Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline passed Tuesday afternoon, and after several days of rumors surrounding possible players the Indians could trade or trade for, the only moves Cleveland made were the acquisition of Brent Lillibridge and the deal that sent Steven Wright to the Red Sox for Lars Anderson.
In this week’s edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists—featuring guest contributors TD from WaitingForNextYear, Vince Guerrieri from Did The Tribe Win Last Night?, and former Tribe blogger Andy Cooper—to grade the Indians’ activity (or lack thereof) at the trade deadline. Here’s what we all had to say:
TD (WaitingForNextYear): Grade — C. Here is why. Let’s be honest, this team is not going in the right direction, so why overpay in a panic move for the likes of Chase Headley or take on a portion of the Alfonso Soriano contract.
With that said, they waited too long to make a move and by the time they had the chance too, it was too late. Think they would like a do-over on passing on a reported Josh Tomlin for Kevin Youkilis deal? In the winter, they passed on a third year for Josh Willingham which was a gigantic mistake. Chris Antonetti put his eggs in the basket of Grady Sizemore after going “all in” last July on trading his two top pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez.
So they get a C because it was an “A” move not being active at the deadline, but an “F” for completely botching this offseason.
Vince Guerrieri (Did The Tribe Win Last Night?): Unfortunately, all trade deadline grades have to incomplete. It’s easy to say that the Brewers won in the short term in the CC Sabathia deal in 2008, making their first trip to the playoffs in 26 years with a half-season rental. On the other hand, the piece that’s yielded the most for the Tribe, Michael Brantley, wasn’t the cornerstone of the deal, and Matt LaPorta hasn’t lived up to the potential everyone thought he had. So if we’re still trying to figure out who won that deal four years ago, what can be said now?
But here I go anyway: Brent Lillibridge isn’t a long-term solution. I’m not sure he’s a short-term solution. Lars Anderson might be the second coming of Matt LaPorta. They didn’t address any of the immediate needs of the team: a consistent starter and a right-handed bat. But their problems go deeper than that, and they didn’t have a lot to deal with. Shin-Soo Choo is likely gone after 2013, Chris Perez’s trade value will never be higher than it is now, and Vinnie Pestano (who would likely become the closer if CP was dealt) was mentioned in deals.
Bottom line: The Indians didn’t get better at the deadline, but didn’t get worse either. C-
Andy Cooper: My grade for the Indians’ trade deadline activity is a C; you know, just another way of saying “average.” The Indians are about as average as it comes in Major League Baseball. In fact, given their unexpectedly poor starting rotation and Swiss-cheese lineup, they’re probably overachieving by hovering around .500.
So as the trade deadline came and went, what was there for the Indians to do? They’re certainly not good enough where making one, maybe two trades for big-name players would have made them a pennant contender. On the other hand, though, they’re not so bad that they needed to sell off their most productive players and re-re-rebuild. (It’s unlikely that the Lillibridge or Anderson trades will significantly change the fate of either the Indians or the Red Sox; the best grade for these two seemingly inconsequential trades is “Incomplete”.)
By essentially doing nothing, the Indians proved that they are stuck in neutral, going nowhere fast. For this year’s trade deadline, making no moves was the right move. But I’m certainly not going to give them bonus points for doing nothing, because at the end of the day, they’re a 3rd place team in a weak division.
Last year’s Ubaldo Jimenez trade has been an abject failure, and even though it was last year, I think it has to factor into this year’s grade. That trade has solidified the Indians’ mediocrity and decimated their farm system. It’s probably not even that the Indians didn’t want to acquire a big-name player; it’s more likely that they probably couldn’t.
Lewie Pollis: I’d give them a ‘C+.’ In one respect, I’d say the Indians did well. They didn’t punt the 2013 campaign by trading Shin-Soo Choo or Justin Masterson, nor did they overpay for Chase Headley and make a move just for the sake of making a move. The failure to make a bad trade might not seem like a big plus, but given the volume of rumors about a potential sell-off or a Headley deal it seems like a positive by comparison.
That said, the Steven Wright-for-Lars Anderson trade the Indians pulled off right before the deadline was a confusing one. More importantly, though, I can’t see the rationale for not trading Chris Perez. We don’t know exactly what they could have gotten for him—I’m guessing that if my Perez-for-Peter Bourjos trade idea had been a real option, it would have happened—but it’s hard to imagine that Cleveland couldn’t have moved him for someone who could help this team more.
Ed Carroll: It would be easy to freak out and give the Indians an F because they are floundering and their only move at the deadline was a head-scratcher (former prospect Lars Anderson), but I respect what Chris Antonetti did here. He basically said, correctly or incorrectly, that this team is underperforming and pushed off a rebuilding scenario until at the earliest, the offseason. It may be foolish, and it may ultimately cost him his job, but I admire the fortitude to believe in the roster he shaped.
This is not saying Antonetti gets a free pass; rather, his work receives an incomplete, and is now almost exclusively dependent on his work in the offseason. If they continue to tread water, with middling pickups and low-cost Band-Aids, then it was foolish. My biggest criticism of Antonetti is mostly a lack of creativity that Mark Shapiro had and small markets need. But what’s been worse, since the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, he’s been gun-shy to take a risk. If he rectifies these faults with a solid upgrade, preferably in the rotation or at first base, then I give him a B. If not, then Indians fans could see something they aren’t used to: turmoil in the front office. GRADE: Incomplete.
Brian Heise: I say D+ because they didn’t cripple their future by making a move out of desperation to compete this season. If they would have done that I would have said F, unless of course it was for multiple elite talents. Otherwise, that would have been the absolute worst thing they could have done. What they should have done was attempt to improve the team for the future by trading current pieces for MLB ready or MLB proven talent.
Like I had said previously, I didn’t want to see a fire sale that might pan out 4 years from now but instead would have preferred a reboot or reshuffling to improve for 2013 and beyond. I feel like their was a real opportunity given a shallow market to demand a high price for what they had and they really missed their chance.