Hawkins Deal Not Bad, Just Unlucky

April 10, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..Milwaukee Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins came to the Bucks game after the Brewers lost to the Cardinals 1-7 today..Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Boston Celtics 90-105. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

After getting yet another MRI on his “fatigued” shoulder on Friday, LaTroy Hawkins will have arthroscopic surgery next week.  According to Jordan Schelling at MLB.com, Hawkins’ rotator cuff and labrum will be repaired. 

As expected, Hawkins’ season will be over.  He hopes to be ready for 2011, but if the doctors find significant damage to the labrum and rotator cuff, you have to wonder if he’ll ever be able to pitch effectively again.  Those injuries are nearly impossible to completely recover from if a pitcher is in his 20′s, let alone in his late 30′s like Hawkins.

There were already a lot of people upset with the Hawkins signing before this came out, so this news probably won’t help Doug Melvin’s public approval numbers.

As I’ve said multiple times in this space, Hawkins wasn’t as bad as his ERA would indicate this year.  I didn’t understand why they thought they needed to sign him when the deal was announced, but it’s not a horrible contract.  A lot of people are going to compare this contract to David Riske‘s, but I don’t think that’s fair

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the $3 million Hawkins made this season was his lowest salary since 2004.  Next year’s salary of $4 million would match the figure Riske got in the first year of his deal with the Brewers, but Riske made $4.25 last year and $4.5 million this year to pitch in a total of 24 games to this point.  Hawkins is far from the worst signing in the bullpen.

With that said, I can’t call either signing a bad idea from the start.  Is it risky to give middle relievers multi-year, multi-million dollar deals?  Sure.  But the only thing wrong with these deals is that both players were unlucky enough to suffer severe injuries.  Melvin couldn’t have possibly predicted that, especially when it comes to Hawkins, who before this year had pitched in at least 60 games in 9 of the past 10 years.

Signing veteran relievers was a bit more necessary a few years ago when the Brewers didn’t have very many good major league-ready arms, but now that we’ve seen what the likes of Zach Braddock and John Axford can do, hopefully the Brewers can start using that money in other areas.

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