The Tribe beat me to the punch by making a trade before I could post. That’s what happens when you wait till the trade deadline day to post, oh well.
The Indians traded Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals for AA outfielder James Ramsey. First about Masterson. I wrote in my earlier blogs that the Indians should jump at the chance to sign Masterson to a new deal. Masterson was reportedly looking for a 2-3 year deal around 17 million per year. The Cincinnati Reds signed Homer Bailey to a 6 year $105 million contract earlier this spring. Bailey has similiar career numbers as Masterson and the pay scale was going to be similar for Justin. I was in favor of giving Masterson this deal. For one starting pitching does not come cheap. For $10 million per year you get a hope and prayer free agent. Last year the Tribe gave free agent Brett Myers an $8 million dollar contract. Myers was not even a starting pitcher the year before and Myers delivered an 8.02 ERA for that gamble. Thank you very little. The Tribe signed Grady Sizemore to a $5 million dollar contract his last season here, and he didn’t play in one game. At least he didn’t enter any games and make them completely unwinnable as Myers did. If you up the pay to say around $12.5 million per year you get a pitcher who comes with his own gun. This is what Baltimore had to pay Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez is 3-8 on the year with a 4.52 ERA. Here is the best part. Ubaldo leads the league in walks. Not so unimaginable you say. He has missed almost a month of the season with an injury to his ankle in the parking lot, and he still leads the league in walks! Enjoy that for 3 more years Oriole fan.
So as you see unless you spend some significant money on starting pitching you probably are going to be playing with fire. You could have signed Scott Kazmir as I had hoped for 11 million per year. Kazmis is currently 12-3 with a 2.37 ERA. The cost of signing other pitchers was the one reason for my wanting to sign Masterson, but also the length of the contract. Masterson was asking for a fairly sizeable contract per year, but he was willing to take a 2-3 year contract. Most pitchers will take no less than 4 years to sign and will push for 6 to 7 years. The Tribe will always be leary of offering any free agent that length of contract, exspecially pitching. I thought it would be a contract that the Tribe could live with for 2-3 years considering the cost of marginal pitching. The Indians didn’t bite and in hindsite it looks like the right move. Masterson has had a horrible season, and for the Indians to pull anything out in a trade looks to be win for the Indians.
In my 20 years being at Tribe games I have never tried to hard to meet the players. I did meet Masterson a couple of times and he seemed like the most genuine person. He was always smiling and had such a positive attitude. I couldn’t help but think he would be your best friend. I remember when Jack Hannahan was on the team and his wife was having their first child. Masterson got the team togeather and chartered a private jet to make sure Hannahan made it back from Boston to be there in time. It spoke volumes of who Masteron is as a person. So even is he is not on the team I will always root for Masty.
The player the Tribe recieved from St. Louis, James Ramsey. The reports I have read say he is decent prospect. He batted .300 with 13 HRs in AA Texas League. He probably could fill in as 4th outfielder or possible replace David Murphy. The St. Louis Cardinal have an abbundance of outfield prospects which held Ramsey up from being in AAA. The Texas League is notorious for being a picthers league so for Ramsey to be batting .300 with 13 HRs may be a good sign. The Tribe is sending him to AAA Columbus and we may see him by the end of the year. Hopefully the Indians have found a diamond in the rough. The Indians traded Jake Westbrook to St. Louis and ended up with Corey Kluber four years ago.
Ok what do I expect the Tribe to do at the deadline:
I went to the game Tuesday night with the family. On the way home the radio host was aking should the Indians be buyers or sellers this week. I looked at my wife and said they should be sellers …… and buyers. I didn’t see any harm in getting rid of Masterson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and John Axford. None of these players are helping the Tribe reach there goal of making the playoffs and can be replaced. In fact replacing them may even improve the team at some positions. Each player has some value and as we saw even Masterson can return a viable major league prospect. I assume Cabrera may return about the same if not more. There are a few teams looking for middle infield help and Cabrera would probably be the biggest name available. I’am sure he will go to another team and flourish as did Jhnny Peralta. I would still take Asdrubal over Peralta to this day. Asdrubal has been highly disappointing the last couple years but he is not worthless. If I was another team I wouldn’t touch John Axford with a 10 foot pole, but I still think there might be some team who would take him. I’m not asking for much. I look at it as addition by subtraction. These moves would not be to surprising. Any other plays shipped away would. I don’t see the Indians going into full sell mode with the playoff berth so close. The Tribe does have some relievers that have value and could be replaced. I still think the Indians have the belief they can make the playoffs this year, and are not looking to move players other than those not helping (Free agents who can be replaced).
For the last 2 plus years my main concern has been the Tribe’s bats. The Indians may be in the top half of the league in runs scored, but their offense is to sporadic to be considered great. This line up cries out for a great right handed power bat. Band-Aid players such as David Murphy, Mark Reynolds and others are not getting the job done. The Indians need to get a bonafide right handed hitter into this lineup. Swisher will never be a superstar, but I don’t think he will hit .200 all year either. He is not going to hit his career average of .265 this year, but there is no reason not to believe he can’t hit that for the rest of the year. He shouldn’t see the field again though as he has been atrocious at 1st base. Santana failed miserably at 3rd base, but has amazingly looked stellar at first. The defense may be settling in. Gomes after a shaky start has looked awesome. Santana has looked almost like a gold glove at first, while Kipnis is average defensively. Kipnis doesn’t seem to come up with balls on the ground but he is not a liability in the field either. Fransico Lindor will be taking over short next year and he is supposedly a glod glove shortstop. So other than Chisenhall at 3rd the infield looks good defensively. Brantley is a stud in left field and Bourn has won gold gloves in center. I have not witnessed Bourn being a gold glove centerfielder, but he has been so I don’t see why he can’t be a plus defender there now. Dickerson has filled in great as fourth outfielder and has a great arm. Ultimately I think the defensive lapse will settle down. Some miscues came from players who normally have been good defensively (Gomes), while others came from players being moved positions (Santana). The players who commited the most errors will either not be here next year (Cabrera) or be DHing next year (Swisher) other than Chisenhall.
The problem with adding a bat at the trade deadline is that the Indians have very little flexability at this moment. With Santana maning 1st base that puts Swisher at the DH position. I doubt the Indians would be willing to sit Swisher and his contract. As I mentioned I don’t see Swisher hitting .200 all year either, and I’am sure the Tribe is counting on that changing. Right field is another spot that could be upgraded but then again David Murphy has a 2 year contract. I don’t think the Indians would be willing to eat the rest of this year and next to sit Murphy. So the Indians really have no place to put another bat even though their lineup screams for one. Ultimately I don’t see the Tribe bringing in any major upgrades. If they did here are some names I have heard mentioned that may be available.
Who should the Indians be looking to buy?
Matt Kemp: L.A. Dodgers – No way the Tribe pays this guys salary (108 million for the next 6 years, $18 per year) even though it’s a bat that would look great in right field.
Andre Either: L.A. Dodgers – Again to high of salary for the Tribe but would be a big upgrade in right even if he is left handed.
Carlos Gonzalez: Rockies – Another lefty but a career .295 hitter with some pop having a down year.
Josh Willingham: Twins – May be on the wrong side of 30 and having his second consecutive off year. But he would be in the Indians budget at 7 million per year, and is right handed with pop.
Marlon Byrd: Phillies – Affordable contract for a right handed hitter with pop. The Phillies would probably ask for a major prospect for a 2 month rental and I don’t think the Tribe wants to rent players.
**Billy Butler: Royals – The Royals offense has not performed very well this year and Butler has been one of the culprits. If the Royals have become unhappy with Butler and if they were willing to trade him I would jump on it. Other than Lindor who do you want from our farm system K.C.?
**Alex Rios: Rangers – He may be slightly out of the Indians price range, but would he would be a great fit in right for the Tribe.
This off season: My wife has said it to me numerous times, “Wouldn’t Victor Martinez’s right handed bat look good in the Tribe lineup!” He will be a free agent this year 😉
We may say goodbye to Asdrubal and others, but the Indians will try and win with this lineup. I don’t expect the Indians to bring in anyone of importance by trade. They may try and bring in another pitcher (Bartlo Colon!), but my thoughts are they should work on bringing in a bat for this year and beyond.
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.