MLB Trade Deadline 2011: A Report Card for the Three Cleveland Indians Trades
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In acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez, the Cleveland Indians absolutely proved me wrong. I wrote last week that the Indians wouldn't make a big deadline deal, which, of course, turned out not to be true at all.
In addition to the Jimenez trade, the Indians also made two other more minor deals, making them one of the more active teams at the trading deadline.
With only waiver trades left to improve rosters, the Cleveland Indians roster, for better or for worse, is set in stone for the rest of 2011. As such, let's give out some grades for what the Tribe did at the deadline.
Acquiring Kosuke Fukudome for 2 Minor Leaguers
Kosuke Fukudome wasn't a bad addition to the Cleveland Indians.
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Putting aside the slow start to his Cleveland career, the Kosuke Fukudome trade wasn't all that bad for the Indians. His 2011 stats (.267/.365/.360 slash line, .725 OPS (99 OPS+), 58:46 SO:BB 3 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB and 2.4 WAR) show a player much better than the Travis Buck/Austin Kearns/Ezequiel Carrera group that have been in the outfield of late.
While Fukudome might not be flashy, the Indians didn't give up much to get him. Abner Abreu has high upside, but he hasn't made much use of it. His 12 HR, 39 RBI and 19 SB look good, but when paired with his .241/.290/.360 slash line, .712 OPS and 104:22 SO:BB in A-ball, he may never make it to the majors.
The other player in the deal, Carlton Smith, is having a good year in AAA (4.40 ERA, 1.383 WHIP, 9.0 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9, 2.35 SO:BB), but he has two things working against him. First off, his 5.8 career SO/9 sheds doubt on whether he'll be able to sustain his effectiveness this year. Second, as a reliever, he only has limited value.
Add it all up and the Indians traded two lower prospects for a better outfielder than they were starting. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Acquiring Thomas Neal for Orlando Cabrera
The Indians won't miss Orlando Cabrera.
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If any other player had this stat line, we'd be happy to see him go:
.244/.277/.321 slash line, .598 OPS (69 OPS+), 40:13 SO:BB, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 6 SB, -0.1 WAR
Yet, because of the "legend" of Orlando Cabrera, he can do no wrong. Teams that employ Cabrera always make the playoffs. It's a proven fact!
At some point, however, don't we have to ask why Cabrera is about to play for his seventh team since 2007? Considering how he took being told he wasn't an everyday starter by the Cleveland Indians (pouting, lashing out in the media), maybe he's not the magnificent clubhouse glue guy he's made out to be. Maybe he's just another veteran who doesn't understand when his time has come.
Honestly, it seems that teams with Orlando Cabrera make the playoffs despite him as opposed to because of him. As such, he'll join a team already good enough to make the playoffs in San Francisco, play in October again and make his "legend" that much larger. Good riddance.
In getting Thomas Neal back, the Indians get someone having a down year, but with potential. His minor league stats averaged to 162 games look impressive, but his 2011 has been fairly ugly:
162-Game Average: .296/.372/.467 slash line, .839 OPS, 122:57 SO:BB, 17 HR, 89 RBI, 8 SB
2011 AAA Stats: .295/.351/.409 slash line, .761 OPS, 50:13 SO:BB, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB
Neal has seen his home run totals drop from 22 to 12 to 2 as he's moved up from A+ to AA to AAA ball the past three years. Though he's fallen off of late, he's still much more than I expected (rated the 96th best prospect in baseball pre-2010) to get for Orlando Cabrera.
Since we're probably better off without Cabrera, that's a win for the Tribe.
Acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and 2 More Minor Leaguers
Maybe, just maybe, the Indians will end up not have given up too much for Ubaldo Jimenez.
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My first reaction when I got the details of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade was that we gave up way too much. As I thought more about it, though, we may end up alright in the end.
The truth is that pitching prospects are notoriously fluky. Attending the Aeros game Saturday night (which Drew Pomeranz was supposed to start), I found it tremendously ironic that Adam Miller was one of the people used to cover Pomeranz's late scratch.
Before Alex White or Pomeranz dazzled on the mound at Canal Park, Miller outdid them both. At age 21, Miller posted a 15-6 record, 2.75 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9, 2.5 BB/9 and 3.65 SO:BB in 24 starts. Rated the 16th best prospect in all of baseball before the 2005 season, Miller was the next big thing for the Cleveland Indians.
Well, Miller has still not made it to the major leagues. A middle finger injury (eerily similar to the one Alex White suffered earlier this year) stunted his development at AAA.
He's currently trying to reinvent himself as a reliever in Akron. If the five earned runs and eight hits he allowed in two innings of pitching Saturday night are any indication, he still has a long way to go.
The Miller story goes to show that you just never know with pitching prospects. We know we're getting an ace in Ubaldo Jimenez and don't know what will happen with Pomeranz and White.
The other two players in the deal are Joe Gardner and Matt McBride. I'm very sad to see McBride go because he's a very good player, but Gardner hasn't done very well this year. It's unlikely we'll rue this trade because of those two players.
Since Pomeranz is unlikely to be on an Opening Day roster before 2013, it'll be hard to objectively judge this trade until 2014 or 2015 at the earliest. For now, however, the Indians got their ace and have him under control at least through 2013. We may look back on this trade in a decade as better than the Bartolo Colon one in 2002. You never know.
The Indians finally have an ace.
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Overall, the Indians may have risked the future, but they did strengthen their team in 2011 and beyond. Through 2013, the Indians could run out a rotation included Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco. If they can find another good second or third starter, they could end up rivaling the Phillies and Giants by 2013.
As for the rest of this year, the Indians are actually in good shape. Though Shin-Soo Choo wasn't hitting well before going on the DL, he's still a great defender. Hopefully for the Tribe, his bat will come around when he returns, adding real teeth to this lineup:
That lineup isn't bad at all. Add in our killer bullpen and upgraded rotation and we could make a lot of noise in 2011. Also considering that only Fukudome is lost from that lineup (and replaced with a still good and hopefully great Grady Sizemore in 2012) and we're set long-term too.
We gave up a lot in the past week, but it's time to celebrate Cleveland. The Indians front office and the Dolans finally went big and set us up to succeed. It's time to get excited. Baseball matters again on the shores of Lake Erie.