Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Sunday Drive with the trading of Cliff Lee, the return of Jake Westbrook and the Cavs

Just in case you live under a rock, 'Trade Cliff Lee' rumors have begun circulating once again, thanks to an article by  This isn't anything new in the Indians community, since we have been talking about this very thing for the better part of the past two seasons.  Now, the perfect storm is in the air.

  1. The Indians are 6-12 so far this year, in a division that many had predicted them to win.  They may still, but you know what a record like 6-12 can do to a franchise frantic to win.  You either start shaking things up, or start shutting things down.

  2. Cliff Lee is struggling, leading many to say that he's far from a #1 starter.  He certainly will command #1 starter money when he becomes a free agent.  That's not until the end of next season, by the way.  That said, the "TCL" crew is saying that management doesn't want him at a hefty price, so sayanara.

  3.  There isn't much to talk about with this team, because they have seemed to disappear.  Not only are they losing, but they are horrifically boring to watch.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm okay with boring...when you're winning.
Just to lay this to rest, the Indians aren't getting set to trade Lee.  Now, if a team threw a package of players similar to the CC Sabathia deal at the Indians, then the rumor becomes reality.

Why dealing Cliff Lee has been on my mind for two years,
Would I deal Lee if I were Mark Shapiro?  Yeah, it's true
that I've been a supporter of dealing the lefty for the past two
seasons, including during and after his Cy Young award year.  That
said, dealing him now would be a major PR mistake for the Indians, if
the rumors proved to be true.  The Indians starters are absolutely
horrid thus far.  Fausto Carmona barely resembles his 2007-self, and
seems to fight with every pitch.  Anthony Reyes scares the hell out of
me.  I keep picturing Dave Dravecky, or that House episode that had the
pitcher who's arm literally flew off during a pitch.  I'm a fan of
Reyes, but it's a bit like a train wreck.  Carl Pavano is a waste of
money, even if he made the league minimum.  He may have a moment or two
where you think it's all going to be fine, then you open your eyes, and
realize he hasn't been good since the Red Sox were still fighting the
curse, and that year was really his only good year.  Aaron Laffey is
the lone bright spot, but I've never been on the Laffey bandwagon. 
That he's the only current starter that has my attention says a lot
about this rotation.

So dealing Lee leaves the Indians with what for starters?  Is Laffey
then the #1?  Is Fausto Carmona moved to #1?  Is that the smart move
with him hovering on either breaking down, or breaking away?  Would the
Indians get a #1 for Lee?  Why would a team do that, if they need a
starter?  In other words, dealing Lee right now is vastly different
than dealing Sabathia.

First off, there isn't a Lee behind Lee, as their was behind Sabathia. 
Second off, Lee is scheduled to make only $9 million next season.  It
would make more sense to ride it out a bit longer.  Of course, the only
negative is that Lee won't have the season he had last year, and will
certainly command less on the market next year, than this year.

Still, that's not a reason to give up on the season yet.

So, no, I wouldn't deal him, and I actually thought I was going to say yes when I pondered this post.

I'm actually beginning to think that Jake Westbrook is the cog that may make or break the Indians season.  According to Terry Pluto, Westbrook is planning on throwing his first simulated game on May 12th.  If all goes well, he'll follow that up with three or four minor league starts.

If Westbrook does come back, and can somehow manage to be even a close facsimile of the guy that we saw at the beginning of last season, then the starters could right themselves.  Lee would remain the #1, Westbrook would be the #2, Carmona would be #3, Laffey would be #4, and either Reyes or Huff would be #5.  Personally, I could care a less about the #'s, but am okay with five of those six guys.  The only problem is that this rotation really reminds me of the Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy-led rotations of the 90's, that had a bunch of solid, middle-of-the-order guys, but no take charge guy.  I hate things that are cyclical.

I'm still not ready to give Westbrook the green light in June though (as though I had a say in it).  In all seriousness, how many pitchers rush back from something like Tommy John, and blew out their arms, or had major setbacks.  Why come back in June, if you can be even more healthy in July.  We also all know that getting your velocity back after the TJ surgery can take nearly two years.  We'll see, but it does always worry me when I hear that a pitcher is ahead of schedule with this surgery.

Props have to go out to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  I've heard some grumbling about how the Cavs haven't slammed the Pistons in games #2 and #3.  Trust me, they have.  This team is pretty special.  Will they win the title?  That's up to the basketball gods, not me.  I do like the attitude the team brings behind LeBron.  They are going to be tough to beat.  Make sure you check out Amar and his crew over at Cavalier Attitude for playoff coverage.  Back in the day, I used to write over there, and they really do a tremendous job covering the best team in the NBA.

95,722 showed up for tOSU's spring game today, breaking Nick Saban's record last season in his first springer for Alabama.  Terrelle Pryor threw two 40+ TD passes in the game.  Football...already? 

This weeks SoG award for Tribe blog of the week goes out to Tony Lastoria and his crew over at Indians Prospect InsiderFor those that aren't familiar with Tony's past work, I began following his work at The Cleveland Fan, writing a weekly column entitled 'Minor League Happenings."  He then took his work a step further by opening up a blog based soley on the Indians' Minor League system.  What I thought might be a site updated a couple of times a week, it turned out to be updated daily, an more often than not, multiple times.

TL's work isn't heresay either.  Nearly every post is 'from the source,' and nine times out of ten, dead on.  This isn't a site that begs, borrows and steals from other websites.  Tony is outsourcing the writing as well, and has acquired a solid staff of writers that continue to provide multiple daily postings.

Tony also puts out a yearly Top 100 Prospects book that you can purchase, and posts updating scouting reports on nearly every Tribe prospect worth a hill of beans.  It's not only the cream of the crop as far as minor league sites go for the Indians, but is likely one of the best, IF NOT THE best minor league site in the entire league.  Check it out for yourself, if you haven't already.

Have a fantastic final week of April, and don't forget to check the rearviewmirror for the Indians offense.  It's way back there with their defense...somewhere.

Oh, and is it me, or do you feel like trading down. 

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