By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jul 12, 2009 at 10:16 AM
Here's an idea: Doug Melvin should send Bill Hall, Frank Cattalanatto and, say, Jeff Suppan to Toronto in exchange for Roy Halladay.

If only it were that easy.

A little more than a year has passed since Melvin pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade that brought Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in the hopes of bolstering the rotation for a playoff run.

The move paid off, barely, as Sabathia carried the team on its back and into its first playoff appearance in 26 years. Of course, the move also came at a high price, as Melvin sent top prospect Matt LaPorta, and a couple of talented minor leaguers from lower in the farm system, to complete the deal.

Now, with the Brewers floundering on the verge of the break, just about everybody wants Melvin to make another move, with the Blue Jays right-hander drawing a majority of the interest.

Now would not be a good time for holding your breath.

Bringing Halladay to the Brewers would no doubt be a good move, at least on paper. He's got the stuff and the resume that would seemingly cure the Brewers' recent pitching woes. Plus, with roughly $7 million or so remaining on his contract this year and another $15 due in 2010, his salary wouldn't necessarily break the Brewers' bank.

But the real cost of such a pickup lies a little deeper. There's no way Toronto GM J.P. Riccardi would be foolish enough to deal his best player for Milwaukee's well-known under-performers. Including J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart in such a trade would also defeat the purpose as, like it or not, they're centerpieces of the team at the moment, just a level below Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

That leaves the minor league system, which features a pair of prospects in Mat Gamel and Alcedies Escobar that are highly coveted by other teams, yet considered untouchable by Melvin.

That's a smart move on the GM's part, no matter how unpopular that decision may be among the fan base.

The fact of the matter is, the Brewers can't afford to part with any more top prospects. At least, not right now. Franchises like Milwaukee are so dependent on their minor league systems. How did the Brewers get to this level in the first place?

Melvin gave up three pitchers to snag reliever Scott Linebrink in 2007 and parted with some serious last year to snag Sabathia. Considering the complete lack pitching down on the farm, holding on to whatever significant talent that remains is crucial.

And at the same time, breaking up the nucleus -– even for a top-line pitcher –- during the height of a pennant chase is akin to waving a white flag. What good is bringing in a No. 1 starter, when you replace key position players with guys that have little to no significant major league experience?

At some point, fans need to decide what price to put on a championship. Sure, this city hasn't celebrated a World Series victory since 1957. But, is a Wisconsin Avenue parade worth it if the franchise doesn't have the talent stockpile that will keep it in contention for years to come?

It's almost certain that Melvin will make some sort of move before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But getting ones hopes up that a player like Halladay or Erik Bedard will be stepping on the mound at Miller Park is a risky proposition.

Instead of those high-profile guys, Melvin will instead pursue the likes of Arizona's Doug Davis or even Seattle's Jarrod Washburn. Nope, those names aren't sexy and probably won't spark a run of 22 straight sellouts, as Sabathia did a year ago. But that's not what they'd be brought to Milwaukee to accomplish.

Those are veteran arms that can eat innings, resting the bullpen and giving the offense a chance to work  its magic. And, most importantly, they would both be free agents after this year, commanding a lot less in trade value and, theoretically, bringing back more draft picks in return that will keep the Brewers in the hunt for years to come.