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Rangers Trade Kenny Lofton to Indians
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
July 27, 2007
The Cleveland Indians pulled the trigger on a deal with the Texas Rangers today, bringing Kenny Lofton back to Cleveland for his third stint with the Tribe in exchange for minor league catcher Max Ramirez.
Ironically, I have some special insight into the Cleveland Indians minor league catcher situation. Well, perhaps “special insight” is too strong a word – maybe “a funny story to tell” would be a better way to describe what I know. One day after a Kinston Indians catcher hit three homeruns, the big club traded away the other one.
On Thursday night, Eric, Kelly, Lily, and I ventured down to Wilmington, Delaware to take in a Single-A game between Kinston and the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals farm club. What had been a 5-3 lead for the home team went from 5-3 to 5-5 and then finally to a trailing score of 7-5 to when catcher Armando Camacaro hit two-run homeruns in three consecutive at-bats. The Indians won the game after his last one in the tenth inning went unanswered in the bottom half of the frame.
Despite his offensive explosiveness on display last night, Camacaro is a member of the career 2-2-2 club – his on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and batting average are all in the .200s. His three dingers last night brought his career minor league total up to 14. Crash Davis, he is not.
More importantly, Max Ramirez, he is not, either.
Up until today, Ramirez was Kinston’s other catcher (I remarked to Eric what studs the Indians had in the minors behind Victor Martinez). In 77 games, he was a 3-4-5er, with 20 doubles, 12 homeruns, 62 RBI, and 53 walks against 63 strikeouts. Ramirez is only 22, but joins his third organization in four years. He would appear to be a stallion in waiting.
And by the way, he was the Player to be Named Later in the deal that sent Bob Wickman to the Atlanta Braves.
For the Indians, this looks to be a very good trade. Not only will it pluck the heart-strings of all the Cleveland fans who remember the glory-days with Lofton batting leadoff in front of the Greatest Indians Lineup of All Time, but Lofton's OBP currently stands at .380, and he has stolen bases efficiently this season. More importantly, if Lofton bats leadoff for the Tribe, it allows Grady Sizemore to slide into the second spot in the lineup, where his 18 homeruns and .467 slugging percentage can start doing a little more damage. Adding an aging but still productive bat to the top of this order should only make everybody better. It also means Jason Michaels will be grabbing some bench.
But was this a good trade for the Rangers?
The acquisition of a young hot-shot like Ramirez for an aging veteran with maybe one more year left after this one would be a great move for many teams. Ramirez certainly appears to be a stud, though he has never played above single-A ball, and OBP looks fantastic (career - .407 in 304 games) despite the fact that he strikes out a ton.
At the point, however, in my opinion any trade that the Texas Rangers make that doesn’t bring pitching to Arlington is a bad one.
Kenny Lofton is having a very good season, and players like him are always in demand when teams are trying to make a run at the post-season; frankly, I think the Rangers could have gotten more. Lofton was a prime bargaining chip that had to be moved, and Max Ramirez looks like he could be major league ready inside of two seasons. But the Rangers should really be directing all of their efforts towards improving the pitching staff at this point, and this move does not accomplish that. Ramirez looks to have a big bat, but big bats are not what the Texas Rangers need.
Maybe this year or next, the Rangers can trade the Double-A or Triple-A versions of Ramirez away for a blue-chip pitcher, and this will all be a moot point. But for now, the Rangers seem to have squandered a potentially helpful move.
Kenny Lofton Fun Fact - List of Players for Whom Lofton Has Been Traded in His Career: Willie Blair, Eddie Taubensee, Marquis Grissom, David Justice, Felix Diaz, Ryan Meaux, Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback, Bobby Hill, Felix Rodriguez, Max Ramirez.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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