Huh? What? Trot Nixon? Where did this come from?...and Why? I've purposely avoided all other blogs on this one, so I could get a clear take on it. The spin on this signing is that Trot Nixon brings a playoff presence, a solid on base percentage and low-strike out guy. Nixon has been described as "heart and hustle" in just about every article that I've read. I know Trot Nixon, and I don't disagree with any of what I just typed. He's all of the above. So do I like the signing?
Nixon hasn't played even close to a full season in three years due to a variety of reasons. In 2004, he had a herniated disc. In 2005, he had a left oblique muscle strain. In 2006, he had a right biceps strain, and a staph infection that followed. He's obviously injury prone. A lot of that is due to the way that he plays. He is 100% tough, a roughneck who charges pop flies like a linebacker. Unfortunately, it's cost him many games, and more importantly, sapped him of the strength that led to his best season, in 2003, in which he hit .306 with 28 taters and 87 RBI. Since then, Nixon hasn't hit more than 13 homers in one season, and has 27 total...in three seasons. Not all that good.
Nixon does bring a presence to this club, and the playoff experience will help. At 3 million, it's another low risk signing.
Nixon's signing can mean only one thing for the 24-year old Shin-Soo Choo: back to the minors. Choo was expected to start in right field for the Tribe, and certainly has the talent to be the starter. With the addition of the veteran bat however, it's believed that because of the now veteran mix of Jason Michaels, David Dellucci, Casey Blake, Grady Sizemore and Trot Nixon, that Choo will find himself roaming the outfield in Buffalo.
It really seems as though Shapiro lacks the confidence in his young players.
Now, there is some potential to this signing, and keep in mind that Cleveland isn't trading away young talent to pick up Nixon. It's another low-risk, potential high-yield signing. If Nixon stays healthy, and plays close to the player in his prime, you can count on a .280 average, somewhere in the realm of 20-30 dingers, and 75-85 RBI coming out of the 2 whole. It does set the lineup a bit better.
The Lineup would look as follows, right now:
Now, let's go a bit further. Imagine if one of the following three bring the stick that we think they can: Andy Marte, Jhonny Peralta or Josh Barfield. If Peralta returns to his freshman form, or Barfield continues to progress offensively, you can move either to the two-hole, and move Nixon to the five-hole. I like this a lot better if Nixon is the player of old, because he provides instant protection for VMart if he simply is the guy that has a .360 OBP. Imagine if Marte begins to really develop the power. In my humble opinion, anything that you can do to move Dellucci, Michaels or Blake down in the order, makes your team that much better.
The other way to look at this is on the trade front. If Nixon pans out, it certainly allows you to entertain some trades with your depth in the outfield. With Choo, Francisco, Crowe and Gutierrez knocking on the door, you'd have to expect that Cleveland will be looking to make a move down the line for a better outfielder at the deadline, or a package with Garko for a better first baseman. Who knows. I suppose we need to wait to see what happens down the line, but overall, I can't figure this deal out.
So, again, the Indians and Mark Shapiro surprise me, and go out and sign someone unexpected to a low risk deal. Let's hope it pans out.
Cleveland designates Jeremy Guthrie for assignment: One question is answered with the signing of Nixon. To make room for Trot, Cleveland designated Guthrie for assignment, who was out of options. Guthrie, a former #1 pick, has yet to show the Indians that he was worthy of the pick. Shapiro said it best:
"It might have been a slight miscalculation on us on how advanced he was when we drafted him."You always hope that the light turns on with a guy with this much talent. It just doesn't happen yet. Don't be surprised though, if Guthrie turns into a decent pitcher down the road, if someone gives him a chance. He will certainly be picked up.
Cleveland avoids arbitration...again: As most of you know, Cleveland has avoided arbitration with any players over the past 15 years. Davis was the last player this year, who was eligible. Cleveland, in typical fashion, came in at the deadline, and signed Davis to a one-year, $650,000 deal. Davis was asking for $760,000, and Cleveland was asking $600,000. Davis has wicked talent and a blazing fastball. If he ever puts the talent together with a bit of a mental game, he could be something special. Cleveland won't be letting him go until he proves that he'll never mature into that mental game. There seems to be a lot of evidence showing that this may be Davis' year. He was a bit of a bright spot in the bullpen last year, going 3-2 in 39 appearances, with a 3.74 ERA in 55 1/3 innings. He only gave up one home run. If he continues to advance, he really adds to this team. For more on the arbitration deal, check out two fantastic articles at Erik Cassano's Weblog, and at The Diatribe.
Cleveland also signed Rafael Bettancourt: Another player up for arbitration was Rafael Bettancourt. Rafael signed a one-year, $850,000 contract, which was over a 100% raise from last year. After a rough spot, Bettancourt, rom Aug. 23 through the end of the season, had an ERA of 1.10 in 13 games, and converted three straight save opportunities. He's another player, that if plays to standards, or improves, really makes the Tribe a hard team to beat in the last four innings.