The long-awaited day is finally here. Ramon Vazquez has been demoted to Class AAA Buffalo.
In other news, much-hyped third base prospect Andy Marte has been recalled to replace him.
The Indians reportedly had been trying to move Aaron Boone prior to promoting Marte, but have had no takers. So the answer, at least for the near future, appears to be a platoon situation between Boone and Marte.
GM Mark Shapiro has been Deadheading around the minors for the past few days to get a realistic picture of what we can all expect from Marte.
Shapiro's conclusion, as printed in The Plain Dealer Friday:
"Marte looked better in spring training. He needs work ... We've got to start the transition soon. That means he's probably going to struggle a little bit when he gets here."
Just brace yourself for the Coco Crisp trade to look like a complete Boston hose job, at least for right now. Marte was batting .261 with 15 homers and 46 RBI at Buffalo. Not the type of numbers you'd expect from a thoroughbred prospect.
He also has nearly 20 errors at third base, though reportedly most of those happened early in the season.
At first, the difference between Marte and Boone is going to be negligible. Boone might even be better. But Marte, 23, is on his way up and Boone, 33, is on his way down. On a team in possession of a season that has already been thrown in the trash, you always lean toward the guy with the upside.
So it is with a collective gulp and turn of the switch that the Indians bring up the curtain on the Andy Marte Era in Cleveland. Within a year, we'll have enough evidence to render a verdict on the Crisp deal. Shapiro's reputation as a GM is on the line, and he knows it. You don't whiff on a trade this big without some serious damage to your professional reputation.
Marte has the talent to vindicate Shapiro and then some. Marte was groomed by the Atlanta Braves, without a doubt one of the best organizations in baseball. If the Braves' brass says Marte is a good one, I am inclined to believe them.
Sure, there's always the "If he's so good, why did they trade him?" argument. But even if you don't believe in the Indians' ability to use good judgment, remember that Braves dealt him to the Red Sox, another wheeler-dealer organization that doesn't like to get taken advantage of. At the time they acquired Marte, I'm sure the Red Sox had no intention of turning around and dealing him yet again. But then Johnny Damon left for the Yankees and the Red Sox were left without a center fielder.
This is what passes for intrigue when your team sits 23 1/2 games out of first place. Marte and fellow newcomer Shin-Soo Choo will probably both be in the lineup tonight when the Indians host Seattle. If you can't hold out hope for this year, at least you can dream about what might be in 2007.