The Brewers laid the ground work for the biggest deal this off season, regardless of what happens come July 31st. While it isn't carved in stone yet, the Brew Crew and Indians have laid down the basics for a potentially colossal trade. The Brewers get C.C. Sabathia and the Indians get Matt LaPorta (23 years old) and a couple of other prospects. What does this mean? Well, it means a lot of things.
First, the actual move, it looks like a great move for both teams right now. A lot of teams were interested in C.C. The Red Sox, D-Backs, Dodgers, Phillies, Rays, and most importantly the Cubs. If the Cubs got their hands on C.C., you could pretty much close the book on the NL Central. But instead of a Zambrano/Sabathia duo in the division, now there's a Sheets/Sabathia killer combo instead. This is a huge deal for the Brewers who are trying to win right now. They're already ranked 6th in the NL with a 4.08 ERA and this will do nothing but help. Both Sheets and C.C. could be gone next year to bigger and better deals if/when they bolt for free agency. It's a good chance that the Brewers gave up their biggest prospect and then some more for a rental. But this is some damn rental. The Brewers have not had pitchers of Sabathia's caliber very often so this is special. With this pending move, you can pencil the starting rotation as follows:
1. Ben Sheets (10-2, 2.77 ERA)
2. C.C. Sabathia (6-8, 3.83 ERA)
3. Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.30 ERA)
4. Dave Bush (4-8, 4.74 ERA)
5. Manny Parra (8-2, 3.69 ERA)
The Brewers now have 2 dominant aces at the top (both a right and a left arm) and a somewhat shaky but experienced bottom of the order (except for Parra, who's been a pleasant surprise this season). While Milwaukee's biggest issue has been the bullpen, adding an ace of Sabathia's class will eat up a ton more innings and lessen the workload of the pen. Don't let Sabathia's stats fool you; he'll make a big difference with his new team. After getting off to an absolutely dreadful start, he has been virtually unbeatable recently and moving to the National League should only help him. It also didn't help his record that the Indians have been shockingly horrible this year. With Sheets throwing some of the best ball of his career ( I know he gets injured too much but in his contract year he'll try his best to stay healthy) , Parra catching on in the back of the rotation, Suppan supplying the much needed playoff experience, and David Bush slowly improving, I can see this team going deep into October. With that said, this move doesn't punch their ticket just yet. The bullpen is still a huge issue, but this helps lessen the blow. Now, if the Brewers can somehow go out and get Brain Fuentes, then we'll be talking. This also hurts the Cubs very much. They could use a dependable arm in the middle of the rotation and no one else available comes remotely close to the workhorse that is Sabathia. But, out of all the reasons why this helps the Brewers, the #1 reason is still this: What they gave up. Now obviously, we don't know who else along with Matt LaPorta is in the deal, but we do know that none of the other huge prospects Milwaukee had (Alcides Escobar or Mat Gamel) were included. They big piece they did give up in LaPorta was expandable for this team. He's a great hitting outfielder and the last thing the Brewers need right now is hitting. They're trying to win now and this move reflects that loud and clear.
For the Indians, this was a good move. They're traded C.C. to a different league so they won't have to face him or give him to a rival, they traded him while his stock was at the highest (it was clear once C.C. rejected the $72 million deal during the off season from The Tribe, he would be traded. Just had to pick the right time), and most of all they got what they need. The Indians offense right now is a wasteland and they need a corner power guy in the worst way possible. Matt (who was the top rated prospect overall in the Brewers organization and a converted first basemen turned outfielder) was in Double A this year and was raking the ball, hitting .288 with 20 homeruns and 66 RBIs in 84 games. There is very little doubt that Matt will shoot through the Cleveland farm system and be the starting in the field soon. This has been a lost year for the Indians organization and this move needed to be done. They weren't going to re-sign C.C. Out of all the teams, the Brewers gave up what the Indians needed most and they did it nice and quick.
Sabathia's first start should be against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, which would be a good taste of what's to come for C.C. since the Rockies can pound the ball over the yard just like the Brew Crew. But either way, this was a very good deal for both teams that will improve each in the short or long term. I'll say it now: Brewers take the Wild Card. With this 1-2 punch and that explosive offense, they'll outlast the Cardinals and any other 2nd place team. Hell, I can even see them winning the division. Although they must prove to me that they can play fundamentally sound baseball after the All Star Break. As for the Indians, maybe next year.