Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lazy Sunday with a Familiar Topic

If you feel like Lazy Sunday has turned into a dumping ground for discussion on the “Whither C.C.?” party, you’re not alone. But, it being the most written and talked about topic, I would be remiss if I didn’t take it head-on, regardless of the fact that the Trading Deadline is about a month away and with the Indians heading to Chicago tomorrow to see if they can take care of some divisional business themselves.

First and foremost is the new report of what would likely constitute a final offer to C.C. from the team, which conspiracy theorists would have you believe is a way for the Indians to save face when C.C. turns it down. Without getting into how skeptical of everything in life you must be to truly think that, does anyone think that SUDDENLY he’s going to reconsider with obscene amount of money and security…more than the Tribe figures to offer…mere months away? C.C. will not be an Indians when the 2009 season starts and the reason is that he won’t take anything less than a guaranteed six or seven years, which history has taught us is a contract too long for starting pitchers.

Take this report (reported by the NY media, who will print anything) for what it is – the Indians are seriously considering moving C.C. and it would be irresponsible of them to do so before throwing their best offer on the table and seeing if the Big Fella bites.
If he accepts it (he won’t), the trade discussion is off the table.
If he rejects it (he will), the Indians continue with their due diligence before making a determination on what to do with him and, if they decide to trade him, what to ask for.

There’s nothing more sinister at play here, it’s simply a matter of the team asking, one last time, if C.C. is willing to accept the deal that the club is comfortable offering.
Think of it this way, what if C.C. gets traded and says after the trade, “you know all they had to do was sit back down with me and maybe we could have worked something out…because I wanted to stay” – everyone would rip the Tribe up and down for not making one last-ditch effort while they were the only team that held exclusive negotiating rights. That’s all this is…one last-ditch effort to sign him as part of the overarching organizational analysis of whether he stays or goes prior to August 1st.

Moving on, as we all know, the national reporters have taken the C.C. trade discussions to new levels as all of the principals are here with thoughts. Jon Heyman hits on it on (note that he doesn’t list the Byrdman in his Top 10 starters who could be available) while Jayson Stark addresses the C.C. topic while touching on a few more Indians who could be ordering new return address labels soon and Ken Rosenthal gets in on the action, addressing the possibility that C.C. AND Blake could be trade fodder.

On the same topic from the local angle, Erik Cassano lists his Indians who might be traded, in order of likelihood, which looks about right to me, given the heavy weighting at the top of players who don’t figure into long-term plans with the players whose future with the team has become murkier this season addressed down the list. Meanwhile, Paul Hoynes touches on the C.C. thing with a brief synopsis of where we are today, if lacking in any new information, and how the next three series (in Chicago, in Minnesota, and in Detroit) will basically make the decision on the season as the Indians have some opportunity to make up ground in the Central. If they don’t make serious gains in the GB column by the time the team welcomes the Rays to Cleveland, just before the All Star Break, the white flag may be waiting for them at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario when they arrive home.

Surprisingly, though, not everyone is fully convinced that the Indians should give up the ship (I mean other than on this site) as Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus feels that the Indians should be “buyers” instead of “sellers” in the winnable AL Central, despite their recent struggles. I think that some of Sheehan’s reasoning is flawed as the improvements that he portends for the likes of Garko, Peralta, and Betancourt look awfully hard to see with each passing day; but the argument is there, based mainly on the fact that the top of their rotation is as solid as any (with Fausto coming back around the All-Star Break) and the fact that the Central remains a crapshoot as weeks pass.

Back to the C.C. thing and climbing up on a soapbox, it still feels awfully early to start attaching names and teams to C.C. as much can change in divisional races prior to July 31st, much less in the Central. That is, the Brewers are just as likely to go on a run to pull themselves close with the Cubs or gain a commanding lead in the Wild Card race as they are to having the bottom drop out and find themselves in a similar situation to the Indians, looking to sell off pieces like Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne. The same goes for the Dodgers, the Rays, or any other team alleged to be in the mix.

The only argument that makes sense to me on trading C.C. now instead of waiting for a month is the idea that trading C.C. now means that his new team has one more month of C.C. to help their team which, in turn, drives up his price. If the Indians TRULY feel that there is no chance for them to climb back into the AL Central race and even a hot couple of weeks aren’t going to change their mind that C.C. WILL be traded, trading him now actually makes more sense than waiting it out. If the writing is on the wall (and I am not sure that it is, perhaps stubbornly, based on the rest of the AL Central and the fact that the Tribe’s starting pitching is pretty impressive), then one more month of C.C.’s starts would mean more to a team intent on contending, meaning that they would be more inclined to give up more to get him.

With all of that being said, let me reiterate the main point on trading the Hefty Lefty:
If the Indians make the determination that 2008 is a wash and turn their attention to 2009 (which is STILL not a foregone conclusion in my mind, given the state of the Central and the fact that Carmona is about 2-3 weeks away from returning), C.C. is the biggest chip that the Indians have to play in this trade market and the return that they should hold out for in exchange for him should be MLB-ready players, not “high-ceiling” AA guys or players that COULD contribute in 2009.

If, say, the Indians DO trade C.C. on July 31st, I want our lineup for the parent club on August 1st or August 2nd to contain a player (or players) that were obtained for the Crooked Cap. If they trade him before that…fine, as long as the players that come to Cleveland are sitting in or near the middle of the lineup for the Indians as soon as they join the team. I’m not interested in the principal player in the acquisition needing more “seasoning” in AAA or a player who has mashed all of this year…at AA or high A.

If we’re trading C.C., I want someone who can contribute at the big league level TODAY! The reasoning being that this is not 2002, when the team was a collection of overpaid, aging players that can’t be counted on going forward (as much as the people that can’t stand Lacey Cake and The Looch and what they “represent”, only Jamey Carroll joins them as “regulars” over 31) and need to be jettisoned for sorely-needed young talent. Consider that the 2002 team had three players UNDER 30 in Milton Bradley (24), Russell the Muscle (26), and Einar Diaz (29), so the roster and the whole organization was in need of an injection of youth, even if it took a while for the acquisitions to mature into MLB players.
Time was not of the essence in 2002, development with an eye toward the future was.

Not so in 2008, where pieces ARE in place as the Indians still boast a 24-year old ace who flummoxes hitters and makes them feel “hungover” with his nastiness, a groundball-inducing 23-year old LHP with an ERA of 2.83 in his 1st ML season, a 29-year-old LHP who will probably start the AL All-Star game by totaling 11 wins in ½ of the season on a team with only 37 wins, a 25-year-old perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winning CF, a slick-fielding 22-year-old Middle IF who has taken any frustration for his recent demotion out on International League pitchers, and a catcher and a DH under the age of 31 whose three year averages from 2005 to 2007 give them OPS of .971 (Hafner) and .863 (Victor), meaning that track record for the past few years dictates that 2008 is likely the aberration and (hopefully) not the trend.

Are there holes to fill?
No question, but the team is not as hopeless or without talent as the people who sense an impending 15-year stretch of bad baseball (and, trust me, they’re out there) and see a team that needs to be rebuilt…again. Talent (and young, elite, MLB talent at that) does exist on this roster, it simply needs to be augmented properly, from within and from the outside, to get back to the level of winning that 2007 seemed to promise.

In short, I’m not looking for a REBUILD if (note the “if”, not a “when”) the Indians figure to sell off pieces and parts that don’t fit in their long-term plans. Rather, I’m looking for a RELOAD that surrounds a rotation built around Carmona, Lee, and Laffey for next year and a lineup built around Grady, with the hopes that Victor and Hafner can get healthy and productive, with progressions from the likes of Francisco and Asbrubal, and with Garko and Peralta (assuming they’re both still around, which is no given) taking the next step as players who don’t simply mire in the mediocrity that has been their 2008.

Rebuilding is not a word that should be in the Indians’ vocabulary, given the amount of talent under club control for the foreseeable future…retooling or reloading would fit the bill better to me and that approach should be the one that the Front Office takes as they make the determination on cashing in some of their chips.

OK, down from the soapbox.
Does anyone else think that the retro jerseys that the Tribe wore against the Padres a few weeks back should be made available? This picture is the hat and jersey I’ve been scouring the online stores for and have yet to find it…then the Indians tease me by wearing the jersey that I grew up loving?

Time to see if the Tribe can get some momentum for the all-important road trip coming up here by winning a series against a Reds team that looks to have packed it in a few weeks ago.


Rockdawg said...

My favorite part of the Heyman article was how he describes "The Close", which for some reason he ranks in the top 10 relievers teams may want to trade for. His description of Joe Blow is "All guts, no stuff. Good luck."

csusi said...

im with you all the way on the picking up of a player(s) that is set and ready to be thrown into our lineup and contribute now. ive said it before, but im just not a fan of swapping cc out for somebody that we hope can make their way to the big leagues.

watching these last 2 games, i wish i would have counted how many times i heard the word "stranded" come out of underwood and mannings mouth. i would guess, plenty.

its funny you bring up the 70's uni's. i just got in the mail a week and a half ago one of the hats. i got it off ebay for $1.80. its got the mesh back which isnt exactly "authentic", but i can dig on the trucker hat.

looking to sweep this white sox series. with, sowers/lee/cc the chance is there. gosh, this could be big time.

Unknown said...

Love you work. You can pick up the retro jersey in the back of the team shop at the Jake.

csusi said...

is anybody else thinking that starting tonight, we're walking into the make it or break it zone. a little nerve racking, im not gonna lie. i want this series from the white sox more than ive wanted any series this year.

but, starting tonight until the 10th of july you got to figure the central is gonna get stirred. my hope is that after the stirring has taken place, the tribe has floated to the top.

please indians, please! dont go doing me wrong.

everybody get focused. get ya head in the game. its go time.

Rockdawg said...

By "Go Time", do you mean "Going Down in Flames?" I think I'm about ready to hop off the optimism train. Haven't done it yet, but I feel like John Rambo during one of the last scenes of First Blood...You know the scene:

"It's over Johnny...It's over!"

Rambo in complete denial -- "NOTHING IS OVER!"

After explaining how his buddy got blown to bits in Vietnam (in my case, the Tribe), he then breaks down in a fetal position crying.

csusi said...

rockdowg pushing play on the boy II men "end of the road" track. well, im pushing pause. (probably the dumbest thing ive ever typed.

and when it comes to rambo, that joker never quit trucking. hes bigger and badder than ever and still making meaningless sequels. so.....i dont know what i meant by that.

go ahead. jump off the train, but when we take this series from the white sox, know that this locomotive will be cruising at a speed that shall make it difficult to jump back on board. (probably the 2nd dumbest things ive ever typed)

come on man. it aint over. hang tight, at least until these 3 divisional series.

20 minutes till game time.


Baltimoran said...

PC can you make this a CLEVELAND GLADIATOR site for a few weeks, that was an exciting game, kind of glad Thome and "the hawk" made me go back to the Arena League.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, but if I wanted to be snarky -- and snark seems to the MO of this site sometimes -- I could ask some of you what color is the sky in your world, but I guess I won't.... If the interleague slate wasn't enough to expose this team as a non-contender I don't know what it will take, but Shapiro, if he has the long-term best interests of the organization at heart, should certainly be dealing Sabathia sooner rather than later... in fact, if they lose Tuesday night to fall 11.5 games behind, I think some might say it's reasonable to think that Sabathia should be starting Wednesday night for the Brewers...

Call me cynical or call me a pessimist, but I really don't share your view of the available "talent" on hand or in the organization....Laffey's a "nice" prospect but I don't get the adulation he's getting.... he's another out of the "pitch to contact" mold and he's registered just 32Ks (with a very uninspiring 32/20 K/BB ratio) in 75 IPs... not exactly the stuff of the second coming of Steve Carlton...I know this is a tricky way to judge effectiveness, with bullpen failures and all, but the last Indian starter not named Sabathia or Lee to get a win was Laffey back on June 12; that doesn't strike me as having a deep starting staff, but rather two dominant pitchers and three guys you trot out there and hope for the best (I know about the injuries, too...but since people are talking about making a move, you have to deal with the talent on hand).....I think we've seen Byrd's pitching batting practice lately and the more Sowers trots out there, the more and more he looks like a poor-mans Barry Zito (and that's not the Cy Young winning Zito model either)...Sure Carmona's ERA was very good before he was hurt, but we some of his success had to attributable to pitching in some good luck... how else to explain him winning with an atrocious 23/38 K/BB ratio... there's no way he could continue that trend and be a successful MLB pitcher (or can continue it when he comes back)...

I think the weaknesses of the hunt-and-peck offense and inconsistent Russian Roulette bullpen have already been touched on ad naseum...

As to the system.... Where are the impact bats in the upper levels...Triple A is devoid of anyone who I would consider a potential middle of the order hitter (sorry, not buying on Jordan Brown and his 3 HRs in 230 ABs)... Double A does at least have Wes Hodges, who provides some hope of being a 3b of the future but after that it's pretty slim (Trevor Crowe's resurgence notwithstanding... although I am still far from sold on him, but if he would make it, it would drastically help the Indians, since they maybe could eventually move Sizemore down in the order... but if Wedge was forced to do that, his head might explode)....

Sorry, I know they don't fit your criteria for MLB ready talent, but if Shapiro was on the phone with Milwaukee and they offered up Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta for Sabathia, he should break all sorts of speed records in calling that in to the MLB offices in NYC(hell, they can even throw in a lower level prospect, but it's not necessary in my mind if they offer up that pair)... they're both in Double A, but absolutely destroying Southern Leaugue pitching, so I can't say that they're more than a calender year away from contributing to some MLB team... maybe not Milwaukee, since Gamel sucks at 3B and is probably looking at a Ryan Braun position switch and LaPorta is also suspect in LF and is probably more of a 1B... But, hell, if you get two IMPACT bats like that, you sort out where they'll play later and just worry about getting their bats in the lineup...but if Blake and Dellucci were still on the team, Wedge would probably give them ABs over Gamel and LaPorta...

That's the kind of trade that can keep the Indians' window of opportunity open for the foreseeable future, especially in a division that doesn't appear especially strong... but anyone who doesn't think the ship has sailed on this season is just kidding themselves....

Paul Cousineau said...

The sky's always blue in my world as life's been pretty good to me...but that has nothing to do with the Tribe.

I appreciate your post for presenting the opposite side of the coin that I laid out as snarkily as possible (as is my wont). I do agree with you that trading Sabathia sooner rather than later is probably in the Tribe's best interests given the fact that the team, as it stands now, isn't going to make that run that we've been patiently waiting for. As long as they don't think that a bidding war will intensify as July 31st approaches, driving up the return, it is a pretty compelling argument to deal C.C. now to increase his trade value by giving his new team a few more starts.

I'm well aware of Gamel and LaPorta and think that they are great prospects who are crushing AA pitching. However, the list of players whose career stalled somewhere between Erie and Cooperstown is long and well-documented. I'm not interested in a guy or guys who MIGHT pan out and as good as Gamel and LaPorta look now, AA success doesn't always mean MLB success.

And I guess that's the crux of it for me - if the Rangers received some MLB-ready talent for Teixeira (even if it was for a year and a half) and Gagne, why can't the Indians demand that to be the return?

I agree with you on the lack of impact hitters at the upper levels and think that this is the opportunity to replenish the cupboard, but I'm not interested in a player who is at the same developmental stage as Wes Hodges or Trevor Crowe (who I am equally unsold on), where contributions to the big league club could be as far away as 2010.

I will, however, take exception on the assertion that the pitching isn't still in a good place for 2009 and beyond. Nobody said that Laffey was Steve Carlton...he is, though, a solid #3 starter in the Jake Westbrook mold. I'm not sold on Sowers either, but I could see either him or David Huff taking the #5 reins adequately for 2009. I think the team needs to add another starter to make the 2009 rotation look like this:
But isn't that what this discussion and process (and the contracts of C.C., Byrd, The Close, and Blake coming off the books) all about?

The time has come...and it's up to the Front Office (as skeptical and dismissive as you may be of them and Wedge) to augment the current roster with players that put the team in the best position to win in 2009, not somewhere in the future.

Back to an earlier comment, Chris, thanks for the heads-up on the jersey. A trip to the Team Shop at the Jake is certainly in order.

Rockdawg said...

Good call B-Morian...GO GLADIATORS!! I'll watch anything that gets Bernie some air time.

Let's be real about Sowers...he is 0-4 with a 7.53 ERA. Not exactly 5th starter-type numbers. Last night, I couldn't tell if that was a major league pitcher, or if that was Carmen Russo Sr. throwing underhand in little league. Could this be a case that major leauge hitters have "figured him out"? (even though I HATE that term to explain slumps)

In an interview for Team USA, Lebron stated that his favorite city is New York, and his favorite burrough is Brooklyn...ouch. Cleveland wasn't even in his top five favorite cities....double ouch.

Baltimoran said...

i still think sowers can pull it least enough to be a solid #5 next year

I used to crush Russo old man was unhittable mostly because he threw behind kids and led the league in hit children during his short career in father's pitch.

As pluto says, 2 years is a long time, i'll start worrying about lebron if they suck in 2010.

rodells said...

So I'm sitting right now at a hotel bar/restaurant somewhere in The Middle Of Nowhere Wisconsin (Eau Claire to be exact)...drunk not on my dollar with a double duce in the room...scorching the innnnerwebs in my booth on this kick ass free wireless...watching the Brewers, a nice ball squad by the way, handle the Big Unit in Arizona...and I see Pops getting bamboozeled (yeah check that spelling) on the famous diatribe website.

Let's just get to the point here....Sowers is getting slammed much like Pops Sr, but J Sowers doesn't have the Hammer Brothers tearing the cover off the ball, just guys like Thome and Swisher. Advantage, Russo. Sign him up.

Blake just homered!

rodells said...

And then The Close opens the door.

csusi said...

borowski's manhood could fall off in his sleep tonight and i wouldnt even think about feeling bad for him.

unbelievable that he has a job in baseball. unbelievable.

t-bone said...

Uncle... UNCLE!!!