Trade Deadline Poses Big Decisions on Direction for Tribe
By Christian Petrila
With under a week until MLB’s trade deadline, trade rumors are more than swirling. They’re like tornadoes that have touched down and are wreaking havoc on the sanity of any fan. The Indians are obviously in the thick of those rumors. Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of the Indians pulling off a big trade, both as buyers and sellers.
There are plenty of pros to the Indians being buyers. Entering Wednesday, they are coming off of a big series-opening victory overDetroit. They are three games out of first place in the AL Central, and 3.5 games out of the wild card. Someone could make the case that they are one bat and/or arm from making a serious push for the playoffs. They have shown signs of capability throughout the season, with Ubaldo Jimenez’s span of solid outings (Tuesday’s start included), Justin Masterson’s good starts, and the emergence of Zach McAllister as a reliable starter. Another starter in the rotation could give the Indians an added comfort level they would need down the stretch. Another bat, preferably a right-handed one, would also help to take pressure off the hitters who are underperforming, primarily Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.
The cons to an Indians spending spree include the fact that one addition won’t make enough of a difference. While the Indians rank sixth in the Majors with a .332 slugging percentage, they’re 16th with a .257 batting average. That simply means they get guys on base, but they don’t get them in. Will one hitter really make enough of a difference to stop stranding the bases loaded with no outs? In terms of pitching, the ERA is 26th in the Majors. Eight guys the Indians have had pitch over the course of the season have or had an ERA over five. One of the guys from the Opening Day rotation has already fizzled and was sent down to Columbus, Jeanmar Gomez. The other four Opening Day starters have ERAs of 4.12, 4.97, 5.04 and 5.34. Will one starting pitcher really be enough to counter the days when the other starters keep those numbers up?
Two names that have popped up recently as potential guys on the move for the Indians are Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez. Although I have the utmost respect for both of them and would hate to see them put on a different jersey, trades for each of them could make sense. In Perez’s case, he’s one of the most dominant closers in the game and he’s very young. It would make sense to trade him because the Indians could fill the closer’s spot with Vinnie Pestano, who is one of the top eighth inning guys in baseball. In fact, he’s the only Indians pitcher with a WAR over one (1.9). Plus, with Perez’s comments aboutClevelandand its fans, it leads a fan to wonder if he would even sign with the Indians long-term. His trade value is through the roof right now and the Indians could get Major League-ready talent for him. As for Choo, he’s 30-years old. His contract is up after the 2013 season. As well as he’s been playing, especially since moving into the leadoff spot, his trade value will never be higher than it is now. Another contender could easily overpay for a bat like Choo’s, which would benefit the Indians immensely. Plus, Choo’s agent is Scott Boras, who is unfamiliar with the words “hometown discount.”
Why would the Indians not move those guys? Simple: They’re still very much in contention. If the Indians can play well leading up to Tuesday’s deadline, what’s the point in trading two of your keystone players? The Indians would essentially wave a white flag while contending and ultimately alienate more fans than they did with the trades they made in 2008 and 2009. The Indians are still last in the Majors in attendance, and are the last team yet to draw a million total fans on the season. If they were to trade two fan-favorite stars, that already low attendance number could get worse. The Indians would be angering the fans by trading Choo and Perez.
As far as what I think, my opinion will wait until this series with the Tigers is over. I will say this much: If the Indians lose the next two games, they should consider selling. If they win the series, buying re-enters the question again. However, there’s still time until the deadline, and five games to play until then. So, let the debate commence.
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