Whenever anything goes wrong with a professional sports team in Wisconsin, the blame often quickly goes to the team’s general manager. If the Green Bay Packers are bumped from the playoffs early, fans react by saying that Ted Thompson needs to go. When the Milwaukee Bucks again fail to make the playoffs, John Hammond is quickly thrown under the bus.
This season, as the Milwaukee Brewers hit their first bump in the road, many used Doug Melvin as the easy scapegoat. Although they remained one of the best teams in all of baseball and atop the National League, some pointed to his moves and lack of moves this year as the culprit for the slump. But as the complaints continue, Melvin keeps doing all of the right things.
Many of the moves that Melvin made this winter were quickly attacked. A majority of fans hated that the team traded leadoff man Nori Aoki for reliever Will Smith, yet Smith has become one of the best arms on the staff. They complained that free-agent pitcher Matt Garza got too much money and continued to scream when he got off to a rough start. But, those screams have quickly subsided as Garza has become one of the most trusted pitchers in the rotation. They thought Zach Duke was too old to be a contributing arm in the bullpen when signed to a minor-league contract, yet he has become one of the best relievers in baseball. Duke has kept a tidy 1.16 ERA through his first 44 appearances. Finally, they laughed when Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay were signed, yet these players have combined for 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in a platoon.
Besides having all of these moves turn into gold, Melvin has also had a stellar draft and signing period. By drafting and signing three high-ceiling high school players on the first day of the MLB Draft, he dramatically improved a very underrated farm system. On the first day of the international signing period, he made a splash by signing Gilbert Lara, a 16-year-old prospect scouts saw as one of the best power hitters among international players.
As the trading deadline nears, Doug Melvin will again be scrutinized. While it would not be surprising if he made a splash, every move and non-move is certain to be attacked. Some will question why they didn’t go after David Price. Others will be upset that an everyday bat was not added to the roster. Amidst all the scrutiny, this team is not just set to compete now, but they are ready to bring meaningful baseball to Milwaukee for many years to come. Doug Melvin has created a masterpiece that is better than ever before.