The Brewers and Indians have agreed on a deal (*patent pending) that would send C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers for Double A outfielder Matt LaPorta (minor league stats) and other youngsters. LaPorta has shown big time power, on base potential and ability to make consistent contact for a power hitter. The question about this becomes: does this make the Brewers a likely playoff team this year?
Sabathia fills a giant hole in the Brewers starting rotation and he slides in right next to Ben Sheets as a devastating 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation (if Sheets stays off the disabled list); as good as Sabathia was last year and as brilliantly as he's pitched recently, the only way he's going to help the Brewers win the majority of the games he pitches is if he prevents the team from having to rely on that awful bullpen. It does the team no good to get seven innings out of Sabathia, have him leave the game and then see the likes of Guillermo Mota and Eric Gagne throw a stick of dynamite on everything Sabathia did previously.
As self-serving as this sounds, the Brewers don't have to hold anything back with either Sabathia and Sheets. The advantage a team like the Brewers has with both impending free agents is that they're not going to keep either of them; Sheets has expressed his desire to test the market and Sabathia is looking for a Johan Santana/Barry Zito-type contract which is something that the Brewers aren't going to do. With that in mind, there's no reason to worry about the future of either pitcher; the Brewers can just throw them out there for 115-120 pitches if necessary and not worry about their health because if they get hurt, it won't be the Brewers paying them anyway.
The agents for the two pitchers are probably going to run interference if the Brewers head in this direction, but what are they going to do about it? Sabathia isn't the type to beg out of games and let his teammates down and, with the way the giant contracts for pitchers is such a crapshoot anyway, he's going to want to get out on the mound and prove that he's going to be worth the money in both durability and performance. If this deal is going to work out as the Brewers want and they intend to move forward with the bullpen intact as is, they're going to have to go old-school with the two free agents to be; if they do that, it may work out exactly as they've planned; if not, it's probably not going to work out at all.
As for the Indians, Mark Shapiro (my doppelganger) and his staff have proven that when they target players from other organizations, they know exactly what they're getting more often than not; if their history of smart moves is any indication, LaPorta is going to be a producer for them in the very near future.
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