July 07, 2008

The Brew Crew is All-In

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.


Doug said...

YES! Great post. I completely agree with you that the NL Central just became the most interesting division for the second half of the year. I have to hand it to the Brewers for pulling this deal off. As a fan of a small market team, the Brewers are my small market brethren, so I hope that it works out for them. Definitely a gutsy move, but it's the right thing to do and perfect timing. With Sheets in the prime of his career and all those young bats, now was the time to take a crack at making a run in the playoffs. If you aren't trying to win a title, then what is the point of even playing?? You can build all the prospects you want, but there is something to be said for striking while the iron is hot. Even if Laporta is as good as advertised, he won't be ready to really help a contending club for a couple years. The Indians are the perfect example of a team that never pushed their chips to the middle. They kept stockpiling assets, but it all fell apart when a good chunk of those guys never panned out.

Anyway, I love the mindset that went into this deal, and now we'll have to see how it works out. My only concern is where CC's head will be now that he's going to Milwaukee. The pressure will be on. Is he going to press?? If he's not comfortable in Milwaukee for whatever reason or starts feeling the pressure, that makes me a little nervous. If he's the usual CC, they have the best 1-2 punch in the National League and maybe as good as anyone in baseball. If I were the Brewers, I'd be looking around for a bullpen arm somewhere as well.

Where would you rank the NL teams now?? Are the Brewers now the team to beat?? They are only 3 back in the loss column to the Cubs. With 70+ games left, that race is just beginning. The Cubs have a better bullpen and a better manager and maybe a more versatile lineup, but that rotation is not built for playoff baseball. After you get by Zambrano, you have a lot of shaky parts. In a 7 game series, they would need to get some huge starts from guys like Dempster and Lilly to win.

By the way, how would you feel this morning if you are a Los Angeles Dodgers fans?? You got outbid by the Milwaukee Brewers for a California guy who would have fit in perfectly for your team and might have even signed with you after the season??

Great start to the second half of the season, and all Cubs-Brewers games going forward just became must-see tv.

Matt said...

Not to mention the Brewers added a legitimate power hitter to their lineup!

Bud Selig and Fox Sports must be sweating it out right now. Are we on a collision course for a Rays-Brewers World Series?

The Indians are bad at overrating their young talent (will they still be touting Adam Miller as a prospect when he's 30 and already had surgery to every elbow, shoulder and finger available?) But the Dodgers are the worst. They sat back when they could have had any number of legitimate pitchers or hitters the last couple of years. Now guys like James Loney, Andre Ethier, Andy Laroche and Matt Kemp have lost most of their trade value and the truth has come out about them - they were vastly overrated and overhyped for the most part.

Jimmy said...

Nice work Jeremy. I'm just happy that CC is out of the Twins hair this year, and hopefully longer. I'm sure this also played a part in dealing quickly to the Brewers. Get him out of the AL and don't look back.

The NL has now landed the two best LH (and last two AL Cy Young winners). Could there be a minor seismic change developing in the recent AL domination? Time will tell.