Revisiting The Shaun Marcum For Brett Lawrie Trade

BALTIMORE, MD - Brett Lawrie #13 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Everyone likes a feel-good story. Like that movie Million Dollar Baby. There were probably some characters in that movie who were huge boxing fans, and those characters probably had a really good time at some of those matches. That makes me feel good.

Another thing that makes me feel good: when two teams make a trade and it works out for everyone. The Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to the Marlins for Josh Beckett. The Red Sox won a World Series with Josh Beckett; the Marlins gained a couple of long-term franchise cornerstones. Everybody wins! Everybody's happy! Except for the Yankees. And the Rockies probably weren't too happy that the Red Sox had Josh Beckett. There were probably a few unhappy people, actually.

But the trade worked out for both teams. You can dust off the graphing calculator to figure out exactly which team absconded with the largest pail of WAR, but I'd think the Red Sox and Marlins are just thrilled with how the trade worked out.

There's a chance that another everybody-wins trade is happening before our eyes. Last winter, the Brewers knew they were facing a 2012 that might not include Prince Fielder. They knew they had the offense to compete, but they were putzing around on the pitching side with guys like Doug Davis and Manny Parra. If they wanted to leverage their current talent, they'd have to improve their starting pitching by a substantial amount.

The Blue Jays, on the other hand, knew that just being okay wasn't going to get them far in the AL East. They'd been okay for the better part of the decade. They needed to take risks and turn some of their about-to-get-expensive pitching into long-term solutions if possible.

On December 6, 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays traded Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for third-base prospect Brett Lawrie. And right now, at least, everyone's thrilled.

The Brewers are heading to the playoffs, and in the playoffs they'll face at least one of three very good teams. They'll need at least three, but preferably four excellent starting pitchers. The changeup-fu of Marcum has befuddled the National League to this point, as he has a 120 ERA+ with solid command and strikeout numbers. He could be the #3 in a playoff rotation, and there aren't a lot of teams that have a #3 as talented as Marcum. Well, the Phillies, but those guys are jerks.

Lawrie is having a monster start to his major-league career. The former first-round pick is going nuts on American League pitching in his first go-round, and he's only 21 years old.

But the trade ledger isn't closed just yet. For everyone to be happy, Marcum has to help the Brewers do something in the playoffs. This year would be swell, though next year would also be acceptable. If Lawrie turns into like a monster, Marcum has to give the Brewers their first pennant since 1982, at least. Winning the division almost certainly isn't going to be enough. The Brewers are leading the NL Central by 8.5 games -- they'd be in first even if they had John Lackey instead of Marcum, especially if you assume that Lawrie would have improved on Casey McGehee at some point this season.

A little postseason success will go a long way, though. If the Brewers can leverage their pitching staff and offense into something special, the fans will remember Brett Lawrie only as the guy who laughed a little too hard at Strange Brew. If they get bounced in the first round, they'll wonder what might have been, if they'd kept a Lawrie/Braun/Fielder combo intact ...

So here's hoping that everyone's happy with the trade. The Blue Jays are happy. The Brewers could be, too. All they need to do to remain happy is win 11 of their final 19 playoff games this year. That would be a .579 winning percentage. They're already winning at a .587 clip this season. How hard can it be?

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