By RICK SOLEM
It’s time to clean house.
The Brewers are awful. Big surprise. They have the fourth-worst record in baseball (35-51) behind the Miami Marlins (32-54), Houston Astros (32-56) and Chicago White Sox (34-50).
They aren’t going to win anything any time soon and the couple studs they have are in their prime. But if they’re not winning with them now, then it’s time to ship them, right?
Let’s start with Ryan Braun.
Did you know he’s 29?
Sure, sure, he’s arguably the best player in the league. He’s signed for $150 million through 2020 – that averages to $18 million a year.
He’s signed for six more years. Is he worth that when the team isn’t winning and there is no help in sight in the minors?
Obviously, trading Braun would kill the fan base - though it's really hard to watch baseball solely on one player - and it’s not going to happen, but the loot Milwaukee could get for him now would be pretty nice … or nobody wants him because he’s on steroids and about to be suspended. Who knows?
So, they keep Braun. Keep Jean Segura (23). Keep John Lurcroy (27). Keep Carlos Gomez (27). Trade everyone else.
Kyle Lohse was a great signing - $11 million a year for three years – and he’s been solid. But, he’s 34 and his value couldn’t be higher. There’s no point having a 34 year old pitcher on a team going nowhere.
Milwaukee traded Zack Greinke last year for Segura, who is arguably the best shortstop in the game this year, batting .321 with 11 home runs and 26 stolen bases.
And, yes, it’s probably a bit of luck Segura has turned out this spectacular, but rolling the dice is better than just keeping someone who is only going to get worse on a team that’s only going to get worse.
Yovani Gallardo may be the best bargaining chip, and he’s only 27, so the Brewers should keep him, but he’s a free agent after next season. He’s not staying on a losing team and his value as a rental player next year is much worse than if they waive goodbye this year.
He should bring in someone as talented as Segura or a multitude of prospects that could replenish the Brewers awful farm system. All they have are weeds out there on the farm.
Aramis Ramirez stands to make $26.5 million over for three years. Nobody wants the oft-injured 35 year old at that price, but eating some of that salary and getting something for him would make sense. Good luck.
Norichika Aoki is signed for two more years at a bargain $2.5 million. He may be worth keeping simply for that reason, but that’s also enticing for other teams. Plus he’s 31. He won't help Milwaukee by the time things get turned around.
Rickie Weeks is due $23 million through next season. He’s 30. Can Milwaukee just cut him? Nobody wants his .227 average anyway.
Corey Hart is done for the year after two knee injuries. He's untradeable and a free agent. Oh, and he’s 31. See ya Corey.
John Axford is due for arbitration through 2016, then a free agent. Arbitration got him $5 million this season. I’d be lying if I could tell you exactly how arbitration works. He wasn’t good for stretches last year, yet got $5 million. Maybe because he’s 30 – a veteran. He’s pitching well now. Send him on his way before he implodes again.
And I already said they should keep Lucroy and Gomez, but Gomez may be as good a bargaining chip as Gallardo.
He’s signed through 2016 for $28.3 million. If he produces like he is now, that’s a great contract. But that, again, brings up the dilemma on whether he should be traded for youth.
Lucroy is a no-brainer. He’s signed through 2016 at $11 million. Ridiculous.
What should the Brewers do? Do we even care? Football is a month away.
Baseball season should end in July. But I'm not going to get started on that here.