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Tribe Happenings: A realistic assessment of the Indians needs

Tribe Happenings: A realistic assessment of the Indians needs
Alex Rios (Photo: AP)
November 3, 2014
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Some news, notes and thoughts from my Indians notebook…

Assessing the Indians needs

With the offseason officially here, the Indians can now start their offseason journey to find ways to improve the roster for next season. They will surely sign several non-roster players to minor league deals with an invite to Major League spring training in order to give them some depth, but who they pick up as on a guaranteed deal to help out the Major League roster is still somewhat of a mystery.

When looking at the Indians roster and trying to assess where their needs are, here is how the four areas of the team stacks up:

1. Starting pitching: The starting pitching was a big problem in the first half of the season, but the five-man rotation of Corey KluberCarlos CarrascoDanny SalazarTrevor Bauer and T.J. House that settled in over the second half of the season ranking 2nd in all of baseball in ERA (2.95), 1st in xFIP (3.02) and 1st in WAR (11.0).

2. Relief pitching: The Indians bullpen was a solid unit all season ranking 7th in all of baseball in ERA (3.12), 5th in xFIP (3.48) and 15th in WAR (3.1). They also ranked 5th in innings pitched (513.1) and 4th in blown saves (22).

3. Offense: I have already written in depth a few weeks ago how the Indians offense was not as bad as so many think it was. Offense is down league-wide, and in comparison to the rest of the league they were a top 10-13 offense in baseball last season.

4. Defense: By contrast, the Indians were dead last in baseball ranking 30th in fielding percentage (.981), 30th in defensive runs saved (-75) and 29th in UZR/150 (-12.3).

Now that we have established where the Indians strengths and weaknesses are, let’s take a look at each unit in more detail and what the Indians may do to help that unit.

The Starting Pitching

When you look at those four areas of the team, it is clear that the strength of the team going into next season is their starting pitching. That is a great strength to have as it is often the force which guides a team through the mine field of a 162-game season and into the playoffs, though of course injuries and unexpected poor performances along the way can change things. This is why even though their starting pitching is a strength they will probably look to add some starting pitching depth this offseason.

The Indians still consider Zach McAllister as a starter and will go into spring training with him as the sixth man in the rotation to build him up and prepare him to start the season in the rotation in the event one of their main five starters gets hurt in the spring. If they are fortunate to remain healthy, then he should get the Carrasco treatment of this past season and open the season in the bullpen as a long man and extra starter because he is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors unless he is put on and clears waivers (he wouldn’t clear).

The Indians also have Josh Tomlin on hand. Provided everyone is healthy, he is set to be the Indians seventh starting pitching option and open the season at Triple-A Columbus as a Major League starting arm that can contribute if a need arises. As I have noted in previous pieces, he has options remaining and shouldn’t cost too much in salary arbitration, so he offers the Indians a decent depth option from which to pull from in the minors.

Most teams don’t have the kind of pitching depth the Indians have one through seven, but the Indians know as well as anyone that they are an injury or poor performance or two away from a very thin rotation. This is why we will probably see them make two or three minor league signings along the lines of what they did with Scott Kazmir and Aaron Harang the past few offseasons to bring in some potential depth to the rotation and give them eight or nine legit options for the starting rotation in spring training.

The Bullpen

The bullpen was also a pretty solid unit last season; though it is clear that they could use another late inning pen arm. Some of the late season failings of the bullpen with all of the blown saves could be related to the overuse in the first half when the rotation really struggled, so the hope is that with a more consistent rotation next season that manager Terry Francona won’t have to overuse his top arms Cody AllenBryan Shaw and Marc Rzepczynski like he did last season.

But even if that trio manages to stay strong all season, it is clear the Indians need another arm to throw into the regular late inning rotation. Think back to their playoff season in 2013 when they had all three of Allen, Shaw and Joe Smith available to pitch any time before the ninth inning, but this season the only truly reliable available right-handed arm was Shaw because Allen was in the closer’s role, Smith left as a free agent and no other right-hander stepped up as a long term solution. Yes, Scott Atchison surprised and did well, but he’s not an arm you want to rely on next season pitching regularly in the seventh and eighth inning. His value is as a utility guy who can pitch in all roles and do a solid job.

This is where I think the Indians will look to add a piece this offseason. It won’t be a headline making move, and as one of their top pickups it will probably be shunned and ridiculed, but adding a right-handed pen arm to the late inning mix would be a smart move which would help shorten games. We already saw this past season how important the trio of Kelvin HerreraWade Davis and Greg Holland was for the Royals as lock down late inning guys. Imagine the Indians rotation with a trio of such arms at the backend of the bullpen along with their trio of nice lefty options in Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett. That’s a pretty formidable pitching staff, and a deep bullpen that would give Francona a lot of options late in games.

The Indians went the free agent route to try and fill their late inning bullpen role last offseason, picking up John Axford. Proven and reliable setup men are hard to acquire via free agency as they generally cost a three year deal to sign and a good chunk of change, something that is outside of the Indians comfort zone – and rightfully so. One thing they could do is sign a reliever on a one year deal similar to Axford last year to fill the closer role and push Allen back into the more important late inning setup role; however, I think they will first look to find a controllable, proven right-handed setup man in a trade. It may be a stand alone trade, or, like with the Bauer trade that also netted Shaw, it may be as a secondary piece in a deal where they acquire a starting pitcher or bat for the lineup.

The Offense

The entire Indians lineup from last season is under the Indians control for next season. Michael BournNick SwisherCarlos SantanaMichael BrantleyJason KipnisYan Gomes and David Murphy all have guaranteed contracts for next season and/or are in the midst of long term deals. The other two regulars are Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez, though Chisenhall is up for salary arbitration for the first time this offseason so his cost will go up.

With that in mind, there is not any room to add an everyday player unless the Indians move one of the players listed above. For different reasons, all of those players are unlikely to be dealt, be it as they are bona fide core members of the team or have contracts that are too difficult to move. But Chisenhall and Murphy are two players they could trade or manage their usage on the roster which may provide them the opportunity to pick up a bat that could be inserted into the lineup pretty regularly.

One thing to note is that the Indians like their internal options to fill third base and right field in the foreseeable future. At third base they have Giovanny Urshela ready to help them at some point next season, and Chisenhall still may end up the solution there. In right field the Indians believe that any of Carlos MoncriefTyler Naquin and James Ramsey could be everyday solutions for them by the end of next season, plus they have Bradley Zimmer moving fast and he could make it to the big leagues by sometime in 2016.

Knowing that, the Indians have the option of just going with Chisenhall and Murphy at their respective positions for one more season. They are solid stop gap options at each position and would allow the Indians the flexibility with the roster in order to allow themselves time to let things shake out with Urshela, Moncrief, Naquin and Ramsey next season. This is the same thing with Ramirez at shortstop where he affords them flexibility with managing when Francisco Lindor debuts in the big leagues and takes over the shortstop duties full time.

But the Indians could use a jolt to the lineup. Even with their surprising success offensively last season, anyone who watched them play on a daily basis knows they really struggled against left-handed pitching and could use a little more power and production from the right side of the batter’s box. Ryan Raburn is still on hand and expected to be on the bench, and Mike Aviles and Roberto Perez are right-handed hitters that are also expected to be a part of the bench, but the Indians could use another right-handed bat with some power to throw into the mix.

Francona has sided with an eight-man bullpen for most of his two-year tenure with the Indians, which means that only three players are on the bench. As you can see, fitting in a player on the bench is almost as hard as fitting one into the starting lineup. This is why if the Indians are able to change the dynamic of their offense some by adding a productive right-handed bat, we could see one of Chisenhall or Murphy traded, or even see Raburn released.

Who that bat may be remains to be seen, but I can tell you it won’t be Nelson CruzVictor Martinez or anyone else of that ilk. It will be more of the complementary variety and someone who may accept a more reduced role or someone looking to re-establish their market value.

Alex Rios is someone who interests me as such a player as he is a right-handed bat that would complement the lineup as a guy they are not relying on, but someone who may have a productive year left in his bat and also someone who can add some athleticism and a little speed to the lineup and outfield. He will be 34-years old next season and his performance has been in decline, but he is someone who probably can be signed to a one year deal for under $10 million, which would be right up the Indians alley.

Mike Morse is another guy who interests me. He’s more of a DH and someone who you really don’t want playing in the field, but the bat is interesting and productive. He will be 33-years old next season and is probably looking for a full-time playing opportunity and multi-year deal, which may make him a tougher fit for the Indians. Ryan Ludwick will also surely be on the Indians radar, but he is someone I really can’t get behind unless they are bringing him in on a minor league deal only. Also, on the trade front, someone like Scott Van Slyke could be an interesting pickup, but may not come cheap.

The Defense

Moves to improve the defense don’t make headlines. Defense is just not as sexy as offense. It is kind of like teams passing on the quarterback, running back or wide receiver with a first round pick to draft an offensive lineman. We all know it is important, but we like the big splashes.

It will be interesting to see how the Indians improve their defense this offseason. Perhaps they bring back the entire lineup as-is, which would surely be better than the defensive atrocity they were the first half of last season. The in-season moves to replace Swisher at first base with Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop with Ramirez bumped up their play signficantly defensively. I have no data to support it as Fangraphs does not offer up splits for their defensive metrics, but the eye test showed a better team defensively over the final two to three months of the season. They may have only gone from awful to slightly below average to average, but that's a big improvement nonetheless.

With Ramirez and Lindor at shortstop next season, that is a huge improvement defensively right there over the departed Cabrera. The hope is also that Kipnis will be in better shape and 100% healthy, which could bump his defensive play back to somewhere between his 2012 and 2013 levels - which would be a notable improvement. Santana really settled in at first base and proved to be at worst an adequate fielder there and even flashed above average ability, which would be an improvement. And for as shaky as Chisenhall was all season at the hot corner, he played a little better there in the second half. When looking at it, it can be argued that the Indians already made their offseason defensive improvements by making them at the midpoint of last season.

But I expect the Indians will continue to look for a way to improve the defense in a way that does not affect the timetable for Urshela, Lindor, Naquin, Ramsey and Moncrief. All of those players are plus to elite defenders at their positions, so the Indians have internal solutions to aide their defensive woes. But considering none of them are ready to contribute with their bats at the outset of next season, we could see them make a move to find a stop gap solution to shore up their defense at third base or right field.

Finding a solution at third base is tough. Free agents like Chase Headley who would be an improvement over Chisenhall will be costly as they want multi-year deals, so they really don’t fit. The trade market could be an option as David Freese may be on the market and the Angels are looking to trade him and his right-handed bat and defense at third base would be a welcomed addition. Most importantly, he is in the final year of arbitration and would be a free agent after the 2015 season, so he would fit that need as a one-year stop gap option at third base.

The outfield may be a little easier to find potential solutions. As mentioned above, Rios would not only be a good fit offensively but provided he does sign a one year deal as expected he would be a fit with the contract as well. His defense has eroded over the years, but he would be better or at worst on par with Murphy as a defender. Morse and Ludwick would hurt the Indians defensively.

A dark horse to me might be Emilio Bonifacio. He is a switch-hitter, plays good defense and is very versatile, so I could see him as a solution. In fact, that versatility where he can play third base, right field and almost anywhere on the diamond and play them well makes him a good fit on the roster; however, they already have Aviles in a similar role and he may command a multi-year deal in free agency.

Bottom Line

Unless something falls into the Indians laps or something surprising comes up this offseason, I expect Chisenhall to open the season as the Indians third baseman. With Urshela waiting in the wings, the Indians have a potential very worthy option to replace Chisenhall at third base if he gets hurt or his defensive struggles continue.

The only possibility I see is the Indians making a trade with the Angles for Freese, which would free up Chisenhall to play more of a corner utility role as a regular player in the lineup but rotating at third base, third base, designated hitter and even right field.  To acquire someone like Freese the Indians likely would have to trade Murphy in order to fit Chisenhall into the lineup.

I think adding a bat in the outfield is a more likely course of action as the pickup of Rios could move Murphy to more of a platoon or fourth outfielder role. And with the minor league options at their disposal at some point next season, they would have some good depth there.

The big move, or the move I see most likely to occur, is in the backend of the bullpen. They should go out and acquire an as-yet identified right-handed setup man in a trade, or they could go out and sign a closer to a one year deal to move Allen back into the setup role. Either way, they should add a late inning pen arm.

In the end, I predict a rather quiet offseason for the Indians. Sure, they may be tied to a few big names in the free agent and trade market, but that will be more them doing their due diligence to check into the players and how they fit with their contract demands or what their current teams wants in exchange in a trade. Outside of a few intriguing minor league starting pitching signings for depth, a late inning bullpen arm and maybe a bat like Rios, Van Slyke or Freese, that should be about it for offseason moves.

The improvement will need to come from within. We already saw that in the second half of last season as the changes to the makeup of the rotation and infield defense made them a more consistent and better team in the second half. Perhaps with a few minor moves along with some improved play by some of their core players who had down seasons this past season it is what gets them over the hump. Those internal improvements probably carry more weight than any one free agent signing they could make.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

November 7, 2014 - 10:21 AM EST
Joseph, it's just a realistic expectation. Nothing in this team's history shows how they have ever been in on the top free agent bats or pitchers. And with poor revenues from attendance and TV, there is not a lot of wiggle room in the payroll to add a big contract. I'd love to see the Indians go out and sign Nelson Cruz. But that kind of player signing has never and is never going to happen. I resigned myself to that fact years ago, so I am no longer bothered by it. Besides, free agency is a rather poor way to add players as more often than not the big contracts explode in the face of the team while the the smaller, mid-level signings are what truly helps teams.

Also, again, the offense was not the Indians biggest problem last year. In comparison to what other teams around the game scored last year, the Indians were up there. Offense is down in baseball. So we get a lot of those 2-3 run games from teams. The Indians biggest problem, by far, was their defense. I believe they have solutions in house to fix most of their defensive and offensive woes.....but they don't have an in house solution to fix their backend pen issue and also a right-handed bat to help in the outfield. That's why I expect them to go out and get a good right-handed bullpen arm and a solid right-handed bat along the lines of Rios, Morse, Van Slyke, Byrd, etc to add to right field.
November 7, 2014 - 4:07 AM EST
This is really depressing stuff. The players that could really have an impact and help us are always labeled too expensive. We hear this monotonous disclaimer year after year and us fans are totally disgusted with it. The players that are mentioned that we might go after...are players who are either too old, non-productive or failed prospects. Bottom line...We need an impact hitter for the middle of the lineup or we are doomed to continue to score only 1 or 2 runs a game and waste good pitching when we are fortunate enough to get it. The players we need are Cruz,Cespedes or Donaldson...if not at least take a gamble on Rios or Morse. Anything else is just nonsense to throw at us fans.
November 5, 2014 - 11:02 AM EST
Yes, Marlon Byrd could definitely be a fit for the Tribe. I see at least two possible paths: 1) look for a one-year stopgap veteran who fits the bill (RH hitter, can hit around the middle of the order, can play outfield, DH or maybe even 3B...Byrd, Freese and Hart types); or 2) package together some guys to get a young "building block" (a la the trade for Sandy Alomar 25 years ago...). Myself, I get more excited about the latter direction, but not sure that guy is out there. Would the Astros ever want to give up a guy like Springer?

I would love for CA to do something daring and take a chance w upside potential (and no, I am not talking Tyler Holt!), but there's probably two chances of that happening...I am preparing for a rather low-key Tribe winter...
November 4, 2014 - 11:29 AM EST
John, thanks. Holt is more of a depth guy. He is a fringe ML player. Unless an injury crops up in the outfield this spring, he very likely opens at AAA and is up and down all year as that "extra" outfielder who comes up and fills in and doesn't play much. His role could potentially grow but he's going to have to show a much better approach as he was awful in his first exposure last year with the Indians with a 3.9% walk rate and 32.9% strikeout rate. I don't care how good he is as a runner and defender, you can't have that kind of bat coming off the bench. I would think he would improve those numbers in a second go around, but unfortunately, for fringe prospects like him, you sometimes only get one chance to make a first impression.

Walters is someone I think could be more in the mix later in the year. He has all sorts of issues though with the bat where they are pretty well resigned to the fact that he needs to go to AAA to work on them. SO unless Aviles or Ramirez gets hurt this spring, he's going to Columbus. He has a lot of power, but is easy to pitch to right now and is going to do more harm than good until he gets that swing/approach ironed out a little more. I could see him coming up later in the year and definitely helping. The reason he was not included in the writeup is because he does not profile as an everyday player at a position. He's more of a super utility guy in the making, which is just fine considering his versatility and all that easy power.....he just needs to be a little more consistent with that approach so he is not so easy to get out.
John L.
November 4, 2014 - 11:20 AM EST
Tony, good stuff. Question though, you mentioned prospects helping towards the end of the season with potential to take on everyday roles in 2016 such as SS Francisco Lindor, 3B Giovanni Urshela, & OF's Tyler Naquin, James Ramsey, Bradley Zimmer, & Carlos Moncrief but why no mention of OF Tyler Holt & UT Zach Walters? Walters, I think has a chance to make the team (especially if they don't add anymore position players and/or release Ryan Raburn). He hits lefties well and has power. He could potentially platoon with David Murphy in right or Lonnie Chisenhall at 3rd (I know Walters isn't known for his defense at 3rd base but both Chisenhall and Mike Aviles aren't that solid at the hot corner either, so why not?), or Walters could even take some at bats away from Nick Swisher at DH.

Even given Francona's history of keeping an 8 man 'pen I think the final roster spot as it stands today comes down to having CC Lee as the 8th man out of the 'pen(the other 7 being Allen, Shaw, Crockett, Atchison, Rzepczynski, Hagadone, & McAllister) or having Walters be the 4th man on the bench.
November 4, 2014 - 10:29 AM EST
Good find on Bonifacio. That guy kills lefties! Wonder what he'd cost? If he can play 3B adequately I'd go ahead and do the Chiz to RF move right away & get him used to it while we had a guy who could take up the slack. Is a 3 yr. contract to long? Maybe 2 yrs. with an option.
November 4, 2014 - 9:13 AM EST
Per Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are open to trading anyone on their roster, including Marlon Byrd. That's a guy who would be right at the top of my list or realistic possibilities for the Indians. Right-handed bat, some power and production, and only costs 1 year guaranteed for $8M - though has a vesting option for 2016.....which is fine I guess if he contributes and performs as expected in 2015.
November 4, 2014 - 8:52 AM EST
I should note that the offseason outlook could change dramatically if the Indians were able to trade Bourn. He would free up a lot of roster flexibility in 2015 and beyond with their young players not yet in Cleveland and the guys currently in Cleveland. But it would also free them up roster-wise and financially to go out and potentially make a decent splash in the FA/trade market.
November 4, 2014 - 8:32 AM EST
Aguilar will be a depth bat. At the moment there is nowhere to play him. With Santana at 1B and Swisher at DH, he's going to be a depth guy at Triple-A on call if a need arises because Santana or Swisher are hurt. He's not really a bench option right now.....but with a good showing in Cleveland next year whenever he gets a chance perhaps he becomes a bench/platoon option for them in 2016.
November 4, 2014 - 8:08 AM EST
Why the hell acquire David Freese? This guy is really no different from Lonnie Chisenhall; Freese is not a defensive upgrade. I can't believe the hate on Lonnie Chisenhall. The guy is a good young player entering his physical prime. Indians fans rag on Chisenhall's poor start and act like the first two months never happened. The guy is a good hitter has defensive tools (can play 3B and probably corner OF) and is CHEAP.

I've never really been a Chisenhall fan, but he is far undervalued by Indians fans.
Ron Vollmar
November 4, 2014 - 7:32 AM EST
Where does Jesus Aguilar fit in the 2015, Indians plans?
November 3, 2014 - 10:15 PM EST
Good article Tony.

While I think the FA's mentioned in the article and even in the comments make sense as far as filling needs and fitting within the payroll and future plan, I still expect most of our improvements to come via trade this year. While I don't expect blockbuster type deals, I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility to see us involved in trade talks for some of the more coveted players this winter. We have a window of contention that exists right now and it could disappear by the time we are able to rid ourselves of the Bourn and Swisher contracts. We have more depth in our minor league system than we have had in quite a few years (by the way,ESPN had us ranked the 15th best farm system in baseball in a recent insider article). Regardless of whether or not it is a major trade we're looking at, we are going to need to move some of that depth at some point either this season or next, and there are definitely a number of guys rumored to be available right now that could push us over the edge. I try my best to be realistic about what to expect in the offseason, but I have a feeling we will at least be entertained with more excitement this winter than most people think. Whether it be actual deals or just rumors, I expect us to be busy.

On a different note, who are some of the FA options for us as far as starting pitching is concerned? That is the one area that I know will be covered via FA, and now that Callaway has proven himself to be a master of his craft, it is actually one of the more exciting parts of the offseason for me. Who is the next reclamation project for Callaway to tune up? There are always some guys with high upside who end up signing for league minimum or accepting a minor league deal. Brandon Morrow was mentioned by someone, but despite how much I would love to sign him, he will end up being too costly and his injury history presents quite a risk for a team with limited resources like us. Who is out there though?
November 3, 2014 - 10:14 PM EST
Add Corey Hart to the list as a guy I could see the Indians taking a look at....they have had interest in him in the past. I'd only be interested on a minor league deal though.

This is a good team. Not much, if anything, really different about this team than the Giants and Royals. Those two teams just played better defense and had a stronger backend of the pen. The Indians rotation is better than theirs though. Should be interesting to see if they have health how this team pitches next year. They are the envy of a lot of teams right now.

And I don't subscribe to the belief of the "if they don't get a bat they will suck" crowd. As I have said several times, sure, they can use another bat to boost the offense. What team wouldn't. But when you look at their team from this past season they did enough offensively to was the defense and late inning relief that ultimately let them down. Get me a late inning pen arm to shore up the bullpen and a RHed bat with good platoon splits against lefties....and I am satisfied. Satisfied only because I understand that the guys we would all want to be gone just can't be traded right now.
November 3, 2014 - 8:57 PM EST
How about Cory Hart he had a rough year but could have a bounce back year and could be cheap.
November 3, 2014 - 8:48 PM EST
Jeff the fact that the rox offered him 15.3 QO and he would be a fool to not take it. For the time he played on turf his age and no DH except for 10 games a year, makes me wonder if the new management team in denver has lost their mind. and at 15.3 million they can keep him good luck rox!!!
Jeff P
November 3, 2014 - 8:36 PM EST
Cuddyer shockingly received a qualifying offer from the Rockies. He'll probably be the first guy ever to accept one, coming off a season he played all of 49 games and turning 36. As for Tony's take, I agree for the most part. Offense is scarce these days and the logical way to improve the team is defense and adding back end bullpen depth. The Angels are looking to deal Freese, and need pen help. Would CC Lee and another reliever reasonably close(Soto, Armstrong) be enough? After he got through his wrist injury last year his numbers were mich better, and defensively he's a huge upgrade. Rios signed with Boras, so I think the chance of him signing a pillow contract here diminished greatly with that. Ultimately, I also believe true offensive improvement will come from within. I do think we could see a midling trade for a guy like Freese, maybe even deal Lonnie for pen help and possibly a prospect. I also believe we could find a taker for Murphy in a pure salary dump move
November 3, 2014 - 7:59 PM EST
tony as for zac mac i do think he would be wise to emphasize his off season work outs to work on adding 1 or 2 mph to his heater and work on a second pitch that way if by may 15th we may have a better picture whetner wade davis reduex is feasible. i still like the idea of mike cuddyer but he may be a lil outof the price range i thought and someone may guatrantee more years versus option years but I would kick the tiires at the winter meetings in san diego to see what his agent thinks is th emoney committment and years
Teddy Roos
November 3, 2014 - 7:50 PM EST
You can spin this team any way you want. The bottom line is, while KC, Det, Chi and even Minn continue to try and get better, the Tribe and their inept GM will continue to sit on their hands and tell us how close we are. They'll continue to get media types to tell us the team wasn't nearly as bad as we all thought. The FAs Antonetti will be looking for wont be known until February. That's when the bottom feeders are available.
November 3, 2014 - 7:43 PM EST
Joseph, read the linked article under the bullet point for the offense. As I noted, while I agree the offense was frustrating.....offense as a whole is frustrating throughout baseball. The Indians offense was not the true problem as about 18-20 teams were actually worse offensively. It was their league worst defense, poor first half starting rotation and all the blown saves which ultimately did them in. The offense has its hand in losses, but it was arguably a strength of the team. I mean, they were better offensively than the two World Series teams....but those teams made it to the postseason because of their bullpens and defense in addition to a solid offense and good starting rotation.

McAllister may very well end up as a pen arm later in the year, but going into next season he is still a starter. Tons more value there, and even if he were a full time reliever now he could not be relied upon going into the season to fill a backend pen need. They need to go outside the organization for that guy.
November 3, 2014 - 7:40 PM EST
Nice article Tony. I think this idea of a RH power hitter is a fantasy. If anyone wants to buy 10,000 season tickets then maybe it will happen but not now. For the first time I see a potential transaction posted that I can get behind. Homer proposed signing Emilio Bonafacio and I like his speed, defense and versatility and RH hitting splits. No power but can play all five positions where there is a LH hitter who could use a platoon or rest. I don't think Homer is right about the price but he could be in the Tribe's budget particularly if they can trade Murphy and/or Aviles at July. When it comes to power, I think the Indians have to hope Swisher, Raburn and Kipnis produce because that's what they have and can afford.
November 3, 2014 - 6:51 PM EST
McAllister is the arm for the pen.
November 3, 2014 - 6:08 PM EST
Thanks Tony!

I agree that the starters look good, the bullpen needs another late-inning arm (RH), and the lineup need a right-handed hitter. The Tribe was 14th out of 15 teams in OPS against LH pitching last year (the Tigers were first btw). That's not good enough. *Maybe* Swisher and Raburn can bounce back and provide some punch from the right side, but I'm not very optimistic about that. Notably missing from this article is Mr. Jesus Aguilar. I'm not sure how or where, but I for one think its possible that we could see him come on as an impact bat next year.

Re other RH hitters, I'm not a fan of Alex Rios, Morse or Bonifacio, but do kinda like the idea of Freese.

Mainly, while I do think that there are some talented players coming up in the next few years and that we should give them every possible chance to succeed, I hope that Antonetti is more aggressive then you are expecting...
November 3, 2014 - 5:31 PM EST
Your comment about the offense being not so bad is puzzling. Did you see how many times we wasted good pitching by managing only 1 or 2 runs a game? And the comment about not being able to get Cruz or Martinez is troubling and disheartening. It plays right into the cheap, inept Front Office's mantra that we hear year after year. The players you mention who are coming back (Swisher,Murphy,Chisenhall) cannot hit. They are a burden to the lineup. We need an impact player not any more complimentary players like you alluded to. Cruz,Cespedes or Donaldson would go a long way in boosting this unproductive lineupand getting us possibly to post season play.
November 3, 2014 - 3:29 PM EST
Some roster moves....

JB Shuck was claimed by the WSox off waivers
Chris Gimenez out righted off 40 man roster
Tyler Cloyd resigned to minor league deal with ST invite
November 3, 2014 - 3:29 PM EST
I like to see the Indians pursue Hochevar and Santos for the back end of the bullpen. Brandon Morrow could be a pitcher to add to the starting rotation.
November 3, 2014 - 3:15 PM EST
There is some speculation that Addison Reed (DBax) and / or Ryan Cook (A's) could be traded. That's two bullpen arms I think would make good adds for the Tribe.

A few moves Id like to see...
Trade David Murphy for a minor league prospect
Trade Mike Aviles for a minor league prospect.
Sign Alex Rios 2yrs/ $18M (w/option)
Sign KRod for 2yrs/ $15M (w/option)
Sign Emilio Bonificio 2yrs/ $6M (w/option)

Moves I think we could see...
Trading for David Freese
Trading for Scott Van Slyke
Canadian Joe
November 3, 2014 - 2:19 PM EST
Still like Van Slyke. Then like Urshela and Lindor to season for a month or two. All the problems could be answered by June. Rios, Ludwick are on the down slope. Morse wants too much money. A FA signing for 3B will not happen. We are only these few moves away.

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