It has now been a little over a week since the Cleveland Indians made their big deadline deal, trading four prospects, two of them in the top 100 in the sport for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
We have heard people, media and fans alike, still debating the merits of the Tribe’s biggest trade since getting Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011.
Did the Indians give up too much to get Miller?
The cost was steep as Cleveland gave up their top prospect (or #1A with Bradley Zimmer) in Clint Frazier, perhaps their top pitching prospect in Justus Sheffield, and two bullpen arms in Ben Heller and J.P. Freyereisen.
For the most part, the Indians dealt from strength. They have Zimmer coming, and with the emergence of Tyler Naquin, and prospects like Greg Allen and Anthony Santander having outstanding minor league seasons, the front office felt they could make this move.
We like Frazier, in fact, we would have rather moved Zimmer in this deal, but at the time of the trade, he had 21 at bats at the AAA level. Remember, when you are a good team, prospects aren’t valued as heavy as they are when you are building.
Sheffield has been very good, but we all know that pitchers are a volatile commodity. He’s just 5’10”, and we have seen reports that he can be a big time starting pitcher, while others see his future in the bullpen.
As for the other the bullpen arms in the deal, the Indians have a lot of guys who are profiled as relievers, even if they haven’t been given a good shot in the big leagues. Again, the organization was dealing from strength.
Ordinarily this would be a hefty price for a relief pitcher, particularly a closer, which is how many have perceived the trade.
However, the way Terry Francona has used Miller so far, he is much more valuable than a closer.
Yes, we have problems at times regarding how the skipper uses his relievers, but to date, he has been using out of the box thinking on using his primary guys at the end of the game, namely Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen.
So far, we have seen Francona use Miller in the 6th inning in a game where the Tribe wanted to end a three game losing streak to the Twins and his starter gave him less than five innings.
He also used him Tuesday night in the 7th inning to close out an inning in a 2-0 game, and then used him for two more hitters in the 8th.
So, he’s using Miller at the key point of the game, not strictly the ninth inning. Really, it would be a waste to use this weapon simply to get the last three outs of a game when you are winning.
This versatility is what makes Miller perhaps the best reliever in the game. And his ego isn’t such that he has to pitch the ninth. And neither is Allen’s which makes this all work.
Because Francona can use Miller at the most important part of the game, ninth inning or not, means the Indians haven’t paid too much to get the big lefty.
And we can see Miller being even more of a weapon if the Tribe gets to the playoffs.
This ability also means that perhaps Cleveland took care of their bullpen woes with just one addition.
If the Indians win the World Series this season and Miller is a big part of that, which he will have to be, then the price is not excessive.