I have been reading a lot about the Indians’ trades over the last couple days. I realize being a fan first that I might not be totally fair to the Indians organization right now. Don’t get me wrong. I am still livid that the team resigned itself to a third place finish in the AL Central next year at best. But now, it is time to look forward. I am not really going to dump this team. I may go to less games next year, but I will certainly watch them on TV. I might even head out to the great minor league parks in Lake County, Akron and Columbus to check out some of these newly acquired players. Now that the deadline has passed, here are what some of the experts are saying about the Indians.
First up is Ted Keith at CNNSI.com. Keith doesn’t actually name the Indians as a winner or a loser, but some of the comments about the Tribe’s trading partners is instructive.
They (Boston) addressed their most pressing need — another bat — while keeping their booming farm system largely intact. Their best young major league-ready pitchers (Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard) and their top offensive prospect (Lars Anderson) are still in the system even after they landed Victor Martinez, a switch-hitting All-Star in the prime of his career who can play multiple positions and has a very affordable club option for next season.
As for the Cliff Lee deal, Keith doesn’t help me feel much better.
Lee didn’t come cheap — four of their top 10 prospects went to Cleveland in the deal — but the Phillies still managed to keep arguably their four best prospects: pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor.
Next up is Jayson Stark who relies on his vast network of baseball front office types for anonymous commentary. Stark calls the Indians winners because of the impressive haul of players they were able to import into the system. He recognizes that the Indians fans aren’t going to be happy right now, to which we can all attest. The money quote?
So for what they (CLE) were trying to accomplish, they did well. But “here’s the tough part,” said the same front-office man. “This is different than trading CC. At least they could do that and know the next year they still had Cliff Lee. But these trades mean they’re not going to win for a couple of years. I’m sure they’re excited about a lot of the guys they got back. But 81 times a year, you’ve got to sit there and watch it. And that’s tough. I think they’re going to end up being really good in about 2012. But in the meantime, it’s going to be hard.”
Pat Lackey at Fanhouse sounds like the rest of us in calling the Indians losers.
Some of the players the Tribe did get (specifically Masterson and Lou Marson) could be nice pieces, and it’s never easy to judge trades involving prospects right as they are made, but the return that GM Mark Shapiro got for two of the best players swapped this week looks underwhelming right now.
Gordon Edes at Yahoo! is less scientific in his analysis, but makes sure to stick a dagger in the Indians’ organization.
The wheels have come off since, and GM Mark Shapiro has now traded Cy Young Award winners (CC Sabathia and Lee) in back-to-back Julys. Shapiro has traded away big pieces before for great returns, but this is just another reason why LeBron James owns that town.
So there you have it folks. The one thing that everybody seems to agree on is that the Indians will not compete next year. They might be able to compete in 2011 or 2012. And honestly, I came to that realization after the Cliff Lee trade. I was ok with it because Cliff didn’t want to be here. I had convinced myself, though, that Victor could remain here as the clubhouse culture guy who would help bring everybody along as the Indians hopefully switch managers. I thought Victor could have become the crusty old 35 year-old veteran that was still hanging around a 300 average as the young guys started to become superstars around him. At least that is how the hopeful dream looked in my head.
Finally, a bit of housekeeping from yesterday. My bullet point in yesterday’s article saying I was angry with Terry Pluto was a complete and total compliment. I am not really angry with Terry Pluto in any way shape or form. It just felt wrong to be going through the selling off of my favorite team without his words to share in the outrage, calm the anger, or give us something else to look for. Terry Pluto is my favorite Cleveland sports writer and I would never actually say anything bad about him.