First off, I’d like to thank anyone to showed support to me after my grandfather died. It’s truly appreciated. I apologize for the lack of posts, but I needed some time off.
While at the wake, the topic inevitably went to Tribe baseball with someone (sorry, don’t remember who) saying the only two guys he’d keep would be Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. This, coupled with a suggestion from my brother and my own suspicions that Matt LaPorta may be a bust, has led me to invesigate which guys will actually be around in 2012, when the Indians’ next “window of contention” supposedly opens.
It’s actually quite surprising.
Let’s go on a player-by-player method, using everyone who has seen time in an Indians uni this year and is still with the organization. The Indians’ preferred replacement in the organization follows each position. Obviously the Indians may make trades or sign someone to fill these spots. I’m simply looking at the organization to plug holes.
Lou Marson has been terrible offensively, posing a .278 OBP, although he has thrown out 11 of 21 would-be base thieves. However he’s simply keeping the seat warm for Carlos “Smooth” Santana, whom the organization has identified as its catcher of the future. Mike Redmond is on a one-year deal, although the Indians might be willing to do another one with how well Fausto Carmona has responded to working with Redmond.
Preferred 2012 starter: Santana
Russell Branyan is on a one year deal and a candidate to be traded if he’s performing. So he’s definitely not in the Indians’ long-term plans. The Indians had high hopes for Matt LaPorta, but he has regressed this year, with a .264 OBP. Even worse, he’s displaying none of the power that was advertised when the Tribe acquired him for CC Sabathia. The Indians will definitely give him chances to sort himself out, but at 25 years old, LaPorta is approaching a point where he has to start producing.
Preferred 2012 starter: LaPorta
Just because Luis Valbuena snapped an 0-16 skid today doesn’t make him any more a part of the future of this ballclub. If anything, this season has cemented that Valbuena is not a long-term solution at second, or short, and maybe not even at the utility position. Jason Donald will probably keep the seat warm for a little while, although he projects more as a utility player. Mark Grudzielanek is on a minor league contract and will probably not return next year.
Preferred 2012 starter: Jason Kipnis
Asdrubal Cabrera may be out with a broken arm, but he still figures heavily into the Indians’ plans and the Tribe would like to lock him up to an extension. Hopefully he recovers because the organization is weak at shortstop beyond Cabrera.
Preferred 2012 starter: Cabrera
Jhonny Peralta is (thankfully) on the last year of his contract and a candidate to be traded, if he ever actually hit. Andy Marte might be kept around to keep the seat warm for Lonnie Chisenhall, but in all likelyhood he departs long before the 2012 season starts.
Preferred 2012 starter: Chisenhall
There isn’t any sure things about the Tribe’s outfield outlook. The team would like to lock up RF Shin-Soo Choo to an extension, but Choo signed Scott Boras as his agent, and Boras always charges top dollar for his clients. CF Grady Sizemore might be playing his way back into the Indians’ budget, but at this point he looks like a shell of his former self. Austin Kearns has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s on a one-year deal and will get a significant raise if he keeps this up. The Indians still want Michael Brantley to be their centerfielder of the future (if Grady leaves) but he clearly needed some more work at AAA. It will be interesting to see if he can make the adjustments. Trevor Crowe looks like another first round bust, although he hasn’t been completely useless in this latest callup. Shelly Duncan is filler and might not make it through the season with the Tribe. The Indians pretend that Jordan Brown doesn’t exist.
Preferred starting outfield: Choo, Brantley, Nick Weglarz (assuming Sizemore leaves)
The Indians will be on the hook with Travis Hafner until 2013. Unless he suddenly becomes tradeable again, Pronk will be with the team at the start of the 2012 campaign. (Sorry… I need to wipe some tears from my eyes cause that’s just sad.)
Likely 2012 starter: Hafner
Tomorrow I will take a look at the pitching staff, which honestly is a lot more interesting.