Nagy's return, Ambriz's arrival, the loss of Lofgren, and more

Here in Peyton’s Place, where the work of Castrovince met the land of Castroneves, the news was rather slow, where the Indians were concerned.

But there are several items of note here on the final morning of the Winter Meetings.

  • Charles Nagy is back. The Indians have hired Nagy to be their Triple-A pitching coach at Columbus. A tremendous fit for this organization, as Nagy was a durable, dependable arm and a three-time All-Star over the course of 13 seasons with the Indians from 1990-2002. Furthermore, Nagy has experience as a pitching coach with Triple-A Salt Lake City in the Angels’ organization, and the professionalism he brings to the table is second to none.
  • Lee May Jr., formerly at Double-A Akron, will be the hitting coach at Columbus.
  • The Rule 5 giveth and taketh. The Indians selected Diamondbacks RHP Hector Ambriz with the fifth pick in the Draft, with the hope that he can compete for a spot in their big-league bullpen. Also in the Major League phase, the Tribe lost LHP Chuck Lofgren to the Brewers.
  • In the Minor League phase, the Indians selected OF Brian “The Rabbi of Swat” Horwitz from the Giants’ Double-A roster and will place him at Triple-A Columbus. He’s a corner outfield bat with some big league experience. The Tribe lost LHPs Anillins Martinez (Marlins) and Matt Meyer (Cardinals) from the Double-A Akron roster.
  • Finally, C Carlos Santana has won the Lou Boudreau Award as the organization’s best Minor League position player in ’09, while RHP Hector Rondon was recognized as the Bob Feller Award winner as the organization’s top Minor League pitcher.

~AC

100 Comments

Nagy might be the best pick up of the winter meetings. He’s done great things with the Angels organization and seems like the perfect guy to get that gaggle of youngsters prepped for the majors.
Nice that we held on to Pino, although it does make you wonder why no one took him (and took Lofgren instead).
Not particularly sold on the idea that Ambriz can compete for a major league job; his AA numbers look good, but his AAA numbers weren’t really that impressive. He seems like he has some upside, though, for the future.
Honestly, aside from the injury reports, I’m perfectly happy with these winter meetings.

I’m really surprised we kept Pino too. Perhaps we are all missing something with this guy. We didn’t protect him, no one took him. From what I understand, he isn’t a hard thrower (mid to high 80s fastball, from what I remember reading somewhere), but his secondary stuff is pretty good. Once again, I don’t remember where I read that, or I’d provide the source. Nevertheless, I really don’t understand why he didn’t get picked up.

It was that breakdown of top Rule 5 RHP I posted from a Pirates’ web site. I got them impression they considered him more of a bullpen type guy. In fact, I think they said he could probably challenge for a major league bullpen job now.
After watching Fausto, I’m so wary of breaking ball guys!

Haha, I guess that was much ado about nothing. I figured Pino would be taken for sure, that at the least he could fit in a bullpen somewhere. From what I’ve read he has a good curveball. 8 K/9 and a .95 WHIP in AAA would indicate he has enough to fool hitters … though he never really had good numbers before this past year. Of all the pitchers Lofgren was the one I worried the least about losing, simply because I saw no place for him on the team when they already have Sowers as their sort of extra left-handed starter-reliever option. He probably needed a change of scenery to have a chance at success. So, very good job Shapiro and crew on reading who was likely to go. I’m surprised they bothered to pick up Ambriz too, the Indians have a plethora of relief pitching talent, unless they think the guy could be really good in the future it wouldn’t make much sense to put him in the mix above guys they already have like Todd or Josh Judy.

You can never have to much pitching (depth). The Indians, i think, are stock piling for now and the future with arms. The Pitching depth was pretty bare before the recent trades. There are, now, a number of guys through out the org to be excited about. Now we just wait and see.

I kind of think Shapiro is looking at all the arms he’s acquiring as a twofold move, not just potential pieces for the team, but also possible trade pieces. Those trade pieces are nearly as essential for this organization, as well all know that free agent signings are hard to come by with no money (and, really, I’d prefer Shapiro make trades than sign FA, given his track record).
Anyone want to go back and do the math on how many arms we’ve picked up in the last year? I think we were approaching double digits by the end of the regular season.

I love Charles Nagy. Love’em. Love the move. Not b/c I’m a ’90s honk but b/c it appears he could actually help the pitchers. It’s a good transition from Radinsky to Nagy. He’s the consummate professional. Heck, this guy went out and bought a glove that was 1/2″ bigger following the Edgar Renteria base hit off his glove.

Now I’m gonna go cry into a pitcher of beer and gallon of Ben & Jerry’s as I watch the Cleveland Sock-cess video.

Here we go Brownies…. here we go!

Anyone see the rumor that the Tribe is interested in Marcus Thames? Honestly, I’d hate to see this. I have nothing against Thames, but I don’t see the point in bringing anyone in for a platoon role. I think we should be giving our youngsters every opportunity to prove themselves against lefties and righties — I don’t think any of them have enough ABs at the major league level to decide they can only hit one or the other.
Call it the euphoria of last night’s Browns’ game (and only a Cleveland fan can be euphoric after their team improves to 2-11), but I’m starting to get optimistic about next year. We need some luck, yes, but it’s possible we could be half way decent…in a half way decent division. I really do think, aside from our rotation issues, that it will be essential for us to have a regular, every day line-up, as well as moving Sizemore down in the order for us to compete.

why do we need Thames when we signed a gold glove power hitting third baseman. You now, Brian Buscher.

Well, I wonder what this means for Adam Miller, being non-tendered — not for his future with the Tribe, just for his future. What a sad, sad story.
Not surprised by Veras or Reyes, though. Honestly, Reyes is probably better off recovering during the ’10 season and trying to get picked up in 2011. I’m sure he could find a 4th or 5th starter gig if he manages to come back.

I would have to wonder if Reyes could or would revert back to a relief pitcher to extend his career, ala Kerry Wood. He doesn’t have the power stuff to be a dominant closer per se but non-traditional closers of his makeup (Trevor Hoffman) can succeed with one dominant pitch, in Hoffman’s case it’s his changeup.

Adam Miller’s story is truly unfortunate. “Sad” doesn’t even begin to describe his unfortunate circumstances. His career path has not been thwarted by alcohol, drugs, inner demons, psychological problems or PEDs. It’s not like his injury was a Tommy John surgery to delay him 12-18 months.

Being the “first” to have undergone certain procedures as a professional athlete typically means you’re done. The first microfracture surgery; the first lasik eye surgery (“my vision is now better than 20/20″). Tommy John and his ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction as “the first” to succeed is the exception, not the rule.

I would’ve like for them to hang onto Veras. He looked pretty good towards the end of the year, and he’s a hard thrower. They do have plenty of bullpen depth though as long as we don’t see the usual injuries and/or across the board ineffectiveness.

As if just to mock you, ST, it appears we re-signed Reyes and Miller to minor league deals, which seem like fair enough moves to me. Granted, they might have offered one to Veras and he might have turned it down, preferring to look for a major league contract.
We sure do have a lot of pitchers these days.

I find this very encouraging (from Lastoria’s Indians Prospect Insider).

“Of note, Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona had a very encouraging outing on Friday night going 5.0 innings and allowing just 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, and 0 strikeouts in an outing loaded with groundballs. In two outings covering 8.1 innings Carmona has not surrendered a walk.”

To me, from what I remember early last season, Carmona always seemed to be “overthrowing,” trying to strike batters out, and in the process, sacrificed his control. What it looks like here, sans-walks and sans-strikeouts, is that Fausto is trusting his pitches a little more. I think the key to Fausto’s success is that he rely on the sinking action of his fastball, and manufacture outs, rather than trying to do everything himself. Remember Fausto, strikeouts are fascist. Throw some ground balls: they’re more democratic.

Yeah, but those reports could have been lifted from last year during spring training, or even last year when he was coming back up through the system. Fausto’s issue isn’t just about not walking people, it’s about not walking people in the MAJORS. That’s his issue. He gets up to the bigs and starts overthrowing.
It’s nice that he’s doing well in winter ball, but until he proves he can do it at the major league level again, I’m not going to get my hopes up.

any posting with a Bull Durham reference is top notch

Reports are that the Phillies are trading for Roy Halladay, and shipping Lee to the Mariners in a three-team deal. In my humble opinion, this is a slap in the face to Cliff. He was the ONLY reason they made it as far as they did this past postseason, and they are basically saying “Thanks, but we think this guy is better than you.” Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Halladay is obviously a great player, but I don’t see what he does for your team that Cliff doesn’t.

The only way I am cool with this is if it was a sign and trade, and the Phillies got Halladay locked up for a few years. That would make more sense to me.

A right arm.
No, seriously, that’s what Halladay has that Lee doesn’t. The Phillies rotation is lefty heavy, so they want a righty.
What’s even crazier is that they’re both free agents after next year, and Halladay will get more money given his career numbers. So they are basically going to pay more money for an ace when they already have one, just because he’s a righty.

Also, can I get a “this system is broken and it’s only getting worse” rant? The Phillies can only even CONSIDER doing this because they can sign Halladay for fat bags of cash.
And then there’s the Red Sox, who just signed Lackey for piles of money which means that they’re 103 Million Dollar Man (Dice-K) is now the FIFTH starter on the team.
It’s so ridiculous.

I think Lee’s current value is a result of his post-season performance more than anything else.
And as much as I like Cliff, unless he has an unreal season next year, he’s not going to get CC money. He just doesn’t have the career numbers and he’s two years older.

LACF, I said it when NY signed 3 guys for half a billion dollars last year: the economical situation we currently are in only seems to further the gap between the top 5 money teams and the rest of the league. I see one of two things occurring, either we get a salary cap or the “other” teams will break off and create their own league.

As for the Toronto/Philadelphia/Seattle trade there have been some recent off-the-record developments to the trade scenario. Halladay would go to Philly and now has 72 hours to sign an extension that is rumored to be 3 years with a vesting option for a 4th and possibly 5th year. That deal is 3 years on top of his 2010 salary so it’s through 2013. Lee would go to Seattle as he’d pair up with King Felix (dangerous 1-2 punch).

While originally rumored as not part of the deal it seems as if the Phillies are willing to part ways with Kyle Drabek so long as they get Seattle’s #1 pitching prospect in return (Phillippe Aumont). The other potential pitcher is J.A. Happ. Included in that deal to Toronto are catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud (whom most considered to have a higher ceiling that Marson) and outfielder Michael Taylor but NOT Dominic Brown. Philadelphia would potentially receive 21-year old outfielder Tyson Gillies from Seattle.

So let me get this straight… Cliff Lee WOULD have had serious demand this off season to potentially increase our value on him? I realize that this is once again my specialty (revisionist history) but I am floored by this. ESPN is making a huge deal out of Hallday resigning for 3+ years as the engine driving this deal b/c Lee “wanted a CC Sabathia-type contract that they believed it would take a five-year or six-year deal to keep the 31-year-old left-hander.”

Oh, and AM, I really like your idea about a new league. I’d be completely on board with that. Going by last year’s numbers, the top 12 teams spent $96M or more (I figured that’s close enough to $100M). That leaves the remaining 18 to form their own league. It’s fairly even, too: 2 teams from the AL East, two teams from the AL Central, 2 teams from the AL West, 3 teams from the NL East, 2 teams from the NL Central, and 1 team from NL West would all be dropped for our new, actually competitive league.
The other option (once Bud is gone), is to put in a salary cap and let the players strike. No, really, go ahead and strike. Then replace them with all the minor league players that we all like better, anyway, and in a few years it will be a wash.

The additional league actually sounds rather cool. I don’t know how well it would work, honestly. Would it be a third league within Major League Baseball? If that were the case, how would the World Series participants be determined? If they were all within the same umbrella league (MLB), I don’t really see it making much of a difference. Honestly, the principle behind this conversation (giving more teams a chance to succeed) was the purpose of realigning the divisions, and enabling the Wild Card. What a “new league” would bring, if we kept the same amount of teams, would be three groups competing in a similar fashion to what we had before the divisions were realigned. What I would propose, would be to keep the basic leagues (AL and NL) the same, only reorganize the divisions based on payroll, and the teams play a greater majority of their games within the division. Honestly, the divisions as they are arranged now don’t really mean much. We do see teams within our division more than teams outside, but it seems to be less and less true (maybe it’s just me). We even are playing more and more games OUTSIDE our league. The reason that teams were divided into their current (and previous) divisions by geographical location, was because the fans had more interest in teams from their area. Is this necessarily still true? With the current amount of globalization in basically EVERYTHING, do these things really matter to most people still? I know some rivalries will always exist (Red Sox and Yankees), but do Yankee fans really care about seeing the Yankees play the Orioles regularly, outside the fact that it is an opportunity to sweep? So why not organize based on payroll? I know this has it’s problems too (stratification of divisions, lack of continuity, etc.). I just don’t want another strike. It nearly killed baseball last time, and I think we are just starting to rebuild popularity after it and the steroid fiasco.

Oh, no, I think it would have to be a completely different league, the way the AL and NL were back in the day. I mean, in the early 1900′s, you had baseball leagues starting up, merging, splitting off — it was crazy.
It will never happen, of course, as all of these teams probably have complicated contracts with MLB, but it’s nice to dream. You could even compromise with the Players’ Union, have a salary cap of $80M and also have a salary floor of $50M. Some of the team would have to lower their payrolls a bit and a few of them would have to step up, but not by a lot (other than Florida).
The even bigger problem, of course, is how would it make money? I’m sure it would do fine as far as breaking even, but I don’t know how much TV money it would make, as we’d lose NY, LA, and Chicago, not to mention Boston.
Still, 18 teams, maybe add 2 more from markets who have never had baseball (like Portland, the Carolinas, or Tennesee), and you’ve got four divisions, just like the pre-Wild Card era.
Fun to imagine. Never going to happen.
And I say let them strike! Let them all go away and I’ll embrace the Clippers as my new MLB team, because it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Ok, I see. That is even more interesting, given my weakness for nostalgia. I would throw out Oklahoma as a possibility, just to see a top level professional team here. But, alas, we could never support one.
And, I guess if we are going to start making demands on the way professional baseball is played, and who they play, perhaps we should stick to manageable goals….like elimination of inter-league. It gets worse and worse each year.
On a related note, I wonder if AC is reading this particular thread of comments. Our once top rate commenting banter has been reduced to creating fictitious leagues, inciting baseball revolution, encouraging player strikes, etc. He may never speak to us again. This is what the off season has done to us.

IF there were to be a salary cap in the MLB then you would certainly need a salary floor as well so good point LACF.

jk, I should have been more detailed. When I said a new league, I really meant a new baseball association, like the American Baseball Association or something like that; a completely separate entity not affiliated with MLB and constructed of perhaps the breakdown of teams that LACF mentioned b/c it WILL get worse before it gets better. The salary cap idea only seems natural. Take one step back to take two forward. Bud Selig has ruined a large portion of the rank-and-file casual fanbase. He has no one to blame but himself. He tried to ignore the steroids problem b/c of the strike in 1994. He is reaping what he sows.

I equate the current MLB structure to my views on the political parties’ scenario. Not to get political but IMO the best way to represent the people is have a logical, representation of those people (or teams and cities in this case). You split apart the Republican party into “moderates” and “conservatives”; then the Democratic party splits between the “moderates” and “liberals.” In the end, the two “moderates” get together and form a centrist position of sorts. Hence a 3-party system representing MORE people.

We have a misrepresentation of a two-league system right now in MLB that is not representing the small-to-mid market teams very well. Revenue sharing be darned, without a cap and a floor we are doomed to fail. We all love the Tampa Bay story, the Minnesota’s of the league, the one-hit, blow-up and rebuild wonders of the Florida Marlins. We need consistency and the current system is severely broken.

jk, I was thinking the same thing about AC. I waiting for him to reference this in his next blog.
We need to send a letter to Warren Buffet — he’s the only one rich enough to pull this off.
It doesn’t seem like there’s much hope of resolving this with a cap and floor. The Players’ Union seem determined to avoid a cap and Bud Selig seems determined to ignore the problem.
What kills me, is you always hear the other side of the argument complaining about teams like the Marlins, who aren’t spending what they CAN. So why doesn’t a ceiling/floor compromise work? I think the big problem is that the teams could never agree on what the ceiling is, or even what the floor will be. I mean, would the Yankees drop their payroll $100M for a cap? Doubtful.

And as I registered independent who very clearly leans one way, but refused to be defined by that political party, I agree with you, AM!

I agree with you, AM, in your last point especially. I was watching the MLB Network a day or two ago, and I think Harold Reynolds mentioned how unless you are the Yankees or the Red Sox, or a team of that sort, you basically have ONE chance to make (and succeed in) the playoffs within a 3-5 year period. They can’t hope to keep big name/big contract impact players in their organization, and are forced to rebuild or “retool” every few years. In most of the analysis of the off season, Harold (and others) really seems to share our views. I know when big names are on the market, he has mentioned how he hopes other low to mid market teams get involved. When it’s just the big teams dealing, it’s not “good for baseball.” I found it refreshing to hear that from someone other than the fan base.
And, you are probably right. It will get worse before it gets better.

and while AC may be reading this thread thinking that we are insane, idealistic, and illogical to even suggest these things, at least we are talking baseball and keeping AC’s blog active during the slow winter months

from Keith Law at ESPN:

The Toronto Blue Jays: They landed three top-100 prospects for one year of Roy Halladay and $6 million (a sunk cost), which is more impact talent than Cleveland and Philadelphia received in total in the two Cliff Lee deals.

I’m not ready to judge the Lee deal yet. Assuming things go as planned, a year and a half after the C.C. deal, two of those propsects will be with the big league team. That’s probably a high bar to set, but if we use that barometer, then I expect the guys we got for Cliff to be at the top of their game in Columbus by the end of the ’10 season, ready to compete for starting jobs for the 2011 team.

Although in all fairness to Knapp, he’s starting from a lower level than LaPorta and Brantley, so he deserves more time to develop.

Valbuena is hitting pretty good against right and left handed pitchers in winter ball. He is currently hitting .313 vs. lefties in 48 AB, and .281 vs. righties in 96 AB. Perhaps it isn’t the most complete, accurate sample. However, he is hitting about 100+ points higher than Marte (.200) or Brown (.222) are currently hitting lefties in comparable ratio of AB vs. righties and lefties.

I think, jk (is it jk? or just j?) that just supports the idea that none of these guys should be defined as “right only” or “left only” hittes, and given the chance to hit both, at least for a bit.

Well, aside from Casey Blake and (more importantly), Vin Scully, there’s another reason for me to watch Dodgers’ games next season (as they’re all on TV for me): Jamey Carroll! Should be interesting to see how he does with them, as I have serious doubts about their young second baseman — Jamey could get a lot of time.

JK is A-OK with me.
I didn’t think I would ever say this about a utility infielder, but, I’m honestly sad to see Carroll go. He was a great guy, versatile, and honestly, had pretty good offensive numbers for someone who doesn’t play every day. He was a pretty good clutch hitter, and could work a count pretty high.
Regarding Valbuena, and others like him, I’ve never understood why someone would protect a young player against a certain pitcher. Sure, they may not ever be as good as facing the opposite-handed pitcher, but, they’ve got to see the at-bats, and learn to adapt. They are professionals, after all. I can understand a veteran like Granderson, who had horrible numbers against lefties. But, a young kid still has time to learn. And, although I’m no hitting coach, I would think seeing major league lefties on a consistent basis, and given the time and opportunity to make adjustments, would be the best way of solving the problem. Especially for a team that isn’t supposed to contend.

I don’t have a problem at all with getting someone who can his left-handed pitching to sub for Valbuena. Just check out Sizemore and Choo’s career numbers against lefties, and Hafner’s .696 OPS against lefties last year. It would be nice to have someone who we know can hit left handed pitching well. (which is why I never thought Omar was a good fit, he wouldn’t be an offensive upgrade over Valbuena)It’s not like Valbuena tore it up last year against anyone, if the guy’s hitting .320 next year then sure, send him out there full time, but if they can get a decent right-handed 2b, like Belliard (whose career OPS against LH is 110 points higher than Sizemore’s, and 115 points higher than Valbuena’s overall OPS from last year) then I’m not really sure how you can argue against a platoon, at least to start the year … As far as the Lee trade, my problem with the “wait to see what happens with the prospects” is that you’re basically saying scouting has no bearing. You can’t disregard the fact that Drabek is universally considered a better prospect than Carrasco and Knapp, and Michael Taylor is universally considered a better prospect than Marson or Donald. The Blue Jays got Drabek, Taylor and d’Arnaud for Halladay. So either Halladay for a year is more valuable than Lee (who led the Phillies to the World Series and almost single-handedly got them a Series win, and then got them Halladay in what’s pretty much a straight up Lee for Halladay deal) or the Indians scouting department is smarter than everyone else’s, and Donald, Marson, Knapp and Carrasco are actually better than Drabek, Taylor and d’Arnaud. Other than possibly Carrasco, the Indians didn’t receive anyone who can help them now, unless you consider Marson an upgrade over Santana, which is a stretch even with Santana’s broken hamate bone (and Carrasco as an upgrade over any of their other potential starters is very questionable) The Indians would have had a decent shot at competing if they still had Lee this year, and they received not a single can’t-miss prospect in return. You simply cannot tell me that they couldn’t have made a trade that netted them equivalent pieces if they’d waited until July of this year to move Lee if they are once again uncompetitive, or they obviously could have traded Lee to Seattle right now for Aumont, who’s a better prospect than anyone they received from the Phillies … Let’s also not forget that they sent Francisco to the Phillies, who’s likely to have a better ML career than Marson or Donald

The thing about prospects, though, is that they AREN’T proven and, not only that, their rankings are constantly changing. Carrasco was considered Phillies best prospect just a year earlier, his stock dropping after a single year. I don’t think we can make any claims on Knapp given we’re trying to compare an A ball player to a AAA player.
As for Taylor, he evidently not so great that the Blue Jays weren’t willing to turn around and deal him right off the bat.
And didn’t we just have a debate on whether Donald could be the every day second baseman or not? Francisco’s value is relative, as the Tribe had no need for an outfielder, but they did have need for a middle infielder.
But it’s all apples and oranges. Sure, the Phillies dealt Drabeck, but they didn’t just get a Cy Young pitcher, they also got 3 prospects and $6M in cash, so the cost was obviously more for Drabeck than what we paid for the four guys we got. The two deals aren’t comparable.

Yeah, if Knapp and Donald were healthy, it would’ve been a nice deal, but they aren’t, so it’s a roll of the dice … Donald may recover and have a chance to compete with Valbuena or his injury will permanently hinder him, who knows? Same with Knapp. Unless Mark Shapiro has a crystal ball, how do you make that deal? If I were to move Cliff Lee a year and a half before free agency I’d want to get guys that have a good chance at success. And you base trades on current valuations, not what you thought of someone in the past. Brad Snyder and Aubrey were once considered top prospects, that’s meaningless now, just as Carrasco’s top prospect billing is/was meaningless, and Donald and Knapp’s pre-injury status … Taylor put up numbers comparable to Laporta’s, he’s obviously a very nice prospect, better than Marson or Donald, I assume the Jays wanted an infielder rather than an outfielder so they made that swap afterwards … I’m not comparing what the Phillies received for Lee to what the Indians received, the Phillies got Roy Halladay, the prospects involved were likely viewed as equivalent from the Phillies perspective (Aumont for Drabek, Gillies for d’Arnaud, and Ramirez for Taylor) … I’m comparing what the Blue Jays received for Halladay to what the Indians received for Lee, and what the Mariners gave up for Lee to what the Phillies did … the Mariners gave up Aumont, Ramirez and Gillies for Lee, I’d have to assume they’d have made this same trade with the Indians, right? All three of those guys are high ceiling guys, Gillies I’d think would be the top position player prospect if he were in the Indians organization, his numbers look like Michael Brantley with more power, Aumont and Ramirez are two young, healthy pitchers with a lot of upside and supposedly the top pitching prospects in the Mariners organization — I’d take that deal over the actual Lee deal any day … even if Knapp and Donald and Carrasco do pan out, Shapiro still made a bad trade because it’s too high-risk, if it works that means Shapiro’s lucky, not good

All trades for prospects are high risk — who’s to say that Aumont, Ramirez, or Gillies will work out? For that matter, Lee is a perfect example of the risk in these deals. Up until ’08, Lee was a solid starter, but not an ace of any kind, yes Shapiro dealt for him years before. Ultimately, we’re looking at 5 and a half years from when the Tribe acquired him until he hit his peak. Five and a half years!
As for what the Mariners got, there’s no reason to believe the Tribe got similar offers. And that’s the real thing here — a player is only really worth what others are willing to pay for him. For all we know, this was the best offer the Tribe got.
Now, sure, you can argue that they could have held on to Lee and gotten more for him at the end of the season, but that’s a pretty big “what if.” Not only would he have been pitching in the AL the rest of the year (which arguably would have inflated his ERA), he also wouldn’t have pitched in the post-season, something that clearly increased his value.

for what its worth, Rob Neyer of ESPN suggests that the Mariners pulled off a “heist” because they didn’t not give up any of their top 3 prospects: Brandon Morrow (RHP), Michael Saunders (LF), and Carlos Triunfel (SS in Southern League).

“Aumont is a good relief prospect. He could be in the majors this year, and he’s got all-star closer upside. Gillies is a potential high OBP center fielder with speed. Ramirez has the best arm in the system. The three prospects the M’s gave up? None of them are top notch, elite guys. They all have potential, but their risk-reward profiles do not put them in the top tier of minor leaguers. This is, quite frankly, a heist. The Mariners are getting a Cy Young caliber pitcher for some decent-but-not-great prospects. They aren’t giving up Morrow. They aren’t giving up Saunders. They aren’t even giving up Triunfel. And yet, they walk away with one of the five or six best pitchers in baseball.”

Yeah, I saw that from Neyer who, granted, is kind of hit or miss IMHO. That said, what he says does lend some substance to the…I guess “theories”…as to why Lee was dealt to begin with. I mean, this was a pretty complicated deal and while Philly looks to be in great shape (how could they not be), it seems like their lives would have been much easier had they just negotiated with Lee for an extension.
I just wonder if their was resentment around the fact that Lee was THE story for them, particularly in the post-season. To use a bad pun, they became the PhilLEEs, and I wondered if that bugged the higher ups — they just seemed too determined to trade him for me not to wonder.

I don’t think the fact that Lee was the star of the show bugged them. They made a big trade to land Halladay and gave up some big pieces from their farm system. Couple that with the players they gave up to get Lee in the first place, and they probably felt like they needed to get some young guys to beef their system up again. In the interview I heard today, Lee was pretty upset about this… which is great for the Mariners. Cliff Lee pitching with a chip on his shoulder? Watch out, baseball.

Also, nothing upsets me more than hearing analysts talk about prospects. “This guy is decent with a plus slider and average life on his fastball,” “This player is way overrated, I didn’t have him in my Super Duper Top 100 Players In Minor League Baseball, 2009 Edition, therefore he will never amount to anything in life.” Scouting helps to a certain extent, but in the end it really comes down to luck. That’s why it is impossible to fully judge a trade for prospects until about 5 years after the fact.

I would disagree with that to a large extent pigeon, just look at the trades the Indians have made in the past few years … The Colon deal looked like a great deal to begin with, and how the players turned out it really became even better, since Sizemore and Lee exceeded expectations to a degree. And I’m not going to say the Alomar trade was a bad trade simply because Escobar and Traber ended up getting seriously injured and never really returning, that was a good trade that was doomed by some bad luck after the fact. The Sabathia trade looked like a good trade when they made it and it still does, Laporta and Brantley look to be fixtures in the lineup, barring injury. Generally speaking, guys who are top prospects in the minors become the top players in the majors, sure there are some who fail, I’m sure the odds on pitching prospects making it aren’t good because it seems like half of them go down with a serious injury (or is that just the Indians?), and some guys just don’t pan out. If the Indians had received one player of Michael Taylor or Gillies caliber when they traded Lee I’d say it was a decent trade … If Neyer thinks the Mariners pulled off a heist to get Lee, what does he think of what the Phillies did to get Lee? The Indians got no one close to Gillies (speed with seemingly a good eye at the plate, very likely to succeed at the ML level, and actually something the Indians could use as a Sizemore-replacement in waiting), no one who’s a “potential All-Star closer”, and Ramirez is probably around the same level as Knapp, except he didn’t just have shoulder surgery… I’d have been okay with the Indians getting Aumont, Gillies and Ramirez for Lee, I wouldn’t think it was a great trade and I wouldn’t be happy about it, but it would be an okay trade, because Gillies looks like a guy who has a good chance to make it. If the Indians got Drabek and Taylor like the Jays did for Halladay I’d say that was a good trade, since Drabek is the farthest along of the pitchers and Taylor’s put up numbers similar to Laporta … It will be interesting to see how these guys turn out. I will say the Indians COULD see some good returns from the Lee trade, my problem with it is there also looks to be a decent chance it’s a total failure. I don’t really know what to think of Carrasco, having seen him pitch a few games, he has decent stuff, kind of like Cliff in a way, no pitch that really stands out but if he controls his pitches he looks tough to hit, Knapp I kind of lump in with De La Cruz and Hagadone, one of those guys should make it and hopefully 2 of them do, Knapp right now has to be the least likely to succeed simply because of the shoulder surgery, but there’s always a chance. I’d probably give it like a 40% chance that the trade’s a complete bomb and none of the prospects make it, maybe a 15% chance that we look back on it as a good trade. I’d like to see better odds. I don’t know why the Indians didn’t get Taylor from the Phillies, who didn’t have a lot of use for him, since their best OF prospect is Domonic Brown and their ML outfield is pretty much set as it is. I can’t imagine Shapiro preferred Marson and Donald to him, but I can’t imagine the Phillies would’ve balked at Carrasco, Knapp, Taylor, Donald for Lee and Francisco

ST, I think saying the Colon deal looked good when it happened is a bit of revisionist history. All I remember is complete outrage, greater than dealing Lee.
And, if we’re going to use Neyer in this discussion, while he thinks the Mariners stole Lee, he also thought the Phillies/Tribe deal was a good one for both teams.

ST, Sizemore was 19 when the Colon trade happened and virtually glossed over by everyone around MLB besides Peter Gammons (I still remember his comments about the trade, suggesting that Sizemore (at 19) would be the best player we acquired). Montreal knew they were in dire straits and completely depleted their farm system for Colon b/c they didn’t care. While the trade looks great from Cleveland’s perspective, their partner in the deal didn’t care about prospects; they wanted to win in the next 3 months. Colon did amass 20 wins that season, something like a 10-4 record from both leagues. Additionally, in 2002 teams didn’t view “prospects” in general as they do now. Different times, different organizational prerogatives.

Remember, the “gem” of the Colon trade was Brandon Phillips. Cliff Lee was a throw-in and Sizemore was the low-level prospect with a high ceiling. Now you could argue that Lee Stevens was actually the “real” throw-in but it doesn’t change the overall value: Lee, Sizemore, Phillips, Stevens for Colon and Drew.

Stevens was temporarily serviceable, Phillips was ruined by Eric Wedge with the permission of Mark Shapiro (blah, I will never forgive them for that), Sizemore is really good (when healthy and right) but still untapping his total repertoire, and Lee developed into a quality starter since his inception as a regular (2004), a good SP (2005), malcontent (2007) then superstar (2008 to present). So Lee took 5 1/2 years to reach elite status as LACF mentioned.

IMO, clearly we all love watching these prospects, following their progression and tracking their status but in the end they are all just names to me. Personally, I like seeing the names change, in a constant state of flux. Until these kids actually put on an Indians uniform and perform we all pretty much suggest that they are set up and doomed to fail. There are no guarantees as to who, where, when and why prospects come to fruition.

Case in point: Josh Hamilton.

The main point I was trying to make is that we can not judge a trade for prospects until well after the fact. There is too much uncertainty and luck involved. You can judge the Alomar and Colon deals now because they happened so long ago, and we have seen what became of them. I am completely holding back all judgment on the Martinez and Lee trades until it is all said and done. In hindsight, this past year could make Shapiro look like a genius. If in a few years we have a great rotation of Carmona, Knapp, Hagadone, Masterson, someone else; a bullpen with Todd and Perez as the main center pieces. Anything could happen. You scout these players, decide which of them you like, trade for them, and the cross your fingers for the next few years.

Well, and I think the big thing is that we got 9 additional arms in our system through trades during the year (and 3 more now in the off season, if I’m not mistaken). That’s a dozen pitchers into the mix for the next few years. Sure, I realize a few of them aren’t going to pan out and a few of them are fillers, but I decent number of them have potential to help in the future — and with prospects, it really is a matter of throwing them against a wall to see what sticks.
I will fully admit that I can’t imagine a rotation with both Hagadone AND Knapp in it. I just think the chances of that happening are slim — but I’d love to see it!

I generally have the same sentiment that Pigeon does about trades. However, I still don’t like the Lee deal. As we all agreed when it happened, it was a high risk deal. The problem for me was that I’m not even convinced that it was really a “high reward” deal. To me, only Carrasco and Knapp fit into our current team makeup. Marson is a placeholder for Santana. Donald can’t really go anywhere if the Indians are set on Cabrera at SS. I can’t really see Donald as a clear alternative to Valbuena within the immediate future. If Donald and Marson were a little further back in their development, say class-A ball, I would be fine with the deal. However, they are basically two MLB-ready to near-MLB ready position players that are blocked by other players or top prospects. Perhaps they will be future trade fodder, but I wouldn’t think the return would be high.

That leaves us with Knapp and Carrasco. To me, if Knapp makes it to the Indians, and no one else goes anywhere, this trade might have been worth it. He seems to have a lot of potential. However, as we probably all acknowledge, the likelihood isn’t great. So, that leaves us with Carrasco. For me, the jury is still out on him.

Granted, a lot may happen in a year or two that may make more sense of this deal. However, due to Marson and Donald being at the AAA level, and block by our current team plan, and Knapp being such an unknown, I just don’t see it fitting us very well as of now.

jk, I disagree on Donald and Marson. As far as Donald is concerned, I think the simple fact that there’s actually someone who could make a reasonable challenge to Valbuena at 2nd is a big plus. He needs to be challenged and for the longest time we all assumed he was the 2nd baseman of the future simply because there were no alternatives (sorry, Barfield, but you need to play well in Columbus to earn a chance in Cleveland).
As for Marson, I think he has two HUGE positives on this team: 1) He allows us to let Santana move at his own pace so we’re not rushing him up to Cleveland before he’s ready, and potentially ruining him and 2) He’s got “potential trade bait” written all over him. If Marson does well next season, we’re going to get a lot back in return, from giving Santana time to any future deals.
Basically, I see both Donald and Marson as essential in getting the most out of Valbuena and Santana, and I think that makes them very valuable.

Also, I would like to say that I love this thread.

While I agree that those things mentioned about Marson and Donald are positive things, I still don’t think they are types of things you look for when you are a rebuilding team shopping the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. This isn’t necessarily to pick on Marson and Donald. I think they both have potential to be decent MLB players. I would have much rather seen us trade for mid to low level second-baseman (no big prospects really on the radar) or a mid to low level corner outfielder over Donald. I can see use in Marson this year, since we traded Martinez, and were set on dumping Shoppach. However, a place holder like that seems to be more of an off season deal rather than a piece of a Cy Young trade.

And, I agree. This is a good thread. It’s the off season, too!

I was never outraged when they traded Colon. They sucked anyway and Philips was sold as a can’t miss prospect, and Lee and Sizemore were both considered good prospects. I definitely remember thinking it was a good trade when it happened. Looking back to 2002 Lee was putting up 10.9 K/9 with a .97 WHIP in his first season at AA at the time of the trade. Compare that to where Carrasco and Knapp were and what they would doing — Lee was obviously a better prospect than either of those guys. I’m not using that trade as a basis of comparison to the Lee trade as far as what the Indians should’ve received, I’m using it to say that there’s value in scouting and trading for prospects isn’t a total crapshoot, they traded Colon for guys who were thought to be good at the time and who all pretty much met or exceeded expectations. They’ve whiffed on a few, Marte was considered this great prospect, though I never understood why based on what he was doing in the minors at the time (It’s funny how that Crisp trade seemed like a big deal but worked out for no one), Barfield, obviously, but again, can’t really blame Shapiro for the guy falling off a cliff after a successful season in the NL in a pitcher’s park … As for the Martinez trade, Masterson already had major league success and after seeing him pitch, I’m a little surprised he wasn’t considered a better prospect than he is, he throws consistently harder than Carmona. Hagadone is one of the best pitching prospects in their system, and Price throws in the upper 90s. Absolutely, to see whether the real world result of a trade is good or bad you need to wait a few years, but I think you can have a fairly objective judgment of a trade when it happens as it relates to whether or not the GM did a good job. I’m not going to blame Shapiro if Masterson pulls a Carmona, Hagadone blows out his elbow and Price never amounts to anything. He dealt Martinez for one guy who’s almost certain to make an impact at the ML level, Masterson, and two guys who if they stay healthy have a good chance at becoming very good pitchers — that’s a good trade. I will blame Shapiro if Carrasco never amounts to anything, Marson is a career backup, Donald spends half of 2010 on the DL and hits .230 in AAA, and Knapp injures his shoulder and is never heard from again — because all those things seemed pretty likely at the time of the trade … there’s a chance all 4 become productive players, but it’s all about the odds of that happening, which objectively are not good … Overall I think Shapiro did a good job with the trades, it is after all his forte, I’d actually give him something like a B+ for every trade made after April 1 2009, but the Lee trade is the one glaring exception, and the only thing that prevents me from giving him an A+. Otherwise, Derosa for Perez and Todd is a heist, Martinez returned maximum value, and has a chance to be looked at in the way we look at the Colon trade now, because I could definitely see a future rotation that includes Masterson and Hagadone with Price as a reliever, and the Garko and Betancourt trades earned solid prospects back. If they’d returned Knapp, Taylor, Carrasco, Donald from the Phillies, I’d give him an A+ … I wouldn’t have traded Lee without returning one guy like Taylor or Gillies

going back to the Sabathia trade through the Lee trade I noticed something, perhaps b/c it’s 3:32 am est. This has no bearing on the thread so I apologize for the tangent, just something coincidental and insomniac-driven.

We have traded away 7 players (Sabathia, DeRosa, Betancourt, Garko, Lee, Francisco, Martinez) and netted 15 players (LaPorta, Brantley, Bryson, Jackson, Todd, C. Perez, Graham, Barnes, Marson, Carrasco, Donald, Knapp, Masterson, Hagadone, Price).

Of the 7 we lost there are 2 SP, RP, C, 1B, 2B (DeRosa), OF.

Of those we acquired: 8 SP, 3 RP, C, 1B, 2B (Donald), OF.

And ST, IF only one of those 6 deals makes you question Mark Shapiro’s direction and evaluation then I’d say 5 of 6 positive returns is pretty darn good especially considering the DeRosa “heist” and unexpected (quality?) returns for Betancourt and Garko. I believe, like you, that if Donald and Knapp were 100% healthy at the time we acquired them then our perception would be different. So THAT in particular makes me not like the Lee deal. I routinely do not chose to acquire damaged goods.

I found that breakdown to be rather peculiar. Perhaps I am fudging the facts as I stated the positions of DeRosa and Donald, not to mention the current role of the pitchers when we acquired them in contrast to probably how they will get to the big leagues (more relief pitchers than SP).

Yeah, I don’t mind the direction they’re going. The Lee trade is just in my mind because of this Phillies move … some of the other moves or non-moves I don’t agree with (Peralta being on the team, the weird Meloan trade) I disagree with Shapiro’s drafting philosophy (taking finesse pitchers instead of power arms, which has seemingly changed in the past year, taking position players who are decent at a lot of things but without one obvious strength), and he’s gone with some bad roster moves in the past, but he’s generally been excellent at finessing trades (which makes the Lee trade all the more puzzling — he must love Carrasco, I guess) One trade you forgot about though AM was the original trade to GET Derosa, they gave up three good RP prospects. It was canceled out by the Derosa trade to the Cardinals, but we actually lost 4 RP if you’re going back to the Sabathia trade. Why anyone would trade more than one decent prospect for a year or less of Mark Derosa (or an elite catching prospect and good RP prospect for a half year of Casey Blake) is beyond me but it happened twice. Dumb dumb dumb in both cases, with the Cardinals being marginally dumber since they only got him for half a year, and they traded C Perez who was already in the majors. Those guys the Indians gave up though, that Gaub has put up some sick numbers in the minors, and Stevens is right behind him. We’re loaded with relief arms from the other trades so it’s kind of a moot point now

I wasn’t a total fan of the DeRosa deal specifically b/c I believed in Jeff Stevens as a potential late-game RP. I knew/know less about Chris Archer and John Gaub although I know you’re high on the latter. Inexplicably, I was always high in John Meloan despite his numbers as being erratic but as you’ve mentioned multiple times his June numbers prior to the trade were finally positive. His power arm and bats missed made me think he had a closers makeup and mentality but failed (in his time with Cleveland) to shrug off the Dodgers trying to make him a starter. Blake for Santana/Meloan has the chance to go down in infamy along with Taubensee/Blair for Lofton.

Talking about Shapiro’s draft classes makes me ill as I have been one of his biggest dissenters in that area. His refusal to take chances with high school players in the early rounds typically associated with higher risk-higher reward and more expensive to sign showcases his lack of creativity and modernization in the draft. He is vehemently modern regarding his value of prospects obviously. I am NOT a fan of Brad Grant and his continued employment with the Indians is dumbfounding. The whole “organizational shake-up” regarding the draft process and strategy really meant that Shapiro was not man enough to send some of those jokers packing as he should have done.

AM, I always love your late night posts, because you go digging around for info that I would probably be too lazy to look for.

As ST mentioned, we should amend those numbers to reflect the Blake and original DeRosa deals — and the Gutierrez deal, for that matter:

Lost: 2 SP, 3 RP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, 2 OF
Got: 8 SP, 5 RP, 2 C, 1B, 3 2B, OF

At the very least, they acknowledged what we were lacking, which was depth in pitching and middle infield.

It’s funny to note that the one position we’re arguably least equipped for, at the moment, is 3B, with Peralta new there, Marte an unknown, Hodges still trying to get back on track, and Chisenhall probably 2 years out — the one position we didn’t get any return on.

It’s a vicious circle, being a mid market team.

even though it was 3:32 am I will take the heat for omitting the Gutierrez, Blake and original DeRosa deals. If you’re gonna do a job, do it right I guess. I’d have to say that some of my best off-the-wall posts have come after a long, tiresome work day fried out of my mind (exhausted, not cannabis driven) with perhaps a few beers in me. I think the Cleveland Clinic has switched from handing out Staph infections like it was candy (that one’s for you duane_kiper) to the plague and flu season. H1N1 baby!

Maybe Rafael Perez isn’t yet a lost cause, did you see his winter league stats? 27 IP, 14 H, 25 SO, 0.33 ERA. And Carmona 13,1 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 5 SO, 2.70 ERA … if those 2 can come through, the Indians will compete this year

Perez will be one of the more intriguing story lines to follow this season. I love to see those stats, but I am not getting too excited yet. Remember, this is winter league in the Dominican, where the weather is lovely all year round. One of his excuses as to why he was so inconsistent at the outset of last year was the cold weather. He said it affected his slider. That’s fine and dandy… but he pitches in Cleveland, so he needs to prove that he can pitch in all weather conditions.
But you are right, if those two can put up solid years, it would bode well for this team not only for this season, but for the following ones as well. Maybe since this is a “rebuilding year,” Perez and Carmona won’t feel the heat has much. This team has had a tendency to perform best when there is nothing to lose.

Agreed on all fronts on Carmona. I’ve long maintained that this team will rise and fall with him — and have, if you look at the last few years. As much as I liked what we last saw of Westbrook, he’s no ace, but we’ve all seen that Carmona CAN be. The Carmona of ’07 leading a rotation filled in by, at the very least, Westbrook, Laffey, and Masterson looks pretty nice on paper, particularly in our division.

True, the Carmona of ’07 could lead a rotation. It seems so long ago that he had that 19 win season, with a 3.06 ERA. Remember the bug-game against the Yanks in the playoffs? Carmona, totally focused and in the zone, bugs covering his face, waiting for the sign from the catcher… I have that etched in my memory.

Speaking of which, if anyone knows where I can go about getting a poster of that image, please let me know. I remember AC saying they had it at the player development center in Arizona, to teach the youngsters about maintaining focus and keeping a level head. Pretty ironic that Carmona soon became the poster child for letting his emotions get the best of him.

Any new news on the PTBNL Anthony?

I just read that they’re going to announce it tomorrow, which I guess is a pretty obvious thing to say, given that’s it almost 9 PM in Cleveland (and on a Sunday).
I would expect an A or AA pitcher, but that’s just going on what we’re used to seeing from our FO these days. But it will mean an update to the trade tally!

So, we get Mitch Talbot. Seems like an odd choice at first, but digging into his history, he appears to be a high risk, high reward type of guy. He was AAA Pitcher of the Year in 2008 (and 2007, from what I’m reading in AC’s updated article) and Baseball America thinks he has the best change-up in the International League…but that was before 2009, when he was injured. But it appears he has the potential to be a good pick-up.
The really weird thing, of course, is that he’s got one shot to make the team, as he’s out of options. I mean, no pressure or anything (although I guess he could clear waivers, yes?). And supposedly we want him to start, which really makes that competition crazy. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a look for the bullpen, too. Thoughts?

I would say he should remain a starter for now. I’ve never been too excited about bouncing guys between the bullpen and rotation. Sometimes, I think it’s obvious that such a transition needs to be made (Sowers and Reyes), but in each situation, there needs to be good evidence to suggest a move. But, unless there is a legitimate reason, I think he should be where he feels comfortable. If he doesn’t make the rotation out of Spring Training, let him go to Columbus. The true needs will become apparent as the season progresses. If the bullpen collapses, as it is wont to do, then a transition may be needed.
Regarding Sowers and Reyes, I think we need to go ahead and move them to a bullpen role. We know they can both be effective in limited situations. Sowers is out of options, and he hasn’t shown real signs of consistent success in the big leagues since ’06. Reyes showed signs of the Sowers syndrome to a lesser extent, but my main concern is his health (I don’t recall, but I think this isn’t the first arm injury he has had in his short career). I think a move to the bullpen will help both his rehabilitation process and his longevity as a pitcher. Who knows, maybe we will see something more from them under new management. Only time will tell.

I’m surprised they took Talbot if Joseph Cruz was the other option. It seems they have a lot of Talbots, and as much as the pitching is a question mark next year, there aren’t a ton of open spots. Westbrook is looking like he’ll be in there, and Carmona, Masterson and Laffey would have to do something awful in spring training to not get a spot. I think Carmona’s out of options now too right? And R Perez? Sowers definitely is. In the bullpen Wood, C Perez, Sipp and Joe Smith are pretty much guaranteed spots. I think Huff is the odd man out, he’d have to be fantastic to earn a spot out of spring training because he’s facing off against so many guys who’re out of options. Competition is always a good thing but in this case I’d have gone with Cruz, there was enough competition already … Maybe they should trade Talbot, Sowers and Pino to the Pirates for whoever Pittsburgh’s best prospect is. The Pirates love average players and the Indians have no room for these guys, so it’s a win-win situation

One thing to keep in mind is that, while it looks like four of the five spots are set now, if Westbrook stays healthy and pitches well this year, I would be shocked if they don’t deal him at mid-season. That’s working under the assumption that we aren’t competing, of course.
That leaves us with a core of Carmona, Masterson, and Laffey for the year. I think we talked before about Huff getting called up sooner than he probably would have sans injuries last year, so I don’t think another year (or 1/2 year) in Columbus would be a bad thing for him.
ST’s bullpen (which looks good to me) is missing a long reliever of any kind, though, which is why I’m wondering if Talbot might be moved there. I think both he and Sowers will be options, although Sowers could end up being our third lefty if R. Perez is on form.
JK, Talbot would have to clear waivers to go to Columbus, if I’m not mistaken. So if he shows life in Spring Training, I would expect them to find a spot for him somewhere.

ST, the prominent people without options for 2010 are Fausto Carmona, Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Andy Marte, Rafael Perez, Jeremy Sowers, and Jose Veras. AC posted a thread about the options list previously. Additionally, Neal Huntington isn’t going to take our quantity for his quality. He’s spent too long overhauling his entire roster. And it would have been interesting to know who the “other player” would have been given up if the Indians selected Cruz rather than Talbot.
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/11/all_i_hear_is_the_clock_on_the.html

As of right now I am concerned about the growing number of people assumed to take roster spots simply b/c they do not have options. Talbot gets added to that total. The more moves we make to acquire players without options only leads to less competition in spring training.

Marson, Toregas
LaPorta (DL), Marte
Valbuena (or Donald)
Cabrera
Peralta
Brantley
Sizemore
Choo
Hafner
4th OF: Crowe
Utility INF: TBD
Brown

Westbrook
Masterson
Laffey
Carmona
Talbot/Ambriz

Wood
C. Perez
Sipp
Smith
Sowers
R. Perez
Veras

Perhaps they will decide that either Talbot or Ambriz has more long term potential than Veras and therefore cut him loose therefore opening up another spot. I am assuming that LaPorta starts the year on the DL and thus giving Marte a reprieve from the governor. We have a lot of problems with our roster. Too many questions, not enough time to get an answer before the season starts IMO.

understand that this is potentially what I think could happen, not what I would prefer

AM, I don’t think the lack of options is an issue for a lot of those guys. Why? Because I think a lot of them are to the make-it-or-break-it phase of their careers. I, for one, am GLAD that Sowers is out of options, because I’m tired of playing the will he/won’t he game. It’s time for him to step up or move on — he’s no longer a prospect.
In that respect, I think it’s actually great for competition, as most of those guys will be playing for their major league careers.
Also, didn’t we drop Veras? That gives us another spot on the bullpen to consider, which I think is what they were looking for regarding Ambriz.
But, again, given the number of prospects we’ve stocked our system with as of late, I’m perfectly fine with losing some guys to waivers if they don’t perform; we have to stop coddling some of these guys and face reality.

LACF, yes we didn’t offer Veras arbitration therefore letting him go. My mistake so Ambriz is potentially in play for that bullpen spot specifically. And while we believe that people will be playing for roster spots and hence their careers the Indians organization in general has shown the proclivity of carrying guys on the roster taking up space far too long b/c they don’t want to release them. I just wonder if these guys we’ve acquired (Talbot and Ambriz specifically) will fill that organizational mold in 2010. It’s a cliche but sometimes it’s better to appear arrogant and stubborn rather than impulsive and wrong.

Having said that, I do not see the Indians dumping Rafael Perez under any circumstances. I could see them parting ways with Sowers (assuming ineffectiveness) IF/WHEN we receive Chuck Lofgren back from the Brewers as they are basically the same pitcher, less Lofgren’s ML experience. No one will cry if we lose Talbot and therefore gave Shoppach away for nothing so long as Carlos Santana’s progression in 2010 finds his way to Cleveland by the end of the season.

Speaking of Santana, since his bat is ML-ready and the organization wants him to work on his receiving and game calling skills, then there exists the reality that guys like Rondon, Huff, Carrasco, and Pino anchor the Columbus staff to get acclimated with the future catcher as they are potentially part of the future rotation. It makes sense to have him work with those guys for the majority of 2010. Huff needs to realize that he has a future with Cleveland and starting the year in Columbus is not a demotion considering his 2009 season, but part of his long term development. Get back to a stronger WHIP and K/9.

and AC, we need to get this thread up to 100 comments so don’t post a new thread topic until we do so!

It’s 3 days before Christmas and we’re talking baseball not to mention a team as quiet as the Indians are during the winter months. Gotta love the degenerate baseball fan (guilty).

And the rich continue to get richer:
Yanks trade for Vazquez from the Braves. I am just happy that the Indians aren’t in a position to contend next year, so I don’t have to worry about the playoffs and a potential matchup with the Yankees’ collection of mercenaries, which they try to pass off as a “team.” No point in getting upset anymore…

As for our beloved Indians, I think that if the Indians had to choose between keeping Lofgren or Sowers, they may be more inclined to stick it out with Sowers. Like you said, AM, they are very similar pitchers, but don’t forget that Sowers was the 6th overall pick in he draft, and Shapiro would really love to see him succeed. Especially with his pathetic history of draft picks, I feel like he is desperate to see one of his top picks pan out.
Speaking of the draft, I know it is pretty far away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking of it. We have stocked our farm system with pitchers in the past year, and I hope we start acquiring some position players as well. It would be nice to see us select a solid hitter with a top pick, but I don’t know which direction the FO will go in. Thoughts, comments, concerns?

I’m no doctor, but I think it’s time for another NY expansion team.

It does make you wonder why Toronto and Tampa should even try. If the Indians were in the AL East I’d probably boycott baseball. Once you get in the playoffs anything can happen, but it would be a joke to compete over a full season against the Yankees and Red Sox these days when you’re in a market like Toronto, Tampa or Cleveland … As far as Lofgren goes, it’s a little early to make any comparison to Sowers, Sowers at least was always successful against AAA hitters, Lofgren hasn’t even gotten to that point. Sowers was a dominant pitcher in the first 4 innings of games at the ML level last year, so there’s good reason to think he could be good as a long relief guy at least. (Sowers’ inning by inning splits are fascinating, OPS against: .716, .514, .661, .613, … 1.131, 1.021. BAbip jumps to .423 in the 5th inning. He didn’t really walk any more guys, it’s like in the 5th inning he just started throwing pitches right down the middle. If you just looked at his first 4 innings or first 50 pitches though, he was an All-Star) … What I don’t want to see this year is the Indians going with guys like Talbot, Ambriz or R Perez just because they’ll lose them otherwise, they should be trying to put the best team on the field.

the fact that Sowers takes the better part of a decade to simply warm up still concerns me with his (in)ability to pitch out of the bullpen. Only time and a chance to prove me wrong will tell..

and I wasn’t comparing Lofgren and Sowers in terms of experience. Not even close. I’m simply saying that they are equivalent left-handed finesse pitchers.

If nothing else, these trades the past couple of years have brought in some genuinely good people in Matt LaPorta and Justin Masterson. We are lucky to have good people like them in our organization to build around.

pigeon, I couldn’t agree more. There is a reason why the Milton Bradley’s and Derek Bell’s of the world aren’t highly thought of. From an organizational perspective if you’re going to be mediocre you better have character guys to built around.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a blessed night.

Sweet fancy Moses, it’s cold in Ohio. As much as I love my occasional visit home, I’m happy to be back in Southern California, or at least happy for the weather change.
Regarding the NY/Atlanta deal, just another case of a team needing to drop salary and the fat cats taking advantage of the situation. Heck, it’s like Wall Street, yet there doesn’t seem to be any kind of crash in sight for MLB.
Seriously, let them strike and call up the AAA players — I think we’d have a decent chance, what with the potential rotation we’ll have in Columbus next year (some combination of Rondon, Huff, Carrasco, Pino, and who knows who else). And, hey, we can always count on Jordan Brown!

I do wonder when AC is back on duty. Not that he doesn’t deserve a vacation, but what’s the next big event for the off-season, besides pitchers and catchers reporting?

MLBtraderumors.com has two Tribe-related links today, one to an always unreal Q&A session with Paul Hoynes (which are the polar opposites to AC’s Q&A’s, as AC’s answers always make sense), the other to a Boston Globe column. MLBtraderumors summarizes the Globe bit about the Tribe thusly:
•The Indians aren’t saying Fausto Carmona is available, but baseball execs feel that the club would have to listen on any offers.
I’m a little baffled by that. Carmona’s value has got to be nil right now and, if he DOES return to form during the first half of the season, wouldn’t he be the ace of the staff going forward? I mean, we have options on him through 2014! I think maybe people are trying to create stories…

small market teams have to listen to ALL offers so I don’t know why they would suggest otherwise. Duh. And the fact that Carmona IS signed for so long at a reasonable price is the only thing that makes him attractive b/c his pitching surely hasn’t helped his value the past 2 seasons. It is late December LACF so perhaps they are indeed creating stories.

I was personally intrigued with bringing in Kelvim Escobar but preferably as a SP, not a reliever. I liked his $1.25M pricetag though. It looks like those around baseball are accurate when they say that the longer a team holds out the better deal a club will get.

Speaking of slow days in December and the FA market…I wonder what is going to happen to Garko? DeRosa has signed a two year deal with SF to play third base, while Sandoval will move to first. I don’t think anyone really expected Garko to stay in SF after is slow-second-half, low-.200 BA, and general lack of offensive production. However, as a right handed first baseman who likely won’t demand a huge price, he is basically everything the Indians need, if LaPorta can’t make the opening day lineup. I’m pretty sure Garko wouldn’t want to be a 2 week fill-in for LaPorta, but….nevertheless, it’s something that, for whatever reason, is mildly amusing to me.

Given the FA market, I still maintain that Erik Bedard might be a perfect compliment to the starting rotation to fill the void of the Carl Pavano/Kevin Millwood one year incentive-laden contract. It affords us the ability to keep the younger pitchers in Columbus for the first half of the year, have a potential innings-eater and therefore (reluctantly) move Sowers to the bullpen.

Additionally, barring injury Bedard would give us another pitcher to trade at the deadline along with Wood and Westbrook in which case we would bring up Huff et. al thereafter. I would think that Bedard’s pricetag would be reasonable and affordable. Kelvim Escobar signed for only $1.25M + incentives but he will move to the ‘pen. Bedard would have to be attracted to Cleveland simply because this organization has a proven history of signing oft-injured players to one year contracts as they move on their way to bigger paydays after the season. The Indians are highly respected in that manner.

As for my utility infielder spot, I have a short list that starts with Jerry Hairston, Jr and fills out from there with guys like Ronnie Belliard, Mark Loretta, and Juan Uribe.

Yeah, Bedard would be a nice move, although given how many injury-plagued pitchers are getting back end deals with pretty much everyone these days, I would think the Tribe would have some competition. It’s amazing how his stock has plummetted.
It looks like the Giants are close to signing Uribe. I like the idea of Loretta, if for no other reason than he can play third, and I’m worried about Marte’s future. Then again, I suppose if LaPorta is slow to return, Marte could get some time at first again to start the season. I just don’t know how they’re going to justify keeping him on the roster as a back-up first/third/DH guy who won’t get many ABs.
Unless he has a great spring training, I feel like the Marte experiment is going to fizzle out (again).

I hadn’t seen the Uribe thing; saw that Bay signed with the Mets. And I echo the Marte sentiments. He obviously would get picked up by another team if exposed to waivers but there aren’t many teams out there without a defined 3B that are in a “retooling” mode to give him the chance and at bats that he needs. Maybe the Pirates or Marlins. The problem for him would be to find a combination of an undefined 3B spot open AND patience to let him grow. Contending teams won’t be patient with him.

Yeah, Marte really was a victim of timing. We got him before the 2006 season when he was still a prospect. Sure, he got into 50 games, but I don’t think we could base his future on this 164 ABs.
Strangely enough, the fact that we were good in 2007 really hurt Marte, since he left and suddenly the team started to gel. Would Marte have been able to live up to his potential when he came back? Who knows? There was no way to get him in there to try (and I’m fine with that).
Then you get 2008, when, in theory, we were supposed to compete again, so we kept the team the same. So, again, he had to wait half a year to get in, and then he basically had 1/2 a season to prove himself…which he didn’t.
I think now it’s pretty clear that the Tribe is going to rely on Peralta and focus on Hodges and (probably more specifically) Chisenhall as the future at 3rd. There’s just no room for Marte. Sadly, I think we all know he’ll end up somewhere else and become an All-Star.

Anyone else follow the TribeInsider twitter? They just posted this: http://multimedia.indians.com/audio/winterballstats/winter12292009.pdf
Not the greatest numbers for our pitchers, aside from Carmona and Perez, although Perez is still walking more guys than I’d like. I haven’t paid much attention to Josh Judy, but it looks like that should change.
Brown, McBride, and Valbuena all have interesting numbers.

if I read that information correctly, with Brown playing in 35 games (31 in the OF) he only committed 2 errors whereas Marte had 4 errors in 22 games. If Brown were a right-handed hitter we would not be having the conversations about needing an OF/1B bat. I think we are seeing more evidence as to why we were all intrigued and did not want to lose McBride in the R5D given his positional versatility (Wedge-ism) and hitting potential.

I think Marte’s ability to play 3b and 1b should give him a good shot at a bench spot out of spring training. Since Peralta’s probably the best backup SS option, Marte could basically be used to back up Laporta, Peralta and Cabrera … I do think Marte’s issues are deeper then not getting a shot in 2007, his ability to draw walks fell off a cliff after 2005. I suppose you could credit that to trying to do too much to get to the majors, but it could also be due to something more fundamental like decreased bat speed. The BB/slg % decline Marte experienced at the minor league level was similar to Hafner’s over the past few years. Even last year Marte’s BB/9 was still in line with his 2006-2008 numbers, though his power obviously shot through the roof.

After last season, I don’t think there’s any way that Peralta plays another game at short. There’s just no way they’re going to tempt fate again. He’s said that switching between positions was hard for him, so I really can’t see them even opening that can of worms. And why would they? That’s why you have a utility infielder.
I think Marte would be perfectly fine as a back-up for Peralta, LaPorta, and Hafner, the problem is that it will never allow him to become a starting caliber player.

woohoo 100 comments on a single thread!

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