10 Cleveland Indians Who Will Have to Sweat Out the 2012 Trade Deadline
As the trade deadline nears, the Cleveland Indians will be looking for a lot of upgrades. Due to a left-handed loaded roster, fans have been clamoring for months for the team to acquire a right-handed, power bat.
Before the Chicago White Sox gave a bag of baseballs to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman Kevin Youkilis, he was the name that came up most often. Now, Indians fans are drooling over the thought of trading for Justin Upton, Shane Victorino, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Quentin and others, while hoping ownership is willing to shore up the rotation with someone like Ryan Dempster.
All of those names would be excellent fits for the Cleveland Indians, but there is a cost to acquire this type of proven talent. It is debatable as to whether dealing the farm for a rental property, like the names above, is a good idea, especially with the change in draft pick compensation with the new collective bargaining agreement.
So, as the deadline nears, who should be sweating it out in the Indians' locker room? Here, you will find the 10 names of players who could be moved, or, players who could have a completely different role with the ballclub due to possible trades.
Maybe if he had caught that ball in the photo above, the Indians could forgive him for his awful hitting abilities? Cunningham won't be traded, but he could certainly find himself designated for assignment, which would leave him going to Triple-A Columbus or being released if another bat is acquired or signed.
Cunningham is hitting .183/.255/.258 in 93 at-bats. Needless to say, that is awful, but Cunningham has been pretty miserable his entire career at the plate, sporting a .222/.284/.353 line in 448 career at-bats. Cunningham has not made an error since 2009, but, according to BaseballReference.com, he has below-average range.
I am still not sure how Cunningham can be on a major league roster based on what he has presented, but it isn't like the Tribe is willing to give someone in Triple-A a shot at the fifth outfielder job.
Shelley Duncan still has a lot of value as a power bat off the bench. In fact, over a 162-game season, Duncan would be good for over 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 70 RBI in a season. He hasn't ever received a chance to be a full-time player, though, and his statistics give reasons for that.
Against right-handers - .221/.303/.411, five home runs, 12 RBI in 95 at-bats
Against left-handers - .236/.349/.472, four home runs, 12 RBI in 72 at-bats
For his career:
Against right-handers - .225/.301/.435, 25 home runs, 72 RBI in 423 at-bats
Against left-handers - .251/.332/.447, 14 home runs, 59 RBI in 342 at-bats
Duncan has struggled to make consistent contact, while struggling to find consistent at-bats during his career. He is useful but no teams will be lining up to trade for him. Like Cunningham, he is subject to the acquisitions that Cleveland makes at the trade deadline.
Jack Hannahan can play some excellent defense, but how long can that single skill keep him in the lineup? In 2012, Hannahan is hitting .241/.314/.349 with three home runs and 22 RBI in 166 at-bats. He is also hitting .148/.258/.222 in 54 at-bats against left-handed pitchers.
Hannahan makes some nice plays defensively, but it just is not enough. If you take away his hot April, Hannhan is hitting .212/.274/.317 in 104 at-bats. He is not in the team's long-term plans and if they don't acquire another third baseman, he is as good as gone when Lonnie Chisenhall is healthy. His defense is not worth the loss in offensive production on a team with a weak offense.
Hafner has had a rough return from his knee injury, hitting just .188/.297/.438 since his return in 32 at-bats. The two home runs and four walks help to increase his on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but the batting average is not a middle-of-the-order bat.
Hafner is not going to get traded due to his contract. The issue with Hafner is, again, if the Indians acquire another player. For example, if the Tribe acquired Justin Upton, Alfonso Soriano, Shane Victorino or Carlos Quentin, it makes Johnny Damon a fourth outfielder and designated hitter. Hafner would have to share at-bats with Damon at that point.
Add in the fact that Carlos Santana could see more time at designated hitter in the second half, and Hafner should already be sweating. "Pronk's" option for 2013 certainly will not be picked up, that is, unless he starts picking up his production, which does not seem likely for the 35-year-old slugger.
If you are going to start Carlos Santana at catcher, it doesn't make sense to keep a young, cheap, talented player behind him when that player has value to other teams. Marson is not an All-Star, but he is cost-controlled, he is not a free agent until 2016, and he is still young enough to have value in a trade. The Indians could just as easily put Luke Carlin behind the plate for one to two games per week to upgrade elsewhere.
Currently sporting a .282/.385/.379 line in 103 at-bats in 2012, Marson has shown solid skills at the plate. He is only catching about 12 percent of would-be base-stealers this season, but he still holds a 35 percent career rate.
When all is said an done, the 26-year-old backstop could be an asset as an undervalued trading chip.
If Tomlin could throw a baseball as well as he can grow a mustache, we wouldn't be having this conversation about him. Sporting a 5-6 record and a 5.51 ERA in 85 innings, Tomlin is more of an eye-sore than a cure to the Indians rotation woes this season.
After going 12-7 in 26 starts in 2011, a lot was expected on the 27-year-old right-hander. However, Tomlin has just six quality starts in 14 tries this season (43 percent) and has walked 21 batters in his 85 innings, after walking 21 batters in 165.1 innings in 2011.
Tomlin dealt with right wrist inflammation earlier this year, so he could still be working his way back into shape, but the Indians can not afford to wait for him to turn back into the pitcher that he was in 2011. Tomlin should be the first pitcher replaced in the rotation when or if they acquire another arm.
What would happen if the Indians traded for an upgrade in left field? A right-handed power hitter like Carlos Quentin or Justin Upton? Damon would not have anywhere to play unless he was a DH, which would, again, cut into Travis Hafner's playing time.
I mentioned the Johnny Damon issue earlier in Travis Hafner's slide, but it could be said that the Indians have another option. If they were to acquire a right-handed bat, why not trade Damon to a contender? It is not as if the Indians would become sellers, but you can't keep Damon around for his defense and his postseason experience could net the Tribe a solid prospect from the New York Yankees or Baltimore Orioles. Just imagine how often Dusty Baker could play Damon over young, talented players in Cincinnati...
Damon's experience could be valuable to the Indians as they push for the wild card, as well, but if he is not playing and you get an everyday player like Quentin or Upton, why not look into dealing the veteran?
Maybe Jesse Orosco will come out of retirement and be an effective left-handed reliever for the Tribe, because Tony Sipp just has not cut it. He has been the lone lefty out of the bullpen for parts of the 2012 season, in between Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes implosions, but you have to think that the Indians may upgrade in that role for the playoff push.
To his credit, Sipp has not really been used very effectively in 2012. Why is a situational left-handed relief pitcher facing so many right-handed hitters?
Against right-handers - .271/.377/.542 in 59 at-bats
Against left-handers - .182/.211/.382 in 55 at-bats
Get back to basics, here. Sipp is not a mop-up pitcher, that is Jeremy Accardo's role, Scott Barnes' role or Esmil Rogers' role (though Rogers looks like the missing piece to add to Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez in the late innings since his acquisition). Sipp is the tough, left-hander who shuts down opposing left-handed hitters. If the team is going to count on him for more than that, then he is going to have a 5.70 ERA in 30 innings like he does in 2012.
If the Indians can get Bill Bray or another strong, left-handed arm, Sipp could be expendable.
Given how well he has pitched, McAllister should be safe, right? Well, if the Indians are trying to upgrade their starting rotation, trade partners have probably noticed that the right-hander has pitched well and that he is just 24 years old.
If I were running the Indians right now, I would not deal McAllister. He has been the most effective starter that they have had all season, even if he has only started eight games. A 4-1 record, 3.17 ERA and 46:14 K:BB in 48.1 innings is very solid. McAllister's mixture of sinkers and curve balls have led to more fly balls than most Tribe starters, but in a pitcher's park like Progressive Field, that works.
Due to the rumored trades that the Indians could be making, McAllister is not safe, but trading him could be one of the biggest mistakes the team could make this month.
The .957 OPS, three home runs and nine RBI in 41 July at-bats will help you forget that Kotchman is hitting .234/.298/.367 on the year. Kotchman's occasional outbursts are nice, but his frustrating inconsistencies and struggles could be the reason that he is with his sixth team in nine seasons, all at the age of 29. Want to know a good fit that does not get any publication?
Derrek Lee has not retired yet, so why not give him a look for a small chunk of change. He only hit .337/.398/.584 with seven home runs and 18 RBI for the Pirates in 28 games down the stretch in 2011. He is a right-handed bat and won three Gold Gloves in his career. That is three more than super-defensive specialist, Casey Kotchman.
Kotchman has been stellar offensively and defensively recently, so he should be safe, but the struggles against left-handed pitching and his ineffectiveness for large portions of the 2012 season leave a possibility for an upgrade.
No one should be off-limits. The Arizona Diamondbacks have it right, seeing what teams are willing to give for Justin Upton. Who cares if he is only 24 and has had a down season after receiving MVP votes in 2011? Teams should always have one eye on the future while they are trying to win right now.
Francisco Lindor should be traded by the Indians, especially if they can get a major upgrade right now. Why? Because he could falter at higher levels. Need an example: Jose Iglesias, Red Sox shortstop prospect. You can't count a on minor leaguer who is 18 years old. For every Mike Trout there are 1,000 Matt LaPorta's.
Everyone on a 25-man roster, 40-man roster or minor league roster should sweat around the deadline, especially if they like the organization and teammates that they currently have. The price of succeeding in the moment comes at a cost. The Indians learned that last season when they acquired Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies.
Of the 10 players mentioned here, about seven of them are really safe, but that doesn't change the fact that your job is relative to the players capable of filling it around you. If the Indians make a major move or major moves, the whole list could be affected.