Well, another way-point in the Hot Stove League has come. Today was the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents, and the market is beginning to take shape. In case you're new to the game, knowing who was and wasn't offered arbitration allows prospective suitors to know if they will be required to forfeit draft picks to acquire a player. There aren't a ton of real worthwhile Class A free agents out there this year. In fact more "name" free agents were not offered arbitration this year than were. So it's less significant than in past years, but it still gives us an idea.
Surprisingly, the Brewers offered arbitration to no one. I thought for sure they'd offer Felipe Lopez. The guy just had the best year of his career, I doubt he'd be to eager to sign a one year deal to be a utility man in Milwaukee. But, apparently the negative of him accepting, and having to give him the raise he'll be due, was deemed greater than the positive of the potential sandwich pick they would get if he signed elsewhere. I'm ok with that. The talk is that the Brewers are pinching their pennies to spend on pitching. Ya think?
The next stop on the Hot Stove Highway is the Winter Meetings, in the baseball hotbed of Indianapolis, IN. This is the real show. This is where shit gets done. So what do we expect out of our beloved Brewers at the Winter Meetings this year. They've already made a ripple by signing cagey veteran lefty John Halama. But something tells me they'll need more than that to improve the rotation. So one would hope that they have something on the agenda to get done down in Indy. What I expect:
-The long rumored Mark Mulder deal will get done (if it's not done before)
-The Brewers will flirt with John Lackey, but nothing will ultimately come of it.
-In fact the Brewers' dire need for pitching help will probably mean their name will come up in discussions for just about every pitcher on the market. But I think they'll probably get done at least one other deal for a pitcher. Whether it's Davis, Bedard, Pavano (who I suggested the Brewers take a look at back on July 27: see comment 3), Harden, Duscherer or someone out of left-field that I can't even think of. They don't have a choice, they have to sign someone.
-There will have to be something done to address the bench depth. I'm curious if Counsell will come back. Man, where would this team have been without Craig Counsell last year? *shudder*
-Maybe a trade. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Crew make a deal. I don't expect a blockbuster, but something on the mid-level wouldn't shock me at all. What's Corey Hart's value right now? (Ok, it's shitty, I know. But I'm just thinking out loud here.)
Whatever it is, it's obvious something has to happen. I don't know what the ideal move is, but I'm very interested to see what transpires.