Need a Closer, Cleveland? Take Your Pick!

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IDecember 5, 2008

Mark Shapiro can't like the situation he is in this offseason.

A team like Cleveland has a margin of error that is very small to begin with. Add in a weak third base pool, I don't envy the choice Shapiro has to make.

It's only fair that another one of his choices is made a little easier, or is it?

The economy is a fun excuse out there right now. I've heard all the chatter about the economy and how it's preventing baseball clubs from signing free agents to large contracts.

I say, about time.

Finally, the Indians are on an even playing field in terms of free agent signings.

Sure, they still can't afford Francisco Rodriguez or even Brian Fuentes, but their prices will come down, which in turn brings down the prices of other options.

With names like Jose Valverde, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, and Huston Street's already traded arm, all possibly available through trade, what does that deal you about the closers market?

At this point, a trade should be the Indians last resort. Jose Valverde and J.J. Putz look real attractive, why lose prospects for something you are going to be paying for anyway?

That leaves the Indians with a plethora of choices, which is a good thing, but is it the best thing?

It's certainly better than having to find a solution to a problem that provides very few options, like third base.

But, being that this is a small market team that can only sign a few free agents, cheap free agents that is, they better make their decision count.


Chad Cordero, Washington Nationals

The flat-billed cap of Chad Cordero is looking for a new team while he recovers from an injury.

Why not Cleveland?

Mark Shapiro is known for taking in these kind of low-risk, high-reward type relief pitchers.

Cordero fits that mold and he would have the highest potential out of any of the names Shapiro has ever signed when it comes to low-risk relief pitchers.

I think a team can lock Cordero down with a major league deal, but I'm not sure if there is a team out there willing to do so.

A team like Cleveland could be at an advantage if they have a possible closers spot open.

Cordero should be healthy when the season is ready to get underway, but at the small price he will come at, he isn't much of a risk.


Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals

Jason Isringhausen isn't in the same boat as Chad Cordero, but he's traveling along the same path.

And he knows it.

Back in September, Isringhausen realized he would need to prove himself. With out a contract for 2009, he said he hoped to latch on with an incentive-based deal.

The Indians could do that.

What's appealing about guys like Isringhausen and Cordero is obviously the price and length of contract.

But what's appealing about Cleveland for them?

The opportunity, of course.

Based off how many closers are available, and how long it's taking for them to be signed or traded, it's evident that not many teams are looking for that position.

If they are, it isn't a priority.

Cleveland has an upper hand when it comes to a signing name like Jason Isringhausen.


Kerry Wood, Chicago Cubs

If the "economy wasn’t so bad" or the prices on Rodriguez and Fuentes not be destined to come down, Wood would be out of the Tribe's price range.

Now, he might be the perfect fit and the odd man out in several other destinations.

Wood isn't priority out there, so it's hard to even guess what he may get in this market. He's probably option number three for most teams looking to spend money on a closer.

For the Indians, he'd probably be option number one.

Provided he is in their price range.

Is the risk worth it? Wood isn't coming off an injury like Cordero or Isringhausen, but he's had injury issues in the past.

It's not the money he'd be making; it's the length of the contract.

A dangerous area for a team that is suffering through David Dellucci’s contract and slow legs.


Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres

The man that makes the most sense is the guy that the Indians might just sign.

All signs point to yes for Trevor Hoffman to be a Cleveland Indian.

Past relationship is there. Although he's spent just about his entire career as a Padre, Hoffman was almost an Indian a few years ago.

After B.J. Ryan went to Toronto, Shapiro focused in on Hoffman as his primary target. A deal was in place and it was the best that Hoffman received.

But, it wasn't the one he accepted.

Hoffman returned to San Diego for a lesser amount of coin, but now San Diego seemingly doesn't want him back.

That prior relationship between Tribe brass and Hoffman's agent is very valuable now.

Hoffman is much older at this point though. He's on the right side of 40, but some question just how much he has left in the tank.

Is a two year deal worth it?

A one year deal would be ideal.

But if someone's willing to go two, the Tribe would have to step up if they want the services of the MLB's All-Time saves leader.

Hoffman makes the most sense for Cleveland, because of his price, his experience and what the Tribe has in place now and he's assumed to be a sure thing.

He can teach Jensen Lewis a thing or two as well.


Who to pick and when?

Man if I knew when, I'd start a countdown.

As long as Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes take their sweet old time, Hoffman and Wood are going to have to wait.

Isringhausen and Cordero don't have to wait for pricing reasons, but if they want to evaluate their opportunities, they need to wait to see where the big names fall.

I'd personally sign Trevor Hoffman AND Chad Cordero. Why both?

Why the hell not?

If Cordero isn't going to get a better shot to close, he can beat out guys like Eddie Mujica or Tommy Mastny, if they are even on the roster, for the final bullpen spot in Cleveland.

It's a start, then from there, who knows what.

The reason I picked Cordero over Isringhausen is simple. Cordero probably can be had on a minor league deal and won't cost a roster spot. He is also likely to take a shot at a set-up role rather than seek out a closer role.

Detroit, the Los Angeles Angels, Texas, Milwaukee, the New York Mets, and San Diego are all teams that are losing their closer, have already lost it, or don't have a real solid option right now.

Cordero or Isringhausen fit a situation like San Diego. Given their fire sale, that might be the spot for a player like Cordero.

But it doesn't hurt to try and get greedy with low-risk.

If I were Mark Shapiro, I’d be super-aggressive in the closer market right now. It might be moving slow, but you need to get your foot in the door.


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