Friday, January 11, 2008

Transaction Recap: Brewers

Brewers: Signed CF Mike Cameron to a 1-year, $6.2 million deal (Rating: 9/10)

I love this deal enough to have sex with it. It'd be angry sex, since I'm a Cubs fan, but still.

Free agent signings rarely make more sense than this one:

- Low-risk
- Contending team
- Cascade effect

The third point requires some elaboration. Once Cameron's 25-game suspension is up, the plan is presumably to move Bill Hall to third and Ryan Braun to left, pushing Gabe Gross to a super-sub role.

Cameron is no better than Gross with the bat, but the signing substantially improves the Brewers' defense at two positions. They now have a real center fielder instead of a displaced Hall, and a real third baseman instead of Braun. Even if Cameron only gives them 110 games, the defensive upgrades should be worth around 20 runs. (If you don't believe Braun was that bad last year, I implore you to check out some defensive numbers.) Adding Gross to an otherwise weak bench is probably worth another 5-10.

Yes, the Brewers could have shuffled these players around without signing Cameron, but they didn't have a real center fielder on the roster, unless you want to count Tony Gwynn. It's hard enough to move a player of Braun's talent at such a young age, but even more difficult when you don't have his replacement on hand.

Even without those circumstances, this is a hell of a bargain. Cameron's offensive numbers have been held down by PETCO Park, but he still projects as an average center fielder, offensively and defensively. Why pay $90 million over five years for a slightly better version?

Maybe the Brewers should have sprung for Andruw Jones, but $6.2 million couldn't have bought them more of an upgrade than this.

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