Justin Masterson takes the mound tonight for the Indians, looking to improve his record to 3-0. He has given up just 2 runs in over 13 innings of work this season, for a 1.35 ERA, with a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Carlos Carrasco bounced back from a bad first start, and has pitched well enough to win his last 2 starts, even though his defense let him down against the Angels. He is second on the team with 13 strikeouts. Michael Brantley will be leading off and playing centerfield, with a .311 batting average and an OPS of .773. Matt LaPorta has struggled to begin the season. He has struck out more times (9) than he has had a base hit (7).
Why bring those players up? Because they were of course the centerpieces to the deals that sent Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez out of town. Their performance on the field will determine if the deals made were ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Regardless of contract status, public perception of the trades necessitate that these players turn into shadows of Sabathia, Lee and Martinez and lead the Indians to the World Series.
I say it has to be a World Series, because I believe the trades of Victor, Cliff and CC will never be viewed as ‘good trades’ otherwise. I think that sports fans are conditioned to believe that the only ‘good trade’ is the type where my team fleeces your team.
Felix Fermin for Omar Vizquel is a good trade. Kenny Lofton for Eddie Taubensee is a good trade. An aging Joe Carter for Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga is a good trade.
Peyton Hillis for Brady Quinn is a good trade.
Casey Blake for Carlos Santana is a good trade.
But giving away something of value (even extreme value) to get something of value back doesn’t seem like a good trade to the sports fan. A good trade in any other aspect of life is when both parties get something out of the deal that they prefer or need. Perhaps it is parting with something you have an excess of in order to get something not quite as quality, but that you need more.
This scenario just doesn’t apply to the Indians recent deals. While the Indians may have appeared to have an excess of Cy Young winners, you can never have enough quality, major league ready pitching. Factor in the emotional investment that fans had with Sabathia, Martinez and to a little lesser extent Cliff Lee and the expectations resting on the shoulders of the new Indians is quite heavy.
The Indians have told us over and over again that this is life in a small market. Almost warning us that this is the way they will be doing business from here out. If that is the case, Tribe fans really have just two options. They can learn to evaluate trades a little differently, or they can choose not to support the team.