Talbot was the Perfect Choice for Cleveland
Every once in a while a trade is consummated that instantly makes you see that it might be the best thing to happen to that minor leaguer. You do not want to see him leave your system, but you know that he might be legitimately stalled within your farm system by a logjam within your system. And it is a shame to see a player stand still instead of moving forward in their maturation process to becoming a Major Leaguer.
So when the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they had made a trade with the Cleveland Indians for catcher Kelly Shoppach in early December, you had the immediate feeling that the “Player To Be Named Later” would be plucked from the Rays 25-man roster, or be a top prospect from a Rays farm squad. So it was no real shock to me that the Rays took their time finalizing and whittling down the choices with the Indians and finally deciding “officially” late Monday night to send pitcher Mitch Talbot to the Indians.
And the final decision on Talbot was a very intelligent and completely necessary move for the Rays. But it was also a great pitching pick-up for the rebuilding Indians who will be using young pitching talent in 2010 to build a strong foundation for the Indians future. And this decision actually saved the Rays from having to make a difficult decision this Spring for the second season in a row.
Talbot, who was out of minor league options, might not have even been considered for a 25-man roster spot for the Rays and in all likelihood would of had to change the mindset of the Rays Coaching staff to make the team reconsider a spot for fellow pitchers like Andy Sonnanstine or Wade Davis in 2010. And it is not unheard of in recent Rays Spring Training history for a pitcher to come into Spring Training Camp in mid-February and sweat and battle his way the entire Spring, and the team ends up not having him on their final 25-man roster.
But with Talbot going down in 2009 with injuries while with Triple-A Durham Bulls, he ended up throwing only 54.1 innings, which could of had the Rays losing a bit of confidence in one of their top pitcher prospects. How soon it slipped the minds of the Rays to forget that in 2008 Talbot posted his second consecutive 13-9 record for the Bulls.
Talbot even had to endure a brief 24-hour call-up with the Rays on July 2,2008. All this from a guy that Baseball America selected in 2008 as having the best change-up in the International League. How soon a player could fall from grace with an organization, and they forget you were their selection as Triple-A Pitcher of the Year in 2008, and had the best change-up in the Rays system for the fourth year in a row. Throw on top of that being a member of the Bull 2009 Triple-A Championship team, and you get a pitching prospect who’s future should be bright in the eyes of his organization, and not shaded by clouds of doubt.
But with the Indians selecting Talbot as the final piece in this deal, it actually opens up a different career path to the Majors for Talbot. He will report with the other Indians pitchers’ to Arizona this Spring, and could be firmly in the mix to secure a spot in their 2010 rotation. This should give Talbot a early dose of confidence that he can get his name muttered by the Cleveland Coaching staff this Spring. And because the Rays included his name for consideration in this trade,Talbot will be given a fair chance to make his first Opening Day roster in the Major Leagues.
They say that sometimes things happen for reason. Well, this trade actually might be just the extra push forward Talbot needs to secure a spot on a Major League bench. He is a hard worker and deserves this chance, and hopefully we will see his name listed on the roster on 2010’s Opening Day. And with the added experience of serving in the Rays Bullpen in the past, Talbot could also bring a nice secondary piece of the puzzle for the Indians. Talbot in his personal life enjoys flying during his off times from baseball. Hopefully his renewed chance in Cleveland will finally give him a chance to fly high and secure a spot in the Major Leagues. And I am think he is the right guy to have at the controls.