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Coco's Contract

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I meant to mention this the other day, but forgot.  The J-S reports on very preliminary talks between Coco and Moustache.  Doug, as usual, is saying all of the right things, and Coco, as expected, is doing the same:

"We'd like to keep him," said Melvin. "I've heard before that you can't pay a closer so much money. But if you don't have one, you're not where you're at. I've done it the cheap way and I've done it the other way."

Cordero said he appreciated the meeting with Melvin, who traded for him once before as general manager in Texas. If a deal can be worked out, Cordero said he would like to return to Milwaukee.

"I love what he said to me; it made me feel good," said Cordero. "I love Milwaukee, the players, management, the coaches and front office. And the fans have been great to me. We'll see what happens in the off-season."

Blah blah blah whatever whatever whatever, thank you for reminding me what players and GMs always say at this stage in the negotiation.

I hope--really, truly hope--that this is kind of like Doug's big, final offer to Carlos Lee before we traded him last year.  You know, good enough to make the radio hosts think we really wanted to keep him, but not crazy enough to actually convince him to stay.

Cordero will be massively expensive this offseason.  There's no getting around that.  He may be less expensive than he would've been had he gone on the market back in June, but he's still likely to be the best closer available.  Here's a list of potential free agents.  Depending on what is worked out with players and their present teams, Cordero could be the BJ Ryan of this off-season, paid like a prince because he's the only good option.

Mariano Rivera's contract is up, and while he's made noise about being willing to go elsewhere, do you really think that's going to happen?  I sure don't.  Eric Gagne will also be a free agent, but he's been spotty since moving to Boston.  And on top of that, the Sox may try to keep him.  Even if he hits the market, would you take Gagne (and his injury history) over Cordero?  I'm not sure I would.

Beyond that, you've got a list of has-beens and maybes.  Octavio Dotel and Jason Isringhausen both have options, and I wouldn't be surprised if both are exercised.  Unless you really like Armando Benitez (in which case you should probably be institutionalized) or you think Jorge Julio has a big comeback year coming (in which case you probably are already institutionalized), you've gotta admit the pickings are slim.

So, even in the best case (for the Brewers keeping Cordero, that is), he'll be one of two or three premium closers.  At age 33, he's likely to command at least a four-year deal, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was for Suppan money or more.  It may be true that a contending club can't pick a closer from the waiver wire, but do you want to spend that much of our payroll on a reliever?  One who Ned often forgets is available?

Anyway, we've been over this before, and it's not even clear that that money is available.  A lot of young players are due for raises, and we'll have other holes to fill.

Of course, if we let Coco go, somebody's got to close.  Turnbow doesn't look like an inspired choice at this point, and I'd rather see Villanueva in the rotation.  That leaves...don't tell me...Mitch Stetter?  There really aren't a lot of options within the organization, unless Team Canada wants to get creative and gamble with someone like Villy, Parra, or even Dave Bush.  (He was a closer in college, so his name must come up every time we have this discussion!)

What I'd like to see is Doug get creative looking outside the organization.  I don't have time today to pore over all the major league rosters, but maybe the Rockies would part with one of Brian Fuentes or Manuel Corpas, or one of Jose Valverde or Tony Pena could be pried from the D-Backs.  The cost would be high, of course--you gotta give value to get value--but what do you think about swapping Rickie Weeks in a deal for someone of that caliber?

We'll be talking a lot about this throughout the offseason, regardless of what direction the Coco negotiations go.  But I just want to go on record right now, and say to Doug, "Don't do it!  Let someone else make this mistake!"