Fellow Friends of the Feather were abuzz over our controversial statement comparing that the day Casey Blake was dealt to the birth of my son. People, please. It's called exaggeration for effect. Yes, we have been Casey's biggest critic for years and we were glad to see him go, but he was a good solider here during his tenure and will be missed...Just not by us.
Keith Law of ESPN.com made it sound as though the Tribe made off with quite the haul for Fakey Fake in snagging Catcher Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan: In total, it's a great return for Blake, who at most would have fetched two draft picks this offseason, and could have fetched just one, with the players selected with those picks much further from major league value than Santana and Meloan. When you consider that Cleveland signed Blake as a minor-league free agent on a one-year deal in 2003, received almost five years of big-league production and flipped him for two prospects, the ROI on the original deal must be off the charts.
More good news per Law regarding Meloan: Long term, he should be an above-average short reliever, maybe even an unconventional closer because he can miss so many bats in spite of the average velocity.
The same day Fake was dumped, another Tribe deal flew under the radar. GM Mark Shapiro acquired former pitching phenom Anthony Reyes from the St. Louis Cardinals from Minor League reliever Luis Perdomo. Local and national experts think this was a very smart move by Shappy. Don't forget that as recently as two years ago, Reyes was the #1 pitching prospect in the Cardinals system, who started Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. One of our compadres over at The Cleveland Fan, Tony Lastoria (who also runs a terrific Indians Minor League Blog) has some solid insight:
This could be one of those trades where the Indians are banking on a change of scenery helping Reyes. We all know what that did for Brandon Phillips when they traded him to Cincinnati, or for Jeremy Guthrie when he moved on to Baltimore, so there is obvious hope here the Indians are able to have some luck go their way for once. Plus, the Indians have had a lot of success recently with sinker-ballers like Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, and Aaron Laffey, so it is possible some of that success could rub off on Reyes.
With Reyes, the Indians also acquired a player who should be under their control for at least another four years. Let's face it, the upper levels of the Indians system lacked anything that they could really rely on to help their starting pitching needs in the short term, specifically in 2009. Left-hander David Huff is the only pitcher who appears ready to help the team next year, and if right-hander Adam Miller can remain healthy or is not moved to the bullpen he is the only other option. Others like left-hander Scott Lewis, right-hander Frank Herrmann, right-hander Kevin Dixon, and left-hander Ryan Edell are all good depth options, but none of these pitches are ready to impact the Indians and become stalwarts in the rotation anytime soon, if ever.
On top of that, left-handers Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey have struggled this year. This is clearly an attempt to fill a starting pitching need next year and potentially beyond with a young pitcher who has loads of talent that has only been shown in spurts at the major league level. With how expensive pitching is in free agency - average pitching at that - taking a gamble on a guy like Reyes may not only be a gamble that pays off from a performance perspective, but from a cost-efficiency perspective as well.
As for losing a top guy relief prospect like Perdomo, Lastoria brings in the Blake trade, pointing out that when it comes being major-league ready, Meloan fills the loss of Perdomo in the Reyes trade, and is actually a much better relief prospect than Perdomo.
If you want a long, brilliantly written break-down of both trades, check out our friends at The Diatribe. A great take from their piece:
The real winner in the Blake deal, in the short term at least, is Andy Marte as NO even somewhat legitimate reason exists for him not to be in the everyday lineup. Unfortunately, with the number of games remaining being such a small percentage of the season, I’m not sure how much we’re going to learn about Marte or what numbers he would have to put up to stake a claim on 3B for himself.
If he goes out there and struggles, there’s no way they go into 2009 with him as the everyday 3B…because they could have done that back in May or June without much of a problem. If he thrives down the stretch (and by that I mean he would just have to crush everything to get back into good graces), I think he’d be an option at 3B for 2009 with no guarantee that his name would be written in permanent ink on a 2009 lineup card.
To a lesser degree, this trade benefits Ryan Garko as Gark has the opportunity now to salvage what looks like a lost season for him. His situation is different than Marte’s because of the body of work that he has already established in MLB (Garko has 979 MLB AB to Marte’s 378) and the fact that he has achieved some modicum of success prior to 2008 means that a solid final two months of the season could put Garko right back into the mix for 1B for 2009, whereas that ship may have already sailed for Marte. Of course, if Garko doesn’t turn it around to close out 2009, he could just be greasing his way out of the regular 1B spot for the coming years.
Both players will be given the opportunity to force their way into the plans for 2009 and beyond with Blake not taking AB away from anyone…that is, unless Michael Aubrey or Victor come to play some 1B or the Indians decide to see if Peralta can play 3B now instead of waiting for Winter Ball for a verdict.
Speaking of which, your pal T will be guest-hosting "More Sports and Les Levine" on Time Warner Cable (channel 23 on the East side, trying to find the channel for Akron/Canton and The West Side). Our guest will be Paul Cousineau, the man behind The Diatribe. King Diesel will also be making a phoned-in appearance to talk RWB baseball.