Wandy Rodriguez is one pitcher the Indians could acquire for the stretch run (and beyond).
With the passing of the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, teams like the Cleveland Indians with holes to fill must jump through extra hoops to improve. Since most players would never pass through waivers, the pickings are typically pretty slim by this time of year.
Despite being swept by the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, I still think the Indians are contenders. The Tigers may own a 69-58 record, but their run differential is only +4 and their Pythagorean W-L is 64-63. Detroit's lucky to be 11 games over .500 and could easily come crashing back down to mediocrity.
The Indians are much closer to where they should be (62-62 record, 62-62 Pythagorean W-L), but they still need a boost. I really do feel like the Ubaldo Jimenez trade will work out in the end, but they still need another starter. David Huff isn't a terrible option as a fifth starter, but he shouldn't be counted on for much more.
A starting rotation of Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona is a good base, but it could really use something more. I'd love to see the Indians get a third starter to fill the hole between Masterson and Tomlin. Luckily for us, there are 10 options out there right now we can look into.
Bronson Arroyo wouldn't be much help to the Cleveland Indians this year.
2011 Stats: 7-10, 5.28 ERA (75 ERA+), 5.57 FIP, 4.35 xFIP, 1.402 WHIP, 5.22 SO/9, 2.29 BB/9, 2.29 SO:BB, -0.7 WAR
Bronson Arroyo may have cleared waivers, but that doesn't mean the Indians should go out of their way to trade for him. He's having a bad year, giving up too many home runs and costs $23.5 million through 2013. While the Tribe could really use rotation help, Arroyo only offers problems.
Rodrigo Lopez isn't the answer to the Indians' problems.
2011 Stats: 4-4, 4.97 ERA (80 ERA+), 5.17 FIP, 4.37 xFIP, 1.468 WHIP, 4.69 SO/9, 2.27 BB/9, 2.06 SO:BB, 0.0 WAR
Rodrigo Lopez may not offer the same contract commitment as Arroyo (he's a free agent at the end of the year), but he's still not a very good pitcher. He doesn't strike out nearly enough batters, gives up home runs at too frequent a rate and generally is replaceable. Not what the Indians need for the stretch run.
While he's been a good story this year, Chien-Ming Wang won't help the Indians make the playoffs.
2011 Stats: 2-2, 4.33 ERA (90 ERA+), 4.71 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 1.259 WHIP, 2.33 SO/9, 2.00 BB/9, 1.17 SO:BB, 0.1 WAR
After missing so much time lately, I am so happy for Chien-Ming Wang. It's great to see him out there and pitching again. Unfortunately, I don't want to see him pitching for the Tribe this year. It's a small sample, but 2.33 SO/9 is just terrible. He's a decent buy-low candidate for someone, but for a team in the middle of a pennant race, the Indians can do much better than Mr. Wang (no offense).
Bruce Chen is a middle of the road pitcher, not what the Indians need.
2011 Stats: 8-5, 4.17 ERA (95 ERA+), 4.91 FIP, 4.75 xFIP, 1.440 WHIP, 5.53 SO/9, 3.35 BB/9, 1.65 SO:BB, 0.5 WAR
Bruce Chen isn't a bad pitcher, but he's been pretty lucky this year. His SO:BB ratio leaves a lot to be desired and his FIP suggests that he'll spend the rest of the season regressing back to the mean. If there's one thing I don't want the Indians to think will fix their rotation, it's a middle of the road pitcher who'll probably get worse as the season winds down.
The 2011 version of Ted Lilly doesn't have much to offer the Cleveland Indians.
2011 Stats: 7-13, 4.58 ERA (81 ERA+), 4.64 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 1.212 WHIP, 7.05 SO/9, 2.11 BB/9, 3.34 SO:BB, 0.4 WAR
At first glance, I wouldn't mind seeing the Indians pick up Ted Lilly. His low WHIP and BB/9 paired with his very good SO:BB makes him seem like a great addition. Considering his 1.63 HR/9, however (in Dodgers Stadium, a major pitcher's park no less), I'm not sure he would really help. Add in the $22.5 million through 2013 he's owed and you end up with a bad deal for the Indians. We should pass on Lilly.
All of Carlos Zambrano's problems add up to a bad deal for the Indians.
2011 Stats: 9-7, 4.82 ERA (82 ERA+), 4.57 FIP, 4.28 xFIP, 1.442 WHIP, 6.24 SO/9, 3.46 BB/9, 1.80 SO:BB, 1.0 WAR
If Carlos Zambrano is able to get his SO/9 up to his career level (7.60), then he would possibly regain his former ace status. If he did that and dropped his HR/FB ratio down from 11.3 percent to his 8.9 percent career rate, his ERA would probably be approaching 3.50. And if Zambrano finally learned to keep his emotions in check, maybe he wouldn't be on the restricted list and the trading block. In the end, Zambrano's just not worth it.
Jason Vargas isn't a bad pitcher; he's just not what the Indians need.
2011 Stats: 7-11, 4.18 ERA (88 ERA+), 4.20 FIP, 4.40 xFIP, 1.319 WHIP, 5.61 SO/9, 2.64 BB/9, 2.13 SO:BB, 1.5 WAR
On the year, Jason Vargas has played pretty well. Unfortunately for him, there are a couple of truly worrying stats about him. Firstly, he doesn't strike out all that many batters. Secondly, leaving the pitcher's haven that is Safeco Field would likely see Vargas give up more home runs. He's an average pitcher, but the Indians need pitchers capable of getting strikeouts; not more precision soft-tossers like Josh Tomlin. One or two can work, but a whole rotation of them is liable to blow up.
Tom Gorzelanny would be a great under-the-radar pickup for the Cleveland Indians.
2011 Stats: 2-6, 4.34 ERA (89 ERA+), 4.28 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 1.303 WHIP, 7.98 SO/9, 2.66 BB/9, 3.00 SO:BB, 0.5 WAR
Of all the pitchers I've listed, Tom Gorzelanny and the next two pitchers in this slideshow are the only ones I'd really like to see the Indians acquire. While Gorzelanny may not be a household name, I think the 29-year-old would be a great under-the-radar pickup for the Indians.
He knows how to strike people out and seems to finally have learned how to limit his walks. Though he would be helped by giving up a few less home runs, he's the sort of underrated addition that could be very useful. It may not seem impressive, but a Jimenez/Masterson/Tomlin/Gorzelanny rotation would stand a decent chance in a playoff series.
Chris Capuano is a pitcher that could help the Indians.
2011 Stats: 9-11, 4.71 ERA (81 ERA+), 4.21 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, 1.383 WHIP, 7.62 SO/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.80 SO:BB, 1.0 WAR
If the Indians are looking for a six week or so rental pitcher, Chris Capuano is probably the best option. His ERA isn't very pretty, but he should regress over the final stretch of the season closer to 4.00. He doesn't walk people, has a good strikeout rate and would fit in well for the Indians. He's a free agent at the end of the year, but if he came dirt-cheap, Capuano would be worth it for the Tribe.
If the Indians are serious about competing through 2013, Wandy Rodriguez is a great fit.
2011 Stats: 9-9, 3.31 ERA (113 ERA+), 3.91 FIP, 3.66 xFIP, 1.265 WHIP, 7.65 SO/9, 3.00 BB/9, 2.55 SO:BB, 1.6 WAR
I wish the Indians had pulled the trigger for Wandy Rodriguez at the July 31 deadline. He may be expensive (he's owed $36 million over the next three years assuming he exercises his player option for 2014), but his performance is worth it. Pitchers with four straight years of ERAs under 3.60 don't come cheap and Wandy has a very strong track record and would give us a very strong Jimenez/Masterson/Rodriguez/Tomlin rotation in place at least through 2013.
The Ubaldo Jimenez trade put the Indians in win-now mode from 2011 through 2013. If the Indians don't pick up Fausto Carmona's option for 2012, they would save $7 million. Since Wandy's only owed $10 million for 2012, we could basically upgrade from Carmona to Rodriguez at a minimal cost. Seeing as Wandy is a much better, more consistent pitcher than Carmona, that's a major upgrade.
If we're able to set our rotation for 2012 and 2013, freeing up our focus to improving the offense, maybe the Indians can make some noise in the playoffs going forward. And it all can start now by making a big waiver trade.