Tribe News and Notes: 2008/2009 Trades Review

BALTIMORE - MAY 14: Matt LaPorta #7 of the Cleveland Indians walks to the dugout after striking out against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on May 14, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

How can the Cleveland Indians find the pieces to contend in 2013? MLB Insider | cleveland.com

This portion piqued my interest:

This is not the time to begin a total rebuild. For one thing, what would the Indians rebuild with? The building blocks should have come from the trades of Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Those two deals have brought a center fielder in Michael Brantley and a backup catcher in Lou Marson. Carlos Carrasco figures to join the rotation next year following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but no one sees him as a front of the rotation starter. Utility man Jason Donald replaced Hafner on the roster Thursday, but if the Indians thought so highly of him, why did they go out and trade for Brent Lillibridge?

As for Matt LaPorta, who has spent all but a minute or two of this season at Class AAA Columbus, it's hard to believe he's going to be in the organization next year. He may get a call between now and the end of the season, but if the same people stay in charge, it's hard to see him playing an important role in the future of the Tribe.

Hoynes noted the Sabathia/Lee deals only, but I've expanded things to include the other veteran-for-prospect deals that happened in 2008 and 2009 (Martinez, Blake, and DeRosa).

This season Michael Brantley (Sabathia), Justin Masterson (Martinez), Carlos Santana (Blake), Chris Perez (DeRosa) and Lou Marson (Lee) have been regulars on the 25-man roster, with the first three everyday starters and the last a bench player. Jason Donald (Lee), Matt LaPorta (Sabathia) and Nick Hagadone (Martinez) have made brief appearances, Carlos Carrasco (Lee) is out for the season with Tommy John surgery, Rob Bryson (Sabathia) and Bryan Price (Martinez) are still in the minors, and Jason Knapp (Lee) has just recently been released. I think that's all of them, not counting Zach Jackson (Sabathia), Jess Todd (DeRosa) and Jon Meloan (Blake), who's been gone for a while now.

I'll categorize them into groups:

Core Players

Carlos Santana (Blake)

Everyday Players/Potential Core Players

Michael Brantley (Sabathia)

Justin Masterson (Martinez)

Chris Perez (DeRosa)

Reserve Players

Lou Marson (Lee)

Jason Donald (Lee)

To Be Determined

Carlos Carrasco (Lee)

Rob Bryson (Sabathia)

Nick Hagadone (Martinez)

Bryan Price (Martinez)

Busts

Matt LaPorta (Sabathia)

Jason Knapp (Lee)

Jon Meloan (Blake)

Jess Todd (DeRosa)

Other

Zach Jackson (Sabathia) - more of a throw-in than a prospect

It takes a really good reliever for me to consider him a core player, so that's why Perez is where he is (All-Star appearances notwithstanding). Masterson would have been in the core category before the season, and could end up back there with a good 2013. Brantley is a borderline case, so I erred on the side of caution. The rest shouldn't be controversial.

Carlos Carrasco has the ability to become a core player, the others on the To Be Determined list are bullpen guys, with Hagadone* having the best chance of becoming a key setup guy or possibly closer. So there's still unknowns even 3-4 years after the trades were made.

But the elephant in the room is the failure of Matt LaPorta to reach his potential, which was considerable at the time of the trade. Instead of messing around with Casey Kotchman, LaPorta should have been in the lineup by now cranking out 20-25 home runs a year in the middle of the Tribe order. And Carrasco to some extent.

*In a sidebar, Hoynes notes that the Indians have paid Hagadone his major-league back pay, though the union is still trying to get his major-league service time restored.

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