Earlier this month, Lewie argued that the Indians should either aim for serious contention in 2012 or begin a rebuilding process. Then, this week, Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti revealed that he hadn’t yet decided which way he had decided to go. In order to help the organization figure out a path, here 10 ten reasons why the Indians absolutely have to go for it:
1. Up-the-middle strength. How many teams have two middle infielders and a catcher capable of hitting twenty home runs? We are as strong up the middle as any team in the division. That is the hardest part of building a contender. Compared to that, finding a left fielder and a first baseman should be easy.
- 2. The Indians have money to spend. Take the money they spent on Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Derek Lowe, Casey Kotchman, and Roberto Hernandez last year, and you have more than $30 million. Spend half of that wisely and you can get a middle-of-the-order bat and a starting pitcher capable of two hundred innings.
- 3. The window of opportunity. Two years from now we will be talking about whether Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Santana are going to leave as free agents. At what point will the future we would build toward get here? We are as close to the optimal mix of affordable contracts and proven potential as we are likely to get in the next decade.
- 4. Throwing the fans a bone. The relationship between the Dolans and the fan base is as close to toxic as it can be. If these owners do not do something in the next two years to demonstrate that they are serious about winning, they might lose the fans completely. The fact that there are now two other owners in town who appear to be aggressive about winning only makes the Indians look worse.
- 5. Strong pitching potential. Put simply, if Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez pitch like they did in 2011, this is close to a .500 team. If Jimenez pitches like 2010, this team wins 85 games, assuming they get someone who can walk and chew gum in left field. We all know that in this division, being .500 on Labor Day makes you a contender. Sign a free agent for the third spot in the rotation, hope for ten wins from Zach McAllister in the fourth spot, and let Carlos Carrasco, Jeanmar Gomez, and David Huff fight for the fifth spot. If we can find at least four guys who can get through six innings on a consistent basis, our bullpen will pick up a lot of wins.
6. Terry Francona. If managers mean contribute anything to the final record, this should be a serious upgrade. The over/under on how many times Jose Lopez bats cleanup next year is one. Regardless of his public statements, there is no way Francona signed up to watch the roster be dismantled.
- 7. Precedent. Thanks to the Marlins, if you dismantle the roster and say you are building for the future people will laugh at you.
- 8. Greater depth. A full year of Lonnie Chisenhall and Russ Canzler in the lineup will at least mean that I won’t be switching over to The Big Bang Theory whenever we get past the fifth spot in the order. It should also mean that we won’t be shut out whenever Shin-Soo Choo and Santana have bad days, which happened way too much last year. Speaking of which, I can’t imagine spending money on a third baseman, given the magnitude of the other holes we have. At some point you have to give a guy 500 at-bats and see what happens.
- 9. Do it for me. I’m 51 years old. If they tear this roster apart it would be approximately the 27th time I’ve watched this happen. They told us trading Craig Nettles was the first step toward building a champion. They never did tell us what the last step was.
- 10. There’s nothing to lose. If you try it and it doesn’t work by June, you can tear it up then.