Late Tuesday afternoon, the Indians made a minor move by acquiring left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski from St. Louis for a low level prospect of insignificance. Joe Martinez, who did a nice job filling in during his one week stint in Cleveland as the long man in June, was designated for assignment and moved off the 40-man roster to make room. However, another move was going to be made to get Rzepcynski to Cleveland.
There was plenty of speculation after the move was made in the hours leading up to last night’s 7-4 Tribe win on what they would do. GM Chris Antonetti, when asked about what would occur, told the media “There’s a lot that can happen over the next 24 hours.”
You’ve seen how versatile this Indians team can be thanks to the bench crew. Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn’s ability to play multiple positions eases the burden on Manager Terry Francona and gives him the option to keep an eight-man pen which he prefers. But would they dare send back Lonnie Chisenhall to AAA? That would be the only way the bigger pen could exist. Sure, making Aviles the regular third baseman would make sense, sprinkling in the super-cold Mark Reynolds a few times a week, but that probably wouldn’t be good for Chisenhall’s psyche. Plus at this point, he deserves to be here and has done all he can do in the minors. So Lonnie has to stay.
All year they have been waiting for a left-hander to step up and it just hasn’t happened. With that said, Rich Hill has been better of late but it was clear with the acquisition of Rzepcynski that an upgrade – or at least another option – was needed. Hill’s bacon was saved with the DFA’ing of Martinez earlier in the day. If Hill was the guy leaving, he would have been designated right then and there, since he is 33-years old and out of options.
With long man Matt Albers out of options and doing yeoman’s work as a middle reliever (2.75 ERA) That left the Indians three options. You could immediately cross Cody Allen off the list, as he has become an indispensable part of the late inning crew. That narrowed it down to Bryan Shaw and Vinnie Pestano. Neither have been what you would have wanted them to be this year, but if you are judging their recent body of work, along with the entire season, Shaw would be the guy who would have to stick. Francona turned to him last night in the eighth inning with his team trailing by a run to get the final out. That was a tell-tale sign of who is more trusted at this point.
Shaw has been far from spectacular, but he has now put together eight straight scoreless appearances. So after the game,the struggling Pestano was shipped to Columbus.
This was not about choosing Rzepcynski over Pestano. It was choosing Shaw over Pestano. One guy has been better at this job than the other. Both had options remaining and this is a what have you done for me lately kind of business, especially when a team can send you to the minors. What is amazing is that St. Louis’s Mitchell Boggs and Pestano were arguably two of the best set up men in baseball a year ago and were picked to represent the United States in the WBC. Today, they are both in AAA trying to find themselves.
I still maintain Pestano is hurt. He has been blowing guys away with the movement on his fastball these past two seasons. This year, it just hasn’t been there and he spent time on the DL with elbow issues. He is clearly not himself and maybe this time in Columbus will help him regain his form with regular work. You can bet that he will be back in Cleveland when the rosters expand September 1st, if not sooner. I hope I am wrong, but I think 2013 will be a completely lost season for Vinnie and he will be back strong and healthier in 2014.
Everyone loves Vinnie the teammate. He was seen hugging teammates after the game in the locker room and tweeted to his fans shortly thereafter.
— Vinnie Pestano (@VinnieP52) July 31, 2013
Meanwhile, Rzepcynski will be given the opportunity to neutralize late inning lefties, a job Hill has struggled with. He came at a cheap price tag compared to what the Giants are allegedly asking for Javier Lopez (the PD’s Paul Hoynes says they want Danny Salazar) and what Colorado wanted for Josh Outman (reportedly Carlos Carrasco). While he has been up and down between St. Louis and AAA Memphis, the man they called “scrabble” has playoff experience as the key late inning lefty that helped the Cardinals win the 2011 World Series. Lefties have hit .224 against him in his career, .185 against in AAA in 2013. Most importantly, he is under club control through 2015 and could be the long term LOOGY solution.
The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is at 4 PM EST today.
photo via Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer