Why the Brewers Won't Release Guillermo Mota

I know the ninth inning collapse in the final game against Arizona would be ideally swept under the carpet, but I want to focus on at least one integral member of it. Yesterday on the JS blog, Tom Haudricourt wrote this about the ninth inning:

Guillermo Mota in for the Brewers, which turns out to be a disastrous move.

Mota, who has been nothing but a train wreck for weeks now, sets the stage for the Brewers' worst loss of the season. He faces three hitters and gets none out, allowing two infield hits -- the balls were tough plays -- and a walk.


Arizona scored six runs without making an out. An awful, awful loss for the Brewers. No other way to say it. Guillermo Mota should be ashamed of himself.

Hopefully Todd Jones doesn't read Tom H's work. Sentiments were similar regarding Mota around here as well. There were some calls for Mota to be cut loose and criticizing the front office for not recognizing Mota has no place on the roster.

Now, while we as fans may have our opinions and plenty of reasons why they make sense, I believe the Brewers brass won't make the decision to cast Mota aside anytime soon. Maybe they will demote him to mop-up guy in the bullpen (as well they should) and take advantage of his ability to go multiple innings in blowouts, but I don't believe they'll cut him loose. Here's why:

1. While Haudricourt (and many around here will agree) says Mota has been a train wreck for weeks now, the question remains whether the Mota that's shown up in the past four weeks is what he'll do going forward. I suspect Brewers brass is more inclined to think the Mota they had for the first two months of the season is more his actual ability level than this past horrendous month. If they do believe a return to his numbers early in the season is possible, there's no reason to get rid of him. The idea he's tipping pitches seems a little too simple in explaining his troubles, but I'm guessing the coaching staff has some other ideas they'd like to try.

2. In the immortal words of many, many, many people: "It all comes down to money." Designating Guillermo Mota for assignment means he's gone for the rest of the season. The best case is some team wanting him badly enough to claim him on waivers and assuming the $1.6 million or so left on his contract. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. That's not to say Mota wouldn't have a job anywhere in the majors. I'm sure a number of teams (maybe not contenders) wouldn't mind gambling on a veteran like him filling a role in their bullpen for the rest of the season. The point is, though, that there's no real need for them to pay him $1.6 million to do that. If/when Mota does clear waivers, he could either choose to report to AAA Nashville or become a free agent. Assuming Mota and his agent, Adam Katz, aren't insane, he would choose free agency, forcing the Brewers to release him. Unfortunately, Milwaukee would still be on the hook for the rest of his contract until he's signed by another team. When he is signed, his new team only has to pay him the prorated minimum for the rest of the year (about $200K at most). The Brewers are still on the hook for the remaining $1.4 million. As battlekow might note, that's three and a half full seasons of minor leaguers, or seven half-seasons. If the front office feels Mota still can fill a role on a major league staff, they likely won't want to pay him to do it for another team.

3. There's no "proven" relievers stashed in AAA. Mark DiFelice, Tim Dillard, Erasmo Ramirez, and Derrick Turnbow are the Sounds' righties that have spent some time in the majors. I take that back: Turnbow is proven, in a bad way. I very much doubt the team will give Turnbow another shot until he manages not to walk more batters than he strikes out. Dillard pitched decently in his short stint with the Brewers earlier this year, but walks were an issue at the end of his tenure. DiFelice doesn't walk many batters, but the coaching staff was loathe to use him in close games when he was with the team before and I suspect they'd like to keep him and his underpowering arsenal stretched out as a long reliever/spot starter rather than a short reliever. Erasmo Ramirez has more major league experience than DiFelice and Dillard combined, having spent parts of three seasons in the Rangers' bullpen. He made a couple brief appearances for the A's and Marlins last season. This season in Nashville he's struck out 28 against 4 walks in 26 games spanning 33 2/3 innings. He could be a candidate to replace Mota, but he lacks the veteran mystique, not to mention his mediocre career strikeout rate in the bigs.

So there's a couple reasons the front office would be loathe to let Mota go, win now attitude or not. I know Julian Tavarez can be brought up as a counterpoint to the veterans over the untested idea, but there wasn't as much money involved in his signing and eventual release. If Mota is at some point replaced in the bullpen, it will more likely be a result of a trade for a better reliever than because he's designated for assignment and released outright. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong though.

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