Brewers Looking Strong in the Short Term

The Milwaukee Brewers have made two big additions this off-season, trading for starting pitchers Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, the latter of which happened yesterday.  The combination of Marcum and Greinke, added to a rotation that already included Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf, gives Milwaukee one of the best rotations in the NL Central.  Add to the fact that they’ve got Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, two of the best hitters in the National League, along with talented hitters like Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Casey McGehee, and the Brewers are starting to look like one of the best teams in the National League in 2011.

To get Marcum, the Brewers traded one of their top prospects in Brett Lawrie.  Lawrie, a second base prospect who has been rated in baseball’s top 100 the last two years, is coming off a .285/.346/.451 season in 554 at-bats at the AA level.  Meanwhile, Marcum returned from Tommy John surgery in 2010, and had an impressive year, with a 3.64 ERA in 195.1 innings, along with a 7.6 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9 ratio.

Milwaukee had to give up a bit more for Greinke.  They traded shortstop Alcides Escobar, along with top prospects Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain, and Jeremy Jeffress.  Greinke doesn’t really need much of a description.  He’s one of the best young pitchers in the game, and even in a down year like 2010 he puts up a 4.17 ERA in 220 innings.  Milwaukee paid a lot to get Greinke, giving up a talented young shortstop in Escobar, their top pitching prospect in Odorizzi, and two top prospects in Cain and Jeffress.

That return isn’t universally seen as a big payment, but it all depends on the value you place on Escobar.  Escobar got off to a rough start in his first full season in the majors in 2010, but was one of the top 20 prospects in baseball the previous two years, and had a .298/.353/.409 line in AAA in 2009, before getting the call to the majors for good.  He just turned 24, and has a good chance of improving on his numbers going forward.

Milwaukee looks strong right now, but as Corey Humes at Titletahn points out, their window of opportunity might be small.  They just traded away their shortstop of the future, along with their second baseman of the future.  Meanwhile, Rickie Weeks is only under control for two more seasons at second base, and while they also acquired Yuniesky Betancourt in the Greinke trade, he’s only under control for two more years, and is very overpaid, with poor defense (career -8.3 UZR/150 at shortstop) and poor hitting (career .689 OPS).

They traded two of their top pitching prospects to get Greinke, but Marcum and Greinke are only under control for two more seasons each.  They do have three more years of control over Randy Wolf, and Yovani Gallardo is under control through the 2015 season.  Milwaukee also traded one of their best outfield prospects, which means they’re putting a lot of hope in Carlos Gomez finally realizing his potential in center field.

Essentially the Brewers traded away their 2013 replacements for Weeks, Marcum, and Greinke, while also trading away one of their only long term shortstop options (they didn’t have any other shortstop prospects in the top 30 heading in to the 2010 season).  Add to that the fact that Prince Fielder could very well be gone following the 2011 season, and Milwaukee’s long term future doesn’t look as bright as their chances of competing in the next two years.

It’s a smart move for the Brewers to take, as they might not have Fielder beyond the 2011 season, and only had Weeks under control through the 2012 season.  If they don’t make these moves, Fielder and Weeks are still likely to test free agency, but Milwaukee doesn’t improve their chances of competing while they have both players.  The Brewers increased their chances of competing over the next two seasons, but at the same time, their future beyond the 2012 season now raises a lot of questions.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Big Day For Milledge, Cortes, And Tabata; Loss For Ascanio

Next Story »

Would Carl Pavano Be a Good Investment?

  • Anonymous

    More importantly when is this roster move getting done

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 hours ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    1 day ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    3 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    4 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    5 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    6 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    1 week ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    2 weeks ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More