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Corner of Carnegie & Ontario: Belle tolls on All Hallow's Eve

Corner of Carnegie & Ontario: Belle tolls on All Hallow's Eve
October 31, 2012
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All Hallow’s Eve…

Most people celebrate this trick-or-treating holiday getting dressed up and either heading off to parties, or following their kids around the neighborhood collecting random candy from friends, neighbors and strangers. Houses get dressed up with pumpkins and hay bales, scare crows and gravestones, while scary music is being played from loud speakers in garages. Some folks head out to the local haunted corn maze or haunted house, to be scared by 14-year-old kids chasing after you while texting their boyfriend and girlfriends. Some of you will even seek out the most glorious of all pumpkin patches with your sleeping bags (the brave of you will just take your security blanket), waiting for the all-important arrival of the Great Pumpkin.

…and this year there is the added remnants of Hurricane Sandy that has absolutely battered the North Coast.

I go in a different direction every October 31st. Being the true Cleveland Indians’ fan that I am, there’s no hunt for the great pumpkin for me. Instead, my friends and I dress up as Albert Belle and spend the evening egging each other’s houses, then chasing each other down with our cars. In good years, if we time the skid just right, we even actually bump whoever is running away from the house with our SUV’s. In bad year’s, someone heads off to the hospital with another fantastic story of a Halloween tradition.

Clearly this is tongue-and-cheek, but there isn’t a Halloween that goes by that I don’t think of the great Albert chase of 1996. Some people have the Sopwith Camel, while we have Albert Belle.

Let’s all put our eggs and candy away while here at the Corner of Carnegie, and talk some Cleveland Indians baseball…

To trade Shin-Soo Choo, or not to, that is the question. You can talk all you want about Choo’s statistics and how good, or not good he is. The fact of the matter is that Choo is going to be a commodity that is shopped around the league. No, Choo isn’t going to be a guy that ever hits 30 homers or drives in 100 RBI, as that seems to be the requisite standard these days for a plus corner outfielder.

What Choo can do is hit anywhere in the lineup with varying degrees of success, and do it from the left-handed side of the plate. If you look at a team like the Cincinnati Reds, they could really use a left-handed hitting, top-of-the order sort of player that could really push them over the edge of being a really good team to a great one.

With the Indians, Choo is expected to be a cornerstone type of ballplayer. With a team like the Reds, he would just be another star. It would be an incredible fit. Neftali Soto is a guy that the Indians could target as a potential first base option in 2013. With Joey Votto entrenched at first base, Soto could be a no-brainer in a deal, and could be the type of bargain that the Indians would jump all over. There are also some lower level arms, like Nicholas Travieso, that could be a part of that deal that could push it over the edge.

There are certainly other teams in the mix, but all things being equal, the Reds are a familiar trade partner with the Indians, and I actually would be shocked if the Indians didn’t go in this direction. There’s no doubt that the Reds will be asking about Choo, so it could be interesting to see if something happens here. Choo and Joey Votto are also acquaintances. Choo has turned to Votto to help with regards to hitting left-handed pitching.

I do think that the option to keep Choo is also under consideration with regards to Terry Francona’s recent hire, but the Tribe would be stupid to pass up an option like this.

You also have to keep in mind the recent comments made by Choo in The Korea Times:

"I grew up winning championships since I was young and I am used to winning," the 30-year-old said. "And it's been disappointing to go through the same thing in the past three years (with the Indians missing the playoffs). I would like to play for a strong team that contends for the championship."

Personally, I can’t stand players whining like this, but such is life.  You gotta love the Scott Boras-speak. If the deal is out there, the Indians should make it.

Here’s a question for you: Would Justin Upton change his mind about coming to Cleveland now that Terry Francona is the manager? For those that don’t remember, Upton has Cleveland included in a no-trade clause in his contract. There are a myriad of reasons why that no-trade is there, but c’mon…we all know that it’s because it’s Cleveland.

Could a guy like Francona change a guy like Upton’s mind?

The reason why I ponder that very questions is because I do believe that the Diamondbacks would still be willing to deal their high-priced outfielder for the right player. Who would that right player be?

How about Asdrubal Cabrera?

It’s widely known that the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for a shortstop. Some may argue that the acquisition of Cliff Pennington may block a potential deal for a shortstop in Arizona, but I can’t believe that to be true.

Now, I have to tell you, I don’t think that this deal will happen in a million years, and if it did, the Diamondbacks certainly wouldn’t do this for a straight-up deal. However, would Arizona take a guy like Asdrubal Cabrera if you threw in a guy like Ronny Rodriguez, or Danny Salazar? What if the deal was Cabrera, Rodriguez AND Salazar?

I think the answer to that question is an easy yes. Now, Salazar would probably be a deal-breaker for me, but I wonder if I’m saying that only because I don’t think this deal would happen in a million years.

But if it did…would it be a good deal for the Indians?

The Tribe needs pitching. Of that, there is no doubt. Danny Salazar represents the one starter that could help the Indians this year. Here’s the thing though. Salazar has injury issues in the past, and while it looks like he’s turned the corner, there isn’t anything rock solid that means he’ll be a star in the bigs, or even healthy. I’d have to think that if Francona could convince Upton to come to Cleveland, and if the Rays would take Drubs, RRod and Salazar, I’d do it.

Those are a lot of ifs, but these are the types of deals the Indians really should explore going forward. Upton would be a game changer for the Tribe…if he would come here.

Of course, is he that much bigger an asset than Asdrubal? He is a better hitter at home, than on the road by a considerable margin, and saber-stats actually have the two fairly close.

That said, I’d still make that trade every time.

I’d be remised if I didn’t at least talk about the pending decisions to be made with regards to DH Travis Hafner, sinkerballer Roberto Hernandez and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. The common thinking here is that the Indians will jettison Hafner and Hernandez, while keeping Ubaldo Jimenez. I actually agree with that scenario.

The difference is that I don’t think the Indians should re-sign Hernandez. He’s done, and while you could make a case that he’s better than some of the other guys out there that could likely be had at that price, I just think that  it’s time to move in a new direction. The chances of him rebounding are slim, unless the Indians can manage to hire someone with magic powers as their pitching coordinator, who can go back in time and steal Fausto Carmona from 2007. Past that, it’s time to say goodbye.

Hafner shouldn’t even be a consideration, unless it’s as some sort of spring training advisor after he retires. I love Pronk, but he hasn’t been truly effective for an extended period of time for multiple years. He’ll be missed, but again, it’s time to move on. Sign a guy that’s healthy, or get a couple of players like Kevin Youkilis. It’s just time to move on. It would be different if Hafner could play some at first, but he just can’t. With interleague play and injury issues 100% likely, he’s just a detriment.

Ubaldo Jimenez will be signed, and because of his upside (I really don’t think that he has any, but I really believe that if I say it over-and-over again, I may be able to convince myself), I suppose it’s a worthwhile deal. Of course, he’s not going anywhere even if we don’t pick up his contract. He doesn’t have six years of service.

This will be an interesting offseason going forward, but as we speak, the Indians likely don’t have a first baseman, a DH or a left fielder, and don’t really have much money to work with.  When you combine the fact that the rotation looks like a really bad Triple A rotation, and you have problems.

Brandon McCarthy is a guy I’ve mentioned before, and I think the Indians would have a shot at him. Kevin Millwood is another guy I mentioned last week. He’d be a million dollar bargain. Would either of these guys, or even both, give the Indians a significant upgrade? They couldn’t hurt, but what are we really talking about here? Two more likely middling pitchers without an anchor on the staff.

If you read my two-parter from last week, you know that there are scenarios that could make the Indians a contender. The problem with those scenarios are that they are the perfect storm. That’s probably not the right term to use thanks to Sandy, but it is what it is.

The Indians don’t have enough valuable chips to replenish the current roster without completely decimating the lower minors. Even then, it’s still a stretch.

What’s the answer at first base? Is it Russ Canzler? Is it to move Carlos Santana? Should they trade? Is there someone who could get a call-up?

Left field is the same…with Canzler’s name being a carry-over here. You have to feel that this is a target that they’ll fill with free agency though, but will they get someone better than the Shelley Duncans and the Johnny Damons of the world?

The Indians payroll figures to be about $65 million heading into next season. That gives the Indians about $20 million in cash to spend heading into 2013. That’s enough money to do some damage, but not nearly enough to clean up this ship.

A good GM would be able to put a puzzle together to make something work, but I just don’t think that it’s going to happen in 2013. It can…but I just don’t see it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Cody Ross should be a target. I think Boston will re-sign him, but the Indians should really try to steal this kid. He would answer a ton of problems, and probably wouldn’t cost a bunch. Of course, the Red Sox could change all of that.

I could see a guy like Michael Bourn coming here as well, and in the same price range. This is the level we’re talking though, and think about it. If the Tribe has $20 million, one of these guys would take a bunch of that.

You could even throw a name like Angel Pagan is another name folks have mentioned, and he’d be a bargain, but at less than 10 homers a year, would he be an upgrade? I suppose so…but again…how much?

It’s a short jaunt on the Corner of Carnegie this week, but the Indians are in a holding pattern, and I’ve got big plans to attend to! I have to get ready to ring the yearly Halloween Belle!

Happy Halloween everybody, be safe, and watch out for roving SUV’s…

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

User Comments

October 31, 2012 - 6:57 PM EDT
I would agree that Ross and McCarthy would be nice pickups. McCarthy's been really good in Oakland the last couple years. Bourn would be nice, but I don't see him being in the Indians' price range. He would eat up practically 100% of that. Boras client who's put up some big WAR numbers, probably looking at a big payday. BJ Upton will probably be too expensive too, but I'd be down with Ross, Angel Pagan or Victorino.

I don't really think trading Cabrera and prospects for Upton would help the Indians much. They probably aren't too much different in terms of value that last couple years, though Upton has more upside. If Cabrera would get a little more dedicated to his conditioning and maintain his last 2 first-half performances throughout an entire year, he could put up some massive numbers himself though. They'd have a gaping hole at shortstop, and I think that might be tougher to fill short-term than the gaping hole in the outfield (I doubt Jhonny Peralta wants to come back, and it's not like Donald can player there), and you'd be giving up prospects for a guy who's only signed one year longer than Asdrubal. Then again, Upton seems like he's really good every other year, so he's due for a big year in 2013.
October 31, 2012 - 3:18 PM EDT
Hey guys...thanks for the comments as always...

Per the Diamondbacks, I was basing my deal for Cabrera with regards to Ken Rosenthal's comments...

Rosenthal believes that Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton and Gerardo Parra will make up the D’Backs starting outfield in 2013 and Upton will be traded for either a starting pitcher or a long-term answer at shortstop. The Indians aren't going to deal them a starter (UBALDO!!!!!), so, I figured Asdrubal would be a potential long-term answer, and Salazar can give them some capital to deal a couple of young starters for an established guy...

Just throwing darts...I do like the idea of dealing Drubs for two of their young starters though...if they are willing to go that route, but I do agree with Seth that getting two top prospects for Cabrera isn't likely...and I don't know that I deal him for one that isn't ready right now...although I might...
October 31, 2012 - 3:14 PM EDT
I read the article as well MyTribe, and not sure if that's him softening his stance, or covering his bases.

I agree with the assessment that the Tribe should go after some of Arizona's starters though.
October 31, 2012 - 2:23 PM EDT
Carrera and Canzler with Fedroff waiting in the wings in the minors should be a significant upgrade over Duncan, Cunningham and Damon in left field last year.
October 31, 2012 - 2:21 PM EDT
The korea comment is slightly out of context, later in that same article Choo softens his tone considerably by saying...

Choo insisted "the Indians also have a wealth of young talent and they may only be a few moves away from becoming a contending team". Choo said, however, "he doesn't know whether he will be a part of the Indians' future".

The Reds trade does sound interesting. However, why not move Cabrera to first and start trying out our plethora of minor league shortstop options, talent deep enough that Lindor would be a third or fourth option right now.

If you study Cabrera's 9 first half web gems in 2011, virtually every one was the type of play a talented first baseman would make on poor throws or hot shots hit his way.

In other words, they were less about range and more about acrobatic and balance related skills.
Rocky 55
October 31, 2012 - 1:59 PM EDT
Couple of things. Don't know why AZ would be interested in Salazar as they have 4-5 better young pitchers n heir system who could or did contribute in MLB. Not that big of an Upton fan anyway. Get some of those pitchers from AZ. Ditto Cincinnati. Stephenson or even Corcino in a Choo trade.

+1 on Cody Ross, especially if Choo is traded.
matt underwood
October 31, 2012 - 10:53 AM EDT
cody ross should have been a target last year.

no point in signing players just to sign players like the indians seem to do every year; only to have them not be on the team at the end of the year. this team cannot compete in this division as it is currently constructed - i don't see major changes coming so anything changes either. the window has slammed shut. i just hope the FO is not is such denial they start to deal what little resources they have in the lower levels just to get some warm bodies. this team will quickly turn into the astros of the AL... err, the astros

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