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Corner of Carnegie and Ontario: The Blue Jays Cometh?

Corner of Carnegie and Ontario: The Blue Jays Cometh?
November 14, 2012
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The view here from the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario has me peering towards the A.L. East, while the rest of the league is focusing on the salary dump that the Miami Marlins are about to undertake. For those of you that are living under a rock, the Miami Marlins are in the process of dealing away Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yenel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Jacob Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, Anthony DeSclafani
 
…and a partridge in a pear tree.
 
My quick look at the Marlins is fairly simple. On opening day of 2012, in their brand new stadium that was largely funded by the Miami taxpayers, their starting lineup looked like this…

 

   
Reyes, Bonifacio, Ramirez, Sanchez, Infante, Buck and Johnson are gone from the starting line-up, along with their #2 starter in Buerhle, their #3 starter in Sanchez, and their closer in Heath Bell. Seriously, that’s seven of nine in their starting line-up, and most of their rotation.
 
Oh yeah, and then there’s the manager, Ozzie Guillen, who was already canned.
 
Have fun with your new stadium Miami, and while the Marlins finished 12th out of 16 teams in attendance in the National League, it’s not hard to figure out where they’ll likely finish in 2013.
 
I just don’t care enough about Miami sports to delve any further.
 
What has become interesting is the American League East. While the Toronto Blue Jays have yet to name a manager, their team just became a factor in the division with their blockbuster today. Their lineup will now likely include Adam Lind, Jose Bautista, John Buck, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Grett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus. Their starting rotation has Johnson, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.
 
I’m not sure if they are the best in the East, but with the right manager, this is a team that could really push the Yankees if everyone stays healthy. You have to wonder if the Blue Jays already have a manager in their back pocket, or if this deal was to entice someone that they were previously interested in. I can’t imagine that an announcement is going to be too far down the line.
 
Let the Hot Stove League begin…
 
The Indians appear to be interested in Jason Bay, formerly of the New York Mets, and formerly of the Boston Red Sox. I only mention that because he’s another guy that Terry Francona is familiar with, which certainly seems to play a key role with regards to the make-up of his teams and coaching staff.
 
When you mention a guy like Jason Bay, the first thing that comes to mind is a guy that hit 30+ homers in four out of five seasons from 2005-2009. He also drove in 100+ runs in each of those years as well.
 
The reality is that since 2009, he’s only hit 26 homers, and played in only 288 ballgames after a concussion in 2010, and rib injuries in 2011 and 2012 kept him from playing. He’s been injury prone, and at 34, he may have reached the end of the line with regards to productive playing days.
 
Does that sound familiar?
 
Last season, the Indians re-signed the injury-prone Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $5 million dollar, incentive-laded contract. Sizemore never played a game.
 
Is Jason Bay just Grady Sizemore 2.0, or is he a legitimate option for this offense going forward?
 
Some will say that the pressures of New York baseball may have gotten to Bay, and that may be true. Some may even say that he’s an injury waiting to happen, and that may be true as well. The fact of the matter is that Bay has already been paid his final season paycheck, and will no doubt come cheaply to whichever team ultimately signs him.
 
As of now, there are only two teams that appear interested, and that’s Boston and Cleveland. Bay says that he wants a familiar setting, so the Terry Francona-led Indians would seem to be a fit in that regard, so it’s a possibility that Bay could end up with the Indians. The question become whether or not the Indians SHOULD sign him, or leave him in the discard pile.
 
I don’t see Bay as a high upside player at all, and would only sign him if the price is right. Ideally, the price would be a minor league contract, which I don’t see happening with the Red Sox involved. Would I pay him a million bucks? Maybe, but regardless of what you think about his future, his past has to come into play.
 
I’ve already mentioned Grady Sizemore, and while I don’t think Bay is in that category with regards to seriousness of injury, the fact remains that he has missed a significant amount of time with a variety of injuries. At 34, that certainly would indicate a player that is an injury-issue, and a player that the Indians should only bring on if there isn’t any risk with regards to contract.
 
Of course, if they bring Bay on as a potential DH-candidate and part-time outfielder, the move maybe makes some more sense. I’m just not sure that Bay would be interested in a move like that. He seems to be a guy that feels like he can make an impact, and would want to play in the outfield on a regular basis.
 
Of course, these are the types of players that the Indians will focus on…these distressed properties that we get to talk about so much. Don’t be surprised if the Indians sign Bay in the coming week.
 
The Other player that the Indians seem to have a bead on is the much-mentioned Kevin Youkilis, who has managed to drum up a ton of interest after a relatively bad season. Don’t get me wrong, I like Youkilis and am a proponent of bringing him on, but it does appear that there are several teams in the game for the first/third baseman, which likely will keep the Indians out of this…especially considering some of the rumored teams.
 
The Dodgers, Phillies, White Sox, and Red Sox all are in play, which pretty much assures the price tag on Youk will be in the neighborhood of $9-$10 million. Signing the hitter as a part of a team that has a chance to get into the playoffs is a good idea. Signing a player at that sort of salary during a rebuild just isn’t the right kind of move this team needs to be making right now.
 
Youkilis has been able to drive up the price for the simple fact that there just aren’t many third base options out there. The Indians wouldn’t be looking at Youk for their third base slot, but he does give them an amazing amount of flexibility, as he would become the primary first baseman, part-time DH, and the primary replacement for Lonnie Chisenhall, should they want to platoon him, or should he get injured.
 
He certainly answers a ton of questions for the Indians going forward, but again, the price-tag for this particular team seems to be fairly high. If the Indians would address their starting rotation and still have money left over to make a move to get Youkilis, I could certainly buy in. I just don’t see that scenario coming to fruition.
 
That’s just an awful lot of money for a guy that really struggled last season. While he would definitely provide an upgrade, it’s a costly upgrade. Of course, this front office is planning on taking more risks…right?
 
I’m still fairly high on Melky Cabrera, who appears to be sitting in the background in the early stages of the hot stove league. He’s not the perfect option, as he doesn’t provide the Indians with a power stick that they covet. He’s also not the “right-handed hitter” that they need, although he is a switch hitter. His career splits against right-handed and left-handed pitching are fairly close, although he did hit lefties better last season by a sizable margin.
 
Of course, last season was a year in which he played under questionable circumstances, to say the least. I suppose it’s fair to say that he won’t pose a future problem with regards to performance enhancers, but there’s always the risk. With that said, it’s a lower risk than injury, and his play shouldn’t come down that much from his career averages.
 
Still, he’s another risk, just not one that will come with a $10 million dollar price tag.
 
The offseason still hinges on whether or not the Indians can shed some salary in trades, and open up money for free agents. They have to strike quickly, or they’ll be left on the outside looking in again.
 
Of course, the question remains whether or not they should enter the fray for a free agent should they pull off trades for Choo, Perez and Cabrera. I would say yes, although I’d have to believe I’d be in the minority.
 
It wouldn’t be the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last…that is for sure…
 
Stay warm everybody...

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

Jim
November 15, 2012 - 5:00 PM EST
If ANY team has to rebuild...then they've failed as an organization...

What they did in 2008 was close to it...but had they hit on more in that deal, they could have easily rebooted in a year...

Good front offices should be able to retool by finding the right price for players before they leave...the Indians attempted to do that in 2008 and 2009, but failed to hit on many of their deals. Whether or not they were complete failures or moderate hits is up for some conjecture, but I don't see the Indians doing anything but retooling this team.

If the right deals come along, there's no doubt that they can make this team serviceable...and truth be told...a playoff team in the Central...

and yeah...they can do it without doling out 13 million a year to a 38-year old...
Tony
November 14, 2012 - 10:16 PM EST
The Indians are not rebuilding. Whether we agree with that or not, they are not going to gut this team this offseason and trade all of their players. They are open to trading anyone, but that is simply to see where they can find the best fit or two to trade a guy or two. They absolutely know they need young, controllable Major League pitching, and that is the target if they trade one or two of Cabrera, Choo, Masterson and Perez. They are looking to add to the players here currently and are open to a trade or two of their existing players so long as they bring back Major League pitching now.
matt underwood
November 14, 2012 - 10:02 PM EST
I dont want to rebuild either - no one does. But the reality is that this team is void of talent in multiple key areas.

The FO is going to do more to hurt this team long term than make it better short term I feel. They are kidding themselves.
Jim
November 14, 2012 - 5:57 PM EST
Discollama...no way the Marlins take on Perez and his contract. Honestly, he could be HALF their seasons salary...lol...

MLB should move that team to Charlotte...such a waste in Miami...
Jim
November 14, 2012 - 5:56 PM EST
Hey guys...thanks for reading...sorry about the short piece today...will make it up over the weekend...

I appreciate all your comments...
Jim
November 14, 2012 - 5:54 PM EST
Honestly...I think the Front Office genuinely doesn't want to rebuild, and aren't planning to. I think their approach is that they can reformat this team through trades to bring the current salary structure down, then sign a decent free agent or two that has upside...and put that with some minor league deals for guys that can have positive WAR...and contend...

I really think they believe that...

So, do I think they are purposely misleading the fans?

No...
Discollama
November 14, 2012 - 3:15 PM EST
Marlins are shopping LoMo, maybe Chris Perez gets a deal done.
Tony
November 14, 2012 - 3:05 PM EST
One thing is for certain, and that is the AL East is freaking loaded. It amazes me how the American League clubs continue to strengthen themselves year after year. There are some real big dogs in the AL.....you almost wish the Indians were in the NL where they would maybe have a better shot.....though I guess the AL Central is the weakest division in baseball so it is not that bad I guess.

As for the Indians true intentions this offseason.....it is just how they operate. They share almost nothing and are very sterile with the information they provide through the media. Just the way they have always gone about things. Rumors regarding the team almost always come from the agents or the other teams they are dealing with.
Discollama
November 14, 2012 - 2:41 PM EST
I'd wouldn't be upset with a Bay signing IF he signs for no more than a 1 year $2 million contract and he clears his medical evaluations with flying colors. But signing him period runs the risk of dumping money down the drain at this point in his career and I'd much rather avoid him.

With Youk though, I'd be willing to go as high as 3/15, maybe 3/18, he can easily out produce Sizemore, and all the reasons you listed above make me feel that it might be worth taking that kind of risk on him.

I love the idea of Melky, but from the buzz that I've been hearing, it seems like the Giants may be interested in bringing him back. If that's the case then I doubt that Cabrera will sign with a team like the Indians.
Adam
November 14, 2012 - 11:15 AM EST
I think the biggest problem a lot of fans have with this team right now is how quiet the Indians have been about their intentions. I would support a rebuild, in which we trade CP, Choo, Cabrera, Masterson for young talent. I would also support going "all in" for 2013 in hopes that we could win a weak division. That's not the direction I'd personally go in, but I'd support it.

As a fan, what I don't like is not having ANY idea what direction the franchise is going in. Shapiro should make a statement and lay out the organization's plan moving forward. Obviously he doesn't need to comment on specifics, but their philosophy of keeping everyone in the dark 100% of the time has really alienated a lot of people in this town.
L.D+C.A+M.S =B.S
November 14, 2012 - 11:04 AM EST
OK - real quick.. So even though the F.O says they are not re-building you say they are. Are you saying the F.O is purposely misleading fans? Or is the reality of the situation so bad that even a half-hearted (some might say "frugal" or "calculated") attempt at strengthening the team (lets say 10 million on a couple free agents) isnt even worth the effort? Be honest here - a lot of people feel the F.O has been anything but genuine lately.
Homer
November 14, 2012 - 10:50 AM EST
Wow! I think I'm stillin shock over the mega trade that took place, talk about a shift in power.
Boston, NYY, Baltimore and to some degree TB the ball is in your court now, what are you going to do?

As for the Tribe...I think the Tribe has to go out and sign at least one or two FA OF or at least acq. one in a trade (Parra / Crisp). A cpl other names they could / should consider are Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Scott Hairston, Delmon Young, Angel Pagan and Cody Ross althought I could see a few of these guys landing deals on the up side of $8-10 M per yr.
I think the Tribe should look to move CPerez, Smith, ACab and Choo (and maybe Masterson at a later point IF they can get a Latos, Gonzalez type return now) and still try to land a cpl FA to offset the production and influx some talent into the org.
Someone else mentioned the Hunter Pence deal a day or two ago in another forum that would be a marker for the potential return on Choo, both guys have had similar production in recent yrs.
There are a number of arms the Tribe could look to snag on the FA mkt. I think it will take some time to let the mkt play out but the Tribe should look to snag a few arms returning from injury on the cheap. Maybe Daisuke Matsazaka on a one yr deal minor league deal with lots of incentives and a arm or two like Mike Pelphery returning from injury, who might bite on a minor league deal with a lot of incentive money and an option yr tagged on to it.

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