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Tribe Happenings: Rotation needs an Extreme Makeover

Tribe Happenings: Rotation needs an Extreme Makeover
September 16, 2012
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Some news, notes, and thoughts from my Indians notebook…

Rotation needs an Extreme Makeover

As everyone tries to get their bearings after the Indians season was sent into a tailspin six weeks ago, it is time to start looking at the offseason and what the Indians need to do to win in the immediate future.

If the Indians want to get this thing going in the right direction as quickly as possible, they are going to need to pour almost every available resource they have this offseason into fixing their starting rotation. This is a task probably best suited for ABC and their crew from “Extreme Makeover”, but nonetheless, it is a task the Indians need to tackle head on this offseason to get things going in the right direction.

There is no doubt the lineup is a concern and there are holes that will need to be addressed there, but it has been proven time and time again that when you get good, consistent starting pitching that keeps your team in games that you can win a lot of games even while scoring only three or four runs in a game. When you have a good bullpen to back up the starting rotation – something the Indians have – then all the better.

Take the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays for example. Both teams have been as bad as the Indians offensively this season, but because of their starting pitching they are in the thick of the playoff race deep into September.

Entering play on Saturday the Indians were 60-85 while the Athletics were 83-61 and the Rays 78-66, and offensively all three teams have been poor this season. The Athletics are 11th in the American League in runs (610), the Rays 12th (599), and the Indians 12th (576). The Indians are 9th in the league in batting average (.247), the Rays 12th (.238), and the Athletics (.236). The Indians are 8th in the league in on-base percentage (.319), the Rays 10th (.314), and the Athletics 13th (.307). The Athletics are 10th in slugging percentage (.398), the Rays 12th (.385), and the Indians 13th (.381). And maybe the most important team stat, the Athletics are 11th in the league in OPS (.705), the Rays 12th (.700), and the Indians 13th (.700).

In a nutshell, all three teams have subpar lineups.

But the big difference – and the reason why the Athletics and Rays are so much better than the Indians right now – is that the Indians have one of the worst starting rotations in the league while the Rays and Athletics have two of the strongest.   Rays starters are 1st in the American League in ERA (3.40), the Athletics are 2nd (3.68), and the Indians 13th (5.29); Rays starters are 1st in the league in batting average against (.241), the Athletics 7th (.260), and the Indians 13th (.284); Rays starters are 1st in the league in OPS against (.682), the Athletics 2nd (.699) and the Indians 13th (.803); Athletics starters are 3rd in the league in strikeouts per walks (2.78), the Rays 5th (2.77), and the Indians 13th (1.77).

There is your difference right there, and why the Athletics and Rays are still playing for something this season and why the Indians are just playing out the string.

It is also why if the Indians want to get the ship righted this offseason as quickly as possible that they need to upgrade their starting rotation and make several shrewd decisions with who will occupy the five spots next season. As far as I am concerned, the only pitcher that should have a lock on a rotation spot for next season is right-hander Justin Masterson, although an argument could be made even he shouldn’t. After Masterson there should be an open competition between all the others to fill one or two spots at most, and then they need to go out and find at least two reliable starting pitchers via trade or free agency to fill the other spots.

As mentioned in this space a few weeks back, the Indians have to make a decision on right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez ($5.75M) and Roberto Hernandez ($6.0M) on whether to pick up their club options for next season. Some people say they should pick up their options because of their talent and potential, which is true, but a big reason for the struggles of the starting rotation the past two seasons has been due to the inconsistency and poor pitching from both pitchers. Knowing that, it may be best to wipe their hands clean and move on from both players, and at the very least one of them (likely Hernandez).

If they keep Masterson and Jimenez, and then go out and acquire at least two legit starting pitchers to round out the top four of the rotation, the team could improve a lot with those two moves alone. And that’s without even touching the offense yet. They can leave the last spot in the rotation open for a battle in spring training between right-handers Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber, and Jeanmar Gomez, and maybe even lefty David Huff could be in that competition.

And of course right-hander Carlos Carrasco could factor into the mix, although considering he did not pitch this season he will probably be limited to about 150-160 innings next season. Knowing how the Indians do things, they will probably manage his workload on the front end and have him open the season in extended spring training and then make hi available as an option in early May.

Bottom line, they absolutely cannot go into next season with a five-man rotation that includes two Jekyll and Hyde pitchers like Jimenez and Hernandez, a guy coming off a major arm surgery in Carrasco, and inconsistent, unproven young pitchers from the likes of McAllister, Kluber, Gomez and others.

They have to go out and be aggressive and acquire at least two starting pitchers this offseason to stabilize their greatest weakness as a team. Those pitchers don’t need to be elite, they just need to be steady, proven pitchers that can come in and give them consistent, reliable outings each time they go out there.

That will go a long way at getting them back on track as a team. They need more than a few starting pitchers to get the team back into contention, but it is a great place to start their Extreme Makeover.

As for the offense…

While the starting pitching has been the Indians’ biggest problem area this season, the offense is not that far behind.

The Indians should spend most of their resources on upgrading the starting rotation, but they should definitely pay attention and get creative in finding ways to help strengthen the lineup. At the moment the Indians have two gaping holes in left field and first base they have to do a much better job of filling this offseason, something they failed to do last offseason.

They do not have internal options to fill left field and first base on an everyday basis. Sure, the likes of Russ Canzler and Ezequiel Carrera have looked good in spurts, but the more they play the more they prove why they are better as bench and depth options playing two to three days a week rather than six to seven days a week. The Indians need more proven production from both positions, which will be difficult to find on a limited budget that will probably be almost wiped out by much needed pitching upgrades.

But it can be done.

They need to rethink their process and how they evaluate talent based on both subjective and objective data and try to find those diamonds in the rough that some other teams have been able to find of late. The mega free agents are not the only ones that can bring a positive impact to a team.

Look at how deals for players like Cody Ross, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Doumit, Eric Chavez and others have worked out for teams that signed them to one year deals this past offseason. Sure, for some of those guys there was a lot of luck involved, but all of the front offices involved in those deals are good, savvy groups, so maybe the Indians can take something away from each of their processes.

If the Indians are able to parlay a few additions to the starting rotation with two solid but unspectacular players in the lineup, then they could have something to work with next season. That may be wishful thinking, particularly for a team working with a shoestring budget and a passive front office when it comes to making offseason moves, but the hope is they will take off the kid gloves this offseason and be a lot more aggressive.

The Indians have a solid core of pieces in place with the lineup already with second baseman Jason Kipnis, center fielder Michael Brantley, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, and catcher Carlos Santana. Those are five solid players which serve as a good foundation to build upon with the lineup.

Another player who could give a boost to the lineup and be another core piece going forward is third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.  It is now or never with Chisenhall at third base, and unless he is hurt next year he should be the starting third baseman for the Indians next season. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve against left-handed pitching, then he has the potential to impact the lineup with his good bat.

Remember, Chisenhall does not even turn 24-years old for another three weeks, so he has yet to tap into his true potential at the Major League level. Injuries the past two seasons have held him back, but when he has played this year he has performed as he is hitting .287 with 4 HR, 11 RBI and .809 OPS in 30 games this year for the Indians.

It is time to sink or swim with Chisenhall and stop messing around with Jack Hannahan at third base. Hannahan is a good guy, great teammate, and a good defender, but he kind of symbolizes a lot of what is wrong with the Indians’ approach to filling out their Major League roster. He’s a fringe Major League player that should be on the bench whose limitations come to the forefront when pressed into a starting role.

With both Santana and Kipnis a year older and more experienced, the steady Cabrera, Choo and Brantley, and the potential impact of Chisenhall, the Indians have some pieces in place with the lineup for next year and beyond. But there is work to be done there, especially if they were to trade Choo this offseason, so it will make for an interesting offseason to see what changes – if any – they make with the lineup.

Low point for fans

Things have fallen so hard and so fast over the past six weeks with the Indians going from the fringe of contention to league doormat.  With the way the Indians have cratered this season, all of the question marks with the roster, and few players on the minor league front ready to step in and immediately impact the team, it has been a long time since people have been so down on this organization.

The Indians have had their recent struggles, but none like this. In 2003 when they struggled through a rebuilding year and went just 68-94, but that was an extremely young team and the future was bright with all the young talent that they had on the roster (I still wonder how they did not win a World Series in 2005 or 2007 with that pitching staff). They also went 65-97 just three years ago in Eric Wedge’s last season as manager of the team.

You have to go back to 1991 when the Indians went 57-105 when the Indians were this bad and the future was this uncertain. The current Indians look a lot like that team, though it remains to be seen what the likes of Kipnis, Santana, and others become as that 1991 team had the likes of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Charles Nagy, Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga who were either coming up in the minors or were not yet established big leaguers.

No matter how you look at it the Indians are at their lowest point as an organization in over 20 years. They are on the verge of losing 93 or more games for the third time in the last four seasons, and they have only two winning seasons in their last 11 seasons.

It has been a tough time to be an Indians fan the last 11 seasons. With so much losing year after year, the team only investing in one major free agent during that span (Kerry Wood), and seeing almost every good player being traded for prospects, the patience of the Indians fan is completely used up. Even for a Tribe optimist like me it is hard to be very positive about anything.

Considering where the fans are with this team and how apathetic people have become, you have to think that some serious changes to the makeup of the coaching staff and/or front office are coming. Whether it is right or wrong, drastic changes to the coaching staff and front office may be the only way to bring hope to a fan base that does not care anymore.

Draft race

We are down to the final two weeks of the season. While the Indians are no longer playing for a chance at the postseason, how they finish will affect where they select in next June’s MLB Draft.

As things currently sit, the Indians would select 5th in next year’s draft. Both the Indians and Twins are tied for the 4th spot with 60-86 records, but the tiebreaker goes to the team with the worst record the previous season. Last year the Indian went 80-82 and the Twins went 63-99, so it is why if the Indians tie with the Twins that the Twins would get the higher (better) pick.

Parting shots

Huff is taking over Gomez’s spot in the starting rotation and will make his first start on Tuesday against the Twins.  He will be limited to 75-85 pitches his first outing to get him built back up. … Cabrera returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing about a week with a sprained right wrist and went 1-for-4 with an RBI. … Brantley is out of the lineup and is day to day with a strained left pectoral muscle. … Infielder Jason Donald was struck on the hand by a Justin Verlander fastball on Friday night, though was lucky as he only suffered a contusion to his right wrist and is day to day. … Designated hitter Travis Hafner is expected to take batting practice this weekend. The Indians are hopeful that he will return from his back injury before the end of the season. … Carrasco threw another rehab outing on Friday night for Akron and in 2.0 innings allowed four runs on four hits, a home run, no walks, and had one strikeout.

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

September 20, 2012 - 8:20 AM EDT
We are actually on the same page Norm. As for Choo and Perez, I think trading them helps fill more holes/roles than keeping them. Even if kept, they still have a lot of holes to fill, and to me, pitching is harder to find on the FA market so why I advocate a trade of Choo for an arm (or two).
September 19, 2012 - 5:43 PM EDT
Issue solved, Tony. When I say "sign", I am not limiting it to FAs. Matter of fact, the thought of the Indians being able to sign 8-10 quality FAs, however much money they have is mind boggling to me. I was including all signees and agree with you that is a possible course. It depends if they want to compete next year. I would spend the big bucks if they can find FAs good enough to make them competitive that will sign at LF and 1B and quality depth. I don't know if the Indians can sign a quality (MOR) starting pitcher with Hernandez' money but am not adverse to that.

I just don't think the Indians can find the quality of help for the ML roster to trade Perez and Choo. Maybe next year if they cannot contend at midseason but good ballplayers are in short supply on the Indians.
September 19, 2012 - 8:35 AM EDT
Norm, you said:

"Trying to figure out how the Indians replace the FO and manager and sign 8-10 quality players for the 25 man with the limited budget and expect anything better than this year and last."

And all I am saying is I never said they will "sign" 8-10 players. There could be 8-10 "moves" made for sure though. But they absolutely will not sign 8-10 players in FA.
September 18, 2012 - 5:10 PM EDT
Tony, I am not trying to be difficult but I am having trouble finding the distinction you do between the comments. So let's move on!

It sounds like your are prepared to "blow up" the Indians FO, ownership or anything just to get a massive change. It sounds similar to the Browns formula, which has not been real successful. I am not sure it can work successfully with "have not" franchises but I suppose there have been some. But whatever you do, you cannot change the fact that it is being done in Cleveland. I cannot think of another city in the USA that has three such inept major sport franchises. Is there a correlation between the city and the lack of success from its professional teams?
September 18, 2012 - 8:44 AM EDT
Norm, I was simply just responding to what you replied about them not being able "to sign 8-10 players". They obviously won't do that. Now, will they make 8-10 position changes in the offseason including all moves from within, FA, and trades? I very well could see that.

And, it remains to be seen how exactly they attack the offseason. They failed miserably this year. Perhaps their strategy will change and they are more aggressive in FA and trades this offseason. Perhaps they just stay the course. Who knows. But I have a feeling some major changes are coming this offseason be it to personnel making decisions, coaching the players, and/or the philosophy with player acquisitions as well.
September 18, 2012 - 8:35 AM EDT
I really don't see how the Indians' management can PLAN on contending next year. They're going to lose about 95 games and they're not even going to try to acquire a FOR starter or a Cespedes or Willingham in FA. And we're seeing right now what the upper farm system has to offer - LaPorta, Canzler, Donald, Carrera, Huff, Kluber...come on.

Adding two run-of-the-mill starters won't make them contenders.

The only reasonable course I see is to trade Choo and Perez for the highest upside prospects they can bring, even if they're in A/AA ball like Sizemore, Phillips, and Lee were when we made the Colon deal. Give McAlister, Kluber, Salazar, Barnes, Carrasco and Gomez major league opportunities as soon as possible. Hopefully we end up with two or three good long term starters out of that group.

Draft starting pitching. Then draft more starting pitching.
September 18, 2012 - 5:11 AM EDT
Hey Tony, how do you get four when you have mentioned seven players to be replaced already? You already have Chis at 3B to replace Hanahan and replacements for Choo and Perez in addition to 2 pitchers and LF/1B you already have and that is a minimum of seven. If you tell me that this team is going to go with some combination of the bench players we have now, then the Indians cannot compete without any ML depth. Hard for me to envision how two more Lowe's and Slowey's are going to do the team much good. There is an abundance of BOR types on the roster right now. If they want to cut Hernandez, then they might have enough for a decent pitcher as Seth suggested which looks better to me than inning eaters. I still think the Indians will have a difficult time signing any quality players.
September 17, 2012 - 2:22 PM EDT
The biggest difference between the A's is they have been willing to take risks on more expensive free agents who the Indians don't even consider. (and, they have no actually been more successful than the Indians since '05) For a while they were signing guys with a pretty clear intention of trading at the deadline for prospects, like when they signed Holliday when they otherwise had no shot at contention. That's where the Indians really suffer, they settle for signing non-upgrades like Kotchman, who everyone knew was a non-upgrade, but end up spending as much on 3 or 4 replacement-level non-entities as they would have spent on 1 guy who would've actually upgraded the team (e.g. the Willingham non-signing.) They seem to think signing three below average players is better than signing one decent player. Delucci/Michaels was the original move of that type, and they keep making the same mistake, which doesn't save them money, and clogs the roster with wastes of space like Kotchman, Cunningham, Damon, etc.

In that regard, I'd rather see them make a play for 1 good pitcher, rather than sign two "innings eaters". Don't be afraid to commit 8 figures on a short-term deal. It's better than signing 2 guys who are marginal upgrades to Kluber/Jimenez whose combined salary is the same.
September 17, 2012 - 10:57 AM EDT
Rich, it all depends on the course of action the Indians take. Do they REALLY plan to contend next year? If so, then wholesale changes are needed to the rotation. Whether or not they can or can't contend, if they do plan on it, then this is what I am getting at. McAllister is probably a guy you would have to pencil in as a BOR starter if that is the case and sink or swim with him like the Athletics did with a lot of their guys. But the Indians absolutely have to find at least two pitchers that can eat innings and keep their team in the game. If they don't plan to contend, then yes, I agree that Kluber and McAllister and maybe even Gomez should be in the rotation next year. But I am with Richard who posted right after you in that they need to jettison a lot of the current pitching staff just to start anew and rid themselves of some awful pitching this year (and the last two years really).

Rondon is a minor league free agent.....but I see him getting the same treatment as Adam Miller two years ago. Miller was a free agent after the 2010 season, but resigned with the Indians since he was still coming off injury and really only the Indians knew if he could pitch since they were the only ones able to see him since others teams could not scout him. So I would be surprised if Rondon is not back on a minor league deal for 2013. But if he is healthy, he could certainly be a pen option in 2013.

Art, I agree on the Athletics method, and really, they probably were more lucky than they are geniuses. I do think the Indians need to go with some of their young arms, but it is imperative that the Indians do their due diligence and make a few FA pickups for the starting rotation along the lines of what they did with Colon and McCarthy. You fail much more than you succeed with those kind of deals, but it is about time the Indians catch a break there and find a diamond in the FA rough like they did with Millwood a few years back.

If the Indians do trade Perez and Choo like I think they will, they could potentially get a ML caliber OF for Perez (to replace Choo) and a ML starting pitcher for Choo. And, maybe a prospect or two as well that comes out of those deals. They have to hit on whatever they get for them.

No one is saying the Indians have to sign 8-10 players. I don't think signing two FA starting pitchers and two FA bats is asking a lot.

And Ubaldo is untradable. Almost no value on the market, even if he has 1-2 good months. No one has any faith he can sustain anything.
September 17, 2012 - 8:35 AM EDT
Art, I'd love to bring up three starters from AA and finish 2nd in the AL in team ERA like the A's are doing, but I just don't see it happening.

Maybe if we start Salazar, Barnes, Carrasco, and Rondon next year they tear it up, but I'm just not a believer. However, I really don't want to see Hernandez slog his way through another season with an ERA north of 5.00.

I think we should go with Masterson and Ubaldo, followed by three yutes. McAlister and Kluber have earned the first shot. Carrasco is next. Hopefully somebody else emerges from the minors, like that Quintana guy in Chicago.

If Ubaldo has a good month, try to move him.
September 17, 2012 - 5:15 AM EDT
I am with Rich on this one. Trying to figure out how the Indians replace the FO and manager and sign 8-10 quality players for the 25 man with the limited budget and expect anything better than this year and last. Hard to expect that much with rapid turnover everywhere. It does not look like the September callups are ML quality from their performance thus far. Spend the money on 1B and LF and sign some decent depth. I am not even sure I would trade Choo and Perez unless the return is exceptional.
September 17, 2012 - 1:43 AM EDT
Lose, develop, draft high, sign FA's, aim for 2014.
Now or never for Chisenhall? Too soon for that.
McCallister belongs in the rotation next year.
Masterson, probably, should be in it.
Jiminez should be retained and traded if possible.
Kluber vs. Huff vs. Salazar vs. Murata vs. McFarland for 3 spots.
Lose, develop, draft high, sign FA's, aim for 2014.
September 16, 2012 - 7:45 PM EDT
This off season will be interesting as well, with player options on their contracts. I think dropping Hafner is a no brainer, or at least re-worked where base salary is commensurate with his performance over the last few years. Perhaps incentive laden, as he could still have some value if he can stay healthy. A big "if". As well, team options are held on Fausto Hernandez and Jiminez. Do they want to put out $12 mil. to 2 pitchers that carry ERA's over 5 ? Also, Ubaldy has a clause that turns 2014 option to a players option if he is traded. Finally, it may be time to cut ties with Grady. As much as he has been a big fan favorite, his injuries are just too much to overcome.
If you are going to re-do or re-shape this team, maybe the best thing is to do it now, get rid of these players, trade the usable parts (Choo and Perez) and look for suitable players to fill in for a few years until the young ones mature. Boy, Willingham and Headley would have looked good. I would find it easier to support the Indians if they did the rebuild now and played young players that at least have a chance to develop. The group brought in this year have been a collective flop, save Rogers, so do it now, can Shapiro, Anonetti and Acta, Bring in John Farrell as G.M., let Sandy manage the young players, and roll the dice. Of course, there is one other option..... hire Billy Beane !!
September 16, 2012 - 5:29 PM EDT
I think Kluber, Gomez are mediocre at best at the major league level. And Carrasco was no great shakes before he got hurt. Low arm slot and flat pitches- easy to square up. All three of these guys give up too many xtra base hits to be frontline starters. Masterson has great stuff but is too nice, doesn't have that killer put em away mentality.. He is like Tebow, a man of faith and an occasional out of this world performance, but not a consistent starter. I say trade him if you can get a really good right-handed hitting 5 tool outfield prospect. There are other Josh Reddick's out there, whether Antonetti can ID them is doubtful. I think Scott Barnes should play winter ball and be given a shot as a starter- if he can build stamina and consistency .I talked to Dick Tidrow about him. 3-4 yrs ago he was considered one of the 2 best lefty starting prospects in the Giants org, the other one was Madison Bumgarner. Scott's no Koufax, but the Indians can't break another training camp w zero LH starting pitching. Huff, how many chances can you give him.? Trade him. I would also bring Salazar, Rondon, and the Toru the magnificent to camp, and Armstrong as well, and let them know they're going to be given a legit opportunity. I have watched at least 30 A's victories this year won by Parker, Griffin, Straily, and Milone- all these guys came out of Double A within the past 18 months and pretty much nobody is hurting them. My pick for AL pennant is the A's. Cespedes back and healthy, playing out of his mind. 18 rookies on the 40 man roster, 70 something HR's since the All Star Break. Showalter and the Orioles came in flying high and are leaving w a serious wing-clip
September 16, 2012 - 3:25 PM EDT
Since the A's were prominently mentioned in this article I want to point out that 85 of their 145 games this year have been handled by a rookie starting pitcher.

Also, I want to point out that only one of those rookie starting pitchers was considered a "plus" prospect prior to this season, Jarrod Parker. If you look at the deals Beane did this past year, two of the three "top ranked" starting pitchers he acquired have yet to even see the majors, AJ Cole and Brad Peacock.

I mention this because of how we are discussing assembling a staff for next season. The A's did it on the cheap, even their veteran pitching this season was only the $2.0 million paid for a one year rental of Bartolo Colon and a $4.3 million payment to the previously discarded Brandon McCarthy.
September 16, 2012 - 1:12 PM EDT
Rondon is a minor league FA, unless he is added to the 40 man roster which may be unlikely. It's doubtful that he would look to move on bc of the familiarity with the org. and Rondon's injuries / recoveries.
I seriously consider adding him to the 40 man roster. I think he has a major league future in the pen.
September 16, 2012 - 12:53 PM EDT
I would say this team looks a lot like the team in 2010. Which isn't surprising, since it's full of the usual suspects, with Masterson leading the way as his 2010 self, intermittent Hafner appearances, Donald being Donald, and Grady being on the DL all year. Of course, they started 2011 by going 31-15 or whatever with the same cast. They remain a bipolar team.

Any possible free agent pitching pickups for next year? As long as he's able to pitch after the head injury, I would think they could possibly go after Brandon McCarthy. The shoulder and now this latest injury will drive down the price into Indians length and range.

For outfield, I'd go after Victorino, with his age and coming off a down year, and the Dodgers unlikely to pursue him, I would think his salary would be in the Indians range, and even this year he killed left handed pitching. Bring Sizemore on a minor league deal, see if he can DH. They don't need to worry about 1b because they have Lars Anderson.

McCarthy, Masterson, Carrasco, Jimenez, McAllister. It's time to move on from the idea that Gomez can be an effective major league starter, and we moved on from that idea about Huff 2 years ago. I'd say Kluber and Scott Barnes are the two in-house options to fill in, but they unfortunately messed with Barnes this year and likely hurt his development as a starter. Kluber has some talent but is so unreliable ... I'd see his future more as a reliever. But probably open the season with Kluber, until Carrasco joins them.

What are the thoughts on Rondon? It seems his command has been decent, which is surprising given the long layoff from some pretty nasty injuries. If he remains healthy, is he an option for the bullpen next year if/when they trade Perez?
September 16, 2012 - 11:29 AM EDT
I really don't want anybody associated with the stink of this season. I hope we have about 15 different faces on the 25 man squad next year. Including new management and coaches.
I really think if the FO would have read all the suggestions in the IPI forums last off season, we would have had a better club.
September 16, 2012 - 9:55 AM EDT
I take it you want them to sign two journeymen starters to buy time for the starters in the system to develop? Guys like Kluber, Carrasco, Adams, Salazar, and McFarland, plus the next Pomeranz who we'll draft at #4 this year?

I respectfully disagree. I don't see the benefit of having McAlister and Kluber go back to Columbus while somebody like Jake Westbrook eats innings in Cleveland. These guys are ready to sink or swim in the bigs, and they've earned a shot. Start them every five games and see if they can establish themselves as legit ML starters or if they're Jeremy Sowers.

That gives us a rotation of Masterson, Ubaldo, McAlister and Kluber, with Carrasco being added in June. So we just need a 5th starter for April and May. Since we're not contending next year anyway I'm fine with Gomez or Huff filling in until they bring up Carrasco.

With no need to acquire veteran ML starters, the resources the Indians have can be used to fill the holes at first base and left field, or to acquire high upside starting pitching prospects. They have Choo and Perez to trade and some money freed up by the expiring contracts of Hafner, Sizemore and Lowe. Use the money to fill the holes in LF and 1B. Use Choo and Perez to get some high powered arms for the future and begin the extreme makeover.

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