After going on what was undoubtedly their worst stretch of the still young season, having lost 14 of 19 at one point, the Indians still possess most of the tools necessary to win the American League Central division. Their Starting pitching, check, the defense, check, their bullpen, woah...big check; the lumber is all that is lacking for them right now.
Still just 0.5 games behind the easily catch able Detroit Tigers, who aren't running away from anybody, a move on General Manager Chris Antonetti's part could put the Tribe back in the drivers seat; or, at least we hope so. Though the trade market can be tough, several offensive components are within the Tribe's reach.
1. Ryan Ludwick has been here before, why not again?
The San Diego Padres are a team desolated of star players, but brought in several young prospects that aspire to one day be worth more than the players the Padres lost. San Diego is not in need of an "A" level prospect, but they wouldn't just give a player away. One that they've looked to deal is outfielder Ryan Ludwick. He fits the Indians needs because his right handed power would give equilibrium to a left handed heavy lineup. His 10 home runs (eight of them versus righties) and 50 runs batted in are a must add for the Indians. Though he does not hit AL Central opponents well, the element of right handed pop at a decent price is a luxury the Indians should be salivating at the mouth for.
2. They should at least take a flyer on Michael Cuddyer
The Minnesota Twins probably would not deal him to a divisional opponent, but they might, if they get a good enough offer. His clubhouse headship, stable character, and his multi purpose glove make him a highly coveted player. Though currently a right fielder, he has made 185 career starts at first base, 74 at second, 171 at third, and an occasion appearance in center field. The Twins will be enticed to keep him, but will most likely be big time sellers at the trade deadline.
3. Oakland willing to move Willingham
Major league travels man Josh Willingham brings a similar feature to the table that the Indians lack: Right handed power. The Athletics usually never ask for a top tier minor leaguer when trading, and can turn just about anyone into a decent Major-League player due to their fabulous minor league system. This is a bargain that Antonetti shouldn't pass up. The problem is, he is currently nursing a strained left Achillies, but should return by the first week of July. However, Chris Antonetti does not prefer right hander hitters to lefties.
4. Rangers' Young provides veteran experience
The reigning A.L. champion Texas Rangers have kept an eye out for offers on infielder Michael Young. They've wanted to deal him, but never found the opportune time. A lineup that packs a punch can afford to let him go, but here, the price may be too high. A team contending for the pennant must squeeze every penny out of its business partner, and the Indians may not be willing to part with their young pitching.
5. Teams are hunting Pence
Houston's Hunter Pence may be out of the question at this point, but he would look terrific in an Indian's uniform. The lean, 6-foot-4 218 pound, athletic outfielder will be perhaps the most sought after player in the big leagues this July. He hits for a high average and hits well when the Indians usually struggle; with runners in scoring position. His bat in the line up would be a huge upgrade, but, to the Indians, his abilities are probably out of reach. But hey, nothing wrong with dreaming big right?
In order to be buyers come July 31st, Chris Antonetti wants his team to play better first. In today's economy, only the best of the best in the business will be upgrading via trades; the rest will auction what they have for future investments. The Indians could be both buyers and sellers this season, but only the upcoming three to four weeks will reveal the team's future.