Baseball / Sports

Brewers GM ponders a midseason move

MILWAUKEE -- Doug Melvin couldn't help but to laugh at the question.

Do you have another CC Sabathia trade in you?

"I'm always open to a big (trade) if there's one out there," said the Brewers general manager, chuckling with the knowledge that those kinds of opportunities don't come along very often.

In July 2008, the Brewers shocked the baseball world by dealing for Sabathia, who led them to the NL wild-card berth to end a 26-year playoff drought. Melvin knew then that an impact pitcher was necessary to get his team over the hump.

"At the time we did that, I'm not sure we thought it was coming at that time," said Melvin. "We had some players they had interest in."

With his club in first place nearly the entire season in the Central Division, does Melvin need to make a huge move before the July 31 deadline? Yes, David Price would look pretty good in a Brewers uniform, but is Melvin considering making a play for Tampa Bay's available ace?

"I'm always open for anything," said Melvin, who certainly would never say if he was kicking the tires on Price. "There's probably a lot of similarities in David Price and Sabathia (in 2008). Their records are probably pretty close to what CC's was when he was traded."

Indeed, they are. When the Brewers acquired Sabathia, he was 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts for Cleveland. Price, who is available for the same reason -- the inability of his club to afford him -- is 6-7 with a 3.63 ERA in 17 starts for Tampa Bay.

One significant difference is that Sabathia was a pending free agent whereas Price has another year to go before he can leave. But that only means a team would have to give up more in terms of prospects and the total package to get Price, which Melvin said would not be easy to do.

"We're not going to deal the young impact player to help our big club now," said Melvin. "It's going to be tough to do that. I think we do have a lot of players in our system that will play in the big leagues."

In terms of regular positions in the field, Melvin doesn't plan to do much shopping, mainly because he doesn't consider it an area of concern.

"You have to ask, where are you going to play a guy?" said Melvin. "We have a pretty good lineup. I'm not going to trade for a catcher or a second baseman or shortstop or left fielder or center fielder or right fielder."

The one position that has remained a question mark offensively is first base, where veterans Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay have been platooned. The Brewers' .683 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) at that position ranks 26th in the major leagues.

That does not mean that Melvin is dissatisfied with what he has at first base, however. Reynolds is a power threat who has proven valuable as a replacement at third base when Aramis Ramirez has been unable to play. Overbay provides one of the few left-handed bats on the team and has produced in the clutch (.324 batting average with runners in scoring position).

Melvin also likes the way Reynolds and Overbay fit in a clubhouse that has exhibited strong chemistry.

"They've done a nice job for us," said Melvin. "One of our big surprises has been Mark's ability to play third base so well. And Overbay is a like lot Mark Kotsay was for us (in 2011). He can come off the bench and give you a good at-bat.

"It's not like we're asking them to bat cleanup for us. They've hit in the bottom of the order."

Melvin noted one other factor in not making a deal at that position: "There's not a big offensive first baseman available anyway."

Melvin is more likely to look for help on the bench, although he likes having veterans Rickie Weeks and Overbay there to use as pinch-hitters. Melvin said he has fielded inquiries from other clubs about Weeks but has been made no specific proposals.

Rather than make a bold strike for a No. 1 starting pitcher, Melvin is more likely to look to the other end of his pitching staff and seek late-inning relief help, especially with Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg out indefinitely with injuries.

Melvin has one of the most successful closers in the league in Francisco Rodriguez, so why would he seek help there, you ask? In 2011 he had one of the best closers in John Axford but dealt for Rodriguez at the all-star break and the two formed an unbeatable duo in the late innings that helped the Brewers win the division.

"We've talked about bullpen help," said Melvin. "Over the course of the year, your bullpen gets worn down pretty good. A lot of teams are going to be looking for bullpen help.

"Offensively, I don't think we're going to have to do much if we're healthy. You do have to protect yourself against injury. That's what you live in fear of, an injury to a key player. That could change up to the trade deadline.

"We're definitely going to work at it. It all comes back to having a fit. Are you compatible with a team? That's probably the most important thing. You can't go make a deal if you're not compatible with a team."

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