Prior to the trade deadline the Indians were involved in all sorts of rumors. There was the Asdrubal-Cabrera-to-St.-Louis deal. Then the team was tied to Bud Norris, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Tim Lincecum, Matt Garza and very briefly Toronto’s Josh Johnson.
In the end, however, the Indians made one minor move, acquiring veteran southpaw Marc Rzepczynski, which amounted to nothing more than throwing spaghetti at the wall.
One of the unfortunate results of the team’s busy offseason will come about if the Tribe fails to make the playoffs, second guessing will inevitably pop up, questioning if the front office did the right thing by standing pat at the deadline.
So let’s put an end to that well before it even starts.
Offense: The Indians have one of the most potent offenses in the game, ranking 10th in homeruns, third in runs scored, sixth in stolen bases, and tied for second in Weighted Runs Created Plus (111 wRC+). It’s so potent, in fact, that they’ve actually performed better than some big named individuals players (according to wRC+): Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler, and Alex Gordon to name a few.
Looking at positions, there’s really no spot to upgrade. Catcher, second base, shortstop, left and center fields are all filled. Nick Swisher can man either first base or right fielder. Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting .271/.320/.448 since his promotion back to the big leagues. Ryan Raburn, who is absolutely scorching hot, Drew Stubbs, Jason Giambi, Mark Reynolds, Yan Gomes, and Mike Aviles can rotate among the final openings.
Pitching: The Tribe was linked to just about every starting pitcher on market. But why? Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, and Scott Kazmir all have ERAs under 4.20 and only McAllister has a Skill Independent ERA over 4.50. As for depth, there are two hurlers sitting in Columbus, ready if needed: Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, who is averaging 10.26 K/9 and just 2.57 BB/9 to go along with a 3.13 FIP. As a group the rotation ranks 13th in xFIP (3.86).
And then there’s the bullpen, the lone area that could use an upgrade.
Chris Perez is putting together a typical Chris Perez season. Cody Allen has been a revelation and could finish in the top 10 for AL Rookie of the Year. Joe Smith hasn’t been as good as he was last year, but he’s still serviceable. Rich Hill has posted a 3.29 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 13.2 innings since June 5. Bryan Shaw, who struggled from May 28 to July 4, hasn’t allowed an earned run since then. Matt Albers, despite the ERA, has been bad, but he’s the last guy out of the pen and can throw multiple innings.
Then there’s Marc Rzepczynski, C.C. Lee, Scott Barnes, and Blake Wood for depth. Plus, there’s Vinnie Pestano trying to rediscover his effectiveness in Columbus.
The price for relief help varied widely, though. Houston got a lot for Jose Veras, as did Milwaukee for Francisco Rodriguez. But the Angels got very little for Scott Downs, as did the White Sox for Matt Thornton.
So, where exactly where the Indians supposed to upgrade?
Look, this isn’t a perfect team. But once you figure in the price in terms of prospects vs. the actual gain in wins, an addition made very little sense.
For more analysis check out Joe’s site: www.ProspectDigest.com