The trading deadline came and went for the Cleveland Indians, and the only move they made at this point was getting another left-handed reliever, Marc Rzepczynski from St. Louis for a minor league shortstop.
The move certainly filled a need because Terry Francona needed another southpaw to go with Rich Hill to match up against tough lefty hitters.
While many are looking at the newcomer’s 7.84 ERA with the Cardinals and sneer, remember that he pitched just 10-1/3 innings in the big leagues in 2013, and with relief pitchers, ERA can be a very misleading statistic.
For his career, Rzepczynski has faced 365 left-handed hitters and limited them to a .224 batting average with 94 punchouts and a 607 OPS. This year he allowed five hits in 18 at bats vs. left-handed batters with four strikeouts, but right-handed batters were crushing him.
He most definitely is a LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) and Francona will most definitely use him that way, limiting his exposure to batters from the opposite side of the plate.
The bigger news coming from the deal is who the new guy replaced on the roster, as the Tribe sent VInnie Pestano back to Columbus.
While many fans were outraged by this news, after all, Pestano was arguably the best set up man in the big leagues the last two seasons, we believe it was the only move that could be made.
Who else should have been sent out?
SInce being taken out of the eighth inning role by Francona a few weeks ago, Pestano hasn’t done anything that showed the skipper he is ready to resume his usual spot in the bullpen.
And right now, the only pitcher who is struggling out of the ‘pen is another veteran Joe Smith, who took over Pestano’s eighth inning duties, and not with good results. However, Smith has over five years of big league time, so he can’t be sent out without his permission.
That makes Pestano, who has lost the confidence of his manager, the logical one to go.
The former set up man needs to go back, regain his own confidence (his walks are way up this season) and get back to helping this team in the stretch drive. The last two seasons, he walked 24 batters in 62 and 70 innings respectively, while this year he has issued 19 free passes in 33 innings of work.
It would have been nice to get another proven starter for the rotation, not that the starting pitching hasn’t been good thus far, but there aren’t a lot of proven pitchers on the list, so getting one would have enhanced the Tribe’s chance.
It also would have been nice to get another right-handed hitter to replace Mark Reynolds, who has fallen out of favor with the management because he’s really done nothing since the end of April.
GM Chris Antonetti said the asking prices were too high, and really, there weren’t a big slew of deals at this deadline because some teams are looking at the second wild card and thinking they are still in the race, a misguided notion for many of those teams (Seattle, Philadelphia).
There still is the waiver wire and some nice pieces could be moved in August. As long as the Indians play well, they will be in the market to help their ballclub.
For now, the deal they did make will help.