It isn’t official yet, but it seems that C.C. Sabathia ia about to become a Brewer. Word is that he will be exchanged for a four player package that centers around Matt LaPorta, an outfielder who is tearing it up in AA this year after being the seventh overall pick in the draft last year out of Florida. A few thoughts on the deal:
1. I like the deal from the Brewers… as long as it works out. The NL doesn’t have a lot of strength this year, so Milwaukee could make a run this year. They may not be able to catch Chicago, but they are currently in the wild card, St. Louis is the only team that is really close,and the Brewers should be better than the Cardinals down the stretch (even without this deal). This move significantly improves their rotation, strengthens the bullpen by allowing them to move a current starter into a long reliever position, and should give them the confidence that comes from a stud pitcher and a player with deep recent playoff experience. My only hesitation from a full endorsement for this deal is that it pretty much has to work this year. It is almost certain that the team won’t re-sign both Sabathia and Ben Sheets, and it is very possible that they will have neither player back next year. This is a bold move for this year, and this year only.
2. That being said, I am okay with them trading away LaPorta. He is hitting well, and he looks like he should be able to continue that in the bigs, but his fielding is reportedly less than stellar. It would be far more attractive to have a player like that around if Milwaukee was still in the AL where they can stick him in at DH.
3. The other piece of upside for the Brewers is that they will get two compensatory draft picks if they are unable to sign Sabathia after this year. That reduces the risk of the deal.
4. It will be very interesting to see what Sabathia can do now that he will get to hit regularly. He certainly has looked good in his occasional attempts.
5. I love the timing for both teams. Cleveland can get on with their season without having the distraction of the inevitable deal hanging over their heads. Milwaukee gets to see him on the mound a couple of times before the all-star break so that he is settled in and ready to go when action heats up again.
6. I will be watching closely to see how he adapts to the change in leagues. We have recent conflicting data on how easy it is for good pitchers to move over to the senior circuit. Danny Haren has pulled it off well, but Johan Santana hasn’t been as good as we might have thought, and Barry Zito has been historically bad.
7. Sabathia’s numbers aren’t great (6-8. 3.83 ERA), but they are deceptive. He was awful at the start of the year, but he has been fantastic since then. Few pitchers have been any better, and he would be even more successful if the Indians could score a run or two.
8. It will be interesting to see if the Indians rise up after this, if they give up, or if little changes. I could imagine each scenario being possible.