Monday, July 16, 2012

Aaron Cunningham - the poster child for the Indians FO

The phrase 'poster child' has evolved.  From it's beginnings where it was used, as it often is today, as a symbol of some medical or poverty condition designed to evoke empathy and the desire to help the child in the picture and children like them, it has now become something else.  It has come to mean  'a person who is a prominent example or representative of something'.   Here are some recent examples pulled off the internet

"Welker latest poster child of 'Patriot Way'" (ESPN blog)

"If you want to elect the poster child for outsourcing, elect Mitt Romney" (President Obama)

"Elizabeth Haselback, Poster Child for the GOP's Problems" (Yahoo News)

"Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government"  (Mitt Romney)

"Kotchman should be the poster child butt-ugly swing" (MLB blog)

And the list goes on and on.

But I would like to add a new one to the list:

"Aaron Cunningham, the poster child for the Indians Front Office"

Mr. Cunningham represents all the ineptitude of the Indians FO that has it's seeds in the '60s and '70s, went into hibernation in the '90s and now has resurfaced under the Chris Antonnetti front office.

You couldn't ask for a better example.  When we traded for Mr. Cunningham last winter, you could have heard a pin drop.  Well, all except for here and a few other places where you might have heard "What the F___?!?!?!"  You see, Mr. Cunningham represented the prototypical AAAA player.  He had no tangible major league ability that you couldn't get from about 20 minor league free agent-caliber outfielders AND he was out of options meaning, even for the lowly San Diego Padres, he was soon to be a AAAA player in the flesh as no way would he have entered the season on a rebuilding Padres' team.  You don't rebuild with Aaron Cunningham, you rebuild IN SPITE of Aaron Cunningham.

So the Indians traded Cory Burns for Cunningham and had to designate Josh Judy to make room for Cunningham on the 40 man roster.    Judy was picked up off waivers by Cincinnati and, with options remaining, was pitching for the Louisville Bats in AAA.  He was mediocre for most of the season but is now pitching poorly.  Burns has been good for the Tucson AAA team until recently, when he has been lights out. 

Why am I thinking about this today?  Well the Indians released Trevor Crowe today.  The switch-hitting Trevor Crowe.  Crowe has a .245 career ML average, 3 HR in 653 ML ABs, 29 SB and .625 OPS.  Cunningham has a .222 ML average with 7 HR in 445 AB and has 4 stolen bases and a .637 OPS.  Cunningham, counting this season, has hit under .200 in three of his five ML seasons.  Crowe has never hit under .200 in any of his 3 ML seasons.   You may think Trevor Crowe is trash but, even if that were true, he's our trash and didn't cost us any players. 

The problem I have with the Cunningham situation is that Trevor Crowe and Ezequiel Carrera were already guys in the Indians minor league system with major league experience in center field and minor league experience at all three OF positions at the time we traded for Cunningham.  We also had Tim Fedroff at AA if neither Carrera or Crowe worked out at that meaningless position of 4th outfielder/25th man on the roster.

So, by putting Crowe on the roster and substituting Carrera for him if Crowe got hurt (which he did), we had more than enough coverage for our ML roster in extra outfielders with Fedroff as the minor league insurance.  Add Chad Huffman and Ryan Spillboroughs to Fedroff and we had minor league coverage, as well.  Heck, had we waited two weeks San Diego would have probably released Cunningham and we could have had him as a minor league FA, too.

But nooooooooooo.  We had to trade for Cunningham which has now cost us two relief prospects and a 4th outfielder/insurance outfielder who we drafted and developed..

Admittedly, there was not enough playing time at Columbus for Crowe once we brought in 32-year old Vinny Rotino to AAA.  With AAAA guys Chad Huffman and Rotino, what chance was there for Crowe to play considering we also had Fedroff and Carrera.    So the answer to this excess: no, it's not to cut Cunningham, Rottino or Huffman.  No, instead,  let's cut our own guy who had been hitting well (.320) early in the season at Columbus before going on the DL for two months and coming back with a 3-27 rust-ridden stint in Columbus after the injury that brought his average down to a pedestrian .250 level.  Of course, this gave the FO the out to dump Crowe.  I mean, who would ever grouse over releasing a .250 AAA outfielder?

Well, I will, but only because of Cunningham.  We have now lost Burns, Judy and Crowe in the name of keeping Cunningham on this roster.

Considering the disasters of the CC, Cliff Lee and Ubaldo Jimenez trades, and the plethora of AAAA type players we have had to endure, Cunningham fits right in.  Trading for a guy who was pathetic before he got here and is JUST as pathetic now and in exactly the same ways he previously was,  is really looking stupid.  He is the ZERO tool guy.  He can't steal, he can't hit for average, he can't hit for power, his defense is mediocre and his arm is mediocre.

Cunningham is the poster child for the ineptness of the Indians' FO.  Should we get rid of him soon, we have depth at that 'position'.  Kevin Slowey, who cost us a good prospect in Zach Putnam and a chunk of money, comes to mind as does almost every one of the pathetic group of AAAA players that have paraded through Cleveland in the last 4 years while guys like Zach Putnam, Josh Judy and others have been traded, released or lost on waivers, mostly after being given little or no opportunity to establish themselves in the majors, even in losing or mediocre seasons.

For those of you who think the picture is all milk and cookies, look at it this way.  If Putnam, Judy, Crowe and some of the other guys we have let go for nothing were here, they might have at least been enticements if we wanted to make a small deadline trade.  Now, we don't have them and are likely to lose other prospects as Antonnetti clearly doesn't value any but the very top line prospects and is willing to trade them for trash.  But you know the garage sale warrior's motto: one man's trash is another man's...well...trash.
Hey, in the big scheme of things losing Trevor Crowe means little.  But as long as Aaron Cunningham is on this roster and stinking it up like he has for the vast majority of his ML career, as long as the Indians' FO continues to make pathetically, comically, frustratingly strange and stupid moves, Aaron Cunningham will be my poster child for the Indians front office.  Mr. Antonnetti, better get the printing presses ready.  Let's crank out those commenorative Aaron Cunningham posters which we can give out on the day the Indians are mathematically eliminated this year.  Who better to be the poster child  for the Indians' mathematical elimination than Mr. Ineptitude himself: Aaron Cunningham?

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