While we are winding down on the season of disappointments galore, all we can do is look back and scratch our heads with what-ifs. But one thing is for certain, the trade of my favorite whipping boy Casey Blake have excellent early returns. What sparked this way of thinking for me was an article I came across in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. Columnist TJ Simers wrote a laughable piece saying that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti "the best GM in the baseball," and that he "stole Blake" from the Indians.
How do you consider it a theft when you gave up a future star catcher who at age 22, was the MVP of the Class A California League without even playing the last month of the season? Don't miss these numbers in his combined Inland/Kinston season:
.329 BA, 20 HR's, 112 RBI, 39 doubles, 89 walks, in 455 At-bats.
Don't forget a rocket arm behind the plate to boot. He instantly became a top-five prospect in the Indians system and should start next year as the everyday catcher in Akron. I can guarantee you will see him in Cleveland at some point in the next couple of years. It's been known that the Dodgers have talked about moving Catcher Russell Martin back to third base in the future, and now they are left without that stud catcher to do so.
Reliever Jon Meloan in the meantime was on the fast-track to the majors, before Colletti and his people tried to make him into a starter. When that failed, they dealt him to the Tribe, who smartly, put him back in the pen. This was a kid who according to Dodger blog Fire Ned Colletti Now on July 11 "has dominated at pretty much every level he's been at," and "Meloan's ceiling as a reliever is an elite setup man that has the toughness to work out of any situation."
Since coming over, he was working in the late innings in Buffalo (may they rest in peace). He has received a September call-up to the big club and will definitely be in the mix for a spot in 2009.
Not a bad little haul for a guy who was a free agent at the end of the year and the Dodgers may never see again after this fall. How can Simers judge this trade as such a success without knowing if this team can win, let alone even make it to October baseball? True, he is also talking about the Manny acquisition, a deal which can be considered a steal, but to lump these two together is poor journalism and shows a lack of research. Are Fake's numbers all that great? .277, 8, and 20 in 141 AB's. Solid yes, spectacular, no.
By the same token, me calling the trade a winner for the Indians this early is playing right into the same hypocrisy that Simers has fallen into. For all I know, Santana never makes it big and Meloan turns out to be 4A. That said, you can look at Shapiro's move as the right one.
It has given the Tribe brass an opportunity to play Andy Marte every day at third base without anyone impeding his progress. He has proven that he isn't the future, so now in the offseason, Shappy, Chris Antonetti, and company can evaluate the market and see if the want to move Jhonny Peralta to third, or acquire a quick fix until prospect Wes Hodges is ready. Hodges won AA Eastern League's 2008 Rookie of the year, hitting .285 with 16 HR's, and 91 RBI.
It also gives them another option for the beleaguered pen, which you have to believe will be in a state of flux next season. Other than Raffy Perez, Rafael Betancourt, and Jenson Lewis, nobody else is even close to assuring themselves a roster spot.
Lastly, the trade got Casey Blake out of my hair once and for all....unless the bring him back in '09. My worst nightmare.