As the month of July has started in Milwaukee, much of the buzz has shifted off of the Milwaukee Brewers and on to the Milwaukee Bucks. With the signing of Greg Monroe, the Bucks look to certainly be ‘owning the future’ in Milwaukee.
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But a little over seven years ago, the Brewers made one of the biggest moves in the history of their franchise. On July 7th, 2008, the Brewers acquired Cleveland Indians ace, CC Sabathia for “future superstar” prospect Matt LaPorta, pitcher Zack Jackson, pitcher Rob Bryson and throw-in center fielder, Michael Brantley. Here is a look back at the biggest move in the history of the Milwaukee Brewers.
What it did for Milwaukee:
The trade for the Brewers was a must. His arrival not only sparked the fan-base that rocked Miller Park each time he pitched, but he also helped change the culture in Milwaukee immediately. By getting Sabathia early in July, the Brewers were able to maximize their value in him and get the most starts out of him they possibly could.
On the mound, he flat out delivered. Though he didn’t win the Cy Young award, there is no doubt that he was the National Leagues best pitcher through the entire second half of the season. In 17 starts, he went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA completing a league high seven of those starts and pitching in three shutouts. He was also able to register a one hit shutout against the Pirates in Pittsburgh that many still say was a no hitter, and he threw his final three starts on three days rest to lead the Brewers to the post season for the first time since 1982.
Though he was only a Brewer for that half season, he fully lived up to his end of the bargain in the trade as the workhorse of the rotation.
What it did for Cleveland:
Ranked as a top 30-prosepct by Baseball America, LaPorta was the can’t miss prospect in the deal. Through his first 84 games in Huntsville in 2008, the 23-year-old first baseman/outfielder had already homered 20 times while batting .288. He was heading to Cleveland to be a difference maker.
Instead of being that player, LaPorta’s career faced injury and difficulties at the plate. Through four up and down seasons with the Tribe, he batted just .238 with 231 strikeouts and 31 homers. He never was able to live up to the promising hype that he had coming out of the University of Florida.
Though they didn’t come with the biggest of expectations, the pitchers also struggled in Cleveland. While Bryson never made it to the major leagues, Jackson pitched sparingly in Cleveland. He finished his time their throwing 63.1 innings and posting an ERA of 6.11.
The biggest piece of the deal however turned out to be outfielder Michael Brantley. While Brantley was not part of the original deal, Zack Meisel reported that, he became the player to be named later ‘hand picked’ by the Indians since the Brewers made the post season.
By getting Brantley, the Indians got a player who has developed into an all-star in the middle of their lineup. While he didn’t instantly become a star, the now 28-year-old outfielder has gotten better with each season. Last year he was able to keep the Indians in the race by batting .327 with 20 home runs and another 23 steals. With the other failures, he has made the trade worth something in Cleveland.
Though the Bucks are getting attention in Milwaukee today for their move, the attention should shift back to the Brewers soon as a busy month of trades is expected. While they don’t many movable pieces like Sabathia, any trade that can bring in depth will be key for the future in Milwaukee.