Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Jelly Rolls No More

The Tribe, unable to parlay Friday night’s exciting win into a series win, dropped the final 2 to the Mariners.

It’s true that there are going to be growing pains as these young players mature and find their way in the Majors, but the inclusion of Boone and Hollandsworth in these games continues to baffle.

After the game, the team moved their short RF Ronnie Belliard to the Cardinals for… middle infielder Hector Luna?!?

For those unaware of who Luna is, let’s do a little bit of player association:
The Cardinals’ starting 2B Aaron Miles proved to be an inadequate starting 2B in the Majors. The Cardinals acquire Belliard to replace Miles in the lineup. In return, the Indians get the player incapable of displacing Miles at 2B for the Cardinals (remember that whole Miles being an inadequate starting 2B?).

Where does Luna fit in this whole thing? Is he going to take AB’s away from Joe Inglett this year? Is he going to enter 2007 as the starting 2B? I hope not.

Luna, by the way, was originally in the Tribe farm system, but exposed in the Rule V draft, where he was plucked away by the Cardinals. In the years that followed, he's done nothing to distinguish himself as more than a utility IF.

This is a tremendous disappointment as Belliard seemed to be the Indians’ biggest bargaining chip who didn’t fit into their 2007 plans. With multiple teams looking for a 2B, or even a 3B, you would think that the Tribe would be able to get a decent return for Jelly.

Unfortunately, the team netted more for Broussard and, arguably, Perez.

How does this not look like a pure salary dump?

Maybe Luna proves that he’s a decent 2B when given regular time, but isn’t that what we’re trying to determine with Inglett?

Why wouldn’t the Indians just hang onto Belliard for the compensatory draft pick if they were going to get no more than a utility IF for him?

The Front Office will say that moving Belliard to another team allows them a bigger window to sign him in the off-season (remember how Kevin Millwood needed to be signed before a certain date, or the Indians were unable to negotiate with him). I don’t think that the argument holds much water, though, as Belliard will likely command a 3-year deal on the open market for about $4M to $5M annually. At that price, I don’t think that Belliard was in the plans, regardless, and somewhat rightfully so (money can be better spent elsewhere).

That all being said, Luna gives some insurance in case Inglett is not capable of manning 2B next year. The amount of insurance that it gives the club, though, is not much.

This just doesn’t seem like a very good fit. It seems like the dearth of MI’s in the system could suddenly become a glut of middling middle infielders (pun intended).

After having seen the logic to all of the moves made thus far, even the Wickman one, this one (if this is it) is a big letdown.

7 comments:

Baltimoran said...

I checked out some of the cleveland blogs that are linked to on the Dia Tribe, and PC is the only writer who is not supporting the "jinx" theory or throwing shapiro and wedge under the bus. If PC can't find any silver lining to this trade, it can't be good.
Livingston even made sense today in asking for a defensive improvement in the infield, Luna doesn't appear to be the man.

Rockdawg said...

Maybe Luna just needs a change of scenery. Sometimes, a young talent is moved in a deal and blossoms in the new location (See Brandon Phillips)

Cy Slapnicka said...

Braylon Edwards practiced today.

T-Bone said...

i'm largely in PC's camp, but here's what your boy Keith Law says...

Belliard deal doesn't help Cards
posted: Monday, July 31, 2006 | Print Entry

The Cardinals treaded water with their acquisition of Cleveland second baseman Ron Belliard for second baseman Hector Luna, and in doing so cost themselves a little bit in the long term.

Belliard is older and more experienced than Luna and has slightly more power; he's also a free agent after this season. Luna is five years younger and has four years to go to free agency, and he has a better ability to get on base and can play shortstop on a limited basis, whereas Belliard is limited to second base and has little range even at that position.

It's not clear where St. Louis thought it was helping itself with this deal, and there's a nonzero chance that the Cardinals hurt themselves slightly for 2006.

niv said...

i think you are 100% wrong in your assessment of this trade. from baseballprospectus.com:

It’s been about 12 hours since it crossed by inbox, and I still can’t make sense of the Cardinals’ decision to trade away Hector Luna for Ronnie Belliard. They got the older, more expensive player, which is par for the course iin late July, but I think they also got the lesser one.

further down in the same article...

On the other hand, Luna is trending upward, while Belliard seems to be treading water or sliding back. I’ve been advocating for Luna most of this year, and I won’t stop now; he’s going to outplay Belliard over the next two months, take hold of the second-base job in Cleveland and be one of the best 2Bs in the AL in 2007. If Jose Lopez and his .317 OBP can be an All-Star, Luna certainly can make next year’s team.

luna's lack of playing time seems to be a mistake on the cardinals part more than an indication of his talent level.

Cy Slapnicka said...

lots of treading water going on with this trade, huh? i don't really care about this trade all that much, as ronnie wasn't earning his paycheck this year. plus we can still sign him if we really want him back that bad. the net gain here is probably about $2mil and the chance to try out some young guys while not losing much, so it makes sense to me.

the thing that still bothers me, if we are shedding contracts....why is Aaron Boone still on our roster? Doesn't someone else need an awful bat and glvoe that is a good character/team guy /clubhouse presence for the stretch run?

Pat Tabler said...

“Treading water” I think seems to be the M.O. on this trade.

Maybe I was overvaluing Belliard on the basis of whom Shapiro received for in his previous deals, and the fact that 2B was a position that a number of playoff teams were looking to upgrade, but I still can’t get excited about Luna. I understand that he may be a younger version of Belliard, who comes cheaper and at greater organizational control, but something still doesn’t feel right that the Cardinals would move him this readily for an older, more expensive version for 2 months.

Maybe the Cardinals can be faulted for not giving Luna a chance, but you would think that they would exhaust internal options before looking elsewhere.

Maybe Luna will flourish with regular AB’s and playing time.

Maybe he’s better suited to be a full-time 2B than Joe Inglett.

Time will tell. That’s just a lot of maybes.

What is more concerning to me is that this idea of putting platoons all over the field is the answer to how to create complementary players to your core. I’m still firmly of the belief that the core remains in place for next year, I just hope that we’re not suddenly looking at platoons at C/1B, 2B, and RF or LF for 2007.

I’m OK with us moving salary (though it didn’t sound like it in the original post…give me a break, I just did yard work in 95 degree heat when my brother called me with the name Hector Luna on his lips), but that money MUST be spent to improve this team in the areas of need.

The areas of need are still not too many, in my opinion, but I still count 2B as one of those areas.