By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Aug 23, 2008 at 5:17 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson

Baseball pundits have said that it's impossible for the Brewers to keep both Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia next year, and even keeping one of the two is a long-shot, at best.

Fine, but show us the proof.

General Manager Doug Melvin has said that he'd like to keep the Brewers' payroll around $85 million in 2009, but with this season's acquisitions, it's currently floating around $95 million. Without completely gutting the team, we got the payroll down to about $98 million.

Is this a better team than 2008? Probably not. Is it worse? Maybe. We'll save the editorializing on whether the following scenario would be an idiotic move that would destroy the future of the franchise -- that's what the Talkbacks are for.

But it's definitely possible to craft a team that has both superstar starters. Remove one or the other, and possibilities open up further.

Keep in mind, this doesn't take into account the following five years, when these projected salaries could increase by 20 percent each year -- and Melvin could never ignore the future completely. On the other hand, it doesn't take into consideration increased revenue from more sold-out games, home playoff and World Series games, more parking, higher ticket prices, merchandise, sponsorships and new online streams of revenue.

Check it out for yourself. Here's our best guess on what the best and cheapest 25-man Brewers lineup would cost in 2009 with both Sheets and Sabathia -- considering contracts, arbitration, the free agent market, and jettisoning via trade or release some of the team's dead weight (Eric Gagne, Rickie Weeks, Mike Cameron, Guillermo Mota, Chris Capuano):

CC Sabathia: $20,000,000
Ben Sheets: $15,000,000
Jeff Suppan: $12,500,000
Prince Fielder: $7,500,000
Bill Hall: $6,800,000
Jason Kendall: $4,600,000
Salomon Torres: $4,500,000
David Riske: $4,250,000
J.J. Hardy: $4,000,000
Dave Bush: $4,000,000
Corey Hart: $2,500,000
Brian Shouse: $2,000,000
Seth McClung: $2,000,000
Gabe Kapler: $1,500,000
Ryan Braun: $1,000,000
Carlos Villanueva: $1,000,000
Mike Rivera: $800,000
Yovani Gallardo: $750,000
Manny Parra: $700,000
Lance Nix: $600,000
Joe Dillon: $450,000
Mitch Stetter: $400,000
Alcides Escobar: $400,000
Tony Gwynn: $400,000
Matt Gamel: $400,000
Total Team Salary: $98,050,000

Here's how this team would look on the field:

Starting pitchers:


Starting infield:
Kendall - C
Fielder - 1B
Hardy - 2B
Escobar - SS
Hall - 3B

Staring outfield:
Braun - LF
Kapler - CF
Hart - RF


Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.