Sunday, December 10, 2006

Post Winter Meeting Lazy Sunday

With the temperature rising (briefly), let’s head right into a Lazy Sunday, as I’ve got to get the board out of the garage:

Apparently Bud Shaw has now become the logician at the PD. He actually gave the Indians some love for their off-season up to this point yesterday (albeit after Buster Olney – see the last Comments section for the link – and Jason Stark gave the Indians a passing grade thus far).

Terry Pluto reports that the Pirates asked for Victor Martinez for closer Mike Gonzalez, so that’s not happening unless the Pirates back off of their demands. Speaking of demands, Pluto reports that the Red Sox stuck to their guns on their demands for Manny, which the Indians obviously walked away from.

On this whole Manny thing, if Manny TRULY wanted to return to Cleveland (and nowhere else), he would only have to tell the Red Sox, “Trade me to Cleveland”. His no-trade would allow him to veto any other deals; so if he really wanted to return, he could force Boston’s hand into dealing only with the Indians. Until that happens, Manny’s requests to return to the North Coast ring hollow.

Although it’s a day old, here’s Hoynes’ update on the possibility of signing Foulke or Gagne, now that Dotel has signed with the Royals. Surprisingly, Shapiro is quoted in the article as saying that the Indians don’t need to necessarily add another arm, which comes in stark contrast to everything that we’ve heard up to this point. Hopefully it isn’t the way that Shapiro prepares the fan base to the fact that neither Foulke nor Gagne are on their way to the North Coast.

According to multiple sources, the Indians and the Rangers are the final 2 bidders for the services of Gagne, so as I channeled my inner Clark Griswold yesterday, taking the DiaBride (a mere 10 days from her due date) out to a Swan Farm in Valley View to cut down a tree (no lie, they give you a saw and a sled to take the tree back to your car – couldn’t be more fun), I thought back to the days when Eric Gagne absolutely DOMINATED for 3 years.

Upon returning to the homestead and setting up some Christmas cheer, I learned the extent of that dominance. From 2002 to 2004, he logged 152 saves with an ERA of 1.78 and a WHIP of 0.82. That’s over 3 years! He struck out 365 batters in 247 innings over those 3 years. That’s nearly 1 ½ an inning!

If Gagne can harness ANY of that old magic, it’s worth a $6M, 1-year deal with incentives. Let’s hope, first, that Shapiro can convince Gagne to come to the North Coast and, second, that Gagne is somewhere close to the pitcher that ruled the roost at Chavez Ravine a few years back.

On another note, there was great coverage of the Winter Meetings on STO, though the DiaBride can’t figure out why we’re watching 3 guys sitting around a hotel in Florida at the beginning of December four nights in a row.
The coverage is precisely what many of us hoped STO would evolve into, something that covers the Indians exhaustively. Even if the real diehards are the only ones watching, the interviews with Shapiro, the opinions and banter of Brian Anderson and Rick Manning, and the unexpected chemistry between Buck Showalter and Brian Anderson made it very entertaining.

Hopefully, Anderson’s gig with STO develops into a job in the booth someday, where his personality and ridiculous stories and anecdotes would add quite a bit to the game. The fact that he still, at heart, is a kid from Geneva who loves the Tribe doesn’t hurt his likeability. STO should tell Anderson that when his playing career is over, there would be a chair ready for him.

Back to the Winter Meetings, some of the tidbits from people not named Shapiro, or from guys more likely to “slip up” and let some bit of information or conjecture leak out.

According to Assistant GM Chris Antonetti, the Tribe lineup vs. RHP will look like this:
LF – Dellucci
CF – Sizemore
RF – Choo
1B – Blake/Garko
2B – Barfield
SS – Peralta
3B - Marte
C- Martinez

Against LHP, the lineup will look like this:
LF – Michaels
CF – Sizemore
RF – Blake
1B – Garko/Vic
2B – Barfield
SS – Peralta
3B – Marte
C – Martinez and occasionally Shoppach

Antonetti said that Blake’s versatility is the attribute that allows the Indians to move their lineup around against different pitchers. While these lineups are the “ideal”, it’s very possible that, as the season goes forward, the players separate themselves to earn more AB, while others will appear less frequently. The idea that the depth will be improved is contingent, however, on Wedge using his bench much more liberally than he has in past years.

Speaking of the Atomic Wedgie, while he normally won’t give up any quotes that don’t include the phrases “respect the game”, “consistent approach”, or “grind it out”, he was unusually glib.

He said that Casey Blake will be in the lineup every day, whether it be RF or 1B, or even 3B. When asked about Garko-my-God-did-you-see-how-far-he-hit-that?, he said that Garko really impressed the coaching staff last year with his “approach” (Wedgieism), but he still needs to work on his defense. He has certainly improved and is playing Winter Ball to get better. Wedge said that Garko is absolutely in the mix at 1B, as is Victor, and Casey…so that’s what they’ll have to work out - to find AB for all of them.

Looking at the approach to the Winter Meetings (and the off-season as a whole) it seem that the Front Office is acquiring players to create competition in Spring Training, making players like Jason Davis and Ryan Garko earn a spot on this team in Winter Haven.
Rather than hoping somebody pans out or just handing someone a roster spot that’s not necessarily earned, the Indians want to give themselves numerous options in Spring Training to take the best team back to Cleveland.

If one of the youngsters plays his way onto the team, great…but none of them is being counted upon to take a giant step entering 2007.
67 days until Pitchers and Catchers report…not that I’m excited.

1 comment:

t-bone said...

Updated: Dec. 12, 2006, 12:31 PM ET
Report: Gagne agrees to $8M deal with Rangers news services

The Rangers reportedly have lured a second player from the Dodgers in as many days.

Le Journal de Montreal reports that former Dodgers closer Eric Gagne has agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with Texas. The Rangers reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year, $6 million contract with former Dodgers center fielder Kenny Lofton on Monday.