OK, so I promised that I was so fed up with the Tribe yesterday that there was no reason to expect anything on them for a little while. As you’ve probably already figured, I lied. This afternoon, the trade deadline passed by and our beloved Indians again did nothing. But alas! They snuck in a patented deadline headline with the addition of lifelong Red Sox minor leaguer, Lars Anderson. Anderson, once a top prospect back when Matt LaPorta was a top prospect (Forever ago) has been sent to join LaPorta in AAA Columbus. And too soon do we forget the addition of Brent Lillibridge, who first was unwanted by the White Sox, shipped to the Red Sox, and then unloaded to Cleveland.
Let’s cut to the chase: What primarily upsets me about today is that the Tribe dealt knuckleballer and overall cool-seeming (Has cool-seeming ever been used in a sentence?) guy, Steven Wright. My personal story with Wright came in the Akron Aeros dugout a few days ago when I was attending to my grounds crew duties preparing for a torrential downpour that didn’t actually come that particular night. It came the following night, and in a big way (Steven, if you ever read this, you know the day I’m talking about), and that story is for another day. Anyway, I was being an idiot and not paying any attention to the game for a few minutes. During that time, a batter from the opposing Bowie Baysox ripped a laser foul and directly into our dugout. Had Steven not yelled at me, I would likely be in a hospital right now. That sucker was cookin’, and I’m certain I felt the wind hum by my right ear before it ricocheted behind my head and around the dugout. So not only do I owe Steven Wright my life in a certain respect, I thoroughly enjoyed watching his knuckleball baffle hitters in Akron, and wish him the absolute best in the Boston organization.
On to what this inactivity means for the Indians now, it really doesn’t mean much and we as fans shouldn’t be very surprised. The big-name bait that the Tribe had available are valuable pieces to our organization which currently is not competing very successfully for the division or wild card this season. Yes, we are only 5 games back, but we have to be brutally honest with ourselves and realize that Alfonso Soriano, Chase Headley, Matt Garza, or whoever you want to throw in there were not going to be the reason for a miraculous playoff push. And if we made the playoffs, would this roster honestly contend for a championship? The answer to that question is a definite no.
The point I am trying to get to is that the Indians did the right thing at the deadline today in doing basically nothing. Chris Antonetti and company realized that we are clearly not one or even two players away from being a contender. And if anyone thinks that trading Choo and/or Chris Perez would have helped us, it wouldn’t have, and would have made us worse. Period. The Tribe brass clearly aren’t ready to blow up the core and start over, which is smart. Smarter, they are going to give this core this season to ride it out and do what they can to improve. Jiminez, Masterson, Santana, and even Asdrubal Cabrera as of late have not played anywhere close to their abilities, and banking on that returning at some point whether it be this season or next is smart.
Everyone is jumping on the Tribe for not doing anything because it is our modus operandi and it feels right to just beat them down for doing what they always do. Yes, it is frustrating. But seriously, by now we have all been brutally reminded plenty of times that we are in a small market with a cheap owner. This means that spending prospects for veterans with expiring contracts that will simply not push us over the edge is suicide for our organization’s future, and before anyone jumps on me for saying the word “future”, any future is better than no future. Nobody wants that. Antonetti and Shapiro are not to blame for this, Dolan is. I know I’m not reaching any groundbreaking conclusion there, but I think some need to be reminded of that. Don’t think for a second that one right handed bat that isn’t anything spectacular (Which is what we would have gotten) would have made us any more of a serious contender than we are right now. Serious means competing for a league pennant in my book, and if we are content with just barely making the playoffs (If we’re lucky) by acquiring guys that aren’t good enough for their current teams to consider them valuable assets anymore, I don’t think I am rooting for the right team.
It is frustrating and even maddening at times to see this team shoot out of the gates with guns blazing and then fizzle out by the end of July, I get that. But what is more important to realize is that the front office simply cannot justify a fire sale or the depletion of our already limited prospect base (Which is what it would have taken to get Headley, Garza, whoever, at the deadline) given the state we are in. The Indians are right around .500, which means they are not championship contenders, but are not failing to the point where we need to blow up our young core and set ourselves back 3 years. This years edition will fight to the end this year, regroup, and give it another serious go next season. And who knows, if the right people wake up (Hernandez, Santana, Cabrera, Masterson, Jiminez), we could make a late run and keep it exciting anyway.
The Indians did the right thing today, and we will see what happens from here. Go Tribe.