Add the Brewers to the list of teams that could be a fit for Greg Maddux. The shoulder injuries of Tomo Ohka and Ben Sheets seem to be rehabbing normally, so there may not be a vacancy in Milwaukee’s rotation. Still, it never hurts to have too much starting pitching.
Maddux, now 40 years old, is piling on the innings as usual this year. His critics will point to a trend in declining ERAs, but I don’t think it’s that simple. The Professor has continued to pitch like he has since 2003. The only real difference in 2006 is that his hit rate is up to 10.1 per nine. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but researchers have not found the pitcher to have a major influence on the fate of a batted ball. At the most, he might explain 30% of the variance. Luck is a far bigger determinant, and defense and ballpark are signficant too.
Maddux’s ability at this point is probably on par with that of Jeff Weaver. He’s a low 4 ERA type guy, a nice addition for a team in need of depth. He may be worth about 2-3 wins over replacement level from here on out, which may be the difference for a team like the Cardinals, Padres, Brewers, or Dodgers.
If Jim Hendry can find a destination that Maddux likes, pass along the remainder of his $9MM salary, and get a decent young hitter in return, he’s done his job. For some reason I keep thinking of the Brewers’ Corey Hart. He’s versatile and Major League ready, and the Cubs badly need outfield help for the future. The Dodgers’ Delwyn Young could be a possibility, while Ben Johnson could be available from the Padres. Johnson is currently on the DL with a shoulder strain, but he can still be dealt.
Back in April, it was clear Maddux’s value was at its highest point of the season. It wasn’t clear that the Cubs would be this awful, however.