Friday, October 06, 2006

Prioritize

It’s true that a lot of question marks exist and the possibilities for player movement are seemingly endless, but there are some things that the Indians can do to set the team up for success in 2007 and beyond.

Here’s the short list:
Priority #1)
Add 3 years to Pronk’s deal through 2011, even if you have to rip up his current deal to add the years. David Ortiz’s contract (4 years/$52M) signed this past April is probably a starting point. If those numbers look big, they are – and rightfully so. Hafner’s numbers the past few years justify the contract and giving those dollars to a player who has worked his way into becoming a fan favorite would be a perfect way to show the fickle Cleveland fans that the Dolans are willing to spend money. Ensuring that Hafner’s bat will be anchoring the lineup when all of these young players (Grady, Marte, Garko, Peralta, Crowe) are hitting their peaks isn’t going to hurt run production in coming years.

Priority #2)
Add 2 years to C.C.’s current contract to keep him under Tribe control through 2010. This, like Hafner’s, isn’t going to be cheap as he’ll be 28 when his current deal ends at the end of 2008. The fact that his maturation as an ace may be even further along at that point will make C.C. the top FA pitcher on ANY market. He still has not had a serious injury and continues to rack up IP, regardless of the constant criticism about his body type. The bottom line is that power LH studs don’t grow on trees, so when you have exclusive negotiating rights with such a player, you take advantage.

Priority #3)
Add 3 years to Jake’s current contract to keep in Cleveland until 2009. Pulling that off, with C.C. and Lee, keeps these 3 and Sowers (and Carmona and Miller and Lofgren…you get it) on the club until 2009. If starting pitching is what wins championships, an innings-eater (over 210 IP for the last 3 years) that’s going to average 15 wins a season is a nice #3 starter for a playoff team. Seeing as how Westbrook would hit the open market after this year (to much fanfare, particularly to teams with superb defensive infields), it’s not going to a contract done on the cheap. Noticing a trend here?

If Shapiro does lock up C.C. and Westy, with Lee and Sowers, there’s a surplus of starting pitching, right? Um…there are worse things to have a surplus of. If Fausto/Miller/Lofgren turn into what we hope they can, it allows the Indians the luxury of dealing from a position of strength to fortify weaknesses.

A case can be made that such an environment exists right now, with the strength of the team being pitching. Can any of those arms be moved to fortify the bullpen, 2B, or a corner OF? If so, Byrd would be the first candidate, then Westbrook (but only if they can’t extend his contract) – and it would take quite a bit to give up Jake.

Assuming that the team simply adds years to these deals and doesn’t completely re-negotiate them, none of these moves adds to the 2007 payroll as all are under contract for next year. These moves, though, would go a long way to showing that the ownership will “lock up their own” and spend money on homegrown talent.

While PR should be the last thing on any team’s agenda when making moves, none of these moves will be criticized and they wouldn’t hurt the team’s image, not to mention ticket sales.

By the way, the Brewers picked up Francisco Cordero's option today, so cross another potential FA closer off an already pitiful list.

4 comments:

T-Bone said...

have other things to add to the grady story, but will add them with a clear head. until then...

Nationals release six
10/03/2006 7:15 PM ET
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals released pitchers Pedro Astacio, Zach Day, Ryan Drese, Brian Lawrence, Joey Eischen and Felix Rodriguez on Tuesday. All six were hampered by injuries during the 2006 season.

Pat Tabler said...

I did think about the T-Bone/Drese story, which makes ANY Indian encounter story pale in comparison, but I decided not to open up old wounds.

POJO_Risin said...

I think an overabundance of pitchers would be a welcome change. You combine that with the bats we have now, and assuming a free agent signing...to go along with either the development of a closer or a signing of someone...and you DO have something in the future. IMO, Westbrook is the backbone of the staff, and CC the star. It's the bottom line of this staff to keep those two wrapped up as long as you can.

As for Hafner, if we haven't learned in the past with Manny and Thome...you've GOT TO sign him now...to long term and big money...that way we don't have to worry about BIG MONEY down the line. Yeah, it's a lot of money now...but this kid is top 3 offensively in the league.

rayman said...

We need to sign Hafner and CC. There's just no two ways about it.