Sunday, July 27, 2008

Casey Sunday

Having already touched on the principals of the trade that sent Casey to the Left Coast for what looks like a close-to-MLB-ready reliever who specializes in strikeouts at the age of 23 and a catcher whose line as a 22-year-old in A-ball is about as good as you’re going to see for a player in the minors, let us all give thanks for what was just acquired…for (as much as it pained The DiaBride this morning to see the picture of her beloved Casey in Dodger Blue) Casey Blake.
Better yet, for 2 months of Casey Blake!

I was thinking a decent AA prospect that projected to be a fringe MLB player would be an awfully good return for 2 months of Casey Blake…and now this?

I get that Ned Colletti is not exactly highly-thought-of in some circles (one of those circles…um…does not like this trade, while being EXTREMELY informative on the players coming to the Tribe organization), but a guy who projects as back-of-the-bullpen arm, perhaps as early as 2009 and a catcher who walks more than he strikes out while leading the minors in RBI and Runs…for good old Casey Blake?

Don’t get me wrong, Casey has value as a player and his 2008 season has been a ray of light in an otherwise dark year, but Casey’s value is tied to his versatility to play multiple positions and his (sudden) ability to hit with RISP this year. If he’s slotted in as the everyday 3B and regresses to any sort of career mean in terms of his overall hitting numbers, how does this represent an upgrade over what the Dodgers have…all while blocking two young players who figure into their plans beyond this year?

But who am I to question or complain at this point?
Let’s all thank Casey for his contributions to the team, hope that Shapiro saying that he would like to bring back Blake next year (when he’s going to get too much money from someone who will only look at his 2008 season while ignoring that he’ll be 35 or his pre-2008 numbers) is just lip service, and focus on getting Jon “Bones” Meloan (last name pronounced like the trombonist for the “Blues Brothers”, which is where “Bones” comes from) back to the bullpen in the hopes that he is able to recapture the success (and K rate) that he had there in 2006 and 2007 in the minors and slot Carlos Santana down in Kinston, with an eye towards possibly getting him up to Akron (along with Mills and Weglarz) at some point perhaps this season.

Suddenly this farm system that looked bereft of upper-level talent and legitimate hitting prospects mere months ago is looking fuller with each passing day while Dodger fans are left to wonder what in the world just happened. Obviously, it took moving CC and Blake to restock the cupboard, but seeing as how neither figured to be in a Tribe uniform after this year regardless of where the Indians finished their 2008 season, this is certainly making the best of a bad situation.

It will be interesting to see if the acquisition of Carlos Sanatana affects the Indians’ decision on the much-ballyhooed PTBNL in the CC deal as reports that minor-league C Jonathon LuCroy was an option on that “list” of players for the Indians to choose from. While Santana and LuCroy are about the same age and have both excelled at the same level of the minors (though Santana has better numbers in an admittedly more offense-friendly league), I wonder if this acquisition puts LuCroy out of the running for the PTBNL. It’s been mentioned that Santana could be moved back to 3B (he, like Victor, is a converted infielder behind the dish) and having as many catchers in the system that can hit is never a bad thing. But I have to think that this puts LuCroy down the list, perhaps below Brantley (my preference right now) and Green, on the PTBNL ladder.

The real winner in the Blake deal, in the short term at least, is Andy Marte as NO even somewhat legitimate reason exists for him not to be in the everyday lineup. Unfortunately, with the number of games remaining being such a small percentage of the season, I’m not sure how much we’re going to learn about Marte or what numbers he would have to put up to stake a claim on 3B for himself.

If he goes out there and struggles, there’s no way they go into 2009 with him as the everyday 3B…because they could have done that back in May or June without much of a problem. If he thrives down the stretch (and by that I mean he would just have to crush everything to get back into good graces), I think he’d be an option at 3B for 2009 with no guarantee that his name would be written in permanent ink on a 2009 lineup card.

To a lesser degree, this trade benefits Ryan Garko as Gark has the opportunity now to salvage what looks like a lost season for him. His situation is different than Marte’s because of the body of work that he has already established in MLB (Garko has 979 MLB AB to Marte’s 378) and the fact that he has achieved some modicum of success prior to 2008 means that a solid final two months of the season could put Garko right back into the mix for 1B for 2009, whereas that ship may have already sailed for Marte. Of course, if Garko doesn’t turn it around to close out 2009, he could just be greasing his way out of the regular 1B spot for the coming years.

Both players will be given the opportunity to force their way into the plans for 2009 and beyond with Blake not taking AB away from anyone…that is, unless Michael Aubrey or Victor come to play some 1B or the Indians decide to see if Peralta can play 3B now instead of waiting for Winter Ball for a verdict.

For more information on the two prospects en route to the Tribe organization for Lacey Cake, here’s a write-up over at which gets me more excited about these two players and curious as to how the Indians were able to turn 2 months of Casey Blake into this. Additionally, Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus manages to make me only more excited by echoing what I’m feeling about this deal and the return that the Tribe was able to secure for Blake.

As usual, the only local writer weighing in on the trade with any semblance of perspective or insight is Terry Pluto, who hits all the high points of the trade and touches on the Tribe’s ability to acquire good talent from other organizations while struggling to do so in the draft.

On the other trade front, the Indians acquired RHP Anthony Reyes from St. Louis for minor league RH reliever Luis Perdomo. Most casual baseball fans will remember Reyes from his World Series performance against the Tigers, but Reyes has fallen on hard times since those days.
In AAA, Reyes has found success:
2.79 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 33 K, 11 BB in 38 2/3 IP over 6 stars
3.25 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 47 K, 21 BB in 52 2/3 IP over 11 starts

But get him up to St. Louis and watch out:
6.04 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 74 K, 43 BB in 107 1/3 IP over 20 starts
4.91 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10 K, 3 BB in 14 2/3 IP in 10 games (no starts)

Reports of Reyes butting heads with St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan have existed since early in his 2007 season (when, by the by, he went 2-14 for the Birds) with Duncan wanting Reyes to rely on his sinker and Reyes wanting to be more of a power pitcher. By all accounts, Reyes needed a fresh start in a new organization and, at the age of 26, he’ll get one with the Tribe.

Interestingly, Reyes is out of options after this year so the Indians will not have the luxury of stashing him in AAA in 2009 to see if they can refine his mechanics or approach or whatever happened to him as he went further and further down the ladder of viable starters in the StL. Reyes is an intriguing pick-up in that he was a very highly-thought-of prospect who likely needed a change of scenery to see if he can find any of that past promise or success elsewhere.

The Indians will likely get him to Cleveland at some point to start a few games this year (perhaps if Byrd is moved in the month of August) with the idea that he’ll compete for a starting role next year as it’s likely that the Tribe hope to fill two spots in the back end of their rotation from Reyes and their LH stable of pitchers (Laffey, Sowers, Huff), none of whom are any kind of sure thing…even Laffey these days.

The cost for seeing if Reyes is salvageable comes in 24-year-old RH reliever Luis Perdomo, who started the season in Kinston before being promoted to Akron. He posted great numbers in Kinston (0.92 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 43 K, 17 BB, 18 saves), but as a 24-year-old in A ball he almost had to if he had any hope of staying on the prospect radar. He had only appeared in 9 games in Akron when the trade was made to send him to the Cards, whiffing 17 (while walking 7) in the 15 1/3 IP he had seen in AA.

According to Tony Lastoria’s preseason preview of the Indians Top Prospects, Perdomo came in at #42 with the thought being that Perdomo projected as a “middle-of-the-bullpen” arm. At his age (Jenny Lewis, Mujica, and Stevens are also 24) and the fact that he has so many more levels that he would have to succeed at to be a viable ML option, Perdomo is an interesting power arm who the Cardinals must have coveted more than the Indians, seeing as how Perdomo wasn’t moved up more quickly than he has been, given his age and the success he’s experienced.

I think the important thing to remember on these acquisitions (and players leaving) is to consider the age of said players. Where some could look at Perdomo’s numbers and say, “why would we trade this guy if we need bullpen help”, it must be remembered that Perdomo has been playing in leagues with players two years younger than him, while the likes of Bones Meloan and Rob Bryson (the young power reliever from the CC deal) have thrived while being some of the younger players in their respective leagues.

All of that being said, the 2008 season just got a little more interesting to watch as the development of Meloan and Santana will go lock-step in following what Matt The Door and Rob Bryson are doing while the “PTBNL Watch” goes on. More talented bodies have arrived on the farm, it’s now up to the Indians to separate the wheat from the chaff to allow 2009 to be a year of potential contention and not just a springboard for 2010 and beyond.

Finally, it appears that I will be making my much-anticipated (by the DiaBride, at least) debut on TV as site friend Todd Dery, who runs the Dump Casey Blake website (wish granted, by the way, with a name change already made), is sitting in for Les Levine on his Time Warner show. Todd asked me to be his guest on the show on Wednesday night, which airs from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

I suppose if you finally want to see the “man behind the curtain”, tune in to mock me mercilessly from the comfort of your couch.


Anonymous said...

I've been calling LaPorta "Matt the Hoople" and I have no idea why. It's no "General Tsaowers" or "Stomp Lewis," but those haven't really brought their namesakes any luck, so maybe that's a good thing.

Not sure why you think Marte has to "thrive" to be considered our best option at 3B in 2009, barring another acquisition (or -- sigh -- getting Casey back). Hodges, our next best option, is playing merely well, not decisively great; it seems to me that at his age (only a year younger than Andy) he needs to show us a little Kouz before we can think of him as a big leaguer in 2009. So simply showing a good approach and discipline ought to be enough for Marte in my book.

We did totally fleece the Dodgers, to the extent that I can't really wrap my head around it. Meloan and Bryson make for some bullpen arms you can dream on, hey? And Jackson's been throwing well also.

RE: The Sabathia PTBNL, I'm hoping for Green, just out of middle infield need, or LuCroy, on the principle that you can't really have too much catching. Victor and Kelly are signed through 2010 and 2011, respectively; it'll be nice to have a couple of options at that point.

Fun stuff, as always. Part of me is relieved that, if the Indians weren't going to make it this season, that they chose to go pyroclastic from the get-go. It sucked, but at least now we get all these shiny new toys.

Joe said...

I just wanted to note that Reyes is a RHP. The type-o above has him as a LHP.

Rockdawg said...

PTC...Les Levine?? That is awesome, is there somewhere on line us out of towners can watch this?? Remember when Ryan Marrie used to prank Levine until Levine looked like he was going to cry? Good times...

As for the move, first JoBo is gone, now Kasey...Who am I supposed to hate now? I counted on these two to be a target for ALL my Tribe frustrations over the last couple years. For now, I think I will use Delucci and a PTBNL.

Paul Cousineau said...

I'm not saying that I think that Marte has to thrive, my sense is that the Indians feel that Marte has to thrive to be seen as the likely 3B in 2009. To me, the way he's been handled this year as EVERYBODY else was given a chance to fail (and fail miserably) before he even sniffed the field on a regular basis is more telling than what the last two months contain for him.

I think that Marte SHOULD be the 3B next year (given the facts that you bring up on his age) ...I'm just not sure that the Tribe brass is on the same page.

Also on the same page as being happy that this has finally all happened and 2008 almost feels like it's already in the rearview.

Thanks for the extra set of eyes.

Yeah, Les Levine...we'll see.
I have no idea if out-of-towners can watch it.
Why didn't you tell me that your brother's band is touring nationally I that far out of the loop?

Tyler said...

Gotcha, Paul. I guess I agree and I don't. There are a number of reasons that the Indians could have sat Marte for April and May. I probably wouldn't like them, but I'll admit they were out there. And of course, at the end of May, the season was on the brink, and Casey was shaking off his horrendous start and turning into one of the better hitters on the squad. So if we were getting back into it, we needed him in the lineup, and if we weren't, letting him play while he was seeing the ball well could only help his trade value. It makes sense to me looking back on it, difficult though it's been to watch.

I bring that up because it has a lot to do with Marte's playing time and very little to do with Marte himself. So I'm still open to the idea that somebody in the Indians' F.O. digs Andy and sees him as a good option for the future.

Rockdawg said...

I would say "touring nationally" may be a bit of a stretch, but they have had gigs recently in Wyoming, Atlanta, and Minnesota. They are definitely making good progress.

Also, I wasn't trying to knock Les Levine in any way, I just remember those prank phone calls and how funny they were. Don't be surprised if you get a phone call from Charlotte in the middle of the show.

Paul Cousineau said...

I saw those same reasons, but the fact that Blake is able to play OF (and our OF playing well) and can play 1B (while the bottom fell out of Garko) while Marte mired is what really drew my ire.

Like you say, I hope that someone in the FO is in Marte's camp, because I'll put forth the argument for him if they're lacking for one.

By the way, got the DiaBride on some Boodles the last few nights. She likes it...eases the pain of Casey leaving her. Also, I like "Matt the Hopple" but am as unsold on it as "Matt The Door".

Tiko Duckett was on Fox 8 in the Morning...c'mon!
Looking forward to the call.

csusi said...

pc, you got to throw out a piece on this. until then, ill pose the question via comment:

.the money is free and there to spend
.we need a left fielder

with that said. will manny be back in cleveland soon?

what you guys think?

Cy Slapnicka said...

fantasy land. why wouldn't we, thats just silly.

btw, if anyone knows of anyone in chicago with an extra ticket to the brew-crew/cubs series, i can be available for any game this week.

does anyone in cleveland have a slingbox they'd be willing to let me access for paulie's television debut?

Ron Vallo said...

The last thing I would spend money on is Manny Ramirez' return to Cleveland.

His numbers are on the decline and his PITA (pain in the___) quotient continues to rise.

Cy Slapnicka said...

CC falling apart in a big game, Riske relieving, where have I seen this before?

RE said...

Only bitterness would say CC "fell apart" yesterday. Let's face it, he's as good as there is, but Fausto is a CC starter kit and Cliff is on track for the Cy Young, a very rare (Paul, how rare?) accomplishment for a pitcher with a sub .500 team. Let's hope we can get him four runs a game going forward.

Mujica for closer!

Paul Cousineau said...

Down at the game last night...Mujica looked GOOD and Hammy couldn't stop raving about him in the postgame. Hammy was saying that his splitter could be the out pitch that a back-end of the bullpen guy uses (a la Nathan) for the swings and misses.

Your wish is my command:
Cy Young award winners who pitched for sub-.500 clubs (team record in parentheses):
National League
Pedro Martinez, 1997 Montreal (78-84)
Greg Maddux, 1992 Chicago (78-84)
Steve Bedrosian, 1987 Philadelphia (80-82)
Bruce Sutter, 1979 Chicago (80-82)
Randy Jones, 1976 San Diego (73-89)
Steve Carlton, 1972 Philadelphia (59-97)
Bob Gibson, 1970 St. Louis (76-86)

American League
Roger Clemens, 1997 Toronto (76-86)
Pat Hentgen, 1996 Toronto (74-88)
Roger Clemens, 1987 Boston (78-84)
Gaylord Perry, 1972 Cleveland (72-84)

Interestingly, the Hentgen-Clemens combo winning the Cy Young in back-to-back years is the last time that teammates won the award consecutively, something that has happened 7 times since the award began, and is very possible for Lee to do one year after the Hefty Lefty.

By the way, thanks.
Ron V. put a nice ribbon on why not.

Cy Slapnicka said...

its not bitterness, its reality. he allowed that inning to spiral out of control. and yes, i know he was at 120 pitches. the point was simply that it was odd to see that sequence of events happen to another team.

Rockdawg said...

Cy, WAY too harsh here. He only gave up 3 earned, and with some "D" behind him, the Brew win that game. I'm not saying he "stepped it up" in that big game, but to say he "fell apart"...that is a little bit much. The Yankees "fell apart" a couple of years ago against Boston in the ALCS. Vandevelde "fell apart" at the British. The Mets "fell apart" at the end of last season. CC pitched well enough for the "W" against a great offensive squad, it's not his fault that Rickie Weeks airmailed a throw to first for the tail end of a crucial double play.

Not to mention CC threw 124 pitches after throwing three straight complete games.

He may not be wearing a Tribe uniform, but he's still my favorite player and I won't stand for people piling on, even though Cy and I agree about 90% of the time.

Cy Slapnicka said...

again, "the point was simply that it was odd to see that sequence of events happen to another team." that was the intent of my comment.

regarding his performance, i'm not piling on. but he did put the previous 3 runners on base. (he also gave up 9 hits through 6 2/3). and i know about his complete games and i know what his pitch count was....but the fact remains he didn't get it done. and thats what i was commenting on.....a big game and CC not getting it done and riske coming out of the pen to relieve....and the game was not an indians game.

Mike C. said...

I think it is funny that so many Tribe fans watched yesterdays Cubs-Brewers game. I thought Yost must not have confidence to leave CC in through the 7th. CC was trying his old technique of over throwing to get out of the inning. We have all seen that fail in the past. I still think it was a good effort by him. Weeks showed the problems of bad 2b play.