Friday, December 15, 2006

The Cleveland Indians--The GLASS ISN'T HALF EMPTY, it's half full

I've absolutely had it with the games about this team. For crying out loud people, WAKE THE HELL UP! It's blatantly obvious to me that most people have lost their sense of reality when it comes to the Indians, Major League baseball, and free agent signings.

Perhaps you have watched to much ESPN, which pretty much believes baseball begins and ends with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

You may be the same crew that thinks that the new collective bargaining agreement being signed with no stoppage (while again avoiding a hard cap) is a good thing. the Dojo, stop drinking the Kool-Aid, and start living in the reality.

Here's the real deal.

1. Get off the horse with free agent and tradable "superstars." Most Tribe fans that are frustrated by the Indians signings and trades this year are the same fans that think the Indians SHOULD have traded for the likes of Gary Sheffield or Manny Ramirez. Or, perhaps signed the likes of Moises Alou, JD Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano or well...THAT'S IT FOR PRIMO, NON-PITCHING FREE AGENTS, or folks on the block. So, are you really that upset that the Tigers got Sheffield for a bunch of good young talent? Really? Am I the only one that remembers that Sheffield misses more and more time every year, isn't getting any younger and is trouble with a T in the clubhouse? I'm not. The best thing the Tribe didn't do was trade for this guy, and EXTEND his contract. Manny? I would love to have him, but there aren't but 2 or 3 guys I'd deal my TOP 3 prospect for. If Manny were 5 years younger...I'd throw his name in there for that price. He's not, and I wouldn't. Listen carefully...both of those guys would be solid aditions, but you don't trade away half your farm team for them. Moises Alou? He's 40 years old and injury prone. Sure, you get this guy for small money, and Cleveland did presumably make the highest bid for him, but I'm glad we didn't get him. JD Drew and Nomar are both fantastic players. Now all those that think they will be healthy for 160...150...140...130 games next year raise your hand. You...over there...with your hand you know anything about the game? The topper? Nomah signed for 2 years at 9.5 million a year. Again, a big gamble for a great player...but there's NO WAY you get the total value for that deal. Drew was even more confounding, as he signed a 5 year deal at 14 million a year. I can't even comment on that. The deal is ridiculous, and again, I'm glad Cleveland didn't attempt at swinging something that big. Lee and Alfonso are both fantastic offensive players, and I wanted Cleveland to go after BOTH. Reality? Alfonso signed AN 8 YEAR FREAKIN' DEAL AT 17 MILLION A FREAKIN' YEAR! Sorry...I nearly passed out at the ridculousness of that deal, especially when you consider Soriano is 30 years old. So those that are hoping Cleveland signs a Grade A prospect, the picking were slim, and the spenders were idiots.

2. CLEVELAND SHOULD HAVE SIGNED BETTER RELIEF PITCHERS, AND GOTTEN A CLOSER! Oh shut up. Here were your prospects this year...not all...but ones you heard about. Danys Baez, Octavio Dotel, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, and...well...who CARES! Are you saying you want Baez at 6 and a quarter million? Didn't we already do that and hate it? Dotel, as intriguing as he is, has arm issues and is 33 on top of it. Gagne is a gamble and signed for a 6 million dollar deal. Justin Speier went with a 4 year deal at over 4 million a year, which is ridiculous. Jamie Walker rolled with a 3 year, 12 million dollar deal. Again, for a 33 year old reliever? Not exactly a bumper crop here. Cleveland got arms that potentially are as good or better, and more than likely, if all things are even, ARE better. And they were signed for 1 year with an option. Sorry, but the relief pitching EVERY year looks not much better than this, AND YOU DON'T SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON RELIEF PITCHERS UNLESS YOU HAVE LOCKS. You name for me a lock in this year's "bumper crop," and your sanity gets immediately questioned.

So you look at the Indians' moves closer. You get Delucci as a platoon with Jason Michaels, and what you get is a lot of bitching about platoons. Give me a break. No, you don't wake up and say, "Hey, I want a platoon in left or right field." But, if you can sign a solid, if not spectacular platoon player for 6-12 million a year less than the showboats (with questions), and you have a viable platoon partner already, you do it. Why? Dellucci and Michaels WILL produce. No, they aren't going to combine to put up Manny numbers. But CAN they produce numbers that put them in the top 25% at their position? You bet they can. Michaels will produce better with his new OF mate, and Dellucci has always been solid and scrappy. It also can buy you time, say, until the trade deadline when BETTER players become available that you couldn't foresee at the beginning of the year. Then, YOU HAVEN'T WASTED valuable resources in dealing for aged players like Sheffield or Manny. You even have a chance at a bargain.

You get Aaron Fultz, Roberto Hernandez and Joe Borowski, at a measly 12 million dollars. The best part about these guys is that they are equal to most of the names you see that signed much larger deals. Are their risks? You say yes, and I say no. There's no way all these guys falter, and they are all easy to cut and run from with their 1 year deals. If they go off, you have them at a deal the following year. The best part about it all is that you still have commanding young arms that are sitting there ready to perform. Sure, there are questions there, but they WILL improve. You have Rafael Bettancourt, who gave up 2 Earned runs in his last 13 games, 16.1 innings. His ERA dropped from 4.91 to 3.81. He was as good as you could get. That included 15 K's, and 3 saves. He goes through stretches of brilliance. You have Fernando Cabrera, who I still think is a stud in waiting. His season was messy, but he had two stretches of near brilliance last year that go lost in starting his season with 6 ER's. You have a wildcard in Fausta Carmona, who's looking at being a starter this year. Still, I think we all agree that he has talent, and if he doesn't make the rotation, and isn't in Buffalo, will be in long relief. In relief, from May 20th until July 25th, he was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, giving up 3 ER's in 28.1 innings. He had 26 K's. Then came the closer experiment...and the blow up. No, he's not a closer, but he COULD be a deadly set-up guy. This is just a start. My belief is that most of these guys will step up?

Why? There's options there. They won't be the focus with the three new guys. And hell, they can't get much worse.

Yes folks, the Tribe has holes, AND PROBABLY WILL HAVE HOLES EVERY FREAKIN' YEAR! Is it possible that this will happen every year? Yes. Cleveland can't roll with a Red Sox or Yankee payroll, and they never will. Good. But, this team is essentially signed up for the next 5 to 6 years, and has the flexibility to sign the important pieces. When you HAVE viable options to sign long term in free agency, you do it. Can they sign a grade A free agent? I believe they can and they will. However, you don't just sign a name to 15 million a year because he's a name. If you pay the guy that kind of money, you make damn sure he's got at least a 50% chance of playing every year, and that he's not going to end up 64 at the end of the deal.

Don't be stupid, and spend 300 million dollars for marginal players overall. Don't be stupid and spend 100 million dollars on players that have never stepped foot on American turf.

Be smart, bide your time, because THIS team isn't that far off.

I could talk about Peralta, and how we have apparently forgotten what he's done every year in his pro career EXCEPT last year (it's really amazing when you think about it). Yeah, he played like dogshit, but are we THAT SURE THAT HE'S CARLOS BAERGA and not Jhonny Peralta? You may be, but I'm not. Andy Marte has a good glove, and should provide good pop. BELIEVE IN RYAN GARKO! I can't stand Casey Blake being in this lineup...but it could be worse. Sizemore is fantastic. VMart is a great offensive catcher. Sure, his arm isn't great, but DO WE HAVE HIM FOR HIS DEFENSIVE PROWESS? That is ridiculous. Barfield was a fantastic signing, and he's improving. I don't have to mention Sizemore. He's a stud, and top 5 in the league. Choo? Obvious questions there, but we'll see what happens.

I do think Cleveland could use a couple more sticks to that outfield. Perhaps you go out and make an offer to Aubrey Huff if you can get him cheap. Here's a guy that can play 1B, 3B and all the outfield positions. Maybe you take a flyer on Darin Erstad as a stopgap for his flex. Maybe you have a deal left somewhere with all the young talent you still have.

I don't know, but either way, stop looking at the glass half empty...

because it isn't.


  1. The glass is definitely closer to half-full than half-empty. The Indians have a great stable of young hitters and a solid starting rotation (I would still like to see them find a rotation spot for Fausto Carmona, who pitched well in September).

    The primary beef I have is that they can't seem to find a couple of staple pitchers for the back end of the bullpen. Damn, I wish Jason Davis would get a grip on bullpen pitching. His arm is crazy good. He could be a closer in the mold of Joe Nathan.

    Unfortunately, bullpens are just volatile like that. Guys fall in and out of roles yearly. When you get right down to it, career closers are very rare.

    I'll go with what the YES network said, and say that Mark Shapiro was very smart to not get caught up in handing out huge deals to overrated players. Even though I lament the Indians' inability to spend money with the big boys, time will show that most of the contracts teams handed out this winter were garbage.

    Unfortunately, we in Cleveland just seem to cling to negativity as a security blanket in case things go horribly wrong. There are plenty of people out there who are trying to convince themselves that the Cavs suck, so they can be pleasantly surprised if they do well.

    "Expect the worst, hope for the best." It's kind of pathetic, but it's Cleveland's motto.

  2. Yeah, I've taken myself out of the looking for the bad before the good. I just sit back and think about 1997...and how utterly excruciating it was to watch the Tribe come so close. As I settled into growing up into my 30's, I've grown this realization that thinking the worst does nothing. So think the still does nothing, and at least you stay positive.

    I look at last year as an abberation. This team could be bigger...