According to several sources, Omar Vizquel won't be returning to the Texas Rangers during the upcoming 2010 season. Since the announcement on Wednesday, the Indians rumor wagons have begun circling around the idea that Vizquel might be returning to the reservation. Indians.com scribe, Anthony Castrovince, even mentioned it today on MLB.com.
Signing the 42-year old, 21-year major league veteran would make a lot of sense for the Indians in many aspects. Not only could Vizquel fill the role of utility infielder that Jamey Carroll is vacating, but he could also help boost a fan base that is ready to lynch the Dolans and Mark Shapiro for decimating a team that was one game away from the World Series in 2007. There's only one real problem:
The Cleveland Indians will not sign Omar Vizquel for what is likely his last season in the bigs.
First and foremost, reports out of Vizquel's camp have expressed an interest for the future hall-of-famer to end his career playing for a "premier team." The thinking is that Omar would like one more run into the playoffs before he retires and begins his countdown to the hall. While I would like to think that the Indians could surprise some and sneak in next season while nobody's looking...well...it's not going to happen. I couldn't imagine Omar, regardless of his love for the city of Cleveland, choosing Cleveland over a potential playoff team.
You also have to take into account that this move makes almost too much sense! There is no doubt that signing the beloved shortstop would immediately lessen the anger and hatred that most of Cleveland is feeling towards the Indians' front office. Vizquel is another one of those players from the Indians' resurrection years of the 1990's and early 2000's. In many ways, Vizquel was the backbone during the glory years, and bringing him back would give Progressive Field a "gentle" bump in attendance. He also is more than capable of playing more than just shortstop. Last year, he played 200 innings at short for the Rangers, but also logged more than 100 innings each at third and second base. How many errors did he have at any position? You guessed it...none.
Unfortunately, Mark Shapiro rarely makes the obvious move, and often can't pull the trigger on the right move. I'm certainly not conceited enough to believe that the internet buzz should generate Mark Shapiro's moves. In this day and age of fantasy baseball, many fans fall into that category. The rumor banter can get quite interesting, to say the least. With that said, there are a few moves that are talked about each year that goes beyond numbers, and goes beyond money. This would be one of them. It does make sense to a part of the game in Cleveland that has disappeared with the dismemberment of the 90's team, followed by the the 2007 team...the heart. No, I'm not throwing down the sentimental garbage that rolled out of the cornfield in Field of Dreams. I'm talking about looking past the numbers at a player that would fill a need in a rebuild year, and mend some fences at the same time. I think this type of thinking is beyond Shapiro.
No, you don't build teams based on "heart." You can, however, bring in a veteran that not only will be a positive role-model to the youngsters in the Tribe clubhouse, but will give you error-less play at 2nd, 3rd, and of course, short. It certainly doesn't hurt that we'd catch glimpses of his 11 years of spectacular play.
Like I said, it's all beyond Shapiro and his predominant-numbers way of thinking.
There are downsides to this. I'm not blind. There would be some worry with regards to Vizquel's age. He'll be 43 this year, and that's certainly not any spring chicken with regards to playing in the bigs. Even in a diminished utility role, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Vizquel isn't built to last an entire year. He only found himself playing in 62 games last year, logging in his most consistent time in September at 3B after Michael Young strained his hamstring.
Jamey Carroll played in 113 games his first year with the Tribe, and 93 his second year. He also found himself platooning a bit with Luis Valbuena. I'm not sure Omar is that guy.
In other words, you can't count on Omar for a significant amount of playing time.
To make a long story short, don't count on Omar returning to the place he called home for 11-years. He no doubt will be looking at potential playoff teams to sign with. Rumors are already beginning to circulate that Boston might be interested in Vizquel in a limited role as well.
Let's face facts here tribefan, do we really want to stick Vizquel on the product that Cleveland is going to field in 2010? Do we really want to scar him for life? Thanks for the 11-years Omar, but it's time for you to get your last chance with a team that won't be fighting for the cellar.
You deserve better.