Well, way back in the Bible…

The Teahen Trade Tease, as it shall now be known (although “tease” implies that Indians fans wanted the trade to happen, and I don’t think that was the case with the majority of you… but you have to like the alliteration, if nothing else) forced some of us with nothing better to do to take a good, hard look at the Indians’ outfield depth.

 

If the Indians were to trade one of their outfielders, who would you feel most comfortable with letting go? Grady Sizemore, obviously, isn’t going anywhere, and it’s pretty safe to assume the Tribe wouldn’t get rid of the two high-profile acquisitions of the CC trade — Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley. And David Dellucci is pretty much untradeable.

 

So… Shin-Soo Choo? Ben Francisco? Franklin Gutierrez? Trevor Crowe? None of the above?

 

“Big League” Choo and Francisco strike me as the most likely to be everyday Major League outfielders. Crowe has potential, but he’s unproven, and you have to be concerned with his slow starts the past two seasons at Double-A Akron.

 

And then there’s Gutierrez, who the Indians remain enamored with, even after a disappointing ’08 in which he hit .248 with eight homers and 41 RBIs in 134 games.

 

This is what Mark Shapiro had to say about Gutierrez earlier this month:

 

“He has the ability to impact the game defensively in center, right or left. He saves runs. When he does struggle offensively, that offsets some of the downside he can have offensively. As the season went on, he made some fundamental adjustments in his swing and got better offensively. He is certainly a valuable Major League outfielder. I have no doubt Franklin Gutierrez is a Major League outfielder, and one we feel good about having on this team.”

 

With all due respect to Shapiro, I have my doubts. Gutierrez has been in professional baseball for eight years and has spent the better part of the last two and a half years in the big leagues, and he still can’t hit a breaking ball.

 

But the point about his defense is spot-on, and that’s backed up by the announcement today that Gutierrez has won a 2008 Fielding Bible Award for his work in right field. A panel of 10 experts, including Bill James and John Dewan, the author of The Fielding Bible, chose Gutierrez and eight others for the award, which is announced in the forthcoming Bill James Handbook.

 

For those unfamiliar with the Fielding Bible, Dewan analyzes every ball put into play and determines whether it is reasonable to expect the fielder to make the play. According to Dewan’s calculations, Gutierrez made 29 above-average plays in 97 games in right field last season — the most of any right fielder in baseball.

 

The other Fielding Bible Award winners are: 1B Albert Pujols (Cardinals), 2B Brandon Phillips (Reds), SS Jimmy Rollins (Phillies), 3B Adrian Beltre (Mariners), LF Carl Crawford (Rays), CF Carlos Beltran (CF), C Yadier Molina (Cards), P Kenny Rogers (Tigers).

 

The Gold Glove winners will be announced next week, and you have to figure Sizemore is a prime candidate to be a repeat receiver of that award. For my money, though, Dewan’s award is a bit more legit, because it involves actual analysis, rather than sheer reputation.

 

So, congrats to Gutierrez. Now, get in the cage and work on those breaking balls, will ya?

 

As for the rest of you, if you’re interested in more information on the Fielding Bible or the Bill James Handbook, visit www.fieldingbible.com or www.actasports.com.

6 Comments

Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.

I know it’s obvious, but still…

I hope they do not trade Sizemore, Choo, Laporta, or Gutierrez, any other others I think should be available. Guitierrez is pretty much a perfect 4th outfielder, someone who they can put in late in a game when they’ve got a lead. There’s no reason to have both Crowe and Brantley with the team, so one or the other should go, preferably as part of a trade package that gets the Indians a good infielder, that means not trading one of them for someone of Mark Teahan caliber, but more like Brian Roberts. If they can get Roberts, they don’t have the immediate need for speed that Brantley and Crowe also provide. If they can’t get an infielder who’s better than Jhonny Peralta, it doesn’t make sense to even do the trade. Francisco should definitely go as either part of a trade package or if they could swap him for a good young reliever who throws hard, because with Laporta and Brantley/Crowe, even if there is room for him this year, I’d don’t see how there could be next year

Every time I read a comment here that someone wants to Trade Francisco I am upset, until I remember that baseball trades rarely happen when the majority of people want them to. Good post AC.

From where I sit, Teahen isn’t really even an upgrade over Blake other than being younger. I certainly wouldn’t give up Francisco for that. I think Crowe and an A-ball longshot would suffice. I would also trade Gutierrez (reluctantly though) for him simply because he can’t seem to hit the breaking ball.

I agree with isavage about Guit..

I guess I’m in the minority, because I like Gutierrez as well. I feel the same way Shapiro does.

I think 2009 is his bounce back year.. He can’t hit the breaking ball, but if he’s at the bottom of the lineup, where he won’t get many, then he could be lethal.

He does need to do a better job at letting them go though.. I’d like to see that improvement.

I see no reason having a guy like Gutierrez in the lineup hitting in the nine hole if we have more steady production out of guys like Hafner, Garko, Choo, and Cabrera. That is asking a lot though.

The problem with having Gut as a 4th outfielder is that severely limits the number of at-bats he’ll get, which is really going to hurt him as far as improving his ability to a breaking ball. Basically, he needs to play every day to improve, but can the Tribe really take that chance?

As for Francisco, it would be really interesting to see his numbers when he’s not forced to hit third.

Next to Cliff Lee, Choo was perhaps the #1 reason to watch this team. His required military service in Korea is going to be a concern at some point, though.

At this point, though, I think I’d be fine with parting with almost anyone (other than Sizemore and Choo) if it was part of a deal for someone like, say, Brian Roberts or Jake Peavy.

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