Monday, November 16, 2009

Indians slow hot-stove season has luke-warm possibilities

Cleveland Indians vs. Anaheim Angels
Can the Indians make a splash during the '09 Hot Stove season? The easy answer is no, since the Indians quite obviously can't pony up enough money for anyone of consequence. There is still some room for the Indians to make a couple of moves that could bring the Tribe a player or two of consequence.

Of course, everyone is talking about the Indians listening to offers for Kerry Wood. Personally, I would keep him. The Indians struggle every year to put together a bullpen. I know Wood is an extravagance at this point, but at the same time, I think that Cleveland would be smart to keep Wood in the anchor and allow the young arms of Chris and Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Jensen Lewis and Jess Todd to settle into their roles. Then, perhaps in 2011, if the Indians can actually use the option to keep Wood at the back-end, or let him go on his merry way.

Jhonny Peralta is also a candidate to move, although you would have to think that the Manny Acta hire will perhaps keep the Indians from making a quick decision on the struggling third baseman. Peralta has nearly a full season under his belt, has a new manager that might actually like him, and could rebound. If the Tribe does get an offer for him, they should listen, even if it is a prospect. Let Andy Marte take his slot and move Peralta. With Lonnie Chisenhall coming along in the program about to enter double A, and with Wes Hodges sneaking around at triple A Columbus, there are other options for the Indians at the position. As Tony Lastoria pointed out early in October, Wes Hodges may have more to offer than people are giving him credit for. I wouldn't expect much in a deal straight up for Peralta, but there could be something there should a team ask. Of course, with Peralta, the Tribe would be selling low.

The most intriguing deal that could happen involves Travis Hafner. Yes, Hafner has been injury-prone, and yes, Hafner makes a whole bunch of money not well spent. That said, Hafner showed improvement as the year progressed last year. Should a team have a high need for power at the DH position because of injury or if they are a piece away, the Tribe could get offers for their slugging DH. A deal for Hafner likely wouldn't come until the All-Star break, and only if he's playing well. That said, the potential is there, and under the current situation, the Indians will assuredly listen. Of course, to take on that albatross of a contract would be insane for any club with the potential for injury.

Then there is Kelly Shoppach, who will likely be non-tendered in the offseason. If I were Cleveland, I'd move Shoppach prior to the rule-V draft and pick up some low-level talent that you don't have to protect. I'm sure the Indians are talking with teams about Shoppach, but using a spot on the 40-man roster is a mistake. Move him now, and take whatever you can get for him.

Will the Indians make a trade? It's not likely, but there are deals to be made should teams get desperate. There's no doubt that the Indians aren't desperate, and no, that's not a good thing.

Off to play some catch with the son while the temperature is still over 70 degrees. You have to love these Indians Summers...;)

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