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Brewers Give Up on 2006 By Trading Carlos Lee to Texas

In the biggest trade of the 2006 Deadline by far, the Milwaukee Brewers have traded outfielder Carlos Lee to the Texas Rangers, for outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, as well as reliever Francisco Cordero. 

The Brewers were still very much in the running for the NL Wildcard this season, but Lee was far and away the biggest hitter in the Milwaukee lineup.  This deal basically says that GM Doug Melvin doesn’t believe the Brewers can be an impact team this season, and he would rather focus on the future.  While it’s surprising that Milwaukee didn’t acquire any prospects in this trade, Mench, Nix, and Cordero have the potential to be solid players for many years. 

Here’s a breakdown of the trade, and my view of it. 

Texas Rangers acquire

  • OF Carlos Lee — Batting .286 with 28HR and 81RBI.  Also, 12SB.  Lee has an On-Base Percentage of .347 and a Slugging Percentage of .549.
  • OF Nelson Cruz — Cruz is a solid prospect who will rise to the top of the Rangers’ depth chart in the minor leagues.  The Brewers don’t have much use for him however, since they have a very OF-rich farm system.

 This has been an big year for Lee, and it could become even bigger as he moves into HR-friendly Ameriquest Field.  Acquiring Lee could push Texas over the edge in the AL West, and Cruz could help Texas in 2007-2008 and in the future.

Milwaukee Brewers acquire

  • OF Kevin Mench — Batting .284 with 12HR and 54RBI.  Mench has an On-Base Percentage of .338 and a Slugging Percentage of .459. 
  • OF Laynce Nix — Hit .094 with 0HR and 4RBI before being sent to AAA Oklahoma City.  Nix has some potential as a future corner-outfielder or 4th outfielder.
  • RP Francisco Cordero — Cordero has gone (7-4) with a 4.81ERA, 1.32WHIP, and 6 saves this season.  He has potential mainly due to his 100+MPH fastball and solid sinking-slider.  
  • P Julian Cordero — Cordero is a decent left-handed prospect, but he’s a long way from making a Major League impact for Milwaukee. 

Mench had been hitting about as well as Lee in prior seasons, but this is certainly a disappointing year for him.  Perhaps his bat will wake up in Milwaukee.

Nix is a solid defensive outfielder but he doesn’t have a whole lot of potential at the plate.  He may need more AAA time to develop any sort of bat, but the Brewers can afford to wait, with their OF-rich farm system and team.

Cordero had been the Rangers’ closer, until he worked himself right out of the job.  He has since been effective as a reliever, but the Brewers may be hoping he regains his elite closer form from 2004.  With the troubles Derrick Turnbow and Dan Kolb have been having, Cordero’s improvement may be key for Milwaukee. 

And now the most interesting question: Who got the best of this trade?

My answer has two parts.  Short term, the Rangers certainly have the edge, because Lee could hit 30 more Homeruns this season, playing at HR-friendly Ameriquest Field.  His presence in an already potent lineup could push the Rangers over the top in the AL West and make them a legitimate World Series contender, if they can find some starting pitching. Long term, this trade is about even.  Lee is all but a lock to continue his terrific production for a few more years, but Mench is just as likely to regain his 2005 form at the plate.  While I think Laynce Nix was a throw-in by Texas, Francisco Cordero may regain his prior status as one of the MLB’s elite closers for Milwaukee, if pitching coach Mike Maddux can help him.  Prospects Nelson Cruz and Julian Cordero have promising MLB careers ahead, but they need much more time to develop.

Bottom line: Texas wins this year, but the Brewers could have the edge in the future. 

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One Response to “Brewers Give Up on 2006 By Trading Carlos Lee to Texas”

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