Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Lazy Sunday "Fall" Back

Since The DiaperTribe didn’t get the memo that everyone is supposed to get an extra hour of sleep with Daylight Savings, it’s time to get an early start on the first official off-season edition of Lazy Sunday, with “all of the news that’s fit to link”.

Terry Pluto (remaining that last beacon of light in the darkness of local baseball coverage in the newspapers) touches on a myriad of topics as the Indians get ready to address their off-season wish list. He reports that the Indians HAVE, in fact, asked Baltimore about Brian Roberts, only to learn that Asdrubal is the player that would make it happen…which kind of defeats the whole purpose of adding a 2B. Additionally, acquiring Roberts for one year, with no guarantee that he’d be here after 2009, means that the Indians would likely find themselves in the same position to try to find the long-term answer at 2B after the 2009 season. Pluto also gets a bit into “Bones” Meloan as a 2009 option in the bullpen and some of the FA possibilities for the Tribe this off-season, correctly laying out the fault in the “Casey Blake return” argument and making his Bob Howry push again.

Since it is the off-season, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to sort through the available FA this off-season, here’s the ESPN FA tracker that you can sort by position and can keep tabs on who goes where and who remains available as the Hot Stove heats up. I’ll probably throw a link up on the sidebar…in the hopes that anyone besides me peruses that.

Staying on the FA front, Ken Rosenthal thinks that the Brewers are getting set to offer CC a 4-year, $100M deal…which he’ll likely turn down as “he surely would command a more lucrative deal on the open market. The Yankees, Angels and Dodgers are among Sabathia's leading possibilities, and each could give him more than four years and $25 million per season.”

So, for those of you who said that the Indians should have thrown a big annual salary number at CC over a limited amount of years to keep him in Cleveland, let’s see if he’s pitching for the Brew Crew next year as that’s exactly what Milwaukee is going to do with The Hefty Lefty while they retain exclusive negotiating rights with him until November 14th.

Rosenthal also asserts (in the same linked piece) that he thinks that the Indians are going to eschew the idea of getting a closer on the open market this off-season and will turn their attention to getting 7th and 8th inning guys to set up Jensen Lewis, who Rosenthal thinks will be the Tribe closer going into 2009.

On that front, not that he’s any great shakes, but it looks like RHP Aaron Heilman could be had, as it seems that he’s worn out his welcome with more than just the Mets’ fan base (it’s not a good sign when the “Google Search” suggestion for a name fills in “sucks” as the third word for your inquiry because it’s a popular search). He’s 2 years away from FA, and had posted pretty good numbers as a member of the Mets’ bullpen prior to 2008. He would probably come rather cheap and could be an instance of a player in need of a “change of scenery” that the Indians could buy low on.

Before you dismiss Heilman because of his nightmarish 2008, take a look at the numbers he put up in the two previous years and think about another reliever who thrived in the back-end of the bullpen for a few years, but experienced a down year:
Heilman 2006
120 ERA+, 3.62 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 73 K, 28 BB in 87 IP

Betancourt 2006
119 ERA+, 3.81 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 48 K, 11 BB in 56 2/3 IP

Heilman 2007
140 ERA+, 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 63 K, 20 BB in 86 IP

Betancourt 2007
312 ERA+, 1.47 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 80 K, 9 BB in 79 1/3 IP

Heilman 2008
81 ERA+, 5.21 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 80 K, 46 BB in 76 IP

Betancourt 2008
88 ERA+, 5.07 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 64 K, 25 BB in 71 IP
If it’s reasonable to expect a bounce-back season for Senor Slo-Mo (and, good gracious, look again at his 2007!), why not see if the same can be true for Heilman as long as the Mets are willing to part with him without asking for too much in return as a TOTAL bullpen overhaul looks to be in the works this off-season for Omar Minaya?

As a quick aside here, my guess is that the Mets and Minaya will be the ones who offer some sort of guaranteed deal to new FA Chad Cordero, as opposed to the wiser, incentive-laden deal that he should be looking at. Minaya drafted Cordero in Montreal and is trying to rebuild the Mets’ bullpen after he (likely) drops a bomb on it, so it’s not inconceivable for Minaya to give Cordero a guaranteed deal with an club option attached, which is more than anyone else would be willing to offer a pitcher coming off of a very scary shoulder surgery.

But I digress.
If the Indians are, in fact, looking for relievers to complement Betancourt and Perez in the 7th and 8th innings to lead up to Jenny Lew (and that’s where both Pluto and Rosenthal see this thing going), a guy like Heilman could be a nice under-the-radar acquisition that could provide comparable results to those that could be expected by the second-tier of available relievers in FA (like Juan Cruz, Brandon Lyon, or Joe Beimel) without the financial commitment of years or dollars.

On the trade market for starting pitchers, Rosenthal reports that the Jake Peavy Sweepstakes is ALREADY down to two teams – the Cubs and the Dodgers. He says the Braves are still in the mix, but a move to any team other than those three seems unlikely for Peavy.

For those who didn’t believe me when I said (in the Teahen talk) that Frank the Tank’s defense was the separator for him and merely average MLB players as it represents an exceptional and rare skill, here’s the link to Gutz winning the Fielding Bible award for RF. Despite playing only 97 games in RF, his defensive skills are so vastly superior to other RF that he gets the nod…and RF isn’t really his best position – CF is.
You can check out the final results and tallied votes of which can be found in the top bar of the linked site.
Other Indians finishing in the Top 10 at their respective positions league-wide:
Asdrubal – 7th at 2B
Grady – 3rd at CF

With defense in mind, it will be interesting to see how this whole 2B/3B conundrum finds a resolution (FYI – the Arizona Republic guesses that Orlando Hudson will be looking for a multi-year deal worth about $10M per year) as the Indians could have 2 extreme groundball pitchers in their rotation (Carmona and Laffey) with another scheduled to join the team after the All-Star Break in Westbrook. Throw in the fact that a couple of the FA starters available (Lowe most notably and Mussina, Dempster, Garland, and Looper to a lesser degree) are groundball pitchers, and the Indians could be looking to shore up their infield defense as much as they are to add any kind of offense given the amount of groundballs that figure to come off the bats of Tribe opponents in 2009.

On the starter front, the Indians have ALLEGEDLY inquired about Scott Olsen of the Marlins. With the “Mark Teahen Rule” fully in effect, let’s just say that Shapiro’s interest in Olsen should stop when he realizes that he has a lot of pitchers like Olsen already in the organization (young LHP who translate as back-end-of-the-rotation arms) that he doesn’t have to give up anything to slot into the Tribe rotation at some point.

Regarding “team-building practices” not related to FA, want some perspective on how attractive Kelly Shoppach’s going to be on the Trade Market?
The Blue Jays just picked up a $2.5M option for Rod Barajas – a 33-year-old who put up an OPS of .704 last year with 11 HR in 349 AB. Mr. Show Pack figures to be paid less (or about that amount) while being under club control for 3 more seasons and posted a .865 OPS with 21 HR in 352 AB.
If the Blue Jays know that catchers are a rare enough commodity that they picked up Barajas’ option because they had it, what to the teams that are desperate for a backstop do?

In case you missed my EDIT to link the Carter Bays piece from Cleveland Magazine for Thursday’s post, here’s the link to the article – provided by Andy Netzel of CleveMag. Now that Carter Bays’ “How I Met Your Mother” is only a day away (Mondays at 8:30 on CBS), you have no excuse to miss this week’s episode as this is another reminder to catch what is one of the most consistently funny shows on TV right now, with roots to Northeast Ohio.

As a matter of updates, Dave Huff will be joining Smoke Signals this Wednesday around 10 PM, so I’ll be sure to post the link as soon as it becomes available.

Finally, with Spring Training seeming too far away, the guys over at Baseball Pilgrimages have a little piece on the Indians new facility in Goodyear with the obligatory pictures that will get you excited for the day when those magic words pass through your lips - “Pitchers and Catchers Report…”
That day is February 12, 2009, by the way.
Maybe a countdown clock is forthcoming…because those words are only 102 days away.


Ron Vallo said...

Don't think we wan't Heilman, partly because he was a disaster last year but also because he has done nothing but complain about being in the bullpen. He wants to be a strater. He thinks he is a starter and if a guy just doesn;t want to do something, he's just not going to do it as well as he can.

peter said...

One other how i met your mother note-- the star, josh radnor, is from bexley, in columbus.
i know this as he was in my graduating class.

webba said...

Dear Paul
did you look at IRS% for Heilman?
I did not (can't find them antwhere)...but I feel that it was not a very good one.
Bye form Italy

Paul Cousineau said...

Heilman allowed 14 of the 37 runners he inherited in 2008 to score...not so good.
He did, however, only allow 8 of the 29 he inherited in 2007 to score - which only provides further evidence that relievers are a volatile bunch.

If, of course, Heilman wants to start (as my colleague from TFIY asserts) despite the fact that he hasn't started a game since 2005, then he's NOT going to do something he doesn't want to do very well.

If Heilman's still deluded enough to not know what he is at this point and has starting in the back of his mind - no thanks.

Just trying to think outside the box here.

Cy Slapnicka said...

we could use that countdown clock today....and i don't mean the Quinn clock...that should be at zero.

anyone know of any IT Security conferences in AZ in March?