Last week, in the wake of the Brett Myers signing, our staff was split on the stability of the Indians’ projected 2013 rotation. Some said acquiring another starting pitcher was unnecessary, while others thought the Tribe still needs more rotation help even after landing Myers. So in this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists: Do the Indians still need another starting pitcher?
Steve Kinsella: The Indians, like any other organization, should always be on the lookout for another starting pitcher. There are three levels of pitchers the Indians should be looking at. The first level are pitchers that may be available in trades now and two pitchers of interests are left-handed pitchers Chris Capuano and J.A. Happ. Neither acquisition should be viewed as a budget buster or require Cleveland to give up top prospects or Chris Perez to complete the deal.
The second layer of targets should be of the minor-league free agent variety. Since many of these guys are scratch and dent specials they should not be guaranteed a spot in the rotation and if they don’t make the team they would more than likely would not be expected to report to Columbus. Several examples of this ilk of pitcher are Erik Bedard, Carl Pavano, Chris Young, and Kevin Millwood. The final layer is the spring training health watch. This year there are several candidates, including Ted Lilly and Jeff Niemann.
None of the three layers should take a top prospect out of the Indians nor should it be a budget buster in any way but the team should be actively trying to pursue guys at each level with the willingness to walk away from an agent or GM if they don’t like the terms.
Evan Vogel: You can never have enough pitching, especially with Carlos Carrasco coming back from Tommy John surgery. He may end up having an innings limit, so what if he is the club’s best pitcher when he is at 170 innings? A lesser version of a Strasburg shutdown would ruin the Indians (although I am not comparing the two as equals).
If the club could net Kyle Lohse, Erik Bedard, Jair Jurrjens, or Shaun Marcum at a reasonable price this late in the offseason and get solid innings out of them on a one-year deal, more power to them.
Jeff Mount: I would say no. If they could get a legit number two or three I would do it, but that seems unlikely. Most of the likely trade scenarios look like they would net a number four at best, and we already have about six of those.
Lewie Pollis: I’ll never say no to a useful player, but at this point adding more non-elite but established rotation options seems superfluous—the Indians don’t have an embarrassment of riches, but it could perhaps be said that they have an embarrassment of middle-class paychecks. Between Justin Masterson, Brett Myers, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, and Carlos Carrasco the Tribe’s starting five seems pretty much set, and that’s before you consider possible breakthroughs from Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Scott Kazmir.
If we can get an intriguing fixer-upper arm on the cheap or sign a potentially useful guy to a minor-league deal, I’m all for it. But do we really need another not-great innings eater to stabilize the rotation? I’d rather leave an opening for someone to surprise us.
Jason Leonard: If the Indians can use Asdrubal Cabrera as the centerpiece of a trade to net another young starting pitcher with lots of upside, like Shelby Miller, they should do it. Otherwise I think they should hold off for now, even though I see their depth as more of a necessity than a luxury given all the question marks in the rotation.
Katrina Putnam: Yes, the Indians should try to get an additional starting pitcher through trades. They actually have a lot of depth compared to last season, but most of the young arms, like Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber, could likely benefit from a little more minor league experience. Carlos Carrasco will also miss time due to his innings limit. If injuries or fatigue become an issue, that could put them in the position to need guys like David Huff, and that’s not a good situation to be in.
Although they can get by with the rotation they have, it would definitely improve the team to get one more solid starter. And if Bauer wows everyone in spring training and they don’t need that extra pitcher after all, at least they’ll have tradable assets to use for whatever area they do need to improve in.
Merritt Rohlfing: The Indians list Myers as third on the depth chart, ahead of Zach McAllister, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber. I don’t think we’ll see Myers much in the rotation once Bauer comes up in June as expected unless someone struggles. The fact is, this is a team focusing on growth from within to contend, so signing another pitcher to absorb innings will only shortchange other guys who figure into the long term plans of the Tribe. Myers was signed as a depth choice, and hopefully he’s not good enough to be listed as third on the depth chart for long after April.
Steve Kinsella made a good point earlier this week, that he could become a Paul Byrd circa 2006-07 type pitcher, and that would be pretty sweet. After all, I got to see Byrd win Game 4 of the 2007 ALCS, and it was old school cool. So no, the Indians don’t need another pitcher, they have enough in the system that they need to turn into something. Another pitcher will only muddle things. Unless Felix Hernandez wants to come over in exchange for a hot dog.
Brian Heise: Without a doubt, yes, the Indians need another starting pitcher. It’s nothing against any of the pitchers already on the roster or anyone they already signed this offseason, but the fact of the matter is that you can never have enough pitching. Having enough depth in the pitching ranks is crucial. Injuries are going to happen and players are going to struggle. It’s almost inevitable. Not to mention, the more arms the bring into Spring Training, the better the odds of putting together a solid rotation and bullpen. Who exactly is left to get is anyone’s best guess, but at this point in the offseason most options should be fairly cheap and worth a look at least. You never know. They could find a diamond in the rough.