Hot Stove Helper: Brewers change their ninth-inning tune

Throughout January and February, we're reviewing offseason MLB transactions that have fantasy implications, and we're going team-by-team. This isn't quite like Hot Stove Daily. The focus here is limited. We're only looking at ownable fantasy players who've found new employers.

Milwaukee Brewers

The gang at Arnold's will have plenty to discuss when the subject shifts from chicks to the current baseball club (we assume they're not rooting for the Braves any longer). Prince Fielder's diet. Ryan Braun's monstrous upside. The ongoing tease that is Rickie Weeks. The departure of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. New manager Ken Macha.

Eventually The Fonz will slide over the jukebox, whack the side of it with his fist, and this rock anthem will pound out. And with that music as our backdrop, it's time to discuss the one major addition to this year's Brew Crew, new closer Trevor Hoffman.

Hoffman signs a one-year deal with the Brewers; base pay $6 million, with 1.5 million in incentives

Hoffman says he was won over by Milwaukee's "attentiveness and aggressiveness" during the free-agent process; that's another way of him saying he was hurt by the messy divorce in San Diego. The Brewers could have saved some money at the closer spot had Salomon Torres decided to return for another year (at $3.75 million), but he retired in mid-November, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. Thankfully for all of Wisconsin, Eric Gagne is no longer on the roster.

Cavernous Petco Park generally received a lot of credit for masking Hoffman's decline over the last few years, but that's misguided – he's actually had a lower road ERA in four of the last five seasons. A gopher problem in 2008 took its toll (eight homers), but Hoffman also spiked his strikeout rate over one per inning and had his best control since 2004. He only blew one save after June 1. So long as the Brewers do their best to limit Hoffman's workload – his biggest problems last year came when he worked on little-to-no rest – he should be able to handle the simple job they're giving him: please get three outs before the world collapses around you. I bet there's a cheap 30-35 saves to be had here, albeit Hoffman's ERA will likely creep over 4.00 for the first time ever. He might be a reasonable value under the Joe Borowski/Todd Jones umbrella, "stink closers" on a budget; Hoffman's ADP currently sits at 183, putting him 22nd among relief pitchers.

Other Milwaukee Themes To Chew On With Your Bratwurst: When is Mat Gamel going to be ready for The Show? … Will Bill Hall hit right-handers well enough to justify full-time duty? … Will anything come from their non-roster spring training invitees? (Chris Capuano, Chris Duffy, Trot Nixon, Ralph Malph?) … Will Yovani Gallardo be a legitimate No. 1 starter by the end of the summer? … Could I hit Jeff Suppan? … What happened to Corey Hart down the stretch last year?

Tomorrow's Stove-Top Surprise: The Houston Colt-45s Astros, readying themselves for the post-Wigginton era.


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