The debate continued last night–will Coco return?

I continue to irk my friends whenever we get together and the subject of the Brewers comes up. My bud Roger keeps on insisting that Doug Melvin & Co. will re-ink Francisco Cordero, an UFA. I keep trying to prepare him for the worst. First, some assumptions: Coco (or, more accurately, his agent) will look at offers from all teams, perhaps only having a slight preference in going to a team that has a shot at the playoffs in ’08 and perhaps preferring a pitchers’ park to a hitters’ park (I also brought up to Roger that Cordero may prefer to play in a market with a larger Latino community and/or warmer weather than Milwaukee, but Roger countered that Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva don’t seem to…forgetting that they still don’t have a choice in the matter). Also, Cordero, who will turn 33 in May next year, will no doubt prefer a 4-year deal to a 3-year one, or a 3-year deal to a 2-year one.
Some other NL closers’ numbers in ’07, according to ESPN.com:

  1. Billy Wagner–36 years old, $10.5 million, 34 Saves, 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 80 K’s in 68.33 IP
  2. José Valverde–28 years old, $2.0 million, 47 Saves, 2.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 78 K’s in 64.33 IP
  3. Trevor Hoffman–40 years old (later this month), $7.0 million, 42 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 44 K’s in 57.33 IP

vs. Cordero’s 44 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 86 K’s in 63.33 IP
Of course, what Cordero winds ups with will be whatever the market will bear…but his agent will argue that he deserves Wagner-type money as he’s 1) younger than Wagner and has more upside; 2) had more Saves than Wagner; and 3) had comparable K and WHIP numbers to Wagner.
With teams like the Braves, Astros, Phillies and, possibly, even the Yankees and Dodgers all in the market for a top-line closer, Cordero should easily command a 3-year, $30 million deal. This would make Cordero the 2nd highest paid Brewers (behind Sheets), for someone that plays an inning in less than half the games. Assuming that Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio keeps the player payroll in the $70M-$80M range, Cordero’s paycheck would eat up more than 12% of the player payroll. Will Attanasio be willing to spend that kind of money? Fans would argue that he doesn’t have any choice, as Derrick Turnbow and Scott Linebrink don’t have the numbers that Cordero has.
Also…are Doug and Mark willing to make that step for a 4-year deal? They weren’t around for the Jeffrey Hammonds fiasco, but are still stinging from the Brady Clark and Geoff Jenkins’ multi-year deals (and Clark’s was only two years).
Only time will tell if there is a new mindset at One Brewers Way.

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