When the Pittsburgh Pirates finished off the St. Louis Cardinals in 10 innings last night, MLB reached its unofficial mid-point of the season. There are teams that have played as few as 86 games (KC, the White Sox, and Reds), and teams that have plaed as many as 91 (the Phils, Athletics, Jays, and Rays) with everyone else falling in between. The amount of games played has not so far determined the amount of wins produced. The Phillies have an MLB-low 29 wins heading in to the break, and the Athletics hold down last place in the A.L. West. The Rays and Jays have combined to go .500, but despite that, both are within 4 1\2 games of the first place N.Y. Yankees. Meanwhile, KC has won the most games in the A.L., and has the 2nd best winning percentage behind the Cardinals in all of the big leagues. The White Sox and Reds are both likely to be big-time sellers come the July trade deadline, unless they come out of the All-Star break like the Boston Red Sox in 1988. Some further thoughts on how the first half of the season went down:
Matthew Kline’s analysis of the David Price trade was spot on and it got me thinking about my perspective on the issue. The deal was an utter failure for the Tampa Bay Rays, their fans and the general state of baseball in Florida (do they even deserve two teams down there?).
I’ll admit I was convinced the Rays were keeping Price to make a run at this year’s pennant in an up-for-grabs AL East. Apparently the surging Baltimore Orioles convinced them it would be better to deal away the best thing (maybe the only thing) they had going for them.
Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin are serviceable Major League talents and will positively impact the team in the years to come but c’mon. The Rays should have needed a barge to haul all the prospects they got in return for the most sought-after player at the deadline. Instead, they needed only a makeshift raft. I’m left wondering how the team with seemingly all the power in these negotiations ended up getting the shortest of all possible straws.
The Seattle Mariners got an absolute bargain here! All they had to do was go along for the ride and hang on tight. They picked up a reliable everyday centerfielder in Austin Jackson just by sending Franklin to Tampa. It seems like the Rays got cheated.
If that’s what you believe then direct your anger toward the Rays’ front office. Sending away your best player while in the middle of a division race means you cannot play that “small market” public relations card that has allowed you to hide the fact you aren’t truly committed to winning championships. Having little spending money is one thing, indifference is quite another. Notice how Oakland all of a sudden doesn’t care much about payroll.
The only logical explanation I can offer is this: Dave Dombrowski, the Detroit Tigers General Manager/ President/ CEO. He is the very best in the business at what he does. At least it appears that way with all the tremendous transactions he has made in his tenure. (I also believe all but a handful of GMs aren’t given enough authority to effectively alter their teams’ rosters, thus making it hard to compete with Dombrowski who clearly does.)
The acquisition of David Price is one of the many blockbuster moves Dombrowski has pulled off for the benefit of the Tigers and their fans. The complete list is long. Most of these moves go under the radar or are forgotten about in due time, but the highlights are evident when watching the team. Take a look:
- Seems like ancient history by now but Polanco was invaluable during the resurrection of baseball in Detroit along with Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez.
- Willis was fun to watch for maybe three starts but who cares about him. This deal landed the game’s best hitter in Detroit. Maybin and Miller have had marginal success in the Bigs but again, who cares.
- Boy oh boy did I have a hard time talking to Tigers fans about this trade. Granderson was loved in Detroit and it seemed everyone refused to acknowledge this as a good trade simply because he was shipped out. He never would’ve become the player he is today had he not gone to the Yankees back then. Edwin Jackson continues his grand tour around baseball playing for the Cubs these days (his ninth team in his twelve seasons). Austin Jackson stepped seamlessly into the void left by Granderson and remained the starting centerfielder until recently being dealt in the Price trade. Coke struggles a lot but who in the Tigers ‘pen doesn’t nowadays. Scherzer took some time to pan out but I’d say winning last year’s Cy Young more than makes up for his late bloom. And I will continue to ask Detroiters if they still miss the Grandy man.
- Not Soto the catcher, some lefty who I haven’t heard anything from since. Peralta literally made history immediately dropping bombs over the Green Monster in his first two at-bats with the Tigers (the only player ever to do so). He was suspended 50 games last year and was forced to move to left field when he got back because Jose Iglesias was manning shortstop by then. Peralta still hit better than everyone not named Victor Martinez during the postseason. It would have been nice to have him at short this season too with Iglesias on the shelf.
- Turner is still trying to lockdown a permanent spot in the Miami rotation while Sanchez has soared. The American League ERA leader from last year has electric stuff even though he goes mostly unnoticed considering the arms that surround him. Infante was a Tiger earlier in his career. It was nice to see him back at second base since everyone and their mother in the Tigers’ system was trotted out at the position after he left the first time. He’s moved on again, to Kansas City this time but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back once more to finish his career in Detroit.
July 2013: Avisail Garcia, Brayan Villareal for Jose Iglesias.
- This was part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. Garcia has been hurt ever since getting to Chicago which really is too bad because he and Jose Abreu would have made for an incredible 3-4 punch. Iglesias wowed everyone who watched him in the field down the stretch last year. He too has been hurt for the entirety of this season. If he can’t come back healthy and stay that way, I’ll have to say I don’t like this deal because I hated seeing Garcia go, especially to a division rival.
- As a Tigers fan, the only thing better than signing Fielder was trading him away. Kinsler is the straw that stirs the Tigers’ drink. I was ecstatic when I heard this news and have not at all been disappointed by the results thus far. Rangers fans would have to disagree I’m sure since Fielder didn’t play more than a couple months this season before being diagnosed with a season-ending neck injury.
- This one’s still up in the air a bit. Ray has become the Tigers’ top pitching prospect. Krol has looked too much like Coke when he’s been healthy. Lombardozzi was soon dealt to Baltimore for Alex Gonzalez (ugh). Put it this way though, without having dealt Fister the Tigers wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get Price.
So now I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t the fault of Tampa Bay’s front office. Maybe Dave Dombrowski is just that damn good at what he does.
I have absolutely no love for J.D. Drew. In fact, he may be the first player who suited up for the Boston Red Sox that actually made me physically ill. Since his retirement, there have been a handful of other players donning the Sox uni that have caused the same reaction, and right at the top of that list is J.D.’s little brother, Stephen Drew.
I will forever hold Stephen Drew responsible for the Red Sox loss of Jose Iglesias, the man who would have solved the Sox SS problems for the next 15 years. Fortunately for Red Sox Nation, it appears that the Sox have a ready-made replacement for Iglesias with wunderkind Xander Bogaerts.
Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.
First Buster Olney said this…
Some rival evaluators believe that Shin-Soo Choo will now land in Detroit, to play LF. We’ll see.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 21, 2013
Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.
If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.
First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.
That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.
The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.
In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.
While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.
All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.
First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?
Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.
Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.
Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.
Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.
First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.
Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.
The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it. The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.
This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.
The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.
Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.
Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?
Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.
First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.
Even then, however, things will still be difficult.
They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.
Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.
Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.
If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.
All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.
Over the last 40 years or so, the world of sport has changed considerably. On some counts, this is a good thing. Players earning the right to have a say in where they will ply their talents and at what price was seen as a boon for athletes when the reserve clause was eviscerated by the Seitz decision in 1975. [1. Kudos have to be given to Curt Flood, who set that process in motion by originally filing suit to become a free agent after the Cardinals traded him to the Phillies. Flood lost his case, but it led to conditions being placed in the CBA that allowed for the Seitz decision to happen.] The downside of the decision was that it meant players did not often stick around long, but instead chose to play for the highest bidder. That is the American way, and I am in no way here to suggest that the players don’t deserve what they’ve got now. If management hadn’t been so stingy for the first 100 years of professional ball, perhaps players would care more about being home grown and would play for a ‘home town discount’ far more often than they do.
With the MLB trade deadline now passed, I thought I would review my least favorite deal that actually went down. In this deal, the Boston Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy, the Detroit Tigers got Jose Iglesias, and the Chicago White Sox ditched Peavy’s contract and freed up $14.5 for the 2014 season. [1. The Red Sox also acquired Brayan Villarreal, while the White Sox picked up Cleuluis Rondon, Francellis Montas, and Jeffrey Wendelken from the Red Sox, along with Avisail Garcia from the White Sox. Allegedly Garcia is a top prospect, but his minor and major league numbers are middling thusfar, IMO.] The Red Sox acquiring a pitcher who was essentially being given away should probably raise some flags, that is not my primary concern for today. The big question that I would love to have answered is how did the Tigers manage to acquire Jose Iglesias [2. The likely 2013 AL Rookie of the Year] for such a piddling package?
The hypocrisy of the MLB Final Vote was fully revealed over the weekend when the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig was chosen as one of the five finalists for the N.L. while fellow rookie Jose Iglesias was left off the A.L. ballot. Heading in to yesterday’s games, Jose Iglesias had played in 44 games for the Boston Red Sox, compiling a .403 average, a .455 OBP, and a .971 OPS. Not too shabby for a guy that the Sox seemed hell-bent on not playing in 2013. Conversely, Yasiel Puig had played in 31 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers while putting up a .407/.435/1.118 line. Both are having fairly impressive campaigns, but only one of the two has been proffered as a potential All-Star game participant since his 6th game this season.
The problem for those that wanted to see Puig immediately placed on the All-Star ballot is that he didn’t make his MLB debut until June 3rd. On the ‘plus’ side of things, MLB has the “Final Vote” where fans are allowed to select one of five players for the 34th and final roster spot. The most obvious move that could be made was that Puig would be one of the five finalists for the N.L. no matter what. Continue reading MLB's Final Vote is a Sham
Jose Iglesias is going to give Sox manager John Farrell fits before the end of the season. In fact, he likely already has done so. When the season began, he was used as a stop-gap measure to cover for the always fragile Stephen Drew, who was on the 7-day concussion DL (a very serious matter, for sure.) Iglesias responded by going 9-20 (.450) with 4 multi-hit games in the 5 games in which he had an at-bat. When Drew was ready to play, Iglesias was summarily sent back to Pawtucket (AAA) and essentially told to wait his turn.
When it was announced that the Boston Red Sox had
made the mistake of signing signed Stephen Drew (brother to the lecherous J.D. Drew), I consoled myself with the thought that it was only a one-year deal, and if he turned out to be terrible, they could simply cut ties with him, pay him his cash and promote Jose Iglesias.
For those who have been stuck following the Drew brothers throughout their professionsal ‘careers’, it was not a huge surprise that he began the season on the DL (Yes, it was the special 7 day DL for concussion injuries, and yes, I know we’re supposed to take concussion injuries much more seriously now, but but the brothers Drew are so likely to be ‘injured’ that a friend of mine and I coined the phrase “Fragile Drew Syndrome” to cover any and all injuries they might incur. If it wasn’t so easily proven how fragile they were, it’d almost be funny.)
What was a surprise is the way that Iglesias performed in his absence. In the 6 games that he got to play in, Iglesias racked up a .450 average (9-20) to go along with a robust 1.028 OPS. After that performance, I was sold on Iglesias being the full-time SS going forward. I argued that there was no need for the Red Sox to feel any sense of loyalty to Drew, as he was an off-season signing, and not the established SS. If he had been the established guy, I would have felt that it was necessary for the Sox to give him the chance to prove that he was capable of handling the job. He wasn’t though, and $9 million should make for a lovely parting gift, in any event.
The Boston Red Sox find themselves in a strangely familiar position as spring training began its final week yesterday. The club is coming off of a disappointing season, and there are unresolved questions left in camp about who will and will not break camp with the big club. Going in to yesterday’s game versus the Philadelphia Phillies with Cliff Lee on the hill, manager John Farrell stated that the game was a test for Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Bradley, Jr., who entered the camp with a .429 Grapefruit League average might not have thought he had anything left to prove, and that he had more than earned his place on the Opening Day roster. If that had been his attitude, I would have wholeheartedly agreed. There really wasn’t anything left that he needed to prove (conversely, the $39 million man, Shane Victorino, entered yesterday’s contest with a paltry .138 average.), but he accepted the challenge and showed up in a big way.