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The View from Pluto: What the Indians' Trades and Non-Trades Mean for the Rest of 2016

Andrew Miller

The Indians came into August in an unusual position: with one of the best records in baseball. Terry Pluto says that means they approached Monday’s trade deadline with a whole different mentality. 

  “This time, because the Indians were in first place, ... they were definitely buyers.

Reversing roles with the Yankees
“Terry Francona loves relief pitchers, and there’s one thing he loves even more than relief pitchers is good left-handed relief pitchers because they’re so rare.

“So their No. 1 target was this guy Andrew Miller from the Yankees. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this before – when the Indians and Yankees engaged in trade talks -- it was the Yankees sellng off one of their best players for prospects ‘cause usually, it’s the other way around.”

To get Miller, the Indians gave up the outfielder Baseball America ranked as No. 21 prospect in all of baseball, Clint Frazier. Cleveland also gave up pitchers Justin Sheffield, J.P. Feyereisen and Brad Heller.

But Pluto notes that the Indians still have the No. 26 prospect, another outfielder, Bradley Zimmer. And in Miller, they got a pitcher with “stats likely something you’d see in Little League. ... Every inning he pitches, he basically strikes out two-out-of-three.”

Meanwhile Yankees GM Brian Cashman is playing up Frazier as “’a high-energy guy. His energy-type swing is already legendary. When he shows up for the national anthem, his uniform is already dirty.’”

Pluto says he can almost hear the dramatic music rising and almost expects to hear “... and his name is babe Ruth.”

Which he finds ironic.

“I just was amused by it because it’s kind the way the Indians sold the guys that they would pick up” at trade times in the past: The wait-‘til-next-year message Cleveland fans are used to hearing.

And Pluto notes that the Indians still have plenty of talent for future years; the team had seven of Baseball America’s 100 top prospects when this year’s list came out, and that doesn’t include one of Pluto’s favorites, Yandi Diaz, a Cuban outfielder who’s just fine as a hitter even if his defense is still a work in progress.

The trade that wasn’t
But one hole the Indians did not fill this week was catcher. Starter Yan Gomes went down to injury – and was hitting sub .200 before that. Backups Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez also aren’t hitting.

So that made Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy and his .300 batting average attractive.

Jonathan Lucroy
Jonathan Lucroy killed the deal with Cleveland, but Pluto says Indians fans shouldn't take it personally.

When the week started, Milwaukee and Cleveland thought they had a deal for Lucroy to join the Indians this year and next. But Lucroy’s contract allowed him to veto trades to eight teams, including Cleveland.

Pluto says Cleveland shouldn’t take it personally.

“If you look at these no-trade lists, it almost always teams in the Midwest. These guys are from warm-weather climates. They don’t’ want to play in cold climates in mid-size cities.”

Pluto says what was different in this case, he said, is that the trade was announced before Lucroy called it off.

“I can tell you as somebody who’s been watching this stuff for a million years: It was up to Milwaukee to to make sure that Lucroy would agree to this trade before getting real deep into trade talks.

“So one of two things happened: Milwaukee didn’t do that or No. 2, LuCroy said it was fine and then changed his mind.”

Heading into August ... and September ... toward October

Click here for the Indians schedule for the rest of the year

“If the pitching holds up, they’ve got a chance to win, but the Tigers are right on their tail. So those games will be huge. (Manager Terry) Francona’s said from here on out every game is a big game, there’s a lot of meaning to it. The Indians are a wildly entertaining team. Francisco Lindor is as much fun to watch as anybody. Mike Napoli’s doing like some guy from the Indians from the 90s, hitting home runs at a record him at 34.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun, the pennant race, the pitching, the crowds are starting to come.”

Click here for the Indians roster and stats

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