It's always interesting to eavesdrop on a couple brunch conversations during the Packers' bye week.
Forcing local armchair quarterbacks to put their National Football League play-calling sheets down on Sunday is often torture in these parts. It's almost like starting work a day early.
Walking into a favorite spot to watch the other pro football games didn't seem to do much for anyone's Aaron Rodgers withdrawal yesterday -- especially when Brett Favre was on the gridiron... pumping his fist in purple... again.
Not even another Bloody Mary could cure the agony!
A couple regulars in Packers attire glanced in the other direction and saw playoff baseball on the smallest screen in the bar.
Forced to drastic measures, they stopped talking about the Wisconsin-Ohio State debacle on Saturday afternoon and switched gears to the Brewers and Prince Fielder.
The guy in the Donald Driver jersey was pleased that the Brewers had re-signed Trevor Hoffman, but he also suggested that Fielder should be traded for the best pitcher that general manager Doug Melvin could find. How else could the Brewers return to the status of contenders?
Hell's bells! I just shook my head and went back to my breakfast. It was at least the fifth time I'd overheard a similar thought from a frustrated fan since the Brewers' season ended a week ago. After that kind of hot stove talk, my waffle just didn't taste as good.
Sure, the Brewers need pitching, but under no circumstances should the Brewers trade Fielder. Here are a few reasons why:
- If Fielder was to be traded, who protects Ryan Braun in the batting order?
- Since 2007, Fielder and Braun have combined for 233 home runs and 679 RBI. Many Hall of Famers don't have those kinds of numbers over a three-year period.
- Fielder has 130 home runs and 362 RBI since 2007. Braun has 103 home runs and 317 RBI.
- How many pitches in the strike zone do you think Braun would see if Fielder was not protecting him in the lineup? Why break up the best one-two punch in the league?
- How could they possibly get fair market value for the second-most feared hitter in the National League?
- Trading a player like Fielder isn't a smart move for a small-market franchise when it still controls his contract for two more seasons. It is highly unlikely that a dominating young pitcher like Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz would be available to the Brewers even if they shopped Fielder in the offseason. Golden arms like that are almost always untouchable. The Boston Red Sox traded for all-star catcher Victor Martinez and the Philadelphia Phillies made a deal for 2008 Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee at deadline this year. Neither organization gave up its top pitching prospect in the deal.
- Though Fielder is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, it would be nearly impossible to get back what he is worth to the franchise.
- In 2000, when Ken Griffey Jr. was considered the best player in baseball, he was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Cincinnati Reds for four players. Only Mike Cameron and pitcher Brett Tomko made a significant impact at the major league level ... and Tomko lost more games than he won.
- The Brewers can't exactly put a price on Fielder's remarkable durability, either. Those who argue that his body will eventually break down seem to hate both the player and the game. Since becoming the starting first baseman in 2006, Fielder has averaged 159 games a season. He played in all 162 this year.
- The intimidation factor. You don't walk 110 times and have a .412 on-base percentage in a season if most pitchers aren't a little afraid of how you can mistreat a baseball. If Fielder continues to take his walks and be disciplined at the plate, he will have a chance to win a Most Valuable Player soon, especially with Braun hitting in front of him. Even if the Brewers are unable to land a top pitcher in the offseason, the tandem of Fielder and Braun gives the Brewers a chance to have a special offensive club every season.
- People forget that the Brewers were in first place as late as July 1 with a sub-par pitching staff. You can't trade a player that has a chance to hit 50 home runs each season while you still control his contract.
- The turnstile factor. Fans come to the Miller Park to watch the ball travel a long way and Fielder has light-tower power. While Braun is almost certainly the most popular Brewer to local fans, Fielder might get more recognition on the national level. Season ticket holders wouldn't be too happy if the Fielder went elsewhere before the Brewers were forced to move him. Remember that he isn't a free agent until after the 2011 season.
Sure, Melvin understands there is a chance the Brewers will lose him, but the Brewers have a much better chance to return to the postseason over the next two years with Fielder's name written in the lineup card.
Putting together a package that would include third baseman Mat Gamel makes a lot more sense and would probably attract a pitcher that would improve the rotation.
Fans have every right to call for more arms ... but shipping Fielder out of town isn't the best way to get them.
Emmett Prosser is a former sports producer at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online and has covered the Brewers, Bucks and Marquette basketball in many capacities for 13 years.
Prosser also signed a year's worth of 10-day contracts with the Cleveland Cavaliers' media relations department after graduating from Xavier University so he could get three-point shooting tips from NBA great Mark Price. The son of an English teacher and former basketball coach, Prosser attended Marquette high school.
In his spare time, Prosser enjoys live music and fooling people into making them believe he can play the drums. He also serves on the board of directiors for United Cerebral Palsy.