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08/09/08 12:59 PM ET
Brewers reap early CC trade rewards
Sabathia continues workhorse ways; Tribe's LaPorta in Beijing
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Much of the final analysis of last month's CC Sabathia trade is dependant on what kind of big league player Matt LaPorta becomes for the Indians. In the meantime, the Brewers are certainly the chief benefactors of the deal. With a win over the Nationals on Friday night, Sabathia improved to 6-0 in seven starts since joining the Brewers on July 7. He threw his fourth complete game and second shutout with the Brewers, for whom he has compiled a 1.58 ERA. And CC had an old friend rooting him on. Manager Eric Wedge said he saw some of the game. "He's done great over there," Wedge said of Sabathia, whose personal nine-game winning streak dates back to June 10 with the Tribe. "Good for him. He's doing a fantastic job, and they're right in the thick of things." Then again, the Brewers aren't any closer to first place now than they were when they acquired Sabathia. They were five games back of the Cubs then, and they were five games back heading into Saturday's play. Ultimately, the final analysis will declare the trade a bust, from the Brewers' perspective, if they don't make the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, because Milwaukee has no chance of re-signing Sabathia this winter. It appears the Brewers are acknowledging that fact by squeezing every last ounce out of Sabathia. He has thrown more than 100 pitches in each of his last six starts, including a 122-pitch complete game against the Reds on July 13 and 124 pitches in just 6 2/3 innings of work against the Cubs on July 28. The Indians were always protective of Sabathia's pitch counts because of how highly he factored into their future. It's a different situation in Milwaukee, where Sabathia is a rental. "CC's a strong man," Wedge said. "I'm sure if he felt anything [untoward] was going on, he'd make mention of it." The Indians' chances of signing Sabathia beyond this season were considered slim to none, which is why they dealt him for a package of four prospects. It will be awhile before those prospects can be judged. LaPorta, considered the key piece of the deal, is with the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Right-handed reliever Rob Bryson partially tore his rotator cuff at Class A Lake County and is currently shut down. Left-hander Zach Jackson is 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in eight appearances, including four starts, at Triple-A Buffalo. The last piece of the deal remains a mystery. The Indians aren't expected to announce their choice for the "player to be named" until the end of the Minor League season. They are believed to be scouting Class A Brevard County third baseman Taylor Green, who is batting .285 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs in 110 games, and Double-A Huntsville outfielder Michael Brantley. Brantley missed significant time from the end of June until early August with a sprained ankle but returned to regular action early this week. He's batting .320 with four homers, 38 RBIs, 16 doubles, a triple and 25 stolen bases in 84 games.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.