A Busy Winter in Cleveland, Part One: We All Need Relief!

chris daviesAnalyst INovember 15, 2008

After a year of disappointment, this winter is a time for the team to step back and admit some hard truths. Though the team showed promise toward the end of the season, it was not a club that could reach the playoffs in 2009 without additional help.

As fans there is one truth that we all must accept, no matter how hard it is: CC Sabathia will not be back in Cleveland next season.

In the spirit of the rapidly approaching holidays, and the free-agency period, it's time to take a look at the Indians offseason shopping list. Everyone in Cleveland needs a little bit of relief from the disappointing Indians and Browns, basketball fans can watch LeBron and the Cav's win a few games.

The Indians, on the other hand, just need relief, which is where we will begin to assess their offseason needs.

Mark Shapiro has already stated the club will pursue all bullpen options available to them. "If there's a closer option out there, we will be involved," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. This does not limit itself solely to the free agent market, however.

The market does include such high-profile names as Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes, though it seems as though they will go to the highest bidder, which, as most Indians fans are aware of, is not the Tribe.

New additions to the free-agent market include all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman and former Cub Kerry Wood. Many reports have already linked the Tribe to Hoffman based upon their attempts to sign him before the 2006 season.

With few teams really in dire need of ninth-inning help prices may come down some, which would allow the Indians to make a serious play for one of the aforementioned names.

Other teams, such as the Tigers, have already announced that they have been priced out of the market for the big name relievers, which places the Indians at a bigger advantage.

However, most free-agent pitchers will be searching for multi-year contracts and with the Betancourt and Kobayashi multi-year deals still looming as question marks for the team it remains to be seen how willing they will be to commit to such deals.

The free-agent closer market is not the sole means of help that the Indians will test. Recent reports have linked the team to setup men as well. Some of the names that have been mentioned are Jeremy Affeldt and Juan Cruz, who are comfortable in the role of either closer or setup.

Signing a set-up man could play out in one of two ways for the team. Either as a stopgap closer until the team decides that Jensen Lewis is ready for the role, or simply as a backup should Lewis pull a Borowski.

Outside of free agency, the trade market still has plenty to offer the Indians. Though Kevin Gregg and Huston Street have been taken via trade, at least the latter is still available.

Jayson Stark reported that Street has already been placed on the market again by the Rockies. The Indians interest in Garrett Atkins is well documented, however, they have seemingly been unwilling to part with any of their starting pitching depth to acquire him.

With Huston Street to sweeten the deal for the Tribe, a deal may yet be reached.

What the Indians do remains to be seen, if the past is any indication I would expect the Indians to remain cautious in the Free Agent market. Though Shapiro knows that his job depends on success in the very near future.