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!

15 Comments

  • Steve Alex says:

    Surprise surprise, Mr. Negative likes this trade and I’ll tell you why. #1: It means Chris Perez will probably not be traded away, because Rogers would have set up for Pestano in that event. #2 Aviles is right-handed and hits lefties well, and his overall career averages are decent for an infielder. #3 Aviles can play shortstop, unlike anyone else on our team not named Asdrubal, including the 50 utility guys currently on the roster. #4 It’s activity. Movement. An attempt to do something, anything, to improve our lefty imbalance and horrible bench. #5. It’s selling high on a good half-season by Rogers that might not happen again. And #6 maybe the Gomez kid can play. He might be a 4A guy, but maybe not. His AAA numbers are strong and he at least didn’t do a Phelps and fall on his face when he got called up. He stayed over .200 and hit a few homers. Not many of our prospects do that the first time up. And despite being 25, he was only drafted three years ago so he hasn’t languished in the minors.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Since the two guys we got can both hit above the Mendoza line I’m thinking this doesn’t look so bad. Seriously, though, living in MA I see RedSoxRedSoxRedSox highlights every night. Aviles is a solid player. Not only does he play the left side of the infield, he can also fill in if we need someone in the outfield. Not a confetti-throwing deal, but I’m hoping it’s a teaser for better things to come. (LOL!)

  • Steve Alex says:

    We learned last offseason that the appetizer trades are actually the main course. I like this trade more for what it means the team won’t do (trade Perez) than for any unrealistic expectation of a follow-up move.

  • Cadfael says:

    Stephanie -

    If you have ESPN insider, did you see Buster Olney’s recommendations for the Indians during the offseason? If not, it basically boiled down to a dump of current players to rebuild the farm system. He recommends trying to trade Asdrubal,Choo, Perez, Santana and Masterson. I understand attempting to rebuild from prospects, but this would absolutely murder any support the Indians have left from fans, right?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Okay, so I’m a bit more calm today after wine and sleep. (It was the World Series of Wine at Progressive Field last night in the Terrace Club. The field looked dark and sad.) Anyway, Gomes could be a nice pickup and Rogers could end up turning into a pumpkin anyway. I will be calm (for now) to see what comes next!

    And I did see that Insider post…I was considering writing something about it (pros, cons, my own opinions). In a nutshell, I agree that fans may go berserk if that happens. On the surface, I could possibly get behind an Oakland-style sale. However, I’m not sure if I trust them to make the right decisions anymore. As a side gossipy item, there was someone at our meeting yesterday who had some candid discussions with several of the players. There were numerous complaints of poor/spotty communication between Acta and the players, along with several other Acta-related complaints. If true, he most likely completely lost the clubhouse. I think a new manager may be able to provide some improvement (even thought he still can’t bat or pitch for people.)

  • Steve Alex says:

    I’m okay with a fire sale. If we aren’t going to do what it takes to improve the team enough to contend, then I would rather rebuild than middle around .500 for years. The truth is that Choo doesn’t want to be here and Cabrera looks disinterested and unmotivated, so they will probably be the first to go if the team goes in that direction. Like they say, even a bad plan is better than no plan at all, right?

  • Josh says:

    This trade was brilliant for Cleveland. Esmil Rogers was starting to regress towards the mean at the end of the season. For the first 30 or so games with cleveland his ERA was around 2.00 and towards the end of the season it was up to 3.06? His career ERA is still 5.9+ and who knows if he could have that consistency ever again. This is one of the best examples of selling high you’ll ever see. Plus the fact that cleveland got someone to replace Lou Marson is great because his horrible defense and horrible bat were becoming a major burden for this team.

  • The Doctor says:

    I’m surprised that anyone would be angry about this trade. We traded a pitcher literally from the scrap heap for a useful major leaguer and a throw-in that may have some upside. I think this was a great job of turning nothing into something. Why would anyone be upset that we traded Rogers away? Every season there are literally dozens of guys like him that catch fire and are useful for a part of a season. Rogers is a great example of why you shouldn’t overpay for relief pitchers – there are guys like him available every year for next to nothing. And sure, Mike Aviles isn’t a world beater, but he’s a useful piece that’s far superior to Donald or Lillibridge – I understand why one would make the comparison, but I feel it’s a little unfair – Aviles has at least proved he is useful and belongs in the majors. Those other two… eh.

  • DaveR says:

    Sell high on a guy who had half a good season (even with some regression) yet buy high on a guy who last had a good season years ago (Jimenez). Interesting. They do have more bullpen assets than SP assets I’ll admit.

    Something has to happen to spark this ballclub since the obvious spending to get better will never occur. I think they could get max value for Perez right now. He is in his prime and they only control him 2 more years including this coming year. He has already voiced displeasure with the organization so resigning him is not a done deal. I’d love to keep Choo and it would actually be relatively easy given what player contracts we’ve said goodbye to for next year. But I guess the Indians fear Boras. I’d keep Asdrubal since I think his position is harder to fill as seen by the multiple acquisitions of mediocre infield players. I don’t think the Indians would get much value for Masterson after a terrible year. I’m also at a loss on Santana but he is cheap and it’s worth seeing if he can regain form. Maybe the concussion messed him up more than we thought.

  • Swift says:

    I was kind of negative about this trade, but you guys actually made me feel better about. I just hope this isn’t as good as it gets this off-season.

  • Jeremy C says:

    Lonnie, Asdrubal and Aviles to alternate being the DH maybe? I like Aviles is too good to trade for him to just be a bench guy.

    • Josh says:

      My assumption would be (barring any other trades)that Aviles will start at one of 2B, SS, or 3B nearly any time they face a left handed starter, and could fill the DH spot regularly regardless of opposing starter. Antonetti expressed towards the end of the season that one of their offseason priorities was to find a “serviceable” back up for Cabrera. This trade accomplished this giving away almost nothing for it as well.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I think that even if Cabrera stays, the Indians do need a more reliable backup for him. Not even to protect against an injury to Cabrera, but just to give him a day off every now and again. For some reason, every time Jason Donald went to throw to first from either shortstop or 3rd, I got nervous. I was just expecting the throw to go anywhere but where it needed to go!

    • Jeremy C says:

      Before Aviles gets a spot on the roster im sure they will have to teach him how to catch and play outfield.

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