Sunday, October 26

Indian Winter

I've taken enough time off from writing about the Indians, I think. One thing I didn't want to do is speculate on a lot of players that don't even get to the FA market - I'm looking at you Mark Ellis - but that doesn't mean I'm totally against speculation.

If you remember from my Tribe 2008 Recap, I had a to do list which included:

Who from the farm teams will make contributions in 2009?
Who's on second? Or third, for that matter?
What will become of our DH, Travis Hafner?
What will the Indians' 2009 rotation and bullpen look like?

I plan on touching on the 2008 rotation and what maybe the 2009 rotation will look like. In doing so a few farmhands names may come up. Also the second / third baseman issue will also be discussed and maybe a little bullpen discussion. OK, enough planning time - let's talk Tribe.

2008 - 2009 Rotation

We have six or seven pitchers we need to discuss. We'll start off by making the obvious point that Cliff Lee is your 2009 Opening Day starter. Any debate of Cliff's performance in 2009 is mostly based on voodoo but I'll temper my hopes by saying if Cliff pitches anything close to 2008 we should be OK. Unfortunately after Cliff we've got issues. The first up is Fausto Carmona. Carmona's 2007 was so amazing and his 2008 so disappointing that one has to wonder which Fausto will appear in 2009. I hope it is safe to say one between 2007 and 2008

2007 IP-215 ER-73 BB-61 SO-137 ERA+ 151 WHIP-1.209
2008 IP-120.7 ER-73 BB-70 SO-58 ERA+ 82 WHIP-1.624

Did the 2007 workload hurt Fausto? Fellow Indians bloggers have speculated that maybe there was too much movement on Carmona's pitches this year and hitters were content to wait for a fastball or the ever-growing number of balls he threw. Something needs to happen this winter for Carmona to not fall from a number two pitcher on this team to number four or worse. Hopefully the injury is behind him. If Carmona can keep the walks down then we should all be happy.

As far as the number three pitcher goes, Paul Byrd is gone, and while he did a fine job and I loved the nickname "The Cobra," I hope he doesn't return. However, despite all the early talk of infield needs and back-end bullpen problems, Terry Pluto reported that a number three guy in the rotation was the new number one priority. And who am I to argue with Terry? What does this mean for this team? We're not yet ready for harder-throwing lefty Huff to be a keystone of this team's 2009 success. This shouldn't be surprising, as the Indians don't like to rely on a rookie to fill a major spot in the roster - just ask Grady. I thought Reyes looked like a number three guy, but with the injury concerns again the Indians are being cautious. So who do the Indians go after, a reclamation project or maybe a guy past his prime? Definitely somebody we can get away with only signing for two years or maybe less.

This leaves the final two spots in the rotation to a combination of Reyes, Sowers, Laffey, Jackson, and Lewis. Unless another injury sidelines Reyes I think we can expect him to break camp out of Goodyear in the rotation. The fifth spot is the big question. Sowers didn't show much in '08. He had a few nice four- or five-inning streaks but couldn't put it together. Jackson is nothing more then call-up fodder. Laffey could be a solid starter and was amazing at the beginning of 2008 but can he have that success for a whole season? Is Scott Lewis a September fluke? I hope not, but when he was called up, I thought we had seen the second coming of Zach Jackson. Well Lewis just pitched four wins in as many starts posting a small-sample-sized ERA of 2.63 in 24 innings.

Don't forget: if things go well, Westbrook could be an option after the halfway point. However, expect Jake to take a little longer than that and then spend a good deal of time pitching his way back to the majors.

Who's on Second?

Well, Asdrubal Cabrera is of course, I think. Here's what we know. Jamey Carroll is back as utility infielder and fantasy football commissioner (unless Hafner reclaims the title). I would love to hear the howling from the Indians faithful if Carroll was inserted as the regular second baseman to push Cabrera and Peralta over on the infield. However, rumor has it the Indians are discussing a trade for Royal Mark Teahen. Teahen has spent the last two seasons with the Royals patrolling the outfield in a vain attempt to transition him away from his "natural" position of third base. Third base you say? We need a third baseman. Of course, this would leave a gap in the Royals outfield. That and the Royals really need someone to play center. A center fielder? We got those. So despite the awkward division rival trade situation this seemingly could benefit both parties. We give them Fransisco or Gutierrez and we get someone - anyone - to play third base. Of course, Trevor Crowe's name comes up too, but I would prefer to move one of the previously mentioned gentlemen. The article does mention Crowe that could be the best fit.


Much has been made about the Indians being in the race to sign Rockies closer Brian Fuentes. I'm not good at predictions but I'm not sure about this one. The other major closer in the market is K-Rod. He is, however, way out of the Indians price range, and the Indians wouldn't give that many years to someone they didn't develop themselves. However, the Indians have a little money to work with and the Indians faithful will not be happy this offseason unless Shapiro makes some sort of big signing. Look how mad everyone was after the 2007 offseason. Shapiro has a tendency to be more active after the Indians even-year slumps, so we'll see. I think Jensen Lewis can close but that isn't a totally case-closed situation either. The other question this raises is: if the Indians don't spend the money on the bullpen (Fuentes) where do they use it? I would have to guess the third starter position. Orlando Hudson's name comes up too but if the Indians do trade for Teahen than we don't need Mr. Hudson's services. It's not that I think Fuentes isn't a good closer I just hate the idea of throwing money into a volatile situation such as the bullpen. What I do support is some bullpen help just not players who will only close, like Fuentes.

There you have it: plenty of talk but no answers. OK, how's this for answers:

-I like the idea of the Teahen trade
-I'm not on board for the Fuentes sweepstakes
-Our rotation will be Lee, Fausto, some old guy, Reyes, Laffey
-We'll also sign a few bullpen guys to see if any of them work out in Spring Training
-Of course the Commissioner's Trophy isn't even awarded yet so these answers are subject to change

(As an editor's note as of 28 October Anthony Castrovince is reporting over at his blog that: Royals GM Dayton Moore has told that the rumor is a "flat-out lie." And I just spoke with Indians GM Mark Shapiro, who made it pretty clear the Indians have not had one discussion with the Royals about Teahen. So there you have it the first piece of info on the Indians off season is probably fake. It could be a long winter.)

Go Tribe!


Andy said...

I had a dream the other night where the Indians were palying the red socks in the ALCS. It was Game 7 and we were up by one run heading into the bottom of the 9th. Our closer? Anthony Reyes. I know, right? Dustin Pedroia leads off for Boston, and I'm there, and I'm yelling for him to try to bunt and give us an out, because that's what I do at baseball games. So Pedroia bunts, a piece of cake job right back to Reyes, and it goes through his legs and the socks get the leadoff man on. Damnit! Then I woke up. We can't even win in my dreams.

JHH said...

Look Andy's subconscious the Cardinals tried to use Reyes in the pen and that was a disaster. If you wanted to go with a crazy option then I would have had Atom Miller out there.

Andy I think you woke too soon. I'm sure whoever followed Pedroia would have hit a pop-out, where Reyes, straight cap bill and all, would point up the to sky, because everyone knows that helps, and Cabrera catches it in shallow right and then you and Mike would have an argument if it was a pop-out or a fly-out. Finally some girl takes her shirt off and well you know the rest.