Lee Forces Brew Crew to Pull the Plug
Carlos Lee rejected a 4-year, $48 million contract offer from the Milwaukee Brewers today, all but forcing the hand of Brewers GM Doug Melvin. The Brewers sent Lee and their best outfield prospect Nelson Cruz to the Rangers for setup man Francisco Cordero, outfielders Laynce Nix and Kevin Mench, and 21 year old pitching prospect Julian Cordero.
Purely in terms of on the field production, I'm not sure how this move makes the Brewers much better. Kevin Mench is not a bad player, but Carlos Lee was the Brewers' best hitter. Lee can run, drive in runs, and hits with a decent average. Mench has power, but his game is not nearly as well rounded as Lee. Francisco Cordero will be inserted into the bullpen immediately upon arrival, but he's been a little shaky this season-- he's blown 9 saves in 15 chances this year and his ERA is dangerously close to five. Nix, once considered a top Rangers prospect, and Julian Cordero will be reporting to the minors.
Despite my initial knee-jerk reaction, I'll be slow to condemn Brewers management on this trade. I ridiculed the Brewers a few years ago when they traded Richie Sexson to the Diamondbacks for a small army of mediocre players, but I looked pretty stupid when that trade worked out well for Milwaukee. Nix and Mench are both fairly young, and it's possible that Francisco Cordero will regain his 2002-2005 form. He certainly can't be much worse than some of the relievers the Brewers are currently using. If Milwaukee had decided to hang on to Lee, all they would have gotten was a compensation draft pick from the team that signed him away instead of the three major-league ready players they received from Texas.
Any trade where a team is forced to deal a player strictly because of salary concerns is upsetting. Even more upsetting is the tired rhetoric superstar players use when the trade deadline comes around. All along Carlos Lee said he wanted to stay in Milwaukee, but when he turned down $12 million a year he effectively showed us he was full of crap.
Brewers fans, you shouldn't be upset at your team's management. They did what they could with a bad situation. Be upset with Carlos Lee giving you false hope, and be upset with the economic system of Major League Baseball for keeping you and the teams in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and the like from fielding a championship team.