Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Big Off Season Questions

Baseball can be infuriating. There are so many moving parts, that every season it seems like there's a ton of work to do, not just to get better, but to even tread water. It only gets worse when your team is a mid or small market team.

Without further ado, here are the things I think the Tribe needs to do in order of importance:

1) Re-sign Joe Smith

Yes, I consider this to be the most important off season move.  With the fall of Perez and the regression of Pestano, our bullpen needs some stability.  Smith is definitely going to get other offers, but he's indicated that he'd like to stay.  We can also offer him something only a handful of other teams can offer: the closer role.  With Scrabble, Shaw, and Allen on board, that's a solid start for the bullpen.  Pestano is the kind of guy who will do whatever it takes to return to form and we have guys like CC Lee that can step in, too.

But the linchpin of this new bullpen has to be Smith.  We need a guy we can count on and a guy who can be a leader.

Update: I just read some speculation that the Tribe would have $15-$20M to spend this off season.  I don't think it would take more than $5M to bring Smith back, if that.  I'm guessing more like $4M.

2) Find a starter

While everyone seems to be focused on our offense (see below), the reality of the situation is that our rotation -- that exceeded all expectations -- ranked 15th in all of baseball, 10th in the AL, above only the 4 worst teams in the AL and the Angels.  Our rotation was fantastic in the second half, there can be no doubt about that, but given the competition we're facing, they have to be better.

The upside is that we have four starters returning, and Masterson and Salazar should make a nice front of the rotation combo.  The downside is a) that won't be enough and b) our depth is lacking.  It would probably take a couple of drastic moves to fix both of those problems.

Obviously, I'm hoping that Ubaldo accepts our qualifying offer, but given the fragility of his amazing rebound,
he would be smart to take the best offer he gets.  Yes, I think he's the kind of guy who has loyalty to the people who helped him return to form, but he's also the kind of guy who probably realizes he only has so many years to play baseball.

Kazmir has said he'd like to return and it would certainly be nice to have him back, but he's not the solution to facing a loaded Tigers rotation 19 times a year.

3) Add a bat.

There seems to be a growing chorus of people who think adding another bat to this line-up is essential to the team's success, and that it's the most important thing they can do.  This is something of a knee jerk reaction stemming from being blanked in our sole playoff game.  Go look at the numbers -- the Tribe was #6 in all of baseball in runs scored, #5 in the AL.  The teams above them?  The Red Sox, the Tigers, the A's, and the Orioles.  Hey, what do those first three teams have in common, I wonder?

It's also important to keep in mind that, while the emergence of Yan Gomes was a surprise, the evolution of Jason Kipnis was not.  The biggest surprises for our offense were how bad Swisher, Bourne, and Cabrera performed.  They all hard career down seasons, yet we still scored the 5th most runs in our league.  It's insane to think that all three of them will perform at the same level next year.

In other words, offense wasn't as big of a problem as people keep saying.  They were a streaky team -- that's the bigger issue when it comes to offense.

But let's say we're desperate to improve the offense, because those 3 playoff teams are above us, and if we want to make the post-season, we need to surpass at least one of them.  Our options for upgrade are fairly limited: third base and right field.  There aren't a ton of good options at either spot, and as much as I'd love to see Choo return, that's probably crazy talk given his price.

Speaking of crazy talk, you could always mull this over: Carlos Santana is a converted third baseman.  The Dodgers made him change from 3B to catcher something like five years ago.  I doubt this is a realistic option, but, then again, Miguel Cabrera is playing third...

Crazy Ideas

Okay, well, aside from having Santana play third, there are two very clear possibilities that fall under the "crazy ideas" heading.

The first is one that's been batted around for quite some time: trade Cabrera.  The theory is that Aviles can handle the short stop duties until Lindor is ready, which should be in another year.  Given Cabrera's performance in 2013, there wouldn't be that great of a drop off, although there would be some (and can we really afford any?).

Cabrera's value has dropped, though, and we'd most likely get prospects in return, but that could be pitching prospects, which we need.  This would be the kind of deal we'd make if we could be sure it won't damage the current team, so we could stock up for the future.

I think the right offer could make this happen.

The second crazy idea is going to take a lot of explaining, but it stems by something former Tribe beat writer Anthony Castrovince mentioned in his blog (which I seem unable to locate).

Here's the thing: as of right now, Carlos Santana is our DH and occasional fill-in first baseman or catcher.  And that's great, but it's under-utilizing him.  Santana's value is as an offensive minded catcher.  There aren't many catchers out there that can claim the kind of offensive output as Santana.  There are plenty of DHs who can.

In other words, using Santana as a DH is actually kind of waste; it's like using a $20 for something that only costs $10, and in this case you don't get any change.

Which means that, yes, Carlos Santana has a ton of value as a trade chip.

Listen, the DH is something of a dying position in the AL.  It's rare to find a team that has an every day DH anymore.  It's something of an open spot used by managers to rest guys without losing their bats.  Can you even name a DH-only player anymore besides David Ortiz?

So using Santana as a DH and little else is a waste, a waste made all the more glaring by the fact that there are plenty of teams who would kill for a catcher with Santana's bat.

And I know that I've already crossed the crazy line by even suggesting we might trade one of our best hitters, but I'm going to take it a step further.  Because you know who could really use an offensive catcher who is signed through 2016?

The Tampa Bay Rays.

And you know who the Rays are more than likely looking to trade this off season?

David Price.

Price has 2 more years on his contract ('14 and '15).  He's a Cy Young winner.  The Rays' Achilles' heel is offense.

Wrap your brain around Masterson, Price, and Salazar as our 1-3, as our match-ups for Verlander, Scherzer, and Sanches.  It's hard not to like that, isn't it?

Yeah, it means a blow to our offense, but runs are easier to manufacture than pitchers...

Look at it this way, too: such a deal wouldn't cost us any money.  We then take the remaining $11M-$16M (after signing Smith) to sign Masterson to a long term deal, $8M of which is already being counted in the '14 payroll.  Then we see if we can get a decent bat for $5M-$10M, ideally in a one year deal (Nate McLouth would be a good platoon candidate with Stubbs or Raburn and would cost about $6M/year).  But our rotation would be set for the next two years at least (two years spent trying to get Bauer and Carrasco fixed), and our bullpen should be set (with Smith, Scrabble, Shaw, and Allen).

I told you it was a crazy idea.

As always, it should be an interesting off-season.

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 in Review: The End of the Beginning

I was pretty drunk by the time the last out of the Wild Card game was recorded.  I couldn't even tell you who was batting.

The great agony of the 2013 Cleveland Indians is that there was always an equal chance that they'd be unbeatable or they'd be unbearable.  When the team was firing on all cylinders, they could beat anyone (except Detroit).  But when one or two players were having off games, it spread like a disease through the line-up.  This team excelled (and were likable) because of the chemistry they had; they seemed to fail for the same reason.

But what do we take away from a season where the team overachieved?  What do we take away from the first (of many) year that Jason Kipnis was an All-Star?  That McAllister and Kluber looked like solid, back of the rotation guys?  That Danny Salazar looked like a future ace and Justin Masterson looked like a current one?  When Bourne, Swisher, and Cabrera all disappointed at the plate, with our steady 8th and 9th inning guys both lost their jobs, and when Yan Gomes went from #3 catcher to #2 to starter?

First and foremost, we need to look at the core of this team, which is probably a group consisting of Kipnis, Swisher, Bourne, Brantley, Cabrera, Santana, and Gomes.  That's 7 guys right there that we can think of as forming the basis for this team for the next few years.  That's not a bad foundation to build on.

We should bask in what Terry Francona was able to do.  I know that he had a much better line-up to roll out every day than Manny Acta, but it's clear that Francona was able to keep the team even keel all season, something Acta seemed incapable of.  Every time it seemed like the Tribe was going to fall out of it completely, they just kept doing what they do, and eventually turned it around.  Too often over the last few years, that wasn't the case.  Francona did a lot for this team.

We should praise the deals that Chris Antonetti made in the off-season.  Signing Kazmir (and Giambi) to minor league deals was smart, but not above and beyond what most GMs would do.  No, the trade sending Esmil Rogers to Toronto for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes was genius.  Gomes' offense went a long way towards filling in the gaps left by our under performing off season acquisitions.

And how about that deal for Scrabble?  He was dominant when he came over.

We should definitely make sure Mickey Calloway gets a bonus.  Not only did he turn around the quagmire that was Ubaldo Jimenez, but he helped resurrect Kazmir and turned Kluber and McAllister into reliable starters.  The unspoken upside of this is that if anyone can get Trevor Bauer to listen to him, it has to be Calloway, who's proven he has the magic touch.  I would love to see him work his magic on Nick Hagadone, too.

We should hope to god that Bourne and Swisher bounce back because we're paying them a lot of money.

More than anything, we should be thankful (and hopeful) that the city of Cleveland is beginning to believe in the Tribe again.  It's a simple matter of economics.  If the Tribe is going to compete, they're going to have to spend money, and they're only going to make the money they need to spend if people come to the games.  All of which is to say that the first month of next season should be really interesting.  You would expect to see an uptick in attendance, weather permitting.

In other words, there are an awful lot of reasons to look forward to the next few years of baseball in Cleveland.  The end of this season was the beginning of a new era.  Let's hope it's one that results in a World Championship.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tough Week

The common perception was that this past week was going to be the true test of whether or not this Indians team was really going to be able to compete for first in the Central Division.  And, like every other thing we've seen from this team so far this year, the answer is still unclear.  Had they gone, say, 2-5 or 1-6, I think we could put a fork in them.  Had they gone 5-2 or 6-1, we'd have real reason to be excited for the rest of this season.  After all, the Red Sox and the Rangers are two of the best teams in all of the American League; taking them on -- on the road, no less -- was going to be a big challenge.

We went 3-4 on this road trip, which really isn't that bad, considering the opponents.  On top of that, the Tribe lost those 4 games by a combined total of 5 runs.  If a hit or a pitch had gone our way in three of those games, we'd have come out of this week with a winning record.

The real bright spot in the past week was the offense.  Granted, they were playing in hitter friendly parks, but they were also facing good pitching.  While Santana had spurts of greatness and awfulness, the 1-4 we're currently throwing out there every day (Brantley, Kipnis, Cabrera, and Hafner) looks like it could be the real deal.  Fukudome has also started coming along.  Honestly, when Choo returns I would expect/hope for him to go into the #5 spot, possibly moving Santana as low as #7 and leaving Fukudome where he's at.

The obvious dark spot was the bullpen, who struggled most of the week.  I'd like to chalk that up to overuse because, let's face facts, most of those guys haven't pitched this much before.  It also might be time to think about making a few changes.  It's obvious that Acta is remiss to use either Hermann or Durbin in serious situations.  The further we get into the season and the more important each game becomes, it's clear that we can't afford to have a bullpen with ostensibly only five pitchers.

The day off tomorrow is a double edged sword.  On one hand, it would be great to get back out there and get the bad taste out of our mouths after a tough loss.  But a day off could definitely help the bullpen.

The upcoming three game series against the Tigers is obviously a big one.  The Tribe has to win the series, and even then they'll only pick up one game.  A sweep is the best possible outcome, but Verlander is pitching the third game, so that's going to be tough.  Still, taking tow out of three would be pretty fantastic, and, I think, a big lift for this team.

So we still don't know if this team is for real or not, but at least we've made it this far with at least some spark of hope.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thoughts on the Big Trade

It's hard to believe that the Indians had yet another walk off home run tonight and that is probably the secondary story on the Tribe tonight.

The big news, of course, is the "almost done" trade that sends Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride, and Joe Gardner to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez.

My gut reaction is that I hate to see both Pomeranz and White on that list.  But I can get over that, because I think that this is ultimately a good deal for the Indians.  Here are my reasons:

1) Jimenez has struggled this year, but his big problems have come at home, place known as Coors Field.  The Rockies' stadium is the most pitcher unfriendly park in baseball.  Jimenez's ERA at Coors is closer to 6 than 5.  His ERA everywhere else is 2.83.  Granted, he's been in the NL, but his numbers away from Coors are better than everyone in our rotation but Masterson.

2) Alex White has never been projected at anything higher than a #3 starter, so losing him is more of a product of the fact that he's a guy we actually drafted, and we've had so few home grown pitchers make it to the major league team.  Pomeranz, of course, projects as an ace.  The problem, however, is that these are projections.  There's no guarantee that he'll pan out, although I do think he will.  Still, at the earliest we'd see him next year, more more likely 2013, which is a ways off.

3) Yes, this is a deal made because the Tribe is (now) only 1.5 games out of first place.  But let's not look past the fact that this is also a trade for the future.  Jimenez is locked in through 2013, with an option for 2014 (although he can void that since he was traded).  This means that heading into next year (and probably the year after), the Tribe won't be wondering who's going to be in their rotation.  In fact, they'll have about 9 guys between Cleveland and Columbus who could make a go of it, and suddenly two guaranteed front of the rotation guys in Jimenez and Masterson.

4) I would expect Carrasco to get sent down to make room for Jimenez.  He clearly needs to work something out given his last 5 starts.  I don't have a lot of faith in Huff, but he's been really good since getting called up, so no reason to send him down.  But let's not forget what Carrasco did in his 5 starts before those.  He obviously has the stuff to be a front end guy, and perhaps sending him back down to AAA will turn him around.  But, again, if we can get him straightened out, that's a heck of a 1-3.

5) Yes, we still need offense.  Rumor has it that the Tribe is in a good position to acquire Ludwick from the Padres.  While Ludwick's overall numbers aren't great, his OPS against left handed pitching ranks him at the top of the Tribe's order, so getting him to face just lefties would be great.

6) The time is now for the Indians organization.  Why?  Because Cleveland can really only support two sports teams, and the Browns will always be number one.  Attendance for Cavs games is only going to drop, if they even play next season.  Now is the time for the Indians to win back the city.  Not only does this move improve their chances of winning the division, it shows the fan base that they're serious about winning right now.  That's huge for the franchise.

Anyway, looking forward to see Jimenez pitch and I'm hoping we find a way to get Ludwick.  Should be a fun next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Angels at Indians, 7/27/11

Well, that was painful.

After pulling a game out of their collective rear ends on Monday, we saw the Tribe lose a game they really should have come back to win (or at least send to extra innings) last night and then saw them get no hit today...and commit FIVE ERRORS.

But what did we really learn from all of this?

Well, we learned that if the front office makes a deal for a pitcher and doesn't make a deal for a bat, our front office is watching a different team than the rest of us.

Also, I don't care how badly he needs work or whether or not it's "baseball logic," Chris Perez should never pitch unless it's a save situation.

According to what I've read, the Indians actually offered the Mets a "good" prospect (I would guess Phelps or McCallister) and agreed to pick up ALL of Beltran's remaining salary.  But Beltran was never told about the deal, one would think because his agent, Scott Boras, scoffed at the idea of sending one of his big guns to Cleveland.  It appears now that he's going to San Francisco for less than what the Tribe offered, but you can't say it won't be easier for him to reach the post-season with that team.

The silver lining in this is that it's clear the front office is serious about adding offense to this team, and that they are willing to spend money to do it.  The problem now, however, is that there just aren't that many quality bats out there.  The best of the bunch is Hunter Pence, but the Astros seem to want the world for him, and the Tribe won't part with White, Pomeranz, Chisenhall, or Kipnis, and I don't blame them.

What's particularly frustrating about the situation for the Tribe right now is that, come the beginning of September, they could get 3 guys back from the DL, all of whom can have an immediate impact.  We saw what Grady Sizemore could do when he's healthy this season, and Choo's career numbers suggest that he'll get back on track.  They've decided to rehab White as a reliever for the big league team, and while there's no doubt he'll help, he could also slot in nicely if a rotation spot comes available.  He certainly performed better than the back of our rotation so far this year.

But we faced the Angels' three best starters in this series and countered with a guy who has been abysmal, a guy who has been roughed up lately, and a guy who has never had success in the majors, and we were right there in every game.  If we had any kind of offense at all, we probably could have taken all three.

I feel bad for Chisenhall and Kipnis, as I think they can make real contributions to this team, but they're being thrown into the fire with little room for error.  Even if we make a trade for a bat, though, one of them is going to have to start hitting more, ideally so we can slot them in the number two spot and move Brantley back to lead off.

There has also been some talk about starting Lou Marson more because he's the superior defensive catcher.  It's actually not a bad idea, assuming that Santana would then play first more.  Santana's BA is horrible, but he gets on base far more than Matt LaPorta, whose BA isn't too great, either.  In fact, LaPorta's hitting less than Marson, so the entire move would be an upgrade.  At the very least, Marson should start against every lefty we face.

I have no idea if the Indians will be able to make an impact deal before the trade deadline.  I really hope so, because the potential is there.  And once you get into the post-season, anything can happen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2012 Indians: All Is Not Lost

Before this season, I predicted the Tribe would go 82-80.  The way they are playing right now, that seems inevitable, and perhaps even optimistic.  But there is hope.

I don't mean that there's hope for this season.  There really isn't much of that.  There's no reason to believe that the return of Travis Hafner and the addition of Cord Phelps will turn the offense around so dramatically, or at least return it to what it was before Hafner was hurt.  I'm sure it will get better, but I can't imagine it will be what it was at the start of this year.

There's also the simple fact that the Tigers are a really good team, which only makes sense, given how much they cost.  Even with a healthy line-up, the Tribe doesn't have any offense that can match Detroit's.

One thing that people seem to be ignoring during this Cleveland/Detroit series is the fact that the White Sox are now only 4.5 back.  Again, they're a really good team, which only makes sense, given how much they cost.  This, then, would give the Tribe two teams with payrolls twice as large as theirs that they have to contend with to win the division.  The odds of that are not great.

Because this is parity in baseball; the big market teams can compete every year, the mid and small market teams can compete every 4 to 5 years.

And that's fine.  I've accepted that.  It's not good, but it is what it is.

All that said, Tribe fans should be focusing on the good that has already come out of this season instead of the fact that we're no longer in first place.

Justin Masterson has shown he can be a real starter.  He's gotten hosed by the offense as late, but his ERA stands at 3.16.  What's particularly amazing about this is the fact that he still can't get out lefties; they hit .308 against him!  It's mind boggling that he would be pitching so well with such an obvious hole in his armor.  But this also means that, if he finds a way to at least lower his BAA for lefties, he could be even better than he is now.

We've all heard how great Carlos Carrasco's "stuff" is, and now we're beginning to see it.  It's clear that Carrasco is beginning to mature right before our eyes, and a full season under his belt will only take him that much further.  Imagine where he could be come next year.

Alex White proved that he's ready for the big leagues.  His injury has hurt the team, but, if the Tribe is smart, they'll bring him back to the Show when he's off the DL.  A half season in the Majors can only help him at this point.  But he showed that he's not over matched by big league hitters.

Mitch Talbot is a strange case.  When he's good, he's dominate, but when he's bad...it gets ugly quick.  But having a guy like him in the back of the rotation would be great, assuming he can stay healthy.

It's hard to say what's wrong with Fausto Carmona.  The man who fought off the midge invasion seems to crack under pressure these days.  Carmona's a tricky situation for the Tribe.  His trade value has to be pretty low right now.  But if he starts pitching well again, would the Tribe deal him?  He has team friendly options on his contract, so trading him away (assuming he improves) seems like a bad idea, particularly if the Tribe is planning on contending next season.

Josh Tomlin is currently going through is inevitable fall back to earth after a ridiculous start.  Tomlin will never be anything more than a four or five starter, but at least he throws strikes.  I'm not entirely sure there's a place for him next year, which is strange to say given how well he's pitched this season.

And, of course, there's Drew Pomeranz, who has dominated at the minor league level and is currently following the Alex White schedule of promotion.  He's currently in advanced A at Kinston, where's he got a 2.01 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 53.2 innings.  I would expect him to send the season with the AA Akron Aeros and to start next season with the AAA Columbus Clippers.  And I would guess we'll see him at mid-season next year, which would be like trading for a great starter.

Adding Cord Phelps to the line-up hasn't really paid any dividends yet, but it's a good move.  While Lonnie Chisenhall hasn't been lighting it up so far this season, his time will come, as will Jason Kipnis'.  It will be interesting to see what kind of battle we might get between Phelps and Kipnis at second; Phelps could get a real leg up for next season if manages to start hitting in the majors.

It also bares repeating that Grady Sizemore is coming back from an injury.  Yes, I know he came out of the gate like a raging bull, but it was only a matter of time before he dropped down.  His timing is clearly off at the plate.  This, I think it's safe to assume, will get worked out over time.

And another year is that much distance between Choo and his DUI.

I truly believe this team has a chance to win the division next year, if not go to the World Series.  I said as much a few months back.  And I'm fine with waiting.  I'll take my fond memories from the first part of this season and store them away until next year.

And I'll spend this season watching a .500 slowly transform into a winner.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Lost Season (and, sadly, is hasn't even gotten here yet)

What a difference a series makes.

At a certain point you do have to wonder, if the Indians were so bad, why have all of our players been traded to teams in the middle of playoff races? Garko and Betancourt are going to battle each other for the NL Wildcard, DeRosa is fighting for first in the NL Central, and now Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco are going to be extending the Phillies lead in the NL East (and I've just now noticed that we have only dealt guys to the NL, which is interesting).

I give credit to Mark Shapiro on at least one point, though: he's being honest. While I don't know that I completely agree that the Tribe couldn't compete next year (even with a command from on high to cut payroll), he would certainly know better than I. At least he's not pretending and trying to sugar coat this. He doesn't think we have the pieces to compete next year and, in the interests of full disclosure, he told us that we don't even have the money to get those pieces. So it's time to rebuild (and that's what it is -- screw this "reload" B.S.).

Could we have gotten more for Lee and Francisco? It sure seems that way. It is odd that, for a team so desperate for pitching, half of the guys we got were position players? Definitely. Is it even stranger that one of them is a catcher, when we currently have three catchers on the major league roster, two catchers on the AAA roster (one of whom, Toregas, has better numbers than the new guy), and one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball on the AA roster? Hell, yes. But, for as much as Shapiro wants to keep things a secret, it's clear that those players are around for other reasons -- either as replacements for guys who are going to get dealt or as pieces to sweeten another deal.

All eyes are on Victor Martinez. And everyone should be looking at Victor Martinez, but let's not forget about Jhonny Peralta, Jamie Carroll, and Carl Pavano. If the Tribe is serious about rebuilding for 2011, all four of those guys should be dealt in the next two days. There's absolutely no reason NOT to.

I expect Martinez to go to the Red Sox in some kind of deal that gets us Justin Masterson. That's my best guess, though. I have no real inside knowledge on this.

So where does that leave us, going forward? Well, assuming we deal the guys I listed above, and working under the completely darkness of not knowing who we might get for any of them (I'm willing to guess we'd make a spot in the bullpen for Masterson, if need be), I'm suggesting this, beginning this weekend (after the trade deadline):


Marte (3rd)
Cabrera (SS)
Valbuena (2nd)
LaPorta (1st)
Gimenez (C)


Choo (RF)
Sizemore (CF)
Brantley/Crowe (LF/4th OF)


Shoppach (because I don't think they'll deal both of our experienced catchers)
Hafner (DH)
Barfield or Donald (utiltiy INF)
Brown (1st/OF/DH)


Carrosco (from the Lee deal)



There's no reason to hang on to our mis-matched bullpen. Veras, Gosling, Abreau -- these guys are not the future of our bullpen. Sure, Sipp has had problems and it's hard to imagine giving R. Perez and J. Lewis another shot, but by the hell not? If they need to work themselves out (and they've been perfect in AAA), let them do it at the top level.

I'll be honest: I'm fine with this. Oh, I'm not saying I won't get really misty-eyed if/when Victor is traded, but I would much rather we be upfront about it than pretend otherwise. The Tribe is a mid-market team in a city with more teams than it can support. I understand that this is how it works.

It's just really sad that this generation of Indians -- Sabathia, Lee, Martinez, Peralta, etc. -- are headed out, having come SO close to getting us that championship we've been waiting for all these years. It was a heck of a ride.

There will be a few holdovers, though, thankfully. Sizemore is signed through 2011 with an option for 2012, which HAS to be picked up. Hafner is signed through 2012 with an option for 2013 (much less likely to be picked up as I don't know that he'll be needed). Cabrera is arbitration eligible starting in 2011, but I would expect all these moves to be a precursor to signing him to a long term deal.

And let's look at it this way, too: we have a lot of pitching options in the pipe between now and the start of the 2011 season. There's Carmona, there's Laffey, there's Huff and Sowers. Then we've got Scott Lewis and the newly aquired Carrasco. Beyond that, we have our big star, Hector Rondon, who's pitching next to Chuck Lofgren in Columbus. Two years is enough time for AA guys to make a run, too -- guys like Edell and Graham, who both have ERAs under 3 in Akron. That's ten guys I just rattled off, and I'm not even counting potential bullpen guys or anyone we acquire between now and then.

Do I wish we could have made a go of it last year? Of course -- I wish we could have made a go of it this year. I want a championship to come to Cleveland and I want the Indians to be the first team to do it (I'm looking at you, Cavs). But I'm fine with rebuilding if we're actually going to commit to it.

Sadly, that means trading a few players that I've really grown to like over the years. But that's the nature of the game, isn't it?