Perhaps Doug Melvin got sentimental looking at an old yearbook and realized his team would start to break up this off-season. Perhaps he was euphoric seeing Prince Fielder crack a three-run shot to seal the All-Star win for the National League. Or maybe he remembers how valuable a Francisco Rodriguez rookie card was worth in 1971. No matter the reason, Melvin made a bad deal in his trade with the New York Mets in giving up two players to be named for K-Rod and his gargantuan contract.
Trading any modicum of minor league talent for K-Rod at this point simply wasn't worth it for a few reasons, let alone giving up two guys (who are anonymous for the sheer fact that it's too embarrassing for Melvin to name real names). K-Rod's contract is already burdensome for less than half a season ($3.5 million). But if he ends up finishing another 20 or so games (21 to be exact), the Brewers must pay him $17.5 million next season as a vesting option kicks in.
In other words, the Brewers gave up prospects and are doling out good money for a closer that they can't even use -- or else they'll pay too much. If Mark Attanasio had this kind of money where Melvin didn't have to worry about it, then he should have extended Fielder a while ago or even made a better run at C.C. Sabathia. The Brewers have displayed a willingness to spend when they believe in their team (and they should), but they're still a mid-market franchise in a divisional race more crowded than the set of Lost.
So for that occasional eighth inning outing, the Brewers are paying heavily -- can you imagine they couldn't have snagged Chad Qualls from the Padres or Octavio Dotel from the Blue Jays for much, much less? It's not that K-Rod has been horrible this year at all -- he has 23 saves to go with a 3.16 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 42 innings. He also is horrible at Citi Field, meaning he might savor his moment out of the spotlight. Again, he's another solid reliever for Melvin. But he's not their closer. Nor is that even an option for more than a handful of games.
A team makes one move, maybe two, at this point in the year to maximize its roster. When a team acquires a bad contract, usually the other franchise eats a lot of money or else goes easy on the players it receives. Yet it seems the Mets made out considerably well even without knowing the specific players they are getting in return. In this instance, Melvin would have been much better off plugging the enormous hole at shortstop rather than spending it all on a "name" reliever when someone else much cheaper could have served the same purpose.