For this week’s edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, I decided to focus the attention on the Indians offeason areas of need. Instead of allowing everyone to submit 1500 word diatribes about everything they think should be done, I decided to limit their answers to one player or one area they think needs to be addressed. Did I get good answers? Yes. Did that keep them from writing essays? Nope. Did the importance of the topic keep them from randomly shifting gears midway through the email chain and focus their attention on a Tupac versus Biggie debate? Absolutely not. And away we go…
Evan Vogel: I see two areas of focus this offseason for the Cleveland Indians, both a single player and a position:
1) Starting pitching needs to be attacked. The club has Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, and Danny Salazar as obvious options, but they also have to decide whether they are going to try to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir. Without both Kazmir and Jimenez, the Indians would be forced to go with Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, or other unproven or currently non-rostered options to fill out the rotation. If the team is going to compete again in 2014, they need some arms that they can truly rely on. For that reason, they need to focus on pitching and make sure that they have a very productive and strong starting five.
2) Lonnie Chisenhall: They have to get this kid right and provide a major overhaul for his swing, approach, and defensive skills. The team doesn’t have a true internal option, as utilizing Mike Aviles over Chisenhall may force him to be overmatched as an everyday player, something that Aviles has proven he isn’t cut out for. It may be unrealistic to think that the club can force Chisenhall into stardom, but overhauling swings have changed the careers of Ben Zobrist and Jose Bautista. He’s young enough to undergo this type of change and have a tremendous career. Putting time and money into his development will be a lot cheaper and smarter than investing in the free agent crop at third base, where there isn’t a clear-cut upgrade over Chisenhall to begin with.
Also, one of my favorite prospects from a few years ago, Chris Marrero, will be a minor league free agent. He’s always had solid power and plate discipline, but he is a right-handed hitting 1B/DH. He’ll turn 26 in July and he has been battling various ailments over the last several years. For all of the James Loney and Casey Kotchman jokes, this guy would be a nice addition for depth, even if it is in Columbus next year.
Casey Kotchman. Left handed hitting bat, great glove, and has all the intangibles that a team wants. He could also help teaching Carlos Santana some of the finer points of the positions.
Brian Heise: No… Absolutely not… Try again.
Steve Kinsella: Sorry. Been listening to Tupac on my Ipod all day so I’m a bit fired up. I would sign Kotchman to a minor league deal and have him in C-bus until June 1st, but that is not my real answer.
Nick Houghtaling: It’s tough to focus on just one position. I think the Tribe have a solid core in place, but any improvements across the board would be welcome in an offseason that could be key to further success down the road. I think the team could use some more power – Steve Kinsella suggested Justin Morneau, and that might be a realistic option. Depending on the fate of Ubaldo Jimenez & Scott Kazmir, the Indians will most likely need to acquire at least one starter as well. I might be dreaming a little big here, but I’d love to see them jump on a guy like Ricky Nolasco, Dan Haren or even Jason Vargas as a potential starter depending on price and contract length. After the 2012-13 offseason, when they spent quite a bit more than expected, I could see ownership putting up a little more extra cash to continue the team’s high level of play.
Kyle Downing: I think the primary focus this offseason should be trying to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez. Because Mickey Callaway seems to have finally solved him, he would continue to be a valuable number two starter to Justin Masterson. I also think the team should focus on trading Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s unlikely that the Tribe will give him a long-term contract for the future, with Lindor impressing everyone in the minors. Get a good pitching prospect from a contending team, maybe the Cardinals.
Michael Chaney: If the Indians were to only address one area this offseason, I believe it should be the starting rotation. The Tribe have enough relievers in the minor leagues to reinforce bullpen depth, and the Indians have depth (and talent) in many other areas as well. The Indians have depth in the rotation as well, but the team can’t afford to lose Ubaldo Jimenez and/or Scott Kazmir to free agency (I see Kazmir returning, but Jimenez leaving). Nonetheless, the Indians need to add another starter. They have the makings of a pretty talented (and young) rotation, but another quality arm should be pursued. The Indians should have a little bit of payroll flexibility this offseason, and the funds they have could go towards a starting pitcher. They have depth there, but most of the depth is of mid-rotation or back-rotation guys, and replacing Ubaldo would be difficult. I know it might not be a popular move, but I’m actually a big fan of buying low on Josh Johnson. He struggled mightily with the Blue Jays last year and durability isn’t his strength, but he has the capability to be an ace when he is healthy. The Indians could probably secure him for a one-year deal with a fairly low-cost to the team. GM Chris Antonetti tried some of these deals last year with Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers, and while neither worked out the way they planned, the team was willing and able to cut bait with each during the season.
I would also advocate adding a third baseman, but it isn’t as pressing of a need as it once was. Incumbent third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall hit well towards the end of this season, and I think it would be in the Indians’ best interest to give him another chance (after all, they shied away from acquiring Matt Garza because the Cubs asked for him last year). If he falters during the season, Mike Aviles is more than capable of handling third (unless he plays shortstop).
Lewie Pollis: No one else is interested in Steve and Tupac? I assumed he was about as musically hip as Pawnee.
Steve Kinsella: Has always been my favorite – always will be…..too bad he’s in hiding. Anyone remember when Grady’s walk up music was All Eyes On Me? Yeah, good times.
Ed Carroll: Always preferred Biggie to Pac, but still respect Pac.
Steve Kinsella: Biggie was a fraud – never really lived the life. His songs were admittedly about his “alter ego’s life.’
Ed Carroll: The Statute of Frauds does not apply here, Steve.
Nick Houghtaling: As a Californian I am naturally on the Tupac side of this debate.
Steve Kinsella: West Side Rhyme Slingers lived the life….East Side Knuckleheads like Notorious B.I.G. had no clue what they were getting in to. Pac had to go en Hit’em Up……all of ‘em.
Brian Heise: Gotta admit, even though I hardly if ever listen to rap, when it comes to Tupac and Biggie I have to side with Tupac. I feel like he had more swagger and was more vicious lyrically. All I really remember from Biggie was Puff Daddy following him around in every music video and white folk singing “I like it when you call me big papa…” which is so played out it’s not even funny anymore.
Ed Carroll: I don’t even know what to say. Biggie was the OG. Tupac was just a paranoid psycho who went around stirring up $hit. Big was the inspiration, Pac was the footnote.
Merritt Rohlfing: Well, more accurately, one was a poet, the other a storyteller. They’re both pretty great. Also, Tupac was bad at selling drugs. And Big L has them both beat.
Ed Carroll: If we’re going “best ever,” my favorite will always be Outkast.
Steve Kinsella: Tupac wasn’t allowed to sell drugs. The dealers paid for his time at Baltimore school of performing arts and wanted a piece of future earnings. Oh, and he took Jada Pinkett to prom. Boom. And the only rapper close to PAC is Too Short.
Evan Vogel: You’re all wrong. Dr. Dre owns all others.
Ed Carroll: DRE???? ohh man … love him, but nope.
Merritt Rohlfing: This pretty much sums it up…
Brian Heise: Yes… Yes it does.