STOP THE PRESSES!! Milwaukee fans, put down that brat and the High Life and listen up!! Your team just pushed all its chips in the center of the table. CC Sabathia, reigning Cy Young award winner in the AL is headed to join the Bernie and the Boys for a run at the NL Central, and perhaps beyond.
Couldn't be more excited about this deal - as an apologist of the Senior Circuit, it warms my heart to see an NL team on the verge of making some noise suddenly become a dark horse World Series pick. The Brewers have plenty of offensive firepower, and now can trot out a 1-2 punch of Sabathia and Sheets (if he can stay healthy - knock on wood). That's a pretty potent combo in a short series. Arizona won a World Series with that formula.
Also, as a Chicago resident, things were starting to get a little too warm and fuzzy around here. I will admit to agreeing that the buzz around the city can be fun with a contending baseball team (or even two, as appears to be the case this year). But watching the Cubs threaten to run away with a division crown and receive the title "Most Dangerous Team in the NL" just doesn't fit right with this guy. Cub fans are much more tolerable when they're miserable about something. Now I can be treated to a few weeks of grumbling about why Hendry didn't make a play for CC (he didn't have the prospects) and legitimate fear of being overrun in the division (a definitely possibility at this point).
As for the Tribe, I must admit I was a bit surprised to see them pull the trigger on this deal so soon. But taking a little closer look at the deal, its clear that there were several issues driving Shapiro towards closing this out:
1. The Brewers represented a very attractive trading partner - good farm system, including guys at positions of need for the Indians (i.e. LaPorta, the sure-fire, can't-miss corner OF with pop that the Indians have been missing since Manny was being Manny at the Jake).
2. Rumblings around baseball seemed to indicate some of the bigger boys - the Red Sox, the Yankees - were going to sit this one out. Sure, they might end up signing CC next year, but they weren't going to give up their prospects to get him.
3. Because of the Brewers ability to negotiate from a position of strength, they could afford to make a reasonable trade offer, and demand a quick answer. Apparently one of the driving forces behind this deal was Milwaukee's desire to get CC some starts in the NL before the AS break. They made a showcase deal that included a great prospect - LaPorta - and made it clear that their other studs (including Alcides Escobar) were not going to be involved. The Indians could pick and choose from A-ball guys but be happy they were getting a sure thing in return.
Bottom line, although the Brewers come up smelling like roses in this deal (acquiring a Cy Young winner in his prime for a playoff run, hold on to most of their best young'uns, and receive compensatory picks should CC walk in '09), the Indians get a guy in LaPorta who will likely be battling for a starting corner OF job as early as September of this year. Due to CC's contract situation and the lack of big names involved in the bidding, this may have been as good as it got.
In any event, the NL Central becomes one of the better stories for the 2nd half of the season. I'm sure all of Brewers Nation has July 28 circled on their calendars - the Cubbies come to town for a 4-game set, perhaps with 1st place on the line. And let's not forget - bringing CC to Milwaukee gives the Brew Crew two guys in the lineup over 3-bills!! The buffet table won't know what hit it.