Should the Indians make a trade?
The trade deadline is upon us.
Playoff contenders like Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Tampa Bay have already made moves to bolster their rosters and they might not be finished - the Tigers and Red Sox are rumored to be looking for more pitching.
Meanwhile, the Indians are active in the trade market, but have yet to find a deal to their liking. They need a left-handed option for the bullpen, and they have been tied to names like Josh Outman (Rockies), Joe Thatcher (Padres), and Javier Lopez (Giants). They would also like to add a bat, but that appears to be second on their wish list.
While you never want to trade just to make a move, the Indians would be wise to complete a deal of some sort before the non-waiver deadline (Wednesday at 4:00 PM EST).
Last season, the Indians were 50-52 and 5.5 games out of first on deadline day, yet they only a minor trade for Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson. The also made a minor deal the week before acquiring infielder Brent Lillibridge from the Red Sox.
The half-hearted moves didn’t sit well with fans, and the team responded with a 5-24 record in August. The season snowballed into a poor finish, resulting in manager Manny Acta being fired and the Indians completely overhauling their philosophy as an organization.
Some would say that last season’s poor finish was a good thing as it pushed the front office to be proactive. It resulted in the likes of Terry Francona, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and others joining the organization, and a new culture began.
But the Indians can ill afford to go down that path again and risk doing nothing. It would send a poor message to a fan base which is slowly starting to return to the ballpark and get excited about this team again.
Even with their most active offseason in years, lots of spending, and an exciting team, their attendance has declined. Currently, they are averaging 19,369 fans through 52 home dates, down from last season’s average game attendance of 19,797.
Nonetheless, the Indians have to continue to find a way to connect with their fan base, and ultimately the best way to do it will be to continue to make improvements to the team. The wounds from years of trading veteran fan favorites for prospects are hard to heal overnight, but consistent winning and contention deep into the season will help cure those wounds.
A deal for a left-handed reliever is not going to have a monumental impact on attendance, but it would show the Indians are taking the risks necessary to win now. Other teams are fortifying and the Indians shouldn't stand pat.
The turnaround of the Indians has been magical this season, and with the rotation, chemistry and 1-through-25 approach, you begin to wonder if this is their year. They may be in contention a year earlier than most expected, but with 105 games in the books, they have arrived on contention’s doorstep.
The time is now to strike and make a smart deal or two so they can make a run at the playoffs this year.