With Choo out maybe until the September stretch run and LaPorta out, this team which, predictably, has offensive struggles and not enough starting pitching to make up for it, needs something.
Here is what they need: They need to start treating this season like they are in last place!
Yes, that's right, start trading veterans and start in the next two weeks.
How can I say that when they are in first place at the latest date in the year since 2007? First, look at who we are:
What type of franchise do we have? SMALL MARKET
What type of budget do we have: SMALL BUDGET
What type of fans do we have: EITHER NON-EXISTENT OR ULTRA-FAIR WEATHER
What chance do we have to win this division: ONLY IF EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THIS DIVISION IS UNDER .500. The Indians are currently 10-19 in their last 29 games and, if you take away the 3 game sweep of the Pirates, they are 7-19.
So, we just give up? No, absolutely the opposite. But we do dump veterans and give you players a chance. The problem is, there aren't that many young players who are ready. So we take the leap and hope for a soft landing.
1. We trade Orlando Cabrera and Adam Everett and bring up Jason Kipnis and Luis Valbuena. Yes, this is a downgrade but it gives us a chance to see Kipnis play second with Valbuena as insurance. We also start working out Cord Phelps in LF and play him a little at 3B. Valbuena can be given a shot at 3B, too.
2. We trade Jack Hanrahan and Austin Kearns. Yeah, we won't get much for either but it is time that clear space for the young guys. Plus, Donald appears to be heating it up at AAA. Maybe in a week or so he is ready!
3. Right now we keep Shelly Duncan and Travis Buck. The market for Duncan will stay as strong as the market for Shelly Duncan can ever be because of his ability to pinch hit. We will be able to rid ourselves of Duncan once LaPorta comes back and shows he is healthy. Buck I am less thrilled with but I would like to keep him around just for a little while. Eventually I want to replace these two guys with Jerad Head and Ezequiel Carrera. Nick Johnson? Yeah, well, he isn't hitting a lick at AAA and he can stay there until he asks for his release or until we trade him.
4. Release or trade Chad Durbin and trade Joe Smith. The former is no loss but Joe Smith might bring us something in trade. Bring up Judy, bring up Putnam, bring up (or keep up) Hermann. Time to see if some of the young guys can help out and bring fresh arms and fresh looks that may buoy this bullpen up until September. These guys have good stuff but the league doesn't have a book on them yet. This is an advantage to us.
5. Keep Lonnie Chisenhall in the minors until August 1st.
6. Keep the starting rotation as is through July 30th. Either these guys are too young or have too little present value to trade AND they are all good enough to start for this team. Still, if we get a great offer for ANY of these guys, including Tomlin, we trade them now. McAllister and Gomez are knocking on the door and Barnes is showing that he can be a viable starting option, as well. If we can clear Talbot and Carmona off the books and get something good back for them I would be inclined to do that. Unfortunately, that would take a miracle but we have seen, in June and July, miracles DO happen (see Choo and Cabrera trades a few years back and Kearns trade last year).
Bottom line: We CAN and SHOULD be sellers from now until August 1st. We should NOT be buyers this year or in ANY year, IMHO. We should be a franchis based on selling vets instead of acquiring them for a stretch run. That's what you do in small markets.
Besides, the young guys we have in AAA will help (I think McAllister would give us a better chance to win every night than Carmona right now) and, if guys like Hagadone can get it together, maybe more than just help. We CAN compete by trading these fringe MLers/AAAA players/grizzled veterans and plug in rookies in their spots. We can probably compete better than we are right now, for that matter.
Just my unconventional thinking.