With the Tribe dropping their seventh straight game yesterday, it may be a safe assumption that the C.C. Sabathia trade is the first of what will likely be a handful of deals that the Indians make before the trade deadline at the end of this month. Trading our ace for the Brewers’ top prospect is an instant addition to our club-wide offensive woes, but a quick look at the rest of our team(s), and this organization still has some gaping holes which need tending to.
With that said, what can the fans look forward to over the next few weeks? Which names will now move to the top of the “tradable” list, and which ones look to be here to stay? Let us dig in, shall we?
Problem: Too many first basemen
Sure, Matt LaPorta plays in the outfield right now. But given his tendency to be a defensive liability, it appears that the move to first base is inevitable. One has to hope that we didn’t just trade away an ace starting pitcher for a designated hitter, so for the sake of sanity, let’s agree that LaPorta will be holding down the “3″ slot.
Others that are currently at the first bag include Ryan Garko, Michael Aubrey and Jordan Brown. LaPorta arguably becomes are best “potential” first baseman, but don’t count out Victor Martinez, as he will be logging many innings at first base before it’s all said and done. Oh, and Beau Mills could see some future at first as well a la Jim Thome. That is quite a few bodies for one spot, eh?
Likely to be moved? I’m going with Ryan Garko. On value alone, he has major league innings, can hit the baseball, and has improved his fielding immensely. He should have had a better season thus far, as he is 27 already. Teams looking to add a bat for now would likely take on #25. Jordan Brown is a top prospect, and is also a pure hitter. If I had to choose, I’d prefer to hang on to his potential at age 24 than deal him away. Don’t even mention trading Victor. I don’t even want to begin thinking of the ramifications. Plus, I was scolded for even mentioning Grady leaving after 2012…
Problem: Casey Blake’s last year of contract, Andy Marte/Wes Hodges/Beau Mills in the waiting
Sure, Wes Hodges is a possible Olympian, and Beau Mills is projected to be one of the top power htters in our farm system. But if Marte would just play to his projections already, we wouldn’t even need to discuss this. We have said it here countless times: Casey Blake is a great utility guy. But he’s just that, and the money that he’ll likely cost us to retain him going forward is simply too much for this market, when we could allocate the funds elsewhere. But what to do with the bearded one?
Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll mentioned that the Rays have expressed interest in Blake’s duties, as they’re making a run for the post season. If you’re disappointed in what we got for Sabathia, prepare to look away at the second half of the “Casey Blake traded for…” ticker at the bottom of your screen. It won’t be pretty, but it could provide at least something for the future. Back end bullpen? Perhaps. I would love to get someone along the lines of J.P. Howell, but the Rays love the guy.
Ken Rosenthall has the following:
After Sabathia, the Indians’ player drawing the most trade interest is third baseman Casey Blake, who leads the majors with a 1.281 OPS with runners in scoring position.
Blake, who turns 35 on Aug. 23, is coveted because of his ability to play first base and both outfield corners as well as third; he would be a good fit for teams such as the Dodgers, Mets and A’s.
Translated: Stay tuned.
Problem: Middle infield woes continue
Something that hasn’t really been discussed much with the Sabathia deal was the fact that the Idnais were pushing hard for Alcides Escobar, a top shortstop prospect. Why would they look to add a shortstop with Asdrubal Cabrera hitting .306/.364/.389 in Triple-A Buffalo? The only thing I can muster up is that the team would keep Cabrera at second, or simply put would-be Escobar there. Either way, things aren’t looking good for Jhonny Peralta’s future with the team.
We have been talking for months about moving Jhonny to third base. Say that happens. How long can that last? Hodges will be here before too long, and J.P. will continue to be a liability on the left side. The Dodgers are “open to trade for a shortstop“, and wouldn’t you know it: Peralta is currentlyone of those. I didn’t want someone like Matt Kemp to be the pinnacle of the Sabathia deal, but I’d sure love to have him if it only cost me a Peralta. I’m not sure what the odds are, but keep an eyeon any Peralta rumors in the near future.
And regarding second base: Taylor Green, anyone? If he’s the “player to be named” as reported, he apparently has a possible future at second base. Tony Lastoria is pretty excited about the option, and he is way more in tune with the system than I am – so why not? Oh, and don’t forget Josh Barfield, as difficult a task as that may be.
Problem: That damned bullpen
This is where things get messy. At least more messy than any of those above, in my eyes. Joe Borowski and Rafy Betancourt’s collapse of 2008 has put the team in a very precocious situation. We went from having one of the best top-to-bottom bullpens in the game to the worst ERA in all the land. Borowski has been DFA’d, and his future is in limbo. Betancourt continues to be hit-or-miss, and has seen his name pop up in trade rumors along with Rafael Perez.
Perez was once thought to be the closer of the future. Masa Kobayashi is near his total innings pitched for ALL of last season, and it is only the All-Star break. Could things possibly get worse?
Brian Slocum was considered for bullpen duties after a few solid outings in Buffalo. But as seen by a semi-implosion against the Twins, four earned runs in two-thirds of an inning is not helping matters much. Rick Bauer showed a ray of hope, but he’s currently the name attached to Borowski’s DFA news. So much for that.
But as we can now all atest to, bullpen production is about as inconsistent as it comes. Eric Gagne, C.J. Wilson, you name it. Unless you can find yourself a Johnathon Papelbon, you are rolling the dice more often than not. So how much does the team want to allocate in the way of the ‘pen? Probably too much as of now, mostly due to overreaction and simply awful performance. I’ve read some good things about Rob Bryson (one of the pitchers in the Sabathia deal), but at Class-A, I don’t see him making any sort of impact for a while.
So there you have it, Tribe fans. If you’re itching to see any of our new acquisitions play some ball (you know, after the deal is confirmed and all), Akron and Lake County will be the places to be. And if you’re still down on losing the big man, as most of us are, just sit tight. This (dare I say it?) fire sale ain’t over yet. At least in terms of speculation, anyways.