Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Flexibility Factor

A few weeks ago, I took a look at a possible change in philosophy to approaching the FA market – one that involved upgrading the team with players, regardless of position, who may not make the big splash but would allow the team to improve, both in terms of quality and depth.

From that depth, then, the Indians can obtain the arms for the bullpen that are proving so exorbitantly priced on the FA market. Truthfully, anytime that Chad Bradford can get a 3-year guaranteed deal – that’s a pretty sure sign that relievers most would rate as mediocre to good (certainly not great) are getting too many years and too much money.

So, the Indians have decided to take the road less traveled (but perhaps wiser), one in which they go to the Winter Meetings with a lot of flexibility and a lot of players that can be moved.

The Dellucci signing gives Shapiro the flexibility to move any number of players to improve the team. Whether you believe Dellucci’s agent that he was promised the LF job is irrelevant because it probably was offered to him, “If he could consistently hit LHP”. If he can’t, the flexibility is there with the other RH in the lineup to make up for his deficiency.

Does anyone think that rumored “advisor” Buck Showalter, who had Dellucci in both Arizona and Texas, was consulted before this deal was done?

Before anyone goes nuts that the money given to Dellucci is excessive, consider the other contracts being given out (6 years, $100M for Carlos Lee from a team incapable of DHing him in 3 years) and remember that a 3-year deal for a position player over 30 is much more stable than giving a 3-year deal to a reliever over 30.

With the market spinning out of control, is it easy to say the money would be better spent on Bobby Howry last off-season?
Sure, but hindsight’s always 20/20 and let’s reserve judgment until Howry pitches off the last 2/3 of the contract without a significant injury.

Back to what the Dellucci deal means to the Front Office’s approach to the trade market in the coming weeks. The possibilities and the movable parts are seemingly endless, but here are a few scenarios:
LF – Dellucci
RF – Blake
4th OF – Michaels
1B – Garko
C – Martinez
Trade Bait – Choo, Gutierrez

LF – Dellucci/Michaels
RF – Choo
4th OF – Gutierrez
1B – Blake
C – Martinez
Trade Bait – Garko

LF – Delucci
RF – Blake
4th OF – Choo
1B – Martinez
C – Shoppach
Trade Bait – Garko, Gutierrez, Michaels

You get the idea.
With Dellucci, Michaels, Blake, Gutierrez, Choo, and Garko all being a part of the equation, Shapiro can go to the Winter Meetings and move one or two of them to upgrade the bullpen. By packaging a couple of the expendable (or most desirous pieces to other teams) players with a young arm that is out of options (Guthrie, Davis, etc.), expect some activity to re-shape the bullpen while not drastically affecting the offense.

The argument, besides flexibility, for the signing of Dellucci is that the Indians are putting some faith in the likes of Marte, Choo, and Garko. After seeing the regression of Peralta last year, the inclusion of a veteran bat provides some comfort in experience and stability.

Plus, he can be referred to as The Looch in honor of Arnold’s old nemesis on “Diff’rent Strokes” – The Gooch.

The counterargument to adding a player like Dellucci and the ensuing depth on the roster is that none of these players (Michaels, Blake, Gutz, Choo, Garko) are valuable enough to merit that their definite inclusion on the 2007 team, which holds water until you remember that all these players need to do is complement the likes of Grady, Pronk, and Victor.
Nobody needs David Dellucci to be anything more than a complementary player and veteran presence. As a sign of the times for baseball economics, that’s what $11.5M will now get you.

While, at this point, this deal is only subject to evaluation on it’s own; it’s conceivable that this signing becomes the impetus to allow the Indians to give the bullpen a makeover without committing over $40M to adding Jamie Walker, Danys Baez, Chad Bradford, and Scott Williamson to doing so (which the Orioles have).

Allow Shapiro to be creative and improve the Indians early next week at the Winter Meetings.

The Dellucci signing is only the first move in what promises to be a few weeks full of them.


t-bone said...

I'm not going to start thinking lineup scenarios until we get closer to ST.

Also, Trivissano just implied a little birdie told him something big is happening "Sunday or Monday."

Cy Slapnicka said...

I'm guessing it has something to do with Triv's digestive system...