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Brewers GM Doug Melvin lauds Reds' patience in Homer Bailey deal

February 20, 2014|By Kevin Baxter
  • Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey celebrates after throwing a no-hitter last July.
Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey celebrates after throwing a no-hitter… (Joe Robbins / Getty Images )

PHOENIX -- The day before the Cincinnati Reds officially announced they had signed pitcher Homer Bailey to a six-year, $105-million contract extension, Doug Melvin, general manager for the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers, was already admiring the deal from afar.

In his first 81 big-league innings, Bailey allowed 68 runs -- an earned-run average of 7.49. But the Reds stayed with him and over the last two seasons, Bailey has won 24 games, pitched two no-hitters and lowered his ERA to 3.58.

"The Reds had the patience to stay with him and now he's a $100-million pitcher," Melvin said. "I keep telling our people ... would we have the patience to keep the guy? You've got to have patience."

As an example of how that virtue has paid off closer to home, Melvin pointed to centerfielder Carlos Gomez. In his first five major-league seasons, Gomez hit just 25 home runs combined and once led all big-league centerfielders with eight errors.

Last season, he hit 24 homers and won a Gold Glove while making the National League All-Star team and finishing ninth in voting for the league's MVP.

"Two years ago I had to answer questions," Melvin said. "'How long can you put up with Carlos Gomez swinging at balls in the dirt?' 'How long can you put up with Carlos Gomez running into outs or throwing to the wrong base?'

"Well one more year of patience paid off and now we've got a good, young player. It requires patience on a lot of things we do."

This month, Melvin said he was reviewing a list of the 15 worst trades in baseball history and he said the deals -- which included the Dodgers' trade of 22-year-old right-hander Pedro Martinez to Montreal for infielder Delino DeShields -- all had one thing in common.

"All the trades involved giving up young players that became stars," Melvin said. "You didn't have enough patience to wait one more year."

Martinez went on to win 219 games and three Cy Young awards, while DeShields lasted just three seasons with the Dodgers, batting below .250.

"So when you look back it's 'do I hold this player [or] do I let this player go?' It all depends on your ownership, your plan, your fans," Melvin said. "I think there's a perception out there that unless you spend money, it means you don't want to win. It's totally wrong, but it's hard to convince people."

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