Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
It’s that time again. Welcome to the December edition of ‘Five Things I Know I Think’.
So what am I thinking about this month?
1. I think that trading Norichika Aoki was inevitable. With the Brewers believing a great deal in Khris Davis and Ryan Braun‘s willingness to move to right field, Aoki became expendable. I’ve seen many people around the web complain about the return Milwaukee received for Aoki – Will Smith – and I find that confusing. The people throwing salt on the deal either don’t know much about baseball or think Aoki is a 22-year-old stud. Aoki will be 32 next month and was only under contract for one more season. Smith, on the other hand, is 24 and will be under team control for another five seasons. Plus, Smith is a left-handed pitcher with starting and relief experience. It was a respectable trade for the Brewers.
2. I think it’s a little odd that Yovani Gallardo‘s name wasn’t thrown around during the Winter Meetings. Apparently teams just weren’t interested in the starting pitcher. Gallardo is about to begin the last season of his contract and probably his last in Milwaukee. I don’t see Doug Melvin willing to re-up with him; he’s been too average for too long now. A fresh start may help which is why I was surprised Melvin didn’t field any offers for him.
3. I think that Corey Hart raised everyone’s hopes up when he said he would take a hometown discount from Milwaukee. Instead, Hart took the money and headed to Seattle. (He must not have read the report about how dysfunctional the Mariners front office is.) The Mariners plan to use Hart in the outfield and occasionally as the designated hitter, which Hart said was a big reason he chose Seattle. Coming off two knee surgeries, he’s going to need the rest. It’s sad to see Hart go but this opens the door for Juan Francisco or Hunter Morris (depending on if the Brewers sign/trade for a first baseman).
4. I think Martin Maldonado bounces back a bit in 2014. I mean, he can only improve, right? His offense was abysmal last season, when he hit .169 and produced a negative WAR. Granted, he’s never been known for his bat, not even in the minor leagues. But, as a backup, he’s more than capable of hitting over .200. If he falters again, maybe the Brewers will bring back George Kottaras. Relax, I’m joking.
5. I think this is Jim Henderson‘s last season as the Brewers closer. He might not even last the entire year, as I fear he will suffer the same fate as former Brewers closer John Axford. Luckily, the Brewers are preparing a backup plan with Melvin currently looking for a reliever with closing experience. Like I’ve said before, there’s a reason Henderson spent ten years in the minors.