Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Baby I was Bourn This Way

Interesting offseason for the Indians.  Seems like they finally stopped throwing all of their eggs in to the Grady Sizemore basket and focused on improving the rest of the team.  I suppose it's about time, given how bad the entire division has been for the last few years.

GM Chris Antonetti has overhauled his roster more than any other GM, save for our own Alex Anthopoulos.  In no particular order, other than what comes to my mind first, he:

  • Traded for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes, giving up Esmil Rogers
  • Traded Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald, Tony Sipp and $3.5MM to acquire Drew Stubbs, Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer (!) and Bryan Shaw.
  • Signed Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to below market-value contracts.
  • Added Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds on 1-year deals
  • Signed Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Giambi, Ben Francisco and Rich Hill to minor-league contracts, all of whom could conceivably help the big club at some point
As such, this team is going to look drastically different next year.  Jon Heyman is reporting that Drew Stubbs is now available in a trade, thanks to the glut of outfielders in the Indians' organization.  That's kind of like saying that Rajai Davis is available in a trade-- let's not be surprised when the phone doesn't ring.

I had assumed that it was going to be a platoon situation in LF, with Stubbs and Michael Brantley splitting time (Stubbs has a 120 wRC+ vs LHP, Brantley handles RHP to a .322 wOBA), and having Stubbs come off the bench to pinch-run in situations that warranted it, but apparently not.

Obviously the big issue for the Indians is going to be their pitching staff.  Bauer probably isn't ready to contribute to the rotation full-time, or at least isn't likely to be very good yet, Myers is like 47 and pitched out of the bullpen last year, and Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson might not even be good pitchers anymore.  The loss of Rogers and Sipp means that they need to find something from within to get them from the rotation to the back of the bullpen, in Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith.

So yeah, the Indians need pitching, and they have Drew Stubbs to offer.  Drew Stubbs was worth -0.2 WAR last year, and he struck out an astonishing 30% of the time.  He only got on base 27% of the time.  K%>OBP tends to be a pretty bad warning sign.  Even if you're platooning him, he still strikes out 27% of the time against lefties.

Cleveland's got some decent prospects in their system, especially some nice catchers that will probably end up being (at least partially) blocked by Carlos Santana, assuming he stays behind the plate for the majority of his playing time over the next few years.  The issue there is that there is really only 1 decent available starter on the market right now, and that's Bud Norris, of the Houston Astros.

That's actually kind of an issue-- Houston isn't going to want Drew Stubbs, regardless of who they're giving up, since he's scheduled to make more than $500k this year.  That's too much money for Houston, who has a projected payroll of like, what, $15MM?  Norris is quite literally the only person making money on that team now, since Jed Lowrie was traded.  Beyond that, the Indians don't even project to be the best team in their division, so there isn't really a whole lot of incentive to trade away prospects for that last piece.

The Bourn deal is good in a vacuum, I just don't really know what it accomplishes.  The AL Central certainly sucks less now than it did before, but I can't see any way the Tigers don't win this division.  We're fairly late in the offseason, and with spring training starting this week, I doubt many teams are looking to go a different route from what they've currently got.

May as well sign Kyle Lohse.

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