I’am with the family camping on Edisto beach in South Carolina. I may be on vacation, but I am still following the Tribe. Before I left the callers on the local radio were wanting the Cleveland Indians to trade for starting pitching. I have been telling some of my friends for the last month that I did not think the Tribe was going to make much of a move. As the trading deadline grows closer I don’t see much happening. Here are my thoughts.
The majority of callers on sports radio I consider morons who couldn’t run water with out screwing it up. There are a lot of people who just want to put down the owner, Larry Dolan. Most are still pissed that he traded two CY Young award winners in C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Callers continually whine that Dolan never puts money into the team and that he should sell it. I disagree that the Dolans have not put money into the team, they have. They have not spent every year, but when the Tribe has been in the hunt they have. Unfortunately most of the time the players signed did not perform up to the expectations. Chuck Finley, Kerry Wood,Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore twice, along with other players. The Dolans have not gone wild spending money, they are what we might say thrifty. Most callers to the local sports radio have been saying the Tribe needs starting pitching to make the playoffs this year. I don’t see the Indians going in this direction. For one any pitcher who is a top of the rotation guy is probably out of the Tribe’s price range. I really doubt the Tribe goes out and spends 15 -20 million a year which is what most #1 pitchers would command (Cliff Lee who is possibly on the market). If the Indians are not getting a stud pitcher then I don’t really see the point of trading for a pitcher. The starting rotation of Masterson, Kluber, Kazmir, McAllister, and Jimenez have pitched quite well this year ,and especially so of late. One of the starting 5 would be kicked out of the rotation. I don’t see Francona wanting to upset the team chemistry to add another starter unless they were a significant upgrade over one of the current 5.
The Indians are not going to give up top prospect Francisco Lindor. They have a superstar on their hands. He is only 19 but I saw an interview with him last week and he seemed much older. I don’t think the Tribe is keen on trading any high level prospects unless they get a major league ready player who’s contract they can control for a few years. Normally teams don’t trade good young players who they control for years to come. Plus the Tribe has young pitchers in the minors who should be ready to help the club this year and in the upcoming years. (Bauer, Carrasco, Salazar, and Tomlin who will be returning from Tommy John surgery shortly). Ultimately I can’t see any scenario where the Tribe trades for starting pitching. So the callers can moan and groan for a little longer now about the Indians not trying to win and the Dolans being cheap.
The bullpen was believed to be a strength at the start of the season. A few holes have developed as the season has unfolded. Vinnie Pestano who was stellar the last two years as the 8th inning set up man has stumbled. His velocity is down and he has not been reliable in consistently getting outs. Sidearmer Joe Smith has not been himself the last month, but hopefully this is just a rough patch. The Tribe does have others who could step up into the 8th inning role, but this ultimately weakens the bullpen if they are not replaced. Cody Allen being the first choice for 8th inning duty. The most glaring problem has been left handed relief. Nick Hagadone and Rich Hill have not been good so far. Chris Antonetti mentioned earlier this week that the lefty bullpen situation was probably his biggest concern. This is the one trade I do see the Tribe making. I am pretty sure they will bring in a lefty reliever and possibly another bullpen arm. Don’t expect any big names but do expect a new face in the bullpen.
There is one more area that I would like to see addressed, but generally gets little mention on the talk radio stations. That is the need for another bat in the lineup. I don’t have the stats in front of me here on the beach. (We are tent camping not staying at a resort. So I’am roughing it – with my iPad) The Tribe is 4th in the league in runs scored which is good. They are 11th in batting average with a .257, and 5th in OPS ( On Base plus Slugging Percentage). Not bad marks for the offense especially with Reynolds and Giambi’s averages. The OPS showing they get on base and hit a good amount of extra base hits. The problem is the fore mentioned Reynolds. He has hit below .200 since mid May. As I mentioned in my last post the Tribe would be hard pressed to play the year with both Reynolds and Giambi hitting .200. Rayburn and Aviles have been getting more at bats lately in Reynolds place which has worked out fine. I don’t think you want the bench (all be it a great bench) of Raburn, Aviles, and Gomes playing every day. The holes in their games will become more apparent. Reynolds is signed to a one year deal. Next year the Tribe could be looking to replace Reynolds. He makes 7 million and they will also have Brett Myers 5 million to spend (Free Agent Flop). If the Tribe was looking towards the future this might be a good time to trade for a position player who can help us now and in the future. The team has lost plenty of games because they can’t score 3 or more runs. They have a great record in one run games, but consistently waste good pitching efforts by having low scoring games. The Tribe is very good at running up pitch counts on opposing teams. When they do this they generally get to see a lot of the opposing pitchers pitches thus getting a better feel for each pitch. They then have big innings against the starter. The 5th inning is the Indians signature inning to score this year. They have scored more runs in the fifth than any other inning. This being the inning when they are facing the starter for the 3rd time in a game. Running up the pitch count also gets the Tribe into the other teams bullpen sooner. Once into the bullpen it is only a matter of time before they face a subpar member of the other teams staff and put a hurting on his ERA. One more good hitter in the lineup could help this team I believe. Not only this year but in the future too.
Again I don’t think Francona wants to mess with the teams chemistry. He will give Reynolds every opportunity to succeed. So ultimately I see the lineup remaining the same with Raburn and Aveiles getting more at bats in the mean time. Reynolds is notorious as a streaky hitter, and Francona knows he is going to turn it around at some point. I have a feeling Reynolds is going to get hot at a time that makes Tribe fans forget his horrible summer. Lets hope!
Surfs Up! Gotta run, Go Tribe!
Ok the winter meetings have ended in Texas where it was below freezing occasionally. They could have had the meetings in Cleveland.
The Tribe has been connected to a lot of rumors. I really don’t expect the Indians to be big players in the free agent market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went with a trade. Free agent Josh Willingham’s name keeps coming up and there have been rumors since last summer. I assume the Indians are serious about Willingham, but so are a few other clubs. Tribe talking to Willingham They could sign Willingham and still make a trade. If they don’t sign Willingham I expect that they will actively pursue a trade for a right handed bat. As I have mentioned before they have plenty of relief pitching available. The Tribe has quality relief pitchers at the major league level and at about every stop of their minor leagues system. This is a position of strength in the Indians organization. Don’t be surprised if any relief pitcher is traded, including closer Chris Perez. Free agents and ex-Indians Mark DeRosa and Casey Blake have also been mentioned as potential Tribe targets. They both are at the end of their careers and would come cheap. I am not sure how they would help, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Blake in a Tribe uniform again. Tribe interest in Blake
Here is the real news. Chris Antonetti was quoted at the meetings that he had a trade in the works and if it goes through you couldn’t guess it in 50 tries. Antonetti hints at surprising deal in works So I decided that I would give it a try. I don’t think the Tribe would be able to trade for a majority of the players that I am about to list. The player’s salary and the probability of the other team parting ways with a star player being the main reasons the Indians would never make these moves. But Antonetti did say we couldn’t guess who it was so I can take some liberties and guess wildly, maybe even dream.
Antonetti said we could never guess so I would expect the Tribe to announce a trade that involved players who were uninspiring or we have never heard of. My first choices and probably the most likely are:
The “who the hell are you”, better known as the David Dellucci/Jason Michaels group:
50. Jason Michaels HOU – Yes he is still playing and he batted .199 with 2 HR’s last year. Wow.
49. Kyle Blanks SAN – Career #s 420 AB – 20 HR – .219 AVG. Just what the Tribe doesn’t need.
48. Brian Bixler WAS – Career .187 hitter who plays SS. He is from Sandusky.
47. Drew Stubbs CIN – Actually a tough player, with lots of energy. Great 4th outfielder.
46. Chris Carter OAK – Who?
45. Russell Branyan LAA – He is in fact a free agent.
You make way too much money for the Indians to ever consider group. (This group could include all of the remaining players) Any trades made for these players would require the Indians giving up high prospects and/or current players, and the other participating team taking on a majority of the players’ salary.
44. Jason Bay NYM – Two down years in a row, maybe on the down side of his career.
43. Joey Votto CIN – Do the Reds trade a past MVP? He is due a big raise soon making it a possibility. I doubt the Tribe would want to deal with that raise.
42. Matt Holiday STL – Do the Cardinals begin to retool since losing Pujols?
41. Vernon Wells LAA – 26 million per year. The Tribe would have to send half their team to cover that salary.
40. Alfonso Soriano CHC – The Cubs would love to get rid of Soriano, but would they eat that much of his contract? He is getting up there in age, but he might fit into the Tribe’s window.
39. Carlos Zambrano CHC – The Cubs would do anything to drop this head case. He is the Milton Bradley of pitchers. They played on the same team! Reality show.
38. Jose Bautista TOR – Does Toronto sell a player at his highest value. One who has been linked to stealing signs?
37. Carl Crawford BOS – They were not happy with his performance last year on the field or in the clubhouse.
36. Alex Rio CWS – The White Sox regret picking up Rios and his contract.
35. Hunter Pence PHI – They were renting him last year. Yea right.
I wish (The Tribe would have to sell the farm for any of these players)
34. David Wright NYM – Goodbye Chisenhall, Chris Perez and others…
33. Ryan Braun MIL – Never happening.
32. Andrew McCutchen PIT – Would Pittsburgh trade the face of their franchise for enough players?
31. Paul Konerko CWS – Perfect player for the Tribe clubhouse, but not going to happen.
30. Kevin Youkilis BOS – Another great player and club house leader the Indians need. Not going to happen.
29. Pablo Sandoval SF – A young third baseman with a low salary. The Giants would require a lot to trade him, Chisenhall plus others. He does have weight problems and just maybe the Giants sell high.
28. Justin Upton ARZ – Back up the truck full of major league talent for a player of this caliber.
27. Jason Heyward ATL – He is a lefty and the Braves are looking for another bat. This trade would never work out. Just my wish to have instead of Beau Mills who the Indians drafted one spot ahead of Heyward in the 2007 draft.
26. Desmond Jennings TB – Tampa Bay giving up young, cheap talent. Not likely.
25. Adam Jones BAL – The Orioles have numerous holes. Do they trade a star player to quickly fill those holes?
24. Mike Stanton MIA – Young player with power. Would the Marlins trade him if they sign Fielder for other parts? Doubt it.
Possible, but I really doubt it group. The Tribe would have to send multiple players and have the other team take on a majority of the contract, or this group may have other problems complicating a trade.
23. Carlos Gonzalez COL – Colorado needs more parts and is not ready to compete yet. They would ask for a lot and probably major league talent. He is a lefty and the Tribe is looking for a right handed bat
22. Delmon Young DET – The Indians were linked to Young in the summer. Would they make a trade with Detroit?
21. Denard Span MIN – Again would the Indians trade with a division opponent? Twins need relief help.
20. James Loney LAD – Career .288 hitter with 15 HR power. The problem is he is left handed.
19. Shane Victorino PHI – Would be a great fit on the Tribe. Philly is getting old and needs bullpen help. They also have younger outfield options to maybe fill in for Victorino. His salary is getting up there.
18. Lance Berkman STL – He is getting older and only makes 8 million. Cardinals could retool and take on some of the salary?
17. . Michael Young TEX – He is 35 and has no set position with Texas. He also makes 16 million per year.
These trades I could possible see working.
17. Seth Smith COL – Left handed but has a nice average with average power. We need a righty.
16. Adam LaRoche WAS – He has 25 HR power and is a .267 career hitter as a lefty. Last year he had shoulder problems and was finished early in the season. He posted career lows and is signed for one more year with a club option for 2013. LaRoche might be out of the Tribe’s price range.
15. Jeff Francoeur KC – The Tribe had interest last year at the trade deadline in Francoeur.
14. Carlos Quentin CWS – I am not so sure how feasible this is really, but the White Sox need to get younger and are in a state of transition.
13. Chris Young ARZ – Good HR totals with a low lifetime average. Would the Diamondbacks consider letting him go for pitching?
12. Mitch Moreland TEX – With the Rangers looking to spend money and may be on Fielder, someone is available.
11. Mike Carp SEA – Seattle is looking into 1st baseman Prince Fielder also.
10. Justin Smoak SEA – The Mariners received the highly touted Smoak in a trade last year for Cliff Lee. If they are looking at Fielder they may be looking to trade Smoak for other talent.
9. Marlon Byrd CHC – The Cubs need a fresh start and almost anyone should be available.
8. Mark Reynolds BAL – Great power, but man does this guy strike out a lot. 196 times last year and that was his best in the last 4 years. WOW! Look out Branyon Russell.
7. Carlos Lee HOU – Houston needs talent at many positions. Lee is one of the few tradable commodities the Astros have.
6. Brett Wallace HOU – I have talked about Wallace in prior post. If the Astros keep Lee which they have said they will, I assume they would try and trade Wallace.
5. Prado Martin ATL – Atlanta is looking for a bat and Martin has been connected to multiple teams in trade rumors. 10-15 HR power with the ability to hit over .300.
4. Gabby Sanchez MIA – Miami flirted with Albert Pujols and now are mentioned in the Prince Fielder talks. If Fielder ends up in Miami then Sanchez will be moved. 20HR power with a .270 average.
3. Yonder Alonso CIN – The Reds have Joey Votto and can use Alonso to help fill holes. Alonso has power and hits for average, the downside………. He is left handed.
2. Mark Trumbo LAA – The Angles just signed Albert Pujols. Trumbo was a rookie last year and batted .254 with 29 HR. Oh if Matt LaPorta could do that.
1. Hanley Ramirez MIA – What? He plays shortstop! So does Jose Reyes that the Marlins just signed. The Tribe could move him to 3rd base like the Marlins are planning on doing. Ramirez has been mentioned in trade rumors and reports are he is not happy about moving to 3rd base. He is a high maintenance player that Miami may look to get rid of. His name was mentioned quit frequently at the winter meeting, and where there is smoke there is a fire. Ramirez has a career .306 average and 25 homerun power. Would the Tribe consider going with a young established player over Lonnie Chisenhall. Reality check for Ramirez
Who do think Antonetti was talking about? Post your ideas in the comments section.