It's been a whirlwind week for Indians fans.
finally trading longtime fan frustration Jhonny Peralta on Wednesday, the Indians traded Austin Kearns to the Yankees Friday night, flipped ten-year Tribe veteran Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals Saturday afternoon, then pawned off Kerry Wood's contract.
Most Clevelanders' instinctual reactions to this news would be to moan and groan, to relive the moments from last year when Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez were shipped out of town and mumble something about the futility of rooting for a small-market team.
I can certainly relate to the abandonment issues my fellow Tribe fans are dealing with, and I understand the urge to crawl into a corner and sit in the fetal position for the rest of the season.
However, depression and rage are the wrong reactions to this year's four deadline deals and the June trade of Russell Branyan.
The trading season for the Tribe can only be described with the words of a wise man from Kazakhstan: "Great success!"
Branyan, Peralta, Kearns, Westbrook, and Wood all had one thing in common: either their contracts were set to expire at the end of the season or they had options for the 2011 season that the Indians had no interest in picking up.
With the Indians already firmly out of the race, keeping these players around for the final two months would have been ridiculous. Had we just let them walk at the end of the season, we would have gotten nothing—the only ones who might possibly qualify for Type B status are Branyan and Peralta, and offering arbitration to either would be risky because they'd be likely to accept.
With the possible exception of Westbrook, who the Indians may try to reacquire in the offseason, they had no place in the Indians' long-term plans.
We didn't get a huge haul in return for anyone—two useful but uninspiring young position players (outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and shortstop Juan Diaz, both in the Branyan deal), a pair of solid pitching prospects (righty Corey Kluber for Westbrook and southpaw Giovanni Soto for Peralta), two PTBNLs (both from the Yankees, one each for Kearns and Wood), and at least $3 million in salary relief.
But even if the youngsters we've acquired don't grow up to be All-Stars and Larry Dolan loses all the spare change in a single poorly played hand of Texas Hold 'Em (stranger things have happened), the point is that in exchange for the outgoing veterans who weren't helping us anyway, we got a chance to have more hope for the future—six of them, to be precise, maybe more if we put the extra money towards a solid free agent.
The Indians had five useful players who didn't mean anything to us. All of them have been swapped for potential pieces of a future pennant-winner.
This was outgoing GM Mark Shapiro's last big chance to score. He brought home a winner.