From Baseball Prospectus, via CNNSI.com. Debate.
What Do They Have?
Even if CC Sabathia leaves, there's enough good stuff in-house or on the way up to leave Brewers fans relatively optimistic about the next several seasons, if not so much for 2009. With shortstop Alcides Escobar, catcher Angel Salome and slugger Mat Gamel all nearly ready, an outstanding young core in the lineup is about to become better still.
What Do They Need?
They need pitching, especially starting pitching. Despite pushing their way into the playoff picture the last two seasons the Brewers' bid on future contention is highly contingent on their ability to retain or replace at least one of their free-agent aces, Sabathia and Ben Sheets. The despair creeping into GM Doug Melvin's public pronouncements on the subject of Sabathia betray a sense of how fragile their immediate chances of keeping up with the Cubs in the division are.
What Are They Likely To Do?
They'll offer every cent they can to try and keep Sabathia, because Sheets won't fill the bill, nor will any of the other realistic alternatives on the market. Failing that, 2009 becomes a bit of a re-gearing year for the franchise. Either way they'll dangle Escobar because they already have a slick-fielding shortstop with some sock in J.J. Hardy, and offering either around would be their best tack in trade talks. Whatever the outcome on Sabathia they'll wind up taking their chances on the lead-gloved Gamel as their third baseman and await the arrival of Salome to provide an upgrade over Jason Kendall behind the plate.
What Should They Do?
Signing Kerry Wood to make the rivalry with the Cubs that much more of a grudge match would make things interesting. With the surplus of young talent in the organization, sneaking into the Peavy negotiations might be plausible, if only because the Padres need young talent. As far as additional action items, they need to make Mike Cameron a Yankee before the Bombers think better of it. If they settle for young pitching and Melky Cabrera in exchange, they're still left to deal with the question of whether and when second baseman Rickie Weeks is ever going to settle in; if they put together a package to get Robinson Cano from New York, they can answer that question by making Weeks their center fielder to replace Cameron. Whether they keep Sabathia or not they need to take a risk on a journeyman starter from among Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber to help round out a rotation otherwise stocked with question marks.