Monday, July 23, 2007

Laffey Taffy?

With Aaron Laffey clearing out his locker in Buffalo, and his next scheduled start coinciding with Lee’s Thursday start against Boston, is the writing on the wall for Cliff Lee?

It’s true that Fernando Cabrera could have been placed on waivers and the Indians won’t announce anything until he either clears waivers or is claimed…or Cabrera could be traded. But that means that Laffey will come up to help in the bullpen, which seems like a confusing move as Laffey has never pitched out of the pen and wouldn’t get steady work (vital to the 22-year-old’s development) as a long man.

It’s also possible that Jason Stanford will be traded, Lee will be demoted to the pen (which could happen if Cabrera is sent out), and Laffey will take his spot, but what would Stanford (on his own) bring? A new mascot?

It’s entirely possible that Lee could be moved, even if Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News says that he thinks it’s just Cabrera being on waivers.

Back to Lee, though, as it seems that he has certainly fallen out of favor with his steady decline in all of the important stats and his disagreement with Vic on Saturday. Lee won’t be moved for a simple rental player, as his value (due to his left-handedness and club-friendly contract) is greater than just renting a bullpen arm for a few months. That rent-a-body strategy, too, would go against everything that Shapiro has ever done or said.

It’s much more likely that the Indians would look a young stud reliever or for a young corner OF that would allow them to move either The Frisco Kid or Gutierrez for that late inning bullpen arm (like Octavio Dotel, which, even for just Ben or Franklin, would be overpaying for 3 months of Dotel with no promise of extending him).

So if Lee is, in fact, on the block, who would be interested?
Because of his fly ball tendencies, let’s start with teams that play in larger ballparks that could put Lee in the middle of their rotation and hope that he keeps the ball in the yard.
MLB ballparks, ranked by fewest HR allowed in 2007, break down like this:
AT&T – San Francisco
RFK – Washington
Busch – StL
Metrodome – Minnesota
PNC – Pittsburgh
Petco – San Diego
Fenway – Boston
Angel Stadium – Anaheim
Tropicana – Tampa
McAfee – Oakland
That’s the 10 with the least HR hit this year and, as an aside, how depressing is it to just see these corporate names being up there instead of Candlestick, Three Rivers, or The Murph?

The fact that Washington (with Cordero, Rauch, Colome, and Church) and Pittsburgh (with Capps, Torres, Marte, and Doumit) have compatible parts for the Indians’ needs has been addressed, but one has to wonder if they’re looking to add payroll at this point in the season.

Also, with Washington, they are building a ballpark to replace the cavernous RFK, so that may not be as much of a factor when the Nats are ready to move in.

Would Tampa bite on Lee to help out their constantly beleaguered rotation, dealing from their surplus of OF to get the veteran LH? Or would the Padres be interested in having some insurance in case David Wells finds a new favorite bar in San Diego? The Padres certainly have some bullpen depth (Linebrink, Meredith, Bell) that would make a match.

How about teams looking to bolster their rotation for a playoff push?
Dodgers – They have young hitters in OF Andre Ethier or OF Matt Kemp (though Ethier would be the more easily obtained), and an excellent bullpen, but how would Lee play out in Chavez Ravine and how close is Randy Wolf to coming back?

– They have dangled OF Lastings Milledge for a while, long enough to take some of the luster off his star, and he is still highly thought of enough that the Indians may have to sweeten the deal. The Mets’ rotation is old, though, and Omar Minaya may want to gobble up a starter via trade.

Braves – The Braves are looking for a back-end of the rotation starter and 1B help, so a Lee/Ryan Mulhern package may work for the Braves, but what they would be able to offer the Indians would be the question. It’s pretty unlikely that they’d be willing to part with Rafael Soriano, as that would essentially be like the Tribe trading Senor Slo-Mo to fill a hole.

Phillies – Putting Lee in the HR haven of Citizens’ Park would be such a disaster; I shudder at the mere thought of it.

Mariners – Safeco would be a nice fit and the two teams certainly aren’t unfamiliar with each other at the trade table (Broussard, Perez, Dangerously), but how much are the M’s willing to part with to get Lee? Certainly they wouldn’t dip into Adam Jones (not PacMan), even with Ichiro signed to a long-term deal…would they? One would have to question the wisdom of trading a starting pitcher to a Wild Card rival (regardless of how you think Lee would sabotage their playoff hopes), but it’s not like the move would be consummated with a team that you’re going to face 10 more times.

This is really just throwing things up against a wall and seeing what sticks, but the actions in Buffalo could be the first domino to the fall of Cliff Lee in Cleveland.

Of course, if Shapiro doesn’t get what he feels is equal value, he has other options with Lee. It just seems that the fact that they pulled Laffey out of Buffalo means that something may be in the final stages of happening.
Could simply be Cabrera, or something larger may be in the works.


Baltimoran said...

i'd rather see a deal for Lee, cabrera still very young

i just received a text message from a sawx fan asking why there were so many boston fans at the jake last night, in the 8th you could clearly hear "let's go red sawx" chants on the sounded like a baltimore/yankees/or sawx game, embarassing that a team leading the wildcard race would sound like they were at an away game in July.

Voltaire said...

I'd hesitate to trade Lee because of this season, but at the same time the rotation is suddenly looking questionable. I'll just hold my breath and see what happens.

The attendence is embarassing. I'll be heading to both Friday and Saturday's games, and if I have to cheer loud enough for 10,000 more people, then so be it.

Cy Slapnicka said...

i agree about last night, i couldn't believe i was hearing sox chants. lots of sox lids in the crowd too. unfortunately, half those sox hats will turn to tribe hats if they may make the playoffs and play LA....damn fair-weather fans...frustrating to see.

did the constant talk about Lester drive anyone else nuts? i mean, no discredit to him, but lets talk about baseball and the game. at one point they discussed how he needed to get the lymphoma out of his head. um, do they really think he sat there with the bases loaded thinking about his lymphoma? my guess is he was probably thinking something along the lines of "i need to sack up and get grady out so he doesn't take me yard again and ruin my first outing this year. unfortunately he's sitting on my fastball and i can't throw my curve for strike"

his comeback is good to see, but talk about that on sportscenter and the espys...don't interrupt my baseball game with 9 innings of talk about it. i finally switched to hamilton's radio broadcast.

and do we need to hear from kruk on everything? do we need him to weigh in on how "athletes" are better equipped to deal with things like cancer b/c they get hurt frequently? chances are very high that fat slob will again be sticken by some health issue due to his extra 50 lbs he's carrying. sorry, i can't stand him...

Paul Cousineau said...

I actually thought of switching over to ESPN2 the way that WKYC's Jim Donovan was nominating the Red Sox players for canonization

He must have said 10 times how all the Red Sox fans were there because Fenway is such a tough ticket and was a testament to how great Boston was.

He knew EVERY single stat about EVERY Sox player, but merely said that Garko "was hot" (he has a 16-game hitting streak) and that the Indians have nobody past C.C. and Carmona that has been consistent.

After Manning called him on the carpet that Byrd was pretty consistent, Donovan recanted an inning later. That only sent him up to talk about how great Julio Lugo has been playing.

I know the guy's from New England and grew up a Red Sox fan, but it's our home telecast. I'm not asking for DJ and the Hawk on WGN, but at least know more (or look like you know more) about the home team than the visitors.

Red Sox fans beware - I’ll be there tomorrow for the El Diablo Show, as well as going down Saturday in a party suite that the DiaBride and I got for us and 16 of our closest friends to celebrate our 30th birthdays.

rodells said...

Google "Aaron Laffey" and the DiaTribe is representin'.

I can't decide who's more annoying...Donovan or Underwood. It's just so darn close.

Ron Vallo said...

breing a tribe fan living in NYC I have to rely on the dish. seems like we always gert the other guys' feed.

last night it was the Rem-Dog on NESN. drives me nuts.

plus we were treated to a shot of Lester's mom - very much a non-looker about one every three pitches.

if we can get a corner outfielder who will be here beyond this year for lee, i say do it.

Cy Slapnicka said...

ron, if you've got a dvr and the gameday audio package on the internet, rewind the game about 15 seconds and sync them up. thats what i do in chicago. last night i switched over to hammy online and muted my extra innings broadcast. its hard to do, but i was able to get it so i could hear the pop of the shopvac's mitt on the radio when the pitch arrived on tv.

Baltimoran said...

i was watching the espn feed and i think the only time i remember seeing more parent shots was Bubby Brister's Steeler days. i guess its nice that there was finally a national sports story that didn't involve mobsters, steroids, gambling, or killing dogs