Franklin Gutierrez Trade Revisited: Nope, Still Not a Fan

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Franklin Gutierrez Trade Revisited: Nope, Still Not a Fan
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As I sit and watch Franklin Gutierrez, one of my favorite players in all the game, blossom into a productive and valuable outfielder in the entire majors, I start to wonder what exactly is going on here.

I'm typically one to not harp on what could have been. I'm a believer of sticking with a transaction through thick and thin, if I believe in it. That and, you can't change the past, so why harp over it?

However the deal with Gutierrez was not one I believed in. I damned it from the start, damned it the day after, actually went on to tell Seattle what a steal they got, but then went back and I've damned it since.

You can go ahead and read it all. I was never a fan of the deal from day one and despite the return the Indians received, I don't think I will ever be.

Joe Smith is going to be a part of this bullpen for the next few years and Luis Valbuena has potential, nothing more, to be a decent second baseman for this team.

But that cannot mask the fact the Indians gave up too soon.

Now I think this is a largely overblown aspect of the Indians. Fans love to get on Shapiro and Wedge for their mistakes, and they are no-doubt laughing once again as they sit there and make jokes about this one.

But the truth is, I was in the minority when this deal went down.

Most fans were just glad to have received something in return for Gutierrez.

Most believed that Gutierrez was a role-player who was replaceable, a spare part that Shapiro masterfully turned into another spare part for the team's weakness and a potential long-term starter at a position that is not very deep.

Hey, I credit them there for that thinking. That's the positive side that I took about the deal.

But it still ate me up inside to know we traded away someone who was going to break out the minute he left Cleveland.

Brandon Phillips did the same thing.

And believe it or not, Shapiro still doesn't hear the end of it with him being dealt to the in-state rival Cincinnati Reds. It's still a sticking point for many Tribe fans, to this day.

Fans also love to bring up Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jeremy Guthrie, quite frequently as well. Truth is, both have sort of fizzled out and are not looking as good as they did at first. The biggest issue with Guthrie was that he was given away, for nothing in return.

You can nit-pick other players like Willy Taveras, Macier Izturis, Luke Scott, but when it comes down to it, not everyone even made it to the major leagues.

The beef should be with players that made the majors, had a chance to break in with the Tribe, and then were dealt or given away for one reason or another.

Shapiro isn't fully to blame as I've said; sometimes it just doesn't work out for a player in one spot. But the entire organization, as is the case with the 2009 season, shares the blame in most of these follies.

Phillips wasn't going to work out here. It was the Indians fault that he wasn't going to work out, but it was still a move that had to be made.

Don't even bring up Milton Bradley, we all know that any deal that trades Milton Bradley away is a good one.

In fact the only reason Gutierrez was an Indian was because the Dodgers traded him to Cleveland for Bradley.

Now neither one of them are in a Tribe uniform.

A 20 home run, 80 RBI, .300 average year is not out of the question for Gutierrez with Seattle. He hit his 11th home run on Friday against his former team and he's got two and a half months to gain 42 more RBI, not impossible the way he's turned it on lately.

The biggest thing for Gutierrez and his turn-around with Seattle is relaxation.

His idol growing up and now teammate, Ken Griffey Jr., said that the veterans have put Gutierrez in a state of relaxation.

Seattle's center fielder feels more comfortable at the plate because he's got some team security, a little bit of confidence instilled in him, and most of all, a spot in the lineup everyday.

Not to say Eric Wedge and the Indians didn't give Gutierrez a spot in the everyday lineup. He was a big reason for their run to the 2007 postseason; he got a legit chance to prove he was the answer.

The problem was that when the going got rough for Gutierrez, Eric Wedge lost confidence and patience for the youngster.

Quite like he has with others, but that is another story for a different time, like when we are talking about why Wedge lost his job.

If that happens of course; I'm getting ahead of myself.

Perhaps though, Wedge is a reason a few of these players didn't get it done in Cleveland went on do it in another place. He was the reason both Phillips and Bradley got traded, as their personalities clashed.

But when personalities don't get twisted up, there has to be a reason and Wedge has shown it a number of times with players other than Gutierrez.

Wedge's failure to trust the young player has been one of his biggest flaws as a manager. What made him such a good minor league manager and the perfect fit for a young Cleveland team when Shapiro took over was his ability to mesh and manage the youngsters.

Things are different now.

While young players may love to play for Wedge, he isn't a big fan of playing young players when he has other options available, especially ones that fit his mold of an ideal baseball player.

Gutierrez wasn't exactly a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, but there was times when Wedge would get critical of him for giving away at-bats.

Now with a little bit of trust, confidence, and playing time, Gutierrez is having a good offensive season for the Mariners. All of this is in addition to the superb defense that he brings to the field.

He really does play Gold Glove-caliber defense and his arm is one of the strongest and most accurate among center fielders.

You mix in the runs he brings in with the runs he saves with defense alone, Gutierrez is more than just an everyday productive outfielder. He's an above average producer, especially if you have him in center field hitting 20 home runs a season.

Grady Sizemore is a 30 to 40 home run a year center fielder, so surely they could have faired pretty well with having someone in right field hit 20 a year.

But like I said earlier, it's pointless to sit here and wonder what could have been. Most Indians fans will do it and a good chunk of them are liars if they told you they believed Gutierrez could do this.

None of that should stop me from continuing to despise the deal that I've despised from day one though. And trust me, it won't.

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