Milwaukee and Cleveland finally consummated a deal Sunday that's been rumored for several days: The Brewers acquired reigning American League Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia for what will be four minor league prospects, including 2007 top draft pick Matt LaPorta.
Does that make the Brewers--who finished a three-game weekend sweep of Pittsburgh tied for second with St. Louis, 3.5 games behind Chicago--the favorite in the Central Division or the NL for that matter? No, and no.
Does it guarantee that playoff-starved Milwaukee fans should start printing postseason tickets because their team will be playing its first meaningful games in October since winning the AL pennant and going to the World Series in 1982? No, not at all. However, they could start setting aside petty cash funds just in case.
But, barring any other major injuries or unforeseen circumstances, it gives the Brewers options and definitely increases Milwaukee's chances of accomplishing these aforementioned goals. And that's why general manager Doug Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio are in this business, and it's why they should be applauded.
Adding Sabathia, Cleveland's first-round pick in 1998, to the rotation that features All-Star Ben Sheets should mean that the Brewers are more likely to avoid extended dry spells. It also means that Milwaukee gets a second southpaw to go with Manny Parra. And it means that Ned Yost's bullpen should require less work and therefore be better rested when called upon.
So, just who is this CC Sabathia guy?
The California native is listed at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds and has proved to be durable, logging 180 or more innings every year since 2001.
He has compiled a 6-8 record with a 3.83 earned-run average this season for the disappointing Indians, having struck out 123 batters in 122.1 innings while only walking 34.
He finished 15-10 in 2005, 12-11 with a 3.22 ERA in '06 and won the American League's Cy Young Award after finishing 19-7 with 209 Ks and only 37 walks in 241 innings last year. Has a won at least 10 times every year and sports a career record of 106-71.
He was an all-conference tight end in high school and had signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Hawaii. So, if nothing else, he could come in handy should they get into any bench-clearing incidents.
A lot of fans were worried that Milwaukee would give up too many of its top-flight prospects, or at least the wrong ones. And many others have been bellyaching about the likely three-month rental factor. Legitimate concerns? Only time will tell, but Milwaukee's failure would have been not trying to do something rather than trying and failing.
Not nearly enough folks are looking at this whole thing from another perspective: Milwaukee getting Sabathia means that the Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies and any other NL playoff contenders won't have the big southpaw and the Brewers won't have to face him down the stretch.
The fact that Milwaukee was proactive early also means that Melvin still has time to pull the trigger on any other necessary moves should they present themselves before the July 31 trading deadline. Again, options.
And while there are no guarantees with future draft picks and prospects, the Brewers will receive two compensatory picks when/if Sabathia says adios after the season, giving one of the best farm systems in the majors more opportunities to stockpile and develop talent.
And as I've said in the BrewerUpdate.com forum and elsewhere, isn't it nice to see Milwaukee being in a position of being a buyer rather than a seller this time of year.