Found March 16, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
PHOENIX After the Milwaukee Brewers traded for starting pitchers Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke in December 2010, there was a vocal minority of Brewers fans and baseball observers who suggested that general manager destroyed the team's farm system. To be fair, Melvin did pay a hefty cost, giving up four of the organization's top prospects to land Greinke and a potential star in the making in Brett Lawrie to pry Marcum from the Blue Jays. At the same time, the moves paid dividends for the 2011 Brewers, who won a franchise-record 96 games, their first division title in 29 years and came within two victories of their first World Series since 1992. Greinke and Marcum played leading roles, combining for 29 wins and a 3.67 ERA. As for the players Milwaukee gave up, only shortstop Alcides Escobar was an everyday starter, hitting .254 in 158 games. "It helped that the players we traded for, we were able to keep for two years," Melvin said. "We don't win, we don't get where we were without Greinke and Marcum last year. It's a fine line." Outfielder Lorenzo Cain, once considered the Brewers' center fielder of the future, spent most of the season at Class AAA Omaha, where he hit .312 with 16 home runs and 81 RBI.Two other players -- pitchers Jeremy Jeffress (2-3, 7.12 ERA) and Jake Odorizzi (10-7, 3.73) -- spent their seasons in the Royals' farm system; Jeffress at Omaha and Ororizzi splitting time at Class A Wilmington and Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Lawrie made his major league debut on Aug. 5, going 2-for-4 with an RBI against Baltimore. He appeared in 43 games for the Blue Jays, finishing with a .293 average, nine home runs and 25 RBI. Melvin parted with another prospect, infielder Cutter Dykstra, to land Nyjer Morgan at the end of spring training last year, and in 2008 he shipped top prospect Matt LaPorta along with Michael Brantley and pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson to the Indians for CC Sabathia. All of those players were expected to eventually make significant contributions at the major league level. But after making the playoffs for the second time in four seasons, the Brewers aren't lamenting what could have been had they kept their farm system intact. "It turned out to be good for both sides," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of last winter's deals. "It certainly worked out for us. Impressions aside, the Brewers' farm system isn't quite as devoid of talent as some would think. There are plenty of prospects left, though most of them have been at the lower levels the last few years. Looking at the big picture, the need for stars-in-the-making isn't as big as it was just a few years ago. Of the nine regular position players, three Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks are locked into long-term, multi-year deals; first baseman Mat Gamel is a rookie and several years away from arbitration, catcher Jonathan Lucroy is entering his second full season in the majors and third baseman Aramis Ramirez signed a three-year contract last winter. Take into account that of those players, Ramirez, 33, is the oldest regular signed beyond this season (shortstop Alex Gonzalez is 35 and on a one-year deal) and the organizational structure starts to look a little bit better. Melvin has often said the Brewers' best young prospects are already at the major league level. "We did trade some young players, but it was at the expense of trying to win now and create a winning environment here," Melvin said. The Brewers' prospects don't agree with the notion that the cupboard is bare. "I don't know who's saying that, it's pretty ridiculous," outfielder Logan Schafer said. Schaefer, 25, has had an impressive spring for the second consecutive year and .... "We have an unbelievable amount of talent. We have so many guys in this locker room, and only 25 can go to Milwaukee." Schafer is just one of a number of prospects expected to refine their skills in 2012 with Class AAA Nashville. Caleb Gindl, another outfielder, will be there. So will pitchers Wily Peralta and Mike Fiers. Brewers minor league player of the year Taylor Green, if he doesn't crack the big league roster as a bench player, will likely be the Sounds' starting third baseman. Those names don't have the same kind of appeal as Weeks, Braun, Hart or Fielder, but that's to be expected. Melvin admitted that the caliber of prospect is down compared to years past, but there are simple explanations for that. Put simply, the Brewers are a much better team than they were 10 years ago and are no longer finding themselves among the first five to 10 teams picking in the draft. "You don't get players like that unless you finish last," Melvin said. "The only way to get those impact players is to be one of the five or six worst teams in baseball." Because of that, the opportunity to add can't-miss talents like Fielder or Braun just isn't there, putting the onus on the Brewers' scouting department to do its diligence and find potential contributors. "It's hard," Roenicke said. "Some clubs are fortunate where they do get some surprises. It happens every draft. But it's hard to draft, especially trying to figure out what a high school player is going to become. With college players, it's a lot easier." Still, there is no reason to worry about the future, which the Brewers think has a lot of promise. "When we see the Gindls and the Schafers and the Peraltas," Roenicke said. "I think it's nice to see that there are some guys still coming along that we think are major league players impact players, not just utility players." Follow Andrew Wagner on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Axford backs 'Stache for cash tax break

PHOENIX Add Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford to the list of those supporting proposed legislation to provide an annual 250 tax credit to mustachioed and bearded Americans. "I'm just trying to help bearded and mustached fellows, like myself, try to make this country a little more handsome and better-looking," Axford said Thursday. The STACHE Act (Stimulus to Allow...

Braun getting ready for Opening Day

SURPRISE, Ariz. Of the Brewers' probably everyday players, Ryan Braun has the fewest at-bats (13) this season in Cactus League play. That low total is by design as Braun is working his way into defending his NL Most Valuable Player award but the numbers are way off in relation to past seasons. Braun, who hit .332 a year ago, has gotten off to a surprisingly slow start at the...

Brewers Make 5 Non-Painful Cuts

Scott Paulus/Brewers The Brewers made the first reductions to their Spring Training roster today, cutting five players from major-league camp, according to Media Relations Director Mike Vassallo. Right-hander Taylor Jungmann, lefty Jed Bradley, and catcher Anderson De La Rosa have all been reassigned to minor-league camp, and righty Cody Scarpetta and outfielder/living legend Brock...

Weeks brothers facing off in Arizona

PHOENIX It's a scene that plays out hundreds of times over the course of a 162-game Major League Baseball season: a runner takes a big lead off first base, dances a little bit and once the pitcher takes notice, tries to dart back to first ahead of the throw, only to be caught between two fielders. Such a scene played out in the first inning of the Milwaukee Brewers' March...

Narveson pitches into the 4th, Brewers win

PHOENIX (AP) -- If the Milwaukee Brewers can get anywhere near the same type of starting pitching during the regular season that they are getting this spring, a second straight NL Central title would appear to be well within reach. Left-hander Chris Narveson kept the momentum going on Thursday, pitching 3 2-3 scoreless innings in the Brewers' 6-4 victory over the San Diego...

Go-To Baseball History Site does not Associate Ryan Braun as a MVP Winner

Prominent stats website, for like Wikipedia and sports broadcaster's references, Baseball-Reference.com refuses to identify Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun as the MVP winner that Bud Selig and the MLB awarded him last season. Instead the site chose to leave a blank space, something they don't even do for the years when Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi...

Former Brewers form Royals' young nucleus

SURPRISE, Ariz. The Milwaukee Brewers long admired Alcides Escobar's ability at shortstop, so much so that they parted with longtime starter J.J. Hardy to make room for the young prospect at the major league level. With just two big league seasons under his belt, Escobar was rewarded with a four-year contract extension this week.Unfortunately for the Brewers, he signed that...

Fantasy Forecast: Milwaukee Brewers

Author: Andrew SwansonAs Brewers fans slowly thaw this spring from a cold and unforgiving winter, they will be pleasantly surprised to see a Milwaukee team that addressed a much needed weak spot this off-season: Starting Pitching. With the additions of Zack Greinke and Sean Marcum to a rotation already consisting Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf, the Brewers may now have enough pitching...

MLB 2012 Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

Oh St. Louis, I have good news, bad news and awful news. The good news is: St. Louis will be raising the World Championship banner over Busch Stadium Opening Day. The Bad News is: you’re going to be raising it without Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols. The awful news: Rafael Furcal is your shortstop for the next two seasons. We’ll get into how bad he is later, but really it...

Brewers 6, Padres 4

If the Milwaukee Brewers can get anywhere near the same type of starting pitching during the regular season that they are getting this spring, a second straight NL Central title would appear to be well within reach. Left-hander Chris Narveson kept the momentum going on Thursday, pitching 3 2-3 scoreless innings in the Brewers' 6-4 victory over the San Diego Padres. In three...

Gallardo allows four runs in SS loss to KC

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Luis Mendoza held Milwaukee's split squad hitless until the fifth inning and the Kansas City Royals beat the Brewers 9-4 Friday. Mendoza struck out seven in 4 2-3 innings. He allowed one run on two hits without a walk. Mendoza was the Pacific Coast League 2011 pitcher of the year. He has given up one run and five hits in 10 2-3 innings in three spring...

Estrada and Brewers' backups fall to Mariners

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Felix Hernandez limited Milwaukee to one hit in six scoreless innings in his second-to-last outing before Seattle leaves for Japan, helping the Mariners beat the Brewers 6-1 in a split-squad game Friday. Hernandez threw 80 pitches, 50 for strikes. He struck out six and walked one. Hernandez will likely make his final spring start Wednesday before the team departs...

30-1 MLB countdown (MLB previews) #12:Milwaukee Brewers

30-1 MLB countdown #12 Milwaukee Brewers Bookmark It Hide Sites $$('div.d33366').each( function(e) { e.visualEffect('slide_up',{duration:0.5}) });
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.