Earlier this week, the Indians consummated a deal with the Colorado Rockies that sent speedy outfielder (and strikeout artist extraordinaire) Drew Stubbs west and brought left-handed reliever Josh Outman to the North Coast. While not exactly a blockbuster deal, the trade does figure to have a significant impact on the major league roster heading into the 2014 campaign.
In the wake of the trade news, IPL writers Chris Burnham and Adam Hintz weighed in on the transaction.
Question: How do you feel about this deal?
Adam: I hate this deal, and not just because I’m President of the Cleveland chapter of the Drew Stubbs fan club. I hate this deal because it’s a thinly-veiled salary dump that takes away from our major league roster depth and adds a high-risk, low-reward arm to a bullpen not exactly in dire need of them. On the surface, Outman is a pitcher on the wrong side of his prime who is just a season removed from an atrocious campaign that saw him put up an ERA north of 8.00. The only thing this move does is save the Indians a couple million dollars (Outman will make somewhere under $1 million, whereas Stubbs will be in line for a multi-million dollar deal in arbitration. Probably something around $3-$4 million).
Chris: At least he’s not Rich Hill! It’s a Christmas miracle! And yes, while Outman did have that atrocious 2012, he basically cut that 8.19 ERA from 2012 in half in 2013, and he did that at Coors Field, so we have to take his >4.00 ERA with a grain of salt. Plus, you yourself sang the praises of Mickey Callaway after this past season, who’s to say he can’t turn Outman into a reliable arm?
Question: How do you like the fit for Cleveland?
Chris: I actually like the fit. I think with Scrabble and Outman (best name for a reliever, by the way), you have a pretty good lefty one-two punch. I mean, if Hagadone can ever figure it out, look out. Worst case scenario, the Indians have legitimate depth in the bullpen from the left-handed side, which is more than you could say about them last year.
I mean, Rich Hill. Shivers.
Adam: For the Indians, I feel like fit is secondary. This was a salary dump, where Outman makes a fraction of what Stubbs makes. I know Stubbs was a flawed player… but he was at worst a fourth outfielder for a good team. Outman is at best a depth lefty option. Cost is the lowest common denominator here, and it’s frustrating.
Can Outman be better than Hill? Sure. But I see them as very similar players.
Question: How do you like the fit for Colorado?
Chris: Probably a better fit there than he was for the Indians. If he can just make contact (a big if), he has a good chance of flipping it over for cheapies in the thin air, because it doesn’t take much. The gaps there are huge and we know he can run balls down with the best of them. But I think he fits best as a super-pinch-hitter, where they can protect him (and themselves, really) by limiting his opportunities to RUIN LIVES. He gets one shot per day to get the runner in from third. His value is his speed. In the NL, he’s better-equipped to have his skills maximized.
Adam: I agree that Stubbs is better served in both a fourth outfielder role as well as in the National League, where he will have more chances to slot in as a pinch hitter / pinch runner. I don’t love the move for Colorado because they already have Dexter Fowler, and he fills a very Stubbsian role all on his own. I will be sad to see Stubbs in another uniform, but I have to admit he is a player with enormous flaws.
For the Indians, this probably signals the end of the Carlos Santana-as-3B experiment, because I can’t see them committing to Raburn as the full time RF. We’ll likely see a primary lineup with Santana at 1B, Swisher in RF, and Raburn as a platoon guy at 3B/RF/DH. I’m okay with this, even though I think the lineup today is worse than the lineup yesterday.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a big move for either team. Stubbs is who he is, and Outman is who he is, and neither of those players are ever going to be the lynchpin of a championship team. If the couple million the Indians saved leads into a bigger signing later this offseason (such as an Ubaldo discount), then perhaps this deal takes on much bigger relevance.