Long may you run
One year ago today, the Indians announced the trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers. (Actually, they sent C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers, where he was immediately renamed CC Sabathia.)
It will be years before we can assess the returns on that trade. For now, Matt LaPorta and his .919 OPS at Triple-A Columbus are looking mighty strong.
Outfielder Michael Brantley got off to a slow start in his first exposure to Triple-A this season, but he’s just 22 years old and still developing, and some in the organization think he’ll end up being the best player acquired in the trade.
Low-level reliever Rob Bryson blew out his shoulder shortly after the trade and had rotator cuff surgery. He has yet to appear in a game this season.
And then there was left-hander Zach Jackson, who was billed as a “throw-in” on the day of the trade, and, in spite of his decent stuff, has put up the numbers of one.
LaPorta and Brantley were obviously the keys to the deal, from the Tribe’s perspective, and they both appear to have a high ceiling. On the day of the trade, GM Mark Shapiro said the Indians targeted outfield bats as the center piece of the deal. I remember him saying there was at least one offer on the table that centered on a pitcher.
This got me thinking: Did the Indians seek out the right return for the reigning Cy Young winner? Knowing what we know now about this organization’s outlook (and what we knew then, especially given the injuries to Jake Westbrook and Adam Miller and the injuries and ineffectiveness of Fausto Carmona in the first half of ’08), should the Tribe have been targeting pitching, not outfield bats?
Thinking back to the trade market at the time of the deal, however, it doesn’t appear that target would have had much fruit to bear.
The Phillies were said to be dangling right-hander Carlos Carrasco, and that might have been the offer Shapiro was referring to. But the Indians reportedly didn’t have much interest. Carrasco is currently 5-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 16 starts at Triple-A this season.
It’s believed the Indians talked to the Yankees about Phil Hughes, but the Yankees were not among the final contenders for Sabathia’s services, either because of their hesitancy to deal Hughes or their inability to work out a sign-and-trade in which Sabathia was guaranteed to them beyond 2008.
Other than that, I’m not sure the Indians had any offers or conversations that centered on pitching. Most likely, their focus on outfield depth was as much a function of what was available in the market as it was an address of the organization’s needs.
If the trade were made today, the Indians would be looking for pitching, pitching and more pitching. That’s certainly what it would take to unseat them from their position of keeping Cliff Lee and his $9 million option for 2009.
As for the one-year-later assessment of the CC trade, it would sure be nice to see what LaPorta has to offer at the big-league level, wouldn’t it?
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Rafael Betancourt (strained right groin) will make his third and potentially last Minor League rehab appearance with Columbus tonight against Indianapolis. If all goes well, Betancourt will probably be activated by the end of the week, Eric Wedge said.
- Fausto Carmona is getting at least one more start with Columbus before he rejoins the big-league rotation. He’s slated to get the ball Friday at Louisville.
- The Indians will reshuffle their rotation out of the All-Star break, and it’s possible Carmona will be a part of that shuffle. For now, the Tribe has four lefties in the mix in Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey (who will be activated in advance of tomorrow’s start against the Sox) and David Huff. With Sowers, Laffey and Huff pitching this series, this is the fifth time this year the Tribe has started at least three lefties in a row but the first time that lefties have started each game of a series. “It’s fine,” Wedge said. “It can be a plus or a minus, depending on who you’re playing. We’re just looking for quality starts.”
- At the moment, the Tribe is carrying eight relievers. That doesn’t figure to change before the All-Star break. “There’s so much uncertainty with our starters and our bullpen,” Wedge said. “We’re trying to get a feel for guys to get roles established, one way or another.”
- The Indians made a pair of Minor League acquisitions today. Left-hander Mike Tejera was plucked out of the Mexican League to round out the Double-A Akron rotation. He was 5-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 15 appearances, including 13 starts, for Quintana Roo and Monterrey. The 32-year-old Tejara has 111 Major League appearances under his belt with the Marlins and Rangers.
- The Tribe also signed infielder Justin Toole as a non-drafted Minors free agent. He finished his three-year collegiate career at Iowa with a .360 average. He’s headed to Mahoning Valley.
- Shin-Soo Choo is 13-for-13 in stolen-base attempts. He is the only player in the Majors to have at least 10 steals without getting caught once.
- With Hector Rondon promoted to Triple-A, right-hander Jeanmar Gomez is taking his place on the Southern Team for the Eastern League All-Star Game next week.
- Andy Marte was named the International League’s batter of the week for the second straight week. He hit .458 with two homers, six RBIs and eight extra-base hits last week. Marte is tied for second in the International League with a .322 average.