Doug Melvin's top five bad trades as GM for the Brewers
by Radio Joe,posted Jul 30 2012 5:51PM
There’s no question that every GM makes a bad trade. Sometimes you have to blame it on the players for not living up to the expectations. Depending if a team is in the pennant race or looking to dump a contract, GMs want to swap quality for quality. Doug Melvin has made some great trades in his tenure for the Milwaukee Brewers. When Tim Allen asked me the other day “What were some of the bad trades Melvin has made?”, nothing came to my mind. Then, after looking back at Melvin’s trade history, I was reminded of a few things. Let’s take a walk down memory lane…
According to yours truly, here are Doug Melvin’s worse five trades as GM for the Brewers. Let's be clear - Doug has done more good than bad as a GM. These trades do irritate me to some extent, though.
5. Brewers trade OF Jim Edmonds to the Reds for OF Chris Dickerson. (Sept. 8. 2010)
Look, the Brewers were not going to the postseason in 2010. Several teams had interest in the veteran Edmonds. There was no question that fans and players liked the guy. Was it fair to trade Edmonds? Absolutely. My problem with the deal was what we got in return. Instead of acquiring a sub-par Double-A pitching prospect (remember Edmonds had a .286 Avg in 217 at-bats for the Brewers), they acquire Chris fricken Dickerson! A major league outfielder with a .205 Avg in 44 at-bats? By trading Edmonds, the Brewers only got worse. Dickerson ended up batting .208 (a slight improvement) in 55 at-bats for the Crew. The reason why the Brewers struggled in 2010 was because of the pitching. Swapping for a pitcher would have made the most logical sense. That deal will always be a head scratcher.
4. Brewers trade SP Doug Davis, RP Dana Eveland, and OF Dave Krynzel to the D-Backs for C Johnny Estrada, SP Claudio Vargas, and RP Greg Aquino. (Nov. 25, 2006)
Looking back at this deal, Doug Melvin traded crap for crap. I think the D-Backs got the better deal. Getting traded to Arizona was probably the best thing that ever happened to Doug Davis. He pitched three consistent seasons for Arizona with an ERA just above four. After we brought him back, though, Davis was horrific. Dana Eveland was supposed to be a young-up-and-comer in the Brewers rotation, but things never lifted off. He’s bounced around from team-to-team (he’s currently with Baltimore), and has a career 5.46 ERA. Having been traded to the desert, Dave Krynzel never got it going in the Arizona system. I don’t think he plays ball anymore…
As for what the Brewers received, God help us. Greg Aquino was a project in the bullpen and didn’t last long for the Crew. The Brewers also received one of the slowest players in the history of baseball – Johnny Estrada. His offense wasn’t bad (10 HR, 54 RBIs, .278 Avg), but he was lethargic and had a big mouth. Perhaps Doug Melvin’s favorite player ever, Claudio Vargas was a joke when we got him in 2007. In 2008, Vargas played for the Mets. He was then reacquired by the Brewers in 2009 (in exchange for Racine native catcher Vinny Rotino). Successful in the bullpen that season, Vargas was 1.78 ERA in 30 appearances. Then in 2010, Vargas sucked it up on the mound, as he put up a 7.32 ERA. After being released, Melvin signed him to a minor league contract this season. He’s currently with Triple-A Nashville. Why does Doug like to keep him around? Maybe Vargas is like a son to him…
Again, this trade solved nothing.
3. Brewers trade 1B Lyle Overbay and P Ty Taubenheim to the Blue Jays for SP Dave Bush, OF Gabe Gross, and P Zack Jackson. (Dec. 7, 2005)
There should be no debate about Lyle Overbay; it was imperative to trade him at his highest stock. With Prince Fielder on his way up to the big leagues, this was the perfect opportunity to reload the farm with young talent. Overbay should have been at least traded straight up for a solid starting pitcher in either Double-A or Triple-A ball. Instead, Melvin added three average players with big league experience. Pitcher Zack Jackson was given the opportunity to show his stuff for the Brewers, but never panned out. He would later be a part of the package for CC Sabathia. Gabe Gross turned out to be a great threat off the Brewers bench, but his numbers dwindled in 2007 and 2008 before he was traded to the Rays. Dave Bush, the man with the highest expectations in the deal, was given way too many second chances. Hard to believe Bush spent five full seasons with Milwaukee (his best came during the postseason push in 2008). Outside of 2008, Bush was dead weight to the franchise. In 2009, his ERA for the season was 6.38! Sure, he had a few outstanding starts from time-to-time, but he lacked consistency. That guy was a cat with nine lives…
2. Brewers trade OF Carlos Lee and OF Nelson Cruz to the Rangers for OF Laynce Nix, OF Kevin Mench, Closer Francisco Cordero, and pitching prospect Julian Cordero. (July 28, 2006)
This trade solved nothing long-term. It was important to get back what you could. In fact, Melvin traded a future player away in Nelson Cruz. Cruz, by the way, has had Corey Hart-like numbers for the Rangers for the last several seasons. Kevin Mench was an OK player; he spent a year and a half with the Brewers before leaving. Laynce Nix was constantly moving up and down between Triple-A and the Majors, and who the hell knows what happened to Julian Cordero? The key player in this trade was Francisco Cordero. In my opinion, of all the closers the Brewers have had in the last 10 years, Cordero was the best one. The guy has been closing games throughout his career, and for the most part, shows consistency in every save opportunity. After a season and a half, I was surprised we couldn’t re-sign him. With that being said, the trade, in general, had zero impact on the future of this franchise.
Like I said, I had no problem trading either Overbay or El Caballo. Those trades needed to be done. The returns were failures.
1. Brewers acquire RP Scott Linebrink from the Padres in exchange for pitchers Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, and Steve Garrison. (July 25, 2007)
Doug Melvin was quoted to say “You have to give up something to get something.” Very true. I could understand surrendering three pitching prospects for a legitimate starting pitcher, but for a reliever with sub-par numbers? I’m sorry the price was too steep for this guy. The Brewers gave up their number three prospect in the system, plus two other highly ranked pitchers in exchange for less than half a season of Scott Linebrink. I’m sorry…Linebrink was way over-priced.
If the Brewers really wanted to contend in 2007, Doug Melvin did not do enough as a buyer. (By the way, here’s an honorable mention. A couple of days later, Grant Balfour was dealt to Tampa for Seth McClung. That trade would rank sixth worse on my list). This was nowhere close to the CC Sabathia trade. Adding Scott Linebrink might have improved the bullpen, but it didn’t send a message to the rest of the league saying the Brewers were a force to deal with. Besides Linebrink wasn’t lights out for the Brewers on a consistent basis. As I recall, he blew some leads in close games. Who knows? Maybe the trade would have paid dividends if the Brewers resigned Linebrink, but he was worth way too much.
I think the Padres got a steal in this deal. However, of the three pitchers, the only one that panned out was Joe Thatcher. In six seasons with the Padres, Thatcher has a career 3.37 ERA. Wish we had him in our bullpen.
As you can see, Doug Melvin is no gifted genius. For the most part, though, I’m a big fan of the guy. He's part of the reason why we've made two postseasons in the last five seasons. I trust his judgment (for the most part).
Trading your top prospect out of an already thin farm system for an average pitcher with a history of arm trouble was a foolish move by a GM trying to save his job, which I guess worked since they made it to the NLCS and he got himself an extension. Could have gotten a similar pitcher in free agency and kept Lawrie. Now the trade looks even worse after Marcum imploded in the playoffs and now he is hurt again (surprise) and will not be re-signed.