Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lazy Sunday with Swish and Tabs

With no Browns’ game happening today (after Jim Sorgi and Tony Dungy ruined my Sunday a week ago), it is time to, as my Dad once famously said, “get my Sunday back”.

But first, a trip around a Lazy Sunday:
Still very little happening with the Indians, but the AL Central remains abuzz with activity as the White Sox made a move to acquire OF Nick Swisher from the A’s in exchange for minor-league pitchers Fautino de los Santos and Gio Gonzalez and OF Ryan Sweeney. It is another interesting move for the White Sox this off-season, as they remain confused about whether they are building a team to contend in 2008 (which they shouldn’t be), continuing to trade their upper-level prospects. Baseball America has a tremendous take on the deal, which sums up very nicely most of my feelings on it.

This quote from the article in particular stands out:
Oakland definitely is in rebuilding mode, having shipped former ace Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks for six players in December. Perhaps the White Sox should be doing the same. They won just 72 games last year and have an aging team. Swisher is talented and inexpensive, but this deal further weakens an already deteriorating farm system.

Don’t get me wrong on this – Swisher is certainly a nice piece to add (as was Carlos Quentin), but the White Sox seem to be the ostrich in the AL Central, unaware that they are unlikely to contend in 2008 or 2009 and the subtraction of their top prospects for what amounts to complementary pieces will only them further behind the 8-ball when they need an injection of youth on their roster (which, some could argue, is now). Fully aware that both Swisher and Quentin are still young, the stripmining of their farm system to add them to the roster seems short-sighted.

Of course, the question has to be raised of why the Indians didn’t make a similar move for Swisher as he does fit the mold of what the Tribe should be targeting - namely a young, under-club-control-for-the-foreseeable-future OF who has experienced some MLB success. He would fill the role of a complimentary player needed in Cleveland (where contending in 2008 is nearly assumed) much better than he does in Chicago, where he will inexplicably be asked to play CF.

First of all, trust me in that I would have loved Swisher in LF in Cleveland, but seeing as how Beane is probably pretty aware of the Tribe farm (with the Haren talks) and who he covets in the Indians’ organization, its entirely possible that the White Sox had the prospects that Beane wanted, more so than the Tribe youngsters, or offered more than the Tribe was willing to even entertain for Swisher.

Looking at the how the youngsters the White Sox gave up are viewed by Baseball Prospectus, and how they compare to the Indians’ prospects (again rated by Baseball Prospectus), Fautino de los Santos is a better prospect than anyone in our system (with 5 stars) and Gio Gonzalez is on par with an Atom Miller (both 4 stars). Ryan Sweeney (who has lost some of the luster off of his shine due to a difficulty to adapt to MLB pitching from AAA, though still 22) was the White Sox top prospect entering the 2007 season and would fall in line with a Trevor Crowe, if the BPro rankings are to be believed.

Realizing that prospects are just that and are no certainty to pan out while Swisher has a MLB-track record that projects success, that’s still an awful lot of talent to give up for a player who may or may not be around when the necessary rebuilding (if it ever comes to pass on the South Side) starts to bear fruit.

By the way, if you click on the White Sox prospects page again, note that the player they gave up for Carlos Quentin (Chris Carter) is ranked #4 on the list compiled a mere two months ago, meaning that the White Sox have traded their #1, #2, #4, and #8 prospects to add Swisher and Quentin.
Not exactly akin to netting Miggy Cabrera for your top prospects.

I have heard the argument that the White Sox still have veterans (Konerko, Buehrle, Dye, etc.) that can be moved for prospects to fill the cupboard again, but isn’t this just akin to an organization spinning its wheels? It is a trap not uncommon among MLB teams – unsure of whether they are poised to compete or not, they begin the unending cycle of trading prospects for big leaguers, then trading big leaguers for prospects – never actually tearing down or building, just staying in a suspended state of mediocrity. The net result is a mish-mash of players cobbled together through trades and FA without a true strategy to prevent the team from ending up year after year in the middle of the pool, treading water.

Perhaps I’m looking too deeply at the Swisher deal, and the “Konerko to LA” rumor and giving them too much symbolism as an organizational “game plan” (or lack thereof) from the South Side, but if the White Sox are eager to tread water for a few years while they fool themselves into thinking that they’re going to contend in 2008, digging themselves a deeper hole for future incarnations of the Pale Hose, I’m glad they’re in the AL Central.
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In case you haven’t noticed (and judging by the hits to the 1986 Take 2 site…you haven’t), your humble host has the 1986 Tribe on the brink of respectability, flirting with the .500 mark at 25-31 (sadly, I can seemingly get no closer to .500) and ahead of Curt Schilling’s Red Sox.

Does Curt know that Boston made the World Series that year?
Because right now, the AL Champs are looking up at the Tribe. A small victory to this point for the manager, but still a nice feeling.
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Finally, speaking of the 1986 Tribe, I recently received some correspondence from the REAL Pat Tabler (you know, this guy), who complimented me on the site here, but asked if I could change the name that I posted the stories under to my own instead of his as he is a broadcaster for the Toronto Blue Jays and wouldn’t want players that he has daily contact with thinking that he was blogging about them or having anyone mistakenly attributing my thoughts to him.

As no harm was ever meant in my early decision to use Pat Tabler’s name as simply a pseudonym (and merely an homage to my favorite player growing up) chosen back in the infancy of The DiaTribe and would hope that most people had already realized that (unless people thought that the Tabbie Cat had a LOT of extra time on his hands and REALLY followed the Tribe this closely still) Tabler isn’t the one writing the content here, I have no problem emerging from behind the curtain and posting under my real name – Paul Cousineau – as I already do on www.theclevelandfan.com.

Tabler graciously included some signed 8” x 10” photos and cards as well as a thoughtfully hand-written letter, so no harm – no foul.

But I figured I should at least address it, as the “author name” is shown at the end of every post, lest anyone think that a new writer had emerged to provide content. It is still little old me behind the curtain, committing entirely too much of my free time to thinking about the Tribe.

10 comments:

Voltaire said...

I love the new countdown clock! I have a similar one running on my desktop.

t-bone said...

Wow, the REAL Pat Tabler. Amazing.

Rockdawg said...

The real Pat Tabler sending you a handwritten note is classic. It is almost beyond comprehension.

doby14 said...

You should have held out for more-- maybe a dinner with the DiaBride and the Tabler's on a Jay's visit to Cleveland!!
re: Take 2... I checked it a few times, but can't handle the flashbacks. It is cool you are ahead of Schilling. Bring home a winner, coach.

Cy Slapnicka said...

I say change your stage name to Joey Belle and see if you can get Albert to chase Patrick down while trick-or-treating.

Lucky for me, Cyril Charles (CC?) Slapnicka finished his playing career in 1918 and officially checked out in '79.

Cy Slapnicka said...

""Clemens' good reputation has been severely injured," the suit said. "McNamee's false allegations have also caused Clemens to suffer mental anguish, shame, public humiliation and embarrassment.""

I don't see how he can sue for that when he suffered all those conditions last season just by playing?

Ron Vallo said...

Great analysis of the SOX/A's trade, Paul.

Glad to see you've shed the pseudonym. He was a good player, and great with the bases loaded, but I doubt he writes as incisively as you do.

Cy Slapnicka said...

can someone explain to me why we would extend romeo's contract now? he's had one good season, shown some significant weaknesses in the past, and has 2 more years on his current deal. what does extending him now get us? why not see how next season plays out?

Cy Slapnicka said...

i want to know what the diabride would do if she woke up to you walking around in this with tabler written on the back?

Paul Cousineau said...

That's a sweet robe.
Almost better than the ratty one that I wear over my old man pajamas (the ones that button up the front with the collar and breast pocket) as I sip my coffee on a Lazy Sunday.