What Are the Tribe’s Trade Deadline Needs to Reach October?
By Mike Brandyberry
While the Cleveland Indians are just hours away from the beginning of the second half, many fans have turned their focus to the looming trade deadline just 18 days away. With the Indians in contention for the wild card and the American League Central Division, it’s expected the Indians will be buyers. Cleveland opens the second half three games back in the division and only one game behind in the wild card chase.
Cleveland has several needs that could be met in the trade market. The Indians need to add a right-handed bat to help stimulate an inconsistent offense and one that has floundered against let-handed pitching most of the first half. The obvious hole that could be filled is in left field, where Shelley Duncan, Johnny Damon and Aaron Cunningham have all struggled, however, another position that could be stabilized by some offensive production could be third base. Jack Hannahan has failed to produce offensively since his return from the disabled list and Jose Lopez’s aggressive nature at the plate leave him very streaky.
In addition to the team’s need of a right-handed bat, the Indians could benefit immensely from a left-handed relief pitcher. Rafael Perez has been sidelined much of the season with shoulder issues and Tony Sipp has not been the reliable reliever he has been in previous years. With only 77 games remaining in the season, the team can not continue to wait to see if Sipp can fix his problems or if Scott Barnes can emerge. With Nick Hagadone in Triple-A Columbus and currently on the disqualified list, due to a self-inflicted hand injury, he should not be considered a bullpen option to help the ballclub in the second half.
Without an additional arm in the bullpen, the continued reliance on Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith could result in burn out. It would seem unlikely the trio could keep the Indians afloat all by themselves for the second half, and even if they could, they may have nothing left for the playoffs if the Indians were able to advance.
Finally, the Indians have to consider pursuing a starting pitcher. While Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez seem to have found themselves over the last six weeks and they seem to have taken their place atop the Tribe rotation, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin have been very inconsistent and even regressed. After Masterson and Jimenez, no starting pitcher is a certainty to provide a quality start, something very important to a team that relies on quality pitching to support a mediocre offense.
Last season Indians general manager Chris Antonetti proved he was not afraid to make numerous trades in the summer months, or that he was afraid to make a big, controversial trade. His acquisitions of Kosuke Fukudome and Jim Thome last summer were intended to improve the ballclub immediately, while Jimenez was intended to improve the team immediately and through 2013—the new declared window to compete.
In order for the Indians to make the playoffs and compete in October, Antonetti and Team President Mark Shapiro may have to make another big, surprising blockbuster—but also a few smaller trades to fill several needs on the 25-man roster.
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