Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Ubaldo Jimenez trade and all the moves after it. The "i"s have it.

OK, so we will start with a riddle.  What are two words that mean the same thing, with one ending in “i” and the other beginning with “i”?  Back to that later.

The Indians have made three trades involving ace starters over the past 3+ years.  As was easily predictable at the time, the return on the CC and Cliff Lee trades was pathetic.   It took most bloggers 3+ years to see this but it WAS apparent at the time.

Last July the Indians, under Chris Antonnetti (hint: the first word in the riddle above) traded FOR a front of rotation starter.  You do that when you are going for it and our GM had apparently decided that he was going for it because he gave up our top 3 pitching prospects, two of whom were probably in the top 50 prospects in all of baseball.

 So, Antonnetti took a big gamble, maybe a foolish gamble, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  So, if you are going to go for it, go for it, right?  However, since then, we have seen him make move after move that weakens the future of this franchise without strengthening the present, with one small exception, Derek Lowe for Chris Jones:  Atlanta was so interested in dumping this guy that they paid $10 million to do it.  And all we had to give up was a 2nd or 3rd tier prospect to get him and pay him $5 million for one year.  Great.  He makes us somewhat better as he can eat innings and save the bullpen as our 5th starter and if we catch lightning in a bottle, he makes us really better in probably a free agent year for him.

After the Lowe trade, however, Mr. Antonneti showed us what he thinks of this organization’s pitching prospects  He thinks very little of their value either to this team or in trades.  But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he got good pickups with these trading chips.  Well, unfortunately he did not. 

·     He traded a 2nd tier (top 40 in the organization) relief prospect Cory Burns for the .189 hitting 4th outfielder, Aaron Cunningham, who is out of options and can become a six year minor league free agent if we try to option him to the minors.  Ouch.  But it gets better.  He also lost another minor league reliever, Josh Judy, a top 20 prospect in our system on waivers to roster Cunningham. Ouch, ouch!.
·    He then proceeded to negotiate with Mike Cameron, Carlos Beltran and signed Ryan Spillboroughs to fill the roster spot he just gave to Aaron Cunnungham at a bloated price.  Ourch, part 3!.  Puzzling, at best, especially considering that he now has EIGHT outfielders on his 40-man roster, all of whom will be in AAA or the majors this year. And that doesn't even count Trevor Crowe, who is still under the Indians' control.
·    Then, finding out that Fausto isn’t just being Fausto, he panicked and traded a top 10 prospect in our system, Zach Putnam (another minor league reliever) for a guy, Kevin Slowey, who was 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA last year and isn’t obviously healthy for this season.  Remember Slowey had just been traded a month before for a single A reliever worse than Cory Burns and similar to Chris Jones, neither of whom were top 30 prospects for the Indians with Jones being only a top 50 prospect, at best.  And Antonneti did this KNOWING that he had Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Zach McAllister and Scott Barnes, all starting pitchers, at AAA to fill Fausto’s spot if he can’t pitch this year. 
·    Finally, he then proceeded to sign FIVE minor league free agent relief pitchers to add depth to our team which he had just depleted in the two pathetic and head-scratching trades above and a resulting loss.

So, in summary, Antonnetti apparently doesn’t value his pitching prospects at all and, while that is OK, doesn’t appear to get any value for them either.  He doesn’t want them but can’t get present value for them, either.  Perfect! 

It appears Mr. Antonnetti is pancking, trying to justify his Jimenez trade with a series of bizarre, head-scratching moves that have done nothing to help the ML team but have really hurt our upper level pitching prospects in our organization.  Only someone truly incompetent would do that…which is, by the way, the answer to the 2nd word in the riddle that we started with.

1-24-12 Update: With the signing of Prince Fielder by the Tigers, the gap between the Tigers and the Indians got bigger, meaning that the trade for Jimenez and the subsequent trades of quality prospects for little return are less likely to make us competitive.  As I said at the time of the Jimenez trade, it was a big gamble and that the FO better know what it is doing.

No comments:

Post a Comment