> The Brewers went a long time without announcing it publicly, but we all knew left-handed relief pitching was a necessity for the Brewers coming into this offseason. In fact, getting an established, healthy lefty for the bullpen has been a huge issue for the Brewers ever since early 2011. Going into that season, the Brewers thought they were going to have Zach Braddock, Manny Parra, and Mitch Stetter as left-handed options out of the ‘pen, but injuries (and personal issues, in Braddock’s case) plagued all of them. Parra missed all of 2011, Stetter had season-ending hip surgery early on, and Braddock never quite regained his 2010 form. So, for their playoff run in 2011, the Brewers went without a lefty arm out of the ‘pen (until the postseason, when Chris Narveson was available).
Now, all three of those lefties are gone, and the Brewers will have to begin from scratch. They’ll probably have to do so via the free agent market, where there’s a solid crop of left-handers. Those options include Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny.
Choate would probably be the toughest guy to sign, because the Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back, and we all know the Dodgers are going to get whoever they want this offseason. I thought it was going to be the same situation for Burnett and the Nationals, but now that we know he’s not actually seeking a four-year deal (which would have been ridiculous), I see him as a possibility for the Brewers. Howell would also be decent, but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams; same goes for Gonzalez. Gorzelanny would be the easiest and cheapest option, but I see him as more of a lefty long reliever, which the Brewers might already have if they decide to move Narveson to the bullpen.
In my opinion, the best guy on that list is Burnett. Ever since 2009, he’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. In 2012, he had a career year with the Nats, going 1-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 70 games (56 2/3 IP). He also had a 1.9 BB/9 and 9.1 K/9, which are exactly the stats you want to see out of a specialist like Burnett. My only concern regarding those numbers are they were far better than his career statistics in each of those categories- he has a career 3.6 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9, which leads to believe he could regress back to those numbers eventually. Regardless, Burnett is probably the best option on the list.
There’s only one issue with the Brewers and the left-handed relief market: the Cardinals are also in dire need of a lefty reliever. Marc Rzepczynski flamed out under the pressure of being the only lefty reliever the Cards could rely upon in 2012. The Cardinals tried to fix that with minor leaguers Barret Browning and Sam Freeman, but neither of them really panned out, either. Hence, the Cards are also in the market for a lefty reliever.
It was reported the other day that Burnett came out and asked the Cardinals for a four-year deal, but his agent shot that down immediately (thank goodness). Still, that could mean the Cards also think Burnett is the best lefty available, so it could end up being a bidding war between them and the Brewers.
> When asked about the recent acquisition of Burke Badenhop, Doug Melvin called him a “young, cheaper Kameron Loe-type pitcher.”
I like the younger and cheaper part, but there was absolutely no need to insult the new guy right away. It’ll be tough for him to be as bad as Loe was.
> The Rockies are interested in another lefty reliever, Daniel Schlereth, who I almost forgot about. Schlereth hit the free agent market the other day after being non-tendered by the Tigers. He doesn’t have the greatest career numbers, but, if the other options thin out quickly, he could become a potential option himself.