Despite my original hesitance about teams acquiring the big lefty, I must say bravo! Doug Melvin and the Brewers front office staff has really positioned this team to be a heavy favorite to potentially make a deep run into the 2008 postseason for a team that has been out of the postseason since 1982. To end a 25 year drought, this would be a team that now features two dominant ace starting pitchers at the top of their rotation in Ben Sheets and now Sabathia, as well as ample young talent. While their bullpen has been shaky all season, this is a team that is capable of going very far. There is potential to see Sheets and Sabathia twice in a short series, teams will have a hard time taking two games from that combination.
I have changed my opinion on acquiring Sabathia for one major reason: the Brewers did not have to give up a huge package to get him. I figured that the Brewers would have to give up two or even three of their top prospects and LaPorta is really the only potential future star that was dealt. Buster Olney made an excellent point last night on Sportscente: both Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia are free agents at the end of the 2008 season, each are likely to become free agents. If the Brewers were to lose both of these guys, the team is going to hold five of the first 50 picks in the draft as a result. Small market teams are forced to reload on an annual basis, and this will give them the opportunity to go for the playoffs now, and then to immediately jump to the top farm system in the majors with so many high picks next June.
For the Indians, this does make some more sense as well. What has really slowed that franchise down this season has been injuries and setbacks to all of their power hitters. Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko have all underperformed even when they haven't been hurt this season, combining for just 10 home runs. This is a group that was expected to hit in the area of 100 home runs. With that kind of power outage, acquiring LaPorta could be a good thing for this season and years in the future. Personally, I have seen LaPorta play a lot at the Cape Cod Baseball League and I certainly didn't see a change to the outfield coming because the guy was massive, even though he showed good agility at first-base in 2006 with the Brewster Whitecaps. The Indians likely acquired a guy that is a lot like Ryan Garko and Travis Hafner. He has big power hitting potential, but I did not see him hitting over .270 in the major leagues. I will look forward to seeing what his approach looks like when the Indians call him up in September or sooner.
Overall, this appears to be a great move for the Brewers and a why not move for the Indians, who did not have much to lose from this trade. Watch for the Brewers the rest of the season. They could very well be the team to beat in the National League.