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Some Final Thoughts

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Throughout the discussion of this deal and the various previous iterations of it, several themes seem to have emerged.

(1) Andy Marte could be a bust.

Albert Pujols could also forget how to hit. Because these are humans playing this game, there are no guarantees in baseball. The best we can do is to identify those players who are most likely to produce in the future. Prospects are inherently a more risky proposition to predict going forward, because they either haven't played in the majors or have had little playing time in it. We won't really know for sure what kind of player Marte will be until he gets an appreciable amount of playing time. But given his minor-league numbers and his skill set, we can put forward an educated guess.

(2) This deal weakens the Indians in 2006.

We can play with pro-rata statistics with Jason Michaels all we want, but we still don't have any hard facts with which to compare Crisp and Michaels. Michaels will be facing a new league (although that switch isn't what it used to be), and we don't know if Michaels can handle the rigors of everyday play. But given his defensive ability (decent in center, very good on the corners) and his ability to get on base, Michaels looks at the very worst like an acceptable stopgap until the Indians can come up with something better.

I also should say that a statement like that should come with a caveat of "on paper," because baseball is in final analysis a team effort. Things happen during a season that you certainly didn't expect going into it, and while there are limits to rational predictions, the Indians haven't given away their chances in 2006 with this trade. There are simply too many good players left for the Indians not to have a good shot of making the playoffs. And yes, that's even assuming Andy Marte doesn't get a major-league at-bat in 2006.  

(3) The Indians traded Coco because of money.

I seriously doubt money was much of an issue. Because the Indians came out in the black in these deals, the "Dolan is Cheap!" brigade has jumped on this as proof our dear owner Scrooge is making his harried General Manager Crachit work with one less brisket of coal heating the room. I'm sure Ben Broussard and Jason Johnson are glad that the Indians saw fit to include them in the budget and not Coco.

But seriously, this deal was as much of a pure "baseball" trade as you'll see nowadays. Crisp is four years from free agency, and was still a relative bargain at even his proposed salary. The monetary difference in the deals was essentially the difference between the main particpants' respective salaries, and the reason for that is service time, not talent.