Mike Nadel's column for newspapers of Tuesday, July 8
Combined, new Brewers savior CC Sabathia and first baseman Prince Fielder are roughly the size of the Wisconsin Badgers' offensive line. Miller Park might sink permanently into the Milwaukee mud the first time the pitcher lumbers across the diamond to take a short toss from Fielder.
Of course, given the enormous odds against the anvil-mitted Prince actually fielding a grounder hit his way, that's probably not a real concern.
Other non-concerns for the soon-to-be World Series champs: a highly flammable bullpen, a bunch of hacks in the field, mediocrity at the bottom of the rotation and a manager, Ned Yost, who last year seemed determined to prevent the Brewers from winning the NL Central. (He succeeded.)
Oh, and looking at the calendar, isn't it just about time for Ben Sheets' annual injury?
Hey, none of that matters. CC Sabathia has arrived -- he makes his Milwaukee debut Tuesday night against Colorado -- and the Brew Crew can't lose!
The Chicago Cubs? Wait 'til next century. The St. Louis Cardinals? Only if Albert Pujols can pitch.
To all National League clubs whose fans aren't fueled by encased meats and Secret Stadium Sauce: Thanks for showing up, and enjoy the lovely parting gifts.
If you've stayed with me this long, you might think I'm ripping the Brewers' deal for the 2007 AL Cy Young winner.
Not at all. I merely am having some fun at the expense of those who believe Milwaukee is guaranteed a title.
All joshing aside, Brewers GM Doug Melvin obviously made a great trade. He acquired a difference-making stud for four minor-leaguers (only one highly rated), turning his team from mildly interesting to legitimately contending.
In beating several other teams -- including the Cubs -- to acquire the portly southpaw from the salary-dumping Cleveland Indians, the Brewers are far better today than they were two days ago. And they already were decent, having closed considerable ground on the NL Central-leading Cubs in recent weeks.
In Cubbieland, the natives are restless for GM Jim Hendry to respond. The Cubs also need a top starting pitcher, albeit not as desperately as Milwaukee did.
The only guy out there who would make their rotation appreciably better is Oakland right-hander Rich Harden. Unlike the Indians, however, the A's are on the fringe of the playoff race and not ready to fold. Besides, if Cleveland didn't want the Cubs' prospects, why would sharp Oakland GM Billy Beane be interested?
The time to yell at Hendry isn't now; he only can work with what he has. It was years ago, when he and his underlings drafted a succession of stiffs. The Brewers, not the Cubs, have the fertile farm system from which to deal. Heck, if I'm Doug Melvin, I'm making a run at Harden, too.
As for the Cardinals, they don't want to add payroll and they're hoping for big second-half contributions from injured pitchers Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter. Powerball tickets might be a surer bet.
So now that the Brewers have Big CC, it's R.I.P. for the Cubs and Cardinals? Possibly ... but let's look at history before making such a leap.
Back on July 31, 1998, Houston added future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson to an already outstanding team. On June 27, 2002, a fine Montreal team picked up Bartolo Colon. And then there was July 31, 2004, when the Cubs pretty much clinched a decade of dominance by acquiring Nomar Garciaparra.
The '98 Astros won one postseason game. The '02 Expos and '04 Cubs didn't even make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Houston gave away Freddy Garcia and Carlos Guillen, and Montreal lost Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. And as part of the four-team deal sending Nomar to Chicago, Boston ended up with Orlando Cabrera -- and its first championship in 86 years. But hey, at least the Cubs still have Matt Murton!
Because Sabathia almost surely is a rent-a-pitcher who will leave for ridiculous riches in a few months, some say it was risky for Milwaukee to give up slugging prospect Matt LaPorta and other kids.
Melvin, however, made a fine point: "Most trades in July are gonna be rentals. It's all about now. We're going for it. There's a real risk involved if he's not in our rotation."
The Brewers have reached the World Series once in team history -- and that was 26 years ago. Melvin correctly sees a league with no superteam, a pennant ripe for the picking. How can you not admire the Brewers for taking a shot?
Still, the Cubs probably will show up at Wrigley Field for Tuesday night's game against Cincinnati.
And once there, they probably won't cower in the corner of the clubhouse, mumbling dejectedly about the heavy burden of keeping up with CC Sabathia and the unbeatable Brewers.
Mike Nadel (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Chicago sports columnist for GateHouse News Service. Read his blog, The Baldest Truth, at www.thebaldesttruth.com.