1. It is a good thing that the Indians won’t see the newly acquired Matt Garza over the weekend. Not just because he is pitching well, but because we can be spared from hearing from the “I told you so” crowd if he came into Progressive Field and dominated. I wrote about this earlier in the week, but if the rumors are indeed true, renting Garza – who was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA with the Cubs before being dealt to Texas – the price tag would have been starting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.
Yes, Lonnie has been brutal in the field since the All Star break with four errors in four games, but he is still making strides at the plate and looking better. The problems against lefties are a huge issue that needs to be corrected, but he is only 24 years old. You just do not give up a 24 year old, club controlled, prospect for a two and a half month rental of a guy who you know will most likely sign elsewhere this winter. Besides, the Indians still have no other viable option behind Chisenhall for the long term. There is nothing in the pipeline above A ball that could be viewed as a future replacement.
It would certainly help matters if Lonnie was more consistent with the bat and with the glove and became more than just a platoon player.
In return for Garza, the Rangers sent Chicago former top third base prospect Mike Olt, A ball stud pitcher C.J. Edwards, and starting pitcher Justin Grimm, who who immediately go into the Cubs rotation. A player or two to be named later will go as well. Olt was almost on par with Jurickson Profar in terms of being untouchable a year ago in the Texas organization, but has really struggled in AAA in 2013. Consider him their version of Matt LaPorta. The Cubs are actually leaving him in AAA hoping he finds his swing.
Many in baseball circles think the Cubs received a nice haul considering Garza was a rental. The Rangers in the meantime got a front line starter and are in “win now” mode. They also could very easily sign Garza after the season should they choose.
2. Enough about Garza – lets talk about the hottest prospect in the Indians organization. I of course am speaking of Francisco Lindor, who was just moved up to AA Akron. Nobody doubts the kid is ready, but nobody could have expected him to go out and be the best player on the field right away. Essentially, that is what he has done.
The 19 year old has played 10 games with the Aeros and is hitting a whopping .441/.578/.647. In 45 plate appearances, Lindor has reached base 26 times. Worried about his patience and plate discipline? Francisco has 10 walks with just one strikeout. Oh, and did I mention his ridiculous stellar defense at short?
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let the kid finish out the season in Akron and see how he does before you all call for him to take over at short next year. I think the Tribe’s plan of Lindor taking the reigns from Asdrubal Cabrera in 2015 is still the most prudent avenue.
3. Nick Swisher told the media yesterday that part of the reason he is having a tough season is because he is trying so hard to live up to the big contract he signed.
“I’m one of those guys who puts a lot of pressure on themselves,” said Swisher. “You want to live up to that. You don’t want to let anyone down. I think that was probably half my battle. I was worrying so much about that and I forgot about going out there and playing the game you love.”
While I do admire that he wants to do well for the city and I don’t doubt his effort, I think there are two factors at play here. First, he is hurt. He has admitted taking cortisone shorts during the season to help ail his nagging shoulder issue. That is a tough thing to try and play through, just ask our old buddy Travis Hafner. The hope is that it does not become a chronic problem, like it did with Pronk.
The bigger issue I think is reality. The Indians overpaid for Swisher. Pure and simple. They had to if they wanted to get him here. He had the luxury of spending the last four years playing in that bandbox of new Yankee Stadium where a popup to right field is a homer. When the lineup isn’t counting on you to “be the man” it also is a completely different set of circumstances. Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixiera all were ahead of Swish in the New York pecking order. Whatever they got from him was a bonus. For the first time in his career – he is the supposed centerpiece of an offense.
Maybe he just isn’t that kind of guy. But that is what the Indians are paying for, hence the immense pressure he is putting on himself.
4. The trade deadline is just five days away and so far we haven’t heard much from the Indians. They were named in the Garza sweepstakes, but were said to never be a serious player. Alfonso Soriano, a guy who would have looked great in the Tribe’s DH spot, is reportedly on his way to the Yankees today. The issue with Soriano was always his contract, which still has $18 million for next year on it.
The Indians search should start with a left-handed reliever like Joe Thatcher of the Padres or Oliver Perez of the Mariners, but adding a bat certainly couldn’t hurt. Mark Reynolds continues to be a black hole in the order and while they love Jason Giambi in the clubhouse, he needs to be doing more at the plate in his limited chances. The guy I would love the Indians to grab is someone we just saw in Seattle – DH/1B Kendrys Morales.
Morales (.279/.339/.463) is 30 years old and is a free agent at seasons end, so the going-nowhere Mariners have no real reason to hang onto him. He is a switch hitter with power – his 15 homers would be tied for the Indians team lead with Jason Kipnis and Reynolds – who is hitting well in the clutch. With runners in scoring position, Kendrys is hitting .348/.396/.584 with 42 RBIs in 84 at bats.
He probably wouldn’t cost all that much in terms of top prospects and would be an instant upgrade over Reynolds. If I were Chris Antonetti, I would see what a Morales/Perez combo deal would cost me. You could kill two birds with one stone – add a veteran bat and a left handed reliever.