Tribe Moves Could Start Soon

Tonight, the last game of the baseball season may be played. 

If Texas beats St. Louis this evening, they will be the World Champions for 2011, the first in franchise history. 

For those confused and saying the Washington Senators won in the 1920’s, that franchise is now the Minnesota Twins.  The Rangers were born in 1961 as an expansion franchise given to Washington to replace the original Senators.

What this means for Cleveland is that three days after the Series ends, the Indians will have to make decisions on two players who have club options:  Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona.

We have already stated that what GM Chris Antonetti should do is decline Sizemore’s option for $9 million and exercise Carmona’s for $7 million.

This is not to endorse keeping Carmona in the starting rotation.  However, starting pitching, particularly guys who can eat innings, is valuable, and the right-hander could be interesting to teams looking for durable starters.

As for Sizemore, he hasn’t been healthy since 2008, and when he has been in the lineup, has shown little to remind us of the player he was from 2005-08. 

Let’s put it another way, if Sizemore was with another team now, and the Indians offered him $9 million for one year, critics would be saying that Antonetti was insane.

These two moves will hopefully kickoff what should be a busy off-season for the Tribe. 

At least it should be active if the front office wants the team to jump over the Tigers and win the American League Central Division.

Once again, the Indians need a right-handed hitter, who preferably plays LF or CF or first base, and another starting pitcher. 

They also need to have that right-handed bat be a guy who does not strikeout excessively.

It’s also time for our annual pitch for the Indians to see if they can find a taker for DH Travis Hafner. 

Understand that this will not be easy, and it definitely will involve paying a portion of Hafner’s 2012 salary of approximately $13 million. 

Yes, we know that the deal would have to be to an American League team, because the big DH can no longer play in the field.

Such a deal would give Antonetti an extra $6.5 million to try to improve the team, and it would allow the Tribe to bring Jim Thome back as DH.

We know Thome will be 41 during the 2012 season, but he was a more productive hitter than Hafner, both with the Indians and in total (838 OPS vs. 811 for Hafner).

When Hafner was in his prime, he regular had slugging percentages in the .550 to .600 range.  The last few years, that figure has dipped to under .450, which is lower than Asdrubal Cabrera, Shelley Duncan, and Jason Kipnis, at least last season.

In a year where he said his shoulder was healthy, he hit just 13 home runs in 325 at bats.  By contrast, Thome hit 15 in 277 at bats. 

Not much of a difference, but keep in mind that Big Jim was making about $10 million less than Hafner.

Tinkering with last year’s roster is not going to put the Indians in position to contend.  They do have some pieces to build on, however.  Cabrera, a healthy Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, and Jason Kipnis is a good young core of players.

Also, a middle market team can’t have its three highest paid players not contributing on a daily basis.  Keeping Sizemore, Carmona, and Hafner puts them in that position.

Something to keep in mind as the hot stove league heats up.

MW

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