A day after C.C. Sabathia once again reminded the world that is he not a big game pitcher (his career postseason ERA is 7.92), the Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers have completed their trade with the Tribe selecting outfielder/first baseman Michael Brantley.
Though most thought the selection would come down to Brantley and Taylor Green (2b/3b), I, for one, am thrilled at the selection of Brantley. Brantley has all the peripherals of a player primed to succeed at the major league level. His father, Mickey Brantley, is a former major leaguer who played four seasons with the Mariners in the late eighties. The lefthander hit .319 with 80 runs, 17 doubles, two triples, four homers and 40 RBI in 106 for Class AA Huntsville this year. He also stole 28 bases in 36 attempts and had 50 walks against only 27 strikeouts. Perhaps most impressively, Brantley has a minor league career .399 OBP. For comparison, Shin-Soo Choo led the Indians this year with a .397 OBP mark, and only three players in the American League had a better OBP. Baseball America has rated Brantley as having the best strike zone judgment and the best base running skills in the Southern League.
Brantley has the potential to become the prototypical leadoff hitter the Tribe has lacked since the likes of Kenny Lofton. Though it appears as if Brantley might be headed to Akron to start the season with the reemergence of Trevor Crowe this year, it is quite possible that we might see Brantley patrolling the outfield as early as the end of next season. (Edit: When asked how close he is to helping the Indians, Shapiro said, "He'll determine his own pace, but he'll be in Triple-A. That's an indication that he's not that far away."- from the Plain Dealer ) Placing Brantley in the leadoff spot of the lineup would finally allow the shift of Grady Sizemore down to the third spot, taking advantage of Brantley's high OBP numbers and Grady's power bat. Having Brantley in the outfield would also allow a shift of Matt LaPorta, the main player of the C.C. trade, to first base.
As shown by Billy Beane in Moneyball, taking pitches, having a great awareness of the strike zone and a high OBP are some of the most important traits a player can posses. If Brantley continues at the same rate as his minor league numbers project, the C.C. trade could become this generation's Bartolo Colon deal.