With the Indians’ picking up Ronnie Belliard’s option for 2006 (which had been widely assumed), the Tribe has essentially gotten almost all of their position players under contract for next year. There was some thought that Shapiro would try to rework Belliard’s deal to give him a couple of more years (similar to what they did with Boone during the season) because of the lack of legitimate 2B prospects on the farm, but something like that could certainly happen during the season.
Belliard certainly earned this contract with a career year at the plate and some sparkling D. Does anyone turn the DP faster than him? Plus it means one more year (at least) of untucked shirts, pants dragging on the ground, and our 2B playing a softball position (short outfield). The Jelly Roll is great to watch; especially when he’s wearing the vintage 1987 Oakley’s and looks like he has a tennis ball in his lower lip, tongue flapping every which way but loose.
It’s also being reported that Scott Sauerbeck is nearing a deal with the Tribe, which would be a coup to keep the veteran LOOGY in the bullpen. Signing Sauerbeck (probably with the promise of an expanded role in 2006) keeps some continuity of the fantastic bullpen of 2005.
It would also essentially mean that Rhodes, Betancourt, Cabrera, and Sauerbeck would all be under contract with decisions necessary only on closer (Wickman vs. Howry…which is kind of a big one), whether to offer Riske arbitration, and on the final bullpen spot (which can be filled by Matt Miller, Andrew Brown, Jason Davis, Kaz Tadano, etc.).
If Sauerbeck is signed, it could also signal the end of the line for the BT Boys (Traber and Tallet), whose best shot of sticking on the 25 man roster next year was as a LOOGY.
Additionally, giving Sauerbeck a one-year deal with an option year (as is being reported) means that Sauerbeck would serve as a bridge until the minors produces a quality LH reliever (a likely option would be Tony Sipp, who could follow the Fernando Cabrera arc into the bullpen in a couple of years) capable of giving the Tribe a homegrown product.
Did you ever think that the re-signing of Scott Sauerbeck could be analyzed to such an extent? These are the things that pop into my head when the gerbil gets on the wheel. Sad, but true.
Interestingly, Sports Illustrated’s Daniel Habib made some Hot Stove League predictions in the latest issue and touched on a few Indians-related matters. He’s predicting that:
- Kevin Millwood will sign with the Orioles, presumably to reunite with Leo Mazzone and to put lots of Peter Angelos money in his pockets.
- Manny will be traded back to the Indians, one of seemingly only 2 teams (the Angels being the other) that he has agreed to be traded to. Remember that he’s now a 10 and 5 guy, which means that he can veto any trade, if the destination is not a place he wants to go.
- Bob Wickman will retire at age 37.
The first thought on this would be, “Who in the world are we going to trade to Boston to get Manny back, and how much of his contract will they pay?” Unless Boston is content to take some package of Broussard, Phillips, Davis, and Riske with some lower level prospects included, I don’t make this deal. Yes, Manny would look great in this lineup (unbelievable in fact), but I would rather spend those dollars on Millwood. The ‘90s proved to us that a potent offense (while exciting) does not guarantee a World Series Championship. History has shown us that pitching wins championships, and I would value Millwood’s potential contributions over those of Manny (as ridiculous as his numbers have always been).
So, for those of you dusting off the #24 jerseys from the back of the closet - hold off for a while. The Red Sox would want a run-producer to replace Manny in the lineup (remember A-Rod for Soriano) and unless the Tribe gives up a great young bat (really Sizemore since DH, SS, and C are spoken for in Boston), it won’t happen. I can’t imagine Dan Shaughnessy writing a column that Casey Blake is a great fit in front of the Green Monster.
In the meantime, enjoy the emergence of the Cavaliers as a legitimate playoff team (last night’s meltdown in San Antonio notwithstanding) and the continued ruined Sundays due to ugly Browns’ losses. Is anyone else reading less and less, and caring less and less about this team? Apathy in longtime fans is not a good sign for the franchise.