Time goes by like pouring rain: Justin Masterson still wears No. 63, which is the uniform number of someone just trying to make the team. Unfortunately, he still pitches like it, too. Masterson has made 39 starts for the Indians in the two years since he was acquired for Victor Martinez, and he’s won seven of them. That’s not all the Indians’ fault. Last year it took until June 4 for Masterson to get his first win, and he finished with a career-high six (in which the Indians scored 45 runs for him). Masterson will be 26 on opening day, and he’s 7-20 with a 4.58 ERA for Cleveland. Even for the Indians, that’s not good enough, and not worth whom they traded to get him.
I feel like I’m knocking on heaven’s door: The Indians haven’t adequately replaced Casey Blake since they dealt him to the Dodgers — that might not seem that hard to do, until you try with Jhonny Peralta and Andy Marte and worse. Jason Donald has been playing third in spring training, which means the position is open for 22-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall, who hit .278 with 17 homers in AA last year. The Indians only hope Chisenhall does more than Wes Hodges, the last third base prospect to come through Akron, whose OPS has yet to top .738 in AAA.
What is this man doing here? It’s remarkable that Adam Everett and his career .294 on-base percentage have spent a decade in the major leagues; we’re not sure if making the Indians would count as extending that streak. But there really isn’t much need for Everett on the Indians — they already have plenty of infielders who can’t hit much. The Indians have veteran Orlando Cabrera and second-year man Donald and utilitymen Luis Valbuena and Asdrubal Cabrera. None of them may be terribly good, but they’re less bad than Everett.
Outlook: Here’s the return the Indians received for two Cy Young Award winners and an All-Star catcher: Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson (the first four for Cliff Lee), Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, Mickey Brantley (the second four for CC Sabathia), Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price (the last three for Victor Martinez).
Two health-challenged pitching prospects (Hagadone and Knapp), two maybe middle-of-the-rotation starters (Carrasco and Masterson), one utility infielder (Donald), a backup catcher (Marson), two more pitching prospects (Price and Bryson), one non-slugging slugger (LaPorta), a journeyman lefty (Jackson) and a speed outfielder who doesn’t walk (Brantley).
Or in other words, not much. It’s one thing to trade Lee, Sabathia and Martinez; it’s another to get so little in return. And more than anything it explains the Indians’ current predicament — trying to avoid a third-straight 90-loss season, and their apparent descent below even Kansas City in the AL Central.
To be fair, it’s too soon to pass final verdict on all the deals — the minor-leaguers might emerge, the major-leaguers might better themselves, and the Rust Belt might come back as a home to new technology. There’s a better chance of Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel making nice than of the trades looking good for the Indians a few years hence.
If nothing else, dealing Lee, Sabathia and Martinez for apparently so little demoralized a loyal fan base, and even pilfering young catcher Carlos Santana for Blake from the Dodgers can’t assuage that.
The Indians’ roster is untalented, Grady Sizemore isn’t running well and the best prospects are average, at best. It’ll be quite a while before the Indians are even back to average.
Remember when: Remembering Bob Feller, major leaguer at 17, Navy veteran, Hall of Fame pitcher, who died last December at age 92.