The Milwaukee Brewers have all but guaranteed themselves their first playoff berth since 1982. After slipping past the St. Louis Cardinals to grab the second-best record in the National League with their win over the Pirates on Sunday, the Brewers added
The trade, which sends Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians to the Brewers in exchange for slugging prospect
Among Cleveland's biggest problems have been a lack of production from its corner outfield positions and the collapse of young second baseman
The big get, of course, is LaPorta. The seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft out of the University of Florida, LaPorta played first base in college and was moved to left field by the Brewers because of the presence of
Says Goldstein of LaPorta, "I talked to a scout about him just the other day and he said, 'Look, he's a thumper.' There's no question in his mind. The guy is a true middle-of-the-order hitter. That's not the kind of projection you put on a whole lot of players. When you do scouting and you project a role for a player, it's always 'on a championship team,' and LaPorta projects as a middle-of-the-order hitter on a championship team. He has a mature, advanced, major league-level approach. He has massive power. He is a machine. Offensively, it's not ridiculous to think he could be
The Indians could easily move LaPorta to Triple-A upon delivery, give him a cup of coffee in September, and insert him into the major league lineup for Opening Day 2009, if not sooner.
In swapping LaPorta for Sabathia, the Brewers made the best of a bad situation. Last season Milwaukee lost the NL Central by two games, a difference mainly attributable to its terrible infield defense. The primary offender was rookie third baseman
The Cubs have the league's best offense and a solid pair of starters atop their rotation in
Of course there are innings concerns about Sabathia as well. After years of keeping the annual odometer on his young arm below 200 innings pitched, the Indians finally let go of the reins last year and let the big guy throw 241 innings in the regular season followed by 15 1/3 more in the postseason. Those 256 1/3 innings were a third more than he had thrown the previous season and the most likely reason for Sabathia's rough start in 2008. Since going 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in his first four starts, however, Sabathia has posted a 2.16 ERA with 109 strikeouts against just 20 walks and eight home runs in his last 14 outings, 10 of which were quality starts. Still, as Sabathia inches back toward 200 innings (he's at 122 1/3 now), one has to wonder if he'll begin to show fatigue the way he did on his way to posting an 8.80 ERA during last year's playoffs.
Whether or not Sabathia does wear down, the Brewers and their fans will be pleased enough to have their third playoff berth in franchise history, even if it has to come as a wild-card entry. And if Sabathia stays strong, Milwaukee very well could make it all the way to the World Series.