Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Lazy Sunday Around the Horn

As the off-season begins in earnest and with the only real “news” coming out of the corner of Carnegie and Ontario is that Asdrubal and Hurricane Perez had minor surgeries, let’s get off on a Lazy Sunday before a Fall trip to the pumpkin patch/apple orchard for some apple cider becomes necessary by halftime of a certain NFL game.

And with that, we’re off:
Starting at the top, Anthony Castrovince presents a nice look ahead, putting a nice little bow on what may be coming. The “look forward” portion is something that I’ll attempt to flesh out a little more in the coming weeks, but AC’s presentation is a good primer.

As for looking back, there is a piece that appeared earlier this week that recounts the story of how the Victor trade to Boston became a reality. It’s an utterly fascinating piece, offering a look inside the process, by WEEI’s Rob Bradford, spotted by hawk-eyed reader Al Ciammaichella:
The Red Sox and Indians started talking more, with the focus on a mega-trade that would send both Martinez and starter Cliff Lee to the Red Sox for a package of players, eclipsing what the Sox were offering for Toronto’s Roy Halladay, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez or Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. It would be a proposition that would start with Clay Buchholz and only get richer.
But as the days got closer to the July 31 deadline, the Indians decided to split up the two players and trade them separately to maximize their prospect return. And when Lee was sent to Philadelphia with a week to go in July, the Sox were left to focus on Martinez.
--snip—
As much as the Red Sox wanted Martinez, they also realized that too much interest only was going to drive up the price, so they took a 24-hour-or-so break from calling the Indians. In the meantime, the Sox started heating up their pursuit of two players atop the wish list, Hernandez and Gonzalez. They both were long shots, but with a decent idea of what it would take to get Martinez, the Sox could take some shots elsewhere.
The Sox’ instincts and intel were correct — after seeing the shock-and-awe transactions fall through, it took a phone call lasting just a few minutes to consummate the deal for the team’s new catcher (and without Reddick). The cost to the Sox was steep, since Masterson was regarded by the organization as at worst a legitimate late-inning relief option, while Hagadone is considered to have legitimate closer's stuff, and Bryan Price, the third pitcher included in the deal, has a premium (albeit somewhat raw) arm.


The whole piece is worth your time as it certainly presents the Victor situation clearly, particularly when you remember the timeframe of that final week before the Trading Deadline, where signals from the Indians were mixed at best as to whether they were seriously considering moving Lee and Vic.

What part of that little synopsis of the trade jumps out at you though?
How about this:
The Red Sox and Indians started talking more, with the focus on a mega-trade that would send both Martinez and starter Cliff Lee to the Red Sox for a package of players, eclipsing what the Sox were offering for Toronto’s Roy Halladay, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez or Seattle’s Felix Hernandez.
--snip—
The Indians decided to split up the two players and trade them separately to maximize their prospect return. And when Lee was sent to Philadelphia with a week to go in July, the Sox were left to focus on Martinez.”


I know that you read that once already, but parse through that for a second. The Red Sox were offering a package for both Lee and Martinez that “eclipsed” their offers for Halladay, Gonzalez, and Hernandez.
Remember what Boston was allegedly offering for King Felix?
The Seattle Times reports that, according to sources, the Red Sox offered a list of eight players, from which the Mariners could choose any five in exchange for Felix Hernandez. The list reportedly included:
Clay Buchholz
Daniel Bard
Michael Bowden
Justin Masterson
Nick Hagadone
Josh Reddick
Yamaico Navarro
Felix Doubront


Now, figure that Masterson and Hagadone came over in the Martinez deal (with Price)… and balance through the idea that the Red Sox offer for including Lee with Martinez ECLIPSED picking 5 of the names you see above.

So if Masterson and Hagadone are 2 of the 5, that would leave the Indians to pick 3 from among Buchholz, Bard, Bowden, Reddick, Navarro, and Doubrant at the very least, because the Red Sox offer for both Lee and Martinez was BETTER than the one listed above.

Maybe it didn’t shake out like that and maybe the names were not necessarily the same or the offer for Hernandez was overstated, but knowing what the Indians got from both the Phillies and the Red Sox for Lee and Martinez and knowing that this offer may have been, in fact, on the table (or even an offer that “eclipsed” this), the Indians better hope that Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp don’t fall by the wayside while the likes of Buchholz, Bard, and Bowden become principal members of the juggernaut that is the Red Sox going forward.

Mark Shapiro, if it wasn’t already obvious…you’re on notice.

This brings us to an absolutely phenomenal piece from LGT’s Jay Levin (which wraps up their “Fire Everyone” series) that puts the Tribe GM under the microscope. “Fire Shapiro” presents an interesting paradox as Jay points out that Shapiro is certainly not without his strengths, but finds himself in the position he does today because of an over-reliance on the processes in place and not enough of a dissenting voice to balance an overwhelming cohesion in the organization.
…the brilliant executive can't necessarily tell you whether it's better to overspend on Raul IbaƱez or Kerry Wood. He can't necessarily devise a process to tell you that, and he can't necessarily hire the right person to tell you that, either. Nor can he devise a process to hire the right person to tell you that. It doesn't always come down to objective analysis or having a good process. Sometimes it comes down to talent: the talent to play, the talent to evaluate talent, the talent to develop talent, and the judgment to make decisions about talent.
--snip—
Shapiro has not given us any concrete reason to believe that he knows how to put people into critical positions who are capable of evaluating, developing and coaching real talent — the kind that can thrive at the major league level. Without people in key roles who are possessed of that kind of judgment and talent, it doesn't make any difference how good your organizational processes are or how much class-acting you do.


Levin identifies some significant pieces of the Front Office that are no longer here (Jay mentions Farrell, Neal Huntington, and Tony LaCava…to which I would add Mike Hazen, the current Director of Player Development in Boston, a position that he has ascended to from 2006, when he admitted that he thought he would be a in Cleveland for a long time until the Red Sox came calling) and suggests that the Indians became weaker when each left, leaving the Indians to scramble to keep the pipeline full…and not just in terms of players.

Moving back into the nothingness of the managerial search, Jon Heyman offers much of the same that we’ve been hearing:
Bobby Valentine is the name most prominently mentioned as a candidate for the Indians job. But Indians people say they have a long list. Red Sox coach Brad Mills could be a candidate. Makes sense, his son, Beau Mills, was a high draft choice of theirs recently. Indians and Red Sox executives are close, and the Indians originally targeted Boston pitching coach John Farrell, who decided to remain in his current job.

Is anyone else confused by Brad Mills “making sense” as a candidate because the Indians drafted his son? Does that mean if the Indians drafted Ron Roenicke’s son recently that he would “make sense” as a candidate?
I’m fine with the argument that Mills is a respected bench coach for a successful team, but justifying his candidacy with the fact that his son is a former 1st Round Pick of the team and a current AA 1B doesn’t exactly make a compelling case.

Staying with the managerial circus (and refuting what Heyman writes), anyone else catch this little aside from Hoynes this week when listing managerial “candidates”, which looks a lot like the last time he listed “candidates”:
If Farrell, Boston's pitching coach, is still in the picture, he'll be a strong candidate. ESPN.com reported that he removed himself from consideration. If he did, it's news to the Indians.

That was admittedly bolded by me for emphasis, but is Hoynesie slipping in little clues that the Indians have not, in fact, been told by Farrell that he’s removed himself from consideration?

More importantly, is this what I’ve come to on an October morning…looking for hidden meanings in Paul Hoynes’ articles?

Moving on, if you’ve watched any of the MLB playoffs, you’re aware that (other than the umpires making quite a…ahem…name for themselves) it’s been more than a little painful to watch because of the ex-Indians (who, it should be noted DID NOT win when they were together as a team before the trades to start the 2008 season and, to a lesser degree, to start the 2009 season, making this idea that “breaking up the band” was a premature and short-sighted decision not forced by the performance of the players on the field) leading their new teams in the Divisional tilts. Regardless, my fellow TCF writer Steve Buffum lays out another reason it’s been just as difficult to watch the coverage of the playoffs…or at least difficult to listen to them with an imagined conversation that actually doesn’t stray too far from reality.

Finally, and apropos of absolutely nothing related to the Indians though it does keep us at “64 and Counting”, Vince Grzegorek recounts his experience at a try-out for “American Idol”, during which he “auditioned” by singing…wait for it…“Bernie, Bernie” in full Browns’ attire in the end zone of the Dawg Pound.

If nothing else, we’re a week closer to having a new manager for the Indians, which could be affected by the outcome of today’s Red Sox-Angels game…so I guess that’s something.

7 comments:

Trebek said...

Before we go crazy for Buchholz, remember he's 8 days older than David Huff and they posted identical 4.69 FIPs this year.

Tyler said...

How is it that guys like Carrasco and Knapp can be the greatest prospects in the known universe until we trade for them, when they become pond scum?

I think they're good, PC, and I think things are going to work out.

Paul Cousineau said...

I'm not going gaga for Buchholz, as I made the comparison a while back on Huff and Buchholz, not sure if the comp made me feel better about Huff or worse about Buchholz.

The point I was trying to make was that the "information" (if true) is out there as to what the Indians could have extracted from the Red Sox had they dealt both Vic and Cliff to Boston.

It looks like they could have had Masterson, Hagadone, Buchholz, Bard, and Bowden...and maybe more. I'm not discounting Carrasco and Knapp as top prospects, I'm just pointing out that there are now comparisons to use as a measuring stick going forward.

Nobody knows how Carrasco, Knapp, Marson, and Donald will pan out, just as the jury will remain out on Buchholz, Bard, Bowden and others on that list...but alternate trade scenarios that were passed on are now tangibly out there.

Trebek said...

PC, I didn't mean to imply that you were gaga about Buchholz. I thought this was a great "what if" article. But I think the national media grossly overrates Buchholz though.... I think the tribe decided on Carrasco and Knapp because both are potential number 1 talents (stress talents). Bard looks at best like a closer and at worst Kyle Farnsworth, either way a bullpen guy. Bowden doesn't look much better than a #5 starter and Buchholz is older and has been comparable to Huff in terms of production. Maybe if the Red Sox had dangled Casey Kelly, Shapiro would have pulled the trigger.

And Tyler, I agree with you. Carrasco is very underrated. From the scouting reports I've read he has 3 above average pitches (his fastball, changeup and curveball) and he's really young. He's rough around the edges and lets his emotions get the best of him... but still he's got a ton of talent. As for Knapp he's only 19 and pitchers get hurt. Hopefully he can bounce back.

Wah00kid said...

As a glutten for punishment I listened to Hoynes's last podcast and there was a nugget that he dropped in there that seemed really interesting to me. He said that one problem with the Indians coaching staff was that it just had too many former catchers on it... datz skins and shelton besides wedgie...

You think there is anything to this??

I know you aren't going to be doing a rundown of the season.. and maybe I missed your take on this before...??

Paul Cousineau said...

kid,
I did hear something about that too, about how Wedge's staff came from backgrounds that were too similar to help a wide range of players. I think that Shapiro made mention of it during the press conference and there's probably something to that, but the fact that Shoppach seemed to have regressed defensively would fly in the face of the idea that they were too catching-centric.

The make-up of this next staff, whomever the manager is, should be more than interesting.

Tyler said...

True 'nuff, PC, but you could just as easily have looked at the trade glass-half-full style: The fact that the Indians passed up the Victor/Cliff blockbuster for two separate trades may mean that the organization has reason to think much, more more highly of the Phillies prospects we received -- Marson and Donald especially -- than we do as fans.

(Why are we so down on Donald, again? How soon we forget that middle infielders with legit bats are premium commodities. Not to nitpick, but Donald's a 2006 pick ... we took Josh Rodriguez and Adam Davis in 2006.)

Not trying to play cheerleader here, but I sense a little grass-is-greener-itis at work.

Unremarked upon before, about that blockbuster: Rosenthal is vindicated.