Thursday, April 28, 2011

When the Present and the Future Collide

Well, Alex White is coming.  As he (and we) prepare for his ML debut on Saturday, let's consider what this all means. 

Let's start with the realization that White did not have to be protected on the 40-man roster until next winter.  Thus, he is making his ML debut and taking a 40-man roster spot two seasons before he has to. 

So, a couple of things can happen: 

(1) He can be successful which means he will most likely be arbitration eligible in 2014 instead of 2017 (if his first ML experience was in 2013)
(2) He can be unsuccessful or we can protect against him being a super 2 which would mean him going back to the minors but the Indians having burned one of his option years.

What WILL happen is that we will most likely have one less 40-man roster spot this winter although there is a loophole, I think, that would let us take White off the 40-man after this season and still not expose him to waivers.

Nevertheless, the Indians' FO is actually starting to believe their own hype and thinking they can compete.  If you had to try catching lightning in a bottle wouldn't you do it with a guy like White?  I would too, I guess, except that I don't believe we can compete for a division title this year, current record notwithstanding.   I think we should have planned for this and brought up either David Huff or Zach McAllister, each of whom woujld have to have been held back from their most recent start to pitch on at least 5 days rest to make this start in Cleveland.  Not ideal, but it could have been done to protect White's future AND keep us from having to DFA someone off our 40 man roster.  The most likely candidates are Jess Todd or, if we feel we don't need him long-term, Travis Buck.  We could also move Nick Weglarz or  to the the 60-day DL, I guess, as we haven't heard that he is ready to play so adding another 30 days to his DL time is probably not unheard of..  This would not be ideal as it starts his service clock, would cost us an option if we sent him to the minors now and costs us paying him ML salary.  However, we did it with Jared Goedert so it is not out of the question.   We might also consider doing this for Hector Rondon, who I predicted we might do this with to clear the roster spot we needed before the season.

I think this is a long-term tactical mistake and smells and feels like what happened when they tried to rush Steve Dunning and Jeremy Guthrie to the majors, only to get rid of them when they were still developing.  The latter was more of a loss than the former who shut up the Indians' FO supporters as he is currently on his way to his 4th sub 4.00 ERA season in 5 as a Baltimore starter, having pitched 200+ innings in 2009 and 2010. 

The point is still the same: rushing a guy to the majors before he has to be rostered is a mistake.  So, while I applaud the Indians for their stones in rolling the option/arbitration dice in this situation, it's just bad long-term strategy.

Let's hope it works in the short term to spark fan interest because, frankly, at 9,000 and change every night even for a team with close to the best record in baseball, the Cleveland fan base needs a swift kick in the pants to get their rear ends down to the Prog.

In thinking about the White promotion, phrases like "penny-wise and pound-foolish" and "robbing Peter to pay Paul" come to mind to describe this situation although some would say "Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?" is a more appropriate phrase.

Time will tell, but development-wise, option-wise and financial-wise, this is a mistake done by desperate men trying to ride the wave of early season success into late spring/summer months and hopefully higher attendance.

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