We’ve already gotten the early gifts of Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins, and while they’re nice to have, it’s a little like your grandma getting confused with some of the items on your wishlist and buying you “Free Willy” on DVD instead of “Kill Bill.” It resembles what you really wanted, and you’re not really happy with it, but you have to suck it up and smile for the photo anyway because you’re stuck with it.
Things weren’t made much better when we saw Rich Harden and Justin Duchscherer sign cheap incentive-laden deals and Javier Vazquez traded to the Yankees for peanuts and relief prospects. Still, here are a few things still on my Brewers Christmas wish list for the next year:
- A 5th Starter: This one’s the most obvious need, but it’s looking like the Brewers will have to settle for something they already have, despite recently getting a $4 million gift card from Randy Wolf in the form of deferred salary that doesn’t have to be paid this year. As it stands, Jeff Suppan will likely win the 5th starter job, unless someone like Chris Narveson makes a strong spring training push. Suppan wouldn’t make for a terrible 5th starter in terms of production, but I think most people would like to see him off the roster. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the Brewers are in a position to eat much salary in a trade.
- Another Reserve Outfielder: Unless Frank Catalanotto comes back for another season at a dirt-cheap rate, the Brewers are going to need another outfielder on the bench. Jody Gerut will be tendered a contract for next season and likely will serve as insurance for Carlos Gomez in centerfield, but if his lefty/righty splits are any indication, he’ll need a platoon partner. With the budget already stretched to its limits, the solution will likely have to come from inside the organization.
- Strong Attendance Numbers: It seems highly unlikely that the Brewers will top 3 million fans for the third straight year, but if the Brewers are going to continue to operate with a $90 million payroll, they’re going to need to draw nearly that many fans every year. It’s too early to say what the attendance for 2010 will look like, but given the fact that many families in the area are still trying to recover from the recession and another losing season, it seems inevitable that we’ll see a dip in attendance. Of course, winning solves most of the attendance issues — people are more willing to part with their money if they’re paying to see a winner.
- More Bad Cubs Trades: The Carlos Silva acquisition was a nice start. He’s like their version of Suppan now, except he’s fatter and a worse pitcher. Sure, we’ll miss seeing Milton Bradley throw balls into the stands with two outs, but this was the best possible outcome from the Brewers’ perspective.
- Matt Holliday Signing Outside the Division: Come on, Omar Minaya and Brian Cashman. You know you want to lure him out of St. Louis. The rest of the NL Central would love to see the only real complement to Albert Pujols skip town for that huge contract, and while the Cards seem to be making a competitive offer, in the end Holliday should (we hope) take annual salary instead of a large amount of guaranteed years.
- Keep Dusty Baker in Cincinnati: This is the gift that keeps giving. Here’s to another few years of Willy Taveras hitting leadoff and young players like Joey Votto being told to swing at anything close. And thank goodness they chased off that bases-clogging Adam Dunn a year ago. I certainly didn’t need to see him launching shots into the Dew Deck every time the Reds come to town.
- A Wrist for Rickie, a Knee for Casey, and some Ribs for Ryan: If the Brewers are going to compete in the NL Central in 2010 — and the thought isn’t absurd as it sounds, especially if Holliday leaves — they’re going to need a clean bill of health. They can’t afford to have Ryan Braun’s intercostal strains knock him out of action for a week at a time. They can’t have Casey McGehee’s knee affect his defense and keep him out of the lineup (although they do have Mat Gamel as insurance). And they certainly can’t have Rickie Weeks’ wrists give out again. They’re going to need to replace the pop that Mike Cameron took with him to Boston, and a full season of Weeks reaching his potential could be all that’s needed — they just need to keep him on the field.
Happy holidays, everyone. That’s my wishlist — what are some others?