Changing Cleveland: Moves Mark Shapiro Needs To Make

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IJuly 5, 2008

Mark Shapiro has put the plan to contend in 2009 into motion. He’s started off by releasing Joe Borowski and Rick Bauer, and replacing them with Jensen Lewis and Brian Slocum.

Yet, if he wants to make full use of this wasted year, there are plenty of more changes to be implemented.

Why not put to use the ultimate Indians' player index that I introduced to you last week when discussing possible returns for C.C. Sabathia.

I also want to put my own 40-man roster and salary-information chart into play. This chart includes information on all option years, arbitration, and full-contract financial details.

The first aspect I want to look at is the option years left for certain players.

The following are pre-arbitration players that are not eligible to be optioned to the minors: Franklin Gutierrez, Shin-Soo Choo, and Andy Marte.

These three must clear waivers, and as we all know, there is one certain player that the Indians aren't willing to expose to that process.

Of course, I'm talking about Andy Marte, the up-until-Saturday-night-RBI-less third baseman. The only way to get Marte some regular playing time on the major-league team would be to trade Casey Blake.

Aside from Sabathia, Blake should be the top trade piece for Shapiro to move, but it isn't as urgent as some other moves. The beauty is that Marte is already on the roster, so the team can bide its time and find the right deal for Blake.

Both Gutierrez and Choo have some proving to do, and certainly they are not going anywhere this year.

However, you can give both of them more chances if you make a move that relates to the next bunch of players.

The following players will be out of minor-league options after this year: Kelly Shoppach, Michael Aubrey, Brad Snyder, Rafael Perez, Edwin Mujica, and Brian Slocum.

In my mind, this is the most urgent move that needs to be made, and it involves another veteran, like Borowski and Bauer.

David Dellucci must go, and he must go as soon as possible. The only issue is that he has two years left on his contract rather than pending free agency. The Indians might have to take on the rest of his salary, be it through trade or release.

The reason Dellucci must go quickly is because unlike Andy Marte, there will be people coming back to take the open spot away.

Later this year, at some point in time, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez will be returning to this lineup. Hafner more than anyone is someone Wedge will want to play, considering they want him to be close to his old self in 2009.

For that, the designated-hitter spot must be utilized to its fullest while he is out.

Take your pick at which youngster you want to call up, but my choice is Michael Aubrey, who has already had a small chance with the major-league club this year.

The sooner Dellucci goes, the quicker Michael Aubrey, Franklin Gutierrez, and Shin-Soo Choo will get more playing time. You could also give Ryan Garko most of the starts at DH, maybe getting his focus back on hitting.

It also gives you a chance to showcase Michael Aubrey, or even get to see if he would be a better option at first. Either way, with Jordan Brown as close as you can be without actually being in the majors, Aubrey might be the odd-man out.

Kelly Shoppach, Edwin Mujica, and Brian Slocum are all up and here to stay. However, that leaves Brad Snyder in limbo for not just this year, but beyond. Then again, the blame should be placed squarely on his own shoulders, as he's continued to decline instead of improve.

Dellucci, for the most part, has done nothing wrong. I've been waiting for him to step up and be more of a veteran leader, which he did before Saturday's game. But his offense is not consistent enough to keep him around as a starter, so as a bench player, he is useless.

This team needs to move forward and find out what they have. They know what David Dellucci is, and he isn't apart of the future. Some team might take him on if you pay most, if not all, of his salary.

When rosters start to open up in September, we can see guys like Jordan Brown and Jeff Stevens be added to the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, it looks as if the Indians are giving Buffalo a rather gloomy send off.

They could choose to start their long anticipated, but still unofficial era, in Columbus with future stars like Wes Hodges, Trevor Crowe, and Joshua Rodriguez on their roster. So, Buffalo doesn't exactly have young stars you can call up once September rolls around.

There are other questions that need to be addressed. However, most of them revolve around the big domino of C.C. Sabathia falling into place and being traded.

What do you get in return for guys like Blake and Paul Byrd?

In my mind, you need to wait and see what you get for Sabathia before you trade Blake and Byrd. I think Blake may yield a decent, worthwhile prospect in return, so ideally you want one at a position you need to restock.

The way Byrd has pitched as of late, there is no telling who would want him and what they would give up to get him.

You can't get choosy with the team getting Sabathia. They are most likely giving you a big-time prospect at a position you need and one or two more prospects that can be major leaguers. While Shapiro does want to get the best deal for his team, he likely will have more work to do restock his depth.

The positions that could use a good restocking are second and third base, but you can also never have enough pitching.

Hopefully, injured pitcher Fausto Carmona returns before Byrd is traded or released, so a young pitcher such as David Huff doesn't get thrown into the fire earlier than desired. Huff has already been rushed from Akron to Buffalo due to all the shake-up.

No doubt, there have been a lot of changes so far. But many more are still to come.


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