Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grantland uses its long-form space to dissect the Indians trades

Grantland, the new (Yorker-style) blog from the millionaire brain of Bill Simmons has had its ups and downs during its infancy. To be honest, every article seems extraordinarily well crafted, and ESPN has given Simmons, Chuck Klosterman, and the stable of fine writers ample space to craft pieces about all kinds of sports (and "sports entertainment") as they see fit.

The problem is, the ample space is used to its fullest, and I, even as a guy who loves reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback and the 5000 word Sports Guy columns, can't rarely the time to read through the extra long articles on a daily basis. That being said, give it a try. If you have an hour or so to spare.

Today, Rany Jazayerli analyzes the building of the 2011 Cleveland Indians through trades rather than homegrown talent. Much praise is given to the "masterpiece of roster construction" that leads to the current "competitive team with almost no homegrown talent." In fact, the Tribe is the only organization to have no players in its lineup that came up through the minor league system.

In true Grantland style, the numerous trades of the 90s and 2000s are explored fully, with the wealth of talent brought in through trades of Joe Carter, Bartolo Colon, Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, Eddie Taubensee, Reggie Jefferson, Felix Fermin, and more.

In Jazayelrli's opinion, however, it's not all roses.

With so much talent acquired so cheaply, the Indians should be dominating their division, and they're not. Why were the Indians so bereft of quality prospects that, having filled seven lineup slots with players acquired in trades, they still had to go outside the organization to find a starting second and third basemen? They signed Orlando Cabrera even though he was 36 years old and coming off his worst season in a decade; they signed Jack Hannahan when he was 31 and had spent all of last season in the minors.

The answer is simple, if a little disconcerting: The Indians' performance in the draft has been every bit as bad as their trade record has been sterling. In 1998, the Indians selected Sabathia with their first pick. Cleveland hasn't signed an above-average draft pick since.

It's a comprehensive look at the recent history in Indians' roster building, and we are all hoping the recent draft picks, including recent call ups Chisenhall and Kipnis, will help balance out this imbalance letting the Indians taste success in the AL Central for seasons to come. Let's see if Chris Antonetti can continue the trade success of Mark Shapiro--and maybe do some more astute drafting to boot.