an epic survey in six parts
|1||The Starters by Ryan|
|2||The Infield by Jay|
|3||Wait. What? by Andrew (afh4)|
|4||The Prospects by Adam (APV)|
|5||The Outfield + Pronk by Ryan|
|6||The End by Jay|
Now it's time to trade the outfielders, and it's not an easy task to figure out who should stay and who should go. Besides the one guy.
$3.0M salary, signed through 2011, controlled through 2012 (team option)
CON: Sizemore is one of the most valuable players in baseball, taking into account age, ability, upside, consistency, contract status, and (dare I say the words) intangible value. Trading him at this moment would be franchise suicide.
CON: OK, let's get specific. Grady Sizemore is in his Age 25 season, and he's already had three full seasons under his belt. His career OPS+ is 124, and his lowest full season OPS+ is 122. His on-base percentage has increased each season. He's gradually become a better base stealer as his young career has unfolded. That's on top of the things that have pretty much been there from day one: his defense, and his power. He's just starting to enter his prime, that period where his power should mature while he's still young and athletic enough to be a terror on the bases and a vacuum cleaner in the field. And the Indians have him under control for most of that period.
$404K salary, signed through 2008, controlled through 2012
PRO: Because of the guy I just mentioned, Gutierrez is a right fielder with the Indians. Other teams will think of him as a plus center fielder with a very good arm, and won't care as much about his offense. And as Gutierrez is several years from getting expensive, he's that much more valuable to clubs with a hole in center.
PRO: He's not hitting enough to start in right field, so the Indians might be better off getting center fielder value out of him by trading him. The only problem is that he may be the best right fielder in the system right now....
CON: The Indians don't exactly have a surplus of power-hitting outfielders to replace Gutierrez, and would see a huge drop-off in outfield defense no matter who'd they plug in.
CON: Still only 25, and hasn't really had consistent playing time until this year. The power potential is there, and the defense is good enough to keep him in the lineup even if he isn't hitting. And even if he doesn't hit, he'd still be a fine fourth outfielder for the next couple years.
$383K salary, signed through 2008, controlled through 2013
PRO: Kind of redundant, with Ben Francisco being the better hitter and Franklin Gutierrez the better fielder.
PRO: Not a center fielder, and would have to be platooned if he does play regularly. From a tactical standpoint, it makes sense to play him in right field to take advantage of his arm, but Gutierrez has a better arm, not to mention range. Of the outfielders mentioned here, he's the one the Indians would miss the least.
CON: He's relatively young (25) and cheap, and that's worth a lot to a team that suddenly has a lot of big contracts on the Disabled List.
Minimum salary, signed through 2008, controlled through 2013
PRO: As with a lot of his young outfield brethren, Francisco would fetch a lot of interest because of his low service time. But Francisco has a more consistent track record of hitting through the minors and his little time in the majors. He would be very enticing to a team looking for an offense-first corner outfielder.
CON: If Francisco played for another team, don't you think we'd be clamoring for him? During the offensive blackout in May, Francisco was one of the few in the lineup who consistently hit for power. That he's hitting second or third in the lineup just weeks after his callup says volumes about the 2008 offense.
CON: Even though there isn't much upside to his game and his defense is decent at best, the Indians don't have any better options at the corners right now.
$3.75M, signed through 2009, controlled through 2009 (free agent)
PRO: Francisco has outclassed him at the plate, and Dellucci's defense (especially his arm) has always been a liability.
PRO: His contract isn't an albatross, but it'd be nice to free up $4M for next year.
PRO: Is 34, and corner outfielders who rely mostly on power don't age well.
CON: Is a great guy in the clubhouse, which shouldn't be completely ignored.
CON: With Travis Hafner on the DL, he's a good fit as the DH; the Indians can put his power in the lineup without worrying about other teams running on his arm.
$8.05M, signed through 2012, controlled through 2013 (team option)
PRO: Offensive game has withered away in the space of a year, and physically can't play the field beyond a game or two at a time.
PRO: A Hafner who can't hit obviously won't be worth the $57M contract he signed last season.
PRO: Has a limited no-trade clause in that extension, so it will be more difficult to deal him the longer he's not hitting.
CON: The offensive struggles could be a least in part related to a shoulder injury, so he could regain at least a portion of his prowess after his shoulder has recovered.
CON: Hafner made a commitment to stay in Cleveland instead of electing free agency; dealing him so soon after signing the extension wouldn't exactly send a good message to those on the team who are making decisions about free agency.