Here are the highlights from Wahoo’s on First this week:
The drop from Hafner’s bat to Aviles’ would cost the Indians two to two-and-a-half wins in 2013 over a full season. That’s about the difference between a league-average player and the average Rule 5 draftee or non-prospect in Triple-A. In other words, subbing Aviles in for Hafner is about equal to replacing Michael Brantley with Ezequiel Carrera. That’s a big deal.
Jeff argued that the Tribe still needs another starter in order to contend in 2013:
I get the same feeling about the Indians’ offseason thus far: Huge effort, but not quite enough. The point, after all, is to contend, or at least to be playing meaningful games after August 1. With two wild cards and a weak division, any team that is, say, ten games over .500 on Labor Day will be in the thick of it. In looking at the Indians’ roster, they look more like 80-85 wins than the 85-90 they would need to be a borderline contender.
Kevin Schneider (Did the Tribe Win Last Night?): The Indians should sign up a sculptor to begin working on a statue of Jim Thome within the confines of Progressive Field. But, no, they should not re-sign him to platoon as a designated hitter. The Tribe already brought him back, in the 2011 season, to repair the relationship with Cleveland that roughened when he signed in Philadelphia as a free agent after the 2002 season. He would be an asset in the clubhouse more than the lineup, so perhaps a coaching or roving hitting instructor gig could be in his future.
Katrina made an extended argument against bringing Thome back:
Baseball Prospectus lists Thome as officially missing 85 games during two separate DL stints throughout the season. Although someone could be called up to replace him if he lands on the disabled list, he also missed playing time while hurt but still on the active roster. While there are no prospects (or available free agents) who can provide the kind of definite power that Thome can, it makes more sense to use a young player with moderate home run potential that can also field, or even one who can simply play for more than a third of the season.
Meanwhile, Lewie also tried to figure out the opportunity cost of not signing Thome:
There are other factors to consider here besides raw offense—Marson’s catching ability and Santana’s knees figure into the equation for sure—but at least in terms of hitting ability using Marson instead of signing Thome would mean a swing of as many as 21 runs (the equivalent of more than two whole wins) over 162 games. For a team with an outside shot at competing for the playoffs, them’s no small potatoes.
I’m not a statistics-shunning old school baseball sentimentalist, but in my opinion any discussion of player expectations heading into a new season that is entirely formula-driven is severely lacking. Except when there are statistically insignificant samples, past performance should be the foundation upon which predictions are formulated, but it shouldn’t be repackaged and offered as a harbinger of things to come.
The result of the Indians’ busy offseason is that Spring Training will not be filled with battles for starting positions. This will enable Terry Francona to focus his time and energy on getting the players on the same page during spring training in terms of baseball but allow the majority of the 25-man roster to begin the process of becoming a socially cohesive unit.
Brian released the February installment of his Cleveland Indians Power Rankings:
2. Nick Swisher: Although he has been knocked from atop the perch of the #1 spot, Swisher still holds an important spot within the Tribe’s organization. Being the team’s top free agent signing of the winter will have that effect. With Spring Training only a few weeks away expect the Tribe to begin ramping up promotion surrounding their big catch.
Finally, Merritt got some feelings off his chest about Slider.
We all know Slider. Perhaps you even like him. How that could be is beyond me, but his existence persists, so someone must enjoy his presence. But I detest him. He doesn’t even make any sense—a purple plush toy with jaundiced spots all about him, that frightfully gleeful face like that of an escaped inmate with the strange bushy nose, he’s like somebody ate a bunch of gummy bears and a Teletubby then threw up. His antics distract from the feats of athletic brilliance and intense mind-gamery on the field, and his choreographed dance routines are simply rejects from an avant garde version of West Side Story.