Brewers give up a lot for Linebrink 

July, 25, 2007
The Padres added a significant amount of organizational pitching depth, while the Brewers got a struggling reliever who has been very homer-prone this year despite pitching in a terrible home run park.

The Padres may have waited too long to deal Scott Linebrink, because his stuff and performance have been dropping and he's about to become a free agent. Linebrink was an early example of the type of reliever the Padres have now made a specialty of acquiring: average stuff, great control, flat fastballs. Since it's so hard to hit a ball out of Petco Park, pitchers whose stuff might lead to a lot of home runs in a normal park can throw their fastballs with a lot more confidence in San Diego. However, in 2007, Linebrink has had trouble replicating his success of the last few years. His fastball has solid-average velocity, but it's straight and he can't keep the ball down, giving up nine home runs in just 45 innings pitched. Neither of his secondary pitches is a plus, and he's had trouble missing bats this year. It's hard to see how he's going to help Milwaukee's bullpen, especially without the protection of Petco to bolster his confidence in his fastball.

(Incidentally, reports that Linebrink is a Type A free agent after the season are not quite accurate. Those rankings aren't determined until after the season ends because they're based on the statistics from the current season and the season that preceded it -- 2007 and 2006, in this case. So we don't know whether Linebrink will be a Type A free agent, and we won't know until October. And if his ERA keeps rising, he'll hurt the Brewers' chances of getting two picks for him.)