The month of July is already in full swing, and the Major League Baseball trade deadline talks are beginning to heat up. Last season, the Indians were one of the most active teams in the league. Unfortunately, it was not in a light that pleased the fans of the city. They sold almost everything in sight; anything that had the least bit of value. Those names included Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko, Rafael Betancourt, Ben Francisco, and of course, most notably Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee. It was a fire sale that was perhaps one of the hardest to watch for Tribe enthusiasts.
This year, the wheeling and dealing will probably not be comparable to 2009. There just isn't much to get rid of to begin with on this Cleveland 25-man roster. But some players will find that their fate lies with another club for the rest of the 2010 campaign. Others will have to suffer (suffer is such a harsh word, I should say, endure) a long and difficult season of continuous "L's" being placed in the standings.
So we shall examine them one by one.
Leading off is Jhonny Peralta. A long time Indian, Jhonny is has clearly been affected by the lack of talent, or technically the lack of major league-ready players surrounding him. The last time the Indians had a winning season, which was in 2007, he belted 21 balls out of the park. In the past season and a half, he has combined for just 16 dingers; needless to say, a dramatic decrease. After 2008, his lumber suddenly got short circuited by who knows what. Perhaps it was the type of maple bat that the league is now using.
Regardless, he can do only two things consistently: drive in runs and field routine ground balls hit right at him. He is no stud in the field, nor is he with the bat; at least, not anymore. Peralta might make a decent replacement for the Phillies at third base after they lost Placido Polanco to an injury. But if Peralta goes there, he won't play once the injured Phillies' All-Star returns.
There really isn't much the Tribe could use to replace Jhonny Peralta once he leaves. There is no way the Tribe will get a major league-ready third baseman for him, even if they include him in a packaged deal. Lonnie Chisenhall, the first round pick of the Indians in the 2008 amateur draft, and said feature third basemen on the big league level, is only batting .278 in Akron at the Double-A level. With eight home runs and 35 RBIs, he appears to still need more time to improve his game. A player rarely makes the jump from Double-A to major leagues so quickly, although there are special cases. Plus, he, along with fellow teammate Nick Fuller, were recently arrested and charged with burglary and grand larceny after the police said he stole a Playstation 3 along with a flat screen TV from a college dorm room.
So do not expect Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro to deal Jhonny Peralta, unless some team out becomes more desperate than a Hollywood actress looking for a reliable husband.
Candidate No. 2: Outfielder Austin Kearns. Nice numbers here, seven home runs, 35 RBIs, amongst the team leaders. Although his glove was said to have gotten him the spring training invitation from Indians manager Manny Acta, the Tribe could get a piece or two for him based on his bat. They have Michael Brantley waiting in the wings to take over in left field, who was just recalled from the minors recently. Brantley will be an everyday guy sooner or later, and Kearns would make a nice fit somewhere else.
Nominee No. 3: Fausto Carmona. Nobody would have been crazy enough to want to acquire him 12 months ago, but now, but he has rediscovered himself. He is getting hitters to lay off his power sinker, throwing more strikes, and using his fastball and slider more effectively. He can still be a bit shaky here and there, but overall he has been the Tribe's most consistent starter. Therefore, he holds the most value of any Indians player mentioned to be traded. Plus, he is headed to Anaheim for the All-Star Game. The New York Mets are rumored to be interested; however, they really should be focusing on a very attainable former Indian named Cliff Lee. The Mariners say they want to keep him, and do not believe they are out of the AL West. When I first heard that, my only response was "haha!" They are 14 games behind in their division. So Fausto Carmona should not be a priority for the Mets now.
But if Shapiro deals his ace, the fan base would diminish; if there were any people coming to the stadium to diminish. On a cool summer's evening, and if the Mother Nature cooperates, fans will come and watch Carmona pitch. There isn't much else to do in Cleveland during the summer anyways.
Last but not least there is Kerry Wood. His earned run average has been dramatically improving, but is still at 6.27. He has three blown save chances and three losses in 21 appearances, and is allowing an average of one home run per six innings. So who would want to pick him up? Not to mention he is still owed a good portion of his $20 million deal this year.
Enough said. Wood isn't going anywhere.
Mark Shapiro's final trade deadline before he takes over his new position is not expected to be very eventful. He can probably sit back in his reclining chair, have a glass of lemonade, and wait it out before the 2011 season comes his way. Then new GM Chris Antonetti will inherit this mess of a team. Perhaps his style of shopping will be more buying then spending. Then again, a lot depends on how the team performs. These young hitters that came through in the trades of C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez, though, have the most work to get done.