I got mixed-up confusion
Commenter “iesavage30” hit the nail on the head. The Mark DeRosa trade was not a very good deal for the Indians.
Not the one that was made last night — the one that sent DeRosa to the Cardinals in exchange for right-handed reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later — but the one that brought him to Cleveland from the Cubs.
The trade made last night was a good one for this club, at this juncture. Though it does not signal the white flag being waved, only the most optimistic (maybe even delusional) souls would say this club can mount a comeback in the AL Central standings.
But addressing a glaring, present need by bringing in a young, hard-throwing, big-bodied, potential back-end reliever with viable Major League experience in exchange for a guy who wasn’t going to fit in with long-term plans (and no longer fit the previously prescribed short-term plans) is, in my view, the basis of a good trade. The player to be named will likely determine whether it’s a decent trade or a great one for the Indians.
It’s that New Year’s Eve acquisition of DeRosa that should be more puzzling for Tribe fans.
At the heart of the acquisition was the fear that Asdrubal Cabrera was not ready for everyday action in the big leagues. His poor start to ’08 generated that fear, but his strong finish and his improved conditioning perhaps should have instilled a bit more trust in his ability to become the club’s regular shortstop. When healthy this year, Cabrera has done nothing but hit, and he’s elevated himself from a No. 9 castaway to Grady Sizemore’s successor (temporary or not) in the leadoff spot.
Jhonny Peralta spent all winter playing third base in winter ball, and the Indians jumped at every opportunity to rave about his performance there. But in being sensitive to Peralta’s wishes to remain at short and unsure about Cabrera’s immediate future, the Indians went with what they perceived as the safest course of action by acquiring DeRosa and moving him to third base, regardless of the fact that he played primarily at second base for the Cubs and, by all accounts, played it well.
Watching these first three months of the season unfold made the DeRosa deal look more and more puzzling. Sure, he gave the Indians a productive bat and immediately became a clubhouse asset. But he was shaky in the field at third, went through a baffling period in which he was the Tribe’s regular at first base (a position he had never played with any regularity whatsoever) and eventually became related to corner outfield duties in recent weeks. Simply put, he was not used in the role for which he was acquired, so it was not exactly (the prorated portion of) $5.5 million well-spent.
Meanwhile, the Indians moved Peralta to third after ensuring him he was still their shortstop in Spring Training. All this did was create bad blood with Peralta, and the distraction over moving to third appears to have affected him at the plate this season (though his current upswing in production is a positive step).
And the cost of all this confusion (beyond the prorated portion of the $5.5 million, of course) was young pitching with upside — the very thing this organization is so obviously in need of in the upper levels of the farm system. Only time will tell if Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub, all of whom are having strong seasons in the Cubs’ system, become bona fide Major Leaguers. But given the circumstances that unfolded after DeRosa arrived, one can’t help but believe the Indians would have been better-served to find out if those three become bona fide Major Leaguers in their system.
The good news is that a potential saving grace exists. Perez is not only a highly regarded prospect who has back-end Major League experience under his belt, he’s also under contractual control at least through 2013. He and the player to be named have the potential to make Indians fans look back at the short-lived “DeRosa era” fondly and make them forget all the current confusion.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Just to clear up some confusion I might have created, I had a mistake in my game story from last night. Aaron Laffey is starting for Double-A Akron today, not Triple-A Columbus.
- DeRosa was beloved by his teammates (and the media) here, pretty much from the second he set foot in Goodyear at the start of Spring Training. So players — especially Kerry Wood, who had been his teammate since 2007 — were a bit bummed out to see him traded. But given the gain of Perez, this trade wasn’t as hard a sell to the Tribe players as some of those that had come before it. “In the past, we’ve traded guys and just gotten prospects,” Kelly Shoppach said. “But it’s not like we’re waving the white flag. We got something back that can help us now, while there’s still a chance. Even though we’re going to miss DeRo and his personality and bat in the lineup, hopefully we can get some consistency out there on the mound in return. So it’s not the same feeling as in the past.”
- Looks like we’ll continue to see quite a bit of Luis Valbuena, who has been given an enviable amount of playing time to prove himself at this level. I agree with Eric Wedge that Valbuena’s at-bats have been better than the stats would indicate. Of his 26 hits, 15 have gone for extra-base hits, which is encouraging. Still, at some point soon, you’d like to see Valbuena go on a tear that justifies the rope he’s been handed. And perhaps he’ll be more consistent on the defensive end now that he’s going back to his natural position at second base.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cliff Lee’s streak of 47 consecutive starts of at least five innings pitched, dating back to the beginning of the ’08 season, is the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest stretch by an Indians starter since Gaylord Perry (Aug. 30, 1972-July 27, 1974). Lee and Perry are the only Indians pitchers to have such a stretch since 1954.
- Right-hander JD Goryl, 23, has been signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Tribe. He made his professional debut for the Tribe’s Arizona Rookie League team in Goodyear on Friday, tossing two hitless innings. Goryl is the son of Indians player development advisor Johnny Goryl, who has been in the organization since 1982.
- Jose Veras is a big dude.
- If the Indians win today, then the six-game Ohio Cup will have resulted in an even split. At that point, I believe representatives from the Ohio Lottery arrive with a chainsaw and cut the cup in half. Either that, or the Reds just hold on to it for another year.
UPDATE: DeRosa is already in the Cards’ lineup, batting cleanup today. What a go-getter.