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Indians Indians Archive You Were Expecting What Exactly?
Written by Brian McPeek

Brian McPeek
We've heard from all our Indians writers on the Cliff Lee trade, save one. Brian McPeek ... who was out of town with the wife and kids when the Cliff Lee deal went down. Peeks was amazed, but not surprised, at the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction that followed the trade that sent Cliffie to Philly. He wonders what these fans expected, and how so many of them can be so sure that none of the prospects we got from the Phillies will develop into the next star players here in CTown. I'm going to try and quickly summarize the past couple days in Cleveland since I was out of town with the wife and kids when the Cliff Lee deal went down. Please tell me if I have this correct so we can move on and prepare for later this afternoon when Victor Martinez is shipped away. Okay, here it is:


Does that cover it?

Same old same old in C-Town. You'd think after so many July's of getting your nuts cracked with a hammer you might be better at handling it. But apparently not. I may plan family events out of town every Trade Deadline week so as to miss the annual ‘Flowing of Tears'.

Honestly, what were you looking for here? My impression is 99% of the people complaining have no clue what they wanted other than Cliffie remaining an Indian and Victor Martinez (who may have changed his last name to either ‘Face of the Franchise' or ‘Heart and Soul' while I was gone) being extended until he limps away from the game in seven years.

Was it the return the Indians got for Lee? I can't believe it was. Because I'd bet my spleen that less than 2% of the people who reacted to the deal knew what hand Carlos Carrasco throws with nor what side of the plate Jason Donald swings from. We're just not that dialed in.

Spare me the indignation in regard to trade equity because, quite simply, none of us know what they received.

Look, it's a three tiered problem here in Cleveland. I'm not sure how many Cy Young winners or fan favorites you need to see dealt before you figure it out but the way the game is set up dictates that these moves be made.

The Indians will win or lose with younger, less expensive talent. Their $80million payroll in the land of the Yankees and the Red Sox is already painfully uncomfortable for them to wear in these times and in this city. They'll continue to try and find young, core-type talent and pray it's good enough quickly enough to make sporadic runs at playoff spots.

That's it.

Because sooner or later, those young, core players turn into CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez (and Grady Sizemore too, by the way) and they become way too expensive for this dingy, depressed, one horse town to afford.

The Yankees and the Red Sox and the Dodgers and the big boys with big wallets and deep pockets will get the benefit of those young Tribe stars as they enter the primes of their careers. That's how it has been, is and will be under the current salary structure in Major League Baseball.

Hey, I have two items in my house that are signed by professional athletes. One is a football signed by select players from the '86 Browns. Guys like Bernie Kosar, Ozzie Newsome, Clay Matthews, Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield. Guys who, to me, exhibited excellence in their craft and were guys I looked up to when I was younger.

The other item is a signed #41 game jersey. I have that one because Victor Martinez is a hard nosed, productive team leader whose game and how he plays it appeal to me. I saw Victor crying in the dugout two seasons ago just like you did. I see the way he approaches the game and the joy he exhibits playing it.

But when he's traded later today I'm not going to whine and I'm not going to bitch about the unknown talent he brings back. You take a deep breath and move on and you hope one day the system is modified so that guys like Victor, Lee, CC and Grady don't have to bounce one July day.

The second issue impacting the Tribe and its fans is definitely the front office. Talking about the salary structure isn't an excuse for what's been a miserable job by the Indians as far as actually competing under these well documented circumstances. You can compete through shrewd trades and strong drafts as well as some productive lower-level free agent signings. You have to excel at every one of those elements to stand a chance. And Mark Shapiro and his Merry Band of Sycophants aren't even close to excelling in two of the three categories.

I'll give Shapiro all the love for deals where he spins mediocre talent off for productive young kids. Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Valbuena and Shin Soo Choo (Damn, has to be apoplectic about now) are all examples of Shapiro's strengths.

But guys like Trevor Crowe, Johnny Drennen, Jason Michaels, Micah Schilling, David Dellucci, Brad Snyder, etc., etc. are all examples of failures by Shapiro and his staff. You can't have the draft come up snake eyes year after year and survive in a mid-market organization. You can't have year after year of non productive seasons from the likes of Trot Nixon, Dellucci and Michaels and hope to win ballgames.

You can go the platoon route in free agency and try and sign productive, team-first kind of guys but you can't leave out the ‘productive' side of the equation. Shapiro has come up a cropper on too many drafts and too many free agent deals when he has to hit on a ridiculously high percentage to win.

Mix in tier number three, a mediocre field staff, and you've hit the trifecta for a certain shot at a death spiral to the bottom of the standings. You have your best, young players leaving just as they hit their prime; you have crap talent coming into the organization via the draft and through free agency and you have a coaching staff that just isn't coaching up what talent there is at their disposal.

So, we are where we are. Things are bad and about to get worse when Victor is likely dealt. I'm certainly not arguing your right to be pissed about what's going on and your right to vent about the crap you've watched this season.

But damn. Shake yourselves and recognize. Curse the system and the inefficiencies in the organization that have led us to this point. Curse the rotten drafts and the ineffective free agent signings. Curse an economy and a city that has shrunk tightly around the throat of the owner here. It all works.

But maybe you want to ease up on with the baseball talent side of things. Many of you crying into your Cliff Lee handkerchiefs today were ready to pick up torches and set fire to the Indians offices when he was acquired. You know, the deal that went down a few years back when a pitcher entering his prime years was sent out of town for Lee, Sizemore and Brandon Phillips.

Save the argument about the talent of those players as opposed to the talent of the haul the Indians received for Lee. Just take a minute to admit that you knew nothing about those guys back then either and that all their names are all more recognizable today than the fat guy they were traded for.

And the bottom line is that none of you know what these kids will become. Unless they really make it big. If that's the case they'll be ex-Indians in 5-7 years.

You can set your watch to that.

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