By La Velle
Jeff Stevens. Chris Archer. Jon Gaub.
Those three pitchers – none of them highly touted – helped Cleveland raise the stakes in the A.L. Central.
They were traded by the Indians to the Cubs for Mark DeRosa, a player the Twins coveted during the winter meetings but couldn’t find a, `match,’ with Chicago. DeRosa, 33 and in the final year of his contract, joins the Tribe after batting .285 last season with 30 doubles, 21 homers and 87 RBI. Those numbers sure would have looked nice at third base for the Twins.
My first reaction was to grab a copy of Baseball America’s Top 10 A.L. Central prospects. Stevens, Archer and Gaub were not listed among Cleveland’s top ten prospects.
My second reaction was to click onto John Sickels minor league baseball site and look up his list of Cleveland’s top 20 prospects for 2009. Unless my eyes deceived me – I haven’t begun to ring in the New Year yet – none of those pitchers were listed there, either.
My third reaction was to grab a copy of the 2008 Baseball America prospect handbook, which lists the top 30 prospects for each club. I found Stevens listed at 19. He can touch 95 mph with his fastball and has a good curve. He apparently had a chance to compete for a spot in Cleveland’s 2009 bullpen after going 5-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 36 games between AA and AAA,
The other two pitchers spent 2008 at Low-A Lake County. Archer was 4-8, 4.29 in 27 starts. Gaub – hey, he’s a former Gopher! – was 1-1, 3.38 with 100 strikeouts in 64 innings.
I was never told what the Twins offered for DeRosa. The belief at the winter meetings was that the Cubs needed a left-handed hitting outfielder, which the Twins don’t have to offer. But it’s hard to believe they couldn’t come up with one AAA pitcher and two A-ball guys to entice the Cubs to move DeRosa.
I can come up with three: Kevin Mulvey or Anthony Swarzak from AAA, and pick two from Santos Arias, Mike McCardell, David Bromberg and Spencer Steedley from Low-A Beloit. Check out Beloit stats here.
Even if it’s for one year, it’s for a player who can hit 20 homers and drive in 80 runs. Even if third base isn’t his best position, the Twins were interested enough go after him earlier this month. Even if you’re taking on salary, you’ve got to give up something. And the Twins could have come up with a competitive package.
I know that Bromberg and McCardell are worth tracking. And I know how the Twins covet their pitching prospects. But notice that I didn’t throw out Jeff Manship, Rob Delaney, Anthony Slama, Tyler Robertson, Brian Duensing Philip Humber, Michael Allen, Cole DeVries or any other pitching prospect I’ve heard good things about. Maybe the Twins just didn’t want DeRosa that much after all – but they sure seemed fired up about him during the winter meetings!
Update: Here are DeRosa’s career stats. Should we look at last year as a power fluke? If DeRosa is more of a 15 homer, 75-RBI guy, maybe the Twins felt it wasn’t enough of an upgrade at third base. I might not be as puzzled as I was when I started writing this – but it still seems like Cleveland didn’t give up much to get him. The prospects I mentioned are clearly better. Again, the Twins seemed fired up about getting him a few weeks ago!
Cleveland has had a good offseason. In addition to DeRosa, they signed Kerry Wood to close and traded for reliever Joe Smith. With Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez coming back after injuries limited them last season – as Cleveland actually played better after trading C.C. Sabathia at midseason – the Indians must be seeded first in the division with spring training about six weeks away.
And there will be 19 times next season when the Twins will get to see what they could have had in DeRosa.