Buyer or Seller at the trade deadline?
OK, let it be known that this column will be laced with my bias: small market teams should never be buyers at the trade deadline. That being said...
Yes, you don’t always get a chance to win. Injuries, teams (like the Indians) having unbelievable seasons and other factors topple the best laid (and funded) plans for success.
But we are not talking about MOST teams here. We are talking about the Cleveland Indians, a team (2011 version) that can’t compete in the playoffs even if they get there. Anything can happen, you say? Look at the Giants last year, you say? Well, exceptions do exist but tell the fans of the Minnesota Twins that when you get to the playoffs anything can happen. They’ll probably laugh and roll their eyes.
There are 18 teams in legitimate competition for 8 playoff spots. Four, counting us, in our division. TEN of those teams will not make the playoffs. Why roll the dice that, against all odds, we will be one of the eight when, even if we get there, we don't have the horses to win, at least not on paper.
So what do we do now?
At some point we will get our injured players back. Will we be out of the race by then? Maybe. However, I would rather bet that we will be in it when we get internal reinforcements rather than knee-jerking into making a stopgap move now. Perusing the available veteran power, righthanded hitting outfielders, I am not impressed. I stand pat. There is no one there that tempting unless some team just wants to do a salary dump. Yeah, I take Ludwick if the cost is Cory Kluber or something like that. However, I don’t trade real prospects for one of these guys. They just aren’t worth it.
However, if we WERE going to trade prospects the best guys to trade would be guys with limited previous upside who are having career years. Here’s some names to consider:
Scott Barnes – Having really a career year, all things considered.
Vinnie Pestano – (NOTE: I wrote this column before his implosion tonight) – One guy who I think has the lowest chance of maintaining his current level is Pestano.
Tim Fedroff – OK, so he won’t bring much. But there may be some interest based on his 2011 season and his prospect ranking.
TJ McFarland – He is having a good year but he still only throws in the 80s. He is a guy who is hot right now and might be worth more now than ever in his career.
Now, who do you trade these guys for? The idea would be to get a young righthanded hitting OFer with some current power who is blocked on his current team, one battling for a division championship. Then, even if you don’t win this year, you have some hope for the future. The guy wouldn’t have to be a starter on his current team, just have the ability to start and produce as a stopgap until injury guys come back.
Unfortunately, I am not sure that this kind of guy exists. Maybe Allen Craig in St. Louis. And I think we could get him for a veteran like OCab or Joe Smith.
There is also the possibility of getting a guy like Jeff Francouer from KC. He would cost us some prospects, hopefully no more than McFarland plus Fedroff. I would rather bet on him than on Ryan Ludwick or some other grizzled free agent to be.So, for me, right now it is Craig or Francouer with the former costing us a veteran or two and the latter costing us some prospects.
Still, I don't see anyone I would give up Scott Barnes or Vinnie Pestano for. It would have to be a great deal, trading strength for strength, before I trade those guys.
And, we should, under all circumstances, trade Joe Smith, Kearns, Duncan, Buck and Durbin in addition to probably trading OCab.
I don't like trading at the deadline. I don't like trading prospects for stopgap veterans. I am a Cleveland Indians fan. To me, the future is....the future. It is never NOW. Just who I am and what I do.