Is Tribe Front Office Too Nice?

Over the weekend, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Indians could take the $7 million they owed to Roberto Hernandez/Fausto Carmona and go out and get another starter to fill out the rotation in 2012.

The two pitchers mentioned by Heyman were Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson, both currently free agents.  Both guys are established big league starting pitchers and the asking price for both should be dropping since spring training opens in less than a month.

The first thought here was there is no way the Tribe would make such a move, even if it only cost them an extra million or two, because they could void Hernandez/Carmona’s deal.

One reason is because Cleveland would probably have to sign either hurler to a multi-year contract, and they currently have club options on the now 31-year-old right hander.  The long-term commitment would be not be appealing, especially in Oswalt’s case since he’s 34 years old.

The other reason is the Tribe generally likes to be known as player friendly.  Even though the organization said it was very surprised to find out Carmona is not who he said he was, nor was he 28 years old, there was no talk at all about voiding the agreement, at least publicly.

Who knows, maybe behind the scenes, GM Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro are figuring out how to cancel the contract, thereby freeing up additional cash to improve the ballclub for the coming season. 

However, that’s not the Indians style.

Oswalt has a far better resume than Hernandez/Carmona.  Although he missed some time last season with lower back problems, the righty still was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA with Philadelphia.  He has two 20 win seasons and another year with 19 victories in his career.  His lifetime record is 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA.

Jackson, who spent time with the White Sox in 201o and 2011 before getting traded to St. Louis, is only 28 (same age Carmona was supposed to be) and is a workhorse, throwing more than 180 innings in each of the last four seasons.

In his big league career, he’s 60-60 with a 4.46 ERA, but since 2008, he has been under 4.50 each year, and he has fanned twice as many hitters as he has walked in each of the last three seasons.

Contrast those numbers with those put up by Hernandez/Carmona since his tremendous 2007 season, which by the way is the Indians most recent trip to the post-season.

In three of those years, he has had an ERA of over 5.00.  Only in 2010, did the righty pitch well, with an ERA of 3.77. 

His won-loss record in that period is just 33-48.  That’s why picking up his option was debated by the management.  He simply has been more awful than effective over the last four seasons.

Whether or not the Indians can get either Oswalt or Jackson is doubtful, because the organization will claim they don’t have the money to spend, and also because they don’t want to agree to more than one year.

However, it’s not like Antonetti is trying to replace Sandy Koufax.

If the Indians can use the mistaken identity of one of their starting pitchers to bolster the rotation, why not take a look at it. 

And certainly replacing Hernandez/Carmona with either Oswalt or Jackson would be a plus for the Tribe.

However, they are probably too nice, too loyal to their players to make it happen.





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