Brewers general manager Doug Melvin fired the first big salvo of the trading season with the acquisition of reigning American League Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia, which triggered a move by Chicago to get Rich Harden from Oakland.
Melvin wasn't kidding when he said the franchise was going for it in attempting to break a 26-year postseason drought. He also proved he still has a few bullets left, pulling off another trade Sunday to add depth and versatility to the team's lineup and infield.
The Brewers obtained experienced switch-hitter Ray Durham from San Francisco after completing a three-game series and season sweep (6-0) of the Giants.
Milwaukee traded two minor leaguers: left-handed pitcher Steve Hammond, who had struggled at 0-4 since his promotion to Triple-A, and scuffling but speedy outfielder Darren Ford, who was batting around .230 at Class A Brevard County.
To make room for Durham, who'll probably get a couple of starts at second base every week, the Brewers shipped utility player Joe Dillon, a right-handed hitter who was batting .227, to Nashville.
Durham, who sat out the weekend series in the Bay, welcomed the trade before hopping on a plane with the team as it headed to St. Louis for a big four-game set against the Cardinals.
"This was better for both teams," Durham told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "The Giants are going young and the Brewers are dying for a playoff spot. This is a great team. I hope I can help them get to the Promised Land. I think it's a win-win situation for both teams."
That's good to hear but expected from a veteran who would rather play with a contender and chase a ring late in his career rather than watch a rebuilding job.
It would have been nice to get left-handed reliever and Wisconsin native Jack Taschner to fortify what to me is still a fragile bullpen. However, the Giants wouldn't let Melvin get out of town with anything else.
As for Durham, Milwaukee can use all of the left-handed batters it can find to balance out its order, and the fact he bats both ways allows skipper Ned Yost more flexibility in matchup situations. He also brings a little pop, and maybe it will light a bigger fire under starter Rickie Weeks, who has been producing more of late.
One would think that the Brewers are done wheeling and dealing before the July 31 deadline, especially because they've subtracted five players from one of the deepest farm systems in the majors, with a sixth one headed to Cleveland to complete the Sabathia trade at some point.
Again, the job that scouting director Jack Zduriencik and player development guru Reid Nichols have done can't be applauded enough and allows Melvin—with owner Mark Attanasio's approval and checkbook, of course—to pull off such maneuvers.
So, could Melvin wave his magic wand again before he's done? Methinks not, but you can't expect Sabathia, Ben Sheets and Manny Parra to win every time out. But if the Brewers' offense can consistently score like it did against some of the National League's top young hurlers such as San Francisco offered—Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez and All-Stars Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson—during the next two months, then maybe Milwaukee won't need anymore arms to reach the postseason.
Still, I wouldn't put it past Melvin to make yet another move if the opportunity presents itself during the next 10 days, especially if the Brewers don't perform well enough during their upcoming 11-game stretch against Central Division foes, including the Cubs' first trip to Miller Park to end the month.