Technically, despite losing seven of their last nine games, the Cleveland Indians are still not out of it. Technically, just 6.5 games out of first in the AL Central and five games out of the wild card, the Indians are not a team who should go into a fire-sale coming into tomorrow’s trade deadline. Technically.
Well, now that we have the technicalities out of the way, let’s face the facts: the Indians don’t look anything like a playoff team right now. They hardly look like a club just one big trade away from changing their fortunes.
The last week has been the 2014 Indians in a nutshell. Inconsistent pitching, inconsistent offense, one or two games where it looks like the team is about to turn it around, followed by a night full of Nick Swisher having more strikeouts than the team has hits. Astounding, really, that this is the same Cleveland team who came out of the All Star break taking three of four from the first place Detroit Tigers.
Now, with the trade deadline less than a day away, the Indians need to figure out a plan. As mentioned, they’re not exactly a team who should go all-in on a big deal because they’re one player away from contending. Despite the claims of team president Mark Shapiro, the Tribe would be best focusing on selling at the deadline instead of buying.
I’m not saying they need to go through the same salary dump we saw in 2008 and 2009, where anyone who had at least remote productivity was dealt away. At the same time, there are players on the roster the team needs to try and trade now in order to avoid losing them for nothing in the offseason.
The team already dealt away pitcher Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals today. Cleveland went through a typical offseason ritual of late, catching heat for not resigning a player deemed as one of their club’s best. However, in a twist ending, the Indians appear to have made the right move, as Masterson has been heinous this year. His ERA (5.51) and WHIP (1.65) are both career highs, his velocity was down, his control was nowhere to be seen and it was becoming a stunner if he was able to make it past the fourth inning in his starts.
On top of this deal, Cleveland also needs to keep scouring the market to try and deal shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Playing out the final year of his contract, it’s expected the Indians won’t attempt to resign him in the offseason, especially with minor league phenom Francisco Lindor waiting in the wings. Problem is, though, he’s having a pretty miserable season. With a batting average of .249 and 14 errors already – his career high for a season is 19 – it’s hard to believe the Indians can get much for him. At the same time, they need to try as hard as they can. Any return is better than nothing.
Again, because of those aforementioned technicalities in the standings, the Indians don’t need to sell the ranch by tomorrow. At the same time, they don’t look anything like buyers, so they might as well trade what parts they can while they can.