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Sunday, August 12, 2012

How can the Cleveland Indians find the pieces to contend in 2013?

This guy here is dead.

Then cross him off!

This is not the time to begin a total rebuild. For one thing, what would the Indians rebuild with? The building blocks should have come from the trades of Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Those two deals have brought a center fielder in Michael Brantley and a backup catcher in Lou Marson. Carlos Carrasco figures to join the rotation next year following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, but no one sees him as a front of the rotation starter. Utility man Jason Donald replaced Hafner on the roster Thursday, but if the Indians thought so highly of him, why did they go out and trade for Brent Lillibridge?

As for Matt LaPorta, who has spent all but a minute or two of this season at Class AAA Columbus, it’s hard to believe he’s going to be in the organization next year. He may get a call between now and the end of the season, but if the same people stay in charge, it’s hard to see him playing an important role in the future of the Tribe.

The core of the team is thin: Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez. Shin-Soo Choo has the talent to be part of it, but he’ll be a free agent after the 2013 season and has rebuffed the Indians’ repeated attempts to sign him to an extension. If the Indians want to bring new talent into the organization, trading Choo would be a good start before he escapes.

Choo doesn’t have the market value of a Cy Young winner, but it’s interesting that he was recently dropped from his highly productive role in the leadoff spot to the No. 3 spot. Is his RBI ability being showcased?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: grady sizemore, indians, shin soo choo, travis hafner

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   1. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: August 12, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4206833)
The Indians are young and above-average at all four up-the-middle-positions, plus Choo. The offensive core definitely isn't "thin" but the pitching sucks.
   2. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4206839)
How can the Cleveland Indians find the pieces to contend in 2013?
Join the International League.

This team isn't going to be a serious contender before 2015-6 at the absolute earliest. There's no pitching, there's no left fielder, there's no first baseman, and there's no money forthcoming to go get any of those things. Unless Shapiro can teach Antonetti the Jedi mind tricks he used to get opposing GMs to give him Sizemore, Hafner, Cabrera, Choo, and Santana, the only way the Indians contend is if they draft a contender.

And given the Indians' recent draft history, I wouldn't hold my breath.
   3. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4206841)
While the contenders in the central are spenders, they really aren't that far below the MLB mean in salary. A few years and maybe 10 million would be enough to make them solid. But, that won't happen.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4206881)
There's no pitching, there's no left fielder, there's no first baseman

Only the first one is a real problem. As is, they're an above-average offense. And MLB abounds with guys other orgs gave up on and had nice runs -- Pena, Encarnacion, Bautista, anybody on the A's, Morse, Melky, Gaby Sanchez, Ludwick, LaHair -- and they just need to find the next one of those. Why they weren't in on Sanchez or, earlier, Youk is an interesting question. They can certainly build a good offense here.

But yeah the piteching is a mess and there's no cheap way to fix a starting rotation. They desperately need a Jimenez bounceback and for Zach McAllister to be for real (peripherals look solid) and then they've got to find a cheap league-average guy or two. Who's the current Jon Garland?
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4206891)
How can the Cleveland Indians find the pieces to contend in 2013?

Join the International League.


Sign Johnny Damon.
   6. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4206893)
You'd think so, Walt, but the Indians haven't had a reliably good first baseman since Thome or a reliably good left fielder since Giles.

I don't know the point at which it becomes an organizational blind spot instead of a weird string of coincidences, but if we're not there yet, we're sure as heck getting there.
   7. Dan Posted: August 12, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4206929)
Carlos Santana played LF for a few innings today. I thought that was pretty interesting. He didn't look awful out there either. If he could play out there 1-2 games a week when he's not catching, that'd give them some interesting lineup flexibility.
   8. McCoy Posted: August 12, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4206932)
Alfonso Soriano is available.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2012 at 08:28 PM (#4206962)
Well, the list of teams that win without a real LF or 1B is pretty long. If you are strong offensively at (probably at least 3 of) C, 2B, SS, 3B and CF then you can still have a quite good offense if you can find just one corner player (Choo). I'm not sure how reliable Kipnis' and Bradley's offense is, but those guys plus Santana and Cabrera is a very nice start on an offense. But, fair enough, with that staff their only chance is to slug their way to a title and a 103 team OPS+ ain't gonna get that done, so beefing up 1B, LF and 3B would be a good idea, probably cheaper and more reliable than trying to beef up the rotation.

Hmmm, I had no idea the Jake was such a pitchers park. I had no idea the Twins offense is on fire -- Trevor Plouffe is carrying a 130 OPS+, Ryan Doumit is at 125 and Justin Morneau has bounced back to solid.
   10. cmd600 Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4206976)
They desperately need a Jimenez bounceback and for Zach McAllister to be for real (peripherals look solid) and then they've got to find a cheap league-average guy or two


This, along with hoping that the real Masterson is the 2011 version not the 2012 version. I'm not holding my breath, but the Indians certainly have the potential to get close to 90 wins next year (we said contending, not making the playoffs), and it would really help if their cheap veteran hey-we-used-to-be-good! pickups were even mediocre instead of 2012 Damon/Lowe.

In other words: They have to be pretty much perfect with their scouting and coaching. The joys of small market baseball!
   11. AROM Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4206978)
"Why they weren't in on Sanchez or, earlier, Youk is an interesting question."

Yeah, very good question. Especially since they've established they had a player the Red Sox preferred to Lillibridge.
   12. cmd600 Posted: August 12, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4206998)
Why they weren't in on Sanchez or, earlier, Youk


They were in on Youkilis. Supposedly it would have cost them Tomlin, which is a great move in retrospect, but for a team that needed pitching more than hitting, probably understandable. And at the time they had Chisenhall up and hitting pretty well.
   13. Dan Posted: August 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4207018)
Hmmm, I had no idea the Jake was such a pitchers park. I had no idea the Twins offense is on fire -- Trevor Plouffe is carrying a 130 OPS+, Ryan Doumit is at 125 and Justin Morneau has bounced back to solid.


Morneau has actually been better than solid against RHP - .309/.379/.568, basically the same hitter he's always been. But he hasn't done a thing against LHP - .215/.259/.308. He's always had significant splits, but not quite to this level.

Josh Willingham also has a 150 OPS+!

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