I remember how weary Doug Melvin looked, the exhaustion in his voice when he met the media shortly after firing Ken Macha on Oct. 4. The Brewers general manager was a man searching for answers but seeing none on the horizon. A man equally surprised and despondent at how his baseball club’s fortunes had slipped so far so fast, from being toast of the town in 2008 to mere toast in 2010.
I’m guessing he feels a tad better today.
OK, a lot better.
What Melvin has done in a little more than two months is absolutely amazing. He hired a new field manager, Ron Roenicke, who’s so highly regarded that if he weren’t in charge of the Boys of Summer, he might be in charge of Boys Town. He traded for a quietly effective pitcher in Shaun Marcum without having to lay a finger on the Brewers’ big-league roster.
And now, just when it seemed like Melvin might be unable to do much more, he’s added a Cy Young pitcher to the mix. The stunning notion, first broached late Saturday by Bernie’s Crew blogger Jim Breen and advanced by Andrew Wagner of OnMilwaukee.com, is a remarkable reality.
Yes, Brewers fans, your newest pitcher is Zack Greinke. Not an aging free-agent veteran who demanded a payroll-punishing salary. Not some young kid with great stuff and even greater uncertainty.
They don’t give these Cy Young Awards at carnivals and cotillions, folks. You earn them by being the best, and if you do so while wearing a Royals uniform, then you have to be off-the-charts best.
And if that’s not enough…
“He’s excited about coming here,” Melvin told Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy. “He’s motivated.”
Motivated to come to Milwaukee. Will the wonders ever cease?
Indeed, Greinke waived a no-trade clause that included the Brewers because he thought they could win now. That’s confidence.
Melvin and Attanasio made this move because they must win now. That’s audacious.
Milwaukee has owned one of baseball’s best offenses for years, but it’s gone to waste being paired with one of baseball’s worst pitching staffs. And now that the offense’s days are numbered, with Prince Fielder almost certainly approaching his final Brewers season and Rickie Weeks also due for free agency after 2011, Melvin took a leap of faith.
He shipped off his young talent, his potential talent, in exchange for proven talent.
He snared somebody coveted by heavyweight clubs like the Yankees and Rangers and Dodgers, and left more than a few mouths agape.
Will the Brewers miss Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress in the future. Perhaps. Same goes for Brett Lawrie, the top prospect who was traded for Marcum. And if a couple of those guys become All-Stars, there will certainly be pangs of regret.
But how much would the Brewers have regretted not making this move? How grating would those what-if whispers be if the Brewers didn’t do everything in their power to take full advantage of this opportunity? And how would Brewers fans have remembered these potentially golden years of Milwaukee baseball if they were tarnished by inaction?
Melvin obviously didn’t want to answer those questions. He saw his chance to put this team over the top, and he took it. He turned one of baseball’s worst pitching staffs into one of its best, one that features an astonishing three Opening Day starters from 2010. And he did so while keeping the core of baseball’s best offense together.
Take a bow, Brewers officials. Take a break from pessimism, Brewers fans. This is a move to celebrate.
It’s a magnificent metamorphosis. Two months ago, Melvin was rightfully worried about Milwaukee’s baseball future.
But now, the future be damned. Because the future is now.