Saturday, July 26, 2008

More than fair return for Casey Blake; Dodger blogs none too happy

Put me down as quite satisfied with the Tribe's latest round of wheeling and dealing - the biggest part of which was the trade of Casey Blake to the Dodgers.

They picked up once-touted pitcher Anthony Reyes from the Cardinals today as well, but we'll get to that later.

It looks to me like the Tribe got two legitimate prospects for Blake, including one that stands a pretty decent chance at being somewhere in the back end of the Tribe's pen next year - and just might get a look with the big club before this season comes to a merciful close.

In addition, they got a guy who - from what I've been able to dig up - was one of the Dodgers better hitting prospects and who is a switch-hitting catcher to boot.

First the pitcher.

(Before I go any further let me just say I'm borrowing (stealing) these stats from my colleague Paul Cousineau at the DiaTribe, since it is 10:20 PM as I begin to write this and this is the first chance I've had to sit down all day.)


The pitcher in question is righty Jon Meloan who is having a not-to-great year as a starter for AAA Las Vegas this season.

But he throws low-to-mid nineties, as a decent curve and was lights out as a reliever in the past two years at three minor league levels.

Here are the numbers:

2007 (in AA and AAA)
2.03 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 91 K, 27 BB in 66 2/3 IP over 49 games

2006 (in A and AA)
1.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 91 K, 16 BB in 52 IP over 21 games

Not sure what the Dodgers were thinking when they looked at those '06 and '07 numbers and said "let's make him a starter," but the Tribe intends to quickly move him back to the pen in Buffalo.

Walks have been his problem, particularly this year, but it could be that as a starter he has to mix in some pitches he's not all that comfortable with as the game wears on. As a reliever he doesn't need to mix it up so much and so he may be able to limit himself to his bread-and-butter, helping his control

Whatever the case, it appears he has closer stuff if he can get it under control.

It's been a long time since the Tribe has had a closer who can blow somebody's doors off. His K to IP ratio is ridiculous in the pen., so I don't think it is out of the question that Meloan could work his way to that spot - starting out in a lesser role on the big club first of course.

For next year, he could be a good 7th or 8th inning guy, giving the Tribe the chance - maybe - to give Raffie Perez a look in the closer's role.

If they open the wallet and hire an established closer, all the better. Add in Kobayashi and you could have a serious back end of the pen.

I commented earlier somewhere that if the Tribe got a solid bullpen arm for Blake I would be happy. I was thinking more along the lines of someone who has done it at the big league level. But this guy appears to have a big "upside." (as the professionals like to say)

But, the trade looks even better when you add in the high-A ball catcher the Tribe got - Carlos Santana.

Here are his numbers, thanks again to The DiaTribe.

2008 (single-A)
.323 BA / .431 OBP / .563 SLG / .994 OPS with 14 HR, 96 RBI, and 34 doubles in 99 games.

Santana is new to the catcher position and from what I've read his defense needs a little work, but those offensive numbers look pretty darn good.

As a Tribe fan, it's too hard not to draw the comparisons to Victor Martinez - also a converted infielder, with a solid bat that he swings from both sides of the plate.

It is A ball, but this guy is intriguing, and in many of the stories I read he was the key to the deal.

Did we get enough for two months worth of Casey Blake?

I'd say so.

But it might be more useful take a look at what is being said elsewhere about the trade - particularly in L.A., where - presumably those doing the writing know more about these prospects than I do.

This blog may be a little biased - since Ned Colletti is the guy who pulled the trigger on the deal for the Dodgers - but over at Fire Ned Colletti Now, they hate the deal from the Dodgers' point of view.

At this point, the Dodgers are a tossup to even make the playoffs, and even assuming they do, is that really worth sacrificing two chips that may have been much larger a year from now? You have to look at it from the context that Ned is likely giving up a solid bullpen arm and a Top 5 prospect for Casey freakin' Blake in a season that will most likely end up as nothing more than a nice try at the playoffs and a pat on the back.

6-4-2 bills itself as an Angels/Dodgers double play blog (meaning that it covers both teams). Since the most typical double-play is scored 6-4-3, the name of the blog is either an attempt at cleverness or raises serious doubts about the baseball knowledge of the writers there.

But from reading this blog, they seem to know what's going on, and they don't like the deal that much either - again from the Dodger perspective.

In short, it's not as bad a deal as the Denny Baez/Lance Carter for Edwin Jackson/Chuck Tiffany deal, but it represents the same wastefulness, an inability to read the team's true needs, and a failure to properly value prospects.

At True Blue L.A. they hate it too:

It seems like all Ned did was look at Casey Blake, see he was hitting decently and decided he would be an upgrade without looking at the context of the team. Paul DePodesta got taken to task for making "fantasy baseball" moves but this trade is far worse in that regard than anything DePo did. An absolutely terrible move, even for Ned.

Ken Davidoff writes for Newsday, the daily on Long Island. Except for the fact that the Mets were in on Blake, Davidoff really has no real "local angle" on this, but I think he is one of the better baseball beat writers I've come across. So I decided to link his comments too. He thinks both teams will be happy with the deal.

The Dodgers, very much in the race in the weak NL West, owed it to their players to make this trade That said, one official from a team not involved in the deal thought that the Dodgers overpaid for Blake, giving up two good pieces in Santana and Meloan. So let's call this one even.

So, from either coast, this trade looks pretty good for the Tribe.

The Blake deal got all the attention, but Tribe GM Mark Shapiro picked up another arm in a deal today who may be part of the competition for a rotation spot next year.

The Tribe picked up Anthony Reyes from the Cardinals for minor league reliever Luis Perdomo.

Reyes has been a starter in the Cardinals' system for the past few years but made the parent club as a reliever this year. He has not had much success in either role in the majors, but has put up some good numbers in the minors.

He will be stretched out and put back into a starter role in Buffalo.

Perdomo was the closer at class-A Kinston and put up 18 saves before being promoted to double-A Akron, where he been decent.

As with any deal the Tribe is likely to make at this juncture, it's impossible to tell how this one will turn out.

But the Tribe needs potential starters at the big-league level pronto and so it seems worth the gamble that the Indians can figure out how to make Reyes as successful in the big leagues as he has been in the bushes.

I'm going to bet we see him at Cleveland just as soon as they can get his pitch count up at Buffalo.

And, finally, speaking of Buffalo, the Indians sent Aaron Laffey back there today to work out his control problems.

The move was a bit of a surprise to me since Laffey has had a fair amount of success for the Tribe this year and last.

I guess they felt Laffey could get himself back in gear in a low-pressure situation and then call him back up ASAP.

As for Jeremy Sowers - your guess is as good as mine. Sowers has done the job in a few stints in at Buffalo, so the Tribe must feel he needs to prove to himself that he is capable of making the jump to the majors - something he can only do by pitching in the majors.

Who knows?

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