It seems, after my first post that most of you are familiar with sarcasm, so I shall keep the register open at this point. However this time I am going to contribute my actual opinions on this team.
A midst the disappointment that is the Milwaukee Brewers 2012 season, we've seen a lot of developments from the entire spectrum, some negative, but even more positive. We watched our favorite Superstar kick doubters in the teeth, observed solid to excellent rookie campaigns from Fiers, Rogers, Bianchi, Aoki, Henderson and Maldonado. Enjoyed breakout performances from Gomez, Estrada, Lucroy and a complete 180 from Weeks' dismal start. A solid rotation, anchored by the continuing improvement of Yovani Gallardo and complimented by an interesting array of control pitchers and hard throwing groundballers, all of whom are striking out an incredibly high number of opposing hitters. Add that to a power hitting core of Braun, Ramirez and Hart who are all putting together some of the best seasons we've seen from them and this looks like a contending team. Then, there's the bullpen, the red headed stepchild of this team, abortion survivor, the burden the Brewers and their fans have had to bear this entire season. Despite this being, what most of us would assume is an easy fix for this team going into 2013 to jump back into contention, management and ownership may not see it that way. And so long as they have options to shape this team going forward, we have the the computers and free time to speculate on exactly which ones they will pursue. Reload, Recharge or Rebuild?
Part 1: Reload
Although the bullpen is to blame for this season, I look at the rotation as a potential weak link in the future without adding significant pieces to it this winter.
As it stands right now (assuming Marcum's contract isn't renewed) the rotation for next season looks to be
Now I like Fiers going forward and recently Estrada has convinced me he is, in fact, not legally obligated to allow 2 HR per game started. But I don't see either of them as viable middle of the rotation solutions. So I submit to you a short list of some of the available free agent starting pitchers with their 2012 FIP and GB%. And where I think they could possibly fit in the Brewers' rotation. I should mention I'm not including Greinke on here as I don't believe he will sign with Milwaukee, nor that he is worth $25 million annually.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Brandon McCarthy (2) - 3.78 FIP, 40.5% GB
Francisco Liriano (3-4) - 4.21 FIP, 44.2% GB
Hiroki Kuroda (2) - 3.89 FIP, 52.8% GB
Edwin Jackson (3) - 3.76 FIP, 46.4% GB
Ben Sheets (2-3) - 4.23 FIP, 42.0% GB
Roy Oswalt (2-3) - 4.14 FIP, 44.8% GB
Anibal Sanchez (2-3) - 3.74 FIP, 46.1% GB
Pitchers with options which will likely be declined
Jake Peavy (1-2) - 3.60 FIP, 37.0% GB
Ervin Santana (3) - 5.65 FIP, 46.7% GB
There's a lot to like here, guys who have high bounce back potential (Oswalt, Santana, Liriano), guys with injury history who teams might not want to bid high on (Peavy, McCarthy, Sheets) and innings eating strikeout and/or groundballers in Sanchez, Jackson and Kuroda. Overall though, none of them will command anywhere near the kind of money Greinke will be looking for. Peavy, McCarthy and Sanchez headline the class in terms of how much they will likely receive. Peavy is more of a crap shoot, I could see him signing a Lackey/Burnett type deal, 5 years in the $80 million range, at that point I'd say the Brewers are probably out. But McCarthy (assuming he will recover from his recent injury) and Sanchez are probably in the 3-4 year, $10-12 million annually range. None of the other pitchers are likely to receive more than 2 years aside from Jackson, if some team if finally willing to lock him down. So here's where I put it on the line, the rotation I'd like to see the Brewers trot out for 2013.
What do you think? Would you stand pat and risk 2013, what could very well be the Brewers last chance at a championship for a while? Would you overhaul more, less? Let's hear it.