Trade Flurry Continues; Westbrook Sent to St. Louis

By: T.J. Zuppe

The Cleveland Indians continued their flurry of trade deadline deals on Saturday, as they dealt the longest tenured Indian, pitcher Jake Westbrook in a three team deal between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres. Westbrook was sent to St. Louis, outfielder Ryan Ludwick was dealt to San Diego from St. Louis along with pitching prospect Nick Greenwood, and the Indians reportedly acquired Class-AA right-handed pitcher Corey Kluber from the Padres, and cash.

Indians Trade Pitcher Jake Westbrook

Westbrook, ironically, was scheduled to make a start on Saturday for the Indians, but was dealt before the game, and replaced on the mound by rookie right-hander Josh Tomlin.

The Indians have called up outfielder Jordan Brown from Class-AAA Columbus, to take the spot of Westbrook on the 25-man roster.

Coming off of major arm surgery, Westbrook was having a very up-and-down year for the Tribe in 2010, with a record of 6-7 and an earned run average of 4.65 in 21 starts. In 127.2 innings of work, he has surrendered 133 hits, striking out 73 and walking 44.

He was the Indians opening-day starter.

Westbrook has been with the organization since 2000, when he was traded to the Indians from the New York Yankees along with outfielder Ricky Ledee and pitcher Zach Day, for outfielder David Justice.

Westbrook made his debut with the Indians in 2001, and between 2001 and 2002, he pitched in 34 games, 10 of which starts, and posted an ERA of 5.84. In 2003 he made 22 starts, in 34 appearances, with an ERA of 4.33.

Arguably, his best year as an Indians starter was in 2004, when in 30 starts, he won 14 games and had a career low ERA of 3.38, in 215.2 innings. Then, between 2005 and 2006, he remained a model of consistency, winning a combined 30 games in 66 starts, and pitched more than 200 innings for the third consecutive year.

He pitched in three games in the 2007 postseason for the Indians, winning one game, surrendering 11 runs in 17.2 innings of work between the division series and league championship series against the Yankees and Red Sox respectively.

After only five starts in 2008, Westbrook experienced major arm problems, and had to have Tommy John surgery on his right arm, and was out of baseball until this season, and he continued to rehab his way back to the mound.

Westbrook had been drawing pretty serious interest around baseball as the trade deadline neared, and the Cardinals emerged as the team with the most interest and willing to deal. He will be immediately inserted into the Cardinals starting rotation.

Corey Kluber – 6-6 – 3.45 ERA at Class-AA San Antonio

In the process, the Indians pick up right-handed pitching prospect Kluber from San Diego in the deal. The 6’4″ Kluber, is a former fourth-round draft selection in the 2007 draft by the Padres, was pitching for Class-AA San Antonio, and was 6-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 21 starts. He has struck out 136 batters in 122.2 innings of work. He has struck out 3.4 batters to every one walk.

He currently leads the Texas-League in strikeouts, and is unbeaten in his last four starts, going 3-0, posting an ERA of 1.73 in that time.

The reviews are mixed on Kluber according to some scouts around the league. Tom Krasovic, Senior Writer for MLB Fanhouse posted on his twitter, some comments from scouts about Kluber. “Real quiet kid. Serious and smart. Good slider. Up to 94 mph. Real good delivery,” one scout said. “Big, strong kid. Misses bats,” another scout said.

However, all are not positive thoughts from the Indians’ perspective. “Great deal for San Diego. Kluber is a fringe number five starting pitcher, Greenwood a non-prospect,” a non-Padres scout said.

This is not the only time the Indians and Cardinals have matched up recently as trade dance partners. In 2009, the Indians dealt third-baseman Mark DeRosa to St. Louis for reliever, and possible future closer, Chris Perez and reliever Jess Todd.

Before the deadline neared conclusion, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said there was no immediate need to trade anyone, for any reason, being financial or otherwise. However, with Westbrook’s contract situation winding down, and the Cardinals showing interest, the Indians felt it necessary to deal him, and possibly save some money in the process. On the other hand, Shapiro insists the deals made at the deadline were not money-motivated.

Be that as it may, the Indians reportedly will only have to pay the escalators on his deal, and St. Louis will be picking up the rest of his contract, saving the Indians considerably amounts of money on the rest of the season.

It was the third year in a row that the Indians dealt their ace starting pitcher, with C.C. Sabathia being dealt in 2008, Cliff Lee in 2009, and now Westbrook this year.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe


1 Comment

  1. […] Trade Flurry Continues; Westbrook Sent to St. Louis « ESPN Cleveland Blogs Trade Flurry Continues; Westbrook Sent to St. Louis « ESPN Cleveland Blogs. […]

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