Cleveland Indians: 3 Realistic Moves the Indians Should Make for 2012 Season
Major League Baseball made signing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) easier than a kickball exam in high school. Sorry, David Stern. In addition, Major League Baseball's signing of the new CBA added many polices that should prove to hurt small market clubs.
Sorry, Cleveland Indians.
This of course will prove more costly for organizations further down the road, making windows of opportunity for the less fortunate clubs a lot more attractive to open up now. When Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti traded for Colorado Rockie's ace Ubaldo Jiminez, that window was not only pushed wide open but the screen kicked in.
Antonetti has made no secret about what spots are in need of upgrading, what kind of money will be spent and the time frame for these transactions. In fact, Antonetti has already made more noise than most clubs in securing the Indians' rotation with the acquisition of Derek Lowe and the low risk signing of Grady Sizemore.
This leaves only one question to be asked: Is it enough to win and win now?
Just ask the San Fransisco Giant whose team makeup during the 2009 campaign looked strikingly similar to that of the 2011 Cleveland Indians. Strong pitching, young offensive position players and no overwhelming veteran leadership.
With the comparison in mind, President Mark Shapiro and Antonetti are in dire need to make the 2012 Cleveland Indians strikingly similar to the 2010 San Fransisco Giants.
First Things First: Filling First Base
Realistic Move No. 1: Cleveland Indians trade Trevor Crowe and Jemnar Gomez for Mike Morse.
Why would the Washington Nationals want to trade their breakout star when they also want contention in 2012?
The Nationals, even with their "Werth-less" contract on the books, looks to be strong players for the two marquee first basemen Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, leaving Mike Morse strictly as an outfield option. Seeing how they have the Pittsburgh Pirates' payroll invested in their right fielder and the debut of Bryce Harper, the outfield is rather crowded in Washington.
The bottom line is that Washington is in need of starting pitching depth. A trade with the Indians could not only provide the free spending franchise with this depth, but a return in a major league ready outfielder.
Why would the Cleveland Indians want to trade for a player who had his breakout year at the age of 29?
The contract is guilt-free, provides the Indians with a much-needed right-handed power bat, and is an upgrade over a still developing Matt LaPorta. By the way, when you look up "developed at 29" in Webster's it says: "see: Jose Bautista."
Trading for Mike Morse gives the Indians more flexibility in spending in other areas in comparison to spending $9 million for a free agent fix like Carlos Pena.
Cleveland Should Go CooCoo for Coco
Realistic Move No. 2: Sign (CF) Coco Crisp.
This move is not only the most realistic option for the Indians, but arguably the most fulfilling.
If one thing is certain Grady Sizemore no longer has the defensive range and ability he once had. A healthy Grady Sizemore would pair well with Michael Brantley in left field, leaving center field open.
Coco Crisp, through his injuries, still remains a respected defensive center fielder. Signing Crisp would give the Indians a strong depth in their outfield. A team cannot win fielding Ezequiel Carrera, Trevor Crowe and Shelly Duncan, they just cannot.
What is even more intriguing about the potential Crisp signing would be the top of the order presence he would provide. Last year we saw a lot of Indians forced into a leadoff role that they are not suited for. With the decline of Grady Sizemore's ability to secure first base and steal bases, the Indians are left with no true leadoff hitter.
Coco's .314 OBP and 49 steals in 2011 would fit perfectly in that gap and help the confidence in the younger hitters under him.
The most obvious reason for signing Crisp would be the value Indians fans would receive in re-wearing their $125 two-tone Crisp jerseys from 2003.
Morrison's Move from Miami
Realistic Move No. 3: Cleveland Indians trade Chris Perez and Ezequiel Carerra to Miami Marlins for Logan Morrison
Logan Morrison will be out of Miami in 2012. The Indians have exactly what the Miami Marlins cove, an inexpensive closer.
If the Indians are deep in one resource, it is a farm full of young, powerful, and bullpen ready arms. As much as Cleveland has fallen in love with his save ratio and his easy access on Twitter, Chris Perez isn't exactly the Dennis Eckersley some would hope for. Fan Graph statistics, such as FIP and WAR, actually show that he is more Joe Borowski, if anything.
Don't fall in love, Cleveland. There's a more dominant pitcher pitching for you right now: Vinnie Pestano. Get value from someone when you can, especially when you have the resources to make up for it.
The continued success of the Cleveland Indians is far more dependent on their offensive depth (Logan Morrison, Shin Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore) than their love affair with a below average closer.
Logan Morrison again fills every necessity that the Indians are seeking in offensive position players this offseason. Strong defense, a major league ready bat and a low market friendly contract.
Cleveland, you have the resources to keep your window open for a long period of time, regardless of the new CBA regulations. The Indians have the right baseball minds to understand this opportunity and the benefits of running with it.
These moves would provide the organization with beneficial position players providing depth to a team that saw first-hand how important depth in any division is.
The Indians added veteran leadership in Derek Lowe, and more than likely look to add veteran leadership on the position side (Coco Crisp). While this is happening, don't be afraid to find players to add to the Indians' young corps while they have the resources to do so.
With their rotation set and their bullpen armed, the Cleveland Indians are no longer looking to surprise.
They are looking to realistically be contenders.