Sabathia Trade May Offer Fade Opportunities
by Robert Ferringo - 07/08/2008
Obviously everyone knows that C.C. Sabathia was traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee on Monday for prospects. And, obviously, this means that the Brewers are set for Total World Domination. Obviously.
Well, I'm here to spout off the contrarian view and give a few reasons why this move won't really send the Brewers over the edge and propel them into the playoffs:
1. C.C. is left-handed.
While on the open market this is actually seen as quite the positive, it's actually not a very slick move by Brewers brass. Here's why - three of the TOP 10 hitting teams in the entire Major Leagues reside in the National League Central. Two of them - St. Louis (No. 10) and Chicago (No. 3) - just happen to be the teams that Milwaukee is trying to catch, while the third, Houston, is No. 2 overall. Oh, and Pittsburgh (No. 15) and Cincinnati (No. 4 in runs scored vs. lefties) don't happen to be slouches either.
2. C.C. can't improve the bullpen.
Milwaukee's bullpen is just below average, statistically, rating at No. 19 overall with a 4.01 ERA. However, their two leading save men are Solomon Torres (a career journeyman) and Eric Gagne (has been 'roid rager with a 6.33 ERA). That doesn't cut it. Oh, and mix in my boy Guillermo Mota (flat fastball, questionable mental makeup, and a 5.45 ERA) and that isn't exactly a lock-down back end.
Maybe the Brewers aren't done dealing. And you can make the argument that since he can go deeper into games he can help relieve strain on the relievers. But for now, I think that bullpen help is still a tremendous priority, and that they can't catch the Cubs with the crew they have currently.
3. C.C. is erratic.
Yes, Sabathia won the Cy Young Award last year. But Bartolo Colon and Barry Zito are (recent) former Cy winners also, so what does that tell you? Ask the Indians - the team, not just C.C. - that last year was a L-O-N-G time ago. In the three years prior to last season's award-winning campaign, Sabathia was just 38-31. Respectable, but those aren't Johan Santana or Brandon Webb numbers. Sabathia has been very solid for the Tribe, especially in the last two months, but he's just 2-5 on the road this year and has given up four runs or more in three of his last seven starts.
4. C.C. is a Merc.
Sabathia is likely to hit the free agent market this winter and whether or not he stays in Milwaukee will depend on how these next few months go. However, if the Brewers start to slide further out of the race, or if Sabathia gets off to a sluggish start and the Milwaukee faithful don't take to him then I could definitely see him start to hurl for himself instead of for The Cause. He's a hired gun. And those situations rarely work out as they're supposed to.
It's nit-picky, I know, and they guy is an absolute horse. But I'm simply trying to relay the idea that the Sabathia deal is not nearly the earth-shaker that a move like Randy Johnson to the Astros was a decade ago. It's a sweet pickup. And if they can resign him in the offseason then it could become a great pickup. But there is still a lot of trail to tread for the Brew Crew.
And here is the end game for us bettors: it's unlikely that we will be able to make a profit off the Big Train. Because of the buzz around his trip to Cheese Land he will likely be facing inflated numbers for the rest of the year. It's a similar phenomenon as we've seen with Johan Santana, who has been a favorite of less than -155 in just eight of his 18 starts and a chalk of less than -140 in just one-third of his outings. As a result, he's No. 194 of 240 pitchers this year in terms of profit made/lost. We really may not get a great number on Sabathia for the rest of the season, so even if he is lights out it's going to be high stakes to make some coin.
I, however, do not believe that C.C. will be light's out. His overall numbers may be solid, but I'll be surprised if the club is more than a game or two over .500 in his remaining starts. And, as I mentioned, because he's going to be facing stiff odds I don't believe that he's going to make us any money. That is unless we fade the Major Move here and try to swim upstream. It's a bold maneuver, and one I know I'll entertain, especially against divisional opponents.