Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The fire sale continues

It took about a month, but the Mariners now have both halves of the Indians' prized first-base platoon from April.
At the start of July, the Indians dealt Eduardo Perez to Seattle for infield prospect Asdrubal Cabrera. Wednesday, the Indians sent Ben Broussard to the Mariners for outfield prospect Shin-Soo Choo.
Unlike Cabrera or Max Ramirez, who was acquired from the Braves for Bob Wickman last week, Choo has played in the bigs, albeit briefly. And he has some shiny minor-league numbers.
At Class AAA Tacoma, the 24-year-old is hitting .323 with 13 homers and 48 RBI. His 26 stolen bases suggests some real speed, something that has been missing from the Indians organization for quite some time.
In 14 big-league at-bats spanning this year and last, Choo has two hits, one of them a double.
Choo looks like he'll bring some speed to the Tribe's attack sooner rather than later. Hopefully he carries that .300-plus batting average with him to the majors. If he does, the Indians might have their leadoff hitter that will allow them to move Grady Sizemore to the third spot in the batting order.
I can't fault the trade, at least not now, but for the first time this year, it really feels like a fire sale is in progress. I was never a huge Ben Broussard fan. He frustrated me with his tendency to have intermittent hot streaks between long stretches of absolutely nothing. I chalked up his hot year (.321 at the time of the trade) mostly to having Perez and Victor Martinez platooning with him, shielding him from left-handed pitching.
But Broussard has been a part of this rebuilding process from the get-go. He's been this team's starting first baseman since 2003. Even though Broussard couldn't be considered a "core player" by the Indians front office, this was still the termination of a long-term commitment by the Indians to a player who still has the balance of his career ahead of him.
Perhaps the Indians punted the season away when they dealt Wickman. But he wasn't going to be back next year anyway. Losing Broussard feels like a major piece of the team has been sacrificed, even if the presences of Martinez and Ryan Garko should help the Indians recover quickly.
With the number of young players the Indians have, and the number of capable players at Class AAA, I know this might only been a yearlong retooling. But it's incredible how much this feels like 2002 all over again. Watching players get sent off to better teams while your own team is wallowing in the misery of the mess it created.
But I guess seasons like this are inevitable for a small-market baseball team.
Last year, the Indians gave us a taste of what they can do. This year, they are reminding us of what, from time to time, they must do.


dj said...

"But I guess seasons like this are inevitable for a small-market baseball team."

No. Seasons like this are the result of horrible ownership and one of the lowest payrolls in the majors.

Erik said...

What I meant by that statement was that small-market teams cannot expect the sustained success of big-market teams. They can't outspend their mistakes.

Look at the Twins last year. Some players didn't pan out, some others got injured, and they had a bad year. This year, they are recovering.

This year-to-year bouncing around is a reality for teams like the Indians. Even if they do 75 percent of what they are supposed to do to win, and have one bad offseason, the result is what you see now.

I don't think the Dolans are "horrible" owners. I think the owners of the Pirates and Royals are horrible. They have no idea what they are doing. The Dolans have the fundamentals right, but they are having trouble exapnding on those fundamentals. Hopefully this year will serve as a learning experience for them.

Sussman said...

Shin-Soo Choo is not that bad of a prospect. And fun as hell to say.

As for being a fire sale, I liken it to more of a lukewarm water sale.