Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What If?

OK, so I am a Cleveland Indians fan and, as such, I believe that the future of the Cleveland Indians is, well, the future.  In Cleveland you never play for the present.  The ‘90s showed us what you can do if you have a core of homegrown and traded-for prospects whose rights you control for a lot of years.  It also showed us what happens if you then stop worrying about player development and become a buyer of veterans, using the next waves of prospects as currency.

But, let’s play “What If?”

What if the Indians traded for Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes?

The Mets signaled the beginning of their fire sale by trading FRod to Milwaukee yesterday for two PTBNL, the quality of which are unknown but probably decent, although the Brewers have already decimated their farm system by ‘going for it’ this year.

Beltran is rumored to be going to SanFran or Detroit but, what if?

First, I wouldn’t want JUST Beltran.  That would be too expensive for too little in return although, as a switch-hitter he solves our RH-hitting OF power issue, at least on paper.  He is a free agent at the end of this year and he is making $18.5 million this year.  Depending on what type of prospects the Mets pried from Milwaukee, I am betting, with the competition for Beltran, he would cost too much, especially with his pending free agency. He could be part of a trade, but not the centerpiece, and would be as much to keep him out of Detroit as to solve or RH power hitting problem. 

But, what if we could get Reyes, too?

The Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, has said that Reyes, currently on the DL but looking fit at the All-Star game workouts, is not going to be traded.  It might be a public relations nightmare if he was.  In New York, rebuilding is defined as waiting until high priced all-stars from other teams become free agents and then signing them to bloated contracts, NOT trading popular veterans for prospects.  Not in NY, not with the Yankees lurking.. 

But what if?

Hear me out.

Very few teams in baseball could offer an immediate replacement for Reyes, one the sizeable Latino community in the Big Apple could relate to, one who wouldn’t be a PR nightmare as a replacement for  a guy who is considered in many circles as the best all-around player in baseball.  We can: Asdrubal Cabrera.  Cabrera is about to get REAL expensive, entering his second of three arbitration years.  However, we do own him for two more seasons after this one.  Reyes is a free agent at the end of the year, meaning he won’t be back to Cleveland next year.  I think it is clear that the Mets, with their resources, could sign Cabrera to an extension giving them 3-4 or more years of ACab instead of risking that they could re-sign Reyes and at a cheaper pay rate than Reyes will command.  So that part of the deal would work.

But who else do we trade?

Look, it is going to take at least one blue chip prospect and probably a low minors, high upside prospect in addition to Cabrera to get this done.  The guy most likely as the blue chip prospect would be either Jason Kipnis (currently ranked 31st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America) or Drew Pomeranz (ranked #13).  Let’s assume they want Pomeranz if, for no other reasons then that he is a pitcher (only three of their top 10 prospects are pitchers and it is a relatively weak prospect list) and it is better PR to get the higher ranked prospect.  Plus Chisenhall plays third base, currently occupied by an all-star in David Wright who, while being injured right now, is still their star at third and Kipnis is a ML hitter, but still questionable as a ML secondbaseman.   For the low minors, high upside guy, what about LeVon Washington, who is currently the whipping boy of various Indians’ minor league forums?

So, what about this for a trade:

Mets get: Cabrera, Pomeranz, Washington, Austin Kearns, Chad Durbin (sorry, I want the latter two gone so, like the Colon trade in which we got Stevens, I want to dump Kearns and Durbin on the Mets)

Indians get: Reyes, Beltran, minor league pitcher Taylor Whitenton and about $8 million.

The Indians save their top position player prospects and “go for it” for their fans AND get a low minors starter with some upside (which teams tend to do so the true result of a trade ‘isn’t known for several years’).  The Mets get their SS replacement, a near-ready top prospect LH pitcher and a deep minors guy (for the same reason the Indians want one). Plus the Indians get draft choices when Reyes doesn’t sign and maybe draft choices when Beltran signs elsewhere if they have the stones to offer him arbitration.  So, this is a trade the Indians might be able to make.  But would they want to?

Reyes is injured

Beltran is not hitting lefthanded pitching very well this year (.202) although he is good for his career (.295).

Cabrera has two more years left before he can be a free agent and we might be poised next season to start a dynasty.  Trading him with no ready replacement could take the legs out from under that dynasty.

Pomeranz is the future and a significant part of that dynasty, if it comes into being.

LeVon Washington is the distant future and part of the fuel that will keep that dynasty going, if he develops..

No, I wouldn’t do this.  Not in a million years.  I eat the 2011 season and choke on it before I do this

But then I am a lifelong Cleveland Indians’ fan and, for me, the future is…the future.

But what if?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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