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Transactional Analysis: Replacing CC

July 9, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

The first major pieces fell into place in the trade wars this week with both C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden moving from the AL to the NL. I sure hope you NL-only owners were quick on the draw to pick up these two aces.

Let’s focus today on how the departure of defending AL Cy Young winner Sabathia affects the reeling Indians, losers of nine straight games. I mean, obviously, you can’t simply replace a Cy Young winner, but his roster and rotation spot were suddenly opened nonetheless.

Juan Rincon, signed by the Tribe to a minor league deal last month, is expected to get the call Wednesday to take Sabathia’s roster spot. Given how brutal the former top notch set-up dude has been the past two years and the fact that his results at Triple-A Buffalo haven’t been inspiring, I wouldn’t look to Rincon for any help. Manager Eric Wedge says that Rincon’s arm has looked good, especially his slider, but I’m not holding out hope to see the pre-juiced version of Rincon suddenly resurface.

But that still leaves Sabathia’s rotation spot, next needed on Saturday. Ultimately, Fausto Carmona will slide into that spot, but he’s still dealing with a left hip strain. He threw another bullpen session Tuesday and is expected to toss a simulated game Thursday, but then he’ll need a rehab assignment. So don’t look for Carmona to be back in Cleveland until after the All-Star break.

Many people have reported that Jeff Weaver, signed last week to a minor league deal, will get the start Saturday. But Weaver was cut by Triple-A Nashville almost a month ago, and hasn’t pitched since, so he needs to get some work in before he sees a major league diamond again.

The Tribe is very excited by the progress made this season by 23-year-old lefty Dave Huff, a first round supplemental pick in 2006. He’s already shot through Double-A, and is more than holding his own at Triple-A (3.79), but asking a kid who’s made just seven starts above Double-A to start in the majors may be pushing things. Still, Huff has landed squarely on the radar as a prospect worth watching.

Wedge would prefer to select from the group of “guys who have been around for a while.” This leaves some very uninspiring choices from Triple-A, including righties Matt Ginter (6-6, 4.27) and Dan Reichert (1-3, 4.40) and lefty John Halama (4-2, 5.66). I trust you’re not that desperate for pitching help, are you?

From the sounds of it, the trade of Sabathia will not suddenly open the door for any Indian youngsters we really need to be tracking.

However, one Indian prospect worth watching is newcomer Matt LaPorta, the key man acquired from Milwaukee in the deal. He was dominating in the Double-A Southern League, so Cleveland toyed with the idea of assigning him to Triple-A Buffalo after the deal. Instead, the team opted to take a slightly slower approach, sending him to their Double-A Eastern League affiliate. But don’t worry – I suspect he won’t be long for the Eastern League. I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing LaPorta in Buffalo before the end of the month, and probably in Cleveland by the end of August. Get ready to jump on this powerful kid, who should already be taken in keeper leagues.

It’s been an awfully disappointing season in Cleveland given that this team was built to contend. But the acquisition of LaPorta is a brilliant way to retool on the fly with a bright young hitter, especially considering how quickly he’ll arrive in Cleveland to provide help.

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