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What can Brewers do at the Trade Deadline?

What can Brewers do at the Trade Deadline?

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With the Brewers in the National League Central cellar, I'm a bit afraid to look, but let's see what is on your mind in this edition of the Inbox.

With [general manager Doug] Melvin already announcing the Brewers will be sellers this summer, who do you believe will be the guys getting shipped out?
-- @jakelannert on Twitter

A misrepresentation of what Melvin said, but I get the point. It raised eyebrows when the GM told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this month that, "If we make any more trades this year, it's going to be for two or three years from now instead of now. I'm not going to be trading any young players to win games."

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Melvin never said the Brewers would be sellers. But he did say they would not be buyers, which is perfectly logical and expected given their place in the standings, but it was sort of stunning to hear from the usually tight-lipped and open-minded Melvin. Chalk it up as a dose of real talk.

If the Brewers do go into sell mode, whom could they shop? Right-hander Yovani Gallardo would be their most valuable piece, considering he is pitching better and is signed through next season with a club option for 2015. (I asked Gallardo over the weekend in Cincinnati what he thought about the prospect of a trade, and you can read his response here.) Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is also signed through next year and, if he avoids a setback with that balky left knee and begins to hit for power again, looks like the Brewers' most tradable bat. First baseman Corey Hart should top this list, but his slow-healing knee/leg have ruined that prospect. The Brewers could also deal any one of their relievers -- from Francisco Rodriguez to even John Axford, who is pitching much better and, because he is now in his arbitration years, may be beyond what the Brewers want to pay.

Regarding timing: The non-waiver Trade Deadline is still six weeks away (July 31), but doesn't it seem like there is more advantage than ever in making the buyer/seller decision early? With the addition of the second Wild Card in each league, far more teams are either in "buy" or "wait and see" mode, and far fewer willing to trade away their pieces. I wonder if Melvin and the Brewers might try to make a deal early, if they opt to punt on 2013.

Will the Brewers consider sending [Wily] Peralta back to the Minors with other rotation options forthwith?
-- @morgjam on Twitter

I have not heard any talk of that. Peralta has been inconsistent at best and ineffective at worst (his 6.08 ERA is highest of baseball's 99 qualifying starters), but he is barely 24, and this is how it goes sometimes for barely 24-year-olds. I wonder if Brewers fans forget that because it has been so rare that a highly-touted starting pitching prospect starts a season in the rotation. Rookie All-Stars like Ben Sheets are rare. Justin Verlanders (17-9, 3.63 ERA in his first full season) are rare. More common are young pitchers like Tom Glavine (7-17 with a 4.56 ERA in his first full season) and Greg Maddux (6-14 with a 5.61 ERA and 4.3 walks per nine innings in his first full season). It takes patience, and considering where the Brewers sit in the standings, this is a good year to have patience and let Peralta figure it out.

If he does figure it out, at 97 mph with sink, he could be very good. He's got to learn to locate consistently, and maybe to keep his emotions in check amid jams.

Why did Clint Coulter get sent down to Helena today?
-- Sal B., New Berlin, Wis.

Coulter, the Brewers' top pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, tweeted the news that he had been sent to rookie-level Helena from Class A Wisconsin, an apparent demotion. But I'm told it was not a demotion at all, that the plan all along had Coulter spending the bulk of this season in Helena. Instead of confining him to the doldrums of extended spring camp all this time, the Brewers opted to send him to Wisconsin at the start of the season to let him play. Lucky guy, because extended spring is a grind.

The thinking was, unless Coulter absolutely ate up the Class A Midwest League, he would go to Helena once its short season began. And since he batted .207 with a .299 on-base percentage at Wisconsin, it's now time for him to go to Helena.

The early word on his catching is that he's raw but an extremely hard worker. The Brewers are still planning to keep Coulter at that position and see what they've got.

How soon will we see [Jimmy] Nelson or [Johnny] Hellweg in the bigs? Not much to lose in what is obviously a lost season.
-- @TSOneSeven on Twitter

The Brewers brass obviously disagrees. They feel there is plenty to lose by promoting one of those pitching prospects before he is ready, both in terms of service time and in terms of development. The Brewers have to get it right with those two, and don't want to risk the same sort of setback that befell Tyler Thornburg after he was yo-yoed during the second half of 2012.

Side note: Every time I talk to someone from the front office about the pitching in the pipeline, they say they see a number of future big leaguers, and I don't think this is just blowing smoke. If they are able to hit on some combination of Peralta, Thornburg, Hellweg, Nelson, Ariel Pena, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, Drew Gagnon, Brooks Hall, David Goforth, etc., they have the makings of a viable Major League pitching staff in the next two or three years. And we'll see how quickly this year's top Draft pick, Devin Williams, can rise. He traveled to Arizona on Monday to begin his professional career.

Patience.

Are only Jean Segura, Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez safe at the Trade Deadline if the Crew becomes a fire sale? Then is 2014 another rough year?
-- @BeauBaehman on Twitter

If you have no intention of selling your house, and someone knocks on the door one day and offers you $10 million, don't you sell? Anything and anyone can be had for the right price.

What's the timetable on Braun's return?
-- @dekazel on Twitter

This could change based on what the doctors say, but I got the strong sense over the weekend that Braun will spend the minimum 15 days on the disabled list. If his hand heals with that rest, great. If not, then he may just have to play through it, like he'd been doing for several weeks before this DL move. Braun is eligible to return, by the way, in one week -- June 25 against the Cubs.

Any chance the Brewers will be interested in Travis Ishikawa, who recently asked the Orioles for his release?
-- @BrewCrewBall on Twitter

Doubt it. There's nowhere to play him in Triple-A, and if you want him for the Majors, it would be for his defense. The Brewers have been fine defensively at first base with Yuniesky Betancourt and Juan Francisco, though neither has done much with the bat. The Brewers think Francisco is capable of much more at the plate, and will give him some time to heat up while waiting for some kind of breakthrough for Hart.

Will the Brewers extend a qualifying offer to Hart for 2014?
-- @cgbryant24 on Twitter

If they do, they would have to be prepared for him to accept, aim for a healthy 2014 season and then hit the open market again. Considering how hard it was for Kyle Lohse to find a job after going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA last season for the Cardinals, do you see many teams willing to surrender a top Draft pick to sign Hart after seeing him play at best a half-season?

Can anyone on the planet convince [Ron] Roenicke that it's OK for his pitchers to maybe just once or twice throw a complete game?
-- @detassler on Twitter

You don't think he wants to see a bunch of complete games? But he's not going to push a guy to a dangerous pitch count in a blowout game just to get a "CG" in the record book.

By the way, it's been 398 games, regular season and postseason, since a Brewers pitcher last threw a complete game. Yes, the Zack Greinke asterisk is noted.

Is Aoki a possible trade candidate, or will the Brewers try to sign him long term?
-- Scott M., Neenah, Wis.

Aoki is just like a player up from the Minor Leagues -- the Brewers own his rights for his first six years of Major League service. No need to sign him long term unless you do it for the cost certainty.

What's your favorite Haudricourt hat?
-- @akschaaf on Twitter

I once saw him haggle at the Philadelphia airport for a nice Kangol hat, walk away, only to run back to the gate to buy it anyway. That one is my favorite. I'm looking forward to having Tom back at the ballpark -- word is he's making a miraculous recovery from foot surgery and you will see his byline soon.

Thanks for the questions. See you next time.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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