What the Brewers Should Do

by Ross Friedman

What do the Brewers need to do? Start over. If not for the very good trade they made last season that sent Bob Wickman to Cleveland for Richie Sexson, I'd say this organization is completely lost and clueless.

Every team's goal should be to make the playoffs and win the World Series. There is no possible way the Brewers will do that in the year 2001, or 2002 for that matter. Therefore, the Brewers need to be looking further down the line. Maybe have the 2004 or 2005 season as a "push-year" where they go for their playoff run. If they start planning correctly now, they should be able to do that.

This means trade anybody and everybody on the team with trade value that likely won't be too productive a player 4 years from now. Bring in prospects and younger players who will be ready to blossom as major leaguers for that push-year down the road.

The Brewers only have three players on from their Major League roster that they really need to keep. Richie Sexson, Geoff Jenkins, and Jeff D'Amico are the three players the Brewers should now be trying to build around.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, they do not have that many other players with significant trade value. Right now a number of teams are interested in Jeremy Burnitz. Burnitz is a free agent after the 2001 season and the Brewers can get a few prospects for the outfielder who turns 32 in April.

Also, the Brewers should find a way to get Marquis Grissom and Jose Hernandez off their roster for whatever they can get for them. Save that money for other players who will be around for the playoff push.

The other two players the Brewers should definitely trade are Curt Leskanic and David Weathers. Weathers is currently 31 years old and Leskanic turns 33 in April. Both had great years last year and would be an asset to almost any team's bullpen. However, four years from now they probably won't be too effective anymore. So the Brewers should trade them now, as their values are most likely at their peak. While Weathers had a 3.07 ERA in 69 appearances last season, Leskanic had a 9-3 record with a 2.56 ERA in his 73 appearances. Now is the time to trade them.

There is one Major League player the Brewers should try to trade for, if they can get him to sign a long-term deal. However, that may be a difficult task as Johnny Damon is represented by Scott Boras. Damon would be free agent after the 2001 season. He would be a good fit for the Brewers and the Royals are rumored to want bullpen help, which the Brewers can provide.

Next, and this may be too late already, the Brewers should get Ichiro Suzuki. If any team could pull off winning the blind bidding it would definitely be the Brewers. After all, the bids were submitted to Bud Selig. If Suzuki, the 7-time Japanese batting champion, is a player like Kenny Lofton in his prime as he is being compared (in other words a great fielder and wonderful table setter), he would easily be worth the $5-6 million price tag per season.

It is a risk, but some risks are worth taking. Everybody thought the Yankees were crazy when they signed Orlando Hernandez to a 4-year, $6 million deal when he came over from Cuba. That's $1.5 million per season. Now there are 29 other teams wishing they took that risk.

The Brewers should do it with Suzuki.

If the Brewers could put together an outfield of Geoff Jenkins, Ichiro Suzuki, and Johnny Damon, with Richie Sexson at first base, they could have half of their position players set for a long time with young exciting, talented players. In other words, something to build on.

Plan B: If the Brewers cannot pull off a trade for Johnny Damon, try to make a deal for Scott Williamson of the Reds who Jim Bowden is shopping.

2001 Suggested 25-man Roster:

CF-Ichiro Sukuki
LF-Johnny Damon
RF-Geoff Jenkins
1B-Richie Sexson
3B-Tyler Houston
SS-Mark Loretta
C- Raul Casanova
2B-Luis Lopez

C- Henry Blanco
C- Kevin L. Brown
IN-Ron Belliard
IN-Lou Collier
OF-Lyle Mouton
OF-James Mouton

Jeff D'Amico
Jamey Wright
Paul Ridgon
Jimmy Haynes
John Snyder

Ray King
Juan Acevedo
Valerio de los Santos
Mike Buddie
Allen Levrault
Horacio Estrada

Send Ross your opinions, comments or verbal abuse at ross@JBaseball.

© 2000 JBaseball

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" - Moneyball.