Thursday, October 25, 2007

Already thinking of next year


I was hoping to put this off for a couple of days to give it more thought, but since it came up yesterday in
Mark Shapiro's press conference, I guess I'll give it a whirl.

For a team with almost everyone under contract, the Tribe has its share of decisions to make this winter.

Based on some things Shapiro said yesterday, I like where they are going on one big issue and think they may be making a mistake in another area.

On CC Sabathia, I like the fact that they are trying to settle it ASAP.

I also like that Shapiro appears to be ready to bring CC back for 2008 whether or not he has signed an extension beyond next season.

Next year is as good as any to win it all and the Tribe will have a better chance to do that with Sabathia in their rotation.

If something catastrophic happens and the Tribe is pushing up dasies by July, Shapiro can always trade the big man at that time. Let's assume that won't happen.

I don't think I like what I hear about the plans for infield.

My assumption has been - as I've mentioned several times over the past six weeks - that Asdrubal Cabrera would be moved to shortstop, Josh Barfield would be given a second chance at second base and Jhonny Peralta would move to third, with Casey Blake playing about five days a week at any number of positions.

Shapiro, however, says Peralta is the shortstop next year and that Cabrera will have a prominent role on the club - which I presume means second base.

There are a few things that bother me about this.

Certainly with his play in the post-season, Peralta has quieted talk about his being the odd man out in a trade. But he's not a shortstop. He's certainly not a shortstop on a team which has at least two starters who rely heavily on the groundball to make their living.

With Peralta at third, Cabrera at short and Barfield at second, the middle of the infield is more than solid. With Peralta at short you're not sure what you are getting from one day to the next.

Based on the infield plans as decoded from Shapiro's comments, it appears the Tribe is giving up on Barfield. Or at the very least that he and Cabrera will battle for the job. Neither scenario makes any sense from where I sit.

Obviously none of us knows what goes on in the clubhouse and we have no idea what unknown reasons might be behind a team souring on a player. But from the outside looking in, I can't see pulling the plug on Barfield so quickly.

Shapiro gave a say-nothing answer on the status of Kenny Lofton.

I love Kenny Lofton.

I wanted the Tribe to win the World Series for Kenny Lofton this year almost as much as I wanted them to win it for me - and for all of you.

What a story that would have been. The much traveled Lofton comes home to finally win it all.

That said, I don't see the Tribe bringing Kenny back next year.

They have Dellucci and Michaels to pay and no financial commitment to Lofton. They also have Shin-Soo Choo, Franklin Gutierrez and Ben Francisco to work in someplace.

Unless they can trade one of their less-than-thrilling veterans, there's no chance Lofton is coming back. Frankly, I think if they had their druthers they'd probably like to be free of all three and have a spot for a big-hitting left fielder - probably obtainable in a trade involving Cliff Lee.


Which brings us to the pitching staff.

In the stretch of about three sentences Shapiro said, it "is hard to see a scenario where we don't bring (closer) Joe (Browoski) back" and then, "if the opportunity is out there for us to get better in that spot then we'll absolutely do it."
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So you tell me. Will they bring Borowski back? Ask me again ten days after the end of the World Series (when the Tribe is required to decide on JoBo's option).

Should they bring him back? Yes. If a better closer falls into their laps (highly unlikely) Raffy B. can use some help from the right side in the late innings.

The Tribe must decide on the options of Paul Byrd and Aaron Fultz in the same time frame.

Given that Byrd was probably the best starter in the post-season, and the HGH thing took place when the substance wasn't banned, I say he should be brought back.


Raffie Perez did the job this year that the Tribe thought they were bringing in Fultz to do - pitch from the left side in the late innings.

It's always nice to have two lefties in the pen, if they can both get people out. Fultz was ineffective after coming back from his mid-season injury and I think it would be just as well if the Tribe cut him loose.

Some other folks in limbo:

Cliff Lee. He's not really in limbo. I think he's as good as gone. He can likely be packaged for a decent hitter who plays the outfield.

Chris Gomez. I didn't know much about him until he arrived in August, but he seems like a decent hitter off the bench. I hope there's room for him on the roster after the final cut next spring.

Andy Marte: He must either displace Casey Blake at third (since the Tribe doesn't seem to want to put Peralta there) or be subject to waivers. The Tribe would be better off trading him for whatever they can get this winter.

Trot Nixon. It's over for the Trotster. Injuries are to blame, and it's too bad. But it is indeed over for Nixon.

So, there you have it. Forced into action by Shapiro's press conference and Moose's gentle nagging, those are my thoughts about who should be where next season.

5 comments:

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bobbydb19 said...

What to do with Peralta is very troubling because he is not a SS. He has no range, lets the ball play him and as we saw in the play-offs cannot throw to 1st with any zip. How much better would he do at 3rd? Which makes the Barfield saga even more troubling. Did Cabrera just make great strides this year?? I wonder what there plan was for him when they traded for him? To play short? If he had the chance to play 2nd, why did they trade a potential 3B candidate (Kouzmanoff) for Barfield?? I have given up on Marte. I know injuries have slowed him, but if he was any good, he would have been playing already. He will follow the same path as Brandon Phillips and excel as soon as he is traded (as Tribe fans, we know that too well).

We have a log-jam of pitchers and outfielders that we need to clear up.

CC, Fausto, Jake, and Aaron Laffey should be the 4 of the starters. Say good-bye to Byrd. Now what to do with Cliff (trade) and Sowers (do we give him another shot?). Plus we have Adam Miller waiting in the wings.

Franklin should be given the starting job in RF. The LF position is like a revoloving door: Michaels, DeLucci, Lofton, Francisco, Shoo. I want a guy we can throw out there day in and day out. It would be nice to package Lee and an extra OF for a decent LF.

This Sox up 2-0 is very frustrating. It should be the Tribe. I must say that I have caught up on alot of sleep this past week.

Ron Vallo said...

bobby:

I have concerns about Peralta as a 3B also, but not as many as him at SS.

FOr one, I'm not sure how he'd do on the slow roller between home and third. I think his reflexes are fine but range is not good, which is less of a problem at 3B than at SS.

I think Marte should be traded as well, though I'm not sure what he'll bring anymore.

Cliff Lee should be traded, with others, for a real left fielder.

I disagree on Byrd. Nolt too many #5 starters as good as he is. What if Laffey next year pulls a Sowers of this year? What if Sowers never gets it together. Too many youngsters to be counted on if Byrd goes.

Thge outfield has big numbers, but the quality is suspect. Not sure how you weed out all those guys, but some culling has to be done and a big bat brought in.

Jason said...

I agree that Peralta would look a lot better at 3B than SS. The problem is that Barfield can't hit his way out of a bag. It also leaves Marte in limbo. Perhaps Casey can learn 2B. Why not?

The problem with trading Cliff Lee is finding a taker. Is the logic that someone think he will become effective with a change of scenery?

Ron Vallo said...

Jason:

I think that is the logic on Lee, that he's in the Tribe doghouse and someone will think they can fix whatever was wrong this year. Plus he's a lefty and they always are more willing to take a chance on a lefty. So I think he could be traded. Not necessarily straight up for a good-hitting outfielder, but maybe with someone else to sweeten things.

I think Barfield got overwhelemed at some point this year and couldn't come out of it. His past history shows he can hit well enough for 2B. Maybe with the winter off to clear his head he can provide more at the plate than he did at the plate this year. I think, while he had confidence problems this year, Marte seems never have shown any promise and is a bigger head case than Barfield.