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We Got Sabathia

In a handful of threads on this site, just about every angle of the Sabathia deal has been picked apart.  But, since I am a Brewers blogger, it would seem weird if I let this pass without substantial comment.

First off, go read Two-Fisted Slopper's recap of the press conference, including this gem:

Melvin: I talked to CC last night, doesn't want days at home, wants to be in dugout tonight. It's very encouraging. He knows a few of our players, Riske, who said there's a guy in Cleveland that may be available. I can only listen because of tampering.

More thoughts in more or less random order:

  • Also from the press conference, Attanasio confirmed that the move puts us at about $90MM in payroll.  I bring this up because nearly everything I've heard and read from fans reflects what is increasingly the "old" reality of being a small-market team.  Sure, we're never going to be the Yankees, and we'll never have the largest payroll even in the division, but a $90MM payroll is radically new territory compared to the situation just a couple of years ago.
  • I bring this up because I think it's a mistake to discard the Brewers' chances of keeping Sabathia.  Melvin said in the presser that most players acquired now-ish are rentals, and that's the focus for now.  But a $90MM payroll is going to include a couple of big dollar guys--as it should, since you usually need superstars to win, even the Brewers can't develop superstars at will, and superstars cost a premium.  I'm not saying that we ought to throw $120MM/6 at CC (really, I have no idea what would be a good max for him at this point), but of all the pitchers likely to be available on the free agent market this winter, he's probably the one worth overpaying for, and the one most likely to be worth it into years five and six.  Certainly he's a better bet than Sheets (but, of course, market price will reflect that).
  • Still on Melvin: Setting aside for a moment whether he overpaid, kudos to him for getting this done in time for a start on July 8th.  We could get five starts out of Sabathia before other teams pull the trigger on their deadline acquisitions.
  • Amazingly how quickly things change--just a few years ago, the Brewers were an extremely white team, and now there could be days with five African-Americans in the starting lineup.  I wonder whether we'll lead the league in VORP (or Win Shares, or whatever) from black players.
  • On to the mechanics of the deal.  Obviously, we're foregoing a huge upside in LaPorta, who would've been cheap, and could very well have been great, for several years in Milwaukee.  I'm finding it hard to be very balanced about this, because (a) I'm really psyched about the deal, and that enthusiasm is completely irrational, and (b) I've never been satisfied with the way prospects are evaluated for deals like this.  It's easy to say that a prospect is "can't-miss," and that LaPorta is a sure-thing .290, 30 HR hitter as soon as 2010.  There is a high probability that he'll do that, sure, but there is a non-negligible probability that he (or another other prospect, especially two or more levels away from the bigs) will fizzle and never make an impact, that he will suffer an injury, or he will arrive and be frustratingly mediocre, like Weeks has often been.  I don't know whether the total probability of those undesirable outcomes is 5% or 25%, but I'm pretty sure they're higher than the probability that Sabathia implodes (or suffers a serious injury) for us.  Names like Andy Marte are important to keep in mind for those of us who are attached to our prospects.
  • I wish we could keep Taylor Green and Michael Brantley, but really, guys at that level have substantially higher probabilities of not turning into anything, and I'm perfectly happy accepting a trade of two high draft picks for Green/Bryson/Jackson.
  • Regardless of whether we overpaid, or whether we could've gotten CC for less if we had waited a couple of weeks while the Dodgers or whoever didn't come through with a better offer, let's remember that we got the best available player at the deadline.  (I suppose you could make a case for Rich Harden, but remember what I said about probabilities a minute ago?)  Not only did we get the best available player, we got the one who is likely to make the biggest impact on the Brewers, both in the race for the playoffs and in the playoffs themselves.
  • Rotoworld saved me some time and came up with a couple of the stat lines I was looking for.  Career interleague for Sabathia: "12-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 167/59 K/BB ratio in 190 interleague innings."  Sabathia since his rocky start: 2.16 ERA with a 109/20 K/BB ratio in his last 104 1/3 innings.  Keep in mind that most of those innings are against American League teams, and National League offenses aren't as strong.  Yowsa.
  • This is awesome.