C.C. You In the Playoffs
26 years. And now, suddenly, Milwaukee is once again the center of the baseball universe.
At 7:00, I received the following one-line e-mail from one of my friends. It said, simply:
"I'm not gay, but I'd like to kiss Doug Melvin on his mustachioed mouth for pulling this deal off."
And that's how I found out the Brewers had pushed all their chips to the middle of the table for this season.
I'll spare you all the third-rate analysis about whether it was a good deal or not. For all the hot air on message boards by people claiming to know a lot about baseball, nobody will ever really know what would have happened had Matt LaPorta stayed a Brewer. We'll never know what the effect of LaPorta being gone will have on other prospects, who might now get a chance to step up. It's never just a one-plus-one-equals-two calculation.
But here's what we do know for a fact - that Doug Melvin has, to quote my buddy The Gooch, "balls the size of Jupiter" for making this deal. And it's the lack of certainty I mentioned above that makes this such a great deal. Let's say the deal doesn't get done and Ben Sheets walks away at the end of the year. For the forseeable future, you're looking at some good young starters, but no ace. And maybe you bring up LaPorta and maybe he provides some good offense, but a 30 home run hitter isn't exactly what the Brewers need at this point. (They need a leadoff hitter that doesn't need a GPS device to find first base, for starters.)
But the scenario that developed today is the way any business should run. If Sabathia helps them make a playoff run, that means more revenue to the team. Packed stands through the remainder of the season and in the playoffs may mean the team can make a competitive offer to Sheets in the offseason. I've seen some suggest that anything short of a World Series victory means the Brewers have had a disappointing system. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, here.
Obviously, Doug Melvin wants to win now. But if the Crew can make enough money down the home stretch to put the team in a better financial position to retain their core talent in the next few years (Fielder, Hart, etc.), this will have turned out to be a good deal regardless of how the season ends. (At least that's what I'll be telling myself when Ben Sheets is attacked by a crocodile on the field and the season goes in the tank in September.)
All night, I kept watching ESPNews, with the bright red "breaking news" banner coming on every five seconds. And every time it crawled across my screen, it was as if Jennifer Connelly was whispering it directly into my ear.
"Indians Trade Pitcher C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers."
"Indians Trade Pitcher C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers."
Sadly, my TV did not take the extra step and offer to make me a sandwich.
Plus, it's not as if the Brewers haven't had good luck dealing with the Indians. Remember, the Brewers relieved the Tribe of Jeromy Burnitz in 1996, in exchange for the rotting corpse of Kevin Seitzer. Burnitz went on to hit over 30 home runs in 4 of his 5 full seasons with Milwaukee. The 35 year-old Seitzer played 86 games with the Indians and retired.
And who can forget July of 2000, when the Brewers sent Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard, Jason Bere, and a signed John Jaha home run ball to the Indians for Richie Sexson? That was such an easy deal that Dean Taylor, who was to general managing what Madonna is to music, was able to pull it off.
So, upon reflection, here are the big winners and losers from the Sabathia deal:
Winner: ME! WOO HOO!
Loser: My wife. With the Brewers competitive late in the season, I might as well be living in a bio-dome in my own basement. Chances of my popcorn bowls making it into the dishwasher just dropped by 50%.
Winner: Tom Haudricourt, of the Journal Sentinel. He was on this story, and was accurate throughout.
Loser: Tom Haudricourt, of the Journal Sentinel. While his reporting was timely and accurate, he actually showed up on one of his own blog comment threads and publicly attempted to fellate himself for essentially doing exactly what a beat writer for a team in the middle of a major trade negotiation was supposed to do. In attempting to shoot down two dopey anonymous commenters, he actually wrote the following:
I don't need to ban hayseed whatever or cauleys. They both know I took them to the wood shed and they have to live with it. We are still the only source confirming this deal, as far as I know. I was ahead of it from the very start, saying it would be LaPorta and two lower-level minor leaguers. I shot down all the Hardy and Escobar nonsense and went with the truth. That's all I need to know, and I appreciate all those on the blog who know what I did.
Winner: Buster Olney, ESPN. On the above message board, there's a lot of mention of who scooped whom when it came to this story. Haudricourt deserves credit for doing his job. But even though Olney may not have been getting a lot of original info on this story, I think it takes a lot of stones to go on national TV and declare the Brewers as the frontrunner in the biggest trade sweepstakes of the year. Every major league team has a beat writer that has their fans convinced that their team is about to trade for Johan Santana or whatever. But it is unique for a national writer to step out and predict something so bold and be right. So good for him - now maybe I can start taking someone seriously who actually refers to himself as "Buster."
(Incidentally, I got a kick out of ESPN continuing to say "Buster Olney has learned that the Indians have agreed to trade Sabathia to the Brewers," well after it had been on the Journal-Sentinel website. Really, Buster? You "learned" that secret piece of information? Did you "learn" how to use the internet at about 6:00 tonight?)
Loser: Tom Oates, Wisconsin State Journal. Just last week, Oatsey gave us a column explaining how C.C. Sabathia was out of the Brewers' reach. A few days later, when it started to look like the Brewers actually were in the running, he tried to cover his tail with a column explaining why the team needed Sabathia NOW! Just more evidence that the only requirement for writing a sports-related column at the State Journal is the ability to turn on your computer and type complete sentences that don't reference genitalia.
Winner: Inebriation. If the Crew makes it to the World Series, it's going to be a Brew Town Throwdown. Believe that.
Loser: Former Brewer Eric Young, ESPN. When asked about the trade, "EY" decided he had some reservations, for the following reason: Sabathia is left-handed, and the Cubs have a lot of good right-handed hitters. Brilliant observation, since the Cubs and Brewers only play a handful of times the rest of the year. Actually, I think Sabathia is around to help the Crew in the remaining 80 games, not necessarily the sprinkling of games against the Cubs. But now that the precedent has been set, I demand to know what Franklin Stubbs thinks about the trade.
Oh, and make sure you go vote for Corey Hart for the all-star team. I probably voted 50 times already. And I didn't even need the DNC to buy me cigarettes. Plus, there has to be at least one creepy flesh-colored beard in the All-Star game. So follow the link below.
And here's an interview with LaPorta from a month ago: