Deadline Dealing: A Brief History of Brewers Deadline Trades, Part II
This season’s trading deadline has surely been a memorable one for Brewers fans. By the time this post finds its way to the internet, the various storylines that emerged over the past weekend should have resolved themselves, but the impact of the deals (and non-deals) will not be known for years. In honor of the un-official holiday that the deadline has become, we’re taking a look at Brewers deadlines past. Last week, we covered the 1980s and 90s, this week, we’re looking at 2000-2007.
Season result: 73-89, 3rd
Closer Bob Wickman arrived and departed
The 2000 trade
that sent Steve
Woodard, Jason Bere,
Wickman to the Indians for Richie
Sexson, Kane Davis,
Rigdon was made more of opportunity than financial despair. The Brewers
were nearly 20 games under .500 and getting nothing from Kevin Barker at first
base while the contending Indians had some gaping holes on their pitching staff
and a stud first baseman in Sexson blocked by veteran Jim Thome. The
desperation here was all on the Indians as they shipped Sexson, who hit 31
homers the season before floating between the infield and outfield, to
Verdict: A clear win.
the Brewers a powerful middle of the order trio with Burnitz and Geoff Jenkins
and the team sold at just the right time on Woodard and Bere. Sexson was later
Season result: 56-106, 6th
The Brewers sold too soon on infielder Mark Loretta, who later became an All Star.
The 2002 Brewers were an all-around
nightmare, losing 106 games and giving regular playing to such luminaries as
Paul Bako, Matt Stairs, and Glendon Rusch. Unwilling to part with young, cheap
talent like Sexson, Jenkins, or Ben Sheets, the Brewers opted to dump pretty
much every other useful part in the weeks after the All Star break. In a series
of four multi-player deals, the Brewers dumped Tyler
Houston, Alex Ochoa,
Wright, and Mark Loretta.
In return, the Brewers got a big batch of young players “headlined” by Wayne
Franklin, who followed an impressive end-of-the-year run in 2002 by leading
the league in earned runs in 2003, and Keith Ginter,
who hit 34 homers over the next two seasons before being traded to Oakland for
Nelson Cruz (more on him later). The only outgoing piece the Brewers later
missed was Loretta, the longest-tenured Brewer player at the time of the trade,
who wound up having a surprise breakout season in
Verdict: Marginal loss.
They dumped off some veterans and took some chances that didn’t come through. They were all solid baseball moves and the franchise was none the worse for it. I’ll call it a loss because they missed the chance to resign Loretta (he was a free agent after the season, but ended up taking a huge pay cut from what the Brewers had been paying him) and establish him as a face-of-the-franchise bridge between the dark post-1992 years and the resurgent late-2000s teams.
Status: Um… both?
75-87, 4th place.
No one thought much about throwing Nelson Cruz, who had been acquired by
the Brewers for Keith Ginter, into the deal that sent Carlos Lee to the
Rangers. But in
For the first time in what seemed like forever, there was some genuine positivity among Brewers fans heading into the 2006 season. They finished the 2005 season at 81-81, their best mark in two decades, with a collection of young talent and discount bin finds. In 2006, with Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks ready for regular duty, it seemed like the team might actually have a shot at October baseball. In late July, 5.5 games out of the wild card spot, the Brewers added veteran infielders Tony Graffanino and David Bell – the first time since 1982, they were in “buy” mode. But the team was still dealing with the small-market constraints and facing the potential loss of their top offensive weapon, outfielder Carlos Lee, to free agency. So, in an effort to both cash in on a departing star and stay competitive, the Brewers sent Lee to the Rangers for All Star closer Francisco Cordero and outfielders Kevin Mench and Layne Nix. The trade made sense at the time. Mench was the younger, cheaper replacement for Lee, Cordero could bump the fully-melted-down Derrick Turnbow from the closer’s spot, and Nix was a mildly-promising role player. Oh, and the Brewers tossed in a minor league outfielder named Nelson Cruz.
Lee went on to mash the ball for
the Rangers, who still missed the playoffs, and he jumped to the Astros the
following year for a $100 million, six year deal. Cordero spent a year and a
Ignoring that the
Brewers played worse after the trade of Lee than before, even ignoring the good
years Lee had in
Season Result: 83-79, 2nd
After a disappointing end to the
2006 season, the Brewers burst out of the gates in 2007, opening with a 24-10
record and spending nearly all of May and June at least five games up on the
rest of the NL Central. But, the Crew sputtered in late July and allowed the
Cubs to pull within a few games of first. In an effort to shore up a creaky
bullpen, the Brewers made a pair of trades to add veteran relievers Scott
Linebrink and Seth McClung.
The Brewers nearly added the prize pitcher of the deadline in Rangers closer
Eric Gagne, who ended up going to
Linebrink and McClung both pitched well down the stretch, but the Brewers swooned nonetheless, hampered by a weak starting rotation. The Brewers held a piece of first as late at September 18, but lost seven of their next 10 to drop out of contention. The Cubs won the division by just two games.
The Brewers didn’t
get enough from Linebrink and McClung (no reliever could have given them
enough) to win the division, but the trades were an indication that a new era
of Brewers baseball had begun. Unlike the muddled reasoning of the 2006 trades,
the Brewers showed a clear plan at the 2007 deadline – they were a rebuilding
team that found themselves unexpectedly contending and addressed their
weaknesses without giving away the farm. The top prospect they dealt was
Inman, who went to