Blogging the Offseason: Cleveland Indians

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.

Today's AL team is the Cleveland Indians and our guest is Scott Sargent from the Cleveland Blog Waiting For Next Year.

1. What are you thoughts on the Manny Acta hire? Were you hoping for someone else?
I think the Acta hire makes sense. For one, he's used to working with a team that continually disappoints. Secondly, he's a very solid coach that I think gets a bum rap due to the record that continually hangs over his head. The down side is that if we revisit this number in a year or two, it won't be much better. I know that I a lot of Tribe fans wanted a big name. Don Mattingly would have been nice, but when you have a cheap owner that will already be paying Eric Wedge for another year, you're not getting the big name. If anything, Acta will be able to connect with the Latino contingent that Wedge seemingly just could not do after firing Luis Isaac. Couple all of this with his reputation for developing young talent, and it works for me. I just hope that our youth is actually talented...

2. Fausto Carmona has been a disaster the past two seasons, is there anyway he can be salvaged?
Take out the 19-game, Cy Young worthy season and Carmona has been a disaster essentially every year. His issues seem to be mental more than anything, so I definitely think he can be salvaged. If the staff can get Carmona to have a short-term memory and focus on his mechanics when things start to go awry, he could be right back where he was in 2007. The big question will be on who the pitching coach will be as this may be his primary goal.

3. Grady Sizemore is still just 27 years old but it appears as if the Indians might be in a rebuilding mode, would you entertain the thought of trading him this offseason?
Next to Shin-Soo Choo possibly having to serve military time in South Korea, this is the million dollar question. When the Lee/Martinez trades went down, I could have put money on the fact that Sizemore would have wanted out. He was promptly shut down with his elbow issues, and really hasn't been heard from since. He's signed through 2012, so his bat (and hopeful leadership) could definitely be used. However, as you said, the team needs to make a deicsion. If Sizemore is in the long term plans, they need to extend him yesterday. If not, he may need to be dealt as the team shouldn't expect to compete until his contract is about to be up. But that's just the Cleveland way, no?

4. What do you think is the Indians biggest area of need for the Indians to address in the offseason?
Hands down the starting rotation. As of now, Carmona or Jake Westbrook look to be opening day starter. Westbrook and Anthony Reyes are coming off of Tommy John's. Aaron Laffey has a ton of potential, but seems to get bit by the injury bug every season. Last year's fifth starter Scott Lewis was hurt for the majority of the year. Carlos Carrasco was lit up like a Christmas tree after his call-up. Alas, most of the Indians starters wouldn't be more than a fourth or fifth option on the majority of other MLB teams. I guess that's what happens when a team trades away to Cy Young winners for bats and bullpen options...

5. Who are a few logical free agents that you think the Indians will target in the offseason?
Jamey Carroll is a free agent, so the team may need a utility type infielder. Assuming that Andy Marte makes the squad, I can see Shapiro trying to squeeze out one or two more years out of someone like a Felipe Lopez or (ex-Indian) Johnny MacDonald. On the pitching front, I think that the team will try to nail down at least one starter, but tossing a name out would just be silly at this point as the front office could totally surprise and just roll with what they have. I could see another gamble a la Carl Pavano - so if I had to take a stab, I'd say Mike Hampton just for shits and giggles. Odds are, though, that it will be someone more like Kip Wells.

6. Watching Cliff Lee and Sabathia in the World Series had to suck but from the assets you garnered in both deals, whom do you think will have the biggest impact to the Indians in 10? Beyond?
The year 2010 will likely only feature Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and (likely) Lou Marson. If I can add in Chris Perez/Jess Todd - from the Mark DeRosa deal - they too will have a sizable role. But of the four, I'd really have to say Brantley. In a small sample size, Brantley looked to be the leadoff guy that the Tribe have longed for since the days of Kenny Lofton. If Manny Acta realizes what countless fans do, then he will start things off with Sizemore batting third behind Asdrubal Cabrera. LaPorta could be the 35-40 HR guy that many had forecasted, but I'm still a bit cautious given his lack of progression to this point coupled with his age.

Beyond 2010, I'd put Brantley right up there with Jason Knapp. After all, Knapp better produce if the Indians were willing to get rid of Cliff Lee (with a year still left on his deal) for a raw 20-year old with an alleged killer fastball. Of course, he's the same 20-year old that had to be shut down with shoulder issues, so I could be left with Brantley at the top of the list.

7. You've gassed your owner and have convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents do you sign?
Gassing the owner would be enough for me.

But if I also were able to convince him to pick three free agents... Matt Holliday, John Lackey and Chone Figgins. I was all about Holliday when the talks were swirling towards the end of 2008. Lackey could be signed and slotted at the top of the rotation just like that. Figgins would bump Brantley to the nine-hole which would take off some of the pressure and give Acta a very versatile infielder. I salivate thinking about a Figgins-Cabrera-Sizemore-Holliday lineup. And then I realize that we're talking about the Indians.

8. Which Indian prospect yet to find himself in a game are you most looking forward to in 2010?
Hands down, Carlos Santana. He'll likely start the season off in Columbus, but there's a solid shot that this kid can make the fan base forget about Victor Martinez. Leadership skills aside, Santana can flat out rake at the plate. I know that a lot of fans are still miffed that we traded Sabathia and Lee for perceived no-names, but they'll also need to remember that Santana came mid-year for Casey Blake. This is going to wind up being one hell of a deal in the favor of Shapiro. Let's just hope he can capitalize on it.

9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Indians do you part way with?
Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook. Both players were extended around the same time, both make a ton of money, and both just can't seem to stay healthy. Hafner has committed grand larceny over the last three seasons - we (WFNY) still feel that the only way that Victor should have been traded was if the other team was willing to take Hafner as well; sort of like the NBA. Obviously, that didn't happen and one of the highest paid players on the Indians has absolutely zero trade value. I don't even think he owns a glove....

10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Cleveland Indians will make the playoffs in ________.
The fan in me says 2012. Mark Shapiro did it before in a three-year period (after the Bartolo Colon deal). However, Sabathia was here and the players he traded for consisted of Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee. By 2012, Knapp should be ready. Nick Hagadone will be ready. Carrasco will still be young. It will take all of those named panning out along with LaPorta and Brantley turning into this decade's version of Albert Belle/Kenny Lofton for that mark to be met. Otherwise, we will be looking well beyond this date - especially if the Dolans are the ones cutting the checks at said date.

Posted by Simon at 3:00 PM   Digg! submit to reddit BallHype: hype it up!

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