Trade Deadline looms at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario
The unofficial “second half” of the 2013 season is set to begin here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario as your Cleveland Indians head to Minnesota on Friday, where they will look to continue the momentum that they had built up over the week leading into the All-Star break.
The Indians are winners of their last four, and are 21-13 since the Indians headed to Texas for a three-game series against the Rangers on June 10th. Their record stands at 51-44, and they are a game-and-a-half behind the first place Detroit Tigers.
The Indians are four games ahead of their 2012 counterparts, and are sharing an identical record with the 2011 Cleveland Indians as they head towards the July 1, non-waiver trade deadline with the potential to make moves that could legitimately make them contenders to win the American League Central.
Let’s face the facts. The Central has been a flawed division for years. While the Detroit Tigers are the prohibitive favorites, and should be, they just never seem to be the team that people think they should be. Ultimately, the Tigers seem to turn things around by the end of the year, but once again, they’ve failed to separate themselves from the pack.
Of course, they kick the crap out of the Indians.
In turn, the Indians have done a nice job creating separation from the Kansas City Royals, the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox. Their four-game sweep of the Pale Hose at the end of June single-handedly put them on the “firesale list.” The Indians three-game sweep against the Royals may have been a precursor to the Royals perhaps not selling yet, but pondering it in the near future.
The Royals come out of the break and face off against the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles, so their fortunes
We all remember what happened to the 2012 Cleveland. They made a move for Lars Anderson on deadline day, and were just about to start the worst month of baseball of my lifetime. They had already lost four in a row on July 31, and would lose seven more, dropping them ten games below .500. It only got worse after that. The team had no serviceable parts in Columbus, and the lack of depth at the major league level, and in the upper minors really did them in.
In 2011, the Indians were sitting at 51-44, but then proceeded to lose seven-of-eight games. By July 30, when they traded for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians were 53-51, and they would hover around .500 for the rest of the season, even after acquiring Jimenez and Kosuke Fukudome. The Indians didn’t have much depth, but the roster stayed healthy enough to keep them interesting
Both those teams were very different than the current version of the Indians. The one most likely to be compared to this team are the 2011 Indians. While I wouldn’t say they were legitimate contenders to the playoffs, they turned out to be a good baseball team, who played above their heads for awhile, but turned out to be a .500 club.
Just look at the starting line-ups:
That 2011 team had some alterations to that line-up at times. Choo was on-again and off-again. Orlando Cabrera was moved and Kipnis was inserted for a bit, until he got hurt. Hafner was, well, Hafner, Travis Buck begat Lonnie Chisenhall who begat Austin Kearns who begat Shelley Duncan in the order. Zeke Carrera was utilized, as was Lou Marson, but as I start to run down names, you start to see the flaws in the line-up.
That’s not to say that the 2013 team doesn’t have flaws, but you immediately see Bourn at the top of the order, and that’s an improvement over Brantley. That’s not a rip on the Indians left fielder, but hey, he’s a left fielder in this line-up, and not a lead-off hitter.
Cabrera is Cabrera, and in 2011, there was a version of Cabrera that was better than the 2013 version, and then there was the second half.
Kipnis is an improvement over the 2011 Choo, who struggled and spent a bunch of that season sidelined.
Swisher and Santana of 2011 are a bit of a wash, although I think you could make a case for both if you really wanted to pick a side.
Santana of 2013 in the six hole is a bit of an improvement (sarcasm) over the bags of garbage they dished out in 2011.
Mark Reynolds has been bad, but again, the potpourri of putrid the Indians rolled out there in 2011 may give him the not based on power numbers alone.
Chisenhall is an improvement over LaPorta, and Stubbs is an improvement over Hannahan.
You can argue some of those points, and we could get into a detailed statistical rundown, but any sensible human being can see that the 2013 Indians are in a much better place than that 2011 team was offensively.
The Indians score more runs than they did back then, and it’s not even close. This team can score when they get going, and that one really couldn’t.
Terry Francona is also a better manager than Manny Acta, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
What about the pitching?
|Justin Masterson||Justin Masterson|
|Roberto Hernandez||Ubaldo Jimenez|
|Josh Tomlin||Corey Kluber|
|Carlos Carrasco||Scott Kazmir*|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||Zach McAllister|
|Mitch Talbot||Carlos Carrasco|
|Chris Perez||Chris Perez|
|Joe Smith||Bryan Shaw|
|Rafael Perez*||Cody Allen|
|Tony Sipp*||Joe Smith|
|Vinnie Pestano||Rich Hill*|
|Chad Durbin||Vinnie Pestano|
|Frank Herrmann||Matt Albers|
I’m just going to go ahead and say that the bullpen was better in 2011 up to this point than the Indians pen of 2013. I could get into the numbers of it all, but the eye test really says it all. With Perez and Pestano struggling, the pen as a whole has really had a hard time lining up. Since the Red Sox series in May, it’s been pretty bad.
The rotation is a bit more tricky, and I don’t really want to line it up like the rest, rather than look at the sum of its parts. The 2013 rotation is a bit better. It may be more than a bit better. If it lines up in the second half, Masterson from 2011 is better than Masterson of 2013, but not always. Zach McAllister is better, by far, than the 2011 Fausto Carmona. Josh Tomlin was very good, but Corey Kluber can be dominant. Carlos Carrasco and Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff all had their moments, but I really would take Kazmir over those names. Ubaldo Jimenez from 2013 is much better than the 2011 Ubaldo…and that’s not really saying much.
So where does that leave this team?
The 2011 team went 29-38 to close out the season after making the move for Ubaldo. This team will finish better as is.
If the Indians go 34-33 to finish the year, which is understated to me, they finish the season 85-77. That’s easily their floor, especially when you look at their schedule. Let’s bump that record up a bit though. What if the Indians finish 39-28, which is a legitimate consideration. If they do, they’ll finish the year at 90-72, which will most definitely put them into the playoff conversation. I think it will be a game of being in or out with 90 wins.
Let’s make that their ceiling…as is.
Can the Indians make some moves that raise that ceiling, and if they do, will those moves be worth it long term as well?
There are some starters available, and here are a list of a few that are or could be out there:
There are others, as well. I wonder about the Royals, if they come out of the gate and get beat up. Might they be willing to trade James Shields or Jeremy Guthrie or Ervin Santana? Would the Blue Jays be willing to deal R.A. Dickey?
The names mentioned the most are Matt Garza, Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris. Garza just doesn’t make any sense to me. He’s a rental, and while I’m okay with a Rental, the initial asking price is a top 50 prospect. The Indians shouldn’t give up a guy like Francisco Lindor, Danny Salazar or Trevor Bauer for a couple months of Garza.
Now, if they know something about Salazar’s arm that will guarantee innings limits for the long-term, and precipitate a move to the bullpen, then you sell him high. But for who?
Bud Norris isn’t anything different than what the Indians have right now.
Yovani Gallardo is Ubaldo Jimenez 2.0. Please, for the love of Joe Charboneau, don’t make that move.
Josh Johnson is a rental, as is Tim Lincecum, as is Jason Marquis. I wouldn’t touch any of these guys, yet.
Everybody else has control, but is there anyone on that list that can be a top of the rotation guy? There’s one guy on that list that intrigues me, and that’s Kyle Lohse. Do I think he’s an ace? No. But I do think he’s a guy that at least lines up with Justin Masterson.
Yes, there are questions about his health, but I think he is going to be available. The big question would be what would the Brewers as for in return, and this is when it gets tricky.
Would the Indians make a deal for a guy making $11 million a year for multiple prospects when they could have had him for a third round pick at the same salary?
Did they know there were going to be seven games above .500 at the All-Star break?
The Brewers traded Zack Greinke last year for a nice haul from the Dodgers. They received two players that are already with the team. No, Lohse isn’t as good as Greinke, but he isn’t a rental either. Should the Indians pay that much for a guy with questions?
It’s not an easy answer, but trading never is.
At the end of the day, would Greinke give them an extra two or three wins to raise that ceiling and get them in the playoffs if everything falls right? Again, that’s definitively not a lock.
So what should the Indians do?
How about calling the Brewers and asking about their bullpen?
They have three or four guys that are extremely interesting. Closer Jim Henderson is reportedly available, as is John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny. Gonzalez and Gorzelanny are both lefties. Now, Gorzelanny would be a bit more tricky because he was recently moved back to starter for the Brewers, but I think could still be moved.
There are likely 15 or 20 other names out there that would be available in some minor trades, and I firmly believe that fixing the bullpen would seal the holes in the entire rotation.
I’m a big believe in momentum, and while it’s no secret that I think the Indians rotation is a weakness, I don’t think that it’s a bottomless pit, as I have in the past. I’m not as high on Kluber long-term as many are. I hope I’m wrong, but his body of work just doesn’t give me long-term warm and fuzzies. I’m worried about Zach McAllister. Whenever I hear “he’s not throwing his curve yet,” I wonder why, and worry. Scott Kazmir continues to pitch well, but he continues to have small “issues” that make you wonder if he has a shelf life that’s coming up soon. Danny Salazar was outstanding, and while that’s not a surprise, he has that innings threshold. When is Masterson going to be good game-after-game-after game? Ubaldo is terrible, and the fact that folks are accepting of his shoddy pitching now shows just how bad he was.
I know, I was really negative there, but that’s the downside of our rotation, and the reason why folks want a #1 guy. But, what if this rotation continues, as is, for the rest of the year? What if they dealt for one of the #3’s and replace Ubaldo Jimenez? What if they dealt Jimenez to a contender for a reliever? What if they don’t go big, but go small?
It could happen, and it could work.
The offense is good, and I believe it’s going to get better. The rotation has just as many questions now as they did in April, but the difference is we know what it can do now if it goes well. The bullpen stinks, but is fixable, and there are in house components that can help.
But, what if the Indians make three minor moves. What if the Indians get rid of Ubaldo, and add a Budd Norris, a lefty bullpen arm and get a guy like Michael Young? Would that equal two or three more wins, especially when you include the pen arms in the system?
I think it could, and I also think it would enhance this team in the future.
And look, I’m not as big on Michael Young as some folks are. He’s an upgrade, I guess, over Mark Reynolds right now, but he’s brutal in the field, and is essentially a singles hitter at this point. Okay…he does have 18 doubles…and his OPS is good, so he IS better than Reynolds, but not markedly.
And did he not seem to whine a whole hell of a lot in Texas when they asked him to move positions?
I’m just sayin’…but I’m getting away from my point.
My point here is simple: this doesn’t have to be a go for broke move. They’ll have money to do that in the offseason. Tinker now, and let’s see how good Terry Francona and company really are.
If it’s me, I’m going to kick the tires of Mike Morse in Seattle. He had a quad injury, and is about to start a rehab assignment, but could be a guy that’s under the radar, and could come cheap. If he’s healthy, he can play left, right and first, and can even play third and short in a pinch.
You want to replace Mark Reynolds, then look no further than Morse. I even think you could re-sign him next year if you so choose. Look, it’s Seattle. That door needs knocked on. Especially if you could get Charlie Furbush or Oliver Perez. There’s a minor deal that I would look into…if it stayed minor.
So what about Asdrubal Cabrera and a deal to the St. Louis Cardinals? It’s an intriguing ideal. The St. Louis Cardinals have a slew of arms that the Indians could ask for from the major league club through their Double A team. There’s Shelby Miller, who’s 9-6 with a sub 3.00 ERA, and has a 9.6 K/9, and a 2.5 BB/9 all with the Cardinals. There’s Lance Lynn, who’s 11-4 with a 4.00 ERA. There’s lefty Jaime Garcia, who’s 5-2, with a 3.58 ERA. There’s Trevor Rosenthal, who has a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings of work in the bullpen. There’s Carlos Martinez, who is currently in the pen with the Cardinals. There’s Michael Wacha, who is 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA in Triple A Memphis.
Do you make a deal for a starter or two utilizing Cabrera?
Well, Francona dealt all-everything shortstop Nomar Garciaparra in his first year as Boston’s manager. They received Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera, and the deal worked out just fine. The catch there is that the Red Sox received major league ready replacements.
The Indians have to do the same here, or the clubhouse isn’t going to buy it.
What’s that mean exactly? Well, you have to get a guy that can be implemented into the rotation and win games, and be fairly dominant to justify the move to begin with.
That means the Indians should be focused on Shelby Miller.
I’d trade Cabrera for Miller straight up. Yes, I’d be concerned about the depth of the team with Cabrera out, but who is to say I’d be done? I’d then immediately call up the Minnesota Twins and work out a deal for Jamey Carroll. Carroll is struggling at the plate, but who cares. Mike Aviles would take over as the starter at shortstop, and Carroll would take over Aviles’ old role.
If Aviles isn’t your ball of wax, I’m sure there are four or five other guys the Indians could make a move for to temporarily fill their Asdrubal hole. My point is, if you can get Shelby Miller, you go and get him. But why would the Cardinals make that deal?
Well, how desperate are they for a quality starting shortstop?
I like all of the other names mentioned, but I wouldn’t make a deal for them until the offseason.
I really believe Cabrera is going to go off in the second half.
Over his last four games heading into the break, ACab was hitting .313, with a homer, a double and three RBI. In other words, he was finally coming out of his post-injury funk. He’s healthy, and while he’s not playing for a contract yet, he is a free agent after 2014.
I think he’s going to put his normal first half numbers up in the second half. In the first half of 2011, Cabrera hit .293, with 22 doubles, 14 homers and 51 RBI. In 2012, he hit .287, with 11 homers and 42 RBI. I’d take those numbers any day of the week, and he’ll head into the offseason in sell high mode.
The Indians would lose a little leverage with other shortstops being available, but Cabrera will still be the best, and the same teams will be calling. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take, unless you can get Shelby Miller THIS year.
Next year, you go for two of the other arms mentioned.
Danny Salazar really isn’t a prospect to be tasked. The only thing that surprised me is that his performance was a surprise to many. Salazar really did get lost in the shuffle. It happens all the time with prospects, especially of the free agent variety. Salazar has performed well his entire career, but injuries have dogged him since 2010. He had a sore elbow that turned into Tommy John surgery.
He missed most of 2010, and most of 2011 as well. But, he rebounded, and his velocity spiked. It spiked so much, that the Indians put him on the 40-man roster. It was a shock back then that the Indians would put a guy with so little experience, as well as coming off a major injury, on the 40-man roster. Obviously, the Indians had some clue as to how good this kid was.
Since then, Salazar has struggled with shoulder issues. Nothing major enough to put him out for substantial time, but whenever you think shoulder and starter, it never conjures up positive thoughts.
Look for Salazar to become a spot starter, or ultimately move to the bullpen in 2013. Of course, he could always be traded. He’s really, really good, not let’s hope the front office continues to build that arm up so that he can be an effective starter for a long period of time.
I heard someone the other day whisper Jaret Wright, and it actually made me cringe. I sure hope note. I don’t want a one-year wonder. I want a #1 horse.
I wonder what Chase Headley would cost right now as a Mark Reynolds type player? He may be on the cheap as a sell low guy, and perhaps a new place to hit would do him just fine.
I simply cannot stand the All-Star game, and I certainly can’t stand Bud Selig. The All-Star game says it all to me. He gets caught in public looking like an idiot when the All-Star game ended in a tie, so he attaches home field for the World Series.
What a moron…
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Reynolds still can hold value to this club. If he goes on another tear that could be our ticket to the post season.
Why try and move Ublado? Hes making 6 million and pitching better then some of those guys on your list. More important he does not cost a prospect.
Morse and look for a LH pitcher for the bullpen. Wait on a SP and see whats out there near the deadline. Although, I burst out laughing when I saw you mention Kyle Lohse. Not because I disagree but because how almost everyone on this website blasted me for suggesting we try and get him to hold down the bottom of the rotation this offseason. Now we might actually want to trade for him.
In baseball things can change on a dime. See Ubaldo. See Lohse. See Chisenhall. Remember Mark Reynolds.
As for Rosenthal he has been relegated to the bullpen for now. It's a temporary move for the Cards and he is available in the right trade. That said, the Cards hold their SP prospects in high regard and seldom use them as trade bait. They have tremendous depth looking over their system and they drafted several more SP prospects this yr
I like Carlos Martinez, he throws hard and is almost the same mold as Danny Salazar minus the injuries.
In the end, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cards and Tribe hook-up in a swap for ACab and maybe Lance Lynn and a prospect like Tim Cooney or Cory Jones.
About the only negative to all this that I can see is the attendance. Not only is it horrible this year but it doesn't look like it is ever coming back. Unless the Indians can have a major giveaway and $25,000 of fireworks every game.
In the end of the month I am just hoping we see a quality LH reliever and let you guys worry about the rest.
For next year that gives us Masterson, McAllister, Kluber, Kazmir, and whoever wins out between Salazar, Carrasco, Bauer, and Tomlin. There's also Cody Anderson moving up through the system. That's nine starting pitchers without having to give up our starting SS for one of the Cardinals' prospects.
Interestingly, Rosenthal has been mostly a starter throughout his career, with some strong results. What's the reason switching him to the bullpen- just to get him acclimated to the Majors or some other reason? It would seem his greatest value would be a starter. If the Indians could pry him awayand be able to use him as a starter, he might be the best arm/have highest ceiling based on his track record between him, Wacha, and Martinez. Thoughts?
As for Gallardo, I'd take my chances with Kazmir (I.e. resigning him long-term), provided he is strong in the second half. Our relationship seems good with him, and he might be willing to stay because the Indians are on the rise and Callaway was likely a major reason why Kazmir has been able to come back so much. If it's between Kazmir and Gallardo, I'd go Kazmir at this point.
As for Cabrera, I think that 25 HR season may have been a career year for him, and don't forget that he slumped badly that year as well; he looked to be a lock for 30+ that year before the bad second half. In addition, that year, the excuse was, he was worn down because he had virtually no protection that year (that was the year Choo was injured, I believe). That excuse doesn't apply this year- there's been considerable protection, yet Cabrera was largely non-existent even when he was healthy. That's why I'm not convinced he's going to have a great 2nd half, and why his value will be no higher than it is right now, and why I'd be surprised if Cabrera is an Indian in August.
Miller and Lynn are probably long-shots, and I suspect Rosenthal would probably be unlikely too. I'd avoid Wacha and target Martinez if I'm the Indians. If we can get Descalso thrown in, great; if not, I could go for reacquiring Carroll from the Twins- he shouldn't cost much, and would be a nice back-up for Aviles, plus could play 3rd if needed. Plus, he can be a pesky hitter if he gets in a groove.
Gallardo, they'd be better off using that money to extend Kazmir. Who knows what's wrong with him, but something is wrong, and when pitchers go south velocity/stuff-wise like he has, it doesn't usually come back. Kazmir (the exception to that rule) on the other hand has the lowest walk rate of his career and is throwing slightly harder than he did in '06. I'd take Masterson, Kazmir, Kluber, McAllister and hoping one of Salazar, Carrasco, Bauer can take the 5th spot. If you're not getting a front of rotation starter, then there is no reason to get anyone. The guys they've got already have a lot of upside.
I agree with Joe that we can't rely on Cabrera to be anything more than his has been the first half of the year. He could turn back into the all star shortstop he was, but he could also turn back into the guy that couldnt hit the ball out of the infield for about 20 straight games last year near the end of the season.
James, I agree that I think that's too much for Miller and Wacha- Cabrera should be able to net Wacha alone. I wondered if STL would have interest in Perez, or possibly Joe Smith, but I suspect that the Indians won't subtract from the bullpen now, but try to add to instead, even if they allow Perez to walk at the end of the year.
I will be VERY surprised if Cabrera is not moved before the deadline- he's faltered the last two years in the second half- therefore, I'm not as confident as Pete he's going to get and stay on fire in the second half, especially since he has to ratchet it up again after the break, plus the fact his plate discipline has deteriorated this year. Most thought he would excel coming out of the gate, especially with the WBC this year, something Santana did do and kept going until he was injured, but Cabrera never seemed to do, and he was healthy for a while before he went on the DL.
If the Cardinals would be willing to do Miller for Cabrera straight-up, I'd do it, but I suspect the Indians would too. I don't know if you want to include an R. Rod and/or a young arm (NOT Salazar) to net Miller, and perhaps Descalso? Would be interesting to consider- the next few weeks should be interesting, both on AND off the field.
Getting a DH who can occasionally play 3b and releasing Reynolds might be the best and cheapest move, so, Michael Young would seem to make a lot of sense. The Phillies may be firmly in denial about their team and chances though, so the question would be whether they're even selling. Headley has an identical wRC+ to Chisenhall, so not sure that's even an upgrade.
The only trade I would consider is Cabrera for Shelby Miller, but a) I doubt the Cardinals do that and b)it may kill the clubhouse.