(Took a brief hiatus, but I'm still here.)
The signing of Corey Hart took me by surprise, as it seems to have most everyone else. Just a few initial thoughts...
1. This does not necessarily mean that he won't get traded anyway. In fact, having him under a 3-year contract might improve his value in a trade.
2. But, by that logic, Ryan Braun would have even more trade value. He's younger and has a much more favorable contract. But Melvin wouldn't do that. Would he?
2. But, the Brewers now have this group of players signed and/or under their control at least through the 2012 season - the next two years.
That's a pretty impressive, solid nucleus of talent.
3. But, that same nucleus of talent, plus Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, is currently 9 games under .500.
4. But, that nucleus of talent is young. Save for Randy Wolf and Joe Inglett, they are all under 30 years old. They could get better.
5. But, seven of those players are past their 27th birthday and at the theoretical peak of their careers (Parra, Narveson, McGehee, Hart, Stetter, Axford, Kotarras). You can't expect that those players will get much better.
Five years ago, when the huge wave of talent came spilling out of the Brewers minor league system all at once, there was an enormous storm cloud on the horizon when all of these players would become free agents. Doug Melvin has dissipated that cloud little by little and now has only Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder left to deal with. I at least give him credit for that.