Organizing the Offseason - To-Do-List: Rule V Eligible and Minor League FAs

Time to look at the Rule V and Minor League Free Agent portions of the offseason priority chart. You can see the full list of Rule V Eligible players and Minor League Free Agents by checking out the chart.

Here are the players you should concern yourself with the Rule V Draft.

Absolute Locks or Close to It
These players are absolute locks to get rostered or ones who are pretty close to locks. They are simply too close to the Major Leagues and too talented to be exposed to the Rule V Draft.

Trevor Crowe, OF
Jordan Brown, 1B
Carlos Santana, C
Jeff Stevens, RP
Chris Gimenez, C
Frank Herrmann, P

Crowe and Stevens could make a major league impact next year. Santana is on the fast track to the majors but needs protection this year and Jordan Brown would surely be picked if he's exposed. Gimenez is a lock if he isn't traded. Herrmann isn't a lock, but he could probably be added.

In Question
These guys could get added, but might not be close enough for teams to take a chance on, not worth protecting, or in Lofgren's case, aren't on the radar anymore.

Chuck Lofgren, P
Kelvin De La Cruz, P
Hector Rondon, P
Randy Newsome, P
Neil Wagner, P
Ryan Edell, P
Stephen Head, 1b/OF
Joanniel Montero, P

Chuck Lofgren has simply fallen off the radar with his problems. He could get taken, but he'll probably be returned, but you never know. He isn't worth protecting after this year. Kelvin De La Cruz and Hector Rondon are the biggest names on the list. These two could get selected, Rondon more than De La Cruz because Rondon was in the future's game and his name is out there. Both are really young, but really talented and could be Santana/Soria type players taken, stashed in a bullpen and gone from there. Stephen Head, Randy Newsome, the rest are of value but probably wouldn't get taken. Head and Newsome are the most likeliest, but both should survive and be in Columbus next year.

The rest are not worth rostering, are too far down in the minors for a team to even consider, or will probably be let go if they don't re-sign as a MLFA.

Minor League Free Agents: Who Will Return?

Brian Slocum, P
J.D. Martin, P

Slocum is hurt, chances are likely he'll be back. JD Martin should be re-signed, he has some value.

Minor League Free Agents: Who Could Return?

Matt Whitney, 1B/3B
Niuman Romero, IF

Whitney could come back after being selected in Rule V and not working out and being familar with the club. Niuman Romero had a good year in Kinston and really could be back as well. The rest listed could be back, but they really are of no relevance at all. Guys like Nate Panther are just bacakups who won't catch on with any interest with other teams, and will simply be used to fill rosters if need be, maybe by the Indians, maybe by other teams. Or they are aging veterans like Morgan Ensberg.

Next: We're done with our chart for now... That's it.. Until we add more targets.. No more chart discussion.. I could run down the 40 man roster and tell you things, but I'm sure you understand by now.

  • My sources tell me (the television) that Game 5 of the World Series will be played tonight.. That's going to be interesting.. I've got no news today.. Oh well.. Enjoy the World Series, it could be over tonight, at which point we count down to the 15 days when the Free Agent frenzy will HEAT UP!


Organizing the Offseason - To-Do-List: Shoppach, Rincon, Donnelly, Fasano

We now are going to move onto our own problems on the team with the offseason priority chart. Today we look at our own free agents, which are very few, and the one arbitration eligible player, Kelly Shoppach. We've already covered Jamey Carroll, plus his option has been picked up.

Kelly Shoppach - Arbitration Eligible (Re-Sign)
Position: Catcher (Luxury), B/T: R/R
Age: 28, Height: 6'1, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Obviously we aren't going to be talking about arbitration, hehe.

I'm not sure what' hes worth or what he's going to get, we'll know that at a much later date.

Kelly Shoppach however is a prime target to get traded.

I really like Kelly.. He's the best backup catcher in the entire Majors.

Which probably means, he'd be a good starter.. That we established..

When we established that, we also established he was probably the best or close to best power hitting catcher in the entire MLB.

So.. Who wants him?

If Kelly Shoppach can help yield us a good, nay, DEPENDABLE TOP OF THE LINE Third Baseman...

As much as I love him..


Why? Look.. Carlos Santana is the future.. Wyatt Toregas or Chris Gimenez can backup and we can bring back Sal Fasano on a minor league contract if neither guy pans out in the majors to start it off.

Kelly would be an excellent starting catcher for this team, and moving Victor to first or platooning Shoppach and Garko in some way would also be a cool solution.

But you don't have this type of value very often.

I like Garko okay.. I think Garko can bounce back and have the year we know he's capable of. He also won't get you as much as a STARTING CATCHER with 20 HOME RUN POWER would get you.

Now. I won't be heartbroken if Kelly Shoppach is on our team in 2009... I'd actually like to have him in 2009. But if it were up to me and I could get what I desired for him, Shoppach would be traded.

Sal Fasano - Free Agent (Re-Sign)
Position: Catcher (Luxury) B/T: R/R
Age: 37, Height: 6'2, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com


I have re-sign under my plan.

Two Scenarios: If Kelly Shoppach is not traded... Sal Fasano is gone most likely... Unless he wants to come to camp with us as a Spring Training invite, where he can show his stuff for other teams.

If Kelly Shoppach is traded.. He'll be back.. I really believe he'll be back.. Not sure who would want him and guarentee him a big-league backup job.. Just not.. He'll be back in the minor leagues, he'll be the backup at Columbus.

I'd love to have him back.. I don't think he'll retire, if he does we should jump on it real quick and give him a minor league manager's spot. He probably still wants to still play though..

For that, I see those two options. He's a great guy and one hell of a person to have in the clubhouse.

BTW, there is no way he's 220, the weight he's listed at on Baseball-Reference.

Brendan Donnelly - Free Agent (Re-Sign)
Position: Reliever (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 37, Height: 6'3, Weight: 205
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

I'm going to put it at this.

Bring him back on a minor league deal so we don't have to initially add him to the 40 man roster...

Let him compete for a spot in the bullpen in spring training.

If not.. Good bye, have fun finding a major league deal, somewhere else. I think Donnelly respects the fact that we gave him a shot, and if no one else is going to give him a 40 man roster spot going into spring training, he'll probably come back here.

Juan Rincon - Free Agent (Let Go)
Position: Reliever (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 30, Height: 5'11, Weight: 187
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com


Same situation as Donnelly, only this one makes me a bit more uneasy. Rincon has had success, he's younger.. I don't know..

If Rincon wants to come into Spring Training as a minor league free agent signing and try and win a spot, be my guest. I don't think he will though, unless he shows his old form.

Next: Rule V Eligible Discussion, Who Should Be Added, Who Should be Risked losing... All that fun stuff on Wednesday.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Counsell, Lowell, Loretta, Teahen, Mulder, Pavano

It's time to tie up added players on our offseason priority chart. This will be the final group of players that are targets for other teams that will discuss for at least a few weeks.

Craig Counsell - Milwaukee Brewers (In Price Range)
Position: Third Base (Need), B/T: L/R
Age: 38, Height: 6'0, Weight: 180
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

This is one of two options the Indians can use as a Jensen Lewis-like solution.

Bring in a few guys to compete with Marte.. Go from there..

Counsell has been a lifer in the National League, but if you tell him he has a chance to win the Third Base spot, I'm sure he'd come on the cheap.

Counsell is a left-handed hitter who can also play multiple positions, so it's not like he'd be stuck at third.

This is a last resort type of option along with Loretta, who we will get to.. But it looks as if a last resort may not have to be made.

Mike Lowell - Boston Red Sox (Short Term Solution)
Position: Third Base B/T: R/R
Age: 34, Height: 6'4, Weight: 205
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Pipe dream..

The Red Sox would have to eat some of his salary, but that's if they want to move him. Lowell is also going to be coming off surgery, what would a team give up for him?

It was mentioned that Lowell could be had because the Red Sox are thinking of going after someone like Mark Teixeira and could move Kevin Youkilis back to his original third base position.

If this post is true and the asking price is Scott Baker, that would be the equivilant of a better Aaron Laffey. So it would probably be something like Aaron Laffey and another prospect.

Not happening.

Mark Loretta - Houston Astros (In Price Range)
Position: Third and Second Base (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 37, Height: 6'0, Weight: 175
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

See Craig Counsell, minus the left-handed hitting and national league lifer. He can also play multiple positions on the infield.

I actually like Loretta better, he's started full-time in the American League.

Mark Teahen - Kansas City Royals (Official Target)
Position: Third Base (Need), B/T: L/R
Age: 27, Height: 6'3, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Talk about perfect timing.

Last night, CastroTurf threw up the story about the report about Mark Teahen.

Talk about perfect solution.

Left-Handed Bat, he hasn't played third full-time since 2006, but he was always touted as a good glove. He has a heck of an arm, he can play outfield and first if need be.

He's JUST entering his prime, he'll be earning a nice cheap amount for the production he brings in arbitration.

He'll strike out, but he can hit for a nice average around .280 and give you at least 15 home runs.

I'd take him in a heartbeat.

Especially if the price is Trevor Crowe.

With Brantley in the fold, we have a BETTER version of Trevor Crowe.

With LaPorta, we don't need three left-fielders.. LaPorta can move to first if Choo develops and Brantley pans out.

It's nice to have options.

Or if we use Ben Francisco? Sure!

I wouldn't trade Franklin Gutierrez for two reasons.

A) I'm not sure if the Royals would take him and B) Gutierrez would be the better option for us as a 4th outfielder.

Mark Teahen was a perfect fit and I'm shocked that the Royals are shopping him. Teahen was drafted by the A's and sent to the Royals as a part of the Octavio Dotel, Carlos Beltran deal. Oddly enough, Gutierrez and Francisco were mentioned in the deal that would have brought Dotel to the Tribe in 2007 before the deadline.

If this deal comes to fruition, boyyyyyy..

We've got our first official target.

Mark Mulder - St. Louis Cardinals (In Price Range)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: L/L
Age: 31, Height: 6'6, Weight: 200
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Mark Mulder was a possibility for the Indians a few years ago when he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mulder was a target, but chose the Cardinals instead.

Now, the Cardinals have moved on. Mulder is plagued with injuries and he won't be getting much on the market.

Wanna come to Cleveland Mark?

He'll be cheap, he can win a spot in the rotation, and who knows...

He's in that mold of a Freddy Garcia which we discussed earlier.

Carl Pavano - New York Yankees (In Price Range)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 33, Height: 6'5, Weight: 230
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Why the hell not?

Once again, this another option that would be a low-risk, high-reward type move.

I'm not gonna spend much time other than to tell you that these moves are very plausible for a team like the Indians.

Guys with something to prove.. Guys who've had success.. Guys that are just looking to latch on for one more contract.

Why the hell not? I say!

Next: We cover our own bases and talk about our own Free Agents and the lone arbitration eligible player we have, Kelly Shoppach. We've already discussed Jamey Carroll, who's option was picked up. We'll look at Sal Fasano, Brendan Donnelly and Juan Rincon.

  • As I'm sure you've noticed, the board has been updated. Check it out..
  • One update to notify you about. Michael Aubrey's extra option was added to our board, and Zach Jackson received a fix. He definitely has a least one option left, I had him at zero. He's only had two years when he's been called up to the Majors, so I'm going to guess he has one year left.
  • New Hey Hoynsie has been up.
  • Tony has an un-official list of Rule 5 Eligibles Up at Indians Prospect Insider.
  • That's all I guess..


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: K-Rod, Ryan, Street, Wood

Time to start the closers on our offseason priority chart. These are all pitchers who closed for their teams last year.

Francisco Rodriguez - Los Angeles Angels (Out of Price Range)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 27, Height: 6'0, Weight: 175
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Disregard this post was ever made.

That was totally not serious. It may have been at the time, but really, who are we kidding?

Shapiro has asked the media to not bring up K-Rod or Manny.

I will move on..

B.J. Ryan - Toronto Blue Jays (Out of Price Range)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: L/L
Age: 32, Height: 6'6, Weight: 230
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

I'd love to have a guy like B.J. Ryan.

Oh wait, we do, his name is Rafael Perez.

Toronto is stingy.. Ryan would cost a lot in terms of prospects, plus we know first hand what kind of contract he has, because.... We lost out to the Blue Jays when Ryan first signed there.

Aside from the injured 2007, Ryan has been a lock for 30 saves, despite his team.

Hey I'd like to have Ryan, I really would.

But a little bit too rich for us.

Huston Street - Oakland Athletics (Fall Back Option)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 25, Height: 6'0, Weight: 185
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Rumor has it that Street was claimed off waivers by a non-contender near the end of the trade-deadline(waiver wire edition). Rumor has it that the Indians were that team.

Rumor also has it that the Indians and A's are still trying to work out a deal.

Rumor has it that I think that's a bad idea.

Billy Beane is a bit of a genius. He finds a way to get what he wants.. He's going to want a lot for Street, his young demoted closer who still has years left with whatever team he ends up with.

In a way, that's probably too much.

Street has been in the league four years now.. He's saved games each year, he's pretty much bean the A's closer when healthy, aside from losing his job to Brad Ziegler at the end of 2008.

At least 70 innings in three years, one year it was 50 and his ERA was in the 2's.. I mean he's cool

But he's also shaky shaky shaky.

He's young yes.. But Texas overused the dude like crazy. Will he be durable?

I don't know.

I'd rather avoid this option, because what we would have to give up for him and the uncertainty.

Street is okay, but this is fall-back and I'd avoid it at all costs.

Kerry Wood - Chicago Cubs (Best Case Scenario)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 32, Height: 6'5, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com


Kerry Wood is a great story.

He also want's to be a Cub and the Cubs probably want that as well.

I think he'd be a reasonably priced option to be honest. Obviously the injuries.. Whaaatever.. He's got the closer's mentality, he's shown he can do it.. It's obviously better on his arm.. Still got injured but still did good.

Still.. 66 innings pitched, over 30 saves..

I'd love to have Kerry Wood.. But it would be a pipe dream because of his love for Chicago.

Best case scenario... Yes.. But not happening.

Next: Since we are at the end of targets, we're gonna rewind and cover four more targets I've added. Craig Counsell, Mark Loretta, Mark Mulder, and Carl Pavano. We only have one week till the MLB offseason officially begins, then stuff is gonna go down 15 days after the World Series. After that we'll get to our own free agents, rule V and minor league FAs.

  • One bit of info to pass along. Michael Aubrey is going to be a hottly debated man. Out of options right? WRONG! Turns out Aubrey is going to get another option year because of his past injuries. That's cool.. But that doesn't mean he will be an Indian next year. Those 40 man roster spots are precious and with Jordan Brown needing one, I can't really see both surviving the offseason.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Fuetnes, Gregg, Isringhausen, Lyon

Time to start the closers on our offseason priority chart. These are all pitchers who closed for their teams last year.

Brian Fuentes - Colorado Rockies (Out of Price Range)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: L/L
Age: 33, Height: 6'4, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

I originally had Brian Fuentes as a Fall Back option..

Now, apparently according to Jon Heyman we are one of the team's in it for Fuentes.


He's now out of our price range.

Wait, what? WHY?!

He is looking at a Three Year Deal in the mid-30 million dollar range.

10 mil plus (probably in the 12 m range) for three years for a guy who hasn't been a solid closer for the past few years? Granted he did well last year after he got his spot back, and he was a solid option for the Rox for the past few years before he lost his job.. But come on now!?

No thanks.. Brad Lidge is making a little more than that and Fuentes is no Brad Lidge.

If that's the cost, this discussion is over, Fuentes is not a viable option.. That is way too much money.

Kevin Gregg - Florida Marlins (Fall Back Option)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: S/R
Age: 30, Height: 6'6, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Kevin Gregg is a guy we could have targeted last year at the deadline. However who knows.

He's a legit option to close or be up there as a set-up man if Jensen Lewis beats him out.

He's been hiding Florida these past few years and apparently the arbitration eligible reliever is available. That also says Dan Uggla probably won't be on the market, probably no longer a legit option for us.

Gregg is an interesting player.

Saved 32 games last year, 29 this.. His ERA was lowered, pitched in less innings though. Gregg has saved games in the AL though with Los Angeles(Anaheim).

I wouldn't be opposed if he came on the cheap in a trade. He will make a good chunk through arbitration, nothing crazy I would imagine, but if the Marlins are interested in trading him away, at the right price it would be a sound move.

He would compete with Lewis for the closers spot, if he wins, great, if he doesn't, he'd be a nice guy to have for the 7th if need be, 6th inning at worst.

Jason Isringhausen - St. Louis Cardinals (Short Term Solution)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 36, Height: 6'3, Weight: 195
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

ROCK... Solid..

Since 2000, till 2007.. Okay, his second to last year in Oakland.

AT LEAST 30 saves, excluding a 22 save season in 2003 in which he missed some time.. 2000 and 2006 were the only years he had ERA's in the 3's.. 2001-2005 and 2007 we're all in the 2's.

Come on.. That's as solid as they come.

Unfortunately.. Things broke down for Izzy last year and at one point at the end they said he might be done for good.

However, after elbow surgery, Izzy will be ready to go next season and this is the part I get giddy.

He is planning on signing an incentive based deal with someone.

Sign me up.

When a guy says.. I'll sign with you for a low salary, but if I play well it will increase, I say.. Sign him up..

This is the PERFECT option for us.. Think about it.

Isringhausen signs for a low amount, that will increase if he saves a certain number of games.. If he doesn't he doesn't get paid, we don't lose that much money, if he gets hurt, oh well. We have Jensen Lewis to step in.

If he does end up kicking ass.. What's so wrong with paying a guy for performance?

This is my number one option.. I want it, and I hope it happens.. I'd go crazy. I really would.

Brandon Lyon - Arizona Diamondbacks (Fall Back Option)
Position: Closer (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 29, Height: 6'1, Weight: 170
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Brandon Lyon really shouldn't even be in the closers section.

I'm not sure if anyone will give him closers money.

Lyon lost his job to Rauch at the end of the year.. He was shaky, he was bleh.. He is unexciting and we don't know if he has the mentality.

I'd avoid this one unless it's a cheap setup option.

Even then.. Mehhhh

He set a career high in saves.. He had the job one year, then they had Jose Valverde, then they traded him and gave Lyon the spot..

Just.. avoid this at all costs.. This would be an extreme fallback option..

I'd rather have Jensen Lewis close games than Brandon Lyon.

Which means.. Don't even consider him.

Next: Finish up our first round of possible targets tomorrow. I'll be in Michigan but the post will be done and go up sometime in the middle of the day. We begrudgingly look at Francisco Rodriguez, BJ Ryan, Huston Street, and Kerry Wood. Otherwise known as the you have no chance in hell group.

  • Updating you on Hank Blalock, looks like his option will be picked up.
  • BRYAN BULLINGTON IS GONE! The Toronto Blue Jays took yet another pitcher off our hands, unfortunately for them I don't think they know what they are getting into with Bullington. The Blue Jays claimed the Running of the Bullington off Waivers.
  • Hey Ladies, make sure you pick up your copy of Men's Vogue.. Or wait.. why would you pick up Men's Vogue? errr wait a second what man that reads this blog would pick up Men's Vogue? Anyway, Ladies if you want your fill of Grady posing for pictures in expensive clothing.. Read this.. Boy if Grady was attention starved, he'd have no problem getting it.. It sounds as if this is like this type of stuff is a chore to him.. I love it.. The pretty boy that doesn't want to be pretty. The ladies man that want's be a tough man. It's like "Grady honey, go clean your room..." "But I don't wanna!!!" "Grady!! come on now, I'll give you a cookie!" "Oooookay!"
  • Speaking of Grady, One of the 24th best young player in the game according to Bill James. I think he should be higher, but whatever.
  • The MLB Players have recognized Fernando TATIS and Cliff Lee as the Comeback Players of the year.
  • FROM The TSN Magazine.. Cliff Lee is the AL All-Star Starting Pitcher, Grady Sizemore is apart of the Outfield. Cliff Lee is also comeback player of the year and Pitcher of the year as noted. Keep on keeping on Cliff, more hardware on the way.
  • As noted about Bryan Bullington, that's one spot freed up and another. Brian Slocum was outrighted to Columbus, I guess no one wanted any part of Smoke 'Em Slocum. Why would they? Slocum is out of options.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Ohman, Reyes, Torres, Smoltz

More relief options and a few more interesting names on the offseason priority chart. These are all options in some way, but this group is far more interesting than yesterday's bunch. Two left-handed options and a few hybrids....What?

As you may have noticed, major update to the board.. Added those names I talked about, which I will get to at a later date. Also, Mark Ellis has signed a rather cheap extension with the Oakland Athletics. What a deal that was for them. 2 years, 11 million? that would of been for us if we could have done it. Anyway onto the targets...

Will Ohman - Atlanta Braves (Luxury)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: L/L
Age: 31, Height: 6'2, Weight: 195
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Fun-fact, Will Ohman was born in Germany..

Cool man.

Ohman was a Cub up until 2008.

Will Ohman just gets left-handed hitters out..

Lefties hit .200 against Ohman last year..

Ohman would be a luxury to bring in as a lefty-matchup guy, but he might make some nice cash this offseason.

I wasn't as high on this pick up as I was earlier in the year. I'm gonna make it brief because I think its an option, I just don't think it's one that makes much sense at this point.

Dennys Reyes - Minntesota Twins (Luxury)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: R/L
Age: 33, Height: 6'3, Weight: 246
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

The Big Sweat.

Reyes is only 32, which seems young for how long he's been around. He's pitched for nine different teams, most of them in the NL, but his best years have been these past three with the Minntesota Twins.

We all know about Reyes, he's a lefty specialist as well. .202 against the lefties last year, .237 career compared to .282 against right handers.

Some Twins fans feel Reyes might be not worth it. It wasn't his .89 ERA in 2006, but his 2.33 ERA in 2008 isn't bad an improvement from 2007.

Reyes would be like Ohman and Marte, but he might be cheaper.

Let me wrap up these left handed options by saying I like Tony Sipp, the in-house lefty who is on the 40 man roster and should start the year in Buffalo, Akron for a little bit at worst.

Sipp is left-handed, he could fill that lefty matchup role down the stretch, but right now another lefty option other than Perez would be helpful. If we were to pick up someone like Reyes on the cheap, and he didn't work out, oh well. Move on.. If he works, grand.

John Smoltz -Atlanta Braves (Outside Possibility)
Position: Closer, Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 42, Height: 6'3, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Let me say this.. If John Smoltz finishes his career with someone other than the Atlanta Braves, I will be shocked.

But, if Atlanta doesn't want him back, and he want's to pitch, he'll pitch.

We could use him in either role to be honest. Starting pitcher, closer.. Whatever he wants to do. Now, how likely is this?


From 2002-2004, Smoltz was the Closer for the Braves, he saved at least 44 games in all three years. He moved back to the rotation in 2005 with eaaaaase. From 2005-2007 he started at least 30 games, had an ERA under 3.50 in each year, won 14, 16, and 14 games and logged over 200 innings in each year as well.

Damn.. Hall of Famer.

That wasn't even in his prime years either. That's good production from a guy in his late-30's-early 40's.

Last year was lost for him.. He started in the rotation, got hurt, tried moving back to the closers role, couldn't go, and got season ending surgery.

Now.. What does he do?

Like I said.. Closer, Starter.. Whatever he feels comfortable with.. We could use him and I can't imagine him costing near what he has been making.

Salomon Torres - Milwaukee Brewers (In Price Range)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Luxury), B/T: L/L
Age: 37, Height: 5'11, Weight: 165
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

This dude is amazing.

For three years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Salomon Torres was a HORSE!

92, 94, 93 innings from 2004 to 2006. ERA's of 2.64, 2.76, 3.28, and in 2006 he appeared in 94 games!!!


Torres has a $3.75 Million Dollar Option with Milwaukee this offseason. If it does not get picked up, that means A) The Brewers don't want him, or B) He isn't worth paying $3.75 million dollars this year.

I'd love to have Torres. This is one of the few names on this list that I'd like to bring in.

He can be a middle reliever, or he could come in and push Jensen Lewis in the closers spot.. If he wins it, he wins it, if he keeps it, he keeps it. If Jensen wins it, and Jensen keeps it, Torres will be a middle reliever and he will be a GOOD one.

I'm all for this move.. It is sort of like another alternative to the Isringhausen move that I'll explain when we get to him. This would be a sound move for Shapiro and it would make all sorts of sense..

Last year Torres saved 28 games for the Brewers, he saved their pen from being a total disaster.

Torres can impact this pen... He could be huge..

Next: We dive into our last position, closers. The first half on Friday will be: Brian Fuentes of the Rockies, Kevin Gregg of the Marlins, Jason Isringhausen of the Cardinals, and Brandon Lyon of the Diamondbacks.
  • Cliff Lee is not Pepsi Clutch, but one former Indian is. Yes we partially own this award, okay no we don't. But Congrats to CC for winning the Clutch Player of the Year Award. He might not win the Cy Young again, but he's the man.
  • Kevin Czerwinski has a Organizational Review for the Indians up at MLB.com. Trevor Crowe and Chuck Lofgren were the preseason picks for player and pitcher of the year. Postseason picks are Beau Mills and David Huff, duh. Great piece of info, make sure you check it out.
  • Indians Prospect Insider has all the bases covered here.. Tony has a Rule 5 FAQ post up on the site. Very well explained, very well done. He will be posting his own Rule 5 List tomorrow. We of course have one as well. Also make sure you check out the Radio show both Tony and Paul Cousineau (The DiaTribe, left side of this site under Indians Blogs), do every Thursday. The show is archieved and it's informative and a lot of the prospects are starting to join in.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Ayala, Cruz, Howry, Marte

Time to dive into middle relief options on the offseason priority chart. These are strictly guys that would be middle relief if we were to dive into that prospect and go with Jensen Lewis as the closer.

Luis Ayala - New York Mets (In Price Range)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 31, Height: 6'2, Weight: 170
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com


Nothing real flashy about this name is there?

From 2003 to 2005 with Montreal/Washington, Ayala was nails. ERA's under 3.00 with at leasat 70 innings pitched.

Then Ayala suffered a season ending injury in the WBC and missed the 2006 season. Missed part of 2007 and had his worst year until 2008. Still 3.19 ERA in 40 some innings isn't bad.

Then 2008 came, he was on a awful Washington team, appeared in 62 games with a 5.77 ERA and got traded to the Mets. He got thrusted into the closers role with New York, saved nine games, but his ERA didn't improve much.

Now he's a free agent.

This is a guy who's had great success as a setup man in the past. Then the injury came and he's gone downhill. There is no reason to believe that he can't get it done though.

If we were to go with Jensen Lewis as our closer, we'd need to bring in another bullpen arm, even if it isn't as a potential closer. Ayala wouldn't be the first nor second option to go to in the 7th or 8th inning, which is great. He'd probably be cheaper and if he can return to form, why not?

Wouldn't be opposed to this type of a move.

Juan Cruz - Arizona Diamondbacks (In Price Range)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: R/R
Age: 30, Height: 6'2, Weight: 155
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Can you say, NL reliever? I can.

That's what Juan Cruz looks like if you look at his numbers. He's had times where he's started and not been so good. He's had stints as a reliever in the AL with Oakland and the reuslts were bad.

However since being a straight up reliever with Arizona these past two years, Cruz has been gooood.

These past two year's he's pitched 112 innings, accumulated a record of 10-1 with ERAs of 3.10 and 2.61. He walks less than half of the amount of hitters he strikes out and he looks like he carries the good WHIP.

Now, he'll probably come cheap. He earned a little over 1 million last year and given that he's a middle reliever only, he probably won't be commanding a large deal.

Again, this is yet another option if we were to put Jensen Lewis as our closer. If a closer doesn't become available, then Ayala and Cruz wouldn't be bad options as middle relief.

Bob Howry, Chicago Cubs (Luxury)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: L/R
Age: 35, Height: 6'5, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

We know who this is!

Bobby Howry was nails for the Indians in 2004 and 2005.

Perhaps he is a reason our bullpen went to suck in 2006 when he signed a three year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

That three year deal is now up and as we now see. Mark Shapiro was right.. Howry did do well with Chicago for the first few years, but his 2008 was bad. He had a career year with the Tribe back in 2006. He pitched in 73 innings and carried a sparkling 2.47 ERA.

Is there a possibility of him reuiniting with the Tribe?

I don't know.. He might not be expensive as he was years ago, he won't.. But maybe time is passing him by.

He'd be returning to a setup role he helped solidify.

He also would be expected of doing something.

The Indians have already tried bringing along a few more Bobby Howryies.. Donnelly is a good example of that.

So why take a chance on Howry? He'd probably cost more than an Ayala or a Cruz, but he's had succcess in the AL. That's key.

I'd see what Howry wants.. I'm not sure this is a match, but it is a possibility.

Damaso Marte - New York Yankees (Luxury)
Position: Relief Pitcher (Could Use), B/T: L/L
Age: 34, Height: 6'0, Weight: 170
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Hey Marte..

Old rival of the Chicago White Sox has been hiding in Pittsburgh these past few seasons. He's had some good years with Pittsburgh and really gotten better than we remember from Chicago.

Now, he's a left hander so that gives us some flexibility. If we want to save up Rafael Perez for the 8th inning, BINGO we can use a left hander like Marte earlier for matchups.

He wouldn't be the closer, he wouldn't be the [rimary setup man, but he'd be a valuable weapon.

He'd also be expensive given the fact that he has an option this year and could earn some nice cash on the free agent market.

A little too much for a guy you aren't going to be giving the ball to a majority of the time.

This is an option, but a very unlikely one. He woulda been a trade option for us had we been in the race, but hey.

Marte, an option sure.. He'd be an ultimate luxury though.

Next: Finish up the middle relief options and look into a few guys that would fill two different roles. We look at a few lefty-options in Will Ohman of the Braves and Dennys Reyes of the Twins. We look at closer or middle relief option Salomon Torres of the Brewers and then starter or closer John Smoltz of the Braves.
  • Is Cliff Lee Pepsi Clutch? We find out tonight on ESPN. 7 PM they will announce the winner of the Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Year. Tune into find out if you want, but given some of the people that are up for this award, cough CC cough, I don't believe he can take this one home, as dominant as he's been.
  • If you want some reading material. Check this out from Bleacher Report. Kanka is always putting together lineups based on numbers, and they are really interesting to look at.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Penny, Sabathia, Sheets, Wolf

We now come up on the end of starting pitchers on our offseason priority chart. An interesting group of targets today as we look at a a very deep starting free agent pool.

Brad Penny - Los Angeles Dodgers (Outside Possibility)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 31, Height: 6'4, Weight: 200
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Brad Penny has some injury issues.. His first three full years with the Dodgers he pitched in at least 29 games, until this year. His 2007 was great, starting the All-Star game and finishing with a 3.03 ERA.

He has an option that the Dodgers could pick up for near 9 million dollars.

Okay so how possible is this?

Depends on if teams want him, of course if the Dodgers want to pay him 9 million next year, and how much they want him for.

If the injuries this year are a concern, Penny won't get much on the market. At least in terms of contract length. Would you take Brad Penny at one or two years for 9 million per? I would.. It would be a decent idea.

That said, I don't see it happening, might be too much of an expensive risk for Shapiro. Plus he's spent his entire career in the NL, how would the AL move suit him?

Outside chance on this one.

C.C. Sabathia - Milwaukee Brewers (Out of Price Range)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: L/L
Age: 28, Height: 6'7, Weight: 250
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Let's address the big elephant in the room. I don't mean CC is a big elephant, I mean he is, but not in that way.

I mean the big elephant that CC is in terms of him returning to the Tribe.

Out of Price Range.

That's all you need to know. Shapiro will make one last feeble offer to his agents... They will laugh, tell CC, and then politely tell Shapiro that they have no interest in returning to Cleveland.

CC is going to be able to name his price. He won't come crawling back.. Unless there simply is a team out there that he doesn't like, his time is Cleveland is over. So long.

Ben Sheets - Milwaukee Brewers (Best Case Scenario)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 30, Height: 6'1, Weight: 195
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Now this is a much more likely scenario for the Cleveland Indians in signing a Milwaukee Brewer pitcher.

Ben Sheets obviously has some injury concerns, well documented. From 2001-2004 he pitched in at least 25 games.. 2005-2007 he pitched in less than 25. This year, 31 games with some injury issues at different points in the year, that inevitably caused him to miss the postseason.

Sheets has always been verrrrrrrry good though. He's a strikeout machcine. His best year was in 2004, one of his worst years record wise. He pitched five complete games with a 2.70 ERA and 264 strikeouts.

Think about this..

With all the injury problems Sheets has had these past few years, how many teams are going to offer him a long term contract?

The question I ask you.. If he is brought in on a one year deal with a mutual option for 2010, at say... 9-10 million dollars a year, would you do it?

I would.. Seems like it would be a good chance to take.. Essentially a one year audition for Sheets to prove he is healthy, he gets paid a decent amount of coin and we get a TOP OF THE LINE Starter if healthy.

You are taking a risk, but I like one year risks, better than two year risks.

Someone could offer Sheets a nice little three year 40 million dollar deal though. You never know... Something like that, which he would surely sign if there is nothing longer(couldn't imagine that happening though) or with more money per year.

Best case scenario if you ask me and I'd LOVE for this to happen. Probably won't though.

Randy Wolf - Houston Astros (Fall Back Option)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: L/L
Age: 32, Height: 6'0, Weight: 194
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Randy Wolf isn't as old as you would think. He's been around as long as the Rays but he's still in his early thirties. Prime age for the Indians to go out and sign someone.

It was said Wolf would want to stay on the West coast, but he will open up his options.

Why not?

Fallback option strictly, but he is not a bad fall back option.

Wolf pitched probably one of his best stretches of baseball when he was sent to Houston from San Diego. He matches his win total with SD in just 12 games with six wins, and lost only 2 games compared to 10 with the Pads. He had a 3.57 ERA and was pretty much great in all of the Astros' important games.

Wolf started his career with the Phillies and played with them up until last year when he signed with the Dodgers. He put together a decent year, signed another short deal with the Padres and was traded to Houston near the deadline.

What is he looking for this year? What is he going to get?

Something short? Probably.

Wolf is a decent option for the Indians. He'd be in the Kevin Millwood mold. I think Wolf is instore for a decent type of deal, however he might be running out of West Coast teams in the NL to sign with that would want him.

Next: We get to dip into the relievers pool with a few middle relievers. Luis Ayala of the Mets, Juan Cruz of Arizona, Old friend Bobby Howry of the Cubs, and old rival Damaso Marte of the Yankees.

Not much today..
  • If you want to be updated on the AFL and Winter Leagues and all that good stuff, check out the Indians Prospect Insider. I've got little to no time to be updating, besides Tony and the boys do a great job of keeping us posted anyway. Latest AFL update here.
  • New mailbag is up at Indians.com. Among the questions asked, Michael Brantley in the leadoff spot, Adam Miller as a top-of-the-rotation option, and is Sal Fasano going to be back next year? The answer to the first two is no, the third one is maybe, but the real question is, Which site is really the official site of Sal Fasano? CastroTurf or The Tribe Time Report? We've been one of Sal's biggest mustachenadio's, yes I made that up, for a manager spot somewhere in baseball. You decide................... Hmmm


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Johnson, Looper, Lowe

Time to finish the starting pitchers on the offseason priority chart. We only look at three targets today, because one was signed in the process of putting the chart together. Interestingly enough the contract is one we can use as a bit of a judgment on what pitchers like Kyle Lohse could get on the market.

Randy Johnson - Arizona Diamdonbacks (Short Term Solution)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/L
Age: 45, Height: 6'10, Weight: 225
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Boy is Randy Johnson old or what?

He is old, but he can still get it done and he wouldn't have to be our ace.

You wonder if he wants to make a move to not only the East but to the American League. Johnson has a great situation in Arizona and he has been successful in both his stints.

Look I won't bother to give you the statistics on Johnson, too many to handle. He pitched in just ten games for the D'Backs in his return there in 2007. His 2008 year was much better as he pitched most of the year and put up a 3.91 ERA.

Johnson is just five wins away from 300. He probably wants to pitch at least one more year which makes him a decent option for the Indians.

Johnson would slide into the number three spot. He'd be an injury risk given his age, but with the depth the Indians have at the starting position spot, the Indians could take on a pitcher like The Big Unit.

This would be a very sound move if the Indians could get him for a decent amount of coin. For one year, it wouldn't be a bad idea. There is some risk involved, but a risk for someone like Randy Johnson, is much more smarter than a risk for someone like say, David Dellucci.......


All I'm saying is.. If you are going to spend money on an aging veteran, spend some on one who is a hall of fame calibure player.

Randy Johnson should be an option if he is open to a shot in Cleveland. I think he would fit with us fine. Give us some veteran attitude as well.

Kyle Lohse - St. Lous Cardinals (Re-Signed by St. Louis)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 29, Height: 6'2, Weight: 190
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

So, why are we talking about Kyle Lohse even though he signed a four year, 41 million dollar deal with the St. Louis Cardinals?

Because he signed a four year, 41 million dollar deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

That's at least 10 million per year. For Kyle Lohse, who hasn't been particularly great until he got to the Cardinals. We're very familar with Lohse, who had some good years in Minnesota, but he hasn't been really good. He signed with St. Louis and boom, he had his best year yet.

3.78 ERA in 33 starts. Lohse was impressive.. But is he for real?

And if he is worth 4 years for 41 million, what is everyone else worth?

Scary if you ask me, especially for a team that needs at least one more starting pitcher. Granted Lohse isn't old and he had a good year, but man that makes you wonder if we can get someone at a decent price.

Braden Looper - St. Louis Cardinals (Fall Back Option)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 34, Height: 6'5, Weight: 225
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Well we have yet another converted starter. Looper will probably be cheap. He's an interesting name. Never started a major league game until last year. The verdict with his move to the rotation has been pretty much "success."

He got better last year with a 4.16 ERA, and a small dip in WHIP. Walks went down, strike outs went up. Maybe the move was a brilliant idea.

But, he is pitching in the National League and he is a Dave Duncan-success story.

Would that carry over to the American League and the Cleveland Indians?

Is that a risk worth taking? What risk would you be taking because how much is he going to get?

How long of a contract are teams going to be willing to give him?

Looper is an option, a last resort type option, mainly because of the questions that are surrounding what he'll get. Maybe the Cardinals bring him back before he even reaches the market.

Who knows, but his name is interesting enough to put on this list.

Derek Lowe - Los Angeles Dodgers (Short Term Solution)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 36, Height: 6'6, Weight: 170
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Derek Lowe is a short term solution, which also makes him a goooooooood option for us.

Lowe is aging, but he's still good and he has what we really need for the pitching staff. POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE!!!!

21 postseason apperances with a 3.33 ERA. Not just that but his track record in the recent past of getting there and getting the job done.

Lowe would be yet another sinkerballer added to our staff, which would make four if Laffey is in the rotation and Westbrook would return at some point. Maybe too many guys who depend on the groundball, but hey, if our defense plays well, and we field a infield of Barfield, Cabrera up the middle, wouldn't be a bad idea.

Lowe's ERAs the past four years have all been under four since moving to the National League. He was a 20 game winner in Boston and his last year was rather rocky with the 5.42 ERA, but look what he did in the postseason, winning the clinching game of each series.

Lowe is 36, so nothing more than a two year deal would be ideal for this team. Indications are he'd like to return to Boston, but we are actually mentioned as one of his possibilities by Nick Cafardo.

It would be a reasonable addition for us. I wouldn't be against it if the price is right.

Next: Time to finish up starting pitchers. We look at Lowe's Dodger friend, Brad Penny, our old friend CC Sabathia, his new friend Ben Sheets and nobodies friend Randy Wolf.

Let's get to some news...
  • A sign of things to come, perhaps? Cliff Lee was named AL Pitcher of the Year by Sporting News today. This was voted on by a panel of 314 Major League Ball players. I get TSN so I'll let you know more when I get the Magazine this week.
  • Lee also won the AL's most outstanding pitcher in the MLB player's choice sponsored by the MLBPA.
  • As mentioned last time, Eric Wedge was in Arizona to get enshrined into the AFL Hall of Fame. Check out his silly little plaque. Heaaahhaaaa
  • New Edition of Hey Hoynsie.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Byrd, Dempster, Garcia, Hernandez

We now move onto the pitching portion of the offseason priority chart. You will notice additions to third base, we will eventually come back and cover additions, but I recently did some thinking and digging and add a few names. Let's continue on the course we are on though and look at some starting pitchers

Paul Byrd - Boston Red Sox (Fall Back Option)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 38, Height: 6'1, Weight: 185
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Yet another Indian that was traded away back on the radar. Why? Because we're familiar with him of course.

Both the Indians and Byrd did not shut the door on the possibility of a return, but I see it as unlikely.

Byrd is aging, he can rarely get past the sixth inning, even if he only throws 80 pitches. He kills the bullpen and the Indians can't afford to sign a fifth starter, because their fifth starter is going to be a youngster like Jeremy Sowers or Aaron Laffey.

I've labeled Byrd a fall back option because that is what he is. He is an option we won't go to, unless we really have no other choice. I don't think we need to spend anymore time here. Tentative interest from Shapiro, but I'm sure he'd like to look elsewhere.

Ryan Dempster - Chicago Cubs (Best Case Scenario)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 32, Height: 6'1, Weight: 201
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Ryan Dempster made the transition back to Starter from reliever this offseason and turned in an All-Star calibure season.

Free Agent coincidence? It turns out Dempster loves Chicago and Chicago loves Dempster, so the marriage probably will last and Ryan will return to the Cubbies.

But it doesn't hurt to breakdown the possibility.

Dempster, provided he doesn't ask for a long contract for a lot of coin, would be a good fit for the Indians He'd be the number three guy in the rotation, would provide some stability and his personality will fit right into the clubhouse.

First year back in the rotation yielded 17 wins, over 200 innings and a 2.96 ERA. Dempster has always been a National League pitcher though, how would a move to the American League.

Dempster seems like a natural fit, someone that the Indians could sign for the right price at the right length of contract and bring him into their rotation. Best case scenario, but a scenario that probably won't happen because of it.

Freddy Garcia - Detroit Tigers (Best Case Scenario)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 33, Height: 6'4, Weight: 235
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Here's a typical Mark Shapiro move if I've ever seen one.

Remember Kevin Millwood? A veteran pitcher with something to prove getting signed to a one year deal, leading the league in ERA and then signing a huge deal with Texas?

Freddy Garcia could realistically be that same type of deal. Garcia is on the road to recovery and he started it with Detroit. He probably won't command a very long deal at all, nor would it be high in guarenteed money. Incentive laden, low-risk, high-reward, one-year shot.

Garcia pitched in three games for the Tigers last year, going 15 innings with a 4.20 ERA. He had an injury plagued year in Philadelphia after getting traded from Chicago. He's won a World Series, he's been around awhile, he has the talent and I do believe he has the hunger and drive to not only prove everyone wrong, but the team that traded him away, Chicago.

Come in division, to one of his old team's biggest rivals, perhaps its the reason he signed with Detroit. If Detroit isn't interesting in bringing him back, I could see Mark Shapiro jumping on the low-risk move and hoping for the payoff. I'd actually support this signing and think it would be a very calculated one.

Livan Hernandez - Colorado Rockies (In Price Range)
Position: Starting Pitcher (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 34, Height: 6'2, Weight: 220
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

An innings machine, Livan Hernandez has been through a lot. He's also one of our most hated figures as Cleveland Indians fans. He was a big reason for the WS loss in 97, so as much as we hated him, we may have to like him, at least for a half a season.

I could see the Indians bringing Hernandez in like thw Twins did last year. Use him half a year and move on. Hernandez pitched well for Minnesota early in the year, but he's always been a horse. He goes a lot of innings, throws a lot of pitches.

He could be a cheap short-term type of option until Jake Westbrook is ready or David Huff is ready to step up. Colorado picked him up off the scrap heap, he will probably be signing somewhere on a minor league deal, hoping to stick. It would be cheap and it would make sense to at least try.

He's thrown at least 180 innings since 1998! Maybe he's just run out of gas, maybe he's done. Who knows, but it is a realistic option for the Indians and that's why he's here.

Next: We will continue going down the list of starting pitchers. Randy Johnson, Braden Looper, we will take a look at the signing of fellow Cardinal Kyle Lohse and how it relates to the Indians, and Derek Lowe.
  • Eric Wedge will be in Arizona this weekend to check out the new Arizona digs and be inducted into the AFL's hall of fame.
  • Speaking of Arizona, you check out all the info on Goodyear here.
  • The Spring Training Schedule has been released. Of course the Indians are moving to the Cactus league now, so its a whole batch of new opponents. The Indians will host the Giants in the opener on February 25th.
  • The Indians will play a yet-to-be-determined World Baseball Classic team.
  • 117 days until Pitchers and Catchers Report :)


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Crede, Encarnacion, Mora, Carroll

Time to continue look at our offseason priority chart. Today we finish up the third baseman that are currently on the list and look at our own free agent, or possible free agent, Jamey Carroll.

Joe Crede - Chicago White Sox (Short Term Solution)
Position: Third Base (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 31, Height: 6'2, Weight: 195
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

If Joe Crede stayed healthy and maintained his pace that he started the year on, he would be out of our price range.

But because of his chronic back issues, he becomes a very valid option. It all depends on what he's worth to other teams.

In all likelihood, Crede will not be re-signed by the White Sox. Josh Fields is the long term plan for them, with Alexei Ramirez moving to short and maybe putting Juan Uribe at second. Or something like that. Either way, Fields is the future and they are going to move on.

Crede is an injury risk, but he's a slick fielder and he can show some power. His 30 home runs in 2006 was probably a one time thing, but if he's healthy and doesn't have his back issues, he's a 20 home run guy. His average is okay, as is his on-base percentage. He won't walk a whole lot, but he also won't strike out too terribly much.

If Crede doesn't garner any interest he could be a nice one year fix for the Indians at an incentive type price. He hit 17 home runs in his 97 games this year, so we know he can hit the ball. The problem is his health and if a team is willing to take that risk, they can go ahead and do so. The Indians will not sign him to a long term contract or anything with a large sum of money.

Edwin Encarnacion - Cincinnati Reds (Outside Possibility)
Position: Third Base (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 25, Height: 6'1, Weight: 195
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

This is a very intriguing name on the list. Edwin Encarnacion was regarded as the future at third base for the Cincinnati Reds. We know how that sometimes works out for teams. I've added him because I heard he was a name that could be on the move and at this point, any name at third base is an interesting one.

Encarnacion is pretty shaky defensively. He has yet to have a fielding percentage about .953 in his four years playing. He makes a lot of errors to say the least.

Offensively the Reds haven't gottne what they've been expecting from him. Last year he finally hit the home runs, banging 26, up 10 from his previous career high, and if you are worried about the Great American Ballpark's effect, only four more career home run at home than on the road.

His average and on base percentage are things to be concerned about. In his first two full seasons he hit .276 and .289 respectively. Last year, while his home run total went up, his average dropped to .251. His OBP didn't drop too much, but he did go from around .356 to .340 and while his walk total jumped a bit, his strikeout total did as well. The .340 OBP is certainly nothing to frown at though.

Encarnacion should be arbitrtion eligible this year for the first time, don't quote me on that one. That would give him three years till free agency, so who knows what the Reds would want.

I personally don't think they should trade him. I also don't think he'd be a natural fit for the Indians. I put him on the list, because we have to prepare for every possibility, but this one is a very rare one.

Melvin Mora - Baltimore Orioles (Outside Possibility)
Position: Third (Need), B/T: L/R
Age: 36, Height: 5'11, Weight: 180
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

The aging but reliable Melvin Mora.

Aside from 2007, Mora has knocked in 80 runs since 2004. This year and in 2004 he knocked in 100. He's good for anywhere between 15 and 25 home runs, has a good .280 some average (down from the days of his high .300 averages), but the most consistent part of Mora's game is his ability to get on base. His OBP is always going to be around the .340 mark, despite his walks and strike outs.

His days of playing in everywhere in the outfield and the infield are probably over, but his glove at third is above average.

Mora would have to be acquired via a trade and his salary would probably make him easy to get in terms of giving up players in return, that is unless Baltimore gets demanding. He is owed nine million in 2009, with a club option in 2010. He would be a nice one year stopgap to Wes Hodges at third and a veteran presence like Mora would be useful. He is from Venezuela, so it would be welcomed by countrymen Victor Martinez and Rafael Betancourt.

The money he is owed is an issue, nine million is a lot for this team. But if Baltimore takes on some of the salary, or they don't demand as much in return, it might be a feasible option.

Baltimore is obviously trying to infuse young talent. I don't know if they have anyone at third base ready to take over, but if the youth movement is definitely on, Mora could be the first to go.

Jamey Carroll - Cleveland Indians (Re-Sign)
Position: Utility (Flexible), B/T: R/R
Age: 34, Height: 5'10, Weight: 175
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Why not use Carroll as an in-house replacement?

If worse comes to worse and we can't find anyone, Jamey is a good enough player to handle the reigns for awhile. It would be a nice rotation, allowing us to keep Barfield on the roster, play him at second, and get Cabrera at short when needed. The problem is we wouldn't have a person to play third base when Carroll needs a day off.. You could use Cabrera there, or Peralta of course, or go as far as Victor Martinez (don't go there).

This would be the ultimate last resort. Jamey Carroll has been described as a "championship" utility player, and I don't think they have any intentions of starting him unless there is an injury. It isn't like he can't do it though. He hit over .300 as the starting second baseman.

The thing about re-signing him might have been a clue to that, but in the end the Indians decided to pick up Jamey Carroll's option for 2009.

We all know what Carroll brings to the table. He'll be back as the utility player next year, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Next: We've finished all the current position players. Tomorrow we'll go over the first four starting pitchers that I've listed. Paul Byrd, Ryan Dempser, Freddy Garcia, and Livan Hernandez.

As mentioned..

The Indians picked up the option on Jamey Carroll for 2009. The 2+ million they'll be paying him is really high based on utility players around the league, but he's probably one of, if not, the best bench player in the game today (Mark DeRosa doesn't count, he plays just about every day). This was one of the given moves the Indians were going to make.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Atkins, Blake, Blalock, Cantu

We continue our breakdown of the players on the offseason priority chart. Today let's look at the first batch of third baseman, the Indians most pressing need.

Garrett Atkins - Colorado Rockies (Best Case Scenario)
Position: Third Base (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 28, Height: 6'3, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Garrett Atkins was the subject of false speculation earlier in the 2008 year. The Indians need for a third baseman still exists and one of the possible players has somewhat decreased in production. Aaron Laffey should be fine so if Colorado is really still interested in Laffey, it just is a matter of the Indians being open to trading him.

I wouldn't do that though. Let's talk about Atkins. Atkins is the best case scenario out of all the offensive options the Indians have at any position. Atkins will have another year of arbitration after 2009, which makes him a two year plug in. With Wes Hodges coming through, Atkins would be a nice two year fix for this team. They won't have to rush Hodges into the spot and Atkins will hit the cover off the ball as he is in his prime years.

If you are worried about the "Coors Effect" look at this. He does have a way higher career BA at home, but he's hit one more home run away from home than he has at Coors Field. The one thing to worry is the average, but Atkins would need to supply the power.

Atkins' consistent numbers year to year are 30 doubles, 20 home runs, 100 RBI, .320 batting average. His last year was down, but his 2006 and 2007 were outstanding. At least 25 HR, 35 2B, 110 RBI, .300 Average (.329 in 2006), .360 OBP (.409 in 2006!!!).

If he can give the Tribe, 25 HR, a .300 average, at least 100 RBI and a good .340-like OBP.. I think the Indians would take that. The problem is... Can he hit right handers and can he hit away from Coors field? That's the biggest risk thaat the Indians would be taking if they made this deal.

Atkins is not a free agent though. So you would have to swing a deal. He won't cost a whole heck of a lot in arbitration, a good 6-7 million would be a decent price for the Indians.

Casey Blake - Los Angeles Dodgers (Fall Back Option)
Position: Third Base, Utility (Luxury), B/T: R/R
Age: 35, Height: 6'2, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

We all know Casey Blake by this point. Do we bring him back, do we move on?

All indications are that Casey likes the Dodgers and the Dodgers like Casey. They wouldn't be opposed to bringing him back. Great so they can pay him eight million for the next three years.

Blake would probably want a deal like that. For one maybe two at a cheaper price, the Indians should consider it, because Blake is so versatile, but you have to wonder when age will catch up to Casey and if his great numbers this year were the product of a contract year.

If we pay a decent pitcher (Laffey) and 7 million for next year, maybe 9-10 in 2010 for Atkins.. That is much more of a better move than giving Casey 8 million for three years because of the production.

Blake would be a decent fall back option. We know what he brings to the table, the clubhouse would love to have him back, but I'm sure moving on wouldn't be a bad idea.

Hank Blalock - Texas Rangers (Out of Price Range)
Position: Third and First Base (Need), B/T: L/R
Age: 28, Height: 5'11, Weight: 200
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Hank Blalock certainly has the power if he's healthy.

The problem is health and that has actually caused a shift to first base. Chris Davis was playing third and Blalock was getting the starts at first down the stretch. If the Indians brought him in, he would have to play third base.

Lately, Blalock's average has gone up, but that is with less games. He will probably hit above .250 in the .270 range. But when he put up his best years, Blalock was nearing 30 home run power. Take in mind he played in Texas.

Blalock will strike out a lot and his OBP in his good years was very good, but you just never know what your going to get this guy. He has an option in 2009 that could be picked up, 6.5 million. At that point we would have to swing a trade.

If he went to Free Agency, I'm not sure how much he would command, but I would guess it would be too much to take a chance on.

Jorge Cantu - Florida Marlins (Outside Possibility)
Position: Third Base, 2B, 3B (Need), B/T: R/R
Age: 26, Height: 6'1, Weight: 200
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

What Can-Cantu-Do-For-You?

Jorge Cantu rocked in his first full season for Tampa Bay as the second baseman. He knocked in over 110 runs and hit 28 long balls.

He fell off the map in 2006, spent most of 2007 in the minors for Cincinnati and Tampa Bay and then in 2008, he was reborn as a baseball player.

He switched to third base, hit 29 home runs with a .277 average. His average was down from that career year in 2005. His OBP was up, he walked a whole lot more, but he also struck out a whole lot more.

Cantu made 20 errors at third last year. Way better when you look at the 2005 season when he committed 12 errors in just 62 games at third. He'd be a shaky option defensively, but if he puts up the power numbers, you can't argue with that.

Cantu is a possible option, wouldn't be the best, but wouldn't be the worst. He's going into arbitration, not sure what he's due, but once again the deal will need to be involving a trade.

A trade with the stingy Marlins. Ouch...

Cantu might be on the block with Dallas McPherson pining for a big league shot. The Marlins could trade Uggla, move Cantu to second, trade Cantu, or trade Mike Jacobs and move Cantu to first. Who know's really what their plans are, but Cantu would be a possibility for the Indians.

Next: We'll dig into the last batch of third basemen, Joe Crede, Edwin Encarnacion, Melvin Mora, and also look at our own free agent, Jamey Carroll.

Hafner related news today..
  • Travis Hafner's surgery was a success and he is recovering from the 45 minute proceedure and the Indians expect him to be 100% HEALTHY by the time the 2009 Season gets underway.
  • The surgery cleaned out the shoulder joint, which was described as "chronic chargers bout about by the grind of baseball." NO structural or nerve damage was found, which is very very good news.
  • Anthony Castrovince believes Hafner will be healthy for 2009, but will he put up the numbers? I think I'm going to agree with him in saying because of our uncertainty, we need to keep Shoppach, Garko, and Martinez. If we trade someone, it should be an outfielder.
  • I think anyone would sign up for the 100 RBI. Let's hope so.
Back tomorrow for more.


Organizing the Offseason - Possible Targets: Ellis, Hairston, Uggla, Ibanez

We are officially in the name game. Welcome to the 2008 Offseason here at the Tribe Time Report. It's time to organize our plans. The first move will be to look at the names on our offseason outlook chart.

As we start to utilize the offseason chart, the first few names we will look at are all second baseman and then cover the lone outfielder on the current list.

As time goes and I make additions to the chart, I'll break those people down. But let's start with what we have.

First up at the second base position.

Mark Ellis - Oakland Athletics (Fall Back Option)
Position: Second Base (Flexible), B/T: R/R
Age: 32, Height: 5'11, Weight: 180
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Ellis is probably not going to be brought back by the penny-pinching Billy Beane. He's 32 and I think that would go against the money-ball philosophy. Let's get this out of the way. If we brought in Mark Ellis, he would be a second baseman. Elis has started played seven games at third base, but he's committed two errors and that was a few years ago.

He played gold-glove caliber second base in 2008 and a position change would not work. This would be a product of Jhonny Peralta moving to third.

Ellis put up an awful average in his 117 games in 2008. He hit .233 but got on base at a .321 clip, which is really good with a bad average. Every other year he seems to hit over .250 and then drop below it the next. His best year was in 2005 when he hit .316.

I'm not sure what Mark Ellis is going to command on the free agent market. If he comes at a cheap price and the Indians have to make that last-resort move of putting Peralta at third and bringing in a second baseman, Ellis wouldn't be a bad option. He could hit in the two hole and play excellent defense. Ellis would bring a good disciplined bat to the top of the Indians order that could get on base, his walk to strikeout ratio is good.

This would be my pick at second if we had to go down that road. There are more talented options like Brian Roberts on the trade market, but that would be price that is way too steep for the Indians to pay.

Jerry Hairston Jr. - Cincinnati Reds (In Price Range)
Position: Second Base, Utility (Luxury), B/T: R/R
Age: 33, Height: 5'10, Weight: 175
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Jerry Hairston is the definition of a super utility player. But on a team like Cincinnati, when he was healthy, played a lot of baseball. Hairston has been well-traveled these past few years after starting his career in Baltimore.

In just 80 games last year he hit .326, by far his best even in a shortened season. His career on base percentage is around .330 and he is fast.... real fast.. Hairston can steal at least 20 , even more if he's healthy in a full season. His speed would make him a good option for the bottom of the order or at the top if we need to go that route.

Hairston's numbers aren't what you want from a third baseman, especially in the American League. So I do believe he would be in that Ellis mold, start him at second base if we have to move Jhonny to third. Hairston's listed as a luxury because of his multiple positions, that obviously would be a plus.

I don't think it's an ideal fit, but Hairston would be cheap if we wanted to go the route of bringing in a few options to compete.

Dan Uggla - Florida Marlins (Short-Term Solution)
Position: Second Base (Flexible), B/T: R/R
Age: 28, Height: 5'11, Weight: 200
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

Dan Uggla.. Oh my..

Uggla won't hit for a high average, will probably strike out a lot, but he will hit a lot of long bombs.

Uggla has hit for lower averages these past two years after hitting .286 his rookie year. His OBP jumped up to .360 despite the mediocre average however. He also slugged over .500.

Uggla's power numbers would allow us to maybe move someone like Asdrubal Cabrera to third and take the hit at corner infield in terms of power numbers.

His defense is pretty poor, which I'm sure you know if you saw his barage of errors in the 2008 All-Star Game. He would take something from the center of the diamond, and form probably the worst middle infield in terms of defense in the entire MLB, but also the most powerful one with Peralta.

Uggla is not an ideal fit, unless you are enamoured with Power.. He'll also take the right price from GM Michael Hill and executive Larry Beinfest. The Marlins are real stingy when it comes to their talent and real stingy about paying them as well. They'll probably refuse to pay Uggla in arbitration and demand a very preicse return for trading him. Mark Shapiro knows and he probably will avoid this, but it is an interesting idea to look at.

Raul Ibanez - Seattle Mariners (Luxury)
Position: Outfield/Designated Hitter (Flexible), B/T: L/R
Age: 37, Height: 6'1, Weight: 210
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

You are probably wondering why, if I was going to put outfielders on this list, why would I put Raul Ibanez, an aging slugger who would be relegated to DH.

Well I have to leave open every possibility and with the news about Hafner, we need to prepare for every alternative. If something were to go wrong with Hafner, we might need a DH, MIGHT. Ibanez would be a shaky left field, but he wouldn't be the worst left field either.

Ibanez will hit for power and he can CARRY a team's offense at points in the season. We wouldn't depend on him, we shouldn't have to do depend on him to provide all the offense, which makes him a nice little addition if we were to need him.

This is less than likely, but his power numbers, close to .300 average, RBI potential, and excellent on base percentage would be a nice fit if we were to say, trade Ben Francisco, go for a power bat in the corner spot, or persue an option at DH if Hafner goes south.

I don't see it happening, but I would keep the idea in the back of your head. At least 20-100 in terms of HR and RBI these past few years. He may be getting older, but he can HIT.

Next: We'll dig into the first half of our third baseman group: Garrett Atkins, Casey Blake, Hank Blalock, and Jorge Cantu.

A few notes to pass along...

  • From Indians Prospect Insider, Tony Lastoria: Here are some official releases as far as the minor league system goes. Included are: Zach Booker, Jim Deters, Ramon Hernandez, Jason Stanford, Jason Tyner and Corteze Armstrong, who was brought on as a scout in the Indians system.
  • Tony also says that Matt McBride's move to the outfield is going well, but it is unknown if it is permanent. Adam Davis is trying to make the transition TO Catcher, a few pitchers are also pitching in the Hawaii league, check out this link or go to the organizational depth chart to see which ones are participating. Wes Hodges is ripping it up int he AFL and the Scrappers are planning to change Logo, Colors and Uniforms this offseason.
  • Travis Hafner will undergo shoulder surgery afterall. Dr. James Andrews will perform an arthoscopic and some what exploratorive surgery TODAY. Lonnie Soloff said the goal is to have Hafner 100% by the time the season goes. They don't think they will have to do any sort of reconstructive deal.
  • Yesterday, MLBTR found that Buster Olney said the Indians might just pick up Jamey Carroll's option instead. Who knows what happens here. Either way he'll be an Indian in 2009.
Back tomorrow with another breakdown.