May 30, 2010

Sending out an SOS: Brewers need shakeup

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 7:15 pm

Ken Macha

First, let me apologize to everyone out there who tries to keep a pulse on everything Wisconsin Sports. Understand that I wish to be that oasis for you all, however, my studies up in the Twin Cities at the University of St. Thomas prevented me from doing so on a daily basis. But good news: summer is upon us. I assure you that I’ll be running 3-4 posts a week or more for these next three months.

But enough fluff, onto business at hand. With the 9-4 loss at Miller Park this afternoon, the Brewers just wrapped up in some eyes a pretty successful home stand at 4-2. Coming into today they had won 5 of 6, and had closed the division gap to 8.5 games, a manageable deficit considering we’re just ending May. Look closer at you’ll see that if it weren’t for the offense’s resurgence, in particular Corey Hart, it may have been 1-5. Not to be Mr. Negativity, but the main concern for this team has continued to be the bullpen. Shortened outings from the rotation has translated into a worn-out pen, thus placing even more pressure on the bats.

I’ve been piecing through some of the fan comments on the Brewers game blogs on JSOnline, and while I will say that it is stilll very early, Ken Macha’s managerial credibility has taken a serious hit. After promising to become more aggressive on the basepaths, in many situations that merit sending Carlos Gomez, Alcides Escobar or Ryan Braun in motion, he sits on his hands. Not exactly how you put pressure on opposing pitchers, Ken. Another example is continually shaking up the lineup, like today, just a day after his team put 8 runs on the board. Or when he inexplicably brought in Jeff Suppan to a smattering of boos in a 2-2 game, only to have him concede four runs in the sixth and seventh. By the way: that $42 million investment now has a ERA of 7.22 and has given up 23 earned in 28 and 2/3 innings. Quite the production if you’d ask me.

After the team wrapped up their series in Minnesota, I saw a great column by Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal saying that the Brewers focus needs to be on consistency, and model themselves after a team like the Twins. Not just settle for one “flash in the pan” year like 2008. If Doug Melvin and the rest of the front office is committed to turning things around, priority No. 1 needs to be accountability. Simply put, if you don’t produce, your going to get replaced. Claudio Vargas was just designated for assignment, likely meaning his time in Milwaukee is done. But Suppan needs to be next. I mean he’s making $12.5 million to be a “mop-up” guy…umm…are you kidding me? And it’s not like Macha hasn’t given him plenty of chances to reconcile, either. Nashville lefty Kameron Loe has put up a very respectable 4-3 record with a 3.16 ERA, while posting the best K/BB ratio of any AAA starter at 39/19. More importantly, Loe has an “out” clause in his contract which allows him to walk if he’s not recalled by this Saturday. There’s one option. Huntsville’s Amaury Rivas has also put up good numbers, at 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 10 starts.

So honestly Doug, enough’s enough. Here’s what should be done with the 25-man by the end of the year. Other opinions?

C: George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy (both kept)

1B: Prince Fielder (traded for pitching/1b stopgap?), Mat Gamel (call-up when healthy-platoon)

2B: Rickie Weeks, Joe Inglett (kept)

SS: Alcides Escobar, Craig Counsell (kept)

3B: Casey McGehee (kept)

OF: Ryan Braun (kept), Carlos Gomez (kept), Corey Hart (traded for pitching), Jim Edmonds/Jody Gerut (platoon)

SP: Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Dave Bush, *Doug Davis, *Chris Narveson (all kept- unless upgrade is traded for)

RP: Trevor Hoffman, Carlos Villanueva, Todd Coffey, John Axford, LaTroy Hawkins, Manny Parra, Chris Capuano, Kameron Loe (all kept)

Sent to AAA: Jeff Suppan, Marco Estrada, Zach Braddock, Adam Stern.

August 28, 2009

News and Views: Crew preparing shakeup?

Category: Brewers,Bucks,NFL General,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 2:14 pm

denNews: Josh McDaniels announced at a noon press conference that management has decided to suspend disgruntled receiver Brandon Marshall for the remainder of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team.

Views: And you thought Vick’s return to the NFL was a big story? This newest Mile-High incident will heighten the intrigue for tomorrow’s matchup between the Jay Cutler-lead Bears and the Marshall-less Broncos more still. Remember Cutler was traded away to the Bears earlier this summer after his drama-king antics. Whether Marshall will get what he wants [more money and a trade] remains to be see, but punting and swatting down balls at practice won’t help his cause or his value around the league.

gnbNews: The Packers will be in Tempe, Ariz. tonight to take on the defending NFC Champion Cardinals in their third preseason contest.

Views: If Green and Gold fans want to consider watching a preseason game, this would be the one. The starters are expected to play into the third quarter as is custom, and it should be a great gauge of the team’s new 34 scheme- pitted against one of the league’s best aerial attacks in Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Other areas to keep your eye on: the punting battle between Jeremy Kapinos and Durant Brooks and the progression of first-rounder B.J. Raji. I’ll try to give my full roster and season predictions mid-next week.

milNews: After receiving a $1 qualifying offer from the Bucks nearly two months ago, still nothing has materialized between point guard Ramon Sessions and the Knicks or Clippers, his rumored suitors.

Views: The acquisition of forward Carlos Delfino and point guard Roko Ukic looked to seal Sessions’ fate with Milwaukee, as the team would have three points on the roster (including and Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour) while pulling the team’s cap close to luxury levels. But this issue just won’t go away. GM John Hammond has rumored to have been in ongoing sign-and-trade talks with the Knicks’ Donnie Walsh and Clippers’ Mike Dunleavy, with little substance to this point.

On another note, Bucks beat writer Charles Gardner brought up a good observation the other day, noting the influx of players with international experience added to the roster this off-season. Delfino, originally from Argentina, played in Russia last year. Ukic was born in Croatia. Turkish-born Ersan Ilyasova, who re-upped to a new deal, has played in Spain the past two years. And finally, first-round pick Brandon Jennings skipped college ball to play in Italy.  Hopefully the emphasis will be placed on team basketball this year and not dishing the ball to Michael Redd for a low-percentage three every other possession.

milNews: Four Brewers have cleared waivers according to FOX Sports.com: catcher Jason Kendall, infielder Craig Counsell, outfielder Mike Cameron and pitcher Braden Looper. Future Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman was also claimed by the Giants, but a deal doesn’t seem likely.

Views: If any deals going to be done it will most likely come before Monday, as players acquired after August 31st aren’t eligible for the post-season. So don’t be surprised if Melvin, who says he’s not trading any veterans, is bluffing here. He may not be getting a deal he likes now, but if teams like the Rockies or Giants slip a few games back of the Dodgers in the coming days, they might get desperate and offer a deal Brewer management can’t refuse. One thing is clear, however. As this team fades into the sunset once again, they will have to seriously considering shaking up their future core. They have Braun locked up, but guys like Fielder, Hart, Hardy all should be trade chips for young, durable pitching, because they won’t be competitive again until they get some.

May 24, 2009

Peavy talks signal new era in Milwaukee

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 3:23 pm

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Tuning in to my local sports radio station last week, as I regularly do on weekdays at 3:15 P.M. I was blind to the fact the Padres and White Sox had struck an agreement that would send Jake Peavy to the Windy City’s South Side. However, rumor had it Peavy was more than likely going to nix the deal. Simultaneously, a deal between the Brewers and Padres had been unofficially announced, and speculation was that it involved the ace. And because Peavy has stated he’s wanted to stay in the NL it only got hopes up even higher, only to crush them after it was reported to be a mere swapping of Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jody Gerut. In recent days, the whispers have led many to question: how crazy would the Brewers’s front-office be if they decided to go after Jake Peavy (AKA, to do this all over again)?

A lot of fans have criticized Doug Melvin the past few years for expending the team’s farm system: first, grabbing reliever Scott Linebrink from the Padres for three players in 2007, and then C.C. Sabathia from the Indians for four players, including their top prospect Matt LaPorta, last year. Criticism against the trades argued both Linebrink and Sabathia were “rentals,” and both essentially were being acquired in July. However, in retrospect, how much did the team actually lose? Yes, the 2007 deal didn’t bring the team’s playoff aspirations to fruition, however, as a Level-A free-agent, the team was able to pick up two high draft picks in exchange for Linebrink’s big contract signing with the White Sox: LHP Evan Fredrickson and 2B Cutter Dykstra. And Sabathia not only carried the Brewers back to the playoffs after a 26-year absence, but the team will again receive a sandwich pick between and the first and second rounds as well as the Yankee’s second round pick for his signing of an 8-year, $180 deal with the Bronx Bombers. If you ask me, the reward outweighed the risk.

How does the Peavy speculation tie into all this? Well, for one thing, while C.C. was due to be a free-agent in ’09, the 27 year-old Peavy will be under contract through 2012 with a club option for 2013 before he can become a free-agent in 2014. The Brewers, who hope to be in contention for a division title this year, may wind up being in a similar position as last year. Pitching will be at a premium yet again, and while the team’s bullpen has been stellar thus far, will it hold up? Scooping up Peavy now would not only fortify the club’s rotation, but perhaps more importantly prevent the Cubs from being in the running for his services come the All-Star Break. Having former-teammate Trevor Hoffman close games for him again might be a good omen for the Milwaukee’s chances to land him, too.

Offering a package of say J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall and a couple minor-leaguers might be enough to get a deal done, of course, that’s as long as those prospects exclude up-and-coming shortstop Alcides Escobar and third baseman Mat Gamel. If Mr. Melvin could work his magic again, Escobar’s track would probably be escalated to being September call-up, and if Gamel can get his defense figured out, he might be right behind him. While it would be a risky move, one thing is clear: the Milwaukee Brewers have turned a very important corner. Once a team destined to be sellers year-in and year-out, has now become legitimate buyers with the big boys. With all that said, why not make a run at him?

April 8, 2009

Gallardo, offense need to be saving grace

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 6:13 pm

gallardo_yovani

I’m sorry Brewer fans, let me apologize in advance. While it pains me to start the baseball season off on a sour note, I hope we can all agree this season has the makings to be another emotional roller-coaster. Another love-hate relationship.

Unfortunately for Wisconsinites, Game 1 included more downs than ups. Coming off a supposed “fantastic spring,” Jeff Suppan, who was controversially tabbed as the Opening Day starter, seemingly outlasted reigning NL CY Winner Tim Lincecum before imploding, surrendering 6 runs in 4 innings. The Brewer hitters had the erratic Giant-ace on the ropes early, forcing his exit after a mere 3 innings and 78 pitches. With a 5-3 lead, however, Suppan and the rest of the pitching staff struggled to record some much-needed scoreless innings. Seth Clung went 2 innings allowing one run. Dave Bush followed, allowing one in two frames. And newcomer Jorge Julio capped it off, giving up another in his lone inning of work. It should also be noted that both Bush and Julio allowed first-pitch bombs to Bengie Molina and Randy Winn, respectively. Analyzing the 10-6 defeat, obviously poor pitching, but also strikeouts in key situations were the two eye-popping flaws of the team right out of the gate. Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall and Jason Kendall accounted for 10 of the team’s 11 strikeouts and 18 of the 26 men left on base. The high strikeout totals are particularly disturbing too, because coming into camp cutting down on Ks was one of the offensive focal points. And while the offense will be given a more lenient leash (because they did enough to win), the pitching staff ought to be ashamed. Giving up 10 runs to a below-average offense is inexcusable. 

As I eluded to earlier, this season is likely to be much like last year. One problem. Take away the team’s dual aces in Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia, who nearly single-handedly carried the team into October, and you can see why there will be issues this year. The additions of Braden Looper and Trevor Hoffman certainly don’t hurt, but they aren’t game-changers. A rotation of Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Looper and Bush shouldn’t strike fear into opposing clubs, which obviously is a glaring concern. Gallardo makes them a respectable group- without him- they are a nothing more than an average group of hurlers. Gallardo was expected to be the team’s “next big thing” last season, and lived up to those expectations (posting a 1.88 ERA through 4 starts) before suffering a torn ACL in that fateful game at Wrigley we’ll always remember. Yo will begin his ’09 quest to cement himself as the team’s ace tonight against Randy Johnson.

So with the pitching staff, specifically the rotation, full of question marks and unknowns (minus Gallardo), there’s no doubt the team’s offense will have to pick up the slack and become “Harvey’s Wallbangers” v2. Corey Hart didn’t try to hide that fact either. He told SI in their most recent “Baseball Preview Issue” the offense will need to be on top of its game each and every night for the team to compete in the division:

“That’s our plan,” he said. “Score alot of runs. Score as many runs as we can.” 

Well Corey, we’d all love to be millionaires like you too, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon (you’re going to need some help). Let’s just say it now and get it out of the way: there had better be alot more consistency on both sides of the dugout, starting tonight, or it could be a long season. Could that statement be premature? Maybe. I hope so. Could it be prophecy? Absolutely.

October 30, 2008

Melvin gets his man, begins to warm stove

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 7:49 pm

Doug Melvin finally got his man. Six years after former-Athletics’ manager Ken Macha spurned the Brewers’ offer to become the manager of the club, Macha relinquished his ties with the team Thursday, for what will reportedly be a two-year deal through 2010. The hiring came just weeks after 16-game incumbent Dale Sveum was ousted by the organization in favor of a man with longer-tenured winning experience. Among those who fit Melvin’s criteria: former Mets’ skipper Willie Randolph, ex-D-Backs’ manager Bob Brenly and Macha.  All three were interviewed and seemingly in contention for the job until this past week, when rumor had it Macha would be the choice. Aside from the interest he drew from management six seasons ago, Macha’s proven track record in the AL proved to be the kicker. The man with 35 years of major-league experience (both playing, coaching and broadcasting) complied a 368-260 record as head man of the A’s from 2003-2006, winning the AL West twice. 

The staunch-demeanored Macha said in his press-conference Thursday that he and Melvin have begun to discuss potential coaches who can fill out the staff, with Sveum’s name on the top of the list. Melvin said Sveum has expressed in returning with the club in some capacity, most likely as the bench or third-base coach. Other vacancies left to fill are the hitting and possibly pitching coaches, with Mike Maddux’s contract due up tomorrow. Maddux will likely show interest in the Rangers’ pitching coach position in large part due to the close proximity to Texas El-Paso (his alma-mater), Houston (his last stop in the majors), and AA-Round Rock (where he spent three years on now-Ranger bench coach Jackie Moore’s staff).

With the managerial position now filled, Melvin’s primary focus will shift to the Hot Stove, which begins with the annual GM Meetings next week in California. On the immediate docket for Melvin will be how much to offer CC Sabathia (who is primed for a $100 million + contract this winter) and whether to extend a $10 million team-option to center-fielder Mike Cameron. 

Other potentially burning questions yet to be answered:

1) What to do with J.J. Hardy, who has “blocked” top-prospect Alcides Escobar’s job?
2) Will Prince Fielder be a Brewer next year, and if not, where could he land?
3) How to shore up an almost certain, “Eric Gagneless” bullpen next year?

August 17, 2008

Sunday Storylines: Brewers eek out classic

Category: Brewers,Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 12:47 am

Anger. Joy. Sloppiness. Heroics. All interchangeable words that emcompassed last night into early Sunday morning for Wisconsin sports fans. Lucky for us, in the prime-time California twinbill for the Brewers and Packers, the game that actually meant something was a success. While the Packers stumbled around in Candlestick Park, the Brewers held off the resilient Dodgers, backed by 53,000 fans, in dramatic fashion 380 miles southeast at old Chavez Ravine. Here are some positive and negative observations from both teams’ performances:

Positives:
1) Defensive clinic. What else can you say? Mike Cameron has shown that he is deserving of his fourth Gold-Glove every night. He was so convincing to Matt Kemp after his first two great catches that Kemp froze at first on a booming shot by Andre Ethier in the tenth, and was only able to advance to second; a game changing play. The catch by Gabe Kapler is without a doubt the greatest catch I’ve ever seen on live television. Simply amazing-another game changing boost for the Crew.

2) Braunny’s back. In his return from intercostal muscle spasms, Ryan hit a pinch-hit bloop single in the eighth and had the good sense to keep on chugging to second with a hustle double. He later struck-out on a 97 MPH heater in his second at-bat against fireballer Jonathan Broxton in the tenth. Overall a great sign to see Braun back healthy.

3) Snappin’ out of it. If you thought you were going to have a heart-attack in the later innings of the game, just think what J.J. Hardy must be feeling. He snapped out of a 2-23 drought at the plate dating back to August 10th with a 3-5 effort including a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth, followed by another go-ahead base hit to score Ray Durham in the tenth to seal the win. Unfortunately, they were sandwiched by an ugly error in the Brewers’ rough ninth, which he completely misplayed. J.J. came through though. Whew!

4) Gagne sharp; Riske not so risky. In his return to Dodgers Stadium, Eric Gagne had a efficient 12-pitch 1-2-3 inning with some help from his outfielders. Gagne reached a season-high in velocity, lighting up the gun at 95 MPH. Good to see. David Riske, who entered the tenth in relief of Salomon Torres, also had good command, striking out Manny Ramirez to end the wild 5-4 contest.

Negative:
1) Managing. A couple more horrible decisions by Ned Yost tonight. First of all relying on Ray Durham to hit Braun over to third base. Ned, lay a bunt down please. Braun saved Yost from that embarrassment with his speed. But as always, bad managing eventually hurt the Brewers in the ninth inning. Clutching his precious match-up cards, Ned elected to start the inning with Brian Shouse against the lefty Ethier. Of course, Shouse walks him, and the weight of the world is put on the real closer Torres with no outs and a man on first. It was a miracle he only gave up one run.

This was by far the best win of the season for the Brewers. A huge momentum shift into tomorrow’s game with a chance for a 4-2 West Coast road trip heading back home (how big would that be?). If I had to pick a defining game for this season this would be it. Hopefully they can string together some wins and slowly reel in the Cubs.


Positive:
1) Return game revitalized? It has been 12 years since the Packers had the likes of Desmond Howard returning kicks, but could the next great one at last be here? Jordy Nelson was the only statistical bright spot for the Packers against the 49ers, returning two kicks for 57 and 58 yards, respectively. He has all but solidified his spot as a returner for Mike Stock, the team’s special teams coordinator, and Mike McCarthy.

Negative:
1) Incohesive offense. The offense didn’t click all night long. Completely out of sync. The team gained an abysmal 182 total yards to the 49ers’ 355, an astounding differential to the team who ranked dead last in the NFL in total yards per game last season. The offensive-line looked particularly vulnerable, allowing six sacks.

Look for Mike McCarthy to whip his team into serious shape at practice Monday after the pathetic 34-6 showing against his old team. The Packers are now 0-2 this preseason.

And how can I forget about American Michael Phelps, who is now the greatest Olympian of all-time obtaining his eighth gold medal in the Beijing games, surpassing fellow U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz’s mark of seven golds in the 1972 Munich games. Congratulations to Mr. Phelps.   

August 16, 2008

"Farm Fresh" Week One: SS Alcides Escobar

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 4:58 pm

With yesterday being the 122 game of the year for the Brewers, 40 remain. I’ve decided to begin a series called “Farm Fresh,” documenting one of the team’s top prospects each Saturday through the September 1st call-ups until the end of the season. I’ll give you the skinny on selected players (alternating hitter/pitcher) and when their chances of making it up to the majors will be. I will post the running list and the date on the bottom. Hope you enjoy!

Name: Alcides Escobar (AA Huntsville)

Age: 21 (Signed as ’03 non-drafted free-agent)

Birthplace: La Sabana, Venezuela

Bats/Throws: Right

MLB Comparison: Orlando Cabrera, SS, Chicago White Sox

Minor League Accolades:

What he’s about: Escobar, as the only Double-A player on the 40 man roster, is arguably the best prospect in the Brewers’ system. He’s a lot like [Orlando] Cabrera and incumbent shortstop J.J. Hardy, as their consistent glove work has allowed them all to be successful despite the fact they don’t have elite power. Through 112 games in Huntsville this year, Escobar has posted a stellar .969 fielding percentage, a stat that earned him the nickname “Inspector Gadget” and should allow him to suit up in a big league uniform yet this season. Escobar has been a mainstay in Huntsville’s lineup along with catcher Angel Salome and third baseman Mat Gamel, batting .343 with a .378 on-base percentage and 31 stolen bases. It would be because of his excellent speed that he could contribute immediately on the base paths for the Brewers should he be called up come September.

Future outlook: With Hardy eligible for arbitration next year, Escobar is the likely candidate to replace him unless management chooses to lock up J.J. long-term. If they do, it’s unlikely Hardy will stay at short, with a possible move over to the hot corner. Look for Escobar’s full-fledged call-up in the spring of ’09, possibly even sooner.

“Farm Fresh” Prospect List:

August 16: SS Alcides Escobar, AA Huntsville Stars.
August 23:
August 30:
September 6:
September 13:
September 20:
September 27:
(more if the team makes the playoffs)

August 9, 2008

Category: Brewers,MLB General — Patrick Stumpf @ 9:51 pm

Because this is a rarity, I thought I would savor the moment for Brewer fans and bask in CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets’ masterful outings the past two nights. Here are their lines, you decide which is more impressive:
————————–
Sabathia: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 103 pitches (77 strikes)–>Overall: 12-8, 3.11 ERA

Sheets: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 113 pitches (78 strikes)–>Overall: 11- 5, 2.95 ERA
————————
Obviously Sabathia was more efficient, but I’ll tell you what, I struggle to think of another pitcher with as dominant a pitch as Ben Sheets’ curve ball. Unbelievable. Either way, both very impressive performances by these guys. National’s manager Manny Acta probably won’t be getting much sleep tonight.

Just to put this this whole feat into prospective, the Brewers are the first team to record back-to-back shutouts since the Twins did it in 2004 (Brad Radke’s 4 hitter followed by Johan Santana’s 3 hitter).

The last time the team did it was in 1992. That was courtesy of Cal Eldred’s 4 hitter and Chris Bosio’s 5 hitter.

August 8, 2008

Team's success in L.A. just might sway CC

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 8:52 pm

Seven starts in and CC Sabathia has proved to every Wisconsinite he is the horse that management traded Matt LaPorta for him to be. He has created such buzz that regardless of who the Brewers are playing on a given night, even the cellar-dwelling Washington Nationals, the box office is guaranteed a sell-out crowd. How dominant can this guy be? Seven starts, a 6-0 record, an average of 8 1/3 innings per start with a 1.58 ERA. Finally, the Brewers look to have the kind of pitcher that can carry them into October. And just to throw in another stat, after tonight’s most recent complete game, Sabathia has notched the most complete games, four, among all National League pitcher’s, all in just over a month’s work.  

But the lingering question that will creep into Brewer fans’ minds as the season winds down is will CC-mania continue in Milwaukee for years to come? He will be the marquee free-agent come the off-season, and if the team fails to make the post-season, questions will be asked as to why Brewer’s management has been willing to deal future pieces for half-season rentals (Scott Linebrink last year). Are Owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin just that desperate for a playoff berth? Or are they seriously considering making a run at Sabathia when he tests the market? For now, only time will tell, because CC has said he will not openly express his thoughts on free agency until that times comes. But if one thing is certain: the reigning AL Cy Young winner will not be cheap. And the Brewers will have to contend with the big-boys: the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Dodgers. Can they do it? Who knows. But a hidden indicator may be upcoming next weekend, when the team travels to L.A. to square off against the Dodgers.

Sabathia, who turned 28 in July, is from Vallejo, California, just under 400 miles northwest of Dodger Stadium. He will be wooed by multiple teams, but of all of them, L.A. may be the most attractive option for the very reason he would return home. Granted, Vallejo is vastly different than the second largest U.S. city, with a mere 120,000 residents to L.A’s four million. While Sabathia won’t be pitching in the three game set against the Dodgers, it may be a good thing. This will probably be the only shot the “CC-less” Brewers have at making a statement to the Big Man that, “we’re better than these guys, sign with us.” If the Brewers should take the series or perhaps even sweep, maybe, just maybe, the door opens for CC to consider a return to Brew Town.

Another plus is the team will be also be freeing up around $45 million next season, assuming Ben Sheets, Eric Gagne, Mike Cameron, Guillermo Mota, Ray Durham, Derrick Turnbow and Chris Capuano, among others, aren’t brought back. And there are some who will undoubtedly ask, why pay CC a boatload more when Big Ben could be had for less? Since 2001, Sabathia’s rookie season (excluding this year), he has logged close to 200 innings in every season, including 241-innings last year en route to his Cy Young with Cleveland. In that same time, while Sheets has also racked up impressive totals, he has not nearly shown the durability to complete a whole season, at least not enough to trust resigning him long-term. Bottom line: CC is a true, dependable ace. And the loss of Sheets would not be nearly as painful (no pun intended), especially since Milwaukee will have a healthy Yovani Gallardo back next year, along with Manny Parra, Jeff Suppan, Seth McClung and Dave Bush already fixtures in the rotation.

While it may be a long shot, as the contract would need to be somewhere near the $15-20 million a year range for him to even consider an offer, the way Sabathia has pitched thus far it would definitely be worth it. And who knows? If the team can perform well in L.A and down the stretch, the hefty-lefty might even consider a discount.

July 4, 2008

Brewers in trade talks with Tribe for Sabathia?

Category: Brewers — Patrick Stumpf @ 2:55 am

News broke in the wee hours of the morning that the Brewers were reportedly offering two top minor-league prospects for All-Star southpaw C.C. Sabathia.  Fox Sports’ insider Ken Rosenthal released the story, stating the Brewers had made an offer to the Indians, including arguably their best minor-leaguers in the system: Matt LaPorta and Alcides Escobar. The Double-A Huntsville stars have been tearing up opposing pitching. LaPorta is batting .291 with 20 bombs, while Escobar has complied a .331 average with 22 steals.  Sabathia is being actively shopped by Cleveland, trying to deal the 6?7, 290 pound lefty. While it would be an intriguing pick up for the Crew, giving them two bonafide aces (along with Ben Sheets) down the stretch, the offer is either over-exagerrated or just plain steep. At 27, Sabathia is not getting any younger, plus his contract is up following this season making him a risk to resign. Not to mention, LaPorta and Escobar would become eventual starters if kept by the club. So it’s doubtful the aforementioned players are truly involved; guys like Taylor Green and Mat Gamel would be more realistic trade-offs, as Brewers’ beat writer Tom Haudricourt points out. Hopefully more details become available as the holiday weekend wears on.

Update: It’s official. The Brewers have officially netted C.C. Sabathia, for star-prospect Matt LaPorta, along with prospects Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and a player-to-be-named later. What a deal for this club, who gains a bonafide ace next to Sheets for the remainder of the year. Despite the fact that that’s all it may be, a rental, they are in a position to reclaim a playoff berth. Losing LaPorta will hurt in the future, but because he was slated to be thrown in the crowded outfield mix, he may have lost his value already on an NL team’s roster, and may be a future DH for the Tribe, and hopefully a very good one. Back to Sabathia, who will take the mound tonight against the Rockies in Game 2. It should be fun!