Brewers, Rangers Underline Granderson Trade

As usual, the Yankees stole baseball headlines with their involvement in a 3-team deal that was highlighted by Curtis Granderson switching his jersey to pinstripes.  But the Brewers and Rangers made some noise of their own this week:

Texas Rangers Trade Kevin Millwood

To kick the week off, Texas somewhat surprisingly dealt former ace Kevin Millwood to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and Baltimore’s #3 overall choice in the Rule 5 draft.  Millwood, after posting sub-.500 records and ERAs over 5 in both ’07 and ’08, reemerged as an above average starter last year with an ERA of 3.67 through 31 starts.  That 3.67 mark was the best by a Ranger starting pitcher and ranked 8th in the AL.

The deal on its own seemed like a poor one for the emerging Rangers.  The team finished 12 games above .500 last year and are on the verge of overtaking the Angels for the AL West crown.  Trading away arguably their best pitcher and the man responsible for a few of those wins was a step back to say the least.  Chris Ray, who Texas got in return, had shown signs of being a reliable closer prior to his Tommy John surgery in 2007, but floundered in 46 appearances following his rehabilitation last year, giving the Orioles a 7.27 ERA in those 43+ innings.  His velocity was down and he was relying on his off-speed stuff a lot more.  Needless to say, he just isn’t the same pitcher that was lights out in ’06.

Texas Rangers sign Rich Harden

However, the reasoning for the Millwood deal became pretty clear about a day later when the Rangers inked the injury prone Rich Harden.  The reason for it was, mostly, financial.  Over the past handful of years, the Rangers have had a payroll right around $68 million, ranking them near the bottom of baseball.  For them to take on a $6.5 million investment like Harden, they need to give up a $12 million expense like Millwood, and they did just that.

Many (myself included) figured Rich Harden would be able to cash in as one of the better players in a weak free agent class.  The man known for his quantity of injuries as much as his prominence on the mound has logged 25+ starts and 140+ innings in each of the past two seasons.  On top of that, he has always been superbly effective.  Harden boasts a career ERA of 3.39, including a dominant .220 batting average against and over a K per IP.  That is the stuff relief pitchers are made of, and Harden can give it to you for 5-6 innings.  He is a Cy Young caliber pitcher and he was just signed for a journeyman veteran’s price.

Milwaukee Brewers sign Randy Wolf

Because of the bargain Harden was signed for, the criticism rolled in when the Brewers seemingly overspent for the 33-year old Randy Wolf.  Wolf, coming off of a career year where he went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 160 K in 214 IP, inked a deal worth nearly $30 million over the next three years.  The last time the Brewers made a signing like this, they were bringing in Jeff Suppan for one of the worst contracts I’ve seen.  The similarities between the two are eerily similar, but unlike Suppan, Wolf seems to fit with the roster in Milwaukee.  I say this because the Brewers have been generally poor defensively in recent history.  A pitcher like Suppan relies on the guys behind him to give him outs.  If that’s not happening, he’s one of the worst pitchers in baseball, and that didn’t happen.

Wolf has done a good job throughout his career of limiting base runners and was especially effective in this category last year.  Can he repeat that success?  It’s unlikely he does to the extent of last year, but there is no reason why he can’t be a solid mid-rotation starter for Milwaukee.

Conclusion

Assuming Texas was financially forced to choose between Harden and Millwood, they made out with a victory in their deals.  While Harden won’t eat innings like Millwood, he’s the type of starting pitcher they need if they’re going to emerge as the best team from their division.  He is a legitimate ace that can look like the best pitcher in baseball at times.  On top of that, they save money and add a relief pitcher that at least has some potential.  The Rangers also have an already decent bullpen, making the loss of starter’s innings from Millwood to Harden less of a negative.

The Brewers signing Wolf will also have benefits.  He’s a big upgrade over what Milwaukee was running out there last year and, at the least, he will add stability to a very unstable rotation.  As a Brewers fan, I would’ve preferred Harden for the same contract we gave Wolf, let alone for less, but I don’t think Wolf was significantly overpaid either.  Keep in mind Oliver Perez signed a 3-year $36 million deal last year while Derek Lowe commanded $60 million over 4.  The Crew also brought in LaTroy Hawkins to help bolster the bullpen.

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3 Comments on “Brewers, Rangers Underline Granderson Trade”

  1. Abhi P. Says:

    What are the chances that Texas signs Sheets now? Plus, are they still even interested in him? It would obviously be great for them if they signed him, but after this Harden deal, it doesn’t seem all that likely.

    • wisf Says:

      It’s tough to say. I know they were interested prior to signing Harden, but it sounds like Sheets’ demands are pretty unreasonable. I would be a little surprised if Texas ponied up, but if they’re willing to lace the contract with enough incentives, you never know. My guess is they won’t be willing to go high enough with the base salary to woe him away from the New York’s though.

  2. Disco Says:

    very good read


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