Thursday, November 16, 2006

Changing Gears?

Just a thought as the Rumor Mill and Free Agent Signings start to go into overdrive:
What if, finding that the FA Reliever market is as bad as previously thought (with bigger contracts), the Indians’ Front Office decides to divert their attention to the Free Agents on the market that can help the team, regardless of position?

That is, the Front Office realizes that the biggest hole on the team (the bullpen) cannot be fixed via FA alone and the lesser holes on the team can be filled more easily via Free Agency. The new Free Agent signees then make players currently on the roster expendable, which means that they can be traded for bullpen help.

For example, if the Indians sign Nomar Garciaparra to play 1B (which is, admittedly, unlikely because of the Dodgers wanting to sign him after losing J.D. Drew), it makes Ryan Garko available as trade bait. While Garko alone may not bring an answer for the bullpen, he can be used as part of a package to bring an arm to Cleveland.

Or, if the Tribe signs Luis Gonzalez to play the OF, it immediately makes Michaels and Gutierrez expendable (which, it can be argued, they already may be) to acquire an arm to the pen. Again, neither of these players is going to bring an answer on their own, but a package deal is not out of the question.

Knowing that every team is flush with money because of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and that contracts are going to get more outrageous going forward, expect the Indians to sign players to contracts that won’t become albatrosses around the organization’s neck in a year and a half.

Looking at the FA market (which we all knew was weak) for relievers, you have to wonder if Shapiro and Co. are going to find players that can help, regardless of position. When the dust settles after the signings, the Indians can re-evaluate where they have depth to trade from to fill the biggest hole that remains, the bullpen.

I read recently that a good GM does not sign relievers that have just had great years; they sign relievers about to have good years. Otherwise, you end up with overpaid underachievers instead of a bullpen (like Minnesota’s, as an example) in recent years, one that achieves great results without too much fanfare.

Not as easy as it sounds. And it doesn’t sound easy.


pojo said...

Well...I absolutely hope what you say is true...

I know it's sensible to spend all their money on relievers...but have NEVER seen doing that as a good thing. So many times a reliever has a 1 or 2 year run...gets big money...

then plays like dogcrap...

sign a bigger money the DESERVE, then do something else...

Paul Cousineau said...

Outside of VERY few relievers (Hoffman, Mo Rivera, K-Rod), there aren't many guys that have a sustained period of uninterrupted excellence.

Todd Jones, the Tigers' closer for 2006 was cut by about 5 teams just 2 years earlier.

Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' eventual closer barely made the team out of Spring Training.

It's a crapshoot.
You roll the bones and hope for the best.