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January 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm ET
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Brewers Could Turn Shamwow! Value into Magic Bullet Effectiveness: A Case for Braden Looper

Sure, Braden Looper can mop up 200 innings, but how can he handle those pesky cola spills?Has a small sum of money every burned a hole in your pocket? If so, you know what the Brewers are going through about now.

The same animalistic impulse that led you to bring the Shamwow! into your household is the same force that may find Milwaukee employing an overpaid risk to anchor the back end of its starting rotation.

With some money set aside from departing free agents, a series of inexpensive low-risk acquisitions and some modest arbitration contracts, the Brewers can definitely pony up the dough to bring in a starter of some sort. The question is, who is worth paying?

With Ben Sheets determined to sign elsewhere, names like Jon Garland and Oliver Perez dead set on taking any unsuspecting victim for all the years and cash they have, old names expecting familiar salaries for depleting skill sets and talentless choads like Chuck James wasting column inches on free agent lists, free agent pitching options look pretty bleak. But there are a few decent options out there.

Milwaukee has been routinely connected to Braden Looper and as much as I hate to say it, he might be the best starter out there in their price range. Thinking about Looper as a Brewer is one of the least exciting options out there. In fact, it kind of gives me a mini-seizure to ponder actually being happy to sign an aged, less-than-impressive ex-closer to replace CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets. But for the money, he might be the best remaining pitcher not in pursuit of past glory.

Regardless of the general unsexiness and short ceiling that Looper presents, he’s a better fit to start in Milwaukee than most every other viable free agent starter, including:

• Kris Benson – 33 years old with a 200-year-old arm.
• Paul Byrd – On hiatus.
• Roger Clemens – $25M for an ancient distraction? Milwaukee may as well just sign J.J. Hardy to a huge extension with performance incentives for racial slurs used during interviews.
• Josh Fogg – HAHAHAHAHA!!!
• Jon Garland/Oliver Perez/Randy Wolf/Andy Pettitte – Too expensive.
• Tom Glavine/Orlando Hernandez/Kenny Rogers/Curt Schilling – I’m pretty sure all these guys are dead.
• Charlie Haeger – Who the fuck is Charlie Haeger?
• Kip Wells – Somewhere between Kris Benson and Josh Fogg.
• Mark Mulder – He and Ben Sheets are the only two pitchers in Major League history to actually get hurt in the process of getting hurt.
• Sidney Ponson – Sidney Ponson to America’s drunkest state? Plus he’s terrible.

Whether Looper is the right man for the job remains unknown, but on paper, he – mostly by default, seems to be the best fit. Apart from the chance the Brewers stand pat and keep Seth McClung, Carlos Villanueva or a rehabbed Chris Capuano in their rotation while spending remaining cash to bolster the bullpen (which I’d also be in favor of), Braden Looper seems like the best option – even if it’s only because there’s next to no other cheap and reliable arms left.

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