The Indians are in a bad place.
As their 2012 season continues to circle the drain of disappointment, the Indians are beginning to take the necessary steps towards “fixing” this. I use the term “fixing” loosely because while I believe the Indians should take advantage of a shallow trade market, there is no way they can possibly acquire enough through trades to fill all of their holes. Knowing that, I have to ask myself, “What’s the point of selling?”
The Indians are stuck in a situation that no team should ever want to be in. They’re stuck in that middle ground where they aren’t necessarily good enough to realistically compete for the World Series, but they aren’t bad enough to bottom out, build via the draft, and free up enough space on the payroll to pay top-notch free agents. To make matters even worse, the Indians have built themselves in such a way that selling away their current pieces could do more harm than good.
The lack of realistic depth in the minor league system has been very well documented. With the exception of Francisco Lindor, who’s currently toiling away at the Single A level, no one in the Indians system could be considered highly desirable. The point being, they aren’t going to be able to trade away prospects to acquire MLB ready or MLB established talent. Additionally, they don;t have the necessary depth to replace anyone who may be traded away. For example, trade Shin-Soo Choo for pitching and now they have a hole in left field AND right field. That’s not exactly improving your situation.
The other problem the Indians are facing right now when it comes to putting together trade proposals is the demand for their players already on the big league roster. When I say demand, I mean they have none. Nobody wants them. Sure, they may be willing to take Travis Hafner off of our hands, but the Indians will be paying the rest of his salary and will undoubtedly receive a low-level/low ceiling prospect in return. It’s the same story with the likes of Derek Lowe, Casey Kotchman, Jack Hannahan, Jose Lopez, etc. They aren’t going to bring back much in return except for a gaping hole on an already talent lacking roster.
We need to face the facts. The only way the Indians will receive any type of decent package in a trade will be by trading away someone they have no reason to be trading away. Again, what’s the pont. Why would you trade away a Lonnie Chisenhall or Jason Kipnis to help build for the future when they are the future?
The bottom line is the Indians missed golden opportunities when they traded away C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez. They didn’t receive nearly enough in return and what little they did get hasn’t lived up to expectations. Because of the lack of return on those trades the Indians have more holes than they can possibly fill with one or two moves. This is going to take a series of well thought out trades and at least one offseason to remedy. Can it be fixed? Yes, but not any time soon. Sorry, folks.
So with all that in mind, what should the Indians do? Honestly, I feel like what they should do and what they will do are to completely different things. They shouldn’t do anything drastic and instead should make a minor move or two to help prep for bigger moves somewhere further down the line. Unfortunately, they may feel as if they need to give in to public opinion, make a big splash, and further cripple their future by trying to make a run during a season in which it’s becoming more and more evident they have no business competing in.
I will say this, though. If the Indians get absolutely blown away by a deal for either Chris Perez or Shin-Soo Choo in which they are getting back multiple pieces and MLB ready talent that can step in and play the very next day… then go for it. Otherwise, the Indians shouldn’t make any moves because they feel like they need to make a move. That would be careless and short-sighted.
Regardless, buckle up folks. The next few days leading up to the MLB trade deadline could get very, very interesting.