When the Milwaukee Brewers traded for CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians back in 2008, they were in the midst of what would be a playoff season. For the Brewers, this was a team that hadn’t had postseason life since 1982 and clearly they wanted Sabathia to be a part of their run, even if he was a rental player.
Now we fast forward five years and we’re in 2013. CC has done well since leaving Milwaukee, but what about the players the Brewers traded? How are they fairing in their big league careers?
Who the Indians traded:
With the Brewers, CC was brilliant out on the mound. Not only did Sabathia have a dazzling 1.65 ERA with a record of 11-2, but he also had seven complete games, three of which were shutouts. He also had a strikeout per nine innings of 8.8, which was the third highest of his career at that point. Unfortunately Sabathia didn’t fare well in the 2008 NLDS in which he gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Since leaving Milwaukee after their 2008 playoff run, Sabathia signed a seven-year deal worth $161 million with the New York Yankees. In his transition back to the American League, Sabathia was outright dominant in New York, where most big named free agents seemed to crack under pressure. Sabathia’s 2009 saw him as a 19-game winner with a 3.37 ERA and he received his first World Series ring when the Yankees beat the Phillies. 2010 was just as strong for the lefty who went on to win 21 games with a lower ERA of 3.18.
2011 and 2012 also sung the praises of Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman as once again Sabathia lived up to the expectations. Since 2010, Sabathia has been an All-Star and in the top part of the voting for the American League Cy Young Award. In 2013, Sabathia is 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA, but still is the head of the Yankee rotation and will be until his contract with the team runs out.
Who the Brewers traded:
Michael Brantley – Left fielder
Seeing where Brantley is now might make some Brewer fans hit their heads and pay tribute to Homer Simpson by saying “D’oh!” considering not only how well he did in the minors, but in the majors as well. Fortunately, the Brewers’ current outfielders are solid enough that Brantley isn’t considered to be a trade regret. After being traded to Cleveland, Brantley wouldn’t make his debut until September of 2009 when he took over for the injured Grady Sizemore. With Sizemore’s recurring injuries even to this day, Brantley has taken the outfield with ease and earned his current job as a starting outfielder.
This season, Brantley is hitting .298/.349/.382 with two homers, 25 RBIs and has three stolen bases. Brantley isn’t a huge power hitter, having a career isolated power of .100, but he’s definitely a contact hitter all the way with a BABIP of .308. For his career, Brantley doesn’t exactly have the blow away numbers that some premiere outfielders do, but he’s done a well enough job to be a starter and personally, I believe he’s one of the more underrated players in the game.
Matt LaPorta – First baseman / left fielder
Unfortunately for LaPorta, his career hasn’t really lifted off of the ground in the Indians’ organization. LaPorta was drafted by the Brewers back in 2007 and really showed quite some power in the minor leagues. After being traded to the Indians, he didn’t make his debut until 2009 and since then has been a journeyman between the Tribe and Triple-A Columbus, where he currently is now. LaPorta for his career is a .238/.301/.393 hitter that really hasn’t had the time to better his numbers and at 28 years-old, may be starting to wonder if he’ll get a solid chance in the majors.
As of now, LaPorta isn’t on the Indians 40-man roster, but is doing well in Columbus this season. LaPorta is hitting .271/.354/.543 with five homers and 11 RBIs in Triple-A, but even that doesn’t look like it’ll be enough to give him a secure spot on the 40-man roster. The thing that LaPorta has is his versatility to play in the infield and outfield, so perhaps the Tribe can eventually make room for him if need be.
Jackson never really panned out as a major league starter and might not get a chance to at 29 years-old. Currently, Jackson is in the Kansas City Royals organization playing for their Double-A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. After 2009, which is when Jackson last pitched in the major leagues, he bounced around between the minors for the Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and currently the Royals. Jackson has only pitched in 22 major league games, 17 of which were starts where overall he had a 4-5 record with a 5.81 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 105.1 innings pitched.
Bryson on the other hand might have a shot to make his debut and stick in the majors. Since 2008, Bryson has been in the Indians’ organization where’s he currently in Triple-A and not on the 40-man roster like teammate LaPorta. In his minor league career, Bryson has seemed to have success at all levels, but has hit a bit of a wall in Triple-A. This season, Bryson has been used as a relief pitcher, making 13 appearances while having a 6.19 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.
Overall, this trade was one that both teams, at least at the time were able to benefit from. The Brewers were legitimate buyers in 2008 as they went to their first playoff run since the 1980s and the Indians received four prospects who were fresh and ready to go. Looking back on this trade, I’d say that the Brewers aren’t hurting at all from it and that general manager Doug Melvin knew exactly what cards to play.