Bye Bye, Jhonny Peralta

SteveContributor IJuly 28, 2010

TEMPE, AZ - MARCH 08:  Jhonny Peralta #2 of the Cleveland Indians sits in the dutout before the spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on March 8, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today is a day that all Tribe fans have long been hoping for, but thought would never come.  Jhonny Peralta is no longer a Cleveland Indian.  Peralta has been traded to the Detroit Tigers.  

Tribe fans are now feeling like a little kid waking up on Christmas or a teenager on their last day of school.  In Cleveland, the summer wind feels sweeter, the water taste better.  Umm scratch the water, this calls for a celebration, so crack open the beer or Champagne.

For a time, it looked like Tribe fans would have to wait until next year to say goodbye to Jhonny. Peralta's contract with the Indians did not expire until after 2010, and there was no way the team would pick up the seven-million-dollar club option for 2011. And there had been very little interest in trade market for Jhonny Peralta this summer.

That is, until Brandon Inge of the Tigers was hit by a pitch and fractured his left hand on June 19th. 

Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, and Inge are all on the DL, putting Detroit in a desperate situation.  Their injuries forced the Tigers to make the trade for Peralta, sending left-handed starter Giovanni Soto to the Tribe.

The 19-year-old Soto stands 6'3" and is 6-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 82 2/3 innings for the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2010.  He will report to Class A Lake County for the Indian’s organization.

Peralta is, by all accounts, a very nice person. He has never been in any off-field trouble in his long tenure with the team.

So why is Jhonny Peralta so disliked?  Of course, the answer to that question is his poor performance on the field.  I cannot remember a player that has brought as much frustration to Tribe fans as Peralta.

Things once looked promising for Peralta. In 2005, his first season as a full-time player, Peralta had a breakout year. He hit .292 with 35 doubles, 24 home runs, and 78 RBI—very good numbers for an infielder.  Sadly, that remains the best season of his career.

Since then, he has greatly underachieved and has not produced for the team.

His strikeouts have increased as his production has stayed flat or gotten worse. From 2006 to 2009, he averaged a .264 Batting Average, 33 doubles, 17 home runs, and 78 RBI.  Last year, Peralta hit a miserable .254 with only 11 homers and is having a similar run this season.

Peralta ranks eighth in the AL in grounding into double plays since becoming a regular in 2005.

He has never been a clutch hitter.  His offense has come with nobody on base or when the game has been decided. 

He is a notoriously slow starter—he does not start hitting until June or July.  And to say that he is a streaky hitter would be the understatement of the year.

Peralta’s personality and style of play make him an easy target for criticism.  He often looks like he is in slow motion and not hustling.  This may be just an illusion, but it is a constant complaint from fans. 

He is a very quiet guy and does not get worked up or show emotion when he is struggling.  This irritates hard working Cleveland fans who are desperate for a winner.  The criticism he gets may not be totally justified, but that is part of being a professional athlete these days.

Any expectations that fans had for Peralta have been gone for several years now.  I do not like to criticize or to give up on Tribe players, but for Jhonny, I'll make an exception.

So enjoy this trade, Cleveland, you have been waiting for it for a long time.