Kids have an inherent curiosity ingrained in them. They want to touch and smell and eat just about everything. This is why parents have to tell their kids not to touch open flame. "It's hot" they say "you'll burn yourself". But the kid has to touch it anyway. Words are just words, surely it can't be that bad. Then they burn themselves, and they don't purposely touch fire again. They learn from their mistakes.
Three teams have made the mistake of having Yuniesky Betancourt on their team during the regular season. The other 27 were smart enough to stay away. Of the three teams that did keep him on their roster, two have picked him up at two different times.
The Mariners can be excused somewhat. They may have stayed with him for four and a half years, but they could still say they were waiting to see if he would break out. Betancourt was once a big signing from Cuba and was once supposed to be a premier defensive shortstop with a lot of speed and a contact bat. Of course the Mariners would wait and see if he panned out. They at least didn't make the mistake of signing him a second time.
The Royals first time trading for Betancourt can also be legitimized a little. Maybe Betancourt just needed a change of scenery? It's still not a good decision, but it's not nearly as bad as acquiring him over six years into his career when he clearly has very little value to anyone in the baseball world. That's just what the Brewers did, and to make it worse they played him day after day after day after day.
But you know what, kids are told that fire is hot. A lot of times, they just won't realize it unless they touch it themselves. The Brewers touched the Yuni flame and found that it hurt. That should have been the end of it. It wasn't. The Royals signed Betancourt and the baseball world laughed at them for going back to that hellpit. Now the Brewers have done the same thing after the Phillies cut him. The Phillies. The Phillies, who have the perpetually injured Chase Utley at second and freaking Freddy Galvis as a backup middle infielder. Galvis' line in the minors is .246/.292/.321! The Phillies cut Betancourt for that.
Not Betancourt is a Brewer, and Doug Melvin is sticking his face in that flame. It's not a different thing, Doug. He's the same Yuni as the old Yuni except now he can "play" second base, which gives him more of an opportunity to garner playing time.
It's not as if Betancourt was the only option. Adam Kennedy probably would be better, Freddy Sanchez would probably be better. Jason Bartlett would probably be better. Hell, keep Bobby Crosby around if you aren't hoping for any production from whatever spot Betancourt is taking up. Sign Babe Ruth's bones--they would at least sell some tickets.
Instead we get just about the worst retread possible. It doesn't help that it comes on the heels of a similar mistake Melvin should have learned from--that of signing aged veteran pitchers to big contracts. I'll be the first to say that I don't think this deal will end up as poorly as the Suppan and Wolf contracts. I think it might turn out to be a pretty good deal, actually. His best career season last year was partly due to luck, certainly, but his worst seasons were partly due to bad luck. Lohse might end up being something like Randy Wolf of his first two years with Milwaukee, which would be acceptable. He might end up being better. He's actually improved some in these last two years. His strikeouts are up and his walks are down. That's not something you'll typically see out of a 34-year-old pitcher.
Lohse's GB/FB ratio might also be down these last couple of years, but that's almost something that is preferred with this current Brewers team. I would rather let Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki play great defense alongside the, at the very least, speedy Ryan Braun than let Ramirez, Segura, Weeks and whoever is playing first base for the first time in their career until Hart gets back play middling defense. The Brewers defensive strengths are in the outfield, certainly. Especially if this is ever playing in the infield:
I may not be down on the Lohse signing, but that doesn't let Doug Melvin or Mark Attanasio or whoever off the hook. He has/they have made this mistake before. Twice. If Lohse doesn't work out, then what? Someone should lose their job, probably. You can't sign three overpaid old pitchers and not have any repercussions. Not on this team. The Lohse signing won't hurt as much as the Suppan signing did financially, and the Suppan signing didn't hurt as much as the Jeffrey Hammonds signing did. The Brewers are finally in a place where one of these deals not working out will not kill the team.
That's good, but imagine Aramis Ramirez tanks. Or if Corey Hart is signed to a big contract and falls apart. Can the Brewers absorb two big deals not working out? That, I'm not so sure about. And that is why these deals are not good ideas. If you take this big of a risk on a deal, you can't have losses elsewhere. You can't have a repeat of 2009.
Doug Melvin has touched these flames before. He might very well be putting his job on the line here. Hopefully he doesn't get burned again.