The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Post-trade wrap-up

Posted by disappointmentzone on 31 July 2006

Hector Luna is an Indian (again) and Ronnie Belliard is a Cardinal. Judging by local message boards neither fan base is particularly ecstatic to be receiving the player they are. On the Indians side fans are perturbed that all the Indians got in return for Belliard was Hector Luna, a player not in Belliard’s tier, at least not yet, and who hasn’t shown signs that his game will ascend to such heights–even if those heights are only about average to slightly above. Some Indians fans see trading Belliard as a cost-cutting measure. This isn’t an entirely fair take on the trade, however. Belliard is a free agent next season and will command $3.5-$5 per year on the market. He’s 31 so I would expect teams to offer him three-year deals, and whoever offers the fourth year will win the Belliard sweepstakes (a la Kevin Millwood). Belliard, however, is not going to be worth that sort of money. The trajectory of his career is on the crest and will soon beginsd bending down. In three years Belliard won’t be worth the money he’s paid. The Indians won’t pony up to sign him this offseason, and this is reasonable. But not signing Belliard strikes a lot of people as the byproduct of Indians’ owner Larry Dollan’s thriftiness, even if it’s a financially responsible course of action. The true test of this trade becomes whether Luna is worth more than the draft pick compensation the Indians would have received for losing Belliard in the offseason.

People in St. Louis, meanwhile, are no more happy with the trade than people in Cleveland. This might be the most encouraging sign for both sides–that they are equally upset. Cardinals’ fans are upset about losing a cheap, potentially decent player, though, while Cleveland fans are upset that the Indians had to trade Belliard because the team is so bad. But in exchange for 2 months’ service from Belliard, the Indians got a cheap player for the next four years who could turn out to be Belliard-esque. In terms of financial flexibility the Indians made out in the deal, which is another reason for Cardinals’s fans to dislike the deal.

In any event, one St. Louis newspaper columnist didn’t like the trade much, either, although for reasons a tad more complex than “Belliard is a punk-ass.” He sites the similar batting numbers for Luna and Belliard, and that Luna has a higher zone rating (a defensive statistic). Belliard, however, is jumping over the National League, also known as Baseball Lite. He projects to see a bump in his offensive numbers. Luna is coming to the AL, where the pitchers are much tougher. He projects to see his numbers fall.

However, Luna will be teaming with Joe Inglett the rest of the season. Most Indians fans know this to be self-evident, but in case you don’t believe me here the same idea quoted from a MLB.com article:

Luna and fellow utilitymen Joe Inglett and Aaron Boone are all expected to get starts at second base in the season’s waning months.

I doubt Boone will be getting his share of starts at second base. He’ll likely get designated for assignment in August. Which means that Inglett and Luna will join together in the same way way Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard did when they formed the super-1B Benuardo.

If anything positive comes from this trade it’s the new nickname for the Indians super-2B: IgLoo.

UPDATE: One prominent baseball source, Baseball Prospectus, likes how the Indians made out in this trade.

Luna is trending upward, while Belliard seems to be treading water or sliding back. I’ve been advocating for Luna most of this year, and I won’t stop now; he’s going to outplay Belliard over the next two months, take hold of the second-base job in Cleveland and be one of the best 2Bs in the AL in 2007. If Jose Lopez and his .317 OBP can be an All-Star, Luna certainly can make next year’s team.

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