07/07/08 5:21 PM ET
Melvin 'going for it' with Sabathia trade
Giving up prospect LaPorta risky, but reward could be great
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Sabathia joined a Brewers team in a virtual tie with the Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, 3 1/2 games behind the front-running Cubs."A lot of time you base this stuff off instincts and how your team is playing," Melvin said. "Ned [Yost, Brewers manager], the coaching staff and the players have given me the confidence to go out and take the next step to make sure that we have the best opportunity as we can to get to the postseason." 5. It's now or never. Ben Sheets, like Sabathia, is a free agent at season's end who will almost certainly exceed the Brewers' means, especially since first baseman Prince Fielder and outfielder Corey Hart are due enormous bumps in salary in the first years of arbitration. Even with Gallardo expected to recover well in advance of 2009 and left-hander Manny Parra quickly establishing himself as another solid Major Leaguer, the Brewers decided that this was their best opportunity to make a run. "There will be teams out there that [ask whether] we gave up a lot for a player that might only be here for half a season," Melvin said. "Sure, there are going to be those kinds of comments. But a couple of GMs called me back and said, 'Gee, you got a heck of a pitcher and it looks like you're going for it.' That's the mentality we want. "The fans allowed us to do that. I believe that they wanted us to go for it. We owe it to them to go for it and that's what we're doing." Melvin and the Brewers hope Sabathia makes an impact similar to the one Don Sutton had in 1982. The circumstances were decidedly different; Sutton did not arrive until the end of August, and the Brewers had him for parts of two more seasons after 1982. But Sutton did serve as the final piece of an '82 Brewers team that won the American League pennant and went to a decisive Game 7 in the World Series. If Sabathia can help deliver Milwaukee back to the postseason, Melvin's gamble will have paid off. Neither he nor Attanasio sounded exceedingly optimistic about the Brewers' chances of convincing Sabathia to stay beyond the rest of this season, and Sheets will be similarly tempted to test free agency. "I'll worry about next year at the end of [this] season," Melvin said. "I know that you need pitching depth in the second half of the season. We're protected if somebody did have a minor setback. "It was all about, 'now,' more so than next year."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.