The Tribe made some moves on Friday. No, not for the elusive Right Handed Bat but for Pie.
Specifically, outfielder Felix Pie (also Jose Lopez and Aaron Cunningham).
From Paul Hoynes:
Antonetti on Friday signed infielder Jose Lopez and outfielder Felix Pie to minor-league deals with spring-training invitations. Then he traded Class AA closer Cory Burns to San Diego for outfielder Aaron Cunningham.
The cupboard is bare in the Indians’ outfield, which explains the additions of Cunningham and Pie. Cunningham, who is out of options, was added to the 40-man roster when right-hander Josh Judy was designated for assignment. If Cunningham doesn’t make the club out of spring training, he could be lost on waivers.
Pie, signed for $700,000 with a chance to make another $300,000 in performance bonuses, is a left-handed hitter. The Indians don’t need another lefty bat, but they do need an outfielder who can run, play defense and stay healthy, given the injury histories of starters Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo.
So the Tribe made some low risk, high-ish reward deals. Sounds about right. I don’t really know a much about any of these guys but that doesn’t mean much (baseball isn’t my sport). Thankfully, the internet is full of people smarter than me.
Al Ciammaichella at The DiaTribe on Felix Pie and Jose Lopez:
Pie was a top prospect when he was coming up through the Cubs organization, peaking at #27 in all of baseball during the 2006 offseason according to Baseball America. That prospect pedigree however, has never really translated to major league success. In 1051 major league at bats, he’s hit .249/.298/.374 with 17 HR and 97 RBI. His best season came in 2009 with the Orioles when he played in 101 games and put up a .763 OPS. He’s a solid but unspectacular defender who can play all three outfield positions, and bats lefthanded. He can earn up to $1 million in incentives if he plays well, and as indicated earlier he was signed to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. It’s a low-risk, moderate reward signing that really can’t hurt anything, and is typical of what most teams are doing this time of year.
If you like low-risk, moderate reward minor league deals, let me introduce you to Jose Lopez. Unlike Pie, Lopez found some success in the major leagues, being named to the all star team in his first full season back in 2006. He’s a righthanded hitter who’s shown some pop, hitting a career-high 25 HR in 2009 with Seattle. Between 2006 and 2009, Lopez hit .277/.308/.419 with 63 HR and 326 RBI, all while calling Safeco Field his home park. Pretty solid numbers for a young 2B. However, after 2009, Lopez fell off a cliff. In his next two seasons, split between Seattle, Colorado and Florida, Lopez hit just .233/.263/.348 with 18 HR and 79 RBI. His approach had always been poor, as he sports a career 3/1 K/BB ratio, but gone was the power and average that helped to offset that ratio. Like Pie, he was signed to a minor league deal that will pay him less than $1 million if he hits all of his incentives. He’s definitely behind Jason Donald for at bats as a utility guy, and will likely fight with Cord Phelps to be the first infielder called up from Columbus if something goes wrong at the major league level.
Let’s Go Tribe on Ryan Cunningham:
Cunningham is unlikely to be a big find for the Indians but, like Buck a year ago, he’s going to have another go at making good on what’s left of his promise. Cunningham is out of options and thus must make the roster out of spring training or else be expose on waivers, where I suspect he’d be selected. My guess is that if Cunningham can look even close to competent, he and his right-handed bat will send Ezekiel Carrera back to the minors andTrevor Crowe to wherever he goes now. That would give you a starting outfield of Brantley, Sizemore, and Choo, with a bench of Duncan and Cunningham. In the short ter,, someone’s coming off the 40 for Cunningham, but there’s lots of options in that department (hey, Nick Weglarz!). In the long-term, this might be more doom-spelling for LaPorta—any option-less players on the 40 (Cunningham, Duncan) are ahead of LaPorta on the list to make the 25 man unless we can come up with a reason to think otherwise.
Understandably, there’s been some pushback on Twitter about this being a lame acquisiton and, yes, acquiring pseudo-fourth outfielders is sort of lame. At the same time, I sort of like it. Cunningham has hit leftiesthroughout his minor league career, he’s been acquired at extremely low cost, and there’s enough talent there to think you might still get value. Barring a major outfield acquisition, I think he’ll make the team and has more potential utility than any of the guys he’ll bump from the roster.
Fourth outfielders! Backup infielders! Indians baseball!
While none of these additions really get the juices flowing, they do seem like safe, smart pick ups. Basically, you hope one of these guys can pan out over the course of the season and if not, you didn’t break the bank to get them.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)