Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Milwaukee Brewers Place Shaun Marcum on Waivers

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Folks, I really don’t understand the Milwaukee Brewers front office moves these days.  Case in point, today’s move — placing right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19 ERA) on waivers.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s story by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:

The Milwaukee Brewers placed right-hander Shaun Marcum on trade waivers Tuesday, thinking strategically as the deadline for setting postseason rosters looms at midnight Friday ET.

Skipping down a few paragraphs, Rosenthal says:

If Marcum is claimed, the Brewers will have nearly 36 hours to negotiate a trade with the claiming team. If he clears, they will have the same amount of time to discuss Marcum with multiple clubs, possibly enabling them to get a stronger return.

Now, as to why I think this move is inexplicable?  Marcum is only thirty years old — thirty.   Up until the  2011 postseason, Marcum pitched very well for the Brewers (13-7, 3.54 ERA).  A strong case could be made that without Marcum, the Brewers wouldn’t have made the postseason at all, as Marcum was one of the cornerstones of the vaunted Brewers pitching staff.

So here’s a proven veteran who isn’t considered “too old” by most baseball people, who likely will snap back next year after significant arm problems in 2012 — and who pitched quite credibly a few days ago on August 26, when he gave up zero earned runs in a 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh.  (In fact, the Boston Herald called Marcum’s return “solid” in their story.)

And the Brewers waive him?  Why?**

Apparently it’s because the Brewers front office has decided not to offer Marcum a contract for next year, and rather than keep Marcum around, they’d rather he catch on elsewhere so maybe the Brewers won’t have to pay him so much.

Typical Brewers penny-pinching nonsense, which I thought owner Mark Attanasio was going to do away with . . . yet he hasn’t.  (Strange, that.)

This is the second move in the past week that I haven’t totally understood (after the release of left-hander Randy Wolf).  And because it’s being bruited about that the Brewers front office is being “smart” about waiving (and/or releasing) pitchers that obviously aren’t in their plans, I figured I’d mention the human side — which really does matter, even in major league baseball.

To wit: after seeing the Brewers front office cold-heartedly cut Wolf on his thirty-sixth birthday, then waive Marcum a few short days after Marcum did all he could to help the Brewers win a ballgame (not Marcum’s fault he got an undeserved loss there, as he pitched well but the Brewers defense let him down), why would any pitcher want to sign here?  For any money?

Look.  The Brewers have a “player’s manager,” Ron Roenicke; I have my differences with him, but one thing I will say for him is that he treats people with respect.  And that’s a good thing.

But the Brewers do not have a “player’s front office.”  And everyone in the league knows it.

As I’ve been saying all season long, if I’d have been Randy Wolf — who pitched far better than his record or ERA shows (Wolf was ahead in eight games when he left, then the Brewers bullpen blew the win, or he’d be 11-10 right now) — I’d never have come back here.  And if I were Shaun Marcum, even before this nonsense, I’d not want to come back here, either, for the same reasons (Marcum, like every pitcher on the staff, has been victimized either by poor defense or blown saves from the bullpen).

Now, the Brewers front office has given every pitcher in the league yet another reason to think twice.  And even for a league that’s far more concerned with performance on the field than they are with high character, highly-motivated people, the Brewers front office has shown itself to have very little class, and even less respect for starting pitchers, than most of the rest of the league.

And while it’s understandable that on-the-field performance would be the determining factor, some things need to be taken into account (such as the Brewers often-poor defense and the real problems in the bullpen this year, that I and every other commentator in “Brewers Nation” have noted).  These things were not taken into account in Wolf’s case, and they certainly haven’t been taken into account in Marcum’s, either.

So my point remains: if you were a free agent starting pitcher, why on Earth would you want to come to Milwaukee?  Because sooner or later, the Brewers front office will treat you this way, too — and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no amount of money that will make up for bad treatment.

—————

** Unless Marcum wants to be waived, this move is inexplicable.  My assessment of the cold-bloodedness of the front office staff with regards to these two moves stands.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

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