The WAIT on Eric Gagne: So I've been asking myself about Gagne and what's taking him so long to make a decision. It was reported on Thursday that Gagne was going to make a decision between Boston, Texas and your friendly, neighborhood Cleveland Indians. On Friday, it was reported that Gagne was going to make a decision between Cleveland and Texas, as Boston had fallen out of contention, only offering him 4 million guaranteed, whil Cleveland and Texas offered upwards of 6 million guaranteed. All were one year deals. It was later reported on Friday that Gagne would make his decision on Friday or Saturday. It's Monday, and still no news. So I asked myself why. Today, I noticed that a report said that Gagne was mulling over offers from Texas, Cleveland AND San Francisco. WHAT? San Francisco? Where did THEY come from? My best take on this is that Gagne is doing what free agents typically do with offers from Cleveland. He's using it to drum up offers from teams he REALLY wants to play for. If San Francisco offered him the up-front 6 million, you'd have to believe they would have the edge because of the National League, and NL West tie-ins. I don't know that this is true, or that San Francisco is really involved. What I DO know is that we are three days past his supposed decision, with still no decision, a new team is "rumored" into the mix, and there seems to be an all-familiar theme to all this. We don't need Eric Gagne, and he is a gamble at best with his history over the past two years.
With that being said, imagine the Indians, with a healthy Eric Gagne. You know the deal. 3 years ago, he was still in the middle of his reign of dominance as the best closer in baseball. He's only 30 years old, and certainly, if healthy, COULD return to that form. It's tantalizing to think about Cleveland with Roberto Hernandez and Joe Borowski as your set-up men, and a healthy Eric Gagne as your closer. This is without mentioning a roster full of young, up and coming Indians' relief pitchers.
Of course, as tantalizing as it is to think about all this, you do have to keep in mind the recent past history. It is highly likely that Gagne will end up in another city. I hope I'm wrong.
OUTSIDERS say YES to Cleveland: Sometimes it's good to gain perspective on the Indians off-season moves. The POJO Dojo will be the first one to tell you that I think the moves were good ones. I'm NOT saying that they will all pan out, but I do believe Shapiro is making the moves he CAN make, and not OVERspending on gambles like others are doing. In fact, it's a minor miracle that Shapiro was able to spend so little, for comparable relievers, as others spent so much for. The caveat is that the deals are only for a year, but with a CLUB option. If the moves blow up in Shapiro's face, Cleveland can put out the fires quickly. If the moves pan out, we have a two year window. You just can't lose, short or long term with these deals. I haven't even mentioned David Dellucci, who I think was a major steal. Of course, he's not a "name," so there are many critics.
On the other side of the coin, in many Indians blogs, is that Cleveland is stuck buying low-tier talent, while the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers of the world are busy signing high profile prospects for much more money. This is undoubtedly true to a point. We needed a big stick in the outfield, and got Dellucci, instead of spending 100 million for Carlos Lee, or JD Drew. This, coming off of Shapiro nearly admitting that his hands were tied over the past years. This, coming off of several years of watching Larry Dolan keeping his hands in his pockets. It's easy to get down on signing Aaron Fultz instead of Jason Schmidt.
Today, I happened on an article from the Yankees YES Network. In the article, Jonah Keri talks about the winners thusfar of the Hot Stove offseason improvements. Sure enough, buried among the Yankees and Mets discussion, are our very own Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland IndiansFor one, it's good to see others see Mark Shapiro for what he is, probably the best GM in the game, and that Einar Diaz move is a case in point (let it be known that he stole Pronk from his mentor, John Hart). This year, is a case in point. He's making moves for players, and in many cases, equal players as other teams, at a $50 million dollar discount.
Is Mark Shapiro the best general manager in the game? It's entirely possible, as he, along with brilliant assistant GM Chris Antonetti and a staff stuffed with great baseball people continues to collect good players at bargain prices. David Dellucci profiles like a poor man's J.D. Drew, a lefty bat with power and patience who can be a big asset if platooned with an effective right-handed hitter. Getting Dellucci for three years at less than $4 million per was a major league coup - and cost the Indians $58 million less than the Red Sox paid for Drew. The Barfield trade gives the Tribe an able second baseman to replace Ron Belliard and possibly a star down the road.
Joe Borowski, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz are nothing special — but neither are a bunch of other relievers who went for millions more this winter. The three veteran pitchers will augment a bullpen that includes a number of talented but erratic young arms, including Fernando Cabrera, Tom Mastny and Jason Davis.
Give the Indians credit for being one of the teams already well equipped for 2007, by dint of a productive farm system and a number of clever deals. The rotation is deep, with C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Jake Westbrook, Jeremy Sowers and Paul Byrd. The lineup includes an array of talented players with upside, including Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Andy Marte and Ryan Garko. Their best player, Travis Hafner, was acquired for Einar Diaz. 'Nuff said.
I suppose the real question here is, What were the Indians in the market for? The bottom line was bullpen. And the Tribe answered the call. They needed an answer in the outfield, and got one. I wondered a bit, when it was all said and done, what the Indians would have done had the bullpen been sound. My answer? More than likely, Shapiro would have gotten a higher profile name...and more than likely, at a deal slightly less than current market. No, Cleveland can pull a Cubs and their 300 million dollars spending spree. But, they sure as hell will contend...before the 300 million dollar Men.
Now, when do I get scared that the Yankee network knows about Shapiro and Antonelli?
The Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka: On Thursday, the Red Sox officially run out of time on signing Matsuzaka. What does that mean? Unfortunately, Boston would be reimbursed their $51 million. That's to bad. It would be a fantastic lesson to the Red Sox and Yankees on spending money (who am I kidding, as long as Selig is commisioner, they'll just keep spending). I truly hope that Boston doesn't get this kid. It would just let me know that there is some kind of cosmic Karma. Of course, the only karma I'll get out of this is knowing that I posted this today, which ultimately means that he'll sign with Boston tomorrow.
Oh, and if you are wondering...why the Pirates suck? Cleveland inquired about Mike Gonzalez, the Pirates closer. Now, I do want to preface this by saying that I think Gonzalez is a premier closer when healthy, and only 28 years old. With that being said, Pittsburgh and Dave Littlefield agreed to dealing him, if only Cleveland would part with Victor Martinez so they could move him to first base. Yeah, that's it Pittsburgh, we'll deal you the best offensive catcher in baseball, for a closer. You know, it's hard to see why Cleveland didn't counter offer, although I'd be willing to bet that Shapiro hung up the phone in record time. Thank god our GM is Shapiro, and not Littlefield. You put Dolan and Littlefield together, and what you get is something reminiscent of constipation...to damn slow coming out, and damned painful to sit through.
WAX Pack anyone? Cleveland was voted the best organization in baseball by TOPPS, the baseball company. Yes, it's an incredible honor. The real question?
Does this mean we'll be able to get that 20 year old gum they used to put in their baseball wax packs? There's nothing like ending your day, your post, and perhaps your life by chewing 30 year old gum that crumbles in your mouth like powder.
See you Tomorrow....