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This Week on Wahoo's on First: The Choo Trade and WAR Calculators

Shin-Soo Choo, Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds—you could say it’s been a big week at Wahoo’s on First. Here are the highlights:

Lewie called the Choo trade one of the best deals the Indians have made in the last 10 years:

Losing Choo is rough. He’s been one of my favorite players since he first came to Cleveland in 2006 (yes, I liked him before it was cool) and with apologies to Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez he’s been the face of the franchise for at least two years now. But sentimentality aside, this was a fantastic trade and it’s incredible that Chris Antonetti was able to pull it off.

Jeff also offered his thoughts on the Choo deal:

In the short term, how well this turns out for 2013 depends on whether Bauer is ready to make an immediate impact. His short stay in Arizona last year did not go well, but young pitchers find their stride at different speeds, so he may be awesome in April or it could take a couple of years. To me, anything the Indians get from Drew Stubbs is a bonus. The good news is that most of his productivity comes against left-handers, so he may thrive if teams continue to throw southpaws against Cleveland’s lefty-heavy lineup. He is a good defender, probably good enough to push Michael Brantley back to left, where he was excellent. Offensively, though, he hasn’t been even average since 2010, and if he duplicates his 2012 numbers next year the Indians are probably better off playing Ezequiel Carrera, at least as a platoon.

On a lighter note, Brian captured the social media frenzy from the afternoon that the trade went down:

Were the Indians getting Trevor Bauer? Was Justin Upton all of the sudden in play thanks to a potential mega deal? Did the trading for Gregorius mean Lindor was on the block? Were the Indians really keeping Cabrera? What about the possibility of Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer coming to Cleveland? How was this all going to work and what did it mean for the Indians?

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In this week’s Wroundtable, we debated the Mark Reynolds signing:

Dave Roberts (Did The Tribe Win Last Night?): In a perfect world the Indians would have All-Stars manning every position on the diamond but unfortunately Major League Baseball is anything but a perfect world and in this case, I’d say Mark Reynolds was a solid sign. Sure, he strikes out a ton evidenced by the fact that he is the only major leaguer to ever have turned in at least two seasons of 200+ strikeouts but he’s got the pop this line-up has been missing since the old days of Pronkville and he is a right-handed bat to boot.

Lewie offered an optimistic view of the Reynolds signing:

The Reynolds deal looks even more reasonable when compared to the likely alternative. Many observers saw the Indians as likely to sign one of Reynolds and Kevin Youkilis to fill their hole at first base. Cleveland allegedly offered Youkilis a two-year deal worth $18 million (or maybe even more), an incredibly risky investment for a small-market team to make in a declining player who’s well past his prime. Apparently Youkilis is still an option for the Tribe (presumably he would play first base and Reynolds would DH), but it’s much harder to see the Indians overpaying for the Greek God of Walks now that they have Reynolds in the fold.

Lewie also explained why Mark Reynolds’ penchant for strikeouts isn’t that big of a deal:

But despite what conventional wisdom might tell you, strikeouts aren’t that bad—they’re only very slightly more damaging than batted ball outs, and some of the best hitters in the game see strike three quite often. Your 2012 MLB strikeout leaders were Adam Dunn and Curtis Granderson, both considered very good hitters; looking at K%, it’s Dunn and Pedro Alvarez, who started to come into his own this year. Heck, look at Jim Thome. He struck out almost 200 times in 2001, and no one ever questioned his ability to play first base in his heyday.

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Meanwhile, Merritt wondered how the Reynolds signing might change the atmosphere in the Cleveland clubhouse:

It’s not that the young guys can’t be winners—they’ve won at every level as it is—but the atmosphere of a clubhouse and an organization can have a huge effect on a player’s attitude. They have to see that everyone else wants to win as much as they do, otherwise what’s the point of doing anything more than the usual? You need to start somewhere, and with Terry Francona and now Reynolds on board, another piece will hopefully give everyone the idea that this is a team with a winning goal.

And Evan looked at what the Reynolds signing says about the Tribe’s direction:

Is it possible that the Indians are using a Tampa Bay Rays-like approach to winning while in a transition? They’re finally taking a risk and piecing together a roster full of untapped potential. Bauer, Stubbs, Carlos SantanaLonnie ChisenhallJason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera (if they keep him around), and those yet to come…

Jeff came up with a to-do list for the rest of the offseason:

Outfield. All you need to see is that Ezequiel Carrera is listed as the starting right fielder and Thomas Neal the primary backup to know that this is a problem. There is nobody in the farm system above Class-A who can help with this, so consider this an emergency. We have two good defenders in Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs, but neither of them is a core player offensively.

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Katrina also tackled the question of what Cleveland should do next:

The Indians should also consider keeping Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez, at least until the 2013 trade deadline. The main reason to deal Cabrera with two years left on his contract was to acquire good young arms, and they were able to do that without him. There will almost certainly be a team searching for a player with his offensive skills at the deadline, and if he’s traded in July Cleveland would be rid of him before he has a chance to fade in the second half again. While the Tribe would be taking a risk on his value decreasing as he gets closer to free agency, there is also upside to keeping him. A lineup with Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Mark Reynolds and (hopefully) Nick Swisher would be very dangerous for opposing pitchers.

Jeff argued that Lonnie Chisenhall should be the Tribe’s Opening Day third baseman:

At this point, Chisenhall is ready for The Show. More time in Columbus will not help him. The only way to learn how to lay off major league breaking pitches is to see a bunch of them. It may turn out that he is simply not a high on-base guy, but if that is the case it would be better to find out and move on than to keep hoping. In my mind, at bare minimum he should post a .750 OPS and play average defense, which, given the current state of the Indians, makes third base maybe the sixth-most urgent problem to address.

Finally, we unveiled two new versions of our Simple WAR Calculator. Check it out here.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Mark Reynolds Shin Soo Choo

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