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Indians Active at Deadline
July 31, 2011 - Al Stephenson
The trade deadline in major league baseball passed at four o'clock this afternoon. Teams can still make deals, but it is tougher to do so. For Cleveland Indian fans in recent years, the trade deadline just means "what star players will we unload for prospects this time." Remember C.C., Victor and Cliff? Getting potential prospects is fine - if they pan out - and that is a crapshoot at best.
But we Tribe fans persevered, hoping that some day these young kids will become accomplished major league players. This year's team was to be a year or two away from being competitive. Some of our prospects were pressed into playing now as Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo spent time on the disabled list. We got to see the likes of Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, and others - ready or not.
The Tribe got off to that flying start - well, after the Opening Day debacle and the next day. By the All-Star break we were in the hunt for the Central Division title and instead of looking to unload established veterans, we suddenly became buyers instead of sellers. Can you believe that? I pesonally didn't know if we should go after help, because I'm still not sure this year's team is for real. Then again when the opportunity presents itself, you have to bite the bullet and go for things now - the future be dammed. So after it we have gone!
General Manager Chris Antonetti pulled the trigger on three deals. Let's take a look at how this happened and try to analyze the results.
GM's have to take four things into consideration when making a trade. 1) what are the team's needs, 2) how much am I willing to mortgage the future, 3) how much money do we have to keep talented players, and 4) who is willing to give up the players that I desire.
Trade number one involved getting outfielder Kosuke Fukodome from the Cubs. My first reaction was that we didn't need another left handed hitting outfielder. An above average major league outfielder, Fukodome doesn't thrill me even though we didn't give up much to acquire him. Sizemore and Choo won't be on the DL forever. A right-handed bat in the middle of the lineup seemed to be our biggest need.
Then Antonetti pulled off a shocker. He got Ubaldo Jimenez from the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez was 15-1 at the All-Star break a year ago and started for the NL in the contest. He has been very average since, but has been nicked up. He has been pretty good since June 1 and has a team friendly contract through 2013. The price to get him was steep however. The Tribe had to give up its two top pitching prospects in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Was it worth it? Time will tell.
The rumor mill had us making a deal with the Padres for former Indian Ryan Ludwick - the right handed bat I felt we needed - and I was starting to get excited. The rumor was squashed as Ludwick ended up going to the Pirates.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the last two deals was the fact that the Yankees were interested in both Jimenez and Ludwick. They got neither. Ha!
The view from my seat suggests that trades can never be judged until several years down the road. These deals may turn out great for the Indians. Then again they might not.
What's really cool for me is the fact that this mid market ball club is going for the opportunity to get into the playoffs and we all know that once you get there anything can happen. I was afraid that we would always be sellers and never the buyer. Whether the deals work or not, it's good to see us be active.
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