Monday, August 1, 2016

Why the Miller trade was the wrong one to make

Like the rich baseball fan who wanted the Babe Ruth-autographed ball, he didn't have to have it, he just wanted it.

So is the story with the Indians acquisition of Andrew Miller.

He was not what they needed but he was what they wanted.

No one doubts his ability.  No one.  However, we paid dearly for him in prospects.

Here is why this was a bad trade.

We needed a LOOGY.  We didn't get one, although I would say that Miller lessens the need for one.  Miller provides a setup man or closer.  We didn't need either, really.  Here is why: 

Bryan Show is 17-20 in hold situations.  In his 4 losses (including the 3 blown holds) the Indians have scored 11 runs total.  Yes, he blew those holds, but it was the offense that made the game close by not scoring runs.  A few more runs lessens the pressure on Shaw to be perfect.

Cody Allen is 20-22 in save situations.  The Indians won the two games that he blew saves in.  So, from that standpoint, he is perfect in save situations.  His 4 losses came in games he came in with the score tied.  In every one of those games the Indians had a chance to put the game away the inning before Allen pitched and they didn't do it.

So, although our closer and primary setup man are not perfect, they are very effective and could have been even more effective with somewhat better production, especially from the catcher and third base positions. .  

The only two reasons we would NEED Miller are:

a. We have an ineffective or hurt closer or primary setup man (we don't)
b. We have starters who only get us through 6 innings and have ineffective middle relievers and need three shutdown relievers and don't have them.

Even though we have blown a number of holds during this season and the middle relievers are responsible for some of that, it would be a real stretch, looking at their stats, to say McAllister, Manship and Otero are ineffective. 

As far as needing 3 shutdown relievers, here are the results from the current 5 starters in innings pitched:

Corey Kluber: In his 21 starts he has gone 6.2 or more innings 15 times, meaning, if we had the lead we would have needed only two shutdown relievers.  In 5 of the remaining 6 starts he has lost blowouts where having Miller would not have helped.  In one start he went 6 innings and won 7-0, meaning that we likely didn't need 3 shutdown relievers to win that game.

Danny Salazar: In his 20 starts he went 6.2 innings 8 times.  His pitch counts tend to be high in other games and in 6 other starts he either gave up all the runs or enough of the runs where three shutdown relievers would likely not have helped to change the outcome.  In his 6 remaining starts we won 4 of them, meaning that in only two starts is it even possible that having that 3rd shutdown reliever would have changed the outcome.

Carlos Carrasco: In his 15 starts he has gone 6.2 innings or more 5 times.   In the remaining 9 starts the Indians won 6 of those games even though he didn't go very long.  In the three remaining starts he twice gave up more runs than the Indians scored in the entire game.  So, it appears that our relief was not really needed or was effective enough to win his starts almost every time.

Josh Tomlin: In his 19 starts he went 6.2 or more innings 8 times.  In those remaining 11 starts we went 8-3 and in those 3 losses we either got blown out or he gave up more runs in his time on the mound than we scored the entire game.

Trevor Bauer: In his 17 starts he went 6.2 or more innings 7 times.  In his remaining starts he gave up more runs than the Indians scored 3 times and they won 3 other starts.  Thus there were probably 4 starts where we might have needed that 3rd shutdown reliever.

So. looking at the Indians starters, their setup man and their closer and even factoring in the current (and former) middle relievers, there were only a handful of games where the Indians could have used a 3rd shutdown reliever.   I think if we peel the onion back a little more we find that in most of those games if we had prevented a few more runs or scored even 5 runs we would have won a number of those games (a few were blowout losses or wins). 

Look, no one is saying that Andrew Miller won't make this team better.  But having him for 2+ years was NOT worth our top prospect, another in our top 10 and two intriguing throw-in AAA, relatively young, hard-throwing relievers.    Not with holes at LOOGY, catcher and either third base or outfield.  No, this was a bad trade not for who we got or who we gave up but for the fact that the resources we spent should have been used to shore up REAL holes in our team.

And, as I have before, I will end this post by saying that a way to get through to the clubhouse is to dump the totally ineffective Juan Uribe.  He is exactly the type of guy that WAR was created to ferret out. His WAR is -0.4 currently. 

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