The Milwaukee Brewers have to feel broken, beaten and scarred after a 2008-09 offseason that saw cult hero CC Sabathia leave for the New York Yankees.
I went to Miller Park for the first time last season, twice actually, and the last game I went to Sabathia pitched to a standing room only crowd. Even Bernie the Brewer couldn't contain himself.
Brewers fans took on the personality of a college football crowd in cheering for Sabathia because he essentially put the team on his back and carried them across the finish line toward their first playoff berth since 1983 with countless complete games.
But in the end, this team just didn't have all the pieces come together in the rotation for a deep playoff run. The oft-injured Ben Sheets was, well, injured. Yovani Gallado was injured the majority of the season and the bullpen was a complete trainwreck.
Fast forward to 2009 and things have changed for better or worse.
Mostly things have changed for the worst but there are some positive things to consider.
The Sabathia departure brings a couple of thoughts to mind. He was too expensive even at the price the organization quoted him at. On top of that, he has a ton of mileage on his arm and could be due for a breakdown soon. Finally, he hasn't performed in the playoffs yet.
Sure it's easy to nitpick a guy who nearly won two consecutive Cy Young Awards but had Sabathia got her a year or two into the hefty contract, the Milwaukee would have been buried alive.
The Yankees? Not so much.
Outside of the biggest and most obvious reason to keep Sabathia around (on-field results), the Brewers also experienced an exponential growth in ticket sales because of him. The good news for the team is that they've sold more tickets before the season starts than they ever have before.
So, in a way, the breakup with Sabathia is kind of like breaking up with the hot rebound girl you meet that only lasts for a month or so after you just finished a long term relationship that went awry.
Think Brett Favre.
But just like that hot girl who for some reason took a liking to you, there's another hotter guy, or in this case, a richer guy to take her away.
Then you feel screwed.
But good news Milwaukee fans, despite Sabathia leaving, ditto Sheets, Gallardo is healthy, Braden Looper arrives via free agency and the bullpen finally has a closer in Trevor Hoffman.
The best news?
The entire offense returns with an extra year of experience.
Left fielder Ryan Braun, first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop J.J. Hardy and right fielder Corey Hart provide an excellent source of speed and power.
If young Manny Parra and Gallardo can take the next giant leap in their careers, Brewers fans could potentially be surprised with another playoff appearance.
And that will make them all forget about the one that got away.
- Friday, February 20, 2009
- Posted by M.J. Hartwig at 11:52 AM