Friday, February 1, 2008

Extensions for young Brewers?

Tom Haudricourt mentions today that Doug Melvin and the rest of the management team are going to seriously be thinking about tying up some of the Brewers' young studs for multiple years. They are specifically going to be looking at Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Corey Hart. Since they will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, Melvin will be looking to lock them up at some type of a discount. This is because salaries consistently jump large amounts in the first year of arbitration-eligibility.

While many fans are quick to say that the Brewers should lock up these players for a long time, there are some significant drawbacks. Here are a few:
  1. If Milwaukee sign these players to a large contract extension, they will be committed to these players even if their production drops off. There is a reason why young players normally do not get contract extensions. The players do not have enough time in the majors to prove some type of consistency for the most part. Weeks, Fielder, and Hart all have spent plenty of time in starting roles, but do Melvin and company think this will continue? Weeks certainly went through a prolonged slump last year. Do the Brewers want to be stuck paying him a large amount of money for mediocre play?
  2. Prince Fielder is a Scott Boras client. Boras clients do not normally sign extensions when they have the opportunity to take a one-year deal and strike it big in free agency. As much as fans love Prince, they will have to realize that Milwaukee cannot afford the paycheck he will be asking for and still craft a quality team around him. Eventually, Prince will be traded for a lot of quality prospects. This is a good thing, however. Don't forget that the Brewers have Matt LaPorta in the system that can switch to 1B very easily. He's got quite the power-stroke too.
  3. Finally, the Brewers are a small market team. Every time a good player comes through Milwaukee, management will eventually have to let him go to a different team because the Brewers cannot afford it. This is not popular with the fan base, but fans need to realize that trading superstars for stars of the future is a pretty good deal. That's how the Oakland A's and the Florida Marlins field competitive teams too. Heck, the Marlins won a World Series, didn't they? I would gladly take five years of losing to go to the World Series every six years. It's not popular, but fans need to look at the big picture.
With all of that said, Melvin will most likely put a fair offer on the table for Prince this offseason. Unfortunately, Boras will probably make Prince reject the deal in favor of arbitration. Weeks could be a candidate for a long-term contract, but don't forget that Hernan Iribarren is a quality prospect that has hit well everywhere he's played. Iribarren could step in for Weeks in a few years. Hart, however, seems to be the likely candidate for a long-term deal. Why? He'll be the cheapest one of the three to sign, and he has the potential to have a breakout year still. If the Brewers sign him before he has the chance to put up big numbers, they will be saving a lot of money.

What are your thoughts?

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