I got off work last night at 1 in the morning, and I looked at my phone. My jaw dropped. Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson were no longer Indians. I had more or less resigned myself, not that it was a bad thing, that Choo would be starting in Right Field for the Indians on Opening Day, and it would be Asdrubal Cabrera who would be traded for pitching. Well, low and behold, Trevor Bauer is an Indian. Trevor Bauer is awesome. A top 10 overall prospect going into last season, and they managed to get him for sending Choo to Cincinnati for a year and allowing the Reds to send their top short stop prospect, Didi Gregorious, to Arizona.
My first reaction, like most people I assume, was holy cow! Not only do we get a top 10 prospect, but we also add an outfielder, a lifetime Center Fielder, who averages over 30 steals per season, with the possibility of some good power. He bats right handed, is a tremendous outfield defender, an upgrade over the spotty Choo, and steals bases with better consistency than Choo. As a righty he slots into the lineup well, which is looking more and more even keeled every day now. Stubbs could easily bat leadoff, or in the two spot behind Brantley.
The relievers the Indians got, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw are both solid middle of the game relievers with the possibility to play a role in the later innings. They provide a more consistent option than Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp, and it means that Nick Hagadone, barring his personal issues and performance ones being resolved, will be the lone lefty in the Tribe pen. There is not much to dive into with relievers, because they can be so fickle, it is hard to judge them until you get some more time to see them in action.
While I certainly will miss Choo, you knew he wasn’t long for this team. I cannot complain about what we were able to get for him, Donal who was likely to start in AAA (as well as Anderson), and Sipp who was so frustratingly inconsistent. Choo struggled last year, coming off the injury plagued 2011, and was not playing like the 20/20 stud he had been the previous few seasons. He was basically playing with one foot out the door, so it really comes as no surprise the Indians made the move. They got what they wanted, Trevor Bauer. Bauer is a workout fiend, who from all reports, is dedicated to finding new ways to improve himself physically as well as mentally on the mound. Such a dedicated, projected top of the rotation pitcher is exactly what the Indians need to breathe some long term life in to the Franchise. He only pitched in 4 big league games last year, and struggled in his first exposure, but the sample size is too small to learn anything about. He was dominant at two levels of minor leagues last year, AA and AAA. He struck out 157 in 130.1 innings, with a 2.42 ERA and a batting average against of .223. He throws a mid to high 90’s fastball, has a tremendous 12-6 curve and can also throw a good slider, splitter and changeup to keep hitters guessing. I am so excited to have him on the Indians, I was looking forward to watching his career blossom in Arizona and making an effort to watching him pitch every 5th day. Now, I don’t have to try. I’ll be watching anyways.
I am still stuck on Drew Stubbs. He caught everyone’s attention when he hit the big league scene in 2010 with 22 homeruns and 30 steals. He definitely has the potential to fill the 20/20 void left by sending away Choo, but could actually do a little more than that. He won’t let you down on defense, he will steal 30+ bases and he can possibly hit 20 homeruns. The question mark for him, much like most of the Indians lineup (like new addition Mark Reynolds) is that he tends to strike out a lot, and his OBP has been going down year by year. It is possible that the change of scenery could help him with that, a fresh start can be good for anyone. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, I am very excited about the potential of Stubbs added to the lineup and the addition of Trevor Bauer to the rotation. Michael Brantley might not be so excited as it will probably shift him from Center to Left Field and change his position in the lineup, but it might be a good thing for him. I like Brantley a lot, he is a patient hitter who can get on base. If he plays like he did last year, batting near .300 and driving in some runs, he might slot in well to the 6 spot, or even if they bat him 9, much like the Tribe had with Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel all those years, they might have essentially 2 leadoff hitters. Exciting times Tribe fans.