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  1. I’m always a little curious as to why a player being owed a lot of money in the final year of his contract is seen as an impediment to him being traded. The team can either A) pay him to continue to not win for the remainder of the season, and extract no future value from him, or B) pay him to play for another team in exchange for prospects worthy of the talent said player provides the new team. This is basic sunk-cost math, right?

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 14, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  2. im with you kevin, teams need to bite the bullet and pay either a large portion or all of their bad contracts if they want to get something good in return.

    Comment by SF 55 for life — June 14, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  3. I’ve been advocating a Carmona trade for some time now but I have time determining what his trade value actually is. Frankly it wouldn’t take much for me to move him as the Indian’s would be better served to save the 6.1 million coming to him next season (along with the option years) rather than dedicate one tenth of their payroll to a marginal downgrade during a development year. With that said, I feel like he could net a B level prospect (probably with a C level PTBNL to go along with him), especially if he keeps his ERA in the 3s over the next few weeks. Can anyone confirm if that’s realistic? Also, what teams would be interested? It seems like the Cardinals and Mets would be the most likely suitors but I’m hoping that Reds become frustrated with Homer Bailey’s inflated ERA and nagging injuries and decide to do a young starter swap in hopes of staying atop the NL Central.

    Comment by davemcgr — June 14, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

  4. I seriously doubt the Indians are going to trade Carmona. He’s re-established himself as a middle of the rotation guy and has flashed potential (like in his last start) to regain some of his top of the rotation potential (Granted his K/BB is still uninspiring, but his low LD% and high GB% are very encouraging). It’s doubtful the Indians could get anybody with his talent/potential in a trade (they have plenty of B/C prospects as is). With Westbrook ($11 mil), Wood ($10.5) and Peralta (4.6 mil) coming off the books it’s not like they can’t afford him. He’s still only 26 and has a team friendly contract with options through ’14. He could easily be an important cog in Indians success as early as next year.

    Comment by Hot Dog — June 14, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

  5. Unless Carmona completely changes as a pitcher he doesn’t have FOR potential. He doesn’t have pinpoint control, he isn’t going to strike a lot of guys out and he isn’t even that extreme of a groundball pitcher anymore. It would take some improvements in his raw skills for him to more than a league average starter. Granted he’s relatively young and that is a possibility, plus there is still a good deal of value in a league average starter at market value, but it’s important to put too much stock into a temporarily low ERA or looking too closely at individual good/bad starts.

    The question the Indians have to ask themselves is if Carmona is worth more to them than what another will give them for him. Given that there are other teams who have higher payrolls (ie: 6.1 million is a lot of the Indians to spend a on a player but it isn’t that much for ~100 million payroll team) and much more immediate needs for marginal upgrades in terms of starting pitching I’m inclined to think that they should move him. Of course everything depends on what they could actually acquire for him but I’m guessing that it would be more than enough to work out in the long run.

    Comment by davemcgr — June 14, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  6. I see no point in trading Carmona. If they legitimately believe they can contend by ’12 and beyond, trading their one sort of known starting pitching commodity doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not like he has a huge contract.

    What would be the point of injecting move B-level prospects into their system? With Laporta, Chisenhall, Brantley, as well as Weglarz, Jordan Brown, Jason Donald and Jason Kipnis they already have prospects at every position of need in the upper levels, and they have a ton of relief pitching prospects throughout the system. Is a Carmona trade going to net them a prospect who grades out significantly above any of those guys? Or who you can be fairly certain will end up better than Carmona himself?

    Saving $6 million and not really improving your farm system at the cost of further alienating your fan-base doesn’t seem like a good deal. Right now, I would only want to attend a Cleveland game if Masterson or Carmona were pitching, so I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to think that trading him could lead to more than $6 million in lost revenue this year and next, especially since the upper level starting pitching is very weak: they’d have to replace Carmona with a scrub, not a legitimate prospect.

    Comment by isavage — June 14, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  7. Owners losing millions of dollars in a losing season want to save millions of dollars at least?

    Comment by Kenny — June 14, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  8. But when it’s a guy like Wood, the way he’s performing, would you want him?

    I can see your line of thinking with Westbrook, especially if the club was determined to let them walk after the season, but with Wood it takes a team to think he’s worth putting in the bullpen as a trade partner. Another factor in some cases, although probably not here, would be possible compensation picks.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — June 14, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  9. I think you misunderstood what I meant. Klaassen was saying nobody would even take those guys off the team’s hands because of what they make. In that circumstance, since the team is paying the player regardless, why not kick in the money and try to get something back for them?

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 14, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  10. But then the impediment isn’t his salary, it’s his sucktitude, right? My point is that in this type of situation, salary should never stop a trade from happening.

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 14, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

  11. No, I think I understand. You’re saying that you should trade Kerry Wood AND pay his salary. I think the owner would much rather trade Kerry Wood, get no good prospect in return and NOT pay his salary. Because he’s already facing a $10 million dollar loss in 2010, he just wants to move the salary, but nobody wants to take it.

    Comment by Kenny — June 14, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

  12. I’m sure the owner would rather not pay his salary, but my point was that, faced with being unable to dump his salary on another team for nothing, why not eat the salary and try and get something? To rephrase, why not eat as much of it as is required to get another team to bite?

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 14, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  13. Red Sox might want Kearns. We can thank Adrian Beltre for that.

    Comment by Shaggychild — June 14, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  14. This article is the only one phrased as a question and it’s seriously bothering me >_>

    Comment by Andy S. — June 14, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  15. 1) i thought trading players with salaries attached came down to one idea: include money to pay the salary and get a better quality player in return (think Casey Blake/Carlos Santana) and don’t and don’t get the return back. The Indians under the Dolan ownership have shown they are willing to do that but i don’t think its on a 100% across the board basis. (i can’t think of an example off of the top of my head, other then the Indians giving Karim Garcia away, but i know there are examples of the Indians just outright dumping a salary to get it off of the books – Paul Byrd maybe?)

    2) When i first read the idea of trading Carmona – i thought it was idiotic, because of his being still a young pitcher under a team friendly contract. But the truth is – that is what makes him valuable in a deal.

    i’m still not a big fan of the idea, mainly because of the uncertain status of the Indians pitchers (including the farm) and the probable movement of Westbrook (i read something that suggested the Indians think they might be able to resign Jake should he get traded – i’ll believe that when i see it), but i can at least see the logic of listening to offers (but i would have to be overwhelmed- the Indians don’t NEED to move him due to salary concerns, if the deal isn’t an outright win for the Indians it shouldn’t be done. If its just “B” Level prospects, then Carmona should stay in Cleveland.)

    Comment by Mike S — June 15, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  16. How is Westbrook more likely to get injured between now and the end of this season than any other pitcher? Throwing a fastball is an unnatural motion for the human body. All pitchers have an inherent injury risk.

    Perhaps if Westbrook had a history of nagging injuries you might have a point. But that’s not the case. He had TJ surgery and has clearly recovered. I’m not sure what the number is, but I would be shocked if there were a high number of pitchers who were seriously injured soon after recovering from TJ. If anything, one could make the argument that he’s even less likely to be injured.

    Any way you cut it, a prorated $5 million for half a season of a pitcher isn’t a ton of money, especially if you can get the Indians to throw in a few million.

    Comment by Phil — June 15, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  17. An ideal situation is not the same as a pragmatic situation. I’m sure that some owners might prefer to trade a player to simply dump salary. But I’m also sure that some owners might be reluctant to take on a huge chunk of salary.

    In these situations, it makes more sense for an owner to realize that while his ideal option might not exist (salary dump) the alternative option (pay the full salary and get better prospects) is better than the status quo (pay the player to play on your losing team and get nothing in return)

    Comment by Phil — June 15, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

  18. You act as if the Indians should rush to trade Carmona at the sign of any decent deal. When you control a 26 year old pitcher for three years at an affordable rate, there’s no reason to force a trade.

    At worse, Carmona is a 4-5 pitcher. Realistically he’s probably a solid three. This type of pitcher always has trade value. If no one makes a soild trade offer you could always trade him during the offseason. Or next years trade deadline. Or really at any point if you choose. Because you don’t HAVE to trade him.

    $6 mil for a middle of the rotation pitcher is a steal. Hell $6 mil for a back end rotation pitcher is still a good price. Even for the Indians.

    Comment by Phil — June 15, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  19. Exactly! Phil gets it.

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 15, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  20. Carmona’s ERA has dipped to 3.23 (13th in the AL) and his WHIP has dropped to 1.24 (22nd in the AL) and he’s trending in the right direction, posting a 2.72 ERA with 30 K to 18 BB over his last 8 starts.

    That makes him a #2, and a 1/2 on the Indians. Worth more than you’d get in return on a trade, and certainly a bargain at $6mil.

    (stats quoted from — great update and perspective on the Indians’ recent trades in the Sunday entry: )

    Comment by jswede — June 15, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  21. I disagree that a pitcher of a certain quality is less valuable to a particular team simply because that team isn’t contending right now. That might be true if he were in the last year of his contract, like Westbrook, but you’re talking about replacing Carmona for not only this year and next at $6.1 million, but also ’12 – ’14 at rates of $7, $9 and $12 million. If you believe that Carmona can be even a league average starter over those years (and there’s certainly reason to believe he can be better than that, his numbers have improved month to month this year, with his K/BB going from 1.07 in April, to 1.50 in May, to 2.00 so far in June, and he was after all a Cy Young candidate 3 years ago), his contract is affordable, and to replace his future production, you’re almost certainly going to end up having to spend MORE money on someone else. It would be one thing if they had numerous pitching prospects waiting in AAA who Carmona was blocking, but it would be difficult for them to replace Westbrook internally, much less Westbrook and Carmona.

    Not to mention considerations like burning up your bullpen arms because the pitchers who replaced those guys are pretty much certainly going to get rocked on a regular basis. It’s unrealistic for a team to trade away all of its experienced pitchers, just for some fairly minimal short term savings

    Comment by isavage — June 15, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

  22. I understand why that’s tempting, but a) current performance doesn’t equal true talent. He has a recent record of bad performances, and b) his peripherals (as taken into accountin FIP and xFIP) indicate that ERA has more to do with the fielders behind him and/or good “luck” than any particular skill on his part.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 15, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  23. “I’m Ron Burgundy?”

    Comment by Jason B — June 15, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  24. I totally agree Matt. I think we’re kind of cherry-picking in a lot of the Carmona stats being cited in the responses here. (“…over his last eight starts…Cy Young candidate three years ago…in June…”) One simply can’t look past the abjectly awful performances, unless something in his approach/delivery has truly changed that would negate them going forward. Certainly I would think that we should weight more recent performances more heavily, however.

    Comment by Jason B — June 15, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  25. good defense or “good luck”?! LOL, good one Matt!

    Carmona is a ground ball pitcher that has Peralta, Valbuena and Branyan in the infield….I don’t see the good defense there. Wait, wait…, still don’t see it.

    “Good luck”, yeah, that must be it….not talent, since his sinker is absolutely filthy and is one of the best in baseball which is why he’s one of the best at creating GDP’s, but I guess all of that is chalked up to “luck”…..

    Comment by sonofagun — June 15, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  26. Actually, no, inducing ground balls is a talent, one that’s covered in tERA, but the fact remains that ground balls and fly balls have approximately the same BABIP, so being a ground ball pitcher, in and of itself, doesn’t make your expected BABIP lower.

    Comment by Kevin S. — June 15, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

  27. I’m glad you could only find one thing in there to try to debate on. The argument isn’t his BABIP, the basis was that Matt said Carmona’s 3.23 ERA is based on good defense or “good luck”. Since it’s clearly not the defense behind him, the “good luck” is a nice easy cop out of an excuse for which he has no argument for since he already has it dead set in his mind that Carmona is not talented enough to keep supporting the talent he’s shown. Try again Kev.

    Comment by sonofagun — June 15, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  28. Yes, I agree about weighting, regressing, etc. Which is what the ZiPS projection does, and it spits out a 4.58 FIP, which is something like a a #3-#4 starter.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 15, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  29. Let’s just stick with groundballs for simplicity’s sake.

    Since he clearly had poor seasons in 2008 and 2009 were terrible… well, how “filthy” has that sinker been in inducing grounders in general?

    So far in 2010, his GB% is 55.5%

    In 2009, it was 55.2%. In 2008, it was 63.5%. In other words, Carmona’s ability to induce groundballs is no better now than last season, and worse than in previous seasons.

    Again, he’s walking less batters than in the two previous seasons, but he’s also striking out less. I do think he’s improved from the last two seasons, but that isn’t that hard to do. He’s useful, but it’s a long shot for him ever to be a top of the rotation starter again.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — June 15, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

  30. You have to be kidding me???…..Trade Carmona???…..At his price and bouce-back he has displayed so far……He is cheap at this price and this market considering they have him through 2014……..Face it….other than Kearns and Branyan……noone on this roster is worth tade bait…..and I wouldn’t trade Kearns at his price and current value to the team….this may have been one of the ore quality cheap signings the Indians have made in 15 yrs…..Not a buyer or seller at this point……sometimes the moves you dont make are the best moves……Keep it as is………..

    Comment by peter — June 15, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  31. Carmona’s BABIP isn’t much below what you’d expect, though, no? The luck could come in on the HR/FB rate, which is low at 7%, but a .258 BABIP with a 13.1% line drive rate isn’t extremely lucky on balls in play. You could expect his line drive rate to creep up a bit, but his career number is 14.8, so 13.1% isn’t extremely low for Carmona. xFIP is the only stat that doesn’t really like what he’s doing, because it expects he’ll give up more HRs. His FIP is 4.15, tERA 3.68. While he has the low HR/FB rate, his HR/9 is not extremely low for Carmona, .63 compared to a career .78, so he’s not really giving up fewer overall HRs than normal, but he’s been giving up more flyballs than he has in the past, and those extra fly balls aren’t leaving the park. Could be luck, but for whatever reason hitters aren’t making solid contact off Carmona. Those fly balls so far have been largely off the pop-up variety.

    I don’t think anyone would look past the awful performances of the last 2 years for Carmona, and I doubt he’ll maintain the 3.23 ERA, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made adjustments that will prevent him from having another season like last year, and that he can’t be a decent pitcher going forward. For his contract to work in the Indians favor he doesn’t need to be a star. He has significantly changed his approach, throwing more sliders and fewer changeups, and he also moved to the 1b side of the rubber, which seems to have allowed him to keep the ball on the plate better, his fastball used to always run off the plate inside to right handers, and if he tried to throw inside to lefties it would run over the middle of the plate. Now he can command the ball better on both sides.

    Comment by isavage — June 15, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  32. The lower groundball rate probably has to do with throwing fewer sinkers than he did prior to ’09. In ’08 80.9% were fastballs, last 2 years he’s only been throwing 72%. Then this year he’s increased his sliders while cutting down a lot on changeups that he used last year. Last year he was at 20% changeups and 7.6 sliders, but now he’s at 15.3% sliders and 12% change.

    I think it’s hasty to say anything clear about Carmona, and that’s a reason why if I were a GM I’d be both hesitant to trade him and hesitant to trade for him. Need a larger sample size to see where this “new” Carmona is going. He’s a completely different pitcher just in terms of pitch selection than he’s been in the past

    Comment by isavage — June 15, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  33. You are an idiot. Trade an effective young pitcher? Can you say C.C. Sabathia or Cliff Lee? Idiot.

    Comment by Stephen Secaur — June 15, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

  34. If anything being a GB pitching would lead to a slightly higher BABIP. The biggest thing to notice about Carmona’s BABIP not just that it is low but that it has been timely low. His BABIP with runners on base is 0.202; that isn’t skill based and it has made a huge impact on keeper runners from scoring.

    Comment by davemcgr — June 16, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  35. Well, *that* was a very mature response. Fausto Carmona is no CC Sabathia, nor is he a Cliff Lee. I don’t think even the most rabid Indians homer would disagree with that assessment. (Not saying he’s not good, that he doesn’t ahve value, isn’t a good building block/trade chip, etc, but a projected solid SP3 is no ace/SP1.)

    Comment by Jason B — June 16, 2010 @ 12:22 am

  36. I tend to side with those that believe Carmona can be a #2 in the majors. The changes to his approach have been documented as he’s fixed his delivery and changed his approach on the rubber (either moved towards 3rd base or 1st..can’t remember).

    I think statistics like xFIP will always “under-project” Carmona. If you ever get a chance to actually watch him you would realize that his sinker not only induces ground balls, but it induces ground balls that are pounded into the dirt. There is a difference. He is also one of the best, if not THE best and inducing double-play ground balls. The defense behind him is bottom 3rd in the league, so I can’t imagine his BABIP has much of a luck factor in it.

    I’d venture to say he’s already a solid #3 with potential if he can develop a few of his secondary pitches a bit more while honing his command.

    Comment by Wimbley — June 16, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  37. I don’t really see the Indians doing much during the trade deadline. They really don’t have any assets. Carmona is probably the closest to it, but they have way too much time invested in him. Besides, aren’t they already weak in pitching? Why would they trade their best pitcher for prospects unless they were playing for the #1 draft pick?

    Comment by nolan — June 19, 2010 @ 3:58 am

  38. Branyan, Kearns, Westbrook and Carmona IF they wanted to.

    …those are pretty good assets if you ask me. If we can get a solid prospect for Ryan Garko and an amazing prospect for Casey Blake, I think we can get something of respectable value for any of those chips above.

    Comment by Phil — June 22, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

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