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Tribe Happenings: Indians need to search externally for closer

Tribe Happenings: Indians need to search externally for closer
November 3, 2013
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Some news, notes and thoughts from my Indians notebook…

What to do at closer

The Indians made a decisive move on Thursday releasing right-handed closer Chris Perez, a move that was expected to happen at some point this offseason but was a surprise with how swiftly the decision came down.

The Indians had until December 2nd to non-tender Perez, but the fact that they made the move on the first official day of the offseason shows it was a decision that was made several days ago – one that they had prepared to do even before the end of the season.

There is no doubt that over the past few weeks while teams had gag orders on announcing moves that the Indians tried to trade Perez, but the prospects of a team acquiring him and having to pay him close to $9-10 million in 2014 made him a player the Indians found to have zero trade value. So they released him and effectively washed their hands of him so that they can move on with their offseason plans.

With that the Perez era came to a close with 124 saves and a 3.33 ERA in 274 appearances in his five-year Indians career. It was a career that really, for the most part, was good, but the closers role is one of the most volatile in the sport because of how people fall into and out of favor of them so quickly.

It didn’t help that Perez called out Indians fans last season – whether he was right or not – for the lack of attendance, and he has had off the field issues with the drug charges. There was even some grumbling by players behind the scenes who were not happy they had to speak for Perez when he wouldn’t talk to the media after a tough outing because of his self-imposed media silence.

No matter the reasons why Perez fell out of favor with the Indians, he was still a solid backend reliever who usually got the job done even if it left fans reaching for the Rolaids. But this was a financial decision. If he were in line to make $2-3 million next season, he would probably still be an Indian and their closer.  But for a team with a finite budget, it is a move that had to be made as there is no way with around an $80 million payroll a team can afford to have over 10% of their payroll tied into a closer – something that would have happened if Perez was retained for 2014.

With Perez now gone the Indians have some pressing issues with the makeup of the backend of their bullpen. Not only is Perez out of the picture, but ultra-reliable right-hander Joe Smith is a free agent and probably won’t return because he’s going to get a multi-year deal for $5-7 million a year. On top of that, right-hander Vinnie Pestano is a huge question mark for next year as there is great uncertainty if he will be back to form even after an offseason of rest.

At the moment, the Indians only have Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen as backend of the bullpen options for next year. Both pitched well this season, but neither has much true experience pitching in high leverage role in the eighth and ninth inning. They both have had occasional opportunities in the role, but have never had the pressure of the responsibility night in and night out, so you really don’t know how they will respond.

With that in mind, the Indians should go into the 2014 season with Shaw and Allen as late inning options and also Pestano in consideration, but they need to find an experienced, reliable, cost efficient late inning arm to add to the mix in order to help reduce some of the risk involved with their limited internal options.

This is where I believe we will see the Indians active on the trade and free agent market for a suitable late inning arm, either as a closer or as a setup man.

The best fit would be an arbitration eligible pen arm that they can acquire and control contractually for the next year or so, but those kinds of players are hard to find. A perfect would be Steve Cishek from Miami, but he probably won’t be available this offseason and even if he were would cost a pretty penny to acquire.  The Indians have some prospects to use as currency, so anything is possible I guess.

But with the $9-10 million the Indians have saved with letting go of Perez it will allow them a chance to be creative with filling the backend of their bullpen. There are a bevy of relievers with closing experience that are available on the free agent market such as Grant BalfourJoaquin BenoitJoel HanrahanRyan MadsonEdward MujicaJoe NathanFernando RodneyJose Veras and Brian Wilson. Some of those guys would be a reclamation project and some are better than others, but it is a saturated market where the Indians should be able to sign one of them to a one year deal for minimal money and tab them as their closer.

No matter what decision the Indians make with filling their need for a late inning pen arm this offseason, it will be a much more efficient use of their money than had they kept Perez. Even if Perez’s replacement provides the same results, it would be a win-win as you would be paying that player league minimum (Shaw or Allen) or on a much smaller deal at $1 to $4 million (free agent).

With a team needing to shore up their starting rotation and adding an impact bat or two, that is an efficient use of their money so as to make sure they have the dollars available to make those upgrades.

Jimenez and Kazmir hit free agency

The Indians made it official on Friday when they picked up the $8 million option on right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, but because of a clause in his contract that allowed him to decline his 2014 option if he were traded he used that veto power and effectively became a free agent.

The Indians can still elect to offer Jimenez the $14.1 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline, but that won’t prevent him from leaving as a free agent unless he chooses to accept it (he won’t). Jimenez and his agent know that they can maximize his late season success and big turnaround in 2013 into a big multi-year deal. He will be one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency this offseason – arguably the top starting pitcher – and many teams starving for a potential front end of the rotation solution will have no problem parting with a first round pick to sign him.

At this point, Jimenez looks to be all but gone. The Indians will likely offer him the qualifying offer so they get that first round pick as compensation when he signs elsewhere. That is the best course of action to just take the pick and not overextend themselves on a big multi-year deal for a player who has been an enigma for the better part of the last three seasons. For as much good as Mickey Callaway was for Jimenez, it remains to be seen if he was just more focused because of his impending free agent situation than anything Callaway did for him – which means he’s a serious regression candidate for next season once he gets his guaranteed millions this offseason. Time will tell on that.

Kazmir is the more interesting guy to keep tabs on this offseason as the Indians actually have a legit chance to bring him back. He probably won’t command much more than a two year deal or a two year deal plus some sort of option for a third year. The reason for this is simply because for as well as he pitched this season he doesn’t have a long run of recent success and there are still durability concerns. It remains to be seen if he will give the Indians any kind of special consideration because they believed in him and gave him an opportunity, but in cases like these the almighty dollar typically trumps everything.

But the Indians should be able to afford him on a two year deal and for $8-11 million per season. An $11 million price tag per year may be a bit pricey, but that might be the going rate for starting pitching this offseason. And really, with the questionable starting pitching arms available in free agency this offseason, he might be one of the better gambles on a deal involving a slight overpay on a shorter team deal.

The way things sit at the moment the Indians have four of their five spots in the starting rotation locked up withJustin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister. Others like Josh TomlinTrevor Bauer andCarlos Carrasco should simply be depth options at the outset of the season as the sixth through eighth starters. So they could use a good, solid middle of the rotation arm and preferably a lefty to add a good dynamic to the rotation, which means Kazmir would be a perfect fit.

The Indians also have to make a decision on whether to offer Kazmir a qualifying offer by Monday, a decision that is not nearly as obvious as the one for Jimenez. If it were up to me I would offer Kazmir the qualifying offer. With players like Steven Drew getting the qualifying offer this offseason, it appears a lot of teams are going to extend it to even average free agents. Plus, if I am fine with paying Kazmir $10-11 million in 2014, what is another $3 million anyway?

Of course, it depends on whether the Indians would want to pay Kazmir that much in the first place. But considering their need for a starting pitcher, their comfort level with him, and how a qualifying offer for Kazmir could really damage his market and potentially push him into signing a multi-year deal with the Indians, I think they should do it.

If the Indians are able to lock up one of Kazmir or Jimenez, then that would be a big ticket item marked off the Indians to-do list this offseason and then they can concentrate on filling that void at the backend of the bullpen and then spend all remaining resources on upgrading the lineup.

Indians add lefty to pen mix

The Indians also made a small trade on Thursday when they sent cash to the Padres in exchange for left-handed reliever Colt Hynes.

Hynes, 28, has never been a highly regarded prospect in the minors and is a former 31st round pick, but he’s always been a performer and shown good command from the left side. This season he was unbelievable in the minors throwing 47.1 innings in 41 combined appearances between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson yet allowed just 2 walks (0.4 BB/9) and had 58 strikeouts (11.0 K/9). In seven minor league seasons he has a 3.59 ERA with a 2.1 BB/9 and 7.1 K/9.

But the raw stats are not what this move is about. This is a move to help add another lefty to the Indians bullpen mix as a LOOGY – a Lefty One Out GuY.  When you look at his splits versus lefties and righties, you can see where the Indians are coming from with this move.

Even though Hynes had a 9.00 ERA in 22 appearances with the Padres this season, his performance against lefties was exceptional as he held them to a .156 average (5-for-32). His troubles stemmed from facing right-handers who pounded him to the tune of a .476 average (20-for-42) and 1.260 OPS. If manager Terry Franconalimits his usage to a LOOGY role and avoids using him where possible against right-handed pitchers he might have a lot more success.

Hynes was stellar against lefties in the minors this season holding them to a .063 average (1-for-16) at Double-A and .169 average (10-for-59) at Triple-A.  Though, on the flip side, lefties hit .342 (53-for-155) off him at Triple-A in 2012 and hit .375 (18-for-48) off him in Triple-A in 2011.  It remains to be seen if his splits in 2013 are an extreme showing and more of a fluke, or if his significant delivery adjustment he made in spring training genuinely made him tougher against lefties for the long term.

Hynes made the chance in spring training to a lower arm slot within his delivery to three quarters. Sometimes it can be one small adjustment that makes all the difference.  He does not throw very hard as he throws a fastball that sits at 88-90 MPH and will touch 92 MPH, and has a slider as his main breaking ball and the occasional changeup he uses a little bit against right-handers. But an adjustment to the arm slot can be all that is needed to change the way a ball comes out of a pitchers hand and how hitters see it, and at least in the early going it has been a very beneficial change for him.

Hynes should go into spring training in the mix to be the second left-hander in the Indians bullpen. Marc Rzepczynski all but has the lefty setup role locked up, so the Indians need a second lefty to fill the role that Rich Hillhad the last two months of the season. Others in the mix should include Nick HagadoneScott Barnes andGiovanni Soto, though Barnes may be in roster limbo or his role may be changed back to a starter. There is also no pressing need to have Hynes on the opening day roster as if he proves he is not ready he has options and can be stashed at Triple-A Columbus to be used when needed.

Considering the Indians only had to pay cash, the pickup of Hynes is a gamble worth taking to see if they found another gem on a small deal. For anyone paying attention over the past year, it is these smaller deals where the Indians have had a lot of success, so hopefully they hit on another one.

Giambi resigned

The Indians’ third move of the day on Thursday was the resigning of designated hitter Jason Giambi to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to major league camp in spring training.

Giambi, 42, only hit .183 with 9 HR, 31 RBI and .653 OPS, but it was the quality and timing of his hits which made a big impact for the Indians. He equaled the single-season club record with three pinch-hit home runs and he led the club with an RBI per at bat ratio of 6.0 AB/RBI. He showed the ability to still get the bat around on the ball and hit with power, and most importantly he was the unquestioned leader of the team.

Giambi's signing to a minor league deal allows the Indians to retain him without giving him any guaranteed money. It also allows him to stick around through the end of spring training without taking up a valuable spot on the 40-man roster so the club can use that spot on another player. If Giambi is healthy he is all but certain to make the Indians opening day roster, and at that time they would have to make a decision with regard to the 40-man roster.

Giambi made it clear at the end of the season he wanted to come back and the Indians were mutual in them wanting him back, so it is good to see them both take care of this now so that the Indians can move onto other pressing needs with the roster this offseason.

Payroll outlook

updated the site payroll chart earlier in the week. Be sure to check it out to see not only what the Indians payroll situation is for 2014, but what it looks like for the next seven years and also the player control outlook for the next seven years as well.

The way things sit right now the Indians have $48.825 million tied up to guaranteed deals for 2014, though this total does not include players up for arbitration. The Indians have eight players up for arbitration, though a few of them may be non-tendered. It is tough to guess as to how much they have to keep set aside for arbitration eligibles, but Masterson will probably get around $10 million himself so the total should be around $15-20 million depending on who they tender contracts to and keep.

If that is true, then the Indians have about $63 million tied up in payroll. If they do not increase payroll and maintain it $81 million like in 2013, then they have about $15-25 million to spend this offseason. That is not a lot of money to spend, especially when half of that could be eaten up by a starting pitcher. As has been mentioned many times, the Indians are going to need to be creative this offseason with how they spend their money.

Parting shots

The Indians resigned right-handed reliever Matt Capps to a minor league contract with an invite to major league camp this spring. He last pitched for Triple-A Columbus on April 20th before going down with a right shoulder injury that eventually required surgery on June 5th and ended his season. He probably has little chance to make the Indians opening day bullpen, but could be a depth option and someone that could factor into things later in the year. … The Indians also resigned infielder Ryan Rohlinger and signed right-handed pitcher J.C. Ramirez to minor league deals with invites to major league camp this spring. Rohlinger is a depth infield option for Triple-A Columbus and Ramirez is an intriguing pen arm with a nice low 90s sinker that has some prospect pedigree in the past and some major league pen experience. … The Indians announced on Friday that they have declined the $7.5 million club option for outfielder Jason Kubel. He is now a free agent. … The Double-A Akron Aeros have changed their name to the Akron RubberDucks. The name pays homage to Akron’s ties to the rubber industry and ties in with the kid-centric theme for minor league teams.

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

Tony
November 5, 2013 - 9:30 AM EST
I believe Kubel gets nothing more than a minor league deal this offseason. And if that holds true, then the Indians could be interested.
Hermie13
November 5, 2013 - 9:29 AM EST
I wouldn't be opposed to Kubel but it'd have to be $2-3M tops...and even that is probably too much. Would be sort of a desperation signing in late January/early February if all else fails.
alton
November 4, 2013 - 6:17 PM EST
Is there anyway the Indians look into signing Kubel next year on a one year flier? This guy hit 30 homers in 2011 and has been a legit hitter for most of his career. He seems like a real bounce back candidate and a good guy to platoon at DH.
Seth
November 4, 2013 - 3:10 PM EST
Well yeah, there are talent differences, but we're really only talking about 2 or 3 bullpen spots up for grabs, right? (Carrasco likely takes over the long-man role, just has to be the Albers. Perez and Smith only real vacancies) It's not like they need 4 rookies to step in. You really have a problem filling those couple spots with some combo of Pestano/Lee/Adams/Price/Guilmet? Maybe Pestano comes into camp throwing 93 mph with accuracy again, in which case you really only need ONE of the young guys to grab a spot. Lee, Adams and Carrasco are all high-upside relievers, and I'd say they all have higher ceilings than Perez and Smith. Or Mujica. Or many free agents they could spend money on. And as far as reclamation projects, Pestano was one of the top relievers in baseball in 2011-2012, and also has more upside than the guys they're losing.
Tony
November 4, 2013 - 1:44 PM EST
St. Louis is a poor example. If the Indians had 4-5 legit starting pitching options in AAA/AA, then they would compare. All of those Cardinals arms are much higher upside prospects than any of the Indians potential young arms. CC Lee, Guilmet, Adams, Price and so on are interesting guys, but far from the class or impact potential of Rosenthal, Martinez, etc in the young Cardinals pen. Salazar would be a comparable pitcher to those guys. The Indians need young guys with backend upside, and they have few options for the role. Lots of middle relievers though. One or two may come out of the woodwork, but until that happens, signing a veteran to a one year deal to help in the short term is not a bad idea at all.
Seth
November 4, 2013 - 1:25 PM EST
I have no problem with them bringing in some veterans with upside and seeing if they can find the next Veras/Grilli. But paying for a "proven late-inning reliever", especially on a multi-year deal, rarely works out for anyone, because these guys tend to be extremely volatile with their performance and health. I mean, look at Cleveland this year. Their two worst relievers were Chris Perez and Pestano, who were their two best relievers last year. Look at the Cardinals, their postseason bullpen was almost all rookies. Look at Kerry Wood, who the Indians were paying $10 million to be horrible.

I would absolutely go with CC Lee over a Joe Smith or a Mujica. Lee may fail, but there's also a good chance he performs as good or better than those guys and is a fraction of the price. Same goes for a number of relief options they already have in-house. The same cannot be said for the outfield and starting pitching holes they have, where you could spend that money on someone who's more clearly an upgrade. I'd be perfectly comfortable going into spring training with a bullpen that has Allen, Shaw and Scrabble confirmed, and Carrasco pretty much confirmed as the long-man, and Hagadone likely the other lefty at least to start the year, and Pestano, CC Lee, Adams, Price, Guilmet and a couple vets on minor league deals, fighting it out for the other two right-handed spots. Hopefully Pestano bounces back and takes the closer role, but if not I'd be okay with Allen there. He's an experienced back-end reliever at this point, and while he was shaky at times, was much better than Chris Perez.
William
November 4, 2013 - 11:16 AM EST
It is amazing how people just suggest to plus in Carrasco into the rotation or to just put Shaw/Allen in the backend and expect things to work out. One or two may work, but relying on all of them to workout and then having minor league guys to fall back on is probably not the right way to go. If the Indians are smart in free agency perhaps it is better to make a nice, smart signing for both the rotation and pen and work from there.
Hermie13
November 4, 2013 - 10:31 AM EST
@Tony

It looks like ou're not counting the 12-14 players that will be making the league min though. That's an extra $6-7M you have to add in of guaranteed payroll right now as you have to field a 25-man roster. At least that's how I'd figure it.

Also think you're a bit on the low side with only guessing $15M for the arby guys, even if you don't count Stubbs (though not by a lot I guess). Taking Stubbs out gets you to around $70-71M for 2014.
Tony
November 4, 2013 - 10:20 AM EST
I see a mistake I made with that money projection....I forgot to include projected min-deal guys....so add another $6-7M to that total. So yeah, they probably have about $68-72M tied up depending on who is offered arbitration.
Tony
November 4, 2013 - 10:16 AM EST
Note that I am guessing Smith gets a multi-year deal at $5-7M per season....obviously the $7M would be the top end and only there because you don't really know how crazy the bidding will get this offseason for players. I think he gets $5 or $5.5M per on a three year deal.
Nick
November 4, 2013 - 10:15 AM EST
I'm sure I'll be in the minority here but I'm all for us taking a look at Allen as closer. He made great strides from '12 to '13 including a drop in WHIP from 1.517 to 1.251 and K/BB from 1.80 to 3.38. I'm not a huge stats guy so I'm not sure what the other relevant closer stats look like for him, but he had a very good age 24 season. I'm also all for pushing Crockett up to the show to start the year and giving him every chance to show he can be a closer threat as well as he had a fantastic year and a great 4th round pick.
Tony
November 4, 2013 - 10:13 AM EST
It should be noted that I don't believe the Indians have to get a closer, I just want an experienced guy at closer OR in the 8th inning setup role. However it fits works for me, but I believe it would be a huge mistake to just roll into the 2014 season with Shaw, Allen and Pestano as their only three options for the backend. Obviously, other prospects and guys on minor league deals could come out of the woodwork over the course of the season.....but I would like some more stability at the outset and get a guy on a short one year deal for the backend or someone for long term via a trade.

As for Chisenhall, injuries did not bother him in 2013. He struggled in Cleveland in April and some of May....went to Columbus and raked and destroyed the league....and came back to Cleveland the final three months and struggled again. it's not a good pattern.

There's no way Carrasco beats out McAllister in spring training unless McAllister is hurt. None. McAllister has made 46 starts over the last two years and been pretty consistent as a reliable backend starter. And he was off to a great start this year until the finger injury cropped up. Carrasco was awful this season, and even in his year before injury in 2011 when he made 21 starts it is still not as good as any of McAllister's last two seasons. Masterson, Salazar, McAllister and Kluber are all locks for the rotation unless they are hurt (or traded).

Also, the Indians have $48M locked up into guaranteed deals for next season. I'm guessing about $15M in arbitration for Masterson and Brantley and others (not including Stubbs at moment since he is iffy).
Seth
November 4, 2013 - 9:59 AM EST
I think Tony's number was pre-arbitration, fangraphs had them estimated at $69 million after arg, but there's a lot of variables here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-new-national-tv-contracts-and-2014-payrolls/

$7 million a year for Smith would be insane. I respect a lot of Tony's opinions, but I do think he's off on some of the contract stuff. Non-closer right-handed relievers don't tend to make anything like $7 million. Especially one who doesn't strike out very many people. We will see. I still wouldn't want him on a multi-year deal for even 3-4 million a year. As Dick eloquently said, it's a system strength, as relievers is one thing they have at the upper levels in the minors. I also think that if the Indians don't push their payroll to 90-95 million, they aren't even trying. And they have an opportunity here to sustain success and improve their revenue and the value of their team by pushing the payroll to that level and giving Antonetti some flexibility to make some moves. I think they will do this.
Matthew
November 4, 2013 - 8:30 AM EST
@Hermie

I've got them at $75M, FWIW, so I think you're exactly right.
Hermie13
November 4, 2013 - 8:28 AM EST
I am a fan of staying internal for a closer...though I do like the idea of brining in either a setup guy with closers experience (Mujica, Veras, etc) or signing a cheap reclamation guy (Madson, Hanrahan). Someone that can give competition but not someone that has to close, allowing a guy like Allen or Shaw to step up.
Hermie13
November 4, 2013 - 8:26 AM EST
That $63M value Tony gave doesn't seem accurate to me unless you're ignoring all the arbitration estimates.

I have the Tribe at $74M right now without a single move. And yes, that's including Perez being non-tendered. Tribe has about $10M to spend IMO, not $15-20M.

Sure maybe they non-tender or trade Stubbs still or move Cabrera but as the roster is currently set up, $74M is what they are looking at.
Hermie13
November 4, 2013 - 8:24 AM EST
@Rocky

2yr/$14M IMO is way, way too much for Smith. If we weren't willing to give Perez a 1yr/$9.5M deal to be a closer I see no way we give Smith $7M for 2 years to be a setup guy. Sure Smith was better than Perez but $7M for a setup guy just seems like way too much for a small market club like Cleveland. If that's what it takes to bring Smith back I definitely let him go.
Dennis
November 4, 2013 - 7:56 AM EST
You read through this entire string of responses to response to the original story and you come to a few conclusions:

1. Hiram specifically addresses a comment to a commentor by name when he's trying to make a point..albeit directly agreeing or offering an alternative point of view.. It's refreshing. When Hiram doesn't address anyone specifically, he's responding to the content of the story.

2. Dick is a grouchy old SOB that makes his point without using much empathy. Is he correct? Well, for my money, I agree with Dick, but, it's tough to get to his side of the argument without first getting dirty.. FA dollars are a study in diminishing returns. As baseball purists know, the most volatile area of a team is the bullpen, thereby making any expenditures the highest risk..

3. Carlos Carrasco as closer or Dick's "wiggle off any argument comment" back of the pen pitcher.. Okay, sign me up when CC-Lite proves that he isn't be better than Zach McAllister or whoever is the # 5 starter..

4. To Matt: Inre: Masterson: best guess is that he will be signed to an extension without a lot of fanfare or publicity until the deal is done. If no such deal is done by Valentines day, then expect the results of the season to determine whether the Indians keep or trade Justin.

5. 102 days until pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear Arizona for spring training..

thoughts?
Dick
November 3, 2013 - 5:35 PM EST
What's with the garbage about needing experience to be a closer? This piece makes no sense. I know Tony is the higher power in baseball writing these days, but this is another bad excuse of someone making a free agent need out of nothing.

Let's look back into Tito's history a bit. In 2006, Papelbon became his closer. He had pitched in 17 games for the Red Sox in 2005. In the minors, he was a starter with one save.

He sure blew up in their face with all that back-end inexperience.

What about Craig Kimbrel?

He was a closer in the minors. He had 51 saves in 121 games.

He played a taste with the Braves in 2010, and hasn't saved under 42 games since.

I can go on and on. I know these are closers, and while you specified closer in your title, threw in "back-end" so that you could likely wiggle out of any argument.

I also know that some youngsters in the past haven't panned out, and I only listed a couple of guys (only because I don't want to waste any more time with this drivel than I have to) that have.

My simple point is that if the Indians value back-end arms as a bargain, fine. Do they need to? Not as much as this author says. It's a club strength.

You never pass up a nice deal for an arm, but as a focus of the offseason when it's a system strength and they could save money? Getting relief arms better be a byproduct and not a focus.

Willie
November 3, 2013 - 5:20 PM EST
Just name dropping here but Ryan Webb of the Marlins is another interesting young arm - that's about to get a raise in arb. He had a sub-3 era in 80 appearances last season. He'd be a nice add for a 7/8th inning role, if he's available via trade.

Personally, I'd like to see the Tribe bring in Mujica or Veras as the CL and resign Smith at a reasonable (hometown discount?) deal if possible.
Daniel
November 3, 2013 - 5:01 PM EST
I feel that with the Royals now getting into the mix in the central, the Indians need to stay alert and make smart decisions, along with some risk. Resigning Kazmir I feel is doable because he's publicly said that he's appreciated the Tribe giving him another chance this season when no other team would. I also read in another article on IBI that the Tribe may be interested in Doc Halladay. That would be an interesting signing because it's a similar situation to what we had with Kazmir last season. If Doc can come back at half he was at his prime, that'd be a nice signing. That would force someone in the original rotation to go Triple-A though Just a thought of mine.

I feel that as far as impact bats go, I would take a flier on Mike Morse. Granted he had a horrible season last year and may have the exact type of season this year. If he reverts back to the hot-hitting stud he was with the Nats then that'd be a huge steal. I feel he would probably come at a cheaper price because of how bad he was last season. He would be exactly the right-handed pop bat we need for the rotation. He can take over right field and shift Stubbs to the bench.

As far as the third base situation goes, I would probably try and find someone to platoon with Lonnie. I just don't feel comfortable with his plate discipline and poor results. I'd keep Aviles on the bench. This is a name from left field but maybe checking in on Kevin Youkilis wouldn't be a bad idea. Granted he's older and probably doesn't same stuff he had when he was in his prime in Boston but he murders left-handed pitching and could be a good platoon partner because he's a little older and looking for fewer ABs. He's also probably coming at a cheap price because of his injury.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 3:26 PM EST
Walter,

Amen to everything you said
Walter
November 3, 2013 - 3:04 PM EST
Reason so many comments is everyone hoping for exciting hot stove season coming of 92 win season. However winning the hot stove season does not guarantee a winning season. Ask the Blue Jays who were the off season winners last year and on the field losers.

I hope the Indians play it smart and continue the momentum that got created in 13. I respect all the comments on this site. I don't agree with everything but I do learn from what other people are thinking.
shy
November 3, 2013 - 2:44 PM EST
Lots of comments before the hot stove has even gotten hot. I guess loving the Browns is not enough to get you thru the night, let alone the winter. Browns need a makeover, maybe changing the name like the Aeros did. Come to think of it, the Browns could use the Aeros new name, just change one letter. Looking at Tony's outside closer list I would have to agree some better than others, but they are all in decline in my opinion- I would not sign any of them to close on at this point on a would be contending team. I think Gomes makes pitchers better- not as much as David Ross for Boston- OMG does he ever know how to break down a batter. But Gomes definitely has the instincts- with him as the everyday catcher next year, maybe CC Lee can turn into Uehara. He needs a good look, so does Carrasco. I think it's easier to get Carrasco to focus on 3 hitters than 27 and he has the stuff, the mental approach has to be instilled in him. And the Indians need to sign Kazmir, IMO. You have to be able to throw an LH starter in a 4 game series to keep the opponent- whether it's the Tigers, the Royals, the White Sox or the Twins, from getting in a comfortable groove.
Seth
November 3, 2013 - 1:51 PM EST
I think it would be a bad idea to spend any significant money on the bullpen. I'd prefer they bring in some reclamation projects with upside, e.g. Wilson, rather than spending money on a "proven" bullpen guy like Mujica or Joe Smith. And they already have a veteran reclamation project in-house with Pestano. Between him, Carrasco, Austin Adams, CC Lee, Price, to go along with Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw, and Scrabble, Hagadone and Crockett on the left hand side, they should have some decent back-end options. I also wonder about Salazar's ability to sustain success as a starter, but think he would be great as a closer. If they're going to spend money on a pitcher, I'd rather see them spend $7 million on someone like Scott Feldman as a starter and push Salazar to the bullpen.

For Kazmir, I would not make the QO. I kind of was thinking along those lines earlier, where if you're willing to spend 10 or 11 on a 1-year deal, why not go to $14, but that's too much for Kazmir and you'd be bidding against yourself. And that $3 million is another player you can't sign. Like if you do want a veteran bullpen arm, that extra 3-4 million to Kazmir is money you can't offer a bullpen guy. It would be a no-brainer for Kazmir to take the QO. At that point though, there are better options. No guarantees you can sign them, but there are better options. Go after Kazmir and Feldman on 2-year deals.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 1:19 PM EST
Walter,


I do agree that they need to keep the momentum going but the needs on this team simply aren't big outside of resigning Kazmir, finding a power hitter and closer. No sense in spending money unnecessarily
Matthew
November 3, 2013 - 1:14 PM EST
I respect your opinion, Tony, but I completely disagree.

The Indians have plenty of arms already on the team to fill out the bullpen. Spending multiple millions on a closer or any bullpen arm is just foolish.

I don't understand all the "you have to have a proven closer" talk when we just watched a playoffs in which 3 of 4 teams who made it to their Conference Championship Series did so with guys who weren't "proven closers" at the start of the season.
Walter
November 3, 2013 - 1:01 PM EST
Hiram

I disagree. I believe the Indians have to do both. Reason I say this there was a lot of excitement built up at the end of the year. There are higher expectations by fans going into 14. In order to increase attendance they can not sit still. I believe in order for the Indians to maintain 80-90 million payroll on a consistent basis they would need to avg 2 million fans in attendance.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 12:53 PM EST
Matt,

They should sign him to a long term deal and considering that they have a low payroll in '15 without the arbitration guys, I think it's very possible.

One thing is for certain is that the Indians don't need to make a ton of moves this offseason which is good. I know the farm system isn't where we all want it to be but, I do think it's improving and about two years away from being very good if the guys continue to progress and they continue to draft well.

I only bring this up because I expect the Indians to lean on that farm system alot more in 14 than it has in previous years to give contributions to this team at the MLB level.
Matt underwood
November 3, 2013 - 12:25 PM EST
To me, the biggest question this offseason...: what do they do with masterson?
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 12:24 PM EST
Walter,


Hanrahan, Wilson come to my mind... I to think Carassco will beat out McAllister
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 12:23 PM EST
Brandon,

I disagree on Chisenhall. I think the unfortunate injuries the past two years hurt his development and I think he take the tough year as a learning experience and get stronger. IMO, I think he's a player that will hit .2745-..280, 25-90. He has a gorgeous swing, a lightening quick bat and simply needs to get stronger to drive the ball out of the park or in the gaps.

The one thing that I was disappointed in was the fact that he would swing early and not do anything with the pitch. When he was selective at the plate he always made something happen. Also, he needs to stop popping up pitches. Far too many times it would be a fastball down the middle and he would pop up the pitch.


I think Chisenhall needs to use the offseason to get stronger with about 5-10 lbs of solid muscle and go over in his mind how he will attack those pitches that are simply out over the plate. Also, need to work the count a little better so he can get his pitch. You can see all the talent and skill he has.


Combining what he did in both AAA and MLB in '13 he had 18 -62 which isn't bad. I think we need to give this guy one more year of quality AB's. I'm pretty sure we will see something in the mode of .265, 22-75.
Walter
November 3, 2013 - 12:16 PM EST
I believe Francona has set the tone. If you do not perform than you do not play or be set down to Columbus to work out issues. I believe in spring training these players need step up . Carrasco, Hagadone, Tomlin, Bauer, Pestano, and Chisenhall. If that happens could be another good year for the Indians.

I don't know why people are now selling McAllister short. If I remember correctly he was 2nd best starter after Masterson before his finger injury. I think he will be out Carrasco for the 5th spot because of his mental toughness.

Question for the forum, which closers would you able to sign as closer for 1yr deal?
Brandon
November 3, 2013 - 12:00 PM EST
I would love to bring Smitty back on a 4 year/$20-22 million contract. If anyone is steady and consistent enough to close, it's Joe Smith. I'd rather resign a known commodity rather than gamble on a reclamation closer. All of those guys mentioned will be paid twice as much as they should simply because they have saved games in the past.

Even though Carrasco has been a disaster at times, I think it's appropriate to give him one last shot at being a starter. Worst case scenario, you have Tomlin waiting in AAA to take his spot and Carlos slides to the long man. He may hurt you early on, but can't the same thing be said about Chisenhall? Even winning franchises have to bite their tongues and let the young fellas stink for a while. Carrasco's talent is worth the risk.
Tony
November 3, 2013 - 11:57 AM EST
Yes, Carrasco SHOULD go to spring training as a starter and they SHOULD say that. If an injury crops up they need options. But there's always more behind what is being said.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 11:32 AM EST
Tony,

I understand what you're saying but the Indians have said that carrasco will go to ST as a starter. We'll see what happens though
Tony
November 3, 2013 - 11:16 AM EST
Sorry, the concentration is on winning, so they can't just continue to give Carrasco opps in light of another player. Right now McAllister is a better option. Carrasco could always fall into the role later in the year because of need.....but I believe they are intrigued with what he showed in the bullpen and he is a sleeper option as a closer.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 11:09 AM EST
Tony,

I think the Indians are going to give Carassco every opportunity to find himself as a starter because of his considerable upside and the fact that his stuff could translate him into moving him up the ladder in the rotation. I think by it being a #5 spot in the rotation it's not as crucial and you can carry a project sort of speak. Carassco has shown he can pitch as a starter at this level and now is the time to see if he can put it all together. If he pitches the way he did before the injury he not only will crush McAllister in that role but move up to be the ace of the staff. He needs to put it all together though. Remember how Tito carried Ubaldo during the 1st half? I expect the same thing with Carrasco if he shows something in ST.


I also think the patience with McAllister is starting to become short. I noticed that the Indians had ppl throwing in the pen in the 5th and definitely in the 6th innings. McAllister isn't a bad #5 guy but he often is fragile at crucial parts of the game and tends to give up big hits too.
Tony
November 3, 2013 - 11:00 AM EST
I don't see any way Carrasco wins the 5th start spot unless someone gets hurt. He was a mess this season in a starter's role and has been inconsistent over his entire career there at the ML level that nothing he does in spring training will change that perception. McAllister has at least been a solid starter and had MUCH more success at the ML level. I believe Carrasco will make the team (he has to since he's out of options), but will do so as a swing starter/long man out of the pen.

At the moment, the Indians don't really have a true elite pen arm in the minors to tab as a closer in the making. There are a lot of interesting guys, and obviously guys fall into the role.....but there are no clear options. Just from an experience standpoint I think Guilmet might be the best option. Guy just gets outs.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 10:53 AM EST
Tony,

Fair enough on Austin Adams but can you give me a name that would be considered a closer in the farm system??
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 10:42 AM EST
My team next year for the Indians:

Rotation: Masterson, Kluber, Salazar, Kazmir, Carrasco(I think he will beat out McAllister)

Bullpen: Hynes, Rzepczynski, Lee, Shaw, Allen, Pestano(lets hope he regains it), Hanrahan

Lineup: Bourn, Cabrera, Brantley, Hart, Kipnis, Swisher, Santana, Chisenhall, Gomes

Bench: Aviles, Raburn, Ramirez, Stubbs, Giambi

Tony
November 3, 2013 - 10:35 AM EST
I'd be fine with bringing Smith back.....I have already made my feelings for him known several times this offseason how I felt he was the most consistent and valuable arm in the pen last season.

I agree the Indians need to groom a closer, though it is why you just sign a FA to a one year deal. It gives them the opportunity to have someone in place while they work through that issue this coming season with Allen, Shaw and Pestano. Austin Adams is not a closer in the making, nor should be groomed as such. He's more of a mid-relief arm and probably more along the lines of a Blake Wood type pen arm.
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 10:34 AM EST
Joel Hanrahan makes a lot of sense for the Indians, BTW
Hiram
November 3, 2013 - 10:26 AM EST
Tony,

I agree with the Indians needing to find a closer and I would be cool with either one of those guys as the Indians closer on the right deal. One thing that needs to be said though is that it is just as important to groom that next closer during the season or have have an idea to fullfill that role.

The reason why this is so important because the season is so long that teams usually go thru 2-3 closers during the year. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals went thru three closers and the average among contending teams is two. My suggestion would be to put Austin Adams in the closer situation while in AAA to get him familiarity with that role so when the time comes he is fully ready to take that role over when the time comes.
Rocky55
November 3, 2013 - 10:09 AM EST
Everyone is saying Smith is gone but with Perez already gone I can't see why Smith can't be signed for 2yrs/$14million. It's just replacing Perez' money with Smith, who is a better reliever anyway.

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