The trade deadline has passed and most Tribe fans aren’t happy. Despite rumors of interest in James Shields and others, the Indians came away with Brent Lillibridge and Lars Anderson. For those still hoping to see the Tribe in October, calling this trade deadline haul a disappointment would be an understatement.
But, despite the lack of impact players, I’m pleased with their moves. And here are three reasons why…
1. The Indians are not and never were in contention
The Tigers allowed us to dream in the first half, but the Indians played exactly as expected and hovered around the .500 mark. Most preseason estimates had the Indians winning between 76 and 84 games, but no one predicted a serious playoff run due to the Tigers stacked lineup. If the Tigers had lived to expectations the Indians would already be 10 games back in the division. And despite the Tigers disappointing showing, the Tribe is still five games out of first place. This just wasn’t their year.
2. They’re saving up for next year
I know we’re all tired of hearing about next year, but it’s true. The Indians do have a solid core group of players who should allow the team to compete in 2013. The Indians will need to make some moves in order to make this happen, however, and overpaying for a midseason pickup just doesn’t make sense. Look what happened last year as a prime example. The Indians traded two of their top prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez flops, the Tribe misses the postseason and is left without the ammo to make a significant offseason move. Meanwhile, during the 2011 offseason the Nationals give the A’s a similar package for Gio Gonzalez. There are always more impact players on the market in November and December and it makes sense for the Tribe to wait.
3. The trades make sense
Lillibridge is nothing special, but he fills a need. The Indians of the 1990s always had valuable utility men on the bench such as Alvaro Espinoza and Jeff Branson. The Tribe has tried and failed to turn Jason Donald into that guy. Now it’s Lillibridge’s turn to take a shot.
Anderson is essentially another Matt LaPorta, a failed former top prospect struggling to salvage his career. But he’s still only 24 and is worth the gamble, especially considering the Tribe only parted with a 27-year-old knuckleballer from AA. A friend of mine who follows the Red Sox and their farm system closely told me today the best case scenario for Anderson would turning into the next Casey Kotchman. Considering what the Indians gave up, I’d say that’s a gamble worth taking.