Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Lazy Sunday Spent Looking for Arms

Looking across Lake Chautauqua on this fine Memorial Day Weekend and thinking again about LeShot, let’s just get going on a Lazy Sunday before I become a viable option for the Indians’ rotation:

The biggest revelation of the week (other than the fact that the Indians’ bullpen now boasts Greg Aquino, Luis Vizcaino, Matt Herges, AND Rich Rundles) came via SI.com’s Jon Heymann, who was the first to report that Mark DeRosa found himself on the proverbial trading block, which should have come as no surprise as the Indians, now officially (OK, maybe not officially) committed to “The Shift” of Jhonny to 3B, find themselves not so much in need of a 3B…which, apparently is still the position that the Indians feel is DeRosa’s best, unless you count 1B.

Without getting into the “Orlando Hudson and his 1-year deal would look awfully good here right now” rant, it would seem that DeRosa finds himself in the super-utility role that Casey Blake was oft-rumored to be destined for, but never quite got to. If he is that super-utility guy, then DeRosa may be a luxury that the Indians just don’t need, given their obvious need for arms…any arms…capable of getting consistent outs, be it in the rotation or the bullpen.

By no means am I suggesting that DeRosa is not a valuable commodity on this team, but with Peralta at 3B, Cabrera at SS, Valbuena and Carroll around to patrol 2B, and the Indians having the pieces in the OF, we’re going to keep DeRosa around…to what?
Play 1B and move around the diamond?

Aren’t the Indians already chock full of 1B playing out of position and can’t Carroll and all of those other names move around the diamond as Valbuena can play 2B, SS, and 3B, etc? If, then, he becomes a redundancy on this team, particularly with Carroll healthy, doesn’t it stand to reason that another team, in need of a player like DeRosa more than the Indians at this point would be looking for exactly the “rent a versatile veteran for a year” idea that the Indians acquired him for last New Year’s Eve?

The bottom line is that the Indians need arms and they need to infuse some arms in a hurry to this team in an attempt to keep hope alive in this season and start to load up for next season. If Mark DeRosa can net some arms for the Indians that can help right now, then there’s your move to make right now.

It’s a notion that was put out there by Jayson Stark (with a veritable cornucopia of info on the Erie Warriors), who clarified what Heymann started in terms of what the Indians are and are not looking to do in the trade market with the pieces and parts that could net them some arms:
Lee-way: Another team in almost an identical position is the Indians, with Cliff Lee. Clubs that have felt out the Indians about Lee's availability have come away thinking GM Mark Shapiro wants to hang on to Lee, pick up his $9 million option for next year and hope things go right around him for a change.

Shapiro hasn't told other teams he won't listen on Lee this July, or even next winter, if the Indians don't U-turn in the next few weeks. But they would almost certainly want a can't-miss, ace-waiting-to-happen young starter back, plus at least one other star-caliber prospect. And teams just don't trade away pitchers like that (think Tommy Hanson, David Price, etc.) in this day and age. So don't look for much Rumor Central action on Cliff Lee before July 2010, if ever.

Buy-or-sell land
: On that note, for all those who thought Cleveland was nearly ready to bag this season and start selling off parts … uh, guess again. Clubs that have spoken with the Indians say they're still trying to ADD pitching, to give the current group at least another month to right the ship.

Other teams report the Indians are very willing to talk about Mark DeRosa for the right pitcher, which makes the Giants a better match than the Brewers or Mets. You should also remember that this is a team overstuffed with outfield depth, with Ben Francisco, Matt LaPorta, Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo all positioned to battle for playing time on either side of Grady Sizemore within the next year. And there are indications the Indians also would talk about dealing off some of that depth for the right arm, or arms.


Now this is an idea I can get behind…
Let’s start to use some redundant assets to stockpile some arms at the upper levels and forget the notion that every trade of an outfielder for a pitcher is going to evoke memories of Brian Giles-for-Ricardo Rincon.

Filling holes in the upper levels is something that the Indians have excelled at in years’ past with veterans (and quite successfully with Benuardo becoming Choo and Cabrera, Blake becoming Santana) in terms of targeting players that had more value to other teams and moving them to fill organizational holes. Beyond the “flip the veteran” philosophy, the Frank the Tank trade showed a newfound willingness to deal a younger player from a position of depth to acquire a young player(s) at a position of need.

But, at this point, it’s time to get a little more aggressive with this notion in terms of the Indians (suddenly) being loaded with position player talent and bereft of pitching talent…and by that I mean, nearly any pitching talent in AAA and, well…the parent club. With this newfound depth among the position players, could the Indians pull off what the Tigers and Red Sox were able to in the off-season, when Detroit moved OF Matt Joyce for Edwin Jackson (currently leading the AL in ERA…non-Greinke category) to stabilize their rotation or when the Red Sox sent OF Coco Crisp to KC for Ramon Ramirez (currently 7th in MLB in WXRL) to deepen their bullpen?

Who knows, but the time may be now for the Indians to get pro-active in terms of knowing what they have and what they need and not waiting for the off-season or for the trading deadline to make these moves.

Now am I suggesting a Kenny Williams-esque attempt at a trade here?
I don’t think so, although it certainly is interesting to see how Williams, with his team currently sitting on a 2.6% chance of winning the Central (the Indians own a hefty 8.5% chance), responds to his season going down the drain.

But maybe now is the time to acknowledge that the Indians are a team badly in need of arms (primarily in the bullpen but with the rotation past Lee no getting any free passes), and what they may have to dangle out there to become more whole.

Does that mean that they should move a piece like Victor (and didn’t I tell you that this piece was coming) to get some MLB-ready, high-quality arms in the system?

Not unless you’re looking at this year as a complete wash and surveying the landscape of what 2010 may look like and seeing the need for THAT many more arms for the Indians to legitimately get back to having a surplus of arms…and by that I mean a surplus of QUALITY arms.

Maybe you’re at that point right now (and the argument can be made in a very compelling manner just by looking at a potential 2010 rotation), but I’m not there JUST yet and look for guys like DeRosa as the more immediate piece that could be moved for something, and by “something” I don’t mean an arm for Kinston or Lake County. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on arms currently residing in organizations like the Giants, the Mets, the Brewers, or any other team that may be looking for a 2B or a 3B or a fill-in-the-cracks kind of player like DeRosa, but the Indians need arms at the big-league level and if Mark DeRosa can be flipped for an arm like that, there’s no reason to wait for any kind of magical date to make that happen.

If DeRosa is moved, however, don’t take it as the sign that the “Garage Sale” is on, as Stark adroitly reports. Rather, it’s as simple as DeRosa not having the defined role that he did going into the season and trading him should be taken more as an acknowledgement that the Indians misevaluated what 2009 held in store for their infielders and essentially targeted the wrong player.

He may not be the last player moved, but he almost certainly will be the first.
How did it come to this before Memorial Day?
Don’t ask…

Moving on, and attempting to avoid the fact that the Indians may be having a starting pitcher named Kirk Saarloos or Tomo Ohka before the END OF MAY, if you’ve not seen the cover of SI this week, it has a local feel to it as my fellow native South Euclidean Joe Posnanski has a piece on Cleveland. He addresses the whole “Cleveland cover” thing which is another great read, but if you click just one of the links here, read his piece from the magazine.
It’s that good.

Finally, a Happy Memorial Day to everyone…I’ll be spending mine with my wife, my son, my brother, and his fiancĂ©e at the ballgame. At this point in the season (and, yes, it is only MEMORIAL DAY tomorrow), all we may have for the rest of the season is the enjoyment of a baseball game on a beautiful summer night, spending time with family and friends.

As strange as it sounds with the Indians still 10 games under .500, I couldn’t think of a better day.

3 comments:

Triple said...

Great weekend to be at Chautauqua Lake

Rockdawg said...

When you mentioned Chautauqua, I immediately thought of "We-Wan-Chu". Then that transitioned to Shin-Soo-We-Wan-Choo. Don't bother trying to figure this one out if you haven't been to a certain "Reservation" in Chautauqua.

I wonder what type if heat Lebron could bring from the mound...

Baltimoran said...

anyone know where Posnanski went to High School, would love it if he was a fellow Brush Arc.