Tribe Deal With Astros?
June 19, 2012 By Mark Leonard
Well, it took me awhile. I can be slow, after all. But I've figured it all out and I've got the trade for Cleveland Indians' GM Chris Antonetti to make.
I don't want Cub Alfonzo Soriano, even if Chicago were foolish enough to absorb all of his outrageous money through 2014. I would like to have Marlon Byrd, but only as a fourth OF capable of platooning in LF once Grady Sizemore returns. I would not protest if Jason Bay or Carlos Quentin came aboard, though the latter is on an expiring pact likely to render him an injury-prone rental heading right back this winter to his native San Diego.
The guy I'm envisioning for the Tribe is a different RH power bat able to function as a run-producer in the middle-third of the Indians' order, former White Sox and Brewer slugger Carlos Lee, who turns 36 in less than a week and is kindly described as 6-2 270.
I'd like to see Lee and veteran southpaw starter Wandy Rodriquez (33) come to Cleveland for a package beginning with Matt LaPorta, David Huff, Ezechial Carrera and whichever RH AAA starter Houston prefers: Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister or Jeanmar Gomez, who figures to be back in Columbus soon enough.
Additionally, Houston can have whatever can be gotten in return for Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan and Kevin Slowey. The Astros could assume all three, take whatever cash they could be sold for or whatever talent they can be liquidated into. And, Cleveland can assume all monies remaining on Lee's and Rodriguez' contracts.
Though much of this heading to Texas is admittedly expendable, it is a compensation package Houston would have to entertain, if only to get out from under the contracts. They get some younger prospects in exchange for older sorts likely on the decline and a few formerly highly-regarded assets in need of fresh starts. Houston is welcome to assume Jared Goedert, Aaron Cunningham or Chad Huffman in place of LaPorta, if they'd prefer. There is confidence something could be worked out between the two organizations.
An appealing aspect to Lee's profile is his ability to play 1b, though not particularly stellarly. The Tribe could more so use a 1b or 3b (or even a good-hitting backup catcher) than another corner OF, after all, given the anticipated return of Sizemore to join Brantley and Choo in the daily lineup. Presently, Lee is recovering from a hamstring injury incurred June 2. In 197 ABs, the Panamanian is at .297 with 8 doubles, 4 dingers and 23 rbi, though he's walked 15 times compared to 10 K. His slash figures are .348/.411/.759. Last year, those stats were: .275, 38, 18, 94, 59, 60 and .342/.466/.788.
In six of his 13 MLB campaigns, Lee has exceeded 100 rbi; the seven others have all attained at least 80. He may not have much left, but he should fit nicely into Cleveland's order, finding plenty of base-runners awaiting his deliverance.
The 5-11 195 Rodriguez is 5-4 and 3.27 this year and 78-79 4.02 overall. He's a quality lefty who'd nicely supplement the balance of the in-house rotation, none of whom throw from the portside.
The 'Stros have eclipsed pre-season expectations, but don't figure to hang around the upper reaches of the NL Central much longer. They're under new ownership, heading to the AL for next season and already involved with a rebuild. Brett Wallace has been recalled to fill-in for Lee lately and probably needs to remain up for further exposure, meaning Lee is blocking his path and soon to be moved. Rodriguez has been on the block since last year at this time.
What clinches this transaction for me is the potential to acquire two authentically helpful producers for what are essentially spare parts, a reality enabled by ownership's willingness to absorb payroll. It does not disturb Cleveland's core or its future. It virtually costs only salary and the benefits could resoundingly impact this year's objectives, rewarding the clubhouse for its outstanding start.
Imagine Choo, Kipnis, Cabrera, Hafner, Lee, Brantley, Sizemore/Byrd, Santana and Hannahan/Lopez, with Kotchman a late-inning defensive replacement and Marson also available as depth. Going to battle with that collection would nicely support starters Masterson, Jimenez, Lowe, Rodriguez and Tomlin, inviting a real Indians' summer.
What do you think?