Mitchell: Heat up the Stove
So with a few decisions being made by the Indians brass, A few things get cleared up and a few questions get posed.
Grady is out- for now. I’d guess the Indians would attempt to bring back their former All-Star at a much reduced guaranteed rate to see if he can regain his old form. Sizemore was one of the premier stars in the game for a few years and his power production when he was in the lineup in 2011 is something the Tribe will certainly look for in the off-season from some source. Whether Sizemore will be on board with that is the big question.
Fausto is back at $7 million for next year. He’s been a rotation horse (and at times, dog) for his whole career and the fact that he’s a known, if disappointing commodity with cost certainty has appeal. At this point, hoping for a return to the 19-win form of 2007 is a pipe-dream, but counting on Carmona to be a 10-win, innings-eating 4th starter is a better bet than Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff or Zach McAllister are for 2012.
Chris Antonetti swapping a relatively unknown minor-leaguer named Chris Jones to Atlanta for Derek Lowe and reportedly picking up only 1/3 of Lowe’s $15 million salary is a move signaling the Tribe’s expectation of contention next season. Lowe has been Carmona-plus for a long time. 190+ innings/year double-digit wins, 32+ starts. He is not the same pitcher that he was in Boston, but he has a lot of post-season experience and brings a level of certainty to the always uncertain 5th starter slot.
With Lowe penciled in at #5 what does that mean for the aforementioned trio of Gomez, Huff and McAllister? Throw a presumably healthy Scott Barnes and Hector Rondon in to the mix and you either have a VERY potent Triple-A rotation or you have some trade bait to try to bolster and offense that needs more pop and would like to be more balanced.
Matt LaPorta has just not been able to replicate his minor league success for the Indians and will have to win the 1B job in spring. Looking at Matt’s career stats, he’s been a better offensive player as an outfielder than at 1B and while he made a lot of progress at first, maybe the Indians would do better finding a 1B with pop (Carlos Pena, Derek Lee or pull a rabbit out of a hat and make a run Prince Fielder or Prince Albert) than a left fielder and try LaPorta out there.
On that note, is there a case to be made for getting into the pool on one of the big 2 first-baseman? Of course there is, but don’t expect it. Looking back, Since the 2004 Red Sox, every World Series winner but one had at least one $13 million or more player on the payroll. Only The ’05 White Sox did not and they had a handful of guys making $8 million. Other than the final year of the albatross Hafner deal, Cleveland has no player scheduled to make a guaranteed $8 million through the next 3 years. Can Cleveland afford to pony up $20 million a season? Could they attract one of those guys? What about Jose Reyes and shifting Asdrubal Cabrera back to 2B? Aramis Ramirez for 3B and further season or look to move Chisenhall? I don’t know if any of these are even remotely on the radar of the Tribe front office, but the fact is, having an top-level salary player on your roster does not guarantee you a championship, but NOT having one seemingly ensures that you aren’t getting a ring.
I’ll have more soon about the Clippers future, and respond to my friend and colleague Scott’s bold assertion about Yoda’s Halloween supremacy, but that’s another topic.