A Welcome of Sorts Leading to Two Roster Thoughts

I figure it’s past time that I officially come to terms with the fact that Anthony Castrovince is no longer the Indians beat writer for MLB.com.  If you haven’t heard, Castrovince is now writing featured articles for the site and his replacement, Jordan Bastian, has taken over the beat.  Jordan seems smart and capable, so I’m sure we’ll be in good hands going forward, but I will certainly miss AC and the energy, wit, and dedication he brought to his coverage.  As I’m sure Jordan knows, AC left behind some big shoes.

Anway, while reading the inaugural edition of Jordan’s “Indians Inbox” column, I was struck by the very first question and response:

Hey Jordan! [Blah blah blah, flattery, answer my question!] P.S. Are the Indians interested in signing Manny Ramirez?

–James K., Washington, D.C.

Bastian: [Graditude and Platitudes] … I’m not seeing it. The Tribe is looking for a part-time, inexpensive, right-handed hitter for the outfield. Manny is right-handed, but he is probably looking for more playing time and money than Cleveland is capable of offering right now.

Now you probably know that I think the nonsense about Manny Ramirez is…well…nonsense.  And Jordan treats it as such.  It just ain’t happenin’, and certainly not on the Indians’ budget.

But what caught me was that second half of Bastian’s response—namely, the part about a “part-time, inexpensive, right-handed hitter for the outfield.”

It got me thinking.  Let me describe a player for you:

  • Currently an unsigned free agent;
  • Plus defender at both corner outfield spots; adequate defender in CF;
  • 2010 OPS of .746; career OPS of .775;
  • 30 years old;
  • 2010 contract: signed as a minor league free agent $750,000

As Bob Ryan would say, “Is that something you might be interested in?”

Have you guessed it yet?  Here’s a hint: he played most of 2010 in an Indians’ uniform.

That’s right.  What wrong with signing Austin Kearns back?  He’ll probably be affordable, can DH against LH pitching, can play all three OF spots, and will likely sign for less than the money just given to Jeff Francouer by the Royals.

And beyond that?  Well, when I mentioned this idea on twitter, our own Craig Lyndall chimed in with this little bonus: “FINALLY… we could take a FA from the YANKEES! Kearns, baby. Kearns!”

Well, OK.  Sure.

But why not?

Anyway, onto my second thought, ignited by a second suggestion.  Here’s Jon Paul Morosi, on a hot pitcher that might be had in a trade:

He’s a right-handed starter. He’s 27 years old. He pitches in the American League Central. He has garnered a lot of recent interest on the trade market.

Zack Greinke?


Fausto Carmona.

I too.

Can write.

Short paragraphs.

But let’s get serious here.  Are there teams interested in acquiring Carmona?  Certainly.  He’s an above average pitcher with a team-friendly contract.  In fact, that’s why we shouldn’t trade him: Carmona’s contract locks him up through this coming season, but he has three club option years after that, with no option year worth more than $12 million.  You can’t get a league-average pitcher for $12 million these days, so Carmona is about as valuable a commodity as exists these days.

Morosi goes on to mention the Rangers and the Yankees as teams that would express interest in Fausto, before adding some input from a major-league source saying that “the Indians aren’t eager to move [Carmona] but are in a “listen and explore” mode because of the heavy interest following the Cliff Lee signing.”

I’ve never understood how this counts as news.  The mere fact that the Indians front office doesn’t refuse to answer their phones when other teams call gets the rumor mill in full-bore mode.

But as a quick and dirty reminder, last season Fausto:

  • Was third in AL in groundball percentage
  • Was 20th in the AL in ERA
  • Was 14th in the AL in HR/9

In other words, he’s good.  Above average.  And he’s young.  And relatively affordable.  Sure, the Indians will answer the phone, but Fausto’s not going anywhere.

  • Mark

    I saw that Fausto rumor too. If the Indians bite on this I will lose my mind. He is exactly what we realistically need – young, somewhat cheap and – shocking! – good.

  • Harv 21

    Poor Jon.

    Assigned to write a tribe article.

    When there will be nothing noteworthy until February.

    Of 2014, maybe.

  • 216in614

    wait what? no more AC? boo. Was it a promotion type deal?

  • Tommy

    While I shudder to think about the rotation going into opening day without Carmona, that’s an indictment of the rest of the rotation when a barely above average pitcher makes all the difference.

    He may have been 20th in AL in ERA last year, but with 102+ ERA, he was merely at the top of a large clump of players right around average in that category. Certainly a better infield defense might help his numbers, but if the Tribe could capitalize on a team like the Yanks desperation after missing out on Lee, I think they need to at least kick the tires.

    Sure the PR hit would be bad again, but really I don’t see how it could get much worse. Adding a couple more top prospects might be worth the cost of an inconsistent Carmona.

  • Dan

    @3, yeah AC is on to bigger and better things. Luckily he’s still a fan, so his twitter feed is still a must follow for Tribe fans.

  • mgbode

    @Jon – thanks for continuing to write sanely about the Tribe. Amazing the amount of drivel out there on things like ‘trading Choo’, ‘signing Manny’, ‘trading Carmona’, etc.

    then again, at least people screaming means they still care.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    The answer is obviously Adam Everett

  • NJ

    Carmona is intriguing because of that ’07 campaign – 1.209 WHIP, ERA+ 148. You can’t help but hope that he can regain that form.

  • JM

    I give you guys all the credit in the world for writing about the Indians. It cannot be easy.

  • Daniel

    I trust Fausto Carmona as much as I trust Jhonny Peralta infront of a platter of bakery.

    Deal him while he has value. Preferably to the Yankees so he can have a meltdown of epic proportions.

  • Charles

    I feel exactly the opposite on Carmona. I mean, obviously it all depends on what you can get in return, but Carmona is a good candidate for the Tribe to move. Some team, like Jon, may be fooled by the 3.77 ERA, and not realize that Progressive Field was close to if not the best pitchers park in the AL this year. They may remember the 2007 upside, and ignore the absolutely terrible 2008 and 2009. If someone is willing to give up a 5 star pitching prospect, a guy who can lead a rotation in a way a guy with a career 96 ERA+ cannot, you have to jump at it.

  • Jon Steiner

    I think, Charles, it’s important to remember that Fausto posted a 3.77 ERA in front of, arguably, the worst infield defense in the American League.

    A groundball pitcher is mighty valuable. If he’s posting a 3.77 ERA with that team, imagine what he could do with an infield that doesn’t so closely resemble a sieve.

    On the other hand, if his option years are considered too expensive for the Tribe, I’d agree that moving him makes sense, since 2012 is the earliest this team is going to try to contend. Also, of course, if a team is giving up a star, we would have to do (though teams are valuing their minor league talent more than they used to, so this seems unlikely).

    Given what I think would be offered, I wouldn’t do it: cost-controlled, better than league average pitchers are hard to find, and expensive.

  • Charles

    We can look at FIP and xFIP, but the picture isn’t any brighter, Carmona finished around 30th in the AL out of 43 qualifiers in each of those. And again, the ERA+ numbers are telling. It’s pretty hard to argue that he’s noticeably better than league average. The fact of the matter is, the Indians currently lack that #1 type pitcher that they need, and trading Carmona is their best shot at getting one.

  • Erik

    Wow! Good call on the Kearns deal