Free-agent right-hander Keith Foulke is leaning toward signing with Cleveland, though a deal likely will not be completed until after Christmas, FOXSports.com has learned. Foulke, 34, received multi-year offers, according to a source, but he is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Indians, possibly with a player or mutual option. His agent, Dan Horwits, has informed other interested clubs that Foulke is close to a deal, and that they should pursue other options.The Plain Dealer quickly followed suit with articles yesterday and today. The bottom line with both articles are that it won't happen until Tuesday at the earliest, and that Cleveland considered Foulke the healthiest of all the closers they have looked at. In particular, what stands out to me, is that Foulke closed September with nearly 12 innings of allowing no runs. It seems as though Foulke, in the right situtation, could gain some of that old fire. Remember, in 2003 and 2004, he was one of the best closers in all of baseball. The Chronicle-Telegram has another recap of the potential deal.
After reading Lake Erie Hope's article involving the matter, I decided to look into it a bit more. I like Foulke, and always have, but didn't like his attitude, which is why I put him down on the list behind Gagne. He started a bitch-fest last year when Papelbon beat him out as closer with the fans and management that was just painful to watch. But the big comments to me were when he went off about how he just played for the money. It still gives me pause. As far as the injury issues go with Foulke, he DID have knee issues in 2005, as Lake Erie Hope reported, but he missed a good chunk of last season with Arm Tendinitis. So he has had a history of arm issues, although not severe. And I do believe that the injury issues are behind him. I do, though, keep looking back at the attitude, and can't help but think back to Matty Williams, who also wanted to play in Arizonato be closer to his family. He showed Cleveland fans that when you have the desire to do well, and are treated fairly, that you can have a mutual benefit. Matt had a fantastic year with Cleveland, and the Tribe payed it all off by dealing him to Arizona for Fryman.
Foulke's heart may not be in Cleveland, and that worries me a bit. Why? Well, in a positive sense, Foulke comes here with a 1 year deal, performs out of this world, wins the closer job, and all is well. But what happens if his competition doesn't sit well with him? What happens if Foulke is the 8th inning guy instead of the 9th inning guy? Combine that with being ultimately unhappy he had to sign with Cleveland, and you could have some clubhouse issues. Hopefully, Foulke, like Matt Williams before him, will realize the mutual benefit to shutting his piehole, and doing whatever it takes to help this team win. If this happens, with both Borowski and Foulke at the back end of this staff...things couldn't look any better.
Imagine this bullpen...healthy:
you would probably have to include another lefty in there, with Davis or Cabrera out of the picture, but you never know.
All in all, I like the fact that Cleveland is potentially going to sign Foulke, and the best part about it is that there appear to be better offers on the table. Like I said, mutual benefits could make Foulke one of the best, and make Borowski better as well. He's always appeared
Keep your fingers crossed, and let's hope we get a new year present.
And one final note before I move on. Mark Shapiro has been masterful this offseason. I know there will be some disagreement on this, but you have to look at the overall picture. How many GM offices have haphazardly been throwing money at players without much thought? How many GM offices do you picture to be in utter chaos, either because of to much money...or nothing being done. So close your eyes, and picture both of those types of front offices. Picture Chicago (both) and Boston. Picture Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Picture Tampa Bay and Texas. Now picture Cleveland. It's been systematic. Fix the bullpen. Check (at least on paper). Fix left field. Check (at least on paper...and enough about Delucci and platooning and whatever else, Dellucci was a great signing, and cheap. More bang for the buck for sure). Fix 2nd base. Check. Now they are still in play for Mulder, and the Foulke signing isn't going to HURT that. Not only may Cleveland have shored up all their holes, but they just may end up with spare parts that will either help them directly by July, or help them by allowing a deal. Of course, you never know until the team takes the field, but either way, Shapiro has done a masterful job.
Let's all hope it pays off.