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Trade Ripples Muddy Tortured Prospect Metaphor

When prospects get dealt for rentals, there's usually much hand-wringing about bare cupboards and broken dreams, but from what I'm seeing in the immediate wake of the Sabathia swap, the outcry about losing arguably our best prospect is surprisingly muted. You can count me among the satisfied and silent, but it's still worth taking a look at how the trade has affected the Brewers' farm system and which players will assume a greater role as a result of it.

We can start by checking out my prospect list from a couple weeks ago (you can read the current, post-trade list in the left sidebar). Many people rated Matt LaPorta as the Brewers' top overall prospect, but I had him at #2, behind Mat Gamel; however, the difference isn't really worth getting excited about, as they were really more like 1-a and 1-b. In any case, LaPorta's departure leaves Gamel and his ridiculous .381/.443/.637 line alone atop the heap, and also helps clear a path for him and his 22 errors to move to the outfield. I imagine the Brewers will leave Gamel at third for the remainder of the year, allowing him to finish his work with hot corner defensive whiz Don Money, only then moving him to the outfield if his reviews continue to come up smelling more like Rafflesia than Rosa.

After Gamel, the next prospect affected is Taylor Green. Green may actually be in the trade, but either way, he's about to get a bump in his Q rating. A solid all-around ballplayer, I had Green as the team's 7th-best prospect pre-trade, and he moves up to 6th currently after LaPorta is removed. If he's still a Brewer at the end of the season and the Brewers' third base monster eats Gamel, he'll enter 2009 as the team's only real internal solution at third base, making him a very important prospect indeed.

Next up are Green's partner in the Dance of the Enlimboed Prospect, Michael Brantley, and Brantley's new teammate at Huntsville, Lorenzo Cain. Is the PTBNL designation a result of the Indians' lust for Brantley and their concern over his current ankle injury? Can Brantley handle center field at the big league level? Now that they're on the same team, will the Brewers play Brantley in center ahead of Cain, despite Cain being a better center fielder, because Cain's bat is more likely to pack corner outfield thunder? Can either of them play center better than Corey Hart can? All good questions, and unfortunately, all questions for which I don't have an answer. In any case, if Brantley remains a Brewer, Milwaukee is going to have a couple pretty good spare outfielders pretty soon, and those might come in handy...

...because there's no pitching. Rob Bryson is a long way from the Majors, but in him the Brewers lost a pitcher with perhaps the second-highest upside in the system, behind only Jeremy Jeffress. Here's where it gets tricky: if Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia walk after the season, the Brewers will have cemented in their 2009 starting five only Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, and Jeff Suppan. Dave Bush, Seth McClung, Carlos Villanueva, and Steve Hammond (along with 2009's neo-Narvesons) will compete to fill the final two spots in a rotation that does not look particularly sexy, or effective. There's a chance Jeffress will be ready at some point next year, but that's not something to count on. As such, it would be nice if the Brewers could package some of their redundant outfield talent, and/or perhaps one of Jonathan Lucroy and Angel Salome, to acquire some slightly warty pitching help. One possibility, completely off the top of my head, is Gio Gonzalez, a lefty with good stuff but inconsistent results.

Lastly, there should be some outfield promotions in order. Cain and Logan Schafer already got bumped up, but the Brewers aren't really going to leave Scott Houin as one of Brevard's starting outfielders, are they? Has 19-year-old Caleb Gindl impressed the team enough in his full-season debut to warrant moving him up to A+? We'll see, but one thing is for sure: the aftershocks from this blockbuster haven't stopped rumbling.