This is the fourth in a series of highly personal letters I am sending to teams of interest as we approach this year's trading deadline. Enjoy.
I don’t play poker, so try to stay with me on this metaphor.
Imagine you’re one hand away from the final table and sitting on pocket queens. Pretty good hand, right? You’ve got a chance to take a big gamble here and the opportunity is too good too ignore. Sure, two of the other guys at the table have more chips and they’re generally stronger players, but that makes the risk all the more worthwhile.
Opportunities like this don’t come around too often. You’re not usually in contention for the final table so what do you have to lose?
So, Indians, what do you have to lose?
It’s simple, this is a one-year shot at an AL Central crown and the window closes this October. You guys have some good young players, but the future isn’t so blindingly bright you can’t mortgage it for a quick stab at the present.
With the Royals building toward something special, the White Sox and Tigers always willing to spend freely and the Twins never far from contention, you might as well jump on the now train. Past, future and opportunity have collided this year, and you shouldn’t question serendipity when it smacks you in the face.
Of course, you’ll need to prioritize your deadline dealing. I’d start with an outfielder. Good as Shin Soo-Choo is, this might be a dead season for him, and Grady Sizemore lost the battle with his body a few years back. Beltran could work nicely if he’s willing to come, but I think Cleveland is on his no-fly list. Or maybe B.J. Upton fits your fancy, a guy with the Choo-like ability to stuff the stat sheet.
No matter what, don’t settle for a glue guy like Josh Willingham or Jeff Francoeur. It’s time to make a cannonball-sized splash.
After that’s settled, you can look around for some auxiliary pieces. Maybe a solid utility type like Omar Infante, or a bullpen arm to help the untested Chris Perez.
Whatever it is Cleveland, do it big. Because baseball is a funny game, and it only giveth once every so often. And if you’re in that eight-team tournament, anything can happen.
Your division may never be weaker, and your team never stronger. Go. All. In.
PS - Do you guys still call Travis Hafner "Pronk"? Or did that nickname fade with his power?