#Indians Weaker after Choo Deal

Dave Mitchell December 11, 2012 Comments Off

Shin Soo Choo is gone. The Indians traded the Scott Boras client to the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night in a three-team deal many think is lopsided in Cleveland’s favor. They think wrong.

The Indians sent right fielder Choo to the Reds for center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Didi Greorious. The Indians then turned around and traded Gregorious, reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to the Diamondbacks for former first-round pick Trevor Bauer and relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. In addition, The Indians are sending $3.5 million tot he Reds to help pay Choo’s $4.9 million salary for 2013.

Choo is on the last year of his contract and has made overtures he wanted to play for a winner. Moving to the Reds is a message to the Cincinnati fans they want to win a World Series next year. Choo is a one yet fit in Cincy. Scott Boras, Choo’s agent, will take him into free agency after the season and the Reds are already spent out on Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.

Trevor Bauer has been on the Indians radar for months. Bauer is 21 and comes from the D’Backs out of UCLA. After blowing past high-A ball last year, Bauer found his level in AA, though he still struck out 14 batters per nine innings even at the higher level. Yet the Arizona scouting report says Bauer would probably not be ready for the major’s until mid-2013 at the earliest.

There is also the problems Bauer had with the D’Backs owner. “I will say this: he is the employee, and in an employer/employee situation it’s incumbent on the employee to make adjustments to satisfy the needs of his employer,” Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick told Arizona Sports 620′s Burns and Gambo. “And I hope and trust that that will occur.”

It was because of that discontent by Kendrick the team was willing to accept overtures. Kendrick added there is no doubting Bauer’s ability, but did question if the pitcher has the proper mental makeup to succeed at the big league level. Kendrick stated Bauer has gained a reputation in the organization for being difficult and needed to mature.

Indians GM Chris Antonetti said in a conference call late Tuesday night with the media Bauer isn’t ready for the majors yet. Antonetti seemed to agree with Kendrick Bauer has some “developmental” issues to deal with before the majors is a possibility.

This is a trade that raises more questions than answers them. Going into the winter meetings Cleveland had no first baseman, left fielder, designated hitter and third baseman. After this move and the Mark Reynolds signing Monday the Indians now have no designated hitter or right fielder. Third base is only filled if you think Lonnie Chisenhall can handle it. So first base is the only position solidified.

Defensively who plays where? Michael Brantley took over in center last year and played outstanding. He made several gems and covered more ground than Grady Sizemore in his prime. Yet Stubbs is a CF also. It’s no surprise to Indian fans what will happen here and Antonetti seemed to agree. Brantley will be moved to left and Stubbs will play Center. Antonetti said Brantley was outstanding their,but Stubbs is known as one of the best in baseball. I would like to know who those people are. Brantley will make the move, but his pride will be bruised because of it.

Who will hit the ball? For example, without Choo who plays right field? Thomas Neal? Russ Canzler? Nick Swisher? It’s time the Tribe put their money where their mouth is. Unlike Shapiro’s belief, fans do love to see a winner at Progressive Field. Swisher would seem to be the best fit if the ownership will open their pocketbooks and spend the dough. Four years at $13 million per annum would work. However now it appears the white Sox and Giants have thrown their name in the hat. And now since Kevin Youkilis has signed with the Yankees, Swisher may not feel the Tribe is committed to winning.

Staying with hitting, the Indians have turned an offense that makes contact into one that whiffs too much. Last season the entire Cleveland team struck out 1087 times. In two days they have brought in Stubbs and Reynolds who between them struck out 325 times in 2012, 30% of the team’s total last season.

The largest question? Can the Indians front office asses talent? Certainly this is not proof they can. The minors are the Indians problems and they haven’t had a credible major league player come out of their system since Victor Martinez and C. C. Sabathia, and we all know where they are today. Why should we feel the Indians can asses talent on another team if they can’t in their own system?

This is a deal that would have been better stopping with the Reds. Choo and Donald to the Reds for Gregorious and Stubbs. If the Indians wanted Bauer so bad, trade Cabrera to the D’Backs and keep Gregorious. You would have him tied up until 2019. Maybe you could have pryed Justin Upton from Arizona with Bauer.

For those who think this is a home run for the Indians, think again. The Indians traded for two players in Stubbs and Bauer whom it is said are uncoachable and apparently don’t listen. Of course more trades can be made and this might turn out to be a deal to set something else up. Knowing Antonetti, Shapiro and the Dolans that might be giving them too much credit. Still, are they a better team now than yesterday?

Absolutely not!

 

Dave Mitchell and Mark Donahue co-host the “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, returning to UST in March, 2013.

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