Friday, October 26, 2012

Tribe Needs: Looking Ahead To 2013

before 2012 was even over, the Indians fired their manager. then three days after the season officially ended, we got a new one. welcome to the team, Mr. Terry Francona.

Francona's hiring looks good because he's got a couple World Series rings and his experience should be very helpful to this team. i said before that we are not a 94 loss team. Francona is almost assuredly going to benefit here and come off in a great light because there's a pretty high probability that we will improve at least a little next season. so his return to managing will get him respect again and put him back on the map.

but the Indians are seriously kidding themselves if they think simply firing Manny and hiring Terry is going to be enough to turn things around with this franchise. Francona's not the guy on the field playing the game. he's going to need better effort from a lot of our players. he's also going to need some better players to work with, and i don't think he's going to get them.

the Dolans are not selling this team. and the firing of Manny ensured that Antonetti and Shapiro would be back next season. those facts don't exactly give fans a vote of confidence that positive changes are coming. the checkbook's not all the sudden going to open wide, as it never does. it would be a shock if our payroll even reached 70 million dollars next year. most people believe 2013 will be a lather, rinse, repeat cycle of 2012.

now let me bring it back to Francona for a minute. a big reason he liked this job opportunity was because of his relationships with Antonetti and Shapiro. keep in mind most fans want that duo gone. well, the only way Antonetti and Shapiro are getting pink slips is if we have yet another bad year in 2013. and, as was rumored all over the baseball circuits, if they go, Francona has the choice to go with them. that's kind of ridiculous.

how pleased would nearly all Tribe fans be if we finally got rid of Antonetti and Shapiro? and how displeased would fans be if we had to search for a new manager again because Francona was more concerned about his friends(hips) than this team? that's not exactly the kind of guy i wanna get behind and support, but i really have no other choice. who knows if Francona will actually be here for the full four years of his contract. it's just a very strange set of circumstances and i'm not gonna dwell on the oddity of this situation.

maybe Francona will get sick of the way Antonetti and Shapiro are running things now and will want them gone if next year turns out to be another disaster. Francona is not going to come out and make demands to increase payroll. wouldn't work anyways. and he won't demand that we sign certain players. he may wish it, but he won't openly ask for it. however, he should have enough of a voice to be able to put the kibosh on any dumb Damon type deals. and that alone is a step in the right direction for us.

i can't even pretend to know what the Indians are going to do during the offseason as far as trades and acquisitions go, but we do have some obvious needs. and as has been speculated already, we better hope that some decent players finally think of Cleveland as a desirable place to play now that we have the big name Francona attached to us. but we all know that money talks (and sometimes screams) to athletes, and we don't have much of it. so we shall see what happens.

there will be many rumors during the offseason about who might get traded. a lot of the rumored potential deals will merely be the Tribe's way of gauging interest from other teams. i think certain players are on the chopping block more than others, so i will go through my list and say what i think will happen.

Shin-Soo Choo
--i think he will begin 2013 with the Tribe and then be traded at the July deadline.

Chris Perez
--i think his odds of staying are 50/50. if the right deal comes our way, then he's definitely gone.

Grady Sizemore
--because he did not play 1 game in 2012, i think there's a possibility that the Indians will give him a spring training invite on a small minor league deal.

Asdrubal Cabrera
--i expect his name to be out there, but he's staying.

Justin Masterson
--another name i expect to be out there, but in the end i also think he's staying. (if not, then we're clearly in official rebuilding mode.)

Ubaldo Jimenez
--as much as he frustrates fans, they are not getting rid of him yet. that option will be picked up (3 days after the World Series ends).

Roberto Hernandez
--i've heard from some of my fav reporters already that they expect him to be let go, but honestly i think he's got a good chance of staying because we really need pitching. they won't soon forget how he did have that one good year and that he's an innings eater. so yes i can see him staying, but he'd be getting way less money.

who i think is definitely outta here:

--Travis Hafner (you've been on a long road with us, good luck in your future)

--Casey Kotchman (we're really gonna miss your glove, not your bat)

--Jack Hannahan (Supermannahan made some good memories here and his baby was definitely the cutest on the team)

--Brent Lillibridge (pointless acquisition who got worse defensively as the year closed out)

--Matt LaPorta (harsh reality is you were over-hyped and a huge disappointment)

major Tribe needs for 2013 include:

--a left fielder (but if they can get a center fielder, then Brantley would move to left)

--1st baseman


(and a few of the above need to be right-handed)

--a couple starting pitchers

--they also could use a backup right fielder for when Choo needs days off. or they might just need an RF from the jump if Choo does end up getting traded before the season begins.

--a pitching coach (hopefully credible and experienced)

--a hitting coach

how are we going to fill all those needs? we can't just go out and bring in free agents. the market's fairly dry to start with. and we probably can't afford anyone decent anyways. we're going to have to get new players by trading some of the players we have now. but we can't trade all our best guys, as that will create more holes. and there aren't many trading chips on the farm team anymore. our resources are very limited. some of the players we currently have are gonna HAVE to step up and perform better next season. and there's no two ways about it, we need help from the outside as well. if we somehow end up getting an outfielder, DH, and one starting pitcher, consider ourselves lucky.

i have a few ideas on how to address some of our problems. let's start with the outfield.

assume we still have Choo to start, then right now for 2013 we have

left - ?

center – Brantley

right – Choo

and who are their backups? i suppose you could keep EZ around if we can't bring in anyone better. there's also talk about Russ Canzler playing more left next year, which i'm not necessarily sold on. and if Choo does get traded during the offseason, then we've pretty much only got 1 good outfielder on the team at the moment. yikes. maybe trading Chris Perez could bring back an OF though.

now i'll move on to the infield.

3rd base – Chiz

shortstop – Cabby

2nd base – Kip

1st base – Canzler

i think that IF has potential to be good together. Russ is better playing 1st base, so i'd like to see him be our main guy there next year if we cannot acquire a 1st baseman from outside. and it's helpful that he's a right-handed hitter. you can also put Santana at 1st a few games a week. once again though, we don't have any tolerable backups for 2nd, short, or 3rd at the moment.

behind the plate:

catchers – Santana and Marson

we are also going to need a good 3rd catcher, even if he's kept in Columbus for most of the time. unless everyone is satisfied with Vinny Rotino, idk what we are going to do about that situation right now.

how about a DH?

well we have the option to pretty much use any position player in the DH spot when they need a bit of rest from the field, but that's not an ideal every game solution. Santana can and will DH sometimes when Marson is catching. Canzler can probably DH as well, but we need one main guy, who can actually hit and also play a position. gotta go outside to find this most likely. and maybe we can use some of our money for this acquisition.

let's do the bullpen next because this is a fairly bright spot for us.

assuming Perez sticks around, then we've got

closer – Perez

set up man – Vinnie

7th inning guy – Smitty

if we lose Perez, then i'd go with

closer – Vinnie

set up man – Esmil Rogers

7th inning – Smitty

another option could be

closer – Vinnie

set up man – Smitty

7th inning – Rogers

and there's always the option to have Cody Allen pitch the 7th or 8th. that'll depend on his progress in spring training though, and whether or not they'd prefer to have Rogers in a long relief role.

other people i wanna see in our bullpen next year:

Nick Hagadone

Raffy Perez (health permitting)

maybe Frank Herrmann (progress permitting)

maybe Scott Barnes

maybe Chris Seddon (depends on if they want him starting in Columbus or not)

definitely NOT Scott Maine or Tony Sipp. those 2 need to go.

we have enough in-house guys to fill up our bullpen. i am confident there. i would hate to see us waste some of our tight funds on acquiring a bullpen guy when we have many other more pressing needs to attend to. also, because we do have a lot of good relievers in-house, a few of the above could always be used in part of a trade.

now to the headache of starting pitching.

Masterson and Ubaldo are for sure still going to be in our rotation. whether they continue to be our #1 and #2 remains to be seen. that will depend on how things go in spring training and whether or not we can acquire anyone with better track records than them.

Carlos Carrasco is almost guaranteed to be part of the rotation because we have too many open spots at the moment. unless he does a horrendous job in ST, i think the Tribe will give him a chance to open the year as a starter. and it would be HUGE for us if he could perform well.

McAllister could be in the rotation to start the year as well, if he does a good job in spring.

we also have other possibilities with Kluber, Gomez, and Hernandez. Huff could still be around too if we give him another contract. i think they also mentioned Slowey getting another shot, but with the way he was hurt last season and the fact that he couldn't even pitch well in Columbus, i wouldn't bat an eyelash at him. we really have to try and bring in at least one decent pitcher from another team. two would be ideal but i doubt that's realistic since we have other important holes to fill as well.

and it's almost certain that we will have/acquire the usual "scrub" suspects in the role of utility players, otherwise known as guys who aren't noisemakers offensively or defensively. that's classic Tribe. we better not waste our precious money on too many of those guys.

as far as the pitching and hitting coaches go, it'd be nice to get some proven and experienced guys on the staff. guys who are very knowledgeable that the players would respect, and guys they could really learn from. i don't think an inexperienced young coach is the way to go here. we need more of an accomplished expert type. especially with the pitching coach because our pitchers clearly need help. (it's so disappointing that Belcher's out of the picture. he did such a great job when he was here.)

there are just too many "ifs" and "what ifs" (haha) right now, but i honestly believe that if we can get our starting pitching straightened out, we might do okay next year. at the very least, we should be able to avoid any long losing streaks and be closer to .500. we're working with incredibly meager finances here, so once again we will have to count more on internal improvements rather than big free agency splashes. we just have to keep our fingers crossed that bringing in Francona will interest some good players into coming here who may not have considered it before. yeah, idk if that's gonna happen lol

Go Tribe 2013!

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