Today was the Cleveland/Jack Graney SABR Chapter meeting on the west side of Cleveland (I’m the current president of the group). After our final presentation of the day (a fascinating look at Retrosheet data) there was a trivia quiz that involved facts from the 1944 season. While I happen to know a fair amount on the Negro Leagues during 1944, my Major League Baseball knowledge for that year is a bit lacking. I made a feeble attempt at completing the quiz before I surrendered. As I was shutting down the projector and closing out PowerPoint, I decided to check my e-mail while everyone else finished the trivia contest. When I opened it, I noticed the press release from the Indians blaring that the Indians had acquired Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. “Well, this is interesting,” I thought to myself. I figured maybe a couple of minor leaguers, or a minor leaguer and cash. After I started to read, and realized they Indians traded Esmil Rogers to the Blue Jays, I blurted out, “Are you kidding me?” The entire room was quiet, distracted by the trivia, but the outburst caught some attention. I apologized and told them that a trade had gone down and I would share details when the trivia was complete. After a few humors guesses at the trade, I finally just said the trade out loud. Everyone else’s reaction was pretty similar to mine – somewhere between disbelief and anger.
Now, I know that Chris Antonetti literally was able to get Rogers for next to nothing when he claimed him off waivers from Colorado last season. I know that he was unlikely the be the next Mariano Rivera and that Antonetti was selling high on the 27-year-old reliever. At the same time, Rogers became a reliable presence in the bullpen last season and was a hard-thrower that regularly hit the mid to upper 90s. With all of the trade discussion around Chris Perez, I’m not sure if I’d want to trade an additional pitcher that became reliable for you last season. Particularly for what I perceive to be spare parts, even if they happen to be right-handed spare parts. Rogers went 3-1 in 2012 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.113 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. One of the pieces the Indians received was Mike Aviles, who spent last season as the shortstop with the Boston Red Sox. He went to Toronto as compensation for manager John Farrell when he left Canada for Boston. The 31-year-old Aviles, described in the Indians’ press release as “the right-handed hitting versatile middle infielder,” hit .250/.282/.381 with 13 home runs in 512 at-bats (his career averages are .277/.308/.408). On Twitter, Paul Hoynes quoted Antonetti as saying that the Indians were attracted to Aviles’ versatility and the fact that he can play shortstop, second, and the outfield. Is there anyone else that feels almost like they’re listening to a broken record on this one? That every player they manage to bring in (whether it be Brett Lillibridge, Jason Donald, or someone similar) the number one thing they tout is that they can play multiple positions. I know that you need flexibility to give people days off and put the best lineup possible on the field, but this seems to be getting excessive. It’s as if there’s a whole subset of mediocre players who are on the roster due to their “versatility.” Does this mean that the Indians will part ways with Brett Lillibridge? One can dream, I guess.
The other player the Indians acquired, Yan Gomes, is another multiple-position type; albeit a younger one. The 25-year-old Gomes is marketed as an infielder/catcher; he was drafted by Toronto in the 10th round of the 2009 draft. He had 98 at-bats with the Blue Jays in 2012, where he hit .204/.264/.367 with 4 home runs. He was better in 305 at-bats with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s (seriously one of the creepiest places to see a game, but that’s a story for another day) where he hit .328/.380/.557 with 13 home runs. Those were career numbers for him – his career average in the minors was .287/.344/.484, and I should add that it was boosted by his 2011 Triple-A numbers and his time in the rookie league and low-A ball. Since the Indians already have Lou Marson as a backup, I would guess that Gomes provides some additional depth in case of injury, and also allows the Indians to have an additional right-handed bat that can help in the infield. In other words, HE’S VERSATILE.
Is this a symbol of more moves to come? Who knows. Are there more “versatile” players out there for Antonetti to acquire? I’m sure they can be found. Did our SABR chapter sit around bitterly complaining about the Indians today, thus carrying over to the writing of this post? Almost definitely!