Judging Mark Shapiro's GM Tenure: Low-Profile Trades

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Background: Shapiro again took advantage of Seattle’s overzealousness, trading the other half of the Indians’ fairly productive first base platoon for another reasonably unknown prospect. Although it took until 2008 for Choo to make a full impact on the Tribe, Broussard was on the Rangers in 2008 and out of baseball the following offseason. Choo has emerged as a tremendous value for Cleveland.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Broussard, 155 games with SEA: -1.1 WAR
Choo, 7 years with CLE: 20.3 WAR

GRADE: A+

Background: The Indians continued their mini-fire sale in 2006, swinging a deadline deal with St. Louis to jettison Belliard and the rest of his $4 million salary. This was a straight salary dump, but in all honesty the Indians squeezed all usefulness they could out of Belliard, he was never again as good as he was in his years in a Tribe uniform. Their return on him was disappointing though, and the team probably shouldn’t have settled on Luna, who had been in and out of the Tribe system since 1999. Unfortunately for the Indians, this simply re-opened the black hole at second base they had been dealing with since Roberto Alomar’s departure, and it wouldn’t be filled for awhile.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Luna, half-season with CLE: -0.8 WAR

Belliard, half-season with STL: 0.1 WAR

GRADE: C-

Background: In the offseason prior to 2007, the Indians were looking to fill their aforementioned black hole at second base (see the Brandon Phillips trade earlier), and thought they did in acquiring Barfield, who had a tremendous rookie season with San Diego (2.8 WAR). They traded Kouzmanoff, who was impressive himself as a rookie, because the team felt they were set at third base between the recently acquired Andy Marte and incumbent Casey Blake, and Brown wasn’t highly regarded by the organization. But Barfield never came close to that kind of production again and by 2009 was nothing more than a pinch-running afterthought. Kouzmanoff was never great for San Diego, but he had value, and given who the Indians were trotting out at third base after the departure of Blake in 2008, he would have been an upgrade.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Kouzmanoff, 3 years with SDP: 4.6 WAR

Barfield, 3 years with CLE: -0.8 WAR

GRADE: D-

2008

  • Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

    Cleveland Indians trade: OF Franklin Gutierrez

  • New York Mets trade: RHP Joe Smith
  • Seattle Mariners trade: 2B/INF Luis Valubena

Background: This was actually a deal between Seattle and the New York Mets that sent closer J.J. Putz to New York and a package of players that included pitcher Jason Vargas to Seattle. The Indians were brought in to provide the one thing Seattle wanted in this deal: an outfielder who could play centerfield. In exchange for parting with Gutierrez, who was due for a big raise in arbitration and ended up signing a big deal with Seattle after the trade, the Indians picked up another entry into their second base derby in Valubena, and an intriguing relief option in Smith.

Valbuena wasn’t the solution for the Indians, and was never the everyday player they envisioned. When he’s been healthy, which has been the case the past two years, Smith has shown he can be an impact late-inning reliever. For basically a salary dump, the Indians got real value in Smith. It’s worth noting that current Indians outfielder Ezequiel Carrera was also involved in this trade, going from New York to Seattle. At first glance, this seems like a huge loss for the Indians, but when you factor in the salary issues with Gutierrez, and that most of his WAR comes from a monster 2009 season, it really wasn’t that bad of a deal for Cleveland.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

Gutierrez, 4 years with SEA: 8.7 WAR

Smith, 4 years with CLE: 3.7 WAR
Valbuena, 3 years with CLE: 0.3 WAR

GRADE: B-

2009

  • Cleveland Indians trade: 3B Mark DeRosa
  • St. Louis Cardinals: RHP Chris Perez, PTBNL (RHP Jess Todd)

Background: As stated before, the 2009 Indians were a disappointment, and Shapiro acted quickly to spin DeRosa, who was acquired for next-to-nothing in the previous offseason, for two young relievers. DeRosa wasn’t great in his half-season with the Cardinals and Todd never amounted to much, but the Indians nailed the acquisition of Perez. In exchange for a half-season of a player who wasn’t playing well anyways, the Tribe acquired a good reliever and their future closer. Regardless of what happens next with Perez, this trade has been a huge win for the Indians.

Cumulative WAR Analysis

DeRosa, half-season with STL: 0.3 WAR

Perez, 4 years with CLE: 4.1 WAR
Todd, 2 years with CLE: -0.4 WAR

GRADE: A

Judgment:  Whether or not you factor in any financial aspects to any of these trades, if you look at pure production of players that Shapiro gave up in trades compared to the production of players he received, he hit more than he missed when he made a deal. When you do consider the financial restrictions he was working under, it’s hard to fault Shapiro for most of these trades. Yes, you can, and perhaps should expect better (and quicker) returns on guys who had won the Cy Young the season before (Sabathia and Lee), but it should also be noted that most teams don’t do too much better under similar circumstances. However, Shapiro’s ability to pilfer productive young players for spare parts has more than made up for two questionable trades.

In many ways, Shapiro’s ability to get maximum value in these “low-profile” trades actually kept this franchise afloat. Although his trade resume isn’t without some smudges, Shapiro was a pretty solid wheeler and dealer.

How would you grade Mark Shapiro's handling of low-profile trades during his tenure as GM?

  • B (57%, 8 Votes)
  • A (21%, 3 Votes)
  • D (14%, 2 Votes)
  • C (7%, 1 Votes)
  • F (1%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera Brandon Phillips Chris Perez Cleveland Indians Coco Crisp Franklin Gutierrez Joe Smith Mark Shapiro Shin Soo Choo Travis Hafner

  • methus1

    Trades are 1/3 of a GM’s job. The draft and free agency are the other 2/3. While Shapiro did well on trades, he grades out horribly on free agency signings and the draft. Please never mention the word, “legacy” and “Shapiro” in the same sentence. He may be the most over-rated GM in the last 25 years.