Here's The Plan: Trying to Fix The Cleveland Indians, Part II
This is part two of a two part series on what needs to be done to fix the Cleveland Indians.
To see how we got to this point, who I benched, traded, and released with the season winding down, you can visit this link.
Here is the conclusion of the plan to fix the Indians.
Start Offseason, End Game
It's game over for Eric Wedge as his firing would be the first move that I would make after the season.
There's nothing left for him to do but get the ax. While I've got so much respect for the job he's done and the person he is, and even the manager he is, it's time to turn the page.
With a new manager comes a new pitching and hitting coach. As much as I love Carl Willis, again, it's time for a chance. Let the new boss bring in his own people.
The only coaches I'd bring back would be first base coach Luis Rivera for his relationship with the Latin players, Joel Skinner, and I'd consider Jeff Datz, but not as a bench coach. Again, let the new boss make his changes.
I look at Don Wakamatsu in Seattle and think, “Man a fresh face would really be nice.” I want to see someone who hasn't had a job as a big league manager, but has been in the big leagues and is itching for a shot.
I want someone who will bring his guys in, someone different from Eric Wedge.
Someone who might change the culture a bit, sort of like Wakamatsu did.
Now it wasn't all with the manager. Seattle's general manager Jack Zduriencik also brought in a few veterans to help change that idea. A few underrated moves helped, but a lot of it has to make sense.
I think the world of Mark Shapiro and he's gained my trust with the past.
But maybe, just maybe, it's time to elevate him (a promotion for what?) and let Chris Antonetti take over.
That's a little bit of an off-thought, not something I'd do, but it's something to consider. Elevating him seems like a stupid move given the past two years, but it's more about getting Antonetti his shot at running the player-personnel part of the team.
Mark Shapiro is still too much of a valuable asset to let go completely.
I just termed Shapiro as an asset, something he does often. How cool am I?
Narrow Down the Candidates
Now I'm not going to sit here and go over possible candidates and say who I would hire. Fact is, it's just too much of a hard process.
Torey Lovullo, Columbus' manager is on my short-list because one day he will be a major league manager. But I'm not sure I would hire him after my recent love for the job Wakamatsu has done.
I try and get someone in that mold, not connected to the Indians, in the major leagues, and just chomping at the bit to get a managerial shot.
And that guy needs to bring in new blood to fix the pitching staff, both the starters and the bullpen, and a new hitting coach that will change the philosophy of this club.
Who's Sticking Around?
Now that the season is over and we've evaluated everything that's happened, not everyone is coming over to the new era.
The following are players I'd bring back.
CF - Grady Sizemore
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera
C - Victor Martinez
RF - Shin-Soo Choo
DH - Travis Hafner
3B - Jhonny Peralta
1B - ?
LF - ?
2B - ?
Bench: Josh Barfield, Chris Gimenez, Ben Francisco/Trevor Crowe, Ryan Garko
Who fills the first base slot? It all depends on who fits the left field gap to me. If Matt LaPorta doesn't fill left, he'll fill first base.
Who could possibly fill left field?
It's up to Jordan Brown really. If he does well, I think I give him a shot next year to win the spot. If he wins it, then I'd shift LaPorta to first.
If he doesn't do well to end the year, I think I'd look into seeing what Mike Brantley brings to the table.
I think I end up starting LaPorta in left and putting Garko at first to start the year though. Nothing wrong with having both Brown and Brantley start 2010 in Columbus, especially now that both are on the 40-man roster and have options.
The last spot is second base and Luis Valbuena. Quite honestly, I think Valbuena has the potential to be the starting second baseman of the future, but I've yet to see anything that warrants him getting that starting spot for 2010, so it remains a question.
The pitching staff is a whole different animal.
Rotation: Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, Carl Pavano, ?
Bullpen: Kerry Wood, Rafael Perez, Chris Perez, Jensen Lewis, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith
The rotation should get a lift from Jake Westbrook's re-addition from Tommy John surgery. He should return by the end of 2009 and give us a good idea of where he's at.
Hopefully Fausto Carmona isn't a total disaster like he was in the first half and he can become at least a viable rotation option.
That leaves two spots. Now if we follow my method, Carl Pavano would occupy one of them and the last one is open up to competition and or acquisition.
If we don't, then two spots are open.
Going into the next season with virtually the same bullpen seems like a suicide mission.
Fact of the matter is, there really isn't much of a choice. I think Joe Smith and Tony Sipp can be a right-left combo for match-up purposes in the middle to late innings.
Chris Perez has the "stuff" to be a late inning relief pitcher. The Indians traded Mark DeRosa for him though, so we have to go with it to see what he has.
Rafael Perez has way too much talent to be this bad forever. He's been downright dominant at points in his career, for longer stretches too, he needs to be given another chance.
Then we have Jensen Lewis who is a little bit of a toggle piece. You could have him start in Columbus next year if you find another piece, but I don't know how much more money the Indians are going to put into the bullpen this offseason.
It all depends on what he does to end 2009 I guess.
The spare parts remaining are Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, Aaron Laffey, Chuck Lofgren, Hector Rondon, Frank Herrmann, Zach Jackson, and Rich Rundles.
The last rotation spot or spots, depending on your method, comes down to the first five names in that group above, or additions of course.
Herrmann, Jackson, Rundles, and yes, Sowers and Laffey are also in the mix for the other bullpen spots.
I'm moving Sowers to the pen full-time either way. I've lost all faith in him going through the order more than two times.
A lot of questions will be answered by the time the season is over. We'll know if David Huff can go at it next season in the big league rotation. We'll have an idea if Hector Rondon is ready to challenge for one as well.
Many other answers will be provided.
But the planning stages for the Indians starts now.What Do We Have?
Well, I'm not sure if we have even more of a mess than we started with, or at least some clothes thrown into the closet.
If we can at least see the floor and some desk space, our room should be fine.
And I think I at least did that.
The main thing this team needs to do is establish an identity. They have none right now.
I'd stop short of blowing this entire team but, but rather find a new manager, and make some cunning moves that might pan out.
Go out and get a Franklin Gutierrez that is spiraling down with his current team and just needs a new start.
Stop toying around with the likes of Jeremy Sowers and just get someone who can go six innings without gacking all over themselves with one out to go.
I don't have all the answers and I don't think anyone expects Mark Shapiro to pull them out of his back pocket.
But if want to find that lost remote, you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and dig around for it for more than a half hour. It takes some time and effort, especially if the place is a complete mess.
It may seem like I didn't change much. I kept a good core of players around, especially in the bullpen where things were very bad. But again, I come back to finding an identity.
Getting some new blood in there that will bring a different perspective to the team.
If things go right with an Andy Marte, I'd consider trading Jhonny Peralta. His attitude not being one that I want to fit into my team's new identity.
You've got a guy like Wes Hodges on the cusp and maybe you bring in a cheap veteran for backup in the minor leagues.
It's a matter of being smart and cost-effect with this club and the falling economy. They took their chance with Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa and unfortunately things fell apart around everything else for any of that to matter.
Get back to the basics. Simplify it all with cheap alternatives added to your already decent core of players.
Change something within, bring a new attitude, and maybe more of the bad will turn into good.
And when that happens, then a lot less needs fixing than you actually thought.
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