November 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
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Indians: Don’t look for big move(s) at deadline

Will they or won’t they? Do they or don’t they?

Will the Indians make a substantial move or two by Tuesday’s trading deadline?

Does the front office go for broke and attempt to win now, rather than look to the future?

Those are the questions on most Tribe fans’ minds as the days count down to the deadline and the Indians linger within striking distance in the Central Division — four games out of first place through Friday.

Unfortunately for them, the answers will most likely be disappointing ones.

Outside of Kevin Youkilis, whom the Indians are painfully aware went to division rival Chicago, Cleveland hasn’t been mentioned much as a major suitor for any of the game-changing players reportedly on the trade market.

While teams around them have already improved via trades, including the top two in their own division (White Sox and Tigers), the Indians have stood idly by — unless you’re counting the blockbuster addition of utility man Brent Lillibridge. I am not.

Just now, has Cleveland been mentioned as one of the teams in the running for a right-handed hitter (San Diego’s Chase Headley is a switch hitter) and a starting pitcher (Tampa Bay’s James Shields) — two of the Indians’ biggest needs, and their reported focus this trading deadline season.

If general manager Chris Antonetti was able to acquire both players, that would be great, but what are the odds of that happening?

There are other teams involved, and as outspoken closer Chris Perez said earlier this week, the Indians usually don’t do well in bidding wars.

Problem is, that’s what the Indians need to win the division. They need one substantial acquisition in both areas of need, and even then, there are obviously no guarantees they track down the White Sox and Tigers to win their first title since 2007.

But it would at least give them a chance. Adding a run producer to the lineup and an above-average pitcher to the rotation could make the difference, but Antonetti is correct when he says that the Indians’ success will largely be based on the current players.

And we’re getting ahead of ourselves anyway. Even with the deadline two days away, the Indians don’t appear to be close to adding any player of note, let alone a pair.

One of the biggest obstacles preventing any kind of trade is that the Indians simply don’t have much to offer outside of their current big league roster. And to depart with marquee players such as right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and Perez, both of whom have drawn interest from different clubs, defeats the purpose.

Oh, what the Indians would give to have last year’s trading deadline back, when they dealt prized pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to Colorado for starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

Acquiring Jimenez, an ace and former Cy Young candidate, was an admirable run under similar circumstances to this season for Antonetti, but it didn’t pay off with a division title — nor a frontline-type member of the rotation.

Pomeranz and White are two chips the second-year GM and the Indians would love to play right now. As it stood heading into today, Antonetti and the Indians were short-stacked, playing alongside a table full of card sharks wearing gold bracelets.

There has been talk of unloading shortstop Francisco Lindor, Cleveland’s first-round draft choice (eighth overall) last year. But do the Indians really want to go back down the path of trading off their top prospects so quickly, and would it really be worth what they would get in return for Lindor at this stage in his career?

Lindor’s trade value comes should he develop into the top-level big league shortstop many believe he will become. Not now.

So, unless the Indians plan on parting with established veterans, the big deadline deal will more than likely be passing by Cleveland.

Yes, it’s what the Indians need and what their fans want, but as we’ve seen with our sports teams in Cleveland over the years, those needs and wants most often go unfulfilled.

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.