Thinking long-term

I’m quoted over at Hotstove.com, on the question of if I was happy with the acquisitions of Austin Kearns and Mark Grudzielanek and what the Tribe needs to do to climb out of the AL Central basement. My response was supposed to be only 4-5 sentences long, but I thought it was two questions, so mine’s a little longer. Here it is:

Any Indians fan that thinks Mark Grudzielanek or Austin Kearns will help this team needs to have their head examined. The moves are pure filler, just warm bodies to throw on the 40-man roster. The Indians made their offseason moves back in July with the trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, and the trades were meant to help the team in the future, not 2010. There’s a good chance neither Grudzielanek nor Kearns will be with the team at the end of the year.

The Tribe needs some luck to avoid the basement of the AL Central. The team has pretty much made all the offseason moves they are going to, and now the Indians are going to need the kids to step up, or for another team such as the Royals to be worse. There is some exciting talent on this team, but it’s not ready yet, and 2010 will be about the growing pains of this team, not contending.

Can you tell I thought the question was a little dumb? People have this notion that the Indians are just sitting pat on a terrible team, because they aren’t making any offseason moves. In reality, the offseason moves were made in-season, back in July as I stated (actually June, as that’s when Mark DeRosa was dealt). Guys like Lou Marson and Justin Masterson were our acquisitions this winter. We just got them in July.

As for Grudzielanek and Kearns, seeing as they are on minor league deals, there is a good chance they don’t finish the year in Cleveland, assuming they make the team at all. And while I don’t hate the pickups, they simply aren’t really of any consequence to get all worked up about. They aren’t in the long-term future of the Cleveland Indians. And I guess that’s the problem with the pickups. I’d rather try out younger players who could get better than aging vets who already are at their ceilings. Plus I never, ever, ever want to spell Mark Grudzielanek’s name again.

People have accused me of being overly cynical about the Indians this year, but what you have to realize is that no one in the Indians brass truly believes that this team can contend right now, and actually trying might be disastrous to the development of this team. Why sign a guy like Orlando Hudson to a 2-year, $10 million dollar contract (as it’s being reported the Indians were offering) when he’s not going to put you over the top, or even into the playoffs. It’s just wasted money, money that could be spent somewhere where it can make a difference: the draft. Laugh at me all you want but I’ve become a recent believer in the draft, or at least having money for the draft. The ability to go “over slot” on a guy to convince him to sign is huge, and I’d rather have than then two years of Orlando Hudson.

This year is going to be rough. But there will hopefully be some good signs. I do think there is some exciting young talent on this team. Whether or not it develops is yet to be seen. But now is not the time to go for broke. It’s time to save, conserve, and take stock of what we have, and what we will need. A 32-year-old second baseman is not something we need right now.

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