In the 1980s, the Cavaliers had an alarming tendency to make terrible trades. They were so bad at it, in fact, that at one point, the NBA Commissioner stepped in to approve any trade. Many teams benefitted from the Cavs’ front office ineptitude, with Dick Motta going so far as to say, “I was afraid to go to lunch for fear I’d miss a call from Cleveland.”
Given their history over the past 20 years, Indians management must feel the same way about the Mariners. Although Indians and Mariners fans can relate to rooting for a team that’s either terrible, not quite good enough, or able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Indians have been able to take great talent from the Mariners without giving up much in return.
After the 1993 season, the Indians traded starting shortstop Felix Fermin and spare outfielder Reggie Jefferson to the M’s for their shortstop, Omar Vizquel. Both infielders were regarded as good-field, no-hit. But while Fermin was out of baseball in two years, while Vizquel raised his average 30 points in Cleveland and became one of the mainstays of those great Tribe teams of the 1990s. He was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame last month, and perhaps a plaque at Cooperstown awaits him as well.
In July 2006, the Indians dealt Ben Broussard to the Mariners. Broussard, a first baseman, had been named American League Player of the Week in April, and the Indians dealt him for an outfielder who had played a grand total of 14 games for the Mariners. The Mariners got two years out of Broussard, who was out of baseball by the end of the 2008 season. The outfielder the Indians got was Shin-Soo Choo, who was the team’s starting right fielder within two years, batting at or near the top of the order and patrolling right field with a cannon for a throwing arm (in 2010, he led the league with 14 assists as an outfielder).
That deal was probably the second best the Indians made with the Mariners that year. In June, the Indians traded Eduardo Perez for a minor league shortstop. Perez retired after that season, and the shortstop, a Venezuelan named Asdrubal Cabrera, made his debut in August 2007, as the Indians were in the thick of a division race, and has cemented himself as the daily shortstop for the team – making him the heir to Vizquel.
I wonder if the Mariners need anyone…