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Tribe Happenings: Indians have a new, revised approach

Tribe Happenings: Indians have a new, revised approach
November 5, 2012
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Some news, notes, and thoughts from my Indians notebook…

Note, part one of Tribe Happenings posted yesterday and discussed the Rogers-Aviles-Gomes trade along with all the coaching and roster decisions the Indians made over the past week.

A new direction

The offseason is officially here.

Yes, the Indians season ended back on October 3rd, which is a little over one month ago today. But they like the other 20 teams in Major League Baseball that did not make the playoffs had to sit and wait until the World Series ended before they could officially start making moves this offseason. With the Giants finishing off a sweep of the Tigers last Sunday night, the hot stove season has officially opened.

And with that brings the start of one of the most interesting and crucial offseason in the Indians’ recent history.

The Indians are coming off of a disappointing 2012 campaign where they finished 68-94 and in fourth place in the AL Central Division, and marked the third time in the last four seasons that they lost at least 93 games. In response to the disappointing season, the Indians took their first step toward a productive offseason by firing manager Manny Acta at the end of September and then hired the highly regarded Terry Francona as manager just eleven days later.

With their coaching staff for the 2013 season now in place, the focus now shifts to the hardest part for any organization: building the roster.

Over the year the offseason has not been kind to the Indians, especially since President Mark Shapiro took over the team as general manager after the 2001 season. In almost every offseason since then the Indians have underwhelmed the fan base with bargain free agent signings and minor trades. The only exception to this being the offseason after the 2008 season when they made several significant trades and signed Kerry Wood to a two year $20 million deal in free agency.

This offseason the Indians have a chance to correct a lot of past mistakes, and considering that their decision-making process of the past of being extremely risk averse has proven to be flawed, now is the time to make significant changes in their process.

The entire organization got together in mid-October out in Arizona like they do every year to talk about their process and plan for the upcoming year, but this year’s organizational meetings in the land of the sun were much different than those of years past. With a new manager in tow from a very successful Red Sox organization, Francona offered some insight in the meetings and challenged some of the philosophies the organization has lived by for so long. Also, with a front office that is now squarely on the hot seat, there is more motivation to adapt and accept change because if this team continues to struggle the next year or so there will be a lot of people in the decision-making process that are out of a job.

The entire way the organization operates is not going to change in one offseason. They are not suddenly going to be major players in free agency, take on large contracts in trades, or give mega contract extensions to their own players. Their general way of operating is really never going to change. Whether Larry Dolan is the owner or Dan Gilbert is the owner, the team is always going to be on the outside looking in when it comes to doling out contracts for the big name players.

But what the Indians can do is modify their organizational philosophy and adapt their strategies to an ever changing market. They have been slow to make these changes in the past, but the bad taste left in the mouths of everyone after one of the worst seasons in the franchise’s history has a lot of people motivated to finally make these changes.

And they have been made. Now, it is time to see if the Indians will truly adhere to this new plan.

From what I have heard, the Indians will continue to operate with a risk averse approach when it comes to long term contracts, but they will no longer be so drastically risk averse and will now be more aggressive on the one and two year deals, and even be more open to some three year deals.  They will take more calculated risks than they have in the past.

With Francona in the organization the front office can listen to him and learn things, and they have. He comes from a pretty smart organization in Boston that for all the money they have and big deals they make, they draft and develop talent as good as anybody and often find good value in the free agent and trade front.  Sure, they go bonkers at times for the likes of Carl CrawfordAdrian Gonzalez and others, but they have also made good small budget signings over the past few years with the likes of Cody RossDavid Ortiz, and others.

The Indians know that they have a core of internal starting pitching options that are nothing more than four and five starters. They know – but will never say it – that Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez are not front of the rotation starters and that they fit best as a third starter (if that) on a championship caliber team.

With that in mind, their number one focus this offseason will be to add some meat to the starting rotation. They will not be able to find a top of the rotation starter in the free agent or trade market, but if they can add a couple of pitchers that can haul innings and be solid middle of the rotation starters, then a rotation with three or four dependable middle of the rotation starters is a whole heck of a lot better than a rotation with almost all back of the rotation starters like they had in 2012.

They like the bullpen a lot and think they have a lot of depth there, and there are lots of good arms coming from a minor league system which has churned out some top level bullpen arms of late. The bullpen is an area of strength and could be where they look to trade a player or two to fill holes in other areas of the roster. This is something we saw over the weekend when they traded Esmil Rogers to the Blue Jays for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes, and Rogers may not be the last pen arm dealt this offseason.

The lineup has its warts but there are some solid pieces to build around, and they feel that if they could significantly fill just one of the two holes at first base or left field, that they can get creative in filling the other spot as well as the designated hitter spot (a rotation of players).

But it all comes down to the starting rotation. They know they can’t fill every hole on the roster, so the most important area of need is to fill in the holes in the rotation.

How and who they acquire to fill those holes remains to be seen, but this offseason is much more interesting in years past because we know the Indians have a revised philosophy and a riskier approach to making acquisitions. Now we will see if they follow through with the changes, or if they get cold feet and step back into their old ways.

They have done this before

This new revised approach this offseason by the Indians is in some ways similar to the changes they made to their draft strategy four years ago.

The Indians made a change after the 2007 season to have current Director of Amateur Scouting Brad Grant run the amateur side of things and have current Vice President of Scouting John Mirabelli concentrate more on the overall operation of the scouting department (amateur scouting, international scouting, pro scouting, advance scouting, etc). At the time Mirabelli was running everything and Grant was the assistant scouting director on his staff.

Mirabelli still has a big presence on draft day and ultimately everything still goes by him, but they made the change in responsibilities and also changed some things philosophically to be more aggressive with their draft picks, and it has resulted in an improved showing with their drafts since Grant took over in 2008. Players like Lonnie ChisenhallCord PhelpsZach PutnamAlex WhiteJason Kipnis, Corey Burns, Drew Pomeranz, and Cody Allenhave all made the big leagues out of his first four drafts from 2008-2011.

It takes a good seven to ten years after a particular draft to get a good read on how successful or unsuccessful it was, but the early returns favor what the Indians are currently doing in the draft with their more aggressive approach.  Their drafting has been from perfect over the past five drafts since Grant took the reins, but it is hard to argue with the results so far compared to the drafts from 2001-2007.

The Indians missed on a lot of their early round picks during that time, and part of the Indians’ current problem is some of those drafted players from that period should now be core pieces to the team. At the moment only Vinnie Pestano (2006, 20st round) and Tony Sipp (2004, 45th round) are core pieces to the team. In fairness, some of the players that could now be core pieces to the team were given up on in Cleveland or were traded away and have gone on to have more success elsewhere, players like Chris Archer (2006, 5th round), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2003, 6th round), Jeremy Guthrie (2002, 1st round), and Luke Scott (2001, 9th round).

In a strange way, almost all of their productive players from those drafts from 2001-2007 were either traded away or lost on waivers or in the Rule 5 Draft. And the results from 2001-2007 do not include unsigned picks like Tim Lincecum and Desmond Jennings in the 2005 Draft. So the drafts were not as bad as they look on the surface, but the process with which they aggressively drafted and signed players has since changed.

The Indians have shown in the past that they are committed to their plan, even though it may have been flawed, be it the draft strategy from 2001-2007 or the philosophy with player acquisitions at the big league level for the past decade. Mirabelli and Grant adapted and adopted the changes made in 2007, so hopefully GM Chris Antonetti is ready to follow suit and embrace the changes made by the organization this offseason and follow them through.

Youkilis a no-brainer

With the offseason underway, one name that looks to be on the Indians’ short list this offseason is Kevin Youkilis.  He had his $13 million option for next season declined by the White Sox last week, making him a free agent. Now that he is free to negotiate and sign with any team, the Indians are expected to be one of his biggest suitors this offseason.

Youkilis, 33, hit .235 with 19 HR, 60 RBI and .745 OPS in 122 combined games with the Red Sox and White Sox. The overall performance is not great, but he played well with the White Sox once he was traded there hitting .236 with 15 HR, 46 RBI, and .771 OPS in 80 games. He also has a history of hitting lefties well, and last season continued that hitting .275 with a .878 OPS against them (.220 AVG, .693 OPS vs. righties).

Up until this past season Youkilis had been a very productive player for the past half-decade or so, and continues to be one of the hardest outs in the game with the way he battles every at bat and makes a pitcher work. He obviously is a health risk since he has been bothered the past three seasons with injuries, which should scare teams away from any long term commitment this offseason. With this in mind, he will probably get a one year – maybe two year – deal from a team this offseason, which is a contract that fits into the Indians’ plans.

It is no secret that Youkilis is a favorite of new manager Indians’ Terry Francona. Youkilis enjoyed the best years of his nine year career under Francona and has a lot of respect for the Indians’ new skipper. On top of that, the Indians came very close to acquiring him last June before the White Sox eventually acquired him from the Red Sox, so there obviously is strong interest in him from the Indians front office.  With the Indians in need of a first baseman and also a hole at designated hitter, there is a fit and it makes a lot of sense to pick him up on a one or two year deal for around $6 to 8 million per season.

A signing of Youkilis would not be the blockbuster type move a lot of fans are hoping for this season, but he would offer a suitable option to fill the glaring hole at first base. He also could play some third base if Lonnie Chisenhall struggles, and obviously could be the designated hitter from time to time to monitor his health and allow Carlos Santana to get some time at first base.

His best days may be behind him, but I have always been a fan of the way Youkilis plays the game.  He is an on-base machine that has a patient exhausting approach at plate. He is a guy that people love to hate, but if he is on your team you love him. Plus, I still think there is some production left in the tank and he could provide good value in the middle of the lineup. He’s not the big thumper we all long for to bring the middle of the lineup together, but the reality is those guys are probably not available this offseason. His experience hitting in the middle of the lineup could provide a much needed boost in the cleanup or fifth spot in the order compared to what the Indians have had there in recent years.

No manager may know Youkilis better than Francona, and if he is looking for a place to land to help reestablish his value, I can’t think of a better place than with the Indians. Not only do the Indians have a need at the positions he plays, but they can offer him the opportunity to hit in the middle of their order to put up good numbers and most importantly reunite him with his beloved manager.

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 6, 2012 - 6:22 PM EST
When the Indians call this spring and ask me to renew my 10 pack ticket purchase I am going to tell them NO unless there is radical change. Even then - why hurry. I hope they realize the destruction they have wrought on the fan base.

I cannot express in words how painful to me the performance of management was last year.
November 6, 2012 - 3:59 PM EST
I'm having a hard time understanding why some are so gung-ho that the Indians have to trade Choo. Could he be dealt this offseason? Absolutely. Is it likely? Nope. If I were putting a percentage on it, there is a 90% chance he opens the season with the Indians. Bottom line, he won't make a lot of money next season and is on a one year deal. The exact kind of deal this org is always comfortable with, and I am not sure the contract savings on him is better used elsewhere. He is in his free agent year so will be playing for his next contract, something which often leads to big years. The Indians are best to wait it out and see what happens next season with him in tow before reassessing come July. I just don't believe he brings back a bonafide need that is ML ready and impacts the roster in 2013. Could he bring back 2 good prospects? Sure. But unless he brings back something very, very good (which appears doubtful) then they shouldn't trade him just to trade him. It's a step back move too for an org looking to rekindle fan trust this offseason.
November 6, 2012 - 3:32 PM EST
The fact that Choo should be motivated in his walk year and will hopefully perform better, that everyone has a shot at contention in what remains a very weak division, and the fact that he costs relatively little, trading him would be another PR hit that would further alienate the fans and suppress revenue, and that they have no upper-level outfielders who could replace him mean there's a 90% chance Choo will start the year with the Indians. We will see.
November 6, 2012 - 2:53 PM EST
Paying Choo for 1/2 a season, risking injury and poor performance, etc. and having his eye on greener pastures from the moment he lands in spring training are all reasons that it is 80% certain that Choo will be gone and rather soon.

The front office will not drag out Choo and Perez departures.
November 6, 2012 - 1:37 PM EST
I actually think you can often get a better return by trading someone like Choo mid-season, rather than at the beginning of his final year. Cliff Lee is an example, the Phillies didn't get anyone nearly as highly rated as Smoak when they moved him preseason. The Rangers saw Lee as a ticket to the World Series, so in that scenario they're fine with giving up top talent (obviously Smoak has underperformed expectations, but he was the 13th ranked prospect in 2010) Teams are more willing to part with prospects if they see the trade as a clear separator that's likely to get them to the playoffs and beyond. Right now, why would you give up a good prospect for Choo, when you can just sign someone like Cody Ross without giving up anything? Come July, due to injuries or unexpected poor production, a team's more likely to be desparate to add an outfield bat, and there's a clearer upside for the acquiring team (playoffs, and the extra revenue that comes with it).
November 6, 2012 - 12:17 PM EST
It is a sure thing that Choo will be shopped this offseason. Even Cabrera. That is not debatable. But the difference is, the Indians are not expected to get the type of return they want for Choo right now. He is a key piece to the offense having any success in 2013, and I just don't see him alone bringing back any real ML talent for the rotation to use at the outset of 2013. Not for a one year rental. Again, his value is greater with the Indians right now and I expect them to not get the "right deal" this offseason on him and he is their RF next season. If they are struggling come July, I think it is a foregone conclusion he is dealt then and if he is playing well they probably get almost as good a return then.
November 6, 2012 - 8:28 AM EST
@tony 80% certain the Indians will shop Choo to several teams this winter.

New York Yankees are trying to get below 178M by 2014 and are more than happy to take on a 1-year plug in RF not to mention a LHB with power.

The Seattle Mariners are moving their fences in and Choo is a natural fit there if not in 2013 long term.

Their are several more teams out there that we could find a match for.

In my opinion, the two guys that hold little value to the Indians in 2013 are Choo and Chris Perez. Each will say the right things about wanting to win and looking forward to playing in Cleveland but both would love to get out of the city.

Give Francona a team of guys that don't have an eye on greener pastures right from jump street. I believe that is the goal of this upcoming offseason.
November 6, 2012 - 12:11 AM EST
The Indians need to add about $20 mil in payroll to be competitive, just to protect their $80 mil. If not, the $80 mil is a waste of money, and they should let it go down to $50 mil, shed players, and rebuild. Nothing in the middle.
November 5, 2012 - 10:16 PM EST
No one is going to trade a top front-line major league ready pitching prospect for Choo. You might be able to get a team's top pitching prospect from the lower levels, because, after all, there's no such thing as a pitching prospect (e.g. Knapp). But like I said, you've punted on contention this year, so if you do that, why bother signing any free agents this year at all? You aren't going to be able to replace Choo's production and still have money to make the other necessary improvements to even think about contention in 2013. You've stabbed yourself in the foot this year, to get a prospect that you can get in a mid-year trade anyway, or as a compensation pick at the end of the year. As for getting a top of the rotation major league ready prospect, you're argument is, if you can trade Choo for someone who's just as valuable as Choo right now, except who costs nothing so you can also save money to sign a Choo replacement, well, yeah, sure, you do that, but it's pure fantasy. Every team needs good starting pitching, and if they have major league ready top pitching prospects, they're going to use them now, not trade them for an outfielder with a 2.5 WAR. Would you trade Pomeranz for one year of Hunter Pence?
November 5, 2012 - 8:31 PM EST
I absolutely disagree with regards to Choo. If the Indians are looking for starting pitching and can use Choo and Perez to acquire top 100 talent (and I agree...a big if), you do it...period. You don't do it to free up money for a bat, it just does. The key is getting someone to bite...which is a tough sell for any GOOD front office, let alone this one. The idea is to go after front line, top notch pitching, and to take understandable risk by going after high upside, major league ready talent. Again, I ponder the ability for the Tribe to do this, but think that's the direction they go. Hell, I'd trade Choo AND Perez to get A top notch starting pitcher in the top 25 who is major league ready....then go after one major bat and close your eyes and pray...
November 5, 2012 - 7:08 PM EST
I think the worst thing about this offseason is just being stuck in the middle on things. Best case scenario with a few trades/small signings we are competing for 3rd place in a weak division. The more I really think about what we have starting rotation wise and what there is at AAA and AA, a gut and rebuild makes the most sense. On the other hand that just sucks, knowing that for another 3-4 years not being competitive. Bartolo Colon cocktails for every SP this offseason? Who cares if a few get caught by July or August, they will probably have more wins than if they pitched the whole season anyways!!
November 5, 2012 - 7:02 PM EST
Steve, in refererene to Jim's point about trading Choo and Perez to free up $13 million to sign a bat ... in that case, the bat might as well be Choo, and you might as well not trade him. That money is freed up in 2014 regardless. I probably wouldn't even want to re-sign Choo in 2014, he has not been that good that past 2 years and has already looked out of shape and will be 31 at the end of the year, but it also doesn't make sense to trade him now so you can sign another outfielder (presumably, since you'd then be short 2 outfielders with no internal replacements) who would almost certainly get you less for your money than Choo himself.
November 5, 2012 - 6:44 PM EST
I don't think anyone is "on notice", but with Francona here it is a fresh start so to speak for all parties involved. And the front office knows that if things go poorly from here, that they are on the chopping block. So, I guess in an indirect way, you could say people are on notice.

As for trading Choo.....I just don't see it happening. I don't see the Indians getting the value they want right now, and not much more they would get waiting until July to trade him. There is not a free agent bat they can sign to a deal like he is under, so there is more value in playing out the season with him here and then reassessing come July than to just trade him now.
November 5, 2012 - 6:23 PM EST
@seth - why not just sign Choo long-term

Choo isn't signing long-term with the Tribe. He is going to test the waters of free agency no matter what. Consider him as good as gone.

Even if he did want an extension in Cleveland I would do just about anything I could to deal him for prospects, free his salary up, and reinvest in someone else for a few years.
November 5, 2012 - 5:18 PM EST
Trading Choo to free up money to sign a bat doesn't really make a lot of sense, why not just sign Choo long-term if you're going that route? If you trade Choo this year, then why bother signing any starter or bat this year, since you already punted on any hope of contention by trading Choo in the first place? Perez, sort-of replaceable, Choo, not so much.

They really need to do more than something on the lines of Youkilis and 1 starting pitcher. They also need to sign an outfielder, and while I agree with Tony that they likely won't be in play for BJ Upton, they SHOULD be, and if not Upton, then Victorino/Pagan/Ross, who are probably looking more in the 3/30 range. Moving Perez practically pays for this year, and the extra $25 mil/year they're getting from the national TV deal pays for the future years. There is no good financial reason why they can't do it; you need to spent money to make money, and with those additions you at least have a shot at the playoffs and increasing your revenue. If they tanked, they might be a couple million in the red this year, but that's a risk their ownership needs to be willing to take if they want to run a successful franchise.
matt underwood
November 5, 2012 - 4:02 PM EST
Tony -

Any rumblings that the front office is "on notice" after the past years of failures across all aspects of the org.?
November 5, 2012 - 3:29 PM EST
Youk would be a nice signing, and if they got him at $5 million...then acquired a starter in a trade...

I could then see a scenario where they could bring in another starter at a higher salary...or a distressed starter...

and have enough to go out and do something else. The key is if they have enough to make two trades...and lose the $15 million that Choo and Perez may cost. Say you deal Choo and get a starter...and deal Perez and get a starter (two 100ish prospects) literally shed 15 million..well...say...13 million...

and could then sign a bat...

I know that's rudimentary thinking...but basically on par...

there's lots of puzzle pieces that could go together that could allow the Indians to put together an interesting team... Seth always reminds us...there has to be reality in the equation as well...what will teams really give up?

Probably not as much as we think...
November 5, 2012 - 3:28 PM EST
With all due respect, I could not disagree more on Wolters. He needs a lot of work with the bat, and rushing him to the big leagues this season is not the answer. He would be an extreme liability. If they just want someone to platoon and play some good defense, then bring up Diaz as he is already on the 40-man. I'm not fan of Diaz in the big leagues, but if they have to use one or the other I use Diaz simply because he would be more consistent offensively (which is not saying much).
November 5, 2012 - 3:22 PM EST
I absolutely believe the Cards would give up one of those pitchers for Cabrera...

...and since all three would be in the top 100 (I don't think Kelly would register at this point)...I would make that trade in a heartbeat...

If Asdrubal were dealt...I would also push one of the youngsters...and I think it would be Tony be honest. Have Aviles start the season as the starting Shortstop...but get Wolters up as quickly as possible...and just live with it...but have Aviles as a mentor. That would give Wolters a year or so before the RRod/Lindor discussion comes into play...and he has a nice glove already. The thinking there for me is that Wolters has shown that ability to make the leap after struggle, and if they could get him a month at Akron, bump him up to Columbus for another month, and then insert him as a platoon with Aviles...he could get hands on training for his future role Aviles...then you develop RRod and the rest as you normally woulda.

Now, I'm away of Wolters not technically being ready...but I also believe he is the one guy that has the make-up to handle that type of move...even though he's not as talented as some of the other folks coming down the pike

Granted, I'd only consider this if Drubs was know...I'd throw that grenade...and see what happens....

It would at least be in the discussion...

...again...knowing that it's not likely...and would only happen in an extreme circumstance...

November 5, 2012 - 2:00 PM EST
Hey Shy, Cards have a W.S. MVP at third David Freese. Have a hole at ss though with Furcal banged up and aging. Would love to be able to pry away a Joe Kelly, Rosenthal or Shelby Miller from Cards but don't see a match from what Tribe has.
November 5, 2012 - 1:55 PM EST
It's not a groundbreaking new approach. It's new in the sense that they have revised their way of thinking. As in, no longer will they pass on option like last offseason for Josh Willingham were they took a risk averse approach to giving him that third year, bumping his contract with them from say $16 million over 2 years to $21 million over 3 years. That's the difference. An approach to be more aggressive on the one-two year deals. To throw extra money at a guy that they can sign to a 1-2 year deal so that he signs with them. It's the same approach in that they won't be major players in free agency, but it's different where they won't be scraping the bottom of the barrel for every free agent signing. They will still scrape the barrel, but not to the degree they have in the past. Now, it's one thing to make a plan, but another to follow through with it. So we shall see if the changes they have made take foot. I think the Esmil Rogers trade is a good step in the right direction and a sign that they are on the right path to making some solid "small" deals this offseason which collectively could impact the team.

As for the offense...I really believe the focus will be on one bat. They will sign some others to minor league deals, but I expect one bat to be added via trade or free agency that has a guaranteed deal and could have a positive effect on the roster. Outside of that one bat, I think almost all the other resources with available capital and any trade currency is spent on picking up starting pitching help. So the hopes of BJ Upton are probably out there, plus I think he gets more than the proposed contracts listed here.
November 5, 2012 - 1:44 PM EST
2,500 words to say the Indians will be more aggressive with short-term free agent contracts and more aggressive with draft picks (we already knew this). That's the "new, revised approach"? Seriously? Seems like it's pretty much the same as the way it's been with virtually the same people.

As Indians fans, we're supposed to accept this as a new, revised approach? How dumb do you think we are?
November 5, 2012 - 1:28 PM EST
As I stated when the White Sox got him last year, Youklis is a guy you bring in if you have a shot and you need a catalyst, ala Marco Scutaro. He's not going to help a team that stinks, like the RedSox in Francona's final days in 2011 or under Valentine in 2012. The Indians stink. They have no starting pitching. Until that is resolved, they are not going anywhere in the AL Central and they may as well give Chisenhall all the reps he can handle. Unless they want to trade Chisenhall for a Jerrod Parker, Straily, or Rosenthal pitcher in stealth mode somewhere if they can find one... The Cardinals need a third baseman. How about Chisenhall for Rosenthal? Now you Salazar and Rosenthal and maybe Blake Wood w Masterson, Jiminez, and maybe a Scott Barnes, could be fun. I remember when Barnes was starting for the Giants Double A w Madison Bumgarner and they were pretty much equally valued as prospects. We need a lefty and a righty to have breakout years.
November 5, 2012 - 12:53 PM EST
Tony, I understand and agree that the Indians shouldn't be major players in the free agent market due to the restrictions of a small market economy, however, I still firmly believe that if they can get a guy like Youkilis, added with Aviles, then signing a guy like BJ Upton or a trade to get guys like Bourjos and Kendrys Morales could make a HUGE difference to this team.

The Angels still appear to be all in on relievers right now, and Chris Perez should be traded not only because he's very iffy at the back of the 'pen, but because of the tensions between him and the front office. If we keep Choo in a deal with the Angels and only get Morales, he could split time at 1B with Youk, play some LF, and be a part of a rotating DH situation. If we can some how manage to squeeze Bourjos into the deal as well then we'd have Brantley in LF, Bourjos in CF, and Choo in right, making the OF defense solid and giving the team a more stable DH situation.

If there was one player that I'd spend big for in free agency though it'd be Upton. Given his age, obvious talent, and possibly reasonable cost (I'd make him a 5/55 or 6/60 deal) he can be a long term solution for most any team in CF and be a difference maker with his bat. Again, OF defense would be greatly improved and because he is still young and in his prime, a long term deal is safer for him than any other FA OF on the market. He's the kind of guy that can bat 2nd, or 5th for this team because he's historically gotten on base, and he can burn on the base paths or launch pitches out of the park.

As far as the rotation goes, man, it's just such a mess! Maybe Freddy Garcia or Jeff Francis, maybe Liriano or Matsuzaka. I hate the thought of spending on a FA pitcher and it seems like even the lower grade FA pitchers this off season might get bigger contracts than they deserve.
Will it ever be next year
November 5, 2012 - 12:13 PM EST
First off frank robinson and boog powell.......wasnt that like 40 years ago. Maybe use the eddie murray, denny martinez, dave winfield, and orel hershiser reference. Second tito is terry francona's he even still alive? So any was it watching addie joss throw a perfect game for the cleveland naps. Ok. Back to what i really wanted to say. I hope the indians do change the offseason way of doing things. I could list the long list of washed up no bodys that the front office has brought in to cleveland over the last decade and we could laugh and remember these scrubs but i wont. Ok one. The future hall of fame prospect andy marte. Lol. That was worth trading coco crisp away for. I do like the idea of youkilus. Put him in the 5 hole and protect santana. With brantley kipnis and cabrera infront of santana and youk wed be solid 1-5. ( i dont list choo because im 99.9% sure he will be traded.) Santana will have to get more fastballs with youk behind him and i could see carlos actually having the break out year we have been waiting for. The problem is unless we make a hard run at a dan haren or trade for a very solid starting pitcher. We go in to 2013 with a rotation of masterson, jimenez, mcallister, and then two guys from the pile of david huff, corey kluber, carlos carrasco, jenmar gomez, chris seddon, and so on. Without any starting pitching ti get us to our top 5 bullpen we will be a 90 loss team again.
November 5, 2012 - 11:58 AM EST
Hey now, let's not make the Boog Powell acquisition out to be some sort of desperate move that flopped. In his first year with the Indians he belted 27 homers and had an OPS of .901! Dave Duncan was horrible with the O's and Al McGrew never made it to the show. Don Hood was a serviceable pitcher for the Tribe's pen on some really bad teams. Later, the indians acquired Cliff Johnson from the Yankees from Hood.
November 5, 2012 - 11:53 AM EST
Not sure that Youkillis last year made much sense. The White Sox wanted him as a third baseman. The Indians already had one. This season? Youkills can pay first and dh, spots the team needs help in desperately.
Iron Mike
November 5, 2012 - 11:17 AM EST
Tony, thanks for the fine article. Not sure this new approach is ground breaking sounds a lot like the years when we signed the Frank Robinson's and Boog Powell's of yesteryear.

Regarding Youkilis, seems logical as a filler for a few years until the system can produce players. The reason Manny is gone is he got pissed because the FO did not deliver players when they promised.

Shapiro said, "Youkilis walked like a duck." We could have had him in his prime years but we had incompetent people making decisions.

It certainly was costly and unless Tito is making all the calls don't see it changing.

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