The Cleveland Indians are coming off a disappointing 2012 season which saw the team finish with a 68-94 record and finished 29th out of 30 teams in the majors with only 1,603,596 fans coming through the turn styles at the ballpark. Near the end of the 2012 season the Indians fired manager Manny Acta and named Sandy Alomar Jr. the interim manager. After the season they moved swiftly in replacing Acta and on October 6th they hired former Phillies and Red Sox manager Terry Francona as their new skipper.
By the end of October Francona had assembled his coaching staff, which will include Alomar (bench coach), Mickey Callaway (pitching coach), Ty Van Burkleo (hitting coach), Brad Mills (third base coach), Mike Sarbaugh (first base coach), and Kevin Cash (bullpen coach).
As the Indians head into the Winter Meetings this week they have completed some housecleaning, added a few players in minor trades, and have let it be known that several players are available in trade. None of the moves that the Indians have made thus far are an indication as to what plan the team will follow this offseason and the biggest question remains: Should the Indians start rebuilding or build up for 2013?
What has happened:
- A decision on whether to pick up the 2013 options for Roberto Hernandez, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Travis Hafner. Hernandez and Hafner had their options declined making them free agents. The Indians picked up their option for Jimenez.
- Right handed reliever Blake Wood was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. The hard-throwing right-handed reliever missed the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery but has resumed a throwing program and is expected to be ready to compete for a roster spot by Spring Training.
- Esmil Rogers was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. The acquisition of Aviles has lead to widespread speculation that Asdrubal Cabrera will be traded this offseason.
- Matt LaPorta was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Columbus while Rafael Perez and Jack Hannahan were not tendered contracts and are now free agents.
- 23 year old switch hitting first baseman Mike McDade was claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
What is expected?
The Indians are expected to be very active and we will probably get a large dose of trade rumors involving Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, and Justin Masterson. Here’s what some are saying:
- Jim Bowden of ESPN predicts that the Indians will make more trade than any other team. Besides the usual cast, he includes Ubaldo Jimenez as someone who may garner interest.
- Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer suggests that the Indians are working the phones as they head to the winter meetings and mentions discussions with free agents Edwin Jackson, Nick Swisher, and Kevin Youkilis.
- Jordan Bastian suggests that the Indians will look to fortify depth at the winter meetings.
- Tony Lastoria at Indians Prospect Insider expects the Indians to be very involved in what he deems Winter Meeting Insanity.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune speculates that the San Diego Padres who are looking to add two arms to the rotation are looking more for durability over one that has a checkered injury history may be interested in the Indians Ubaldo Jimenez. In exchange Center notes relievers Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher and outfielder/first baseman Jesus Guzman. He notes that Jimenez fits the description of the type of pitcher that General Manager Josh Byrnes is looking for:
“It might not be the time to take a flyer on a health risk,” said Byrnes. “We already have a lot of guys who are questions because of injuries. We think in another year, we’re going to have solid depth in starting pitching. Right now, we could use a durable starter who we can count on.
“Clearly, trades make more sense for what we’re trying to do. The free agent market prices are higher than they should be. We’ve spent more time discussing trades than free agents.”
Buster Olney (behind pay wall) reports that the Indians have set the bar high in the return for Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin Soo-Choo. One rival executive is quoted as saying “Time will tell on whether they’ve lowered (the asking prices).”
Who to Follow?
In today’s social media environment, news and rumors are going to fly out of Nashville faster than Twinkies off the shelf after Hostess announced a planned bankruptcy. One thing to beware of is the fake accounts that pop up on Twitter. They always get one or two people and can lead to a fan base in a frenzy which can be quite humorous as long as you aren’t one of the people that fell into the trap. Here’s a quick list of who to follow:
- Paul Hoynes (@Hoynsie): Plain Dealer beat writer who will be working the lobby in Nashville.
- Jason Collette (@JasonCollette) Writer/Analyst at Baseball Prospectus and Draysbay and is in attendance at the winter meetings.
- Justin Bastian (@MLBastian): Covers the Indians for MLB.com.
- Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince): former Indians witer for MLB.com now baseball writer for MLB.com.
- Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN): Senior MLB writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com.
- Jayson Stark (@jaysonst): MLB writer for ESPN.com
- Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS): MLB writer for CBS Sports.
- Dan Knobler (@Dknobler): Senior MLB writer for CBS Sports.
- MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) Fast and furious updates with all the news and rumors.
- R.J. Anderson (@R_J_Anderson): Writer for Baseball Prospectus and The Process Report. One of the most responsive writers on Twitter.
- Mark Shapiro (@MarkShapiro): Indians Team President .
- Chris Antonetti (@IndiansGM): Indians General Manager – his last tweet was on May 3rd of 2011, maybe he’ll break his silence?
At all times don’t forget to interact with our staff:
Lewis Pollis (@LewsOnFirst), Brian Heise (@DieHardNight), Steve Kinsella (@MrNegative1), Merrit Rohlfing (@merrittrohlfing), Ed Carroll (@EdTheRevelator), Evan Vogel (@EvanVogelTweets), Katrina Putnam (@CLEmlbgirl), Mitchell Below (@tribescribe)