The Tribe has made two relatively minor moves (or so they seem right now) in the past few days. On Friday, they signed 38-year-old catcher Mike Redmond to a major league deal with $850,000 guaranteed. Yesterday, the Indians traded Class A third baseman Jesus Brito to Pittsburgh for shortstop/utility infielder Brian Bixler. The Redmond signing gives the Indians some experience at the catching position, to go along with youngsters Lou Marson and later Carlos Santana. The Bixler acquisition adds depth, as he will compete for the utility infielder’s job. However, it is most likely that neither of these pick-ups will translate into more wins on the field.
The Indians will need the players they already have to step up and improve, and no guy could be more key to the turnaround of this team than Fausto Carmona.
I was honestly all set to write this post about Grady Sizemore, and how the team needs not only a bounce-back year from him, but also to step up and assume a leadership role on the team. But seeing as Grady’s struggles last year were mostly due to injury, and the fact that Sizemore is still on the younger side, leads me to believe he can bounce back.
Carmona, on the other hand, is not such a sure thing.
Other than a decent stint as a setup man (which is not an option for the Tribe and Carmona right now), Carmona has really only had the one good year (2007).
Since that year, it’s been all downhill. Much of Fausto’s struggles have been with his command. Even before his hip injury in early 2008, his walk totals were way up. He had 38 walks prior to that injury in 58 innings, compared to 61 walks in all of 07 (215 IP). He had the same amount of walks in 2009 as he did in 2008 (70), doing so in 5 fewer innings, so I guess you can say he made an improvement.
I’m not a pitching coach. I don’t know what it will take to get Carmona back on track. But I do know that it would be worth it for the Tribe to make this happen, for a few reasons.
- Scouts say Carmona has ace stuff. A healthy, happy, productive Fausto Carmona would give the Indians the #1 starter they will need, thus easing the pressure on young guys like Justin Masterson, and later Jason Knapp and Nick Hagadone (guys who project as top of the rotation starters) to perform.
- It would make Fausto’s contract extension through 2014, which sounded like a great idea at the time, a lot more palatable.
- A Carmona resurgence would save the Tribe from having to acquire another starter. Signing another starter would just be wasting resources and playing time on a guy who wouldn’t project to be with the club long-term, as they hope Carmona will be.
- An effective Carmona (along with a healthy Jake Westbrook) would induce lots of ground balls, giving Indians fans lots of Asdrubal Cabrera double play highlights. Hey, it’s not much but you gotta throw the fans something.
Yesterday, I made the case for keeping Andy Marte, but that was trivial in comparison to how much an effect a turnaround from Carmona would help this team. It could shave a year or two off the rebuilding process, and thus, the Indians brass needs to make this a priority for 2010.