Monday, November 27, 2006

Tribe Offseason: The Calm Before the Storm, or...

The Nothing before the Nothing.

I think The Diatribe makes some fantastic points about keeping your core intact. The Tribe does have one of those core groups that are remarkably similar to the core that the Indians had in the early 90's. The marked difference is that this group of Tribe starters is much better (and needs to stay put), and there isn't as much power as the Thome/Belle with bit parts by Sorrento, Ramirez (ultimately a stalwart) and Murray. What Hart was able to do 13 years ago was to sign some players that could bridge the gap, and make the Indians more viable in the clubhouse, and on the field to win titles. Cleveland obviously needs a better bullpen. It absolutely COULD come from the minors, although you would love to have experience in there. What you DON'T want, is good experience at a premium price. What you DON'T want is to deal away your prime prospects.

However, the opposite side of the coin comes from Guy Conti, a baseball lifer, and former scout and coach for everyone under the sun, and current Met Bullpen coach. I worked a baseball camp for Conti for several years in the mid-80's when he was with the Pirates, and then as a Roving Instructor for the Dodgers. We were talking about some clubs, and he said something like,
I develop and search for talent. It's my job. To many times, people get to caught up in my job, and not what they are doing currently. How many times do you think a team missed a window of opportunity because they were always searching for the future, and not for the present. If you think you can win the World Series, or close to it, you deal away those prospects, period. It makes my job harder, but so what. The whole point is to win the damn series.
Are we there yet? Are we the Tigers? I keep thinking about the talk by EVERYONE about trading for Bullpen help, and I keep thinking about the Reds last year. You remember when Kearns and Lopez went for 2 relievers. Then they continued acquiring relief help with Guardado, and several other moves. Did they make the playoffs?

Bottom line is that chasing after bullpen help is risky, and you don't deal away top prospects for it. You mix and match, and if you are lucky, you get the bullpen from 2005. Nobody expected THAT bullpen, so why do we all the sudden expect it AGAIN, by trading prospects?

If you deal prospects, you deal them for sure things, for superstars, for players that will make the difference. Work the bullpen from within. Continue picking players up through the year. Tinker, keep your starters healthy, and make sure you have a solid closer.

If they deal directly for a relief pitcher with someone like Garko, or Miller, they are making an investment in garbage...period.

I have no problem with going after Carl Crawford, and paying to much for him. No, I don't want to do what the Red Sox did, and deal away a rookie of the year, a no hitter and other quality for Josh Beckett. But I would give away a top hitter (Crowe) and a top young pitcher to put Crawford in left field. The key, of course, would be health...and if the brass can figure out the bullpen.

I'm okay with dealing away prospects, as long as you answer questions, and put people in play that make your team better.

Will the Tribe do that, or will the Tribe spend to much for freakin' bullpen help that may or may not help.

Time will tell.

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