Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Byrd, Borowski, Fultz stick around

Well, the Executive of the Year has started off this offseason by doing what he said he'd do - taking three steps to keep last year's team together for next year.

The Indains today exercised their options for next year on Paul Byrd ($8 million), Joe Borowski ($4 million) and Aaron Fultz ($1.5 million).

None of the moves is a huge surprise and none is particularly controversial, but each has at a few question marks attached.

The question about Byrd - of course - revolves around his use of HGH and whether he did so at a time the substance was banned by baseball. He could be suspended for 50 games if that is found to be the case.

I still think this is a good decision by the Tribe. Byrd is a good fourth or fifth starter and comes at a decent price. He was probably the Tribe's best starter in the post-season (admittedly not a ringing endorsement) and he had a solid year last year.

If they lose Byrd for 1/3 of the season they have enough depth in the rotation to fill the hole. Like last year's injuries to Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook, a Byrd suspension might bring a Fausto-like surprise, or at least allow Jeremy Sowers or Cliff Lee an opportunity to re-establish themselves as legitimate options in the rotation.

The question about Borowski is whether the Tribe would have been better off seeking a door-slammer for the position. Mariano River is the only one out there who qualifies - since Eric Gagne went AWOL in September and October, creating doubt about his abilities - and Mariano is about to cost the Yankees $40 million over three years at age 38. So, Borowski it is.

Fultz is the cheapest sign, and he's a lefty. His numbers for last year look good on paper (2.92 ERA), but he was nearly unusable in the last two months and awful in a spare-part roll in the playoffs. If I question any of the three signings, it's this one. There are lots of other relievers out there who could do as well or better for not much more money. If the signing of Fultz prevents the signing of one of these other candidates, then it was a bad signing.


One other reliever that is out there that would fit the Tribe's needs quite well is Brian Fuentes, the former closer and current setup man of the Colorado Rockies. Fuentes is not a free agent, but The Denver Post reports he could be had for a starting pitcher.

Can anyone say Cliff Lee?

Fuentes may get up to $6 million in arbitration, according to the paper. That's awful steep for a reliever on the Tribe's payroll. But trading Lee would save a lot of money that appears - in hindsight I'll admit - to have been questionably spent, given Lee's poor season and questionable status.

In addition to shedding Lee's salary, the positive thing about signing Fuentes is his ability to close. Should Borowski get hurt, or falter, the Tribe would have an insurance policy without having to move Raffie Betancourt out of the set-up spot he has done so well in.


Three players from the Tribe organization were sent packing in the past couple of days. Utility infielder Luis Rivas and relievers Matt Miller and Mike Koplove were released. Rivas is a solid utility infielder, but the Tribe has no need there. Miller and Koplove both have had successful stints in the majors, but Miller hasn't been healthy since '04. I'm not sure why Koplove wasn't given more of a shot mid-season, when the Tribe was thrashing about trying to find a middle reliever that could get someone out.


A few days ago I suggested the Tribe might want to look into Jose Guillen as the bat they need to fill an every-day role in left field. Never mind!! One possible HGH/steroids suspension on the team is more than enough. Former Tribe 3B, Matt Williams is also implicated in the San Francsico Chronicle story linked above.


I still think the Tribe's best bet for left field is to find an every-day player who can hit. Which brings us to Jason Bay. The Most Valuable Networks' Tribe Report had a nice piece on Bay and what it might take to bring him to Cleveland. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sports Editor Jerry Micco was quoted as part of that post:

"I have no idea who they’d get as far as prospects, but I’d imagine Neal Huntington knows that organization better than any other. I think if you’re going to trade one of those guys, you need to get a major-league ready outfielder in return and at least a guy who can be a very good AAA pitcher. Bay should command that, even after a down year. Nady is a bit younger, so his upside may be higher. But mind you, Bay has proven he’s a big-time bad and he was probably injured more than he let on last season. When you give up on either of those 2 guys, you need to get high quality in return. Anyone below AAA, to me, is unacceptable."

A major league-ready outfielder? How about Ben Francisco? A very good AAA pitcher? Does the name Sowers come to mind? I'm pretty sure the Tribe would have to throw someone else into the mix too. Even though Bay had a down year last year, he'd fit in with the Tribe's need and his contract is not a negative.


Those A-Rod-to-the-Tigers whispers won't go away. SI's John Heyman has the Tigers high on the list and moving up. He also reports the Tigers may have an interest in Eric Gagne, thinking Gagne may have had trouble adjusting to a set-up role in Boston but would be a good replacement for the injured Joel Zumaya at closer.

The Kansas City Star reports the Royals have three slugging outfielders on their list of priorities this off-season: Torrie Hunter, Geoff Jenkins and Jose Guillen. The story was written before the story broke tying Guillen to baseball's steriod investigation. The story also says the Royals prefer a right-handed batt, which Jenkins is not. Torii Hunter is being pursued by just about everyone - and rightly so - so you have to wonder if anything will come of any of three as far as Kay-Cee is concerned.


bobbydb19 said...

Hotstove baseball. Gotta Love it.

Driving home yesterday, I heard our friends Mike and the Mad-Dog talking about the possiblity of the Marlins trading Miquel Carbera to the Yankees and adding in Dontrelle Willis (kind of like what they did when throwing in Lowell with Beckett).

Might this be something the Indians could entertain? We have alot more prospects and proven players available. Gives us a big bat in the line-up, a 3B and another starting pitcher. I don't know what the $$ would be.

Ron Vallo said...

This morning's PD says the Tribe is interested in Cabrera, who, the paper says, could make up to $10 million in arbitration this year. He has two years to go before free agency. NO mention was made of Willis. PD says the Tribe is not balking atr the price tag.

WHat a great addition that would be? A Third-baseman who can really hit. Plus, presumably, a way to get something for Marte instead of keeping him on the bench or cutting him after spring training because he is out of options. They could also afford to give up the pitching ther Marlins want.

My first thought was, it's far-fetched, but the more I think about it, it makes sense both ways.

bobbydb19 said...

I am also hearing that Jason Bay may be in the works to play left. What a line-up that would be. We can try to get the Pirates to take either Barfield or Peralta and a pitcher (Sowers or Lee).

CF Sizemore

2B-SS A. Cabrera

LF Bay

3B M. Cabrera

C Martinez

DH Pronk

1B Garko

SS-2B Peralta or Barfield

RF Gutierrez

Pitching Staff:



Dontrelle (??)



Ron Vallo said...

you better check your alarm clock bobby, I think you're dreaming. But that is what the winter's for right?

bobbydb19 said...


I am already counting down to picthers and catchers

Jack said...

A Bay-to-Cleveland deal is definitely being kicked around, and a couple of well-placed "sources" I have from my old newspaper days in Cleveland say it could even happen by the end of this month. But it's going to take prospects, prospects, prospects to get that deal done.