Lately, I'm sensing an interesting dynamic between the two Journal Sentinel Brewers beat writers, senior writer and King Panda Tom H. and junior writer Anthony Witrado.
Witrado, you see, has been doing two main things in his chats and other media appearances ever since the Brewers fell out of contention: Advocating a trade of either Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun this off-season in the hunt for starting pitching, and bitching about Ryan Braun's defensive effort. He's been pushing for a Prince trade for a while now, and has more recently been taking Ryan Braun to task for what he seems to think is his defensive loafing and stat-seeking ways on offense. He's also started saying that he thinks the Brewers are discussing a trade of Braun - he said so in a recent radio appearance on AM 1250.
Most recently an intrepid chatter named Brandon from Milwaukee called Witrado out in the latest Witrado chat (sidenote - a major failure on the part of our blog for failing to ask ridiculous questions of Witrado - our bad):
Q: brandon, milwaukee - when the hell are you going to shut up about trading prince fielder and ryan braun? Nobody is unhappy with anything, those guys are just dissapointed and they expected better (and rightfully so). When youre best player speaks out about the teams performance (expecially the pitching staff) that player(especially if hes doing HIS job) has the right to say "hey we are not playing well as a group". Thats leadership, take notes. and he can say our pitching is bad, just like you, me, and everyother fan will agree this teams pitching staff this year "SUCKED". again, braun DID NOT ask for a trade, so my advice to you is to put a damn sock in it, and stop it with these ridiculous rumors about trading fielder and braun because it WILL NOT HAPPEN!!!!!!!!!
A: Anthony Witrado - Bitter much? ... Also, I'm nowhere near the only person saying these things, including some in the Brewers organization. You might have separation anxiety if these guys leave, but there are docs who can help out with that kind of stuff, I hear.
Haudricourt, on the other hand, has pretty consistently argued against trading Prince at this point, saying that it rips a hole too gaping in the middle of the lineup, starting pitching be damned. I don't recall him even addressing a Braun trade, which makes little sense given the length of time on his fairly team-friendly deal.
Today, King Panda attended the Brewers' season-ending presser. And right off the bat, asked the Mustache about trading Prince or Braun in search of pitching.
The Brewers are willing to do most anything this winter to improve their pitching staff.
Except trade either Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun.
That was made quite clear Wednesday afternoon at the Brewers' annual end-of-the-season press conference at Miller Park. GM Doug Melvin said he might have to sacrifice some offense this winter to improve his woeful starting pitching.
So, I asked point blank if that meant either Braun or Fielder might be sacrificed and Melvin seemed taken aback by the idea.
"That would be a tough one," said Melvin. "I didn't mean it that way. I don't see that happening."
In separate discussions I had with Melvin and assistant Gord Ash after the news conference, they said they just didn't see getting value back in pitching by trading Braun or Fielder, who form the most productive offensive duo in the majors.
"That's the great debate," said Ash. "What helps you more, the No. 1 starter or the top slugger? I'll go with the hitter. There's so much uncertainty wtih pitching. You have to be open-minded with anything but some players are more painful to trade. There comes a time when financial implications come into play but we're not at that point with either one."
Was King Panda finally trying to shut Witrado up about his theories? Show him that his "sources" in the Brewers organization were f'ing with him to make him look silly (sillier?) with his Braun trade rumors? Or was he just asking the question that everyone is interested in going in to this offseason?
Probably a little of both.
I also think that Witrado is going to be somewhere else next season. I think Ryan Braun has that much power - he is going to demand that the Journal Communications trade Witrado's ass off to the Appleton Inquirer to cover the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers or something next season.
So look for a new beat writer next Spring to replace Witrado. Just a hunch.