Back in December, the Brewers made a very surprising trade, sending third baseman Casey McGehee to the Pirates in exchange for hard throwing reliever Jose Veras. At the time of the trade, the spotlight was on McGehee leaving Milwaukee following a down season after two great seasons. But, with Spring Training nearly here, it’s time to take a closer look at what the Brewers got in return.
That would be Veras, a right-handed setup man who can throw in the mid-t0-high 90’s. Last year, with Pittsburgh, he went 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA while setting up for All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan. He obviously won’t serve that same role with the Brewers, but still will have big shoes to fill.
But first, let’s look at his numbers before he went to the Pirates. Veras has a career ERA of 4.11 with the Yankees, Indians, Marlins, and Pirates. His numbers have been a bit inconsistent over the years, though. For instance, in 2008, he had a solid 3.59 ERA in 60 games. But, the next year, he had a 5.19 ERA in 47 games. Since then, his ERA has been pretty steady, as he had ERAs of 3.75 and 3.80 in 2010 and 2011 (respectively). But I’m just worried he could fall back into those habits of giving up runs.
Another worry of mine for Veras is his tendency to give up a lot of walks. Over his career, his been very prone to walk batters, and has never had a BB/9 lower than 4.1.
But, on the positive side, he’s also been a strikeout pitcher over the last few years. In 2010 and 2011, he had a K/9 of at least 10. That’s something the Brewers need in the bullpen- a guy who can come in and strike batters out in jams.
Also, there won’t be as much pressure on Veras in Milwaukee as there was in Pittsburgh. Last year, he was the Pirates’ eighth inning guy, setting up for Hanrahan, but that won’t be the case in Milwaukee. Barring a trade before the season starts, the Brewers have Francisco Rodriguez setting up for John Axford, one of the best 1-2 bullpen punches in the Majors. But, Veras will still have to fill the spots of veterans LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito, who both departed via free agency earlier this offseason.
Overall, I think Veras is a decent pickup for the Brewers, as long as he can put his walk tendencies behind him. Unfortunately, I’ve heard Pirates fans refer to him as “awful” and that the Pirates definitely got the better end of the trade. Unless McGehee has a huge bounceback year next year, I wouldn’t take it that far. But let’s hope Veras is better than they say.