This is too easy and logical; I can’t believe it hasn’t been done yet.
I’m Indians GM Mark Shapiro. My team is going nowhere, and going nowhere soon. I have a commodity in the form of Paul Byrd, who has won his last four starts and has a 1.80 ERA in his past five starts. He hasn’t given up a home run in over a month. He also won’t be a member of my team in 2009.
OK, now I’m White Sox GM Kenny Williams. I just watched one of my starting pitchers, Jose Contreras, blow out his Achilles tendon trying to cover first base. My pitching staff has an ERA of 6.04 over the past 23 games. My two veterans, Mark Buehrle (9-10, 3.94 ERA) and Javier Vazquez (8-10, 4.74 ERA), have been inconsistent.
So, uhh, what’s the hold up here? These guys not have each other’s cell phone numbers?
“But Scott,” I hear you saying, “two teams in the same division, with a rivalry, aren’t going to make this trade. They would never do that!”
Hey, I hear you on that, I do. And trust me, in my ideal world, the White Sox (and Tigers) lose every game they play down the stretch and Minnesota wins the division.
But at this point in the season, you can throw “ideal world” out the window. You can throw it wherever Travis Hafner hid his swing and wherever Rafael Betancourt hid his breaking ball, for all I care.
The Indians have a need – get younger, get some financial relief, get a prospect, get ready for next year.
The White Sox have a need – get help in the center of the diamond to give a veteran, aging team a shot to make the postseason.
And let’s not forget that, time and again, Ozzie Guillen has been nothing but praiseworthy of the Indians organization, and Grady Sizemore in particular, during his reign in Chicago.
The trade makes sense. It almost makes too much sense.
And hey, if the Bulls and Cavs, two division rivals, could get it done at the NBA trade deadline in February, then why can’t the Tribe and White Sox?
One other possible trade note – how about David Dellucci as of late? He’s had hits in his last seven starts. He’s batting .625 with two home runs and five runs batted in this month, and his average is now north of .250.
(He’s also an unwitting part of one of the funniest headlines I’ve ever seen, courtesy of mlb.com: “Dellucci out of lineup after rare big night” earlier this week. I don’t even have a joke for that – I think it kind of speaks for itself.)
You’d have to imagine that there’s some team – probably in the NL, maybe the Diamondbacks who struggle offensively – who might take a flier on Dellucci sooner or later. And why not? He’s a veteran bat who is accustomed and suited to be a pinch-hitter, and he spent six seasons with Arizona already, winning a World Series there in 2001.
One thing that concerns me about Dellucci as a hitter: I was glancing through his game log, and he has walked once since June 21. One time. And that came in Saturday’s win over Toronto. He went 27 games without earning a free base while striking out 20 times in 84 at bats.
(On second thought, let’s not mention that to any potential trade partners.)
The second troubling area is his contract. Dellucci signed a three-year, $11.5 million contract before the 2007 season, meaning he’s got one year left at about $3.8 million after this season. Not good for a guy batting .242 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI in the first two seasons of the contract – the Indians would more than likely have to cover some, if not all, of the remainder of his contract to get another team to take him.
Which, of course, begs the question – are the Indians better off paying David Dellucci to play for them or are they better off paying David Dellucci not to play for them?
Well, let’s take a peek at our outfield options for 2009. We’ll start with Grady Sizemore, because I’m pretty sure he’s got a spot locked up.
Ben Francisco, who has cooled a bit since a torrid start, will likely head into spring training as the favorite for the job in left just because of what he’s accomplished – 11 home runs, 24 doubles, 40 RBI in 83 games. He’ll be 27 years old in the 2009 season.
Now on to the logjam…
Shin-soo Choo might be serving in the Korean army for the next two years, so we might have to rule him out.
(The last time I can recall an Indian going to Korea, it was Carlos Baerga, and it helped get him back to the big leagues. Since it worked out well for him before, can we pay him to take Choo’s spot in the infantry and patrol the border with North Korea? Or, as my dad said, what the heck is South Korea going to do if Choo doesn’t go back? What if he just says, “No, thanks,” and stays over here? Can they legally come get him? This will turn into an interesting subplot for the Tribe during the offseason.)
So if Choo is gone, than we have to look at guys in the minors like Trevor Crow, who is hitting decently since his promotion to Buffalo (.257, 4 HR, 8 RBI in 15 games) and Matt LaPorta, who has struggled in Akron since the trade and is now competing in the Olympics.
Or, we stick with Franklin Gutierrez, he of the .220 batting and .262 on-base percentage, with 25 extra-base hits in 277 at bats this summer. Which, to be fair, is two more extra-base hits than Ryan Garko has in 352 at bats.
So our in-house options include a guy who might be toting a rifle in Korea, two guys with no major league experience, and a guy with less pop than a can of Pepsi. Great. Can’t wait to see who emerges from that group, especially with the crown jewel, LaPorta, scuffling (.212, 1 HR, 7 RBI in 52 at bats with Akron).
With the exception of his salary, Dellucci doesn't look to miserable in that group. Which is kind of a sad indictment on the state of the team.
But hey, that’s a long, long time away from now. Right now we’re on a three-game winning streak and have potential Cy Young award winners in both leagues (Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia). Plus, the Browns are just weeks away from beginning what could be their most exciting season in my lifetime.
The Season of Almost Dreams, now well in to year two, continues for Cleveland sports teams.