Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Last Time the Brewers acquired an Ace: Revisiting the CC Sabathia Deal

Back in 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers were surprisingly in contention.  On July 8 of that year, GM Doug Melvin pulled the trigger on acquiring Indians ace CC Sabathia, a move that cost him four prospects.  Sabathia was a one man wrecking crew in '08 for the Brewers, going 11-2, with a disgusting 1.65 ERA in 17 starts down the stretch.  He threw an astounding seven complete games, and helped the Brewers reach the postseason for the first time in 26 years.  After Milwaukee lost in the Division Series to the Phillies, CC went to New York.  Did the Brewers pay too much for an early playoff exit.  Here's a profile of what Milwaukee gave up.

  • First Baseman/Outfielder Matt LaPorta:  Laporta was supposed to be the centerpiece of the deal, a guy who many projected to be a great power hitter.  In 2008, he socked 22 homers in AA.  In his biggest sample at the big league level in 2010, LaPorta put up a .221/.306/.362 line, with 12 homers.  Still only 25, he should get plenty of at bats for the Tribe in 2011.
  • Pitcher Rob Bryson:  Rob Bryson was a 31st round pick of Milwaukee in 2006, and received a $300,000 bonus.  Missed most of 2009 due to injury, but was awfully impressive in 2010, putting up a 2.53 at three different minor league stops, and showed dominant stuff, striking out 13.5 batters per nine innings.  It wouldn't be a stretch to see him in Cleveland in 2011.
  • Pitcher Zach Jackson:  Jackson made his big league debut in 2006 for Milwaukee, putting up a 5.40 ERA in seven starts.  He is no longer with the Indians organization, and spent 2010 pitching in Las Vegas for the Blue Jays organization.  Nothing more than a journeyman at this point.
  • Outfielder Michael Brantley:  Brantley was the player to be named in this deal, after many reports said that 3rd base prospect Taylor Green would be headed to Ohio.  Brantley has been compared to Juan Pierre, a speedy outfielder who projects as an above-average defensive centerfielder, and a leadoff man who should be able to get on base.  In 2010 for the Tribe, Brantley put up a line of .246/.296/.327 with 10 steals.  Should be in the mix for an outfield spot in 2011.
In retrospect, the Brewers haven't missed the players that they gave up.  Jackson is no longer with the Indians organization, Brantley and LaPorta have done little at the Major League level, and Bryson isn't quite ready for the show.  Overall, the reward has outweighed the risk, and the Brewers got the best of this deal, so far.

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