By now you've probably heard that the Brewers announced a trade this morning, sending John Axford to the Cardinals for a player to be named later. The analytical part of my brain thinks it's a good decision, especially if Tom Haudricourt is right when he says the Brewers were almost certainly going to non-tender the veteran reliever this winter. Getting something, anything of value for a player who was otherwise going to leave for nothing is a good move. We won't know how good, of course, until we see what the Brewers get back.
In the meantime, though, the emotional part of my brain went into my closet and dug out a 2011 NL Central Championship t-shirt. With Axford gone, consider for a moment the 25 players who appeared in a game as a Brewer in that postseason, less than 24 months ago:
Gone: Casey McGehee, Craig Counsell, Francisco Rodriguez, George Kottaras, Jerry Hairston Jr., John Axford, Kameron Loe, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Kotsay, Nyjer Morgan, Prince Fielder, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, Takashi Saito, Zack Greinke.
Still here: Carlos Gomez, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Estrada, Rickie Weeks (out for season), Ryan Braun (out for season), Taylor Green (out for season), Yovani Gallardo
Possibly on the way out: Chris Narveson (due to become a minor league free agent), Corey Hart (out for season, free agent after season)
Gone, then back again: Yuniesky Betancourt
15 members of the best Brewer team of my lifetime are already gone, less than two years after the team's final game, and two more may be gone after the World Series. Even among the players who are still here, three are out for the season, one stands a strong chance of being traded this winter (Gallardo) and one is Yuniesky Betancourt.
Thinking about it this way makes October of 2011 feel really far away. We'll always remember the great moments from that season, but the players involved have largely moved on. That's how things work in the world of sports, of course, and there's not much that can be done to prevent it. But that knowledge isn't enough to keep me from getting a little nostalgic today as one of the key players from that team walks out the door for the last time.