The Cleveland Indians are threatening to turn the AL Central into a two-team race.
The only problem for Cleveland is that it used to be three.
After years of delaying what it considered to be inevitable, Cleveland’s front office dealt Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets, along with Carlos Carrasco. In return the Mets are sending a replacement shortstop in Amed Rosario, along with another infielder in Andrés Giménez, 2019 second-round righty Josh Wolf and 2020 compensatory second-round outfielder Isaiah Greene. The dealing of two decent internal shortstop candidates potentially indicate the Mets’ interest in retaining Lindor long term.
The Indians have enough of a track record in developing lesser acquisitions to call his an out-and-out mistake, but it entails the risk of trading two birds in the hand for four in the bush. Lindor was one of the keys to making the Indians’ top-heavy lineup sufficient, and now his 5.4 WAR ZiPS projection is off the books. Only José Ramirez projected better, and by one-tenth of a win at that.
Likewise, the Indians dealt their second-most projectable pitcher, as Carrasco was slated for 2.7 WAR according to ZiPS. In return, the Mets’ ZiPS projections show Rosario good for 1.6 WAR, Giménez for 1.2, and the other two off the radar. Giménez ends up replacing free agent Cesar Hernandez at second. Hernandez projected for 1.8 WAR this season, so that’s not as much of a drop-off on paper.
FanGraphs already is accounting for the trade in its team WAR projections. Before, the White Sox and Indians were neck-and-neck in their attempt to track down the Twins. My memory said it was something like:
- Twins, 38.2
- White Sox, 37.9
- Indians, 37.3 (or close).
- Twins, 38.2
- White Sox, 37.9
- Indians, 32.5
Again, it wouldn’t surprise me if Cleveland fares a little better than expected, kinda like the way Michael Brantley redeemed the CC Sabathia trade by himself. It’s still not great for baseball, but it should benefit the White Sox, who are finally back to being one of the two teams the AL Central allows to contend. Three? That was simply too much.
(Photo by Erik Drost)
Cleveland payroll now projected for ~$35M. That’s frankly insulting to their fans. It’s become a meme at this point but baseball really needs to make some major changes in the CBA to prevent stuff like this from happening.
Also, like some have pointed out already, my initial take on this was that it just gives Jerry and the front office one more reason to stand pat going into 2021. The teams that are being aggressive in their improvements all have intense within division competition: Padres (Dodgers), Mets (Braves/Nationals), & ostensibly the Blue Jays (Yankees/Rays). You could and are right to say that the Twins are that team for the White Sox, but if they aren’t going to get better then the Sox have no need to either. Pressure makes diamonds but the air is thin in the AL Central.
I have to believe the union will be filing a grievance unless something changes.
I’m not one to defend FOs for being cheap, but this one cuts both ways. In 2016 the Indians went to the World Series but were *28th* in attendance. The next year they were 22nd. In 2019 they won 93 games and were 11th in payroll… but 22nd in attendance.
Maybe it is insulting to fans, but it’s hard to blame a FO for cutting back on spending after putting together *really good* teams for five straight seasons but they can’t crack the top 20 in attendance.
There’s “cutting back on spending” which is what they did in 2019 and 2020.
Then there’s “spending less on your entire team than some individual players make” which is what this is. It’s mind-boggling cheapness.
Maybe they’re strong-arming MLB to allow them to relocate to India. That way they can keep the name.
In 2019, they had a payroll of around $152m, good for (again) 11th in baseball and up $10m the previous year.
Didn’t they have a long streak of sellouts when they opened Jacobs Field (or whatever it’s called now)? What happened to that? Obviously they were really good when Jacobs Field opened but they’ve had some good teams since as HOF noted.
They did it to themselves. Before 2002 they had over 3 million in attendance for six years running, then 2.6 million, then Jim Thome left and they haven’t approached it since. When they not only make clear through their actions that they’re not going to make any effort financially to compete, but literally TELL THEIR FANS EXACTLY THAT, I can’t say I fault Clevelanders for refusing to buy in.
So, Cleveland fans should stop going to games because the FO let Thome walk 20 years ago? Ok, I mean, I guess. If that’s true, you can say goodbye to, well, all professional sports.
Restricting this to, say, the lifetime of the Indians most recent draft pick and since their GM graduated college, the Indians have ramped up payroll and been very, very good. If fans won’t come back for that, then, whoever’s fault it originally is, it’s probably best for this team to find a different city.
Maybe you can’t blame the fans for not coming back, but neither should you blame the FO for quitting when their best efforts weren’t enough to overcome sins from *decades* ago.
After losing Carrasco, Clevinger, Kluber, and Bauer in the last couple of years, it’s crazy that Cleveland could still have a really strong rotation with Bieber, Plesac, Civale, and McKenzie.
A little off topic but, assuming that the White Sox:
The White Sox must have a preference for one/two of the 6-8 mid level FA starters. Why don’t they (or any other team) make an offer first that may be somewhat over the market (though still well within budget reach given these are mid level guys) to insure they have their man? The market for these starters are no where near Bauer money, so it can’t be that all is waiting on him to sign, can it?
Why pay 8 mil to make sure you get the guy you want when you can wait and maybe strong arm the guy you want into taking 7?
They jumped the market for Eaton
Probably wasn’t clear, but I was giving them shit for not doing exactly what the OP is saying here. I honestly wouldn’t have a problem doing that with the starters (since they already acquired Lynn to fit closer to the top of the rotation). I did have a problem with the Eaton signing because they didn’t seem to make an effort at the top of the market.
Totally agree with you on Eaton. With regard to FA starters, it’s go time now. The window is open. If there is a best fit of the bunch that Hahn has identified, pull the bloody trigger. No time to be dicking around to save a few bucks and lose your guy.
My guess is that starters in the tier below Bauer are probably holding out on signing until some teams that have budget set aside for Bauer lose out on him and can free up that budget to compete for those second tier starters instead.
But that mainly applies to Odorizzi and Tanaka, I think? Maybe Quintana. Kluber and Paxton seem to be short-term upside plays that wouldn’t be that affected by those market dynamics, but they might hold out, too.
So far this century (2000-present), which teams’ fanbase is more justified in being angry/frustrated/disappointed with their team’s ownership/front office/GM, the White Sox or Cleveland? What about KC, Detroit, or Minnesota?
So far this century? From most justified to least:
What’s weird is Detroit tried harder than any team in the division to win a World Series, but couldn’t get it done. It wasn’t for lack of spending.
Yeah, depends on what’s more likely to cause anger/frustration/disappointment.
I’m trying to imagine the extremes for the White Sox. Would I be more annoyed if the FO made great decisions but ran a ridiculously low payroll (a la Rays) or made poor decisions but ran a ridiculously high payroll (a la Tigers)?
I honestly can’t decide. I suspect in either case the gap in frustration directed at owner and GM as individuals would be wide, unlike now where the Sox are right in the middle of that spectrum so you can just lump the FO together.
Post-2006 the Sox probably go to number 1, but flags fly forever.