Selling Doesn’t Mean Punting 2011

July 11, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Milwaukee Brewers Corey Hart  had a walk off two run homer off of Pirates closer Octavio Dontel..Milwaukee Brewers won over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5, sweeping the pirates in a three game series at Miller Park..Mike McGinnis / CSM.

Whenever a team becomes a seller at the trade deadline, it’s understandable for fans to get a little worried.  While hope for the current season might be lost, no one likes to see their team effectively concede next season as well.  When it comes to the Brewers possibly trading Corey Hart and Prince Fielder — two players who are still under control through next season — that fear is very real among Brewers fans.

Hart and Fielder are two very big parts of the Brewers offense in 2010, so it’s easy to panic when you think about where this team will be offensively without one or both of them next season.  Many feel like dealing both would not only be punting on 2010, but 2011 as well.

I’m not so sure I agree.

First, the team essentially stinks with both players still here.  This is largely a result of subpar pitching.  If you can deal one or both for pitching that can help the club in the very near future, you may be actually improving the club…even if you don’t totally replace the offense you’re losing.

Second, the Brewers’ offense is really, really good with both of them in the lineup.  Tom Haudricourt and Anthony witrado whine about things like consistency and like to say things like, “Well, if you take out the 20-0 win over Pittsburgh, the 17-3 win over Pittsburgh, the 17-3 win over Arizona, and the 12-2 win over the Angels, this offense is pretty bad.” 
This is a team that ranks 4th in the NL in runs scored, third in hits, first in home runs, second in total bases, and third in OPS.  This is one of the best offenses in the National League.

Take out Corey Hart (the “real” Corey Hart, and not .920 OPS Corey Hart) and replace him with Jim Edmonds or Generic League Average Right Fielder, and this is still a very good lineup.  Hell, Hart was “Generic League Average Right Fielder” for the better part of 2 years, and the Brewers still ranked among league leaders.

Losing Fielder would hurt the offense a lot more than losing Hart, but Fielder is also more likely to bring back quality starting pitching that may offset the loss a bit more.  You could plug Mat Gamel in at first base and he’d be right around league average.  Even without Hart and Fielder, there’s no reason to believe that the offense wouldn’t at least be in the middle of the NL pack, if not still near the top depending on how Gamel would fare.

Even if the offense takes a step back, if the Brewers can get someone to slide into the starting rotation next year — Wade Davis, Matt Garza, even Jonathan Sanchez would be an upgrade over most of the starters currently in the rotation.

If the Brewers can get a major league-ready pitcher for one of Hart or Fielder (very possible with Hart, and you’d have to think almost a sure thing for Fielder), there’s no reason to think that selling at this year’s trade deadline means this team can’t compete in 2011.  If we’ve learned anything from this season, it’s that this division isn’t very good from top to bottom, and could be open for the taking again next year.

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