The Indians had their doctors examine the 35-year-old Tuesday, and apparently felt Borowski was worth taking a chance on.You almost get the impression that the Tribe was going to sign him at 4 million in any scenario that didn't involve Borowski's arm falling off. Dellucci's was a done deal a long time ago. Cleveland just needed the formality of a physical.
So what does this mean?
The negatives of the deal are obvious. Borowski has been injury prone in his career, and at 35, I don't know that this is going to improve. In his breakout year, in 2003, with the Cubs, he was very good. He recorded 33 Saves with a 2.63 ERA. He had 66 K's in 68 innings. In 2004, he just wasn't right, recording an 8.00+ ERA in 20 innings before going down with a partially torn rotator cuff. After missing most of the next 2 seasons, Borowski came back last year with 36 saves, and a 3.82 ERA. Of course, he complained of a sore shoulder and elbow for much of the 2nd half of the season. He's a risk.
The positives? He's a closer. If healthy, he's equal to Bob Wickman, and that is a GOOD thing for all of you that were low on Wickman. He can pitch through pain, is a strikeout pitcher, and can get the job done. As a closer, the only question in his resume was that 2004 season where in 22 games he pitched horribly, but certainly had arm issues. This gives the Tribe two viable answers as closers, at least part time. Roberto Hernandez certainly can close on occasion, and Borowski is THE closer right now, if healthy. There's no risk in this deal either, since Cleveland locked him in for only a year, with a club option. In a fantastic situation, Borowski, along with Fultz and Hernandez are a sizable upgrade over last year's bullpen. It gives the young guys a chance to develop into more reliable major leaguers.
The bonus is that Cleveland isn't done yet. There are more moves on the horizon. They seem to be "out of the running" for Manny Ramirez in many circles. My belief here is that Shapiro is backing out for now. He knows the asking price by the BoSox is far to high. If Boston comes down, money isn't an issue. I don't think they'll get Manny, but I don't think they are completely out of it by any stretch. I wouldn't give up Miller, but if they came a-knocking asking for Crowe and Garko, you would have to consider it.
Cleveland will almost assuredly sign one of the following players: Eric Gagne, Octavio Dotel or Kevin Foulke. Foulke would be a good addition to the club, but I think his time has passed. Cleveland moved away from Foulke, and towards Dotel yesterday. It's believed that Kevin Foulke may stab Boston in the hearts by accepting arbitration (it could also help send Manny out of town...less money). We may not have heard the last of Foulke, but it is probable. Dotel appears to be the best bet. He's had 1 decent season as a closer, in 2004 when he saved 36 games for Oakland and Houston. He did struggle that year (and was traded because of Brad Lidge, who was the better pitcher), and eventually blew out his arm early in the 2005 season. He came back last year, and looked terrible for the Yankees. Cleveland was in the running for him as well, last year. Tribe scouts say his velocity is back, but his control is not. That's trouble. Eric Gagne is asking for 7-8 million. I think Cleveland would pay this amount, if they could get Gagne to agree with a 1 year deal with a club option. He wants a 2-3 year deal. Gagne has the most upside. He's only 30 years old, and 2 years ago was one of the most dominant stretches any closer has ever had.
You make a deal for Gagne, but you make sure it's to your liking. He puts a lot of stress on his arm, and he's no good on the bench.
Get Foulke, or Gagne. The bullpen is already better now. One more, gives us options, buys us time, and allows those young guys to step up as the season progresses. You add another pitcher the calibre of Foulke or Gagne, and if three of the 4 pan out, you immediately secure the late innings.
As for Manny? Watch and see. If he isn't dealt before the deadline, watch and see if I'm not right about Cleveland getting back into the mix. Give it time. I still think we are close to a big deal for someone. Is it Manny? I don't know. But we'll wait and see.
So far, so good.