Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sabathia to the Brewers? It's More Likely Than You Think.

One year ago at this time, the Brewers looked like good odds to either win the NL Wild Card or their first ever NL Central Division title. But as we got deeper into the summer, the Brewers started faltering a bit, and those pesky Cubs from Chicago were right on their tail. If the Brewers were going to live up to their dreams of the postseason, they would need to make a move. They'd become buyers at the Trade Deadline, something we haven't seen in Milwaukee for... well, a really long time. And after countless hours on the phones working other GM's, Doug Melvin finally got his catch, the man to help put us over the edge.

Scott Linebrink.

As you well know, that trade didn't really have the effect Melvin may have been looking for. Linebrink's career as a Brewer was short and inconsistent, and he's now pitching on the South Side of Chicago, long out of the memory of Brewers fans. Milwaukee gave up some good prospects to get Linebrink too, in Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, and Steve Garrison. Those three pitchers have a fairly decent chance of all being on the Padres big league roster withing a couple of years. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the Brewers lost that deal.

Looking back though, I can't say I disagree with the move. I supported it at the time, and I'll support it today. The Brewers needed bullpen help, and Scott Linebrink was a good option. It was one of those high risk, high reward scenarios. Give up three decent prospects for a guy who may or may not be able to turn his season around in a new environment. It's a great deal if it would have worked out and earned the Brewers a trip to at least the playoffs.

You'll never find me arguing against a high risk, high reward scenario. Then again, I've always been a gambling man. I can't tell you how much money I've spent gambling money away in my life (Powerball, Crossword scratch-offs, Chip-In Casino in Escanaba, Michigan). Was it stupid? In hindsight, yes, but hindsight's 20/20. I blew the money then hoping for a huge payday, similiar to how Melvin blew the development of those prospects hoping for a huge payoff. Melvin took a gamble last year, and I hope he doesn't drift from that school of thought this year.

So what do the Brewers need? Well, barring injury, I'd say the offense is in decent shape. There have been a lot of trade rumors regarding the Brewers in recent weeks, and I can't recall any of them including a hitter. As Gord Ash said himself, the Brewers are looking for pitching. Specifically, starting pitching.

The Brewers' staff is currently pitching better than they have all season, but as the old adage goes, you can never have too much pitching. Remember in the beginning of the season, when the Brewers had their pitching surplus? After they cut Claudio Vargas loose, and lost Chris Capauno and Yovani Gallardo to injury, it became Milwaukee's biggest need. While the guys that have filled in have been pitching well, you never know when that next injury will occur or when one of them will go all Cappy '07 on us.

Let me finally get to the point of this column, if I may. The biggest name this trade deadline season is the Indians C.C. Sabathia, and he seems to be the focus of the Brewers trade discussions as well. The speculation around him coming to Milwaukee isn't as intense as it may have been a week ago, but I would say this deal has about a 30% chance of happening. A recent Ken Rosenthal column suggests the chances might be even better than that. Realistically though, if the Brewers were to get Sabathia, it would likely just be a rental. It's going to take a lot of money to get the 2007 AL Cy Young award winner to settle down in Milwaukee, much more money than I think we'd be able to, or are willing to, give. With that said, I still say it's a trade the Brewers need to try to pull off.

First, let's look at the negatives to such a deal:

1) Goodbye LaPorta or Gamel (or...gulp...both)?

You'd think either Matt LaPorta or Mat Gamel would have to be included in a deal to acquire Sabathia, even though I've heard the Brewers are going to do whatever it takes not to let either of those guys go. If I'm the Indians though, I don't make that trade without one of them. The Brewers do have a deep system though, and the Indians could definitely make this trade worth their while in the long run. However, I don't see them taking a deal where Alcides Escobar is the headliner.

2) High Risk...

Imagine C.C. Sabathia in a Brewers uniform. Imagine him getting hurt in his first appearance in said uniform. It's a real possibility, which would make any such deal one of the worst trades in baseball history that didn't involve Richie Sexson.

3) The Brewers wouldn't be able to sign Sabathia long term.

If the Brewers trade for Sabathia, it wouldn't be because they want to see him pitch at Miller Park for the next 5 years. It will be because they want to make the playoffs and win the World Series. What better time to make a push at it than now? Again though, it's a high risk for a high reward.

Naturally now, the positives.

1) Think about it, it's C.C. Sabathia!!!

This guy is one of the best pitchers in the game. In his last four starts, he's gone 3-0 and posted a 1.13 ERA. Why we wouldn't be going after this guy? I really think this year's Brewers team is better equipped for a postseason run than last season's, but so are this year's Cubs team. If the Brewers are going to keep up with them, they are going to need to bring in all the quality players they can. And how good would a Sheets/Sabathia/Suppan/Parra/BushClung rotation be?

2) We'd gain back the prospects we'd lose (in terms of draft picks anyway).

When the Brewers lost Scott Linebrink this offseason, they were rewarded with the 35th and 54th picks of this year's draft. Those picks are much higher than the picks we used to get guys like Inman. Sabathia leaving, and not to mention if Sheets leaves, would net a good of picks as well. They may not replace a LaPorta or a Gamel, but it would be a good start.

3) .... High Reward.

The Scott Linebrink was looked at a way for the Brewers to make the 2007 postseason. A C.C. Sabathia trade could be the ticket for a 2008 World Series run. If the Brewers have to make a few sacrifices in order to get their first World Series title, I'd say that's a pretty acceptable trade-off.

Let me re-iterate though, the Indians are not going to just give Sabathia away. The Brewers are going to have to pay a heavy price to get him, and it's going to have to come from the farm system. There is also speculation Milwaukee could settle for a guy Like Greg Maddux or Randy Wolf, but I think that would just be playing it safe. I say we go after the big prize. I say we get Sabathia.

But then again, I've always been a gambling man.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't get the poll to work for some reason. But I vote yes.

Anonymous said...

Melvin said recently on a radio interview that some of his prospects were untouchable. I have to think that includes Gamel and LaPorta. I hope that is the case as 6 plus years of those two is better than 10 plus starts from CC. I just don't think you give potential All-Stars away for a rental. That said I'm really hoping that Melvin can work his magic and pull off a quantity over quality prospect trade for CC.

Anonymous said...

Winks, yeah like the OP I too can't get the poll to work, once you submit the poll goes blank.

In terms of a C.C. deal, I agree with poster 2.

Winks said...

Having problems with the poll. WTF BLOGSPOT!!!

Anonymous said...

This is an extremely tough topic to deal with because of the huge short term & long term implications that go along with getting or not getting Sabathia.

I agree that the Brewers need to go out & get another good pitcher in order to complement Sheets before he leaves this winter. But I also think it's fine if Melvin keeps LaPorta & Gamel, even if it means not getting Sabathia. What about Bedard?

Once we have Gamel at 3B & LaPorta in RF (either halfway through 2009 or for Opening Day 2010), this lineup is going to be SICK. Siiiiick!

I say trade Weeks & Gwynn for Brian Roberts. Here's my projected lineup for 2010:

Roberts 2B

Hart CF

Braun LF

Fielder 1B

LaPorta RF

Gamel 3B

Hardy SS

Lawrie C


with this rotation

1) Gallardo

2) Jeffress

3) Parra

4) Suppan

5) Villanueva

+ J. Odorizzi?

Seeing that batting lineup gets me giddy.

Winks said...

Holy highway I love that lineup.

I was just talking with Bear the other day about how we used to try to project the lineup for 2008 many years ago. Guys like Ben Hendrickson, Brad Nelson, and Dave Kyrnzel might have been in there. So you can never be too sure.

But yeah, I love that projected lineup.

I do not want to see either LaPorta or Gamel leave the system. They are just too good. I'm just saying I'd understand if it they did. Hanley Ramirez got dealt from the Red Sox for Josh Beckett, and that seems to work out pretty good for both teams (but then again, Beckett wasn't a rental like C.C. would be).

Jonk said...

Gamel is not sticking at third.

Jonk said...

Also, Lawrie won't be a major-league catcher by 2010. He's 18 right now and has barely played catcher. Expecting him to be a big-league backstop at age 20 is unrealistic.

Substitute Angel Salome for him in that projected future lineup. Salome is raking at Huntsville right now.

Ranger said...

Ok, first of all, to the main article, lets do our due diligence. You make the sarcastic statement about how you're going to go out on a limb and say the Brewers lost that deal. Really? Seems to me that Evan Fredrickson+Seth Lintz/Cutter Dykstra. They were taken back to back, but Dykstra was taken with that pick. So they got Linebrink plus two early picks, picks that were much higher than those spent on Garrison, Inman or Thatcher. And what do you have in that group? A couple back of the rotation guys and a left handed specialist. So I'm going to "go out on a limb" and say it's at best too early to tell who won that trade, but if you're trading for a guy who's going to net a team two compensation picks, you have to compensate a team for what they'd get with those picks, as well as the value of the player. So the Brewers it could be argued got a pretty good deal there. Of course when the casual fans look at it and see 3 pitchers for Linebrink, it doesn't look so good.

Second, the lineups that were given. This is 2010, right? Brett Lawrie, save for some miracle is NOT going to be a big league catcher by then. Of course the kid we've got in AA hitting about .350 with a 70 arm(on a 20-80 scale) will be. Odorizzi is also VERY unlikely to be even close to making a big league rotation by then.

Third, to the poster who said Gamel won't be playing 3rd, you ought to talk to Doug Melvin and roving IF instructor Garth Iorg because they both seem to think that Gamel's got the tools to be a solid big league 3rd basemen. Perhaps you could also talk to Robin Yount or Derek Jeter, those of the near 50 Error seasons at some point in their careers. Gamel's already a better 3rd basemen than Braun, who by the way would have been a decent defender at the hot corner had the team taken the time they're taking with Gamel...who was drafted in the game class as Braun. Gamel's got good athletic ability, he's got a good arm, and he's a natual IF'er who has some flaws to work out.

Fourth-With regard to Brian Roberts, he wouldn't be under contract by 2010, and while Weeks has struggled this year, last year, Weeks was the better leadoff hitter. Top 5 in all of baseball in OBP, SLG, OPS and HR's from a leadoff hitter and his OBP AS a leadoff hitter was .385. So last year they were at least equal at best Weeks was superior as a leadoff hitter, and you want to trade him for Roberts who's older and doesn't have nearly Weeks upside?

Let us learn a lesson from the Carlos Pena's, Ryan Howard's, Brandon Phillips of the world. Some guys simply take longer to develop, but Weeks WILL be a star in this league. He's 25 years old. Dealing him right now would be monumentally stupid unless you're getting something better than a much older version of the same player with a lower ceiling.

Ranger said...

By the way, with regard to out future lineup, whoever said that when you try to project a few years in advance, you're usually going to get a couple wrong, but citing examples like Krynzel and Hendrickson that weren't nearly the prospects that many of the guys we've got now are. The Escobar's, Salome, Gamel types.

I think Prince is most likely not going to be here as he's got huge value and we're very deep at 1st base with a number of potential replacements.
Mat Gamel if he doesn't stick at 3rd, though he'll be given every opportunity to. Chris Errecart, the big 1st basemen from Berkley who's got big power and is having a great year in the Southern League, Brad Nelson who is our comeback player of the year in the org having an absolutely huge season. Brantley who has questions about his CF defense and maybe is blocked could play 1st and give you a completely different look offensively, but yet still effective.

In any event, with 3 years left under the control of whichever team would trade for him, Prince would net this team a huge haul in return, and when you factor in the fact that you'd get a frontline starter in return, and that you'd upgrade defensively while possibly experiencing a minimal drop off.

Also, Alcides Escobar is almost certainly going to be the SS of the future. Yost and the organization has already said they'd feel comfortable with him playing short right now and his upside is higher than that of Hardy's. He's already a superior defensive player, and as he's filling out, adding more power, he's turning into a 5 tool blue chip prospect.

What's more, I believe Sheets will be back. This team has far more money than most people are led to believe. With record revenues, and small market teams getting a huge return the Brewers made 50 million dollars next year. Sheets has strong ties to the community and has already expressed a desire to come back. Once the Brewers recipricate, they should strike a deal with a small hometown discount.

Future lineup
LF-Braun(of CF as many scouts think he'll end up in center)



2B/OF-Hernan Iribarren
SS/2B/3B/OF-Callix Crabbe
LH'ed bat-Brad Nelson
Utility-Michael Bell
C-Lou Palmisano

Of course with Prince Fielder, JJ Hardy and others departures, we're going to get some big time talent in return...which again makes this a rather futile effort.

Winks said...

Regardless of what shakes out, it can be agreed that the Brewers are going to be in good shape for years to come.

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