The front office perspective on the Lee deal

Following GM Mark Shapiro’s conference call with reporters, allow me to try to sum up the front office’s stance on the Cliff Lee trade in 100  250 words or less:

The Indians decided that even with Lee on board, they had little chance of contending next season. That’s because ownership told the front office that it will not commit any significant dollars to club construction in the offseason.

Knowing this, the Tribe explored all offers for Lee and accepted a package that includes three players who have the potential to impact the Major League club in 2010 and one 18-year-old with enormous upside. The Indians feel Carlos Carrasco is very close to Major League ready, Lou Marson can be, at worst, an average everyday catcher in the big leagues, and Jason Donald complements Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena well up the middle. Donald will likely compete with Valbuena for the second base job next spring. As for Jason Knapp, the Indians are enamored with his big, strong body and his raw stuff.

With Lee and his $9 million 2010 option off the books, the Indians might have some money to commit to offseason construction, but Shapiro said he has no idea how much. The Indians are not ruling out a miraculous run at contention next year, but with the depth of talent from Double-A up to the big leagues, they feel they can put together a sustained run of contention starting in 2011.

That’s the gist of it, from Shapiro’s perspective. And though Martinez wouldn’t comment on Victor Martinez directly, this trade makes a lot more sense if he’s on deck on the trading block.

Obviously, there’s a lot more where that came from, including comments from Shapiro, Lee, Francisco, Martinez and others, as well as the news that Fausto Carmona is rejoining the rotation and Trevor Crowe, not Matt LaPorta, is taking Francisco’s spot in the outfield. You can find all that information and analysis at Indians.com in the coming hours.

23 Comments

room for additional thought… just heard that they have to try and reduce payroll down to around $60mill… maybe more trades before Friday…. yes people will complain, belive they did in Philly not too many years ago, it comes down to filling the seats at the games, better things happen, and the seats have to get filled for a couple of years before things make it worthwhile, thats how it went in Philly anyway… and like Philly, you guys have to compete with the Browns filling the seats too.

I figured it would be Crowe that got the call, as they need a guy who can play center.
I’ll say this much: at least Shapiro is being honest about it. We all knew it would come down to whether this organization thought it could compete or not come next season, and Shapiro made his decision. Given the ownership constraints placed on him, I have to say he probably made the right choice. Even if everything went exactly the way we hoped with our rotation for next year, our bullpen would still need some additions, additions that would cost money.
As AC pointed out, it really does call into question Victor’s future. With Shapiro being so honest about next year being a lost season, then it’s time to concentrate on what’s coming up the pipe. I’m not sure when Peralta’s contract is up, but it’s probably smart to deal him soon, too, just to get the auditions at third started now.
With Lowell’s injury history and lack of short stop and catching depth, a package to Boston for Buckholtz seems reasonable, although I don’t know if they’d be willing to thin out their rotation. Masterson might be more likely.

TREVOR FREAKING CROWE!?!

AC, next time you talk to Shapiro, punch him in the head and ask if he is deliberately trying to destroy the loyal Indians fan base.

Centerfield? Bring up Brantley. At least give someone fans are looking forward to up here. That does not include Crowe.

It might have something to do with the fact that Crowe is actually playing better than Brantley. It’s strange, I know, to give people promotions based on performance, but sometimes that happens.
Brantley seems like a nice guy, but I’m baffled by all the love he gets. I’m sure he’ll be great some day, but right now his numbers are in the lower half of the Clippers.
I’m sure LaPorta will get the call when we trade Victor and, yes, it physically hurts me just to type that.

Wow. That ought to fill the seats, huh? I mean, I completely understand the business here. It makes sense if you feel that way. I’m just not sure I understand why you would come out and tell people not to waste time coming to the park next year, but book your season tickets for 2011. Give us something more like, “We feel like a lot of our younger guys are ready to make a run at this next year, but we were still missing some parts. We are going to use the end of this season to tune up some of those parts that we just acquired for the next several years and allow our youth to carry us. With another big contract aside, we are also able to save some money so that we can possibly make some offseason acquisitions or have some flexibility next July when we hope to be in the thick of things.” Maybe it’s just me, but Shapiro sounds like a beat dog. I think he really thought he had this after 2007. He was almost cocky about it.
Oh, and if we DON’T trade Victor Martinez now, I’ll be miffed.
How about trimming some fat by eliminating an overpaid DH that only plays 3 of every 4 games? I like Hafner, but if you want to talk about bank, at least Vic and Cliff are worth their salaries. Maybe some big market team would take Hafner instead of sending us an extra prospect?!

lets face it we’ve become the pittsburgh pirates of the american league always selling for a future of maybe a .500 team

By the way, to follow up on my previous comment. Lee was slotted to make 9 million next year. Hafner makes 11.5 million THIS year. Kerry Wood will also see his contract expire next year. He makes 10 million next year. Why not unleash both of them? The only answer can be that we overpaid them up front and noone is interested.

You have to wonder what the plan is with Grady. His deal ends in 2011 (with an option for 2012). If this rebuilding doesn’t occur as quickly as everyone in front office hopes then when do they decide to deal him? Is this what we’ll go through next summer? I sure hope not, but you’ve got to start feeling bad for him. He is one of the hardest workers on the team, but the Indians have been unable to get the right mix of talent around him. Would he even consider staying (and signing an extension in the next few years) if the Indians can’t contend until 2012 or 2013?

You have to wonder what the plan is with Grady. His deal ends in 2011 (with an option for 2012). If this rebuilding doesn’t occur as quickly as everyone in front office hopes then when do they decide to deal him? Is this what we’ll go through next summer? I sure hope not, but you’ve got to start feeling bad for him. He is one of the hardest workers on the team, but the Indians have been unable to get the right mix of talent around him. Would he even consider staying (and signing an extension in the next few years) if the Indians can’t contend until 2012 or 2013?

what a magnificant collection of catchers we have too bad you only play one

What bothers me most is the fact that Lee was traded at all. How many teams would absolutely drool over having a Cy Young winner for $8 million?!? The Indians, specifically Dolan, just don’t give a crap about winning or the fan base…it’s all about the money. What makes this ironic is that this will likely cost them thousands of fans per game next year, which further diminishes their cash to spend on their 2011 “contending” season, which would include resigning sizemore, taking up Wood’s option, etc. Once you ponder that, you gotta think, “Well, if they’re already giving up on next year by trading Lee now, they MUST have gotten some pretty impressive prospects that really fit into the Indians’ future.” Then, of course, you see that they got an 18 year old with arm problems (don’t worry, he’s got tremendous upside…kinda like Adam Miller), a pitcher that another fan compare to Jeremy Sowers (who illustrates so perfectly the indians’ utter inability to make good draft picks, by the way), a *decent* catcher and then another Mike Rouse (okay at fielding, can’t hit). I live in Seattle and I literally can’t stand anything about the Mariners, but do I even have another choice??

LACF…I think I understand promoting based on performance but at this point, given this season, and the fact we have essentially quit on 2010, why should that matter? Crowe had his cuts, he sucked, now he’s back. Big deal. Cleveland fans are going bonkers over that one dude. I see nothing in Crowe but a glorified defensive replacement with gap power. Also if we promoted based on performance, wouldn’t we have seen Laporta in extended time at this point? (outside of the idiotic two and a half week trial that saw him riding the pine more than playing)

Dolan & Shapiro should be taken to task ( I wanted to say something else, but decor prevented me) for what they have done to our team. Fans in Cleveland; force them all out, including the manager, by comments and refraining from going to Jacobs Field. The Dolans destroy. His brother did so to the Knicks and MSG. Make this a statement that after 61 years of futility, this city deserves better. We are the Pirates of the American League.

Strummer, your criticism of LaPorta’s call up applies to Crowe, as well; it’s not like he got consistent time, either.
The best player in Columbus who can play center field is Crowe, so he got the call.

How is your team going to improve if you are trading off your best talent for prospects? I see a formula here. Build a good farm system, wait until those players are good and then trade them off because you can not afford to keep them around. I am fed up with Shapiro and the Dolans. Who wants to pay to see an underachieving team year after year. If I want to watch a minor league team I’ll stay in Columbus and watch the Clippers for far less money. Furthermore, your team cannot win without solid pitching. Who is the ace now? Pavano? He’ll be gone soon. Who knows how Westbrook and Carmona will pitch when they get back. Sowers is worthless. Laffey is maybe an OK 5th starter and Huff wouldn’t sniff the rotation on a halfway decent team. And you look at the farm system and there is one pitcher to be excited about, Rondon. I won’t wase my team discussing the current bullpen. It won’t be long until Victor and Grady are gone. you have to think they have become disenchanted with a management system that consistently takes the team out of contention. Disgusting.

LACF,
You are correct in the fact that Crowe had the same type of situation that Laporta had in terms of playing time. In fact everything you said was right. It’s just this…I, personally, don’t see how Crowe figures into the future. (except as a fourth outfielder) I foresee an outfield in 2011 of Brantley, Sizemore, and Choo. I know we haven’t seen much of Brantley out in AAA and frankly his numbers don’t look too hot, but I still hope for him to succeed because of what he has to offer in terms of being a leadoff hitter. I like what I see of him in some areas as well. He has more BBs than SOs plus the 35 SBs. His OPS, AVG, and OBP need work but I don’t think he is that far away. (Also erase his April and his numbers improve a lot). He’s also a mere 22. Let me ask you LACF, who do you think figures into the future outfield? Who do you hope does?

Hey, Mr. Castrovince…over here!! *waving hands wildly*

In a post in June, you said the following:

“Last I heard, the Indians were still operating under the mindset that they’d have to be completely overwhelmed to deal the reigning Cy Young Award winner for the second year in a row. They have an affordable $9 million option on Lee and no other viable options to lead their rotation in 2010. But never say never.”

Of course, you added that nice little qualification at the end, but still: WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? This has to be the most UNDERWHELMING deal of the century for the tribe!!! I’d buy the argument that they’re rebuilding for 2011 if they had gotten some great talent that will reliably (reasonably so) be wholly productive in the bigs in 2011, but instead they got some guy who *hopefully* will make it to the majors without arm trouble, another whose numbers have dropped significantly in the past year, and two position players that are no better than ones the Indians already possess, in the farm system or the bigs. I have been swearing off the Indians just about weekly this year, but I really think this is the last straw. It’s just hard to invest my money and my emotions in a product that yields no return on my investment, and that the owners themselves refuse to invest in. Convince me that Dolan cares about this team, and I’ll consider caring as well.

Hey, strummer, as you probably saw in my comment in the most recent blog update, I consider both Crowe and Brantley as part of the 2011 outfield. I think Crowe deserves this shot, but I believe Brantley will get the call here soon, as we start dealing more guys away.

I think Crowe makes more sense to call up now. There is no reason to rush Brantley. Crowe on the other hand they need to get a better read on now, to get a sense of whether he fits in as like a 4th outfielder, or if they should just drop him. Or, if he performs well, his value would increase for an off season trade. Brantley has more upside than Crowe because of his SBs so I like him along with Sizemore and Choo as the outfield of the future, but for the rest of this year it doesn’t matter, he can be a september call up and get a few ABs and compete for the starting job next year

Well now that we traded most of the real major leaguers to others teams. Its time for me to start saving money too.
I’ll just cancel my cable so I don’t have see this crap on TV.
Because thats the product that the Indians will be putting out.
Just plain Crap.

They better trade Victor. Since no one is planning on coming to the park or watching any games on STO, I’m guessing revenue is going to be really low. Dolan will be lucky if he can make payroll next year – even as paltry as it will be. Oh, and just to be clear, it won’t be because of the economy either.

It’s too bad Dolan can’t sell the team – he’d never get his investment back. That’s what happens when you run a team into the ground.

Dolan & Shapiro should be taken to task ( I wanted to say something else, but decor prevented me) for what they have done to our team. Fans in Cleveland; force them all out, including the manager, by comments and refraining from going to Jacobs Field. The Dolans destroy. His brother did so to the Knicks and MSG. Make this a statement that after 61 years of futility, this city deserves better. We are the Pirates of the American League.

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