American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier examines the trade that sent Cortland Cox from the Cleburne Railroaders to the Lincoln Saltdogs for Chase Simpson.
Examining the Cortland Cox-Chase Simpson Deal
On Friday, the Cleburne Railroaders sent right-hander Cortland Cox to the Lincoln Saltdogs for infielder Chase Simpson. The trade is one of those that should be a winner for both teams as the deal specifically addresses needs for both clubs.
What Cortland Cox Brings to Saltdogs
The Lincoln Saltdogs entered Friday night’s game against the St. Paul Saints ranked 11th in the American Association in ERA at 5.05. That is nearly a full run more than the league average and is one of the primary reasons why Lincoln has been relegated to the lower part of the South Division. The Sioux City Explorers and Kansas City T-Bones are 1-2 in the league in ERA and the Wichita Wingnuts are eighth.
Michael Tamburino has been the only consistent starter with Kyle Kinman coming into his own. Closer Jose Jose is the only other pitcher currently on the staff who has an ERA under four and, if this team is going to keep up with Kansas City and Wichita, they were going to need some upgrades.
Cortland Cox started out well for Cleburne, but had been in a bit of a funk lately. He saw his ERA raise to 5.00 by giving up six runs in the last 3.o-innings pitched, but has been a quality performer.
Cox was with the Railroaders last season, where he appeared in 37 games, posting a 4-2 record and a 2.96 ERA. He struck out 66 in 51.2 innings pitched, allowing 43 hits and 19 walks. The Los Angeles Angels were so impressed that they signed the righty to a contract in the off-season, making him the first Cleburne player to have his contract purchased by a Major League affiliate.
He will most likely step into the seventh or eighth inning setup role, a role he has been quite successful in over his career.
What Chase Simpson Brings to Railroaders?
As much as the Saltdogs pitching staff has struggled, that has been the plight of the Cleburne Railroaders lineup. This team entered Friday’s contest with a team batting average of .245, 11th in the American Association, and their OPS was 11th as well (.686).
A big bat has been something that Manager Shelby Ford has been looking for all season and the addition of Chase Simpson may be the answer. Simpson began the season on fire, hitting .413 in May and was named by the Minor League Sports Report as the Player of the Month with his performance. The infielder has tailed off, entering Friday’s game hitting .277 with 6 homers and 22-RBI in 41 games.
While not among the league leaders any longer, he would be among the Railroaders leaders in every category, ranking second in homers, fourth in batting, second in RBI, and tied for second in runs scored. Plus, Simpson can play anywhere on the infield, which makes him even more valuable to the team.
Simpson appeared in his first game for Cleburne on Friday night, going 1-3 with a double and a walk in his debut for the Railroaders, a win over the Chicago Dogs.
Does It Hurt Either Team?
The truth is that not only did this trade benefit both clubs, it really hurt neither. Lincoln is the third best hitting team in the American Association in terms of average and is a mile ahead of every other team in homers, leading the second place Winnipeg Goldeyes 58-37. They could easily afford to lose a quality bat, especially with the acquisition of T.J. Bennett.
Cleburne has a dearth of pitching and a loss of one of their relievers is not an area that hurts this team. In fact, Ford has built such a quality staff that he could afford to give up a starter in pursuit of another bat if he so desired.
The Lincoln Saltdogs enter play 10 games out in the South Division, but only four behind the Kansas City T-Bones for second place. The Cleburne Railroaders are 18 out, and 12 back of Kansas City. Both teams have a hill to climb (although Cleburne’s is more like Mount McKinley), but there is one thing to consider moving forward. With so many games within the division this season, each team has the opportunity to make up games in chunks against those ahead of them. There is still some hope in that ultra-tough South Division.
By Robert Pannier