CC Sabathia and the 10 Best Trades the Milwaukee Brewers Have Ever Made
The three year anniversary of CC Sabathia being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers took place just over a week ago. For desperate Milwaukee Brewer fans like me, we cherish this date because of the rise from mediocrity that it provided in 2008.
This certainly was one of the best trades in Milwaukee Brewers history despite only having Sabathia for a mere three months. Will this years acquisitions of Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, Nyjer Morgan or Francisco Rodriguez have a lasting impact similar to Sabathia? Not likely.
But they could still end up being regarded as good trades for Milwaukee. What are the best trades the Brewers have made over the years? Let’s take a deeper look.
Aaron was definitely in the twilight of his career, but the Brewers had two seasons of the greatest home run hitter of all time.
Though it was largely for publicity purposes and not for the production he would provide, Aaron did his part. He hit 22 home runs at ages 41 and 42. But as management hoped, having Aaron on the team rejuvenated a Milwaukee fan base. The Brewers were also able to retire Aaron’s number.
In 2004, Milwaukee trades Keith Ginter to Oakland for Justin Lehr and Nelson Cruz.
How nice would it have been to have held onto Nelson Cruz? By all accounts, Cruz was somewhat of a late bloomer, and his gaudy minor league numbers were often overlooked due to his age.
This is still a great trade for Milwaukee because of the chain reaction it helped set off. Though still not regarded as a top prospect, Cruz was traded along with Carlos Lee to the Texas Rangers for Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, Laynce Nix and Julian Cordero.
The trade still seems somewhat even given Carlos Lee’s impending free agency that year. Francisco Cordero solidified the closers role for Milwaukee for a year and a half before leaving in free agency to Cincinnati.
Milwaukee used the compensation pick for losing Cordero to draft high school pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Odorizzi, now flourishing in the Royal’s minor league system, was a key component to the offseason Zack Greinke trade.
In 1996, Milwaukee trades Kevin Seitzer to Cleveland for Jeromy Burnitz.
Seitzer was a good player and a fan favorite in his brief stay in Milwaukee. At the same token, his career was nearing its end. He went on to play one and a half seasons for the Indians, while Burnitz played five seasons for Milwaukee.
Burnitz averaged better than 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in for the Brewers and was an All-Star in 1999.
In 1971, Milwaukee trades Tommy Harper, Pat Skrable, Lew Krausse and Marty Patton to Boston for Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, George Scott and Don Pavelitch.
Trades involving this many players do not happen often. While it can be a difficult trade to assess, Scott ended up having a very nice career while in Milwaukee. In five seasons, he hit 115 home runs, including the 1975 season where he hit .285 with 36 home runs and 109 runs batted in.
In 1982, Milwaukee trades Kevin Bass, Frank DiPino and Mike Madden to Houston for Don Sutton.
While Sutton’s statistics in Milwaukee were not indicative of the type of pitcher he was, he was a key component to the Brewers World Series run in 1982. Sutton was a big game pitcher and showed it was a victory over Baltimore on the last day of the season to get Milwaukee into the playoffs.
In 1981, Milwaukee trades Rickey Keeton to Houston for Pete Ladd.
Not considered a big move at the time, Ladd proved to be an invaluable acquisition for the Brewers. Ladd filled in admirably as a closer when Rollie Fingers was injured in 1982. He solidified the back end of the bullpen with a host of others during a crucial time.
Ladd's best season came in 1983 when he was the full-time closer in Finger's continued absence. He posted a 2.55 ERA with 25 saves.
In 1977, Milwaukee trades Dick O’Keefe and Garry Pyka to Cincinnati in exchange for Mike Caldwell.
Caldwell’s first full season with Milwaukee was his best. He posted a 22-9 record, which is still the most wins in a season for any Brewer. Caldwell continued a fine career with Milwaukee with just under eight seasons.
Never as dominate as he was in 1978, Caldwell ended his career in Milwaukee with a record of 102-80 and 81 complete games.
In 1977, Milwaukee trades Jim Slaton (who later resigned with Milwaukee in 1979) and Rich Folkers for Ben Ogilvie.
This trade served two purposes. Obviously the Brewers added Ben Ogilvie’s thunderous bat to their lineup for years to come. But they also did not have to face Ogilvie anymore. He played well for Detroit and especially against Milwaukee.
Ogilvie's career was just getting started, and it paid dividends for the Brewers. In nine seasons, Ogilvie maintained a career average of nearly .270 with 176 home runs.
In 2008, Milwaukee trades Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson and Michael Brantley for CC Sabathia.
You all know the story. Sabathia literally carries the Milwaukee Brewers to the playoffs where the Brewers promptly get crushed by the Philadelphia Phillies.
While LaPorta and Brantley may go on to have solid years, Sabathia thrust the Brewers back into the playoffs for the first time in over 25 years. He gave the Brewers hope, some much needed playoff experience for current players and he sold a lot of tickets.
He also netted compensation picks Kentrail Davis and Max Walla after signing with the Yankees in the offseason. While both players still have some potential, the biggest loss was the Yankees signing Mark Teixeira that year as well.
Because Teixeira was rated a higher free agent than Sabathia, the Angels received the Yankees first round pick and selected perhaps the best prospect in the game today in Mike Trout.
Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich
In 1980, Milwaukee trades Sixto Lezcano, David Green, Larry Sorensen and Dave LaPoint to St. Louis for Rollie Fingers, Pete Vuckovich, and Ted Simmons.
Rollie Fingers went on to win the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1981 while posting a 1.04 ERA, and Vuckovich won the CY Young award in 1982. Ted Simmons was a great catcher with a solid bat for the Brewers as well.
Sorensen ended up playing one solid year for the Cardinals, but LaPoint stuck around to help their pitching staff. David Green was meant to be the real prize of the trade, but he did not pan out.
The Brewers definitely got the better end of the deal, but St. Louis still went on to beat the Brewers in the 1982 World Series.
In 1957, the Milwaukee Brewers/Braves trade Danny O’Connell, Ray Crone and Bobby Thomson (yes, “Shot Heard Round the World” Bobby Thomson) for Red Schoendienst.
Schoendienst was a major catalyst for Milwaukee. In half a season, he hit .310 with six home runs and 32 runs batted in. He finished third in MVP voting in 1957, but more importantly, he was key in providing Milwaukee with its only World Series Championship.
Every team makes trades that help and hurt their franchise. The Milwaukee Brewers have certainly been on the receiving end of some poor trades. But these trades listed are significant in Brewer history due to how lopsided they were, the effect on the fanbase and the playoff implications they had.
Will any of this years Brewer’s trades end up being as revered as some of the previous ones are? The second half of the season will tell the tale.