“Hey Mark, it’s (insert name of GM from playoff contending team). So what have you been up to recently?”
“Oh, not much, just been busy shuffling some ‘employees’ around. How are you?”
“Doing great, thanks. We’ve rattled off like eight out of ten or something like that, so that’s been nice.”
“Yeah, I saw that, congratulations. Looks like you’ve got yourself right back in the mix of things.”
“Yessir, and that’s why I’m calling. We—“
“Paul Byrd for a mediocre guy in Triple-A and another guy in Single-A who has some good ‘upside’. We’ll pick up the rest of Byrd’s contract for the season. That’s my asking price after the Blake deal. And no, Byrdie hasn’t been pitching better due to taking any more HGH, either, if that was your next question.”
“Ummm…OK, we have a deal.”
That’s kind of how I’m imagining the conversation will go between Tribe GM Mark Shapiro and the general manager from one of the 15 or so teams still in contention. And that conversation could happen shortly, particularly after Paul Byrd worked 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers Monday night, allowing just four hits in the process.
Byrd got a standing ovation from the Jacobs, err, Progressive Field crowd, and deservedly so. He’s pitched fairly well in his last three ballgames, and since he’s going to be a free agent after the year, and with the team in full firesale mood, he’s likely a goner.
There was a point—gosh, I don’t know, maybe two weeks ago—where it seemed unlikely that the Indians could give Byrd away. Now, with the trade deadline looming Thursday, you have to figure it’s just a matter of time before some desperate GM comes calling to bolster his pitching staff.
No, he didn’t pitch very well this year. But he knows how to pitch in big games. During the big run the Tribe had in late August and early September last year, he started four games and won them all, including a complete game four hitter over the White Sox. And he won both of his starts in the postseason, allowing four earned runs in 10 innings pitched.
So Paul, best of luck to you should you be dealt, and like CC and Blake, hopefully you get the chance to play for a World Series title.
Speaking of Casey Blake, it continues to amaze me the amount of “Thank God he’s gone” comments I’ve been hearing following his trade.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not upset that we traded him, especially in light of the fact that it seems we got a couple of somewhat promising prospects back for him. But allow me to throw some FACTS at you about Casey Blake’s five and a half years with the Tribe…
1. Averaged 143 games played in his first five seasons, and only a fluke injury running the bases in 2006 which limited him to 109 games is lowering that average.
2. Batted .264 with 104 home runs (21/season) and 359 RBI (72/season) in those five seasons.
3. Was second on the team in RBI in 2003 and 2005, was third on the team in 2004 and 2007, and fourth in 2006 despite not playing a full season.
4. Tied with Travis Hafner for the most home runs (28) in 2004, had the second most in 2003 and the third most in 2005.
5. Moved to right field in 2005 so that Aaron Boone could play third base and all Tribe fans discovered he has a cannon for a right arm.
6. Batted .346 (9-for-26) with a home run and two doubles in the ALCS against Boston in 2007.
7. At the time of the trade, was batting .289, best on the team, with 11 HR and 58 RBI, which is also best on the team.
So just thought that should bear some mention. I don’t understand where the Casey Blake bashing originated from or what, but he’s a guy that we basically signed as a minor league free agent in 2003 who earned himself a spot in the everyday lineup—and proved he belonged, the team's top run-producer behind the trio of Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore—not a bad group to be fourth banana to.
I’d be disappointed if Shapiro doesn’t make a run to re-sign him after the season. He can play both corner infield and corner outfield positions, which have been areas of concern for the team since, I don’t know, 1999 or so.
And just remember—we could still have Aaron Boone playing third base. Doesn’t that send enough chills down your spine as it is?
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