As you may have already read, compliments of Colin Bennett, the Brewers signed Aramis Ramirez today. That signing, paired with what can only be described as a bush league season in 2011, has lead to Casey McGehee becoming expendable. What do you do when things become expendable? If you said you expend them…I think you are right, although I am not sure that expend by itself is a word.
The story was first reported by Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. From what Tom reported, McGehee has been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for reliever Jose Veras. This news filled me with mixed emotions.
My first emotion to the trade was, “Who the hell is Jose Veras?”. After looking into his career stats, I can understand why that was my reaction. The guy is nothing special on paper, but this team needs bullpen help pretty badly (Takashi Saito signed with the D’Backs today). More specifically, we needed more relief help for the 6th and 7th innings and Veras will be able to fill one of those voids effectively. In 2011, Veras appeared in 79 games, had a 3.80 ERA, and has a very nice walk to strikeout ratio (10:4). While this deal is not flashy, it fills a void with a player who the organization has clearly thrown in the towel on.
Casey McGehee was a great, albeit short-lived, success story. The Brewers picked him up off of waivers from the Cubs before the 2009 season. Casey ended up playing in 116 games that season, at almost every position possible; third base, second base, first base, DH, and Right Field. After the 2010 season, McGehee was voted team MVP by his peers and the local media. Then, unfortunately for Casey McGehee, the 2011 season came to pass. Everything got bad, then it got worse, until McGehee was replaced (in the Playoffs!!) by the pride of Southern Illinois University…Jerry Hairston Jr.
This is one of the saddest stories of my adult baseball life. It mirrors former Brewers flare outs, John Jaha and Pat Listach. Every Brewers fan and baseball expert thought that the Brewers had stumbled on one of the greatest hidden treasures in all of baseball, but in the end he was nothing more than a shooting star. Shooting stars are beautiful and fun to look at with your girlfriend, but eventually they burn out into the night sky. Now Casey will continue his career in a city synonymous with the end of the Major League road, Pittsburgh.
I always liked Casey as a guy, but his play in 2011 can not be excused. His batting average and on-base percentage dropped 60 points a piece. It’s stunning to me that McGehee’s WAR went from a 3.0 to a -1.0 in just a season. When you have a negative WAR and played in 155 games during a season, almost anyone is going to be an upgrade. I’m sure this deal was in the works during the winter meetings, and was dependant on the Brewers getting Aramis Ramirez. The Brewers got Ramirez, which spelled the end for Casey.
In a way I am glad that the signing of Ramirez and the trade of McGehee happened on the same day. We can all raise our glasses to new beginnings and the dawn of a new era, both in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Naturally, I am not thrilled about the possibility of Casey getting his mojo back and then having to see him 18 times a season, but it is a risk that needed to be taken by the Brewers.
All of the action today certainly draws attention away from Ryan Braun, and right now that is a good thing. On the bright side, we have Aramis Ramirez now. He will fill the unproductive hole left by JHJ and McGehee, while possibly filling the hole Braun leaves for the first 50 games of the season. If you think today’s Ramirez signing was not sped up thanks to Braun’s predicament, you are living in a land made of chocolate oak trees and bubble gum fields. Today’s moves show me, yet again, that the people in charge of the Brewers want to win and I will never be upset with that. No matter how much I like a guy personally.
Goodbye Casey, thank you for giving us something special for a few years. You will be missed.