Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unleash the Fury Mitch

While attempting to go on hiatus leading up to Christmas, I thought that the announcement of Mitch-A-Palooza Talbot as the PTBNL for the Shoppach deal merited a quick comment. The announcement comes as a disappointment not because Joseph Cruz (the other name on the list) is that fantastic of a prospect or even because the Indians let the Rays pick the PTBNL for Shoppach, showing just how far Shoppach’s value had apparently fallen, particularly in light of the 2-year deals being given out on the FA market to back-up Catchers.

Past those two reasons, the announcement comes as a disappointment because Mitch Talbot is out of options, meaning that he’s likely going to get a long leash to adjust to MLB in the Indians’ rotation. As a 26-year-old with 9 2/3 IP in MLB, my guess is that the “adjustment” may take a while and since they can’t shuffle him back and forth to Columbus, he essentially takes up a spot on the pitching staff in a year where the Indians should be judiciously dividing up innings for their best options PAST 2010. Rather, between Talbot, Sowers, and Ambriz (if he sticks), the Indians have 3 guys who HAVE to break camp with the parent club (plus Wood, Westbrook, and Carmona who aren’t going anywhere) and have to stay on the Indians all season, laying waste to the idea that the Indians could use their roster flexibility to expose as many arms as possible to MLB hitting in 2010 so 2011 isn’t still a year of adjustment.

Alas, it looks like 2011 may still be a time when questions will remain unanswered and I fear that the addition of Talbot and Ambriz (and to a lesser degree, Grilli and Rivera) show that the Indians have not learned the Roberto Hernandez/Danny Graves lesson, in that the Indians seem to have found more arms (just not even as accomplished as the likes of Hernandez and Graves) to see if they can find lightning in a bottle again to start the season while the young arms that seemed to be set up so neatly (and actually bulging in AAA) get pushed back. Thus, it feels like the hope that 2010 will offer a new strategy than the “throw it all up against the wall to see what sticks” philosophy that has proven to be ineffective for too many years may be in vain.

Maybe Mitch Talbot comes out and shows that “the best change-up” in the Rays’ organization a couple of years ago means something, but the rationale that “he’s logged close to 400 Triple-A innings” with the idea of “adding him to our mix to come in and compete for a spot” (which is what Chris Antonetti said) sounds like we’re adding a 4-A journeyman who they’re looking to eat some innings. If they are, and they really intend to give Talbot that long leash to see if he can prove that he can adjust to become a mediocre MLB pitcher (something the out-of-options Jeremy Sowers is still trying to do after 400 MAJOR LEAGUE innings), then perhaps it’s more of an indictment as to how ready they really think their close-to-being-ready-for-MLB starting pitching really is. That is, if they’re willing to give Talbot a shot over younger internal options, most with more upside, with the idea that innings in 2010 should set the team up to know what they have going into 2011 (particularly in the rotation), then they’re not as high on the readiness of Huff, Rondon, Carrasco, and even Laffey and Masterson as we might think.

With Talbot, it’s not even really that he’s that bad of an option…if he were simply challenging to take a couple of starts here and there in the system to see if the Indians could find a use for him. Rather, the idea that he’s out of options (plus the fact that Sowers is as well and Ambriz needs to be carried on the 25-man because of the Rule 5 guidelines) just muddies the 25-man waters and unnecessarily takes up a roster spot at the expense of a pitcher who may figure into plans past 2010 and who retains options. It’s entirely possible that the Indians are content to give Talbot a shot in Spring Training and are more than happy to expose him to waivers if he doesn’t impress in Goodyear (which would further the idea that the team was just going to non-tender Shoppach and are taking a shot in the dark with Talbot), but very little exists on Talbot’s resume that suggests that he’s much more than a 5th starter/long man entering an organization that may already be flush with them.

If Mitch Talbot (he of the nearly 400 AAA innings and 9 2/3 MLB innings who is out of options) is that “innings-eater” that the Indians supposedly wanted (but couldn’t afford) when the off-season started and now represents one of the best five options to start games for the Indians coming out of Spring Training, 2010 may be an even longer season than previously thought. To me, I’d rather see the Indians use the 162 starts in 2010 to answer questions that exist for the likes of Laffey, Masterson, Huff, Rondon, and Carrasco than to see if Talbot’s worth a roster spot (and waiting until ¼ of the season is gone to make that determination) in 2010, much less beyond.


mr. m said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
strangerinastrangeland said...

I believe you're correct -- sounds like the Shoppach trade was more of a salary dump than anything else. Very sad.

Adam A said...

I have to believe your non-tender/shot in the dark explanation is the right one, if only because the idea of add more layers of mediocrity ahead of real potential in the top part of the farm system doesn't strike me as rebuilding. And personally, I need need NEED to believe that the Indians are serious about rebuilding and heading towards another run, because if they weren't, then why isn't Wedge still at our helm?

Which, do you or anyone know what the rumors of what he's doing next year?

Merry Christmas and best of luck with the new baby!

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