In a bold move by the Brewers' front office, a blockbuster deal was finalized at a press conference this morning, which sent the Indians' staff ace and reigning AL Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in exchange for a wealth of prospects - AA OF Matt LaPorta, AAA P Zach Jackson, low-A P Rob Bryson, and high-A 3B Taylor Green. LaPorta is generally considered the top prospect in the Brewers organization, and one of the tops in the nation, and although he probably won't be "major league ready" until next season, look for him to be on Cleveland's big league roster immediately. He was hitting .288 with 20 HR and 66 RBI for the Stars leading into this trade. Jackson has struggled mightily this year but still remains one of the top arms at Nashville, and he does have nearly a season of major league service time under his belt. Bryson is the wild card in the group, a 31st round selection last year. Taylor Green shows a lot of promise at third base for Brevard County and was voted the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year last season.
This trade is good for Cleveland since they desparately needed a bat in the lineup, and to unload some payroll. There are several reasons why Doug Melvin and myself like this trade and why it's best for the Brewers:
(1) The future is now - With Prince refusing a long-term contract offer similar to Braun's in favor of year-to-year arbitration, and with Sheets already being quoted as wanting to explore the free agent market, the time for the Brewers to win is this year. They have the best record in the majors since the "Boston Massacre" (May 20) and have pulled to within 3.5 of the Cubs and are in a tie for the NL Wild Card with the Cardinals.
(2) Compliment to Ben Sheets - Sabathia now provides the rotation with that 1-2 punch that can match up with every team in the National League come playoff time. If you add on top of that the nearly guaranteed 10-12 wins you get from Suppan, and the dominance of Manny Parra in the last 2 months, the Brewers have a solid 3 1/2 starters in the rotation now. Despite Sabathia's record, he has a sub-4 ERA and always gives you 7-8 innings a start, both important to the bullpen down the stretch.
(3) Depth in the farm system - The main reason to develop the farm system as the Brewers have is obviously to eventually see them shine at the Major League level without having to spend large free-agent dollars. The other reason, however, is to provide a team such as the Brewers with trading chips. AA-Huntsville has 10 all-stars this year, and the farm system also features highly-touted prospects such as Hernan Iribarren, Jeremy Jeffress, Mark Rogers, and 2008 top draft pick Brett Lawrie at other levels. As Melvin sees it, the system is so deep that he could afford to part with LaPorta and others, even if Sabathia is a half-season rental.
(4) Worst Case scenario is not that bad - The worst-case scenario here is that we lose both Sheets and Sabathia to free agency. If this happens, we receive 5 of the top 35 draft picks in 2009 as compensation, and let's not forget that Gamel and Escobar will most likely be on the big-league squad next year, Gallardo will be back, and we still have many more trade chips and a large enough payroll to go and get somebody else in the offseason. However, it seems highly unlikely to me that we wouldn't get to sign at least one of these two guys, and hopefully Sabathia's presence will motivate Sheets to re-sign here, and vice versa.
Sabathia's tenure as a Brewer starts tomorrow as he takes the hill against the Rockies at 7:05 at Miller Park. Playoffs here we come!!!
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 07.07:
Brewers 49-39, -3.5 (4 v. Rockies, 3 v. Reds)
Reds 43-47, -10.5 (3 @ Cubs, 3 @ Brewers)
Twins 50-38, -1.0 (3 @ Red Sox, 3 @ Tigers)
RACE FOR 2008 "MOST GAMES ATTENDED" TITLE:
Erik - 20
Peter - 28