It's interesting to note the wide spectrum of reactions from Brewers fans in regards to trading Brett Lawrie for Shaun Marcum. There are plenty of people who hate the deal and plenty who love it. Personally, I wasn't too pleased when I first started hearing the rumors that Lawrie would be traded away. However, as the day went on, and as I looked more into Marcum, who I admittedly did not know very much about, I started feeling better and better about this trade.
What we know right now is that Brett Lawrie has the potential to be an offensive powerhouse, but has no defensive spot in the field and seemingly no desire to work his way to being above-average defensively. We know that he is confident in his abilities and that he is a top prospect in the MLB. We know that Shaun Marcum came back from Tommy John surgery and put up an excellent 2010 season in the toughest division in baseball. He was the opening day starter in an impressive young Blue Jays rotation.
There are plenty of different scenarios that could end up happening now that the deal has been made, of course. Maybe Lawrie goes on to become a five time MVP and takes a contract of 10 years, $10MM because he just wants to win and so wants to allow the Blue Jays to sign more key players. Maybe he flames out as a prospect and goes through life bitter he never met expectations. Maybe he makes the all star game a couple times. Maybe he sticks at second, maybe goes to third or maybe to the outfield. Maybe Marcum signs a team friendly extension with the Brewers and wins the Cy Young three straight times or maybe he needs eighteen more Tommy John surgeries.
Really, it's an exercise in futility to try determining the winner of this trade right now.
We don't know exactly how either of these guys will pan out. We can take our best guesses, but the different scenarios are so numerous that, like with most trades, we can't judge who got the better of whom between the two teams until at least several years down the road.
What we can say is that, at least for next year, this trade clearly makes the Brewers a much better team. Marcum immediately makes the Brewers rotation much better right now as he slots in behind Yovani Gallardo, moving Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson down a slot and putting the fifth spot in the rotation up for grabs. The addition of Marcum, along with a season from Wolf close to his career averages might make this at least an average pitching rotation in the NL. With the returning Prince Fielder and if Doug Melvin is successful on his quest to further improve the teams starting pitching, this is certainly a team that can compete for a playoff spot.
Personally, I really like this trade for the Brewers. They get two definite years of what looks to be a top of the rotation pitcher for a player who may or may not (more likely the former) pan out. Honestly, though, my approval of this trade comes from two things that I think are still to come: Contract extensions for Marcum and Weeks.
I don't think Doug Melvin is stupid. As such, I believe that he wouldn't trade away his future second basemen, who could be ready in a year, when his current one is under team control for only one more year without having a plan. We all know that MIlwaukee has been in talks discussing a contract extension with Weeks and has stated that it was a priority this offseason. I suspect that the two sides are very close and something could be announced in the next couple weeks, and I think that was a big part of why Melvin was willing to part with Brett Lawrie to improve other facets of the team.
In regards to Marcum, both sides have shown interest in signing an extension. When, I'm not sure. Maybe it won't happen. But there almost certainly will at least be discussions about it. Do the Brewers want to try and open talks now, without having seen him pitch a game in Milwaukee or do they want to risk him having another fantastic season next year and perhaps pitching himself out of the Brewers price range? That's a tough decision for Melvin to make, and one that I'm not enviable of him having to make.
We'll see what the Brewers do in the next few months, but to me this is a pleasant beginning to the off season. Blue Jays fans seemed to love having Marcum in Toronto and I suspect those feelings will cross over to Milwaukee.