A problem from way out of left field
By Jeff Ellis
April 2, 2012
This past Thursday night I sent Tony an email saying I wanted to write about possible trade targets for left field. After the Asencio trade I had a feeling something might be up and that a trade might be imminent. I had no idea how imminent as less than five minutes later the reports of Bobby Abreu being traded to the Indians started to filter in. We all know this trade ended up falling apart, but it does not change the fact that the fans and the front office both know the Indians need to find someone to help out in left field.
With that in mind, this piece will focus on some familiar players I have pushed for before and also a few new names. Now that spring training is over , we have a pretty good idea of what the areas of depth are and where the Indians have a need.
The fact is the Indians can't ignore the fact that right now they don't have a legit Major League player to play the left field, and at some point it seems inevitable that a trade will occur. Also at this point Bobby Abreu has been talked about so much, I think fans pretty much know what his strengths and weakness are and why he would have been a nice addition. He could still be an addition, so do not discount him as a target.
Players that have been Discussed Before
Carlos Lee - OF/1B
If the Indians were going to be cool with the thought of Vlad and Abreu in the outfield then there should be no problem with Lee. There had been trade talks earlier this year, but how much money Houston was willing to give up seemed to be the issue. Lee is right handed and does not strike out much, so he would be a definite upgrade, but I see him as an unlikely target. I think Houston is content to let him play and see if they can't get max value at the trade deadline. No reason to give him away and pay a majority of his salary, so I think Houston will just sit tight.
Chris Heisey - OF:
I am a big time Heisey guy, and have been bringing him up for awhile now. He is right handed, can play all three outfield spots, and has shown good power over his career as in 500 plate appearances he has 26 home runs. I should also mention he is only 27, and on top of this the Reds seem to have no faith in him. He is finally getting a chance to start, but it seems likley that he will spilt time with Ryan Ludwick. The Reds just lost Ryan Madson for the year and have made Sean Marshall their closer, so they need another guy who can pitch in the 8th. I wonder if you could flip someone like Joe Smith or Rafael Perez for Heisey and possibly a second piece. The Indians pen has the pieces from within to absord a loss like this with Nick Hagadone and C.C. Lee waiting in the minors. Heisey just seems like an ideal target in terms of price and what he brings. Worst case he is a better option than Aaron Cunningham who right now the Indians are banking on as a 4th outfielder who can play all three spots.
New Names to Consider
Marlon Byrd - OF:
Byrd has been a consistent hitter for the last five years, is right handed, and can play all three outfield spots. The Cubs are known to be shopping him and are in complete rebuild mode, so if you want him just simply make the best offer. Byrd is never going to be a big power guy or ever walk much, but he does have doubles power. The only problem with Byrd is that a few teams are known to be chasing him and the price to acquire him might be more than the Indians are willing to spend.
Domonic Brown - OF:
When the Indians traded Cliff Lee to the Philles back in July of 2009, outfielder Domonic Brown was an untouchable player. He has never been given an extended chance, and the Philles keep going out of their way to make sure he never gets any chance. He is unproven, and in his short stint in the majors has been underwhelming. He is on his way back to AAA this year yet again with really nothing left to prove in the minors. The Philles are up against it salary wise and they need a middle infielder who can play and be effective, and they could also use another arm. Jose Lopez has had a great spring and has looked like a guy who can be trusted, this is important because it allows you to consider trading Jason Donald if it nets you another young bat. Philly would have to consider a Brown for Donald trade and the Indians might have to include a lesser arm as well, but they would get a long term option for their outfield who desperately needs a change of scenery.
Chris Coghlan - OF:
Three years ago he was the Rookie of the Year and even got MVP votes, since then he is now reduced to a fourth outfielder. The reason I would consider him in spite of the fact that he has not been productive of late is if you look at his BABIP, he does seem to be a little unlucky. His first year his BABIP was .321 so maybe too high, the next year .263, then last year .230. His ground ball to fly ball rate were almost identical last year when compared to his amazing rookie year. So it would make you think that he should be better this year, that the great hitter is still there. He could still hit in the .290-.300 range with close to 30 doubles. On Miami he is stuck as a 4th outfielder who has not looked good, and the main need for the Marlins would be in their bullpen. They do not have much there right now, and frankly, the Indians could trade any two pen arms and they would both make the Miami pen. It's that weak. When Randy Choate is in your pen you need help.
Jason Bay - OF:
Okay, I am actually just teasing with this, though it would arguably be the best PR move because he is a fairly well known name. Fans are generally smarter, but a wash upped player seems to excite fans more than an under-rated player. Bay is washed up and all stats show me that he has lost it and the only upside besides PR would be the fact that him and Grady are good friends, so maybe it would help them both to be together again. At this point thought, the Indians should not consider Bay unless his entire contract is paid.
So there are a few targets for the Indians to consider for left field. They are probably going to acquire someone at some point. I have faith in this as they have to realize Grady cannot be counted on and they need one more bat. Outfielders are typically bat positions, especially corner outfielders, so if the Indians want to have any thought of competing they have to get a legit Major League option out there.
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seems the time to spend is when you trade your top prospects for a "front line starter". If that isn't time, I don't know what is...
it'd be nice if the front office tried to figure this out in December as opposed to the day before the start of the season.