Early Grades for All Cleveland Indians Offseason Moves
The Cleveland Indians went through a major rebuilding phase this past offseason and made numerous moves to shore up both their lineup and pitching rotation.
Through free agency and trades, the Tribe was able to bring in major pieces like Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and several other impact players.
Some of these players have staked themselves out to hot starts and are already justifying their new contracts.
Others have been lagging behind through the team's first 14 games and are causing fans to question whether or not the trade package, or contract, was worth it to bring them to Cleveland.
With that said, here are early grades for the Indians 2012-13 offseason moves.
All 2013 stats are current through April 18th, 2013 and are brought to you courtesy of Clevelandindians.com unless otherwise noted.
All 2012 stats and splits from the 2013 season courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Brett Myers, 1 Year/$7 Million
Brett Myers has been proven to be the worst acquisition made by the Indians this past offseason.
Through his first three appearances—two starts—Myers has yet to reward the trust the Indians placed in them when they signed him to a rather sizable one-year deal.
Myers has pitched 16.1 innings in his first three appearances with an 0-2 record and has an 8.82 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP with ratios of 4.4 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 2.67 K/BB and 13.22 H/9.
Myers has had a difficult time getting ahead of batters—49 percent first-pitch strikes—and that appears to be where the bulk of his troubles lie (per Baseball-Reference.com).
If Myers doesn't right the ship, the Indians rotation could prove to be the Achilles' heel of an otherwise talented ballclub.
Drew Stubbs/Trevor Bauer/Brian Shaw/Matt Albers Trade
For complete details on how that trade shook out, check out Cleveland.com's article on the trade.
A lot of this trade's value—as far as the Indians are concerned—hinges on the future production of Trevor Bauer, who ranked as Baseball America's 14th best prospect and their seventh best pitching prospect on this year's incarnation of their Top 100 prospects list.
However, we're concerned about here and now, and because of that, this trade does not shake out well for the Indians.
Stubbs has been a mess in Cleveland. In 43 at-bats, Stubbs is slashing .209/.292/.279 with three doubles, three RBI, two steals and a whopping 17 strikeouts.
Stubbs strikeout rate sits at a discouraging 35.4 percent, and he looks to be on-track for his third straight season above the 30 percent mark.
Bauer hasn't had much of an impact on the Indians season and, thus far, has only made one start. The 22-year-old starter has pitched just five innings and has a 5.40 ERA and 1.80 WHIP with ratios of 3.6 K/9, 12.6 BB/9, 0.29 K/BB and 3.6 H/9.
Bauer suffered a loss in his only start, but should he cut down on his walks, he may become a significant part of the team sooner rather than later.
Shaw and Albers are the final two pieces the Indians received this year. Shaw has been outstanding, while Albers, not so much.
Shaw has pitched 8.1 innings this season with a 1.13 ERA and a 0.63 WHIP while averaging 12.4 K/9 and 5.63 H/9. Additionally, Shaw has yet to surrender a single walk in 2013.
Albers numbers are very similar to those of Bauer. The 30-year-old righty has a 5.40 ERA, a 1.80 WHIP and 7.2 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 1.33 K/BB and 10.8 H/9 over five innings pitched.
To get these four players, the Indians gave up Shin-Soo Choo, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson, who has yet to play a big league game with the Diamondbacks. However, Choo and Sipp are off to solid starts with the D-backs and Reds, respectively.
Sipp has appeared in nine games this year, has a 3.00 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP with ratios of 13.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.50 K/BB and just 4.5 H/9 (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Choo, meanwhile, has been a star in Cincinnati. In 15 games, Choo is slashing .345/.472/.569 with three home runs, eight RBI, 13 runs scored and a stolen base.
Based on the numbers produced by the players that the Indians received and by the ones they gave up, there's no way to say that they won this trade so far.
Mike Aviles/Yan Gomes Trade
The Indians made another trade this offseason that has gotten significantly less publicity in comparison to the three-team blockbuster with the Diamondbacks and Reds.
In exchange for relief pitcher Esmil Rogers, the Indians received utility infielder Mike Aviles and catcher Yan Gomes (per CBSSports.com).
Aviles brings a lot to the table for the Indians. The 32-year-old utility man can play both middle infield positions, third base and even a little outfield.
In 2013, Aviles has appeared at second, third and shortstop and is slashing .250/.269/.417 with one home run, one double, five RBI and four runs scored.
The other half of the return package for the Indians, was 25-year-old catcher Yan Gomes.
Gomes has appeared in just four games this year, and, for the most part, has been wildly unsuccessful at the plate. In 14 at-bats over those four games, Gomes is slashing a disappointing .071/.071/.286 with one home run, two RBI and a run scored.
On the other end, Rogers has appeared in seven games, pitching 8.1 innings with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP to go along with ratios of 5.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.67 K/BB and 10.8 H/9 (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Even though Gomes has been dreadful in his time with the club, the fact that Rogers is pitching at a rather pedestrian level for a reliever, coupled with Aviles' versatility, allows the Indians to sneak out with a mediocre grade.
Rich Hill, 1 Year/$1 Million
That 2012 season was enough to convince the Indians to sign him to a one-year deal, effectively filling out the middle of their bullpen.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, Hill has been rather mediocre through his first four appearances. He has a 4.91 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP with ratios of 9.82 K/9, 7.36 BB/9, 1.33 K/BB and 7.36 H/9 over 3.2 innings pitched.
Hill's ERA is likely to decrease over the course of the season, but his high walk rate is troubling.
Should Hill also cut down on his walks, the Indians could find themselves with a very effective middle reliever.
Like Giambi and Raburn, Hill's minuscule contract saves him from an otherwise worse grade.
Jason Giambi, 1 Year/$0.75 Million
The 42-year-old slugger has amassed just eight at-bats over two games and is slashing .125/.125/.500 with one home run, one RBI and a run scored.
Giambi gets a big pass in these early grades because, well, it's tough to expect much of a guy who's playing in just his first two games of the season after starting the year on the DL.
There isn't much to look at yet with Giambi, but look for him to be a solid veteran presence with the Indians.
For the amount of money the Indians are paying him, any sort of offensive contribution will be enough to earn him passing marks this season.
Ryan Raburn, 1 Year/$1 Million
Raburn had a difficult trek through the 2012 season and managed just a .171/.226/.254 slash-line over 66 games with the Tigers.
This season with the Indians, Raburn has appeared in seven games, totaling 20 at-bats with averages of .250/.375/.350, two doubles and five runs scored.
Raburn has yet to log an RBI in 2013, but he's played three different positions—second base, left field and right field—for the Tribe this season and has walked nearly as many times as he's struck out—4:6 K/BB ratio.
Raburn's positional flexibility, coupled with his improved performance at the plate, have helped earn him a decent reserve spot on Cleveland's roster.
Michael Bourn, 4 Years/$48 Million
The Indians made one of the surprise moves of the offseason when they signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a 4 year/$48 million contract.
While this list was originally intended to focus on players who were on the team's active roster, unfortunately for Bourn, and the Indians, the 30-year-old center fielder was recently placed on the DL with a laceration to his right index finger (per MLB.com).
Bourn is eligible to return from the DL on April 30, and the Indians will certainly welcome him back to the top of their lineup.
Prior to his trip to the DL, Bourn was having a successful season. In 10 games, he was slashing .333/.375/.600 with two home runs, four doubles, a triple, two RBI and seven runs scored.
Expect Bourn to return from the DL at the end of the month, and when he does, the Indians lineup will become far more dynamic.
Nick Swisher, 4 Years/$56 Million
Nick Swisher is another of the three big offseason acquisitions receiving major playing time this season.
Swisher left the New York Yankees this season and departed for Cleveland following his signing of a four-year/$56 million contract.
Swisher joins Asdrubal Cabrera as the only two Indians who have played in all 14 of the team's games this season.
Swisher has compiled 48 at-bats this year and is slashing 271/.407/.438 with two home runs, six RBI and eight runs scored.
The 32-year-old has carved out a nice niche for himself in the middle of the Indians lineup, and his production is going to be key to the success of the ballclub.
Swisher's price tag was somewhat high, but if he continues to drive in runs and get on base at a .400-plus clip, then it will be money well spent.
Mark Reynolds, 1 Year/$6 Million
Heading into the 2012-13 offseason, the Indians were severely lacking in the power department.
To help alleviate that hole in their offense, the Indians signed slugger Mark Reynolds to a one-year/$6 million deal.
Reynolds is going to strike out, a lot. However, he's also going to hit home runs and drive in plenty of runs.
His ability to do so has been on full display in the season's early stages as Reynolds is slashing .255/.321/.660 with five home runs, four doubles, 13 RBI and nine runs scored.
Reynolds has functioned as an enforcer in the Indians lineup and is leading the team in home runs and RBI.
Reynolds has even tempered his strikeout totals a little in 2013. Through 13 games—53 plate appearances—Reynolds strikeout rate is 24.5 percent. That figure represents a significant reduction from his career average of 32.5 percent (per Baseball-Reference.com).
Should the top half of the order continue to get on base and Reynolds continues to keep his strikeout rate somewhat low, he will have a chance at a career year in 2013.
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