Posts Tagged ‘CC Sabathia’

The All-Decade Team

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Happy Holidays everyone! Since we are on the cusp of a new decade, I decided to put out the Milwaukee Brewers All-Decade team! This was quite an up and down decade for the Crew. We saw the end of our beloved Milwaukee County Stadium, but enjoyed the beauty that is Miller Park. We saw the worst of the worst (3 straight years of finishing last in the NL Central including a 100 loss season) and something we hadn’t seen in over 20 years: Playoffs.  We saw managers change (Lopes, Royster, Yost, Sveum, and Macha). We saw fan favorites come and go. We saw the rise of baseball in HD and a rise in Brewers payroll. Yes, it was quite a roller coaster being a Brewer fan in the 00’s. To look back on the decade that was, Here’s my 25-man All-Decade Roster.


C - The list of Brewers’ catchers from this decade reads like a sick joke: Bennett, Estrada, Bako, Moeller. It was hard to pick, but Damian Miller is my catcher of the decade. In ‘05 and ‘06, he was a solid catcher both offensively and defensively and had a lackluster ‘07 because of the amazingly underwhelming Johnny Estrada.

1B - Prince Fielder - It’s only been since ‘06 that the Brewers have had Fielder as their starting first baseman, but he’s only gotten better over time. He’s even had 2 seasons with over 40 HR’s. He’s been the leader of this team and has shown maturity beyond his years. He even improved his defense!

2B - Ron Belliard - We started off the decade with Belliard at second. He hit alright, but was great at the double play. He was part of turning 129 double plays in 2000.

3B -Ryan Braun - I don’t care how bad his defense was. I don’t care that he’s an outfielder more than a third baseman. He was the best third baseman the Brewers have and I’m putting him here dammit. What else can you say about Ryan Braun? He’s a stud. He does it all. He hits for power and average. He’s the Hebrew Hammer. He likes really ugly MMA shirts. He’s cocky, but says the right things almost all the time. The best thing you can say about him: He’ll be a Brewer far into this next decade!

SS - JJ Hardy - This JJ brought all the ladies to the yard, but behind his female appeal was a great defensive shortstop with a lot of pop in his bat. He made the All-Star team in 2007. His fire continued in 2008 with over 20 home runs again (which is great for a shortstop).

OF - Carlos Lee - We put up with his lazy outfield because you could count on 100 RBI’s. Before Prince was ready for Prime Time, there was Carlos Lee. Even though the Crew only had him for 1 3/4 years, he delivered over 60 home runs and almost 200 RBI’s.

OF - Geoff Jenkins - Roaming the outfield until 2007, Geoff hit 182 home runs and 71 Outfield Assists for the Brewers this decade. Jenks was also voted into the All-Star game in 2004 by the Brewers fans! He ended up having a stellar year that year hitting .296 with 28 HR’s.

OF - Scott Podsednik - Milwaukee’s ROY runner up was the beginning of the resurgence of interest in the Brewers. While he really only had one good year with the Brewers (and only two overall), he set a Brewers record for most SB’s in a year.


1B - Richie Sexson - While I have never been the biggest fan of Sexson because he would choke under pressure, his numbers as a Brewer don’t lie. He hit 133 home runs in a Brewer, including two seasons with 45 (2001 and 2003). He was  a two time All-Star and was involved in an amazing trade for the Brewers.

1B - Lyle Overbay - OK, so I have three first basemen. The Big O was a doubles machine after coming over in the Sexson trade and bridged the gap perfectly between Sexson and Fielder.

OF - Brady Clark - Most people laugh about Brady, but he was a solid member of the Brewers outfield for 4 years this decade. He hit an average of .283 and was a big part of 2005’s .500 year (which people forget was a big deal at the time)

INF - Mark Loretta - Mark had a really strong run in Milwaukee to start his career. And while most of his career was played in the previous decade, he still played for 2 3/4 of this one. Always one you could count on to get on base,  Mark never had more than 60 strikeouts in a season.

OF - Corey Hart - Hart made his debut in 2004, but didn’t recieve the role of everyday starter until 2007. His speed and his bat make him a dynamic player even though his head has gotten in the way.

C - I guess you need two catchers on a 25 man roster so I pick Jason Kendall. I know there are a lot of fans who hate Kendall (such a strong feeling), but many of those fans don’t remember most of the catchers from this past decade. We didn’t have a Surhoff or a Nilsson. And I wouldn’t mind having a Jason Kendall who busts his ass every day on my team….problem is if this was real, he wouldn’t let me put him on the bench.


SP - Ben Sheets - Ben’s entire MLB career started in 2001 even though it seems like he’s been around for longer. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Cy Young and threw over 1200 K’s this decade. I won’t ever forget the day Jared and I saw Sheeter the night after he threw 18 K’s at a Bucks game (Jenkins had front row and Sheeter was sitting 8 rows back by us). He’s Milwaukee’s first legit ace since Higuera and I’d like to see him back in Brewer Blue.

SP - Doug Davis -Doug Davis isn’t flashy. He isn’t dominant. He isn’t fan friendly. He’s just there. And for 3+ years, he was the team’s dependable workhorse. Doug is the reason most Brewer fans check quality starts because 70% of his 2004 starts were quality, although he just won half.

SP - Chris Capuano - Yet another part of the Richie Sexson trade, Cappie was an All-Star in 2005. What people remember most about Capuano was his insane pick-off move which prompted umpires re-check their rule books about balks. He’s the final part of the MM3 (See Kolb)

SP - Yovani Gallardo - This young star in the making was better than expected in ‘09.  He also was helpful down the playoff stretch in ‘08 (even though a freak accident derailed almost all of that season). I’m excited to see how Yo matures in this next decade.

SP - C.C. Sabathia - Sure he grabbed the cash and left, but before he did, he gave Milwaukee a hero they have not seen in a long time. C.C. delivered the team the playoffs and for that, he will never be forgotten. We were able to see what C.C. would have been like in the playoffs had he not been used up, but most people would agree that the Brewers would have never gotten to the playoffs had he been used more sparingly.

RP - Dan Kolb - There are a group of pitchers I like to call the Mike Maddux Three. These pitchers had their highest levels of success under his tutelage and most came out of nowhere to become All-Stars, then fizzle away. The first of those three is Dan Kolb. Dan was all sorts of mediocre until in 2003 when he had an ERA of 1.99 and saved 21 games. The next year he saved 39 and became an All-Star. The following year, he was traded for Jose Capellan which was a move that benefited NO ONE.

RP -Derrick Turnbow - Turnbow is another member of the MM3. A fireballer picked off of waivers, Turnbow was known as the “Wild Thing”. He had wild hair and a wild streak, but his fastball could touch three digits. This streak caught up with him, but not before he was named to the All-Star game. Sadly, his bobblehead ended his career.

RP - Francisco Cordero - Another in the streak of Brewers All-Star Relievers, Cordero was a name on the Carlos Lee trade that quickly became so valuable, people forgot how bad Kevin Mench was. CoCo came in to Click, Click, Boom and saved 44 games with a 2.98 ERA. He was lost to Cincinatti because they offered him a couple extra million the following year.

RP - Brian Shouse - Lefty specialists are in high demand nowadays and the Brewers had a great one in Brian Shouse. When he was picked up, most people said “Who?”, but this lefty had 2+ strong years in Milwaukee and had a cult following.

RP - Trevor Hoffman - OK, so he only had one year in Milwaukee, but you would agree it was a great one, right? He exceeded expectations and was a highlight in a disappointing ‘09 effort. Plus he was the capper on a decade that saw 6 Brewers pitchers become All-Stars.

RP - I have one more reliever spot and it’s hard to give it to just one person because there were so many players that were similar. They weren’t great, but they were who the Brewers had so my last reliever is Matts DeSkanick. That’s right. A hybrid of Matt Wise, Mike DeJean, Curtis Leskanic, and Brooks Kieschnick. They were all middle of the road relievers, but were necessary or had a small following of fans at the time. (If Jared or Tyler could make a photoshop of this, that would be awesome)

Manager - Ned Yost - Love him or hate him, he’s the man that took the Brewers from awful to competitive.

There you have it! Feel free to post your own! I know we’re all looking forward to another up and down decade of Brewer baseball. I hoped to do a Brewer of the Decade Vote in lieu of a fan favorite vote, but we’ll see if the site is around long enough for that.

Where Will The Wins Come From?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Before I start - follow me on twitter!

That’s been the big question ever since CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets bolted for the greener pastures of free agency this winter, and according to most analysts, they will have a lot of trouble replacing the production from CC and Ben.  Of course, they’re right.  It’s very hard to replace the combined 9.3 WAR provided by the prodigious pair, but I think the Brewers will be able to do it.  Let me go through where these wins will come from.

First, the bullpen.  The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was incredibly bad last year, to put it simply.  Derrick Turnbow managed to accrue a whole -.4 wins in less than 10 innings, Eric Gagne, despite his okay finish, was worth -1.0 wins, and David Riske was also worth -.5 wins.  There’s a whole -2 wins from 3 players in the bullpen.  Salomon Torres did not do a whole lot to make up for it, as he was only worth .4 wins last year.  All told, the volatile Brewers bullpen was worth a paltry 1.6 RUNS above replacement last year, for a total of .16 WINS above replacement.  This was the 6th worst in the league (Pirates, Cardinals, Giants, Padres, Mets) and by FAR the worst among playoff teams (the next worst bullpen was the Rays at 3.32 WAR).  Basically, it’ll be hard for the Brewers to be that bad this year, especially considering the retooled bullpen.  Let’s take a look at one possible outlook for the bullpen this year:

CL Hoffman, 60 IP 3.90 FIP, 1.8 LI    | 0.80 WAR
RP Villanueva, 80 IP 3.40 FIP, 1.3 LI | 1.45 WAR
RP McClung, 80 IP, 3.60 FIP, 1.1 LI   | 1.00 WAR
RP Stetter, 50 IP, 3.50* FIP, 1.0 LI  | 0.70 WAR
RP Swindle, 40 IP, 3.90* FIP 0.9 LI   | 0.30 WAR
RP Julio, 50 IP, 4.30 FIP 0.7 LI      | 0.10 WAR
RP Riske, 50 IP, 4.30 FIP 0.7 LI      | 0.10 WAR
RP Others, ~40 IP, 4.45 FIP 0.6 LI    | 0.00 WAR
TOTAL                                 | 4.45 WAR

(Rough projections from CHONE, Marcel, and BrewCrewBall community projections)

There are many variations on this theme, and they’ll all have similar results.  This bullpen projects as 4.45 wins above replacement.  That’s a 4.29 win gain over last year’s bullpen, so even if the bullpen is only half as good as these projections say, we’re still looking at a massive improvement.  So there’s 4.3 wins back of the 9.3 lost from Sheets/Sabathia.  That still leaves us with 5 wins to make up.  The next places to look are the starters.  Essentially, replacing CC and Ben are Yovani Gallardo and Braden Looper.  Now, that duo certainly does not strike fear into the hearts of opponents like the old guard, but they are certainly capable.  More projections:

SP Gallardo, 180 IP, 3.60 FIP | 3.80 WAR
SP Looper, 190 IP, 4.60 FIP   | 1.65 WAR
TOTAL                         | 5.45 WAR

So between the two additions to the rotation this year, we can see an increase of 5.45 wins above replacement.  This is even before we add in possible late season contributions from Chris Capuano.  With these 5.45 WAR, combined with the added 4.29 WAR from the bullpen, we have more than replaced the 9.3 wins lost from the departures of Sheets and Sabathia.  This is before we consider that many of the Brewers hitters suffered down years and are likely due for regression this year.  This team may not be as flashy or as star-powered as last year’s team, but it certainly has the ability to compete and there is no reason to think otherwise.

Joshua Kusnick Interview

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

From left to right: Howard Kusnick, Taylor Green and Joshua Kusnick at Miller Park.

Joshua Kusnick of Double Dimaond Sports Management was nice enough to chat with us this evening. Kusnick represents thirteen players in the Brewers system, including highly regarded prospects like Jeremy Jeffress, Lorenzo Cain and Taylor Green. Over the last couple of  years, Kusnick has developed a reputation as an agent that works outside the box, so to speak, as he maintains a blog on which he’ll often discuss the life of an agent or what is happening with the players he represents and he is open to the media and fans, even going so far as to reaching out to this blog to see if there is anything he can do to help us. In the interview he reveals his philosophy as an agent, sheds some insight into last season’s Sabathia trade and drops a few names to watch closely in 2009.

You can listen to the interview here:

OK, this is Jared with Right Field Bleachers and I have Joshua Kusnick on the phone, the agent for many of the young Brewers, and I’m just going to ask a few questions.

First off, how is the offseason going for you so far? Keeping busy I imagine?

Yeah, you know, it’s been a little bit different feel this year because of the way the economy has been, but we’ve been working incredibly hard for everybody and we just got back from the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. We got a lot of good feedback from a lot of the companies and more importantly the team. We had our meetings with Mr. Melvin and Mr. Ash and we got a pretty good feel for what’s in store for the guys this year and what everybody’s expectations are of our players. Of course, Alex Periard and Omar Aguilar got added to the roster, so that was nice. We’re expecting hopefully things to continue into the year and everything’s been pretty smooth thus far. It’s been hectic, but it’s been good.

Can you talk a little bit about how you came to where you are today? Why’d you choose to become an agent?

Uh, it kind of happened by accident, like any good endeavor. I’ve worked in sports since I was probably 14, 15 years old. My father, Howard, has been an attorney for over 25 years and I used to be one of those paparazzi-type people trying to get autographs of all the minor league guys when I was a kid, 14, 15 years old. I never really cared too much about getting autographs really, but it gave me a really good venue and vehicle to talk to pro athletes and practice talking to pro athletes without getting star struck. And, by the time I was 18 years old, I had a pretty outgoing personality, and I spoke to my father and we discussed what I was going to do for school and whatnot. I went to Florida State and the year before I left, I ran into a scout at one of those games and he had offered me a job with the team he was with at the time for really low-level scouting, probably just associate work, and I helped him out with his draft figures that year. Then, the following year, I spoke to my father and we decided to open an agency when I was a teenager. And the first client we ever signed made it to the big leagues. And that was all she wrote.

OK, do you mind if I ask who the client was?

Ha, uh, yes, because we don’t represent him anymore, but he’s no longer playing so it evens out.

You seem to have a different approach to the business than most agents, you know from your blog to the way you relate to media and fans, a little more open I guess. Can you talk about your philosophy as an agent and why you choose to go about it that way?

Yeah, when I first started, when everybody first starts in the industry, you’re starting with absolutely nothing and I made the decision years ago that I was going to do things my way or I wasn’t going to do it at all and if it works, great, and if not, then there’s always other jobs. I love reading. I love writing. I’ve always been very close with media types, even before I was an agent. There’s obviously a separation between players and fans because players need to live their lives without fear of anything. They have a right to privacy too. But, professionally, I don’t think there’s any reason for there to be a huge veil. I don’t think I’m saying anything that’s too controversial or too secretive. I’m not stupid. I don’t let inside information slip for the most part. But it’s important to keep the fans and the media in the loop, especially with the guys coming up because nobody knows who these guys are. You need to bring something different. You’ve gotta have a different approach.

With me being as young as I am, I’m going to be 27 in May, if I acted like a suit and tie when I was 21 years old, there would really be no incentive for the player to hire me as opposed to a guy who is 45 years old in a suit and tie. That was my gimmick getting in is just being different. And obviously there’s a natural maturation process. I’m hopeful people can see the difference now from what I was a few years ago and it’s worked so far. Hopefully whatever I’m doing keeps working in the future. Like I said, it’s important to keep everyone involved because it’s a form of entertainment, it’s like showbiz. Obviously there are more emotions involved because it’s a sport, but you’re providing a service to the fans and without them, where would everyone else be?

You mentioned your age. Have players been hesitant to work with you because you’re so young, or do you see it as an advantage?

I mean, it’s both. It’s difficult at some levels because it’s easy for other people to harp on that and say I’m crazy or say I’m young or say I’m this and that. But when I get criticized, it’s usually not about the quality of my work or my agency’s work with my father, it’s about the basic stuff. And most players — they don’t get enough credit for this — they’re very smart. They’re very sharp. They can tell when somebody is lying to them. If somebody is promising something that sounds too good to be true, it oftentimes is. My approach is pretty blunt. I’m a blunt guy. You know, “This is what I can do. This is what I can’t do. If you like it, great. If not, go hire someone else.” I only promise things I can deliver or else I’m going to look like a liar and I’m going to get fired anyway. I’ve worked hard to get rid of the age stigma and my father has been a huge help with that and a calming influence.

As for the positives, obviously I’m in the same age bracket as the majority of my clients. It’s a lot easier for them to tell me certain things or relate with me for certain problems they’re having because of how old I am. And maybe they wouldn’t necessarily have that with somebody else. It works perfectly. My whole agency is my father and myself. If a player feels more comfortable dealing with one as opposed to the other, that’s how it works. But my father and I are involved with absolutely everybody. So, it’s good. It’s worked so far, like I said, and we’re not going to change the dynamic of the agency anytime soon. And we’re just really thankful to be here still because we know how easy it is to fail in this industry.

From reading your blog, it sounds like being an agent isn’t always the glamorous wining and dining it can be made out to be. Can you talk about that a little bit? Life on the road?

It’s a grind. I travel the majority of the year. It’s an anonymous job for the most part. I’m not in this to get famous. That’s the player’s job. I’m just here to get everybody paid and make sure that they’re taken care of as best as they need to be and what they want. I do what I’m told. I give the best advice I can. You know, it’s not all parties and Hollywood. It’s a grind. I’m up until 3 a.m., 4 a.m. every day talking to guys on the West Coast if they need to call me. I’ve never altered that sleeping pattern. I’ve developed it. It takes a toll on your personal life obviously, but you give up everything to do this job and it’s worth it at the end of the day if you’re willing to pay the price. But people who come into this field as a fan, it’ll never happen. You really need to sterilize yourself from the idea of fandom and just really look at it as a business venture and treat it as such.

It’s just a grind. I’m going to Milwaukee tomorrow. March is going to be crazy for me with Spring Training. And then the season starts and most of the year I’m going to be gone. And it’s just minor league city after minor league city, major league cities, meeting with teams, meetings with companies, meetings with other players, then you have to balance the draft. It’s difficult because I have a smaller size agency staff wise, I’m hands on with everything. It’s hard to trust people within the industry, and as far as giving responsibility to other people, I never put that burden on them. I’d rather take responsibility for everything and if something doesn’t go well, it’s my fault. Instead of having to blame somebody, I’d rather it just be on me.

Coming up in the agency world is not an easy thing and most people flame out after a few years. I’ve seen lots of people in the industry come and go. But, like I said, I think I’ve shown that I have some degree of staying power and it’s not because I’m lacking for substance. I’d like to believe that I can back up everything that I’m talking about, but we’ll see.

You represent a lot of Brewers prospects. Do you know how many you’re working with right now?


Was that just a natural thing, kind of word-of-mouth, people in the same system talking to each other? Or how did that come to be?

The first two players we had signed were Lorenzo Cain and Darren Ford. Darren played at Chipola Junior College and Lorenzo played at Tallahassee Community College. I lived in Tallahassee at the time and I was actually scouting a Mariners’ prospect named Michael Saunders who was at TCP and I actually saw Lorenzo by accident and it was one of the best mistakes of my career. We got Lorenzo and then we got Darren and then they both went out together and then we did a good job for them and then we got everybody else.

We’ve been able to retain everybody, which is the more important thing because it’s not who you start with, it’s who you finish with. And now we have some of the bigger names in the system. But when we signed some of the guys, they did not start off as the bigger names.

We like to believe that the agent’s personality is reflected in the players that he represents. And guys like Taylor Green and Lorenzo and Darren were all draft and follows and all worked hard, nothing has been given to them. Luis Pena has been in the system for nine years and Omar Aguilar was a draft and follow and Periard was a mid-round sign. None of these guys, except for Jeremy Jeffress and Brent Brewer, were high-round guys, and not to take away from their work because Jeremy and Brent are two of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in my life, but we like to believe that the guys that we have will reflect favorably upon us. We work hard. They work hard. And I think our work ethic has paid off to the point where we’ve been able to get the other Brewer guys because they see how hard we work as opposed to everything else that is out there in the industry. And I think that people react to that favorably.

What’s your relationship with the Brewers’ front office like?

Positive, for now. My father and I have a great relationship with everybody from Bruce Seid to Gord Ash to Doug Melvin. If there’s something that happens, we can call anybody. And I know a lot of the scouts because they’ve drafted a lot of our guys. From the previous regime, I was very good friends, professionally speaking friends wise, with Jack Zduriencik and Tony Blengino and Tom McNamara, who are with the Mariners now.

It’s a unique relationship with Milwaukee. We’ve had players with all 30 teams, but it’s just like a phenomenon. That’s not the right word, but it’s just a weird occurrence that we have all these guys in one system and we’ve been able to just manage it. We have a good relationship with everybody we deal with as far as negotiating the draft. With the Brewers, you build relationships with certain teams and they know what to expect from you and you know what to expect from them and occasionally it can help things run a little bit more smoothly.

As the Sabathia trade details started to come out last year, a couple of your clients were mentioned as possible player-to-be-named later candidates. It kind of dragged out for several months, not many details coming out. How difficult was that for you and your clients?

It was interesting. The two players never let it affect their on-field performance, which is a total testament to Taylor and Michael. I knew a little bit more than I let on on the blog obviously, but towards the end, I just stopped blogging about it because it really got me in trouble because at that point I learned that fans have a certain expectation to demand facts from people they don’t know. So, at that point, I learned the age-old adage to shut my mouth.

I knew at one point in time it was just down to Taylor and Michael and even later I knew it would end up being the details that if they made the playoffs, it’d be Mike and if they didn’t it would be Taylor, vice versa, whatever. And for me it was difficult because I like to have a plan in place for every situation of what’s going to happen to these guys in the future. It was taxing trying to figure out what was going on because obviously the teams don’t care enough about the agents to inform us, which is well within their rights. I’m not criticizing that all.

It was tough that the names got leaked. I really wish they hadn’t at all, but the world is a smaller place with the Internet now and that’s just the reality we live with. But they handled it and it did not bother them at all. In fact, it got a little bit more stressful in their offseason when their season was finished and we were just sitting on pins and needles waiting for the season to end to figure out who was going to get named.

But they handled it as well as could be expected. And Taylor is going to be a great player in the big leagues. Mike is going to be a great player in the big leagues. And, you know, I think both sides are happy one way or the other. The Brewers made the playoffs and the Indians got a big leaguer in Mike Brantley and the Brewers got to keep a big leaguer in Taylor Green. I think that was one of those trades that worked out for both sides.

You deal with the difficult stuff like that, but on the flipside, it has to be really rewarding to see your players doing so well in the minors as they advance through the system.

It’s unbelievable. These guys put in so much work that the fans usually don’t get to see. I mean, it’s a year-round job. And they give up their lives for this. These guys aren’t millionaires for the most part. They’re living off of nothing, minor-league salaries and whatever their signing bonuses were, and to see some validation in all of their work is just awesome.

Alex Periard got named to the preliminary roster for the World Baseball Classic and Taylor and Lorenzo and Jeremy and Brent, I mean, any given guy that we have has a chance to be in the Future’s Game. It’s just great. One of the few, few traveling highlights I get every year is going to the all-star games. It’s that real bright spot where you can see that they’re almost there. Watching these guys, like Luis Pena, who God willing makes the big-league team out of spring this year, you know, he’s been working on that his whole life. He’s come back from arm surgeries, was on the roster, got removed from the roster, is back on the roster, it’s an unbelievable feeling watching these guys come up and just seeing where they’ve come from. I’ve known Mike Brantley and Lorenzo Cain since they were in high school, so to see where they were and where they are now, it’s probably the most rewarding aspect of the job.

And what does 2009 have in store for you and your clients, more of the same? Success and moving up the system?

I hope. Luis, Omar and Alex are on the 40-man so at any given point in time I would hope to see them all in Milwaukee this year. And, you know, there are guys like Lorenzo who could sneak up there this year, but the one guy who I absolutely wouldn’t put it past is a guy like Taylor Green to fool everybody and get up there this year. He’s such a special kid and a unique talent. Jeremy Jeffress has a chance to get up there this year for sure. Brent Brewer, some fans have been a little bit down on him. Brent is going to be a superstar. I don’t care what anybody else says. He’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever seen in my life. And even guys like, you know, we’re expecting Steven Chapman to bounce back this year, stay healthy and have a productive season. A guy like Chris Dennis, who not too many people know about, has ridiculous raw power. A guy like Nick Tyson could bounce back. And we’re excited to follow the progress of other guys that have left the system: Michael Brantley, Darren Ford, Patrick Ryan, Mel Stocker. All these guys have great opportunities this year. I’m excited for everybody we have and speaking for what your target market is, the Brewer guys, everybody is going to be fine. We’re very excited about 2009.

You mentioned Taylor Green and there’s been some question about his final position and what it will be. He’s moved to third and he’s played second. What do you think his best position is?

I think he’s a third baseman. If you see him enough, you just look at the kid and go, “That’s a baseball player.” He’s one of the better defenders I’ve seen and he doesn’t get enough credit for it. He works his ass off. And Taylor, you know, he’s a third baseman. That’s where I would love to see him end up and that’s where I think he’s going to be. And obviously, the stat gurus see his numbers offensively as better at second base, but Taylor has worked so hard to make himself into a third baseman. You know, he’ll play wherever. Wherever he goes, he’ll be fine. He’s that kind of kid. But I think he’s going to end up at third.

Is there a guy that you represent that you think is poised for a big year if you had to pick one?

Brent Brewer. I think Brent has got a chance to be that guy and come out of nowhere, not really coming out of nowhere because everyone knows who he is, but everyone is kind of down on him. People forget how young he is and how he was a football player coming out of high school and turned down Florida State. He had those opportunities presented to him. But this kid works unbelievably hard. The Brewers rewarded him by sending him to the Fall League at the end and he hit three home runs and hit .300 in a really limited space.

I think Brent has got a chance to win the Huntstville job. And if you’re in AA, anything can happen. I just think that eventually all the work that Brent put in is going to completely pay off. He’s such a great kid and he worked so hard. I think Brent’s the guy poised for that breakout year.

Now, obviously, guys like Cain have had that in my opinion and Green and Omar and Jeffress, of course. The guy that people are down on is Brent and I’ve never agreed with it. I’ve seen the kid play enough and I think that Brent is the guy that’s going to come up and “Oh, wow, he really is that good.” I’ve always believed that with Brent and he’s such a remarkable young man and I think it will be Brent this year.

Is there anybody else Brewers fans should be watching in particular as far as players you represent?

Yeah, we’ve got some guys coming up in the lower levels of the minors. Kristian Bueno, a lefty who was drafted in 07. I really like Kris. He’s a good lefthanded pitcher. I think Nick Tyson could have a really good bounceback year. Chappy for sure I think will have a bounceback year. I think that things are going really well and the under-the-radar guy that not a lot of fans probably know about would be Chris Dennis. I mean, Chris has ridiculous raw power. I would put it a tick below what Matt LaPorta’s raw power grade was and if Chris can just cut down on the strikeouts a little bit, I think he’s got a chance to hit a lot of home runs in the minors.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

No, I’m good. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk to you guys. I’ve got a lot less time the last few months to check up on stuff just because of how demanding the job has become. It’s been good. I really enjoy reading your guys’ site. I love BrewerFan still. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to be a presence anymore so I’m trying to get this stuff done and thank all of you guys for being so good to me and my guys over the years. Plus, I probably should say hi to my girlfriend Amber so she doesn’t kill me.

Alright, well, no problem at all. Thanks, we really appreciate it. Have a good one.

Thanks for having me.

RFB Offseason Roundtable - 2008 Decisions

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

This Week’s Topic: Think back through the entire year of 2008. What were the best and worst decisions made in 2008?

Jared -

I’d say the worst decision of the year had to be the Eric Gagne signing. Melvin needed to bring in somebody to close out games. The team looked like it could be competitive and somebody needed to pitch in the ninth with the lead. The market for relief pitchers was through the roof and Gagne got $10 million despite some injury concerns, declining velocity and his ineffective pitching at the end of the year in Boston. Every Brewers fan (and Doug Melvin too, I’m sure) prayed that Gagne could recapture the momentum he had in Texas previous to the Boston trade in 2007 and we all dreamed of him being as dominate as he was in his prime in LA. No such luck… Gagne struggled from the get go. He came back strong in a lesser role as the season progressed, but he was not worth anywhere close to $10 million. That said, the guy can pitch and he proved to be a class act. I’d be happy to see him in a Milwaukee uniform again in 2009, just not for $10 million…

An under-the-radar move that came back to haunt the Brewers was trading away Gabe Gross. Gabe is not a world beater, but he’s a decent player offensively and defensively. The team could have used a left-handed hitting outfielder many times during the season and Gross’ patient approach at the plate would have been nice off the bench or in spot starts, especially on a team full of free swingers. How nice would it have been to have that Gabe after our other Gabe (Kapler) got hurt and couldn’t play late in the season? Gross could have given Hart a few days off and maybe Corey would have shook out of that horrible funk he was in. The Brewers basically gave Gross away too…

I think the best decisions the Brewers management made in 2008 were the little ones. They filled the roster with veterans and role players and it worked out beautifully. Jason Kendall played outstanding behind the plate. Gabe Kapler came out of retirement to play a huge role as a reserve and spot starter. Russell Branyan provided a much-needed offensive spark as the Brewers were struggling in May. Salomon Torres filled in admirable as the closer. Ray Durham and Craig Counsell were important reserves and got plenty of starts too. Even Todd Coffey and Mike Lamb contributed down the stretch. Melvin and company did an outstanding job filling in the gaps on the roster and it was the difference between reaching the playoffs and watching them from home.

It’d be blasphemous not to mention the CC Sabathia trade as a great decision too. The big man put the Brewers on his back and carried them into the playoffs. The package Milwaukee gave Cleveland is impressive and one or more of LaPorta, Brantley or Bryson could easily turn into good Major Leaguers, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. The moments CC and the 2008 Brewers gave us will be among some of my fondest Brewer memories for the rest of my life.

Jack -

I could go with the obvious answer here and say that the greatest move of 2008 was the CC Sabathia trade, but I think I’ll take the high road and find something a little more under the radar. My personal favorite move was the signing of Russell Branyan, who in his short time on the Milwaukee 25-man roster was worth 1.2 wins. Next, I’d go with the decision to put Gagne on the DL. Easily.

As I’ve already mentioned, the potential move of 2009 for me would be the signing of Joe Crede. However, hopefully that’s unnecessary, and Mat Gamel’s promotion to the ML level will turn out to be the big move of 2009.

On the other side of the spectrum, we again have an obvious pick for the worst move of 2008 – namely, the signing of Eric Gagne. But I think that clearly worse was the multi-year signing of David Riske, a player who was below replacement level last year and will likely continue to hover around that level.

The move going into the new year that I fear most is a possible signing of either Oliver Perez or Jon Garland. These are two players who have terrible peripheral stats but have nice and pretty W-L records and ERAs. I think that signings of these two could turn out as bad as the Suppan signing, and I hope we stay away.

Bryan -

There are two decisions that were the best this year: The first was signing Ryan Braun to a long term deal. The second was trading for C.C. Sabathia.

Ryan Braun is now the face of the team. I know big Prince is still a great leader, but the fans have this feeling that we know he’s going to chase the money in a bigger city so it limits our love for the big man. With Ryan, we have a young All-Star who says all the right things and is a complete team player. How many amazing moments has Braun already given Milwaukee? It’s amazing to think that I’ll be in my 30’s when Ryan Braun’s contract runs out.

The C.C. trade ultimately brought the Brewers to the playoffs. The Brewers were going to do their September collapse again, but C.C. wouldn’t let them. Yes he was costly and yes, we don’t even get a first round pick anymore, but for 4 months, C.C. was the biggest star in Milwaukee and the main reason the Brewers didn’t completely collapse again.

There were many more, such as the Kapler signing and Torres trade (which is still underrated by fans), but those two were the best.

As far as worst decisions go, Gagne was a rough one, so was Julian Tavares, perhaps it was batting the pitcher 8th, or using Cameron in the leadoff role, but one thing stands out in my mind as the worst decision.

This summer, we saw gas prices rise massively. It almost reached 4 and a half dollars a gallon. It became financially hard for many fans to make it to the game. Once fans were finally in the stadium, what did we see? A HUGE gas pump with numbers that kept going up, up, up all summer long! What an awful move by Citgo. I understand they put the thing up in 2007, but the decision to keep it was awful. Were they trying to find a silver lining to the gas price crisis? There are soooooooo many ways to tally home runs. There are soooooooo many ways for Citgo to promote themselves. But to have a gas pump rise all summer while real prices were rising causing fans to sweat more than ever was the worst decision of 2008.

Thankfully gas prices have fallen for now, but if they start climbing again Citgo should think about maybe sponsoring a concession stand instead of a giant gas pump. What would be smart would be for an investment company to put something out there so even though stocks are falling right now, the Brewers home run totals are up, up, up!

Tyler -

I’m probably not the only one who will mention this, but I view Eric Gagne’s one-year/$10 M contract to be Milwaukee’s most siazable front office error. As easy as it is to jump on Gagne, Doug Melvin and anyone else with bearing to this occurance now, I - as I know many others were - was happy with the transaction initially. Yeah, the price tag was a bit hefty, and Gagne’s directly preceeding bout with the injury bug and ineffectiveness in Arlington and Boston carried a great deal of uncertainty, but Milwaukee felt it needed to address the closer situation and went out and nabbed a player a few years removed from legendary closer status.

But alas, every legitimate worry of failure that accompanied Seth Rogen reincarnate was almost immediately realized, his mention in the Mitchell Report left Milwaukee’s brand new (ironically very old) bullpen with another PED-related black eye and the funds cherished by a mid-market franchise seemed sucked into an empty hole. Sure, he pulled it together to be a pretty good option for the 7th and 8th innings, but the price tag wasn’t fitting of a middle reliever. At the right price, I would welcome Eric back with open arms, and (as the current bullpen sits) even ponder letting him battle for the closer’s role in Spring Training. But you’d be hard pressed to find a fan who doesn’t feature Eric Gagne high on his or her (well hello, there) list of 2008 Brewers disappointments.

Dear C.C.

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

We Know, C.C., and It's OK

Ok, C.C., this has got to stop. So you didn’t come back to Milwaukee…we figured that would happen. Many of us are just happy we were still on your short list. Just a few years ago, a major free agent would have left town without ever looking back. But don’t treat us like this; saying signing with the Yankees wasn’t for the money and that you would have had more pressure in Milwaukee than New York because that is a load of bullsh*t that everyone can smell from New York to Milwaukee.

C.C., I don’t think you understand how gravy your 11-2 record was to us. We knew you were going to make an impact, but the impact you made was far greater than most anyone expected. You literally carried the team on your shoulders and while we, the fans, were thankful, we realized how unfair it was to you…we felt your pain. We didn’t blame you for losing in the postseason, oh no. We knew that the Superman pitching schedule you were on was going to bite the team in the ass sometime. We will still just thankful you got us to the postseason. You spent only a couple months in Wisconsin, but you’ve already made yourself a legend here and you left as a legend. We will speak of you and tell your stories…unfortunately it ends with “the team lost to the soon-to-be World Champions and he went to New York.”

Most of us fans knew you were going to leave, heck according to many sportswriters at the beginning of the offseason you weren’t even going to consider staying. If you would have come back, you would have not had the pressure you speak of. No, I believe you could have done anything but commit murder and the fans would still be behind you for what you did in the fall of 2008. It’s fairly easy to earn love and respect from Wisconsin fans; either work your ass off or get one of our teams to the promised land (for the Brewers it’s sadly just the postseason we’re looking for, for the Packers it’s a Super Bowl). You did both and we would have remembered and appreciated that. C.C., what you would have had in Milwaukee was standing ovations, children named after you, and a solid fan base that would have loved you for being really the first superstar player in 20 years to actually COME BACK. C.C., we’re used to losing players as fans of a small market team…we’re not used to keeping our stars and I guarantee if you would have come back, you could have gone 12-12 and the fans would still stand and applaud. Will that be true in New York?

Now, here’s the pressure that you will probably recieve. Alex Rodriguez is one of the best hitters in the game. As a Yankee, he has consistently hit 35 or more home runs a year, drove in 100, and hit around .300. Yet, he has been villified by the entire city for not winning when it counts. He was given, like you, a record contract. Once he went to New York, he had to instantly produce a championship. Do you think it will be any different for you? They have SportsCenter in NYC, they saw what you did for the “pitiful small market teams” in Milwaukee and Cleveland. They are probably expecting not only 11-2, but a World Series and a Cy Young performance. What’s going to happen if you lose against the Rays or Red Sox? When you lost against the Cubs, Milwaukee fans weren’t down on you. They knew you would bounce back. Do you think that’s going to be the same always in New York? Sure maybe the first time, but ask Randy Johnson how they treat you in New York. Randy went 17-8 with a 3.79 ERA, but had one bad game in the postseason and melted down the next year because of the pressure and made worse by a herniated disc at the end of the year.  But I guess you’re going there because it’s your best chance for a World Series Ring. Now that you said it, the entire city is going to be counting on you to produce it.

So please don’t tell us you left Milwaukee because of the “pressure” and don’t tell the world that it’s not about the money. An extra year and an extra 20 million over their already record breaking offer to get you to come and it wasn’t about the money? Please. Call it for what it is. Don’t worry about us here in Milwaukee because we already figured you were gone. I truly hope you suceed in New York. Your big, caring personality will make it hard to root against the Yankees when you pitch. I even plan on coming to see you sometime. I hope, for your sake, that you live up to the impossible standards that await you. I just don’t want you to end up like Alex Rodriguez, become disparaged, lose your wife, and end up dating an old pop star who’s into Kabballah. You deserve better than that.



RFB Offseason Roundtable - Winter Meetings

Friday, December 12th, 2008

This Week’s Topic: How was Winter Meetings Week for you?

Joe -

This year’s Winter Meetings, for me, were…well…fine. That’s it. My emotions never got “down” and they certainly didn’t get high.

I’m sure many fans are pretty upset about losing CC, but my reaction to that is “what did you expect?” Sure, there was definitely a part of me that was really hoping he’d sign, but I knew better. Discounts are very few and far between in Major League Baseball. I’ll always be a CC fan. P.S. I fricking hate the Yankees. More on that later.

I don’t really have much of an opinion on the likely trade of Cameron for Melky Cabrera that gained a lot of speed towards the end of the Meetings. I think a straight one-for-one trade is good for the Brewers, but I agree it may mean the Brewers are looking past this year. Cameron is hands down the better option in center this coming year, but Melky has great upside and could be huge for the Brewers in the not-so-distant future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Melvin can manage to make Hall part of the deal and get Ian Kennedy. I don’t see the Brewers getting Philip Hughes, but that would be great in my opinion.

I’m hoping Melvin can manage to get the pieces necessary for the Brewers to again be competitive this year. We’ll just have to sit back and see what happens. As for right now, I’m remaining level headed and patient.

Jared -

The Winter Meeting Week has sort of been like middle school for me. My body (or, in this case, team) is changing rapidly and I’m not sure what to expect. My voice is changing (Ned Yost to Ken Macha). My old friends (Sheets, Gagne, Shouse, Torres) are leaving only to be replaced by new, less reliable friends (Julio, Swindle, Melky Cabrera?). I was dating the hottest girl in school (CC Sabathia) and I thought things were getting serious, but when I asked her to go steady (contract offer) she cut me loose for that douchebag with money (New York Yankees). My dad (Doug Melvin) says everything will be fine and that I should try going after the older, more experienced girls (Smoltz, Johnson, Wolf, Moyer), but I don’t think I have much of a chance with them either. They’ve been flirting with the trendy guys with the flashy Trapper Keepers (West coast/East coast teams). It feels like I’ll never be kissed again (Wild Card), much less get handsy (division title) or do the things I’ve really been thinking about (World Series). But, hey, things could be worse (I could be a Cubs fan…). And at least I’m not that smelly kid sitting in the corner that everyone makes fun of (Pittsburgh Pirates).

OK, so that’s not exactly what the Winter Meetings week has been like for me and I really just took that convoluted illustration way, way, way too far (and, trust me, this awkward kid definitely never got any kind of middle school action), but you get the point… It’s been a frustrating week. I can see that Melvin and company are working towards something, but I’m not sure what it is and I’m not sure I like it at this point. I’ll give management the benefit of the doubt for now though and say I hope/expect some significant activity from the Crew in the coming weeks.

Bryan -

Winter meetings week is usually fun, what with all the tossing around of names and destinations. For awhile it was fun. I was constantly checking the every rumor blog update site I could find.

One thing that has really brought me back to reality this week was that almost every big name can be traced back to New York. I almost forgot what it was like to have New York absolutely DOMINATE major league free agency, but now I remember…it blows for those who don’t get the YES network.

As far as the Brewers go, I appreciate the offer they gave to C.C. We all knew it probably wasn’t going to happen; we’re used to it. I’ll still be a C.C. fan, just not a Yankee one. I’m sad to see him go, but he did more than we could have asked in the short time he was around. I’m actually worried for him, that he might fall apart like Alex Rodriguez and I honestly hope that doesn’t happen to the guy. He deserves better.

The Cameron/Cabrera rumor that popped up was an interesting one. I’d like to keep Cam; I think he’s a great with the Brewers’ young outfielders, but you can’t deny it’s interesting to think about having another young outfielder who has proven he can play in the largest media market to some extent and the Brewers could have him until 2013 if they wanted. That said, I’m glad it hasn’t gone down especially with the Bill Hall, Kei Igawa, Brewers picking up Cam’s tab rumors. C’mon Yankees…you’re going to spend a quarter of a billion dollars this offseason! What’s a measley ten million more? It’s like we say at the bar, if you’re gonna go…go all out!

The fact that I’m talking more about the Yankees than the Brewers can tell you how the Winter Meetings went down this week. Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled offseason.

Tyler -

The four-plus day span that was my Winter Meetings week to this point was OK. I woke up early like an overgrown and out-of-shape child on Christmas day to read the latest news, views and speculation on what teams were up to, who would sign where and how the chips fell. As you might be aware, I used my four consecutive days of 20-hour conciousness to scribe numerous up-to-date posts on both this fine Web site and HERE. I was so preoccupied that I thrice forgot to shave and subconciously weened self gratification to am almost prudish 5-6 times a day. The week was like one long religious holiday, except one for intelligent people who invested their interest in something worthwhile.

As far as the Brewers go, what can be said? I expected CC to go, and vowed to be happy for him no matter where he decided. His choice of the Yankees is a bit tougher to swallow than, say, any non-Cubs franchise, but I would’ve done the same thing if I had any flash of skill at a valued task. In all, I’m just happy to officially know his destiny so the Brewers front office can move on in their quest to field a decent team. I love the Todd Coffey signing, like the Eduardo Morlan Rule 5 pickup, feel numb and bored just thinking about the Mike Lamb re-sign, and - in all - feel like the groundwork has been placed for a modest signing and/or huge trade in the coming days,weeks or month.

In terms of feelings, I am sad that moments after this is posted, the Brewers will likely trade Mike Cameron and this thing I spent like 12 minutes writing will be stale and outdated. But, as is the case in almost every time wasting thing I choose to do in my unfufilling existence, I’m still happy I was involved… and that I probably did better than Jared. Lolz.

Report: Sabathia to Sign With Yankees

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Though nothing has been made official at or even on the Sabathia contract front, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman is reporting that CC Sabathia has signed a 6-year contract worth “at least $140 million.”

Sherman says the only minor hurdle in making this official is a physical. He seems pretty confident in the validity of his claim.

“Barring the unforeseen, Sabathia is going to be a Yankee. The Yanks scored the big prize for which they were hunting.”

As I’ve mentioned. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. But this announcement comes just after reports surfaced of Yankees GM Brian Cashman meeting with Sabathia for a third consecutive day. I’ll wait to react until it’s (viably) confirmed elsewhere, but this looks like a dark day in Brewers baseball.

When CC’s departure is made official, I wish him the best. He did so much for Milwaukee in such a short time and carried the Brewers on his left arm to the playoff promise land. I will never forget what he’s done for Milwaukee, and how he did it. I personally wouldn’t blame him for signing anywhere. He deserves it.

Update: FOX Sports senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal confirms the signing, but indicates it’s a 7-year/$160 million agreement. I view Rosenthal to be more reliable than anything The Post whips up, but we’ll keep the updates coming as years and money are made official.

Cashman to Meet With Sabathia for Third Time

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

A late report from Tom Haudricourt’s blog cites a Newsday article that claims Yankees GM Brian Cashman left the Winter Meetings to meet with the Sabathia family in San Fracisco, reportedly to talk Mrs. Sabathia into moving to New York. If this is true, Cashman has met with Sabathia three consecutive days.

Haudricourt says,

Many New York writers take this third consecutive meeting as an indication that the Yankees and Sabathia eventually will do a deal. I can’t say I disagree.

This is a bad indication, but - as we’ve all become aware - CC Sabathia isn’t the protoypical modern athlete, and this might not be a telltale indication of Sabathia’s departure, but might just be a meaning. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Unless New York plans to pull its offer in the coming days, I don’t understand CC’s motivation to sign quickly.

In the News (12/09)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Brewers News

- As stated earlier, Mike Lamb was signed for a year at the rate of 400K

- Bill Hall didn’t make a pitch for C.C. to stay. Way to stay un-clutch William.

Rumors and Speculation

- C.C. has been rumored to have met or to meet with many teams including the Brewers, Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers, and Angels. And believe it or not, all the teams feel they have a legitimate shot at him. That’s how good his agent is doing so far.

- ESPN is madly fueling rumors of Prince Fielder on the trading block. Both Peter Gammons and Buster Olney have said as much. Steve Phillips on the ESPN Winter Meetings Blog has even asked the question of a Prince for Putz trade. I’d say “Are you f**king kidding me? No way in hell do the Brewers do a deal in which the centered around J.J. “I Swear it’s Pronounced Pootz” Putz.” Rattler Radio also has some thoughts on bringing in Putz that do not involve Fielder.

- Somebody told Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News that the Brewers are emerging as the front runners for C.C. Sabathia, but then doesn’t say anything to back up his source.

- According to a nice, information filled post on the Boston Globe, the Brewers might not bring back Gabe Kapler because they are in need of left handed bats. If that’s true, it would be sad. If you’d bring in the switch hitting Punto for the infield, then maybe…(I know, I know, not happening, get over it)

- Last night, a deal was imminent for Peavy to go to Chicago and now, reports are that a deal is not even remotely close. The Cubs are also looking at Milton Bradley. Cubs are also rumored to be willing to part with fan favorite Mark DeRosa and ship him to Philidelphia. This move would be seen as a way to free up money to bring in Bradley and Peavy. Well, they already bankrupt the Trib, why not more?  UPDATE: ESPN rumor page has the Peavy deal “close” again. It’s the equivilant of a see-saw and it’s making me sick.

- Yankees might offer Ben Sheets a contract. Maybe the All Star performance was an open interview?

- A couple names that fans were interested in are off the table. The Dodgers swept up Casey Blake and Mark Loretta.

NL Central

- The Reds had a busy day. They were reported to have signed veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez, which was later retracted and later traded Ryan Freel and prospects to Baltimore for Ramon Hernandez.

- Are the Pirates going to sell off some goods? Many teams are inquiring about Paulino, Maholm, and Snell.

Other News

- BrewCrewBall runs the numbers on Soup, then runs him through the shredder. They also gave some projections on how the Brewers bullpen is shaping up.

- Closer News: K-Rod is probably going to the Mets and former Cub Kerry Wood is close to a two year deal with the Indians.

- It’s interesting, but unconfirmed: On a Brewers message board, it was posted that the Brewers were interested in Rick Ankiel. While a left-handed centerfielder makes sense, I don’t see it happening.

The Brewers Are the Frontrunner for CC?

Monday, December 8th, 2008

The Brewers may be closing in on a deal to resign ace CC Sabathia, according to George A. King III of the New York Post:

Prior to Yankee GM Brian Cashman’s meeting with CC Sabathia yesterday in Las Vegas, there was a feeling in the baseball universe the stud free-agent lefty would eventually re-sign with the Brewers.

Since the Yankees’ six-year, $140 million has been in front of Sabathia for more than a month, there are reasons he hasn’t taken it. A popular theory is, he doesn’t want to work in The Bronx.

Another is that his wife, Amber, is encouraging him to wait for an offer from a West Coast team that may not be coming - that is, unless the Bay Area product wants to work cheap for the Giants.

Now, there is talk of the Brewers, who have offered five years for $100 million, exploring ways to entice the 28-year-old Sabathia, who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts after being acquired from the Indians.

According to a source who has talked to the Brewers, the club has enough money to sweeten the pot and offer “contract flexibility” that could include an opt-out clause after three seasons.

The Yankees have believed it’s been between them and the Brewers for a while. The Angels and Giants are looking for hitters before pitchers.

First off, don’t get your hopes up too high yet since these free agent stories tend to change day to day, but wow… Talk about an underdog sports story if it is true. The small market Brewers go toe-to-toe with the New York Yankees, offer less money and still could come out with the top prize in the free agent market (and the Yankees top target)? I haven’t even mentioned beating out CC’s home state teams. While there is no concrete info suggesting any of the California teams made an offer, there is no doubt they’d love to have CC too. They seemingly can’t contend with the money the Brewers (and Yankees) put out there.

There are certainly two sides to this… This is a very significant risk for the Brewers if CC does sign with Milwaukee. They’d likely be sinking about 40 percent of their payroll into one player. And that player is a starting pitcher. Not only does he only toss the ball once every five games, he also plays at a position that is most susceptible to injury.

I think the Brewers can get away with this for a couple of reasons. First, the team has noted that CC is an exception. They would not do this for any other player. He is a special talent and they are breaking from their plans to try to acquire him. The Brewers are also in a unique position. They have their best player, Ryan Braun, locked up to an affordable long-term deal. Braun and Sabathia is a great foundation for any team to build on. The Brewers would have one of the best position players and one of the best starters in all of baseball in their primes. They also have young starters that will be with the team for a number of years (Parra and Gallardo) and highly regarded prospects to bolster the offense (Escobar, Gamel and Salome). A CC signing could mean players like Fielder, Hardy, Weeks, Hart and Bush will be traded or let go in free agency as their arbitration years come to an end, but the Brewers should be able to field a competitive team with the cheaper alternatives they are developing now and the players they’ll acquire through trades, draft picks and compensation picks. It will also help the team financially when the contracts of Cameron (signed through this year), Hall (signed through 2010) and Suppan (signed through 2010) expire.

One of the pieces of information that stands out in the story above is the “’contract flexibility’ that could include an opt-out clause after three seasons.” That would not be particularly good for the Brewers because it means that if Sabathia performs as an ace and the contract ends up being “good” for the Brewers, he’ll likely opt out after three years so he can cash in on free agency again. If he underperforms, the market for free agent pitchers goes down or he becomes injury prone, he won’t opt out and the Brewers would be stuck with a “bad contract.” The latter scenario is obviously the worst-case scenario and is the risk for the Brewers. And that risk is there with the opt-out clause or without it.

Sabathia opting out of the contract after three years would not be ideal for the Brewers either since CC would likely be earning his contract as an ace in that scenario and the Brewers would only have him for three years instead of six. But would that be so bad? We’d get three more years of an elite player and the team would still get the comp picks for him at that time if he left. Plus, it’s obvious that money is not everything to CC and he could end up staying in Milwaukee for less than market value (or renegotiating with the Brewers) instead of opting out.

So, there are risks… But who cares? We’re fans. It’s not our financial risk if the Brewers ink Sabathia. It’s Mark A’s and the Brewers management. What Brew Crew backer out there doesn’t want to see the enormous lefty we fell in love with last season take the mound for our team again? It’s hard to believe the Sabathia/Brewers match would always be as exciting and productive as it was down the stretch of the 2008 season, but it’s also hard to believe Sabathia isn’t the kind of player that can be the heart of a team and will them to success.

Hold your breath because for all we know CC and his agent are working on the final details of his Bronx Bomber contract, but if the rumors are true and the Brewers are nearing a contract with Sabathia, it’s time for Brewers fans to celebrate the most significant signing in Brewers history.

Insomniac Ink