Friday, April 18, 2008

One Man’s Trash

Obviously one game a season does not make - but…boy, did that feel nice and HOPEFULLY will serve as the impetus for some sort of turnaround for this team, both in terms of pitching (the bullpen is still a work in progress and Indians’ Farm Guru Tony Lastoria tells me that Stomp Lewis was hitting 93 MPH last April in Akron, so throw the “his velocity has historically taken a while to warm up” explanation out the window when trying to explain why his MPH tops out at 87 MPH) and to get the hitters to stop pressing. But, as I began, one game doesn’t mean that all of the problems magically disappear, it just makes you feel better until the next game starts.

In the same vein, it’s time to acknowledge what we’ve all said for a while – that Jason Michaels has no place on this team – and start thinking of solutions to the “problem”. Now, for a moment, let’s all forget that Carson Kressley is currently posting a .139 BA / .195 OBP / .167 SLG / .362 OPS line with 5 RBI on the season (this INCLUDES his 2 for 3 night last night with 3 RBI) for the Indians, that he’s not overcoming his offensive deficiencies by playing an outstanding LF, and that he’s ostensibly blocking two youngsters with higher upsides from getting everyday AB for the Tribe…OK?

Remembering the famous “Garbage Barge” of 1987, rather than just moaning about our situation and hopelessness of it, let’s try to figure out a way to get Michaels off of our roster without resorting to the final option, which would be to simply cut him and eat his salary, which I’m not saying shouldn’t be done and very seriously think could happen very soon. But before simply throwing the flotsam overboard, let’s see if we can find a port that we can pull this pontoon into.

Remember, we’re talking about trying to unload a useless piece of our roster, so let’s put some spit on this rotten apple and try to shine him up real pretty so another team might find him useful.

Jason Michaels is, ideally, a RH outfielder who has experienced success against LHP in his career, has the ability to play all three OF positions, and possesses some speed on the basepaths (assuming he can get on). In reality, he is essentially a depth OF or a 4th OF who can augment a LH heavy OF or, at the very least, represent a pinch-hitting option from the right side of the dish and serve as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch runner for a team.

Knowing then what he is, or what he should be, what teams may actually find have a use for a player like Michaels on their roster or could find some worth in Mr. Perfect?

As promised earlier in the week, let’s take a trip around MLB:
Mariners
Probably the best destination that I can come up with, mainly because the Mariners boast three LH OF (Raul Ibanez, Ichiro, Brad Wilkerson) with RH Willie Bloomquist and RH Greg Norton constituting the team’s OF depth.

Is Michaels an upgrade over Bloomquist or Norton against LHP to perhaps pinch-hit for Wilkerson against a nasty LHP?
Here are their career numbers vs. LHP:
Michaels - .294 BA / .376 OBP / .450 SLG / .826 OPS
Bloomquist - .266 BA / .322 OBP / .362 SLG / .684 OPS
Norton - .225 BA / .306 OBP / .334 SLG / .641 OPS

On the surface, Michaels would be a better option than the current back-up outfielders for the Mariners, particularly given his versatility (Norton can only play the corners and Bloomquist has played only 71 games in CF…about ½ of Michaels’ career 139 games in CF). Given the Mariners’ propensity for trading for our platoon players (Benuardo, who netted the BLC and Asdrubal) or players going nowhere with the Tribe (Jason Dangerously), why interrupt this time-honored tradition of useless Indians finding a new home in the Pacific Northwest? The only speed bump to the deal may be that Adam Jones was included as part of the Bedard deal and can’t find his way to the North Coast in exchange for Jason the Wet…I kid, I kid.

Padres
Anyone else think that Michaels needs to go back to the NL…you know, from whence he came? Maybe sunny San Diego is the place for him to maximize his “Sun-In” use. And, amazingly, Michaels may actually be better than their current starting LF, Scott Hairston, and the team has no real options past him to take AB away from him or provide insurance for him, particularly from the right side of the dish.

Hairston is a 28-year-old who played well for the Padres in his brief stint with the team last year, but (like Michaels) he is what he is. Even if Michaels is an upgrade over Justin Huber on the bench, maybe the San Diego Front Office feel that their second addition from the Indians in the past couple of years could improve the overall depth of their team or even provide insurance for their starting CF Jim Edmonds (age 38) or starting RF Brian Giles (age 37).

Giants
The OF not named Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn on their roster are Rajai Davis (R) , Dan Ortmeier (R), Fred Lewis (L), and John Bowker (L). Surely Jason Michaels would be seen as a better option than ONE of the two right-handed 27-year-old outfielders (Davis and Ortmeier) with 433 career at-bats BETWEEN them. While the amount of career at-bats certainly doesn’t count as the end-all indicator of a player’s value, Michaels had 494 AB in one SEASON.

Certainly the 32-year-old Michaels would fit in better with the Giants’ team concept of starting almost exclusively over-the-hill has-beens (5 of their 8 position players are over 30…and that doesn’t include the injured Omar) than Rajai Davis, who is “only” 27.

Blue Jays
With John McDonald AND Super Joe Inglett taking up two spots on Toronto’s roster, they’ve shown a predilection for offensively-challenged former Indians, so let’s throw another log on the fire. As of today, the Blue Jays’ LF options include Shannon Stewart, who hasn’t posted an OPS over .800 since 2004 and a 40-year-old Matt Stairs.

The 34-year-old Stewart’s game was, at one point, a high OBP and SB; but an OPS of .581 vs. LHP last year show that he’s simply no longer an everyday player. While Stairs had some success against LHP in 2007 (.818 OPS), he does have a .752 career OPS vs. LHP (remember, Michaels’ is .826) and at 40, it’s not as if Stairs is going to show marked improvement as he gets older (unless he’s on the Barry Bonds career arc).

Other possible options:
Mets
The only RH bats off of the Metropolitans’ bench are Damion Easley and Brady Clark. Is Michaels an upgrade over those two? Who knows, but with so many of their players being registered AARP members, if Michaels went to Queens it would constitute a “youth movement”.

Phillies
A return to the “Cradle of Liberty” didn’t make the main list as Jayson Werth is essentially a younger, more productive version of Michaels, making the need for Michaels in Philly not a real pressing one.

Rangers
They count Marlon Byrd as their RH option of the bench to augment the starting outfield of David Murphy (L), Josh Hamilton (L), and Milton Bradley (S). Marlon Byrd to me is just like Jason Michaels, so the Rangers would just be spinning their wheels here. However, since this “spinning their wheels” strategy seems to be their modus operandi, it can’t be ruled out.

Regardless of where he ends up, he’s not going to be in an Indians’ uniform for very much longer if he continues to play as he has. If the Indians can get something for him, all the better; if not, his perpetually wet hair will be missed…by very few.

18 comments:

Halifax said...

Speaking of hard to move -- Neal Huntington is desperately trying to deal Matt Morris and his $10 million owed.

Maybe we can do one of two things:

1) Deal him Jason Michaels in some whacked out trade, or

2) Tell him we'll take on his pink elephant (and his $10 million) if he lets Jason Bay tag along.

You never know, that's a lot of bucks for the Pirates. If we give them Michaels, Francisco, Shoppach and a pitcher . . .

ok, wishful thinking.

Halifax said...

uses? Morris could be our veteran leadership in the clubhouse and long man that never sees the field except in a blowout.

C.C. Ya Later said...

Halifax,

Dellucci
2008 - .276 | 1 HR | 4 RBI
Career - .261 | 27.5 AB/HR

Bay
2008 - .255 | 3 HR | 5 RBI
Career - .281 | 18.6 AB/HR

Bay may get the edge in power, but I don’t see how this upgrade is worthy of our back-up catcher (don’t forget about Martinez rolling into second in the opener), potential future left fielder and best minor league starting pitcher (you mentioned Laffey in a similar comment yesterday -- Lee and Westbrook both spent a month on the DL last year, not to mention C.C.'s likely departure at the end of the year).

Halifax said...

I guess I say that because:

A) Obviously if Francisco hasn't played by now he's going to sit there and rot (until someone gets hurt -- Dellucci)

B) If you get fair value back for Shoppach he's worth more to trade than to keep. Maybe my package was too much to give. But you have to give to get.

c) Bay's been considerably higher over the last 4-5 years in power numbers (OPS hovering around .900 to DD's .800). This is due to his higher power numbers but also a better OBP.

Considering Dellucci doesn't play everyday and Bay would, Bay would have more value. You're not getting rid of DD, he's still there as fourth OF or to split time with Gutz and Bay, also giving you a swell PH with power on your bench.

All in all, I'm looking at having another RH power presence in the dimle of this order that might cause more consternation for opposing pitchers. It really changes the dynamics of this lineup. You could have Bay hitting fifth instead of Peralta, leave Garko alone and slot Jhonny in after him.

Instead of Pronk, Victor, Jhonny, Garko, Question mark you would then have

Pronk, Victor, Bay, Garko, Peralta

which seems a little more to wade through to me.

Halifax said...

Grady
Cabrera/Blake/Dellucci
Pronk
Victor
Bay
Garko
Peralta
Gutierrez
Blake/Cabrera

It just leaves less holes

C.C. Ya Later said...

Rosenthal's AL Report. (click to watch video)

I had to watch this a couple times, could not believe my ears.

Mentions Tribe’s only standouts are Garko, Dellucci, Westbrook and Lee. Apparently a catcher batting .368 is not that impressive and how Dellcucci’s can be included above is beyond me.

I always thought that Rosenthal’s reporting was better than most, but WOW!

Ryan said...

I don't see how the Tribe makes that trade. Their strength is their organizational depth over a 162 game season.

Losing Shoppach places our best insurance policy for Vic in AA, with McBride likely out for a good chunk of the year already.

Losing Laffey leaves us with very little depth at pitching next year assuming CC hits the road. It would likely forces us to count heavily on Adam Miller making a large contribution to the 2009 season.

Throw in the fact that each of these guys are make around $400K compared to two years of Bay for $14 mill. I just can not see the Indians giving up that much depth in 1 trade for a player that is not a sure thing to rebound from an awful season.

If they could get away with Laffey and a young OF, I say make the deal. Just do not see a way to give up Vic's insurance policy, and putting the team one bad hamstring away from an injury they likely could not recover from.

Just my 2 cents.

Don'tCallMeJoey said...

First of all I want to say how much I appreciate the work that goes into this website. I love to read other people's opinions on the happenings of the Tribe now that I am no longer living in the area.

I particularly like the nicknames given to most of the players. (I find myself singing - to myself - Sixteen Tons each time either of the Raffys get the call from the bullpen.) I laughed out loud when I read the comparison of Carson Kressley to J-Mike. That's great! It is in that spirit that I would like to suggest a nickname for David Dellucci. I think his new nickname should be "Susan D-Lucci" or "Susan DeLucci", an obvious reference to the often Emmy-nominated Soap actress. I think the name is perfect for David for a couple of reasons:
1) I believe he is only "acting" like a major league baseball player.
2) It's really funny when he comes up to bat, and you say to yourself, "Alright, Susan, try to put a decent swing at a pitch this time."
Try it. I think you'll enjoy it.

Let me know what you think.
Go TRIBE!

Halifax said...

Ryan, When it comes right down to it I probably fail to pull the trigger on that one, too (although the deal would include that same catcher that was initially coming over in the fabled Lee deal).

They just need to do something. Probably just let Francisco play. Then again, his value is at its peak, and there's no guarantees he's the savior either.

Ryan said...

I know where you're coming from, it's frustrating watching these guys waste at bats with men on night in and night out. But, like everyone in the organization is quick to remind the fan base, mid to small markets have less room for mistakes. And the $12 mill gamble that would be Bay for Francisco just doesn't seem to be worth it for this team.

All I know, is that after watching Shapiro on ESPN with the Bulldog, the guy gets it. Did anyone hear the comment he made about getting reports from the minors on a nightly basis? They said that when he was there initially, it was all electronic. But, they found that the email didn't convey the emotions of their talent evaluators well enough, so they switched to a voice mail system. This is how detailed the men that run the Indians organization are, and I couldn't be happier.

Paul Cousineau said...

Fax,
Gotta go with Tyler and Ryan on this as the Jason Bay debate raged all off-season and those two effectively laid out the reasons why I think the cons outweigh the pros on the proposed deal you mention (which was the one that was most frequently reported by the Pittsburgh press).

DCMJ,
If Dellucci falls on hard times again, the Susan D. Lucci is definitely getting worked into the rotation. For now, with him playing fairly well, I'll hold off on calling him a girl...again, for now.

Ryan,
Not sure if you caught Fire Joe Morgan's take on Shapiro and Steve Phillips' banter during Monday's game (I was at the game and missed it and will post a link for FJM's piece on Lazy Sunday), but it was about as good as it gets in terms of how the Indians do their business as opposed to the old "business as usual" model. Truthfully, MOST things I read about the way that the Tribe brass makes decisions makes complete sense to me and makes me happy they're forming our team.

Cali_Buckeye said...

I think everyone is forgetting there is another team out there that can use a RH bat off the bench. The Reds could use one, I say give them both of our LF, keep TBFT time in left with the Beard, like Paul says and he can hook up with BLC when he comes up. There is a kid in Louisville right now that we could really use, Marcus McBeth, a really great pithcer that I think we could get from the Reds

R.M. Jennings said...

Who is this Cliff Lee fellow? Did he steal C.C.'s mojo?

He looks like a guy the Indians had in 2005, only better.

minktrapper said...

Well r.m., I know for a fact that UPS delivered a big ole tubb of Crisco last week (yes, they still make the stuff)(5 gallons I think it was)
Cliff sure made it look easy tonite, I hope C.C. took some notes.

Rockdawg said...
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Rockdawg said...
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Rockdawg said...

Another reason for "Susuan D-Lucchi"....he throws like a girl. I bet at least one of the Tribe wives has a better arm than him in left.

One more, and we're finally on something called a "winning streak", Lou Brown would be so proud.

Did anyone get get the name of that bearded 3rd baseman last night that actually drove in 3 runs? Never seen that guy before.

On a completely unrelated note, I was with a DIE HARD Pistons fan last night, who admitted to me that he found himself rooting for Lebron in the middle of "The Game" in last year's playoffs. Then he made me swear that I would never tell all his buddies from Detriot. Playoffs start today at noon, let's see how far the kid can carry us this year!!!

C.C. Ya Later said...

Paul,

Have you ever done a piece on the business of baseball.

I think as Cleveland fans we see the offseason deals the Browns make and the trade deadline deal the Cavs made and come to expect the same from the Indians.

And from what I can tell its not that simple. You seem to know what your talking about and I wonder if you had ever written about it or if you knew where to get an overview on how this works.

Thanks.