By now you’ve probably heard that the Indians traded for Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome today.  This was a solid deal and should help the offense (if nothing else, through addition by subtraction).  That’s because Indians outfielder Travis Buck was designated for assignment after the trade to clear space on the 40-man roster.  I was hoping that it would be Austin Kearns designated (since Buck has options remaining and can always return to Columbus), but Buck drew the short straw in this deal.  It’s entirely possible he clears waivers and reports to Columbus anyway.

First, let’s look at the actual details involved in this trade.  The Indians send outfielder Abner Abreu and left-handed pitcher Carlton Smith to the Cubs.  In exchange, the Cubs agreed to pay most of what remains on Fukudome’s 2011 salary – he’s set to make $13.5 million this year, but about $4.7 of that is left at this point in the season.  He’s in the last year of a 4-year, $48 million contract.

The 21-year-old Abreu was with the high-A Kinston Indians, where he is hitting .244 with 12 home runs and 19 stolen bases.  He was named offensive player of the week for July 18-24 as he went 12 for 23 with 3 home runs, 2 doubles, a triple and 9 RBIs over the course of 6 games.  It was the second time this month he earned offensive player of the week honors.  Abreu was initially signed by the Indians as an undrafted free agent in 2006; this was his second season at Kinston (last year he hit .252 with 21 doubles, 6 triples and 4 home runs).  While he’s obviously having a great July, even with all of that offensive production, his average still sits at .244.  He’s young and may blossom into something down the road, but it’s obvious that he wasn’t really on the fast track through the Indians’ system at this point.

The 25-year-old Smith worked out of the bullpen for the Columbus Clippers, where he was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP in 46 innings pitched.  In 2010 he split time between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus; with Akron he was 1-1 with an 0.87 ERA in 10.1 innings pitched, and at Columbus was 1-5 with a 6.38 ERA in 48 innings pitched.  He obviously didn’t make a very smooth transition from Double-A to Triple-A, but he has an outside chance to appear in a Major League bullpen someday.  Smith was drafted by the Indians in the 21st round of the 2004 draft.

The 34-year-old Fukudome is on a hot streak over the past week (let’s hope it continues in Cleveland) – in the past seven games he is 6 for 14 (.429).  He’s hitting .273 with a .374 on base percentage and a .369 slugging percentage with 3 home runs, 15 doubles and 13 RBI.  Fukudome is hitting .273 against both left handed and right handed pitching and led the National League with 4.34 pitches per plate appearance.  Even though he doesn’t have a lot of power, his on-base numbers and average are respectable and he exhibits some patience at the plate.  It’s an improvement over both Travis Buck (.228 average, .275 OBP, .342 slugging, 2 home runs) and Austin Kearns (.216 average, .318 OBP, .313 slugging, 2 home runs).  I still haven’t really forgiven Buck for his pinch hit appearance in the June 5 game against the Rangers at Progressive Field, when he popped up to the catcher on the first pitch in the 9th, with the Indians down 2-0.

There are rumors that the Indians may not be finished yet and may still add pieces.  They didn’t give up much for Fukudome and didn’t really take on much additional salary, so they probably still have some pieces to move and some remaining salary space.  The names they’re most tied to are Los Angeles Dodger (and former Indian) Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers, Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies and Ryan Ludwick from the Padres.  I’m not really hot on either Carroll or Ludwick as far as help for the offense goes, but it sounds like it would be next to impossible to pry either Hunter Pence (Astros) or Andre Ethier (Dodgers)loose at this point.

 

14 Comments

  • SeattleStu says:

    wow impressive….34 year old outfielder w/ no pop….that’s what we get after all our trade machinations?…why bother? this team isn’t going to win anything this year & this guy is gone after two months….makes no sense to me….luckily it doesnt appear either of these two kids are big losses, but who knows?….i’d much rather keep their option value then trade them for guaranteed short-term mediocrity.

    well the good news is once masterson & tomlin put another 1 or 2 good seasons together we can trade them off for other team’s top farm prospects so that maybe they can become mastersons & tomlins that we can then trade off again for…..cyclical awfulness, thy name is cleveland indians.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    At first, this trade made me happy because it meant they weren’t going to trade for Ryan Ludwick. While Fukudome isn’t exactly a star, I would still rather have him over Ludwick (who honestly doesn’t have numbers much abovt Kearns and Buck at this point). Then I get up this morning and saw this: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/07/indians-making-push-for-ludwick.html

    Sigh. At least he has a little bit of pop (11 homers), but still nothing spectacular. The plus side is that (so far) nobody else in the AL Central has really done much to improve either. Did you hear that Boston already tried to get Masterson back prior to this season? If they’re already knocking on the door less than a year after they initially traded him to Cleveland, you can bet they’ll be back once his contract is up. (Barring catastrophic injury or a collapse or something).

  • Bobby says:

    You must remember Ludwick is playing in SD. That field is a terrible hitters park. Ludwick’s numbers in St. Louis were above average, so to look at Ludwick’s numbers right now and say that he’s nothing more than Buck/Kearns is not entirely the case. His numbers are skewed. The thing that Ludwick is, is a right handed bat. I mean Austin Kearns is the only right handed hitting OF of our top 7 outfielders.

    Personally, I would have liked the team to give up a little more for B.J Upton. He is young, plays great defense (we cant assume tha Grady will be able to come back and be the player he was, and is in the last year of his contact with the Indians), runs the bases well, and has some pop from the right side. Upton fits into a longer term plan than any of the other OF prospects, other than Pence, but we would have to sell the farm to get him. Imagine Branley/Upton/Choo left to right. That would be tough to find a gap.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    That’s true, I wasn’t taking into account the difficulties of hitting at Petco.

    I’ve always been an Upton fan. You’re right…the speed in that outfield (Brantley/Choo/Upton) would be insane. I saw somewhere that Houston really has a crazy bidding war going for Pence. While I really like him, I’m not sure he’s worth what a team may end up surrendering for him.

  • Bobby says:

    the real question could be….did the Indians do the Fukudome deal to try to lure Kiroda to waive his no trade clause for the Indians? since there is another Japanese player on our roster?….hmmmmm

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Hmmm, that is a very intriguing possibility. Wouldn’t it be something if Kuroda refuses to waive his no-trade for anyone? Supposedly he’s not so hot on Texas, Detroit, or Cleveland, but it’s quite possible he tells the Dodgers “no-thanks” altogether.

    This Tweet from Jon Heyman is pretty interesting: http://twitter.com/#!/SI_JonHeyman/status/97001796937060353 Other teams see the Indians as a big threat to get Jimenez. While I’ve always been a big Jimenez fan, I can’t quite understand why the Rockies seem so willing to part with him. The paranoid part of me wonders if something is up with him.

  • TJ says:

    The Fukudome deal is no solution for the Tribe, long or even short term. Ludwick would be somewhat better than Fukudome. I watch B.J. Upton with the Rays here in Florida. He is talented, no doubt, but he also is a moody player who dogs it too often. Plus he makes an inordinate amount of mental mistakes–getting picked off first, throwing to wrong base, not hustling on short flies, etc. I would hate to see him on the Tribe. Stephanie mentioned Jimenez–now that acquisition would be veeery interesting depending on who is given up.

  • Bobby says:

    The Fukudome deal isn’t meant to be a solution for longer than it takes Choo to get back. And, its low risk…we only end up paying $775k…if he hits, that’s a steal…Rather see him than Buck/Kearns….

    I’ve been saying someting’s not right with Jiminez since his first start. Makes no sense why Colorado would be shopping him with Tulo, and Cargo, and Ubaldo as a solid core of guys…doesnt seem right

  • Drew says:

    But if Ulbaldo/Tulo/Cargo can turn into White/Pomeranz/Tulo/Cargo, that is something the Rockies would give a lot of thought to.

  • Bobby says:

    Right now, I’d give up Pomeranz for Jiminez. The Rockies wont get both White & Pomeranz. But I’d give up Pomeranz and other prospects for Jiminez.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Upton’s inconsistency worries me a bit, but I’ve always been a fan.

    I saw Jimenez pitch in spring training against the Padres at the new Rockies/Diamondbacks complex (which is beautiful, by the way). He was perfect into the 5th or 6th inning…they finally pulled him because he hit his pitch count. Just the fact that he made it to the 5th or 6th is saying something, because it was early in spring training and most people were only up to about 3 innings at that point. Anyway, he looked so dominant, I remember thinking “damn, I wish he was on the Indians.” That feeling dissipated some as the season has progressed though.

    I saw that they’re interested in Jason Marquis, but it sounds like the asking price is pretty high (Nationals want a team to assume all salary and still send a prospect). It sounds like the Indians and the Tigers are in on a lot of the same players…I wonder if one is playing chicken with the other? Not really seriously interested, but trying to up the price enough to screw their opponent. Or perhaps they just want some of these players in an attempt to keep them from going to a competitor. It will likely be an interesting weekend!

  • SeattleStu says:

    you know, at first i was going to post that i was embarrassed losing 12-0 at home….but then i took a peek at the standings and realized that Kansas City is actually 44-61, which means they’re actually not the worst team in the majors….they have a few sad sacks beneath them….although they have won fewer games on the road than anyone save Baltimore….dont worry, i’m not in panic mode, i’m in new orleans saints bag over the head mode….WTF?

  • SeattleStu says:

    while we’re there, carrasco is a punk for throwing that ball over franco’s head….if u dont like being shelled learn how to ptich u piece of worthless garbage….esp not at the guy’s head….embarrassing, like the rest of his team….where are the tribe fans on this blog?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Maybe they’re balled up in a corner weeping after having to watch that! ;) I’m about to put a new post up, but perhaps others just didn’t have anything left to say after that mess.