathia were “rentals,” and both essentially were being acquired in July. However, in retrospect, how much did the team actually lose? Yes, the 2007 deal didn’t bring the team’s playoff aspirations to fruition, however, as a Level-A free-agent, the team was able to pick up two high draft picks in exchange for Linebrink’s big contract signing with the White Sox: LHP Evan Fredrickson and 2B Cutter Dykstra. And Sabathia not only carried the Brewers back to the playoffs after a 26-year absence, but the team will again receive a sandwich pick between and the first and second rounds as well as the Yankee’s second round pick for his signing of an 8-year, $180 deal with the Bronx Bombers. If you ask me, the reward outweighed the risk.

How does the Peavy speculation tie into all this? Well, for one thing, while C.C. was due to be a free-agent in ’09, the 27 year-old Peavy will be under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013 before he can become a free-agent in 2014. The Brewers, who hope to be in contention for a division title this year, may wind up being in a similar position as last year. Pitching will be at a premium yet again, and while the team’s bullpen has been stellar thus far, will it hold up? Scooping up Peavy now would not only fortify the club’s rotation, but perhaps more importantly prevent the Cubs from being in the running for his services come the All-Star Break. Having former-teammate Trevor Hoffman close games for him again might be a good omen for the Milwaukee’s chances to land him, too.

Offering a package of say J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall and a couple minor-leaguers might be enough to get a deal done, of course, that’s as long as those prospects exclude up-and-coming shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mat Gamel. If Mr. Melvin could work his magic again, Escobar’s track would probably be escalated to being September call-up, and if Gamel can get his defense figured out, he might be right behind him. While it would be a risky move, one thing is clear: the Milwaukee Brewers have turned a very important corner. Once a team destined to be sellers year-in and year-out, has now become legitimate buyers with the big boys. With all that said, why not make a run at him?

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