Unless you were living under a rock, you probably noticed that quite a few trades were made on Thursday. None of them featured the Brewers, and if you believe the GM-speak being given to the media, there probably won’t be one before the deadline on Saturday. It seems as though some fans are growing impatient and are wondering why Doug Melvin isn’t joining the trading frenzy.
Looking at most of the returns the “selling” teams got on Thursday, though, I think I’d prefer Melvin to stand pat.
This has been a brutal market for sellers so far, and while it’s entirely possible the bad returns are due to bad GM’s making the deals, we’re getting to the point where there are enough examples that I feel comfortable saying it’s not just bad GM work.
Dan Haren, a guy who would be a very good #1 starter for most teams, was traded for a mediocre big league starter, a minor league reliever, an average starting prospect, and a player to be named later. Even if the PTBNL is Tyler Skaggs, it’s not a great deal for Haren considering what they gave up to get him from Oakland.
Roy Oswalt was traded yesterday, along with $11 million, for J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar (a speedy defense-first shortstop), and Anthony Gose. Even when you consider that Houston flipped Gose to Toronto for Brett Wallace, this is a pretty shaky package for the Astros — especially since they’re also paying about half of Oswalts remaining salary. You would think by pitching in that much money, the Astros would have been able to get a much better deal.
Even the Cliff Lee trade didn’t have a great return for the Mariners. They got the guy they really wanted in Justin Smoak, but the other prospects included in the deal were a bit underwhelming. Again, with the Mariners picking up the tab on the rest of Lee’s salary, it would have been nice if they could have gotten one of Texas’ big pitching prospects.
So how do these deals apply to the Brewers? Yes, they’re all pitchers, and the Brewers were rumored to be peddling their bats. But pitching is always in more demand at the deadline, and is more likely to fetch more in a deadline deal. If the top starters in this year’s trade market were only able to get the returns listed above, how is Doug Melvin going to get fair value for Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, considering the glut of bats on the market?
I’d rather see Melvin hang onto Fielder and Hart for the rest of the season, and try moving them again this offseason. Yes, there will be a lot of free agent bats available for anyone to sign — especially at first base — but there will still be more teams needing to fill that hole than there will be available free agents, so Melvin should be able to find a suitor more easily. In the case of Hart, perhaps a strong second half would persuade interested teams that his 2010 season was not a fluke, further increasing his value.
Is it possible Melvin was just setting up smokescreens with his comments to Tom Haudricourt? Sure. He’d be crazy to not try that strategy to see if he can get someone to pony up the players he’s looking for. But if Melvin does make a deal, I just hope it’s not just not in a “good enough” deal where he’s forced to take less than he wanted. The only thing more disheartening than this season would be seeing Prince traded for a collection of B- and C+ prospects.