Now that the Indians season is over it’s time we reflect on – hold on, I’m taking a deep breath, trying not to get too choked up.
Oh forget it! I’m not going to look back on six months of average baseball featuring a team that couldn’t hit or catch a ball…..I’m looking forward to the future, to 2015, when the green grass and red clay of a shining Progressive Field plays host to the 114th year of professional baseball in Cleveland.
Excuse me as I step off my soapbox. Unfortunately, to envision the future we must explore the past. Based on what we - Indians fans - witnessed this summer, what do the Indians need to do to once again reach the postseason and hopefully win the World Series? Here are three bold actions the front office must take in order to position the Tribe for a postseason run in 2015:
Shed Some Fat
The salaries of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher comprise nearly 40% of the Indians payroll! That means 40% of the payroll not living up to the contracts they signed in 2013. Bourn and Swisher have two years left on these “anchors” and now is the time to cut them loose. Unfortunately you couldn’t move Swisher with a bulldozer, diminishing power numbers and the knees of 80-year old have “do not touch” written on Brohio’s back.
So, that leaves Bourn as the “most likely underachiever” to be jettisoned to a new team. According to www.IntheMitt.com, some possible homes for Bourn are Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Detroit and Toronto. By moving Bourn, the Indians will free up some cash to sign a much needed free agent bat, plus get a player in return, perhaps a pitcher like Toronto’s A.J. Happ (also rumored to be on the block according to www.IntheMitt.com), that can help strengthen the starting rotation, especially when the Indians take this next action.
Use the High Heater in the Trade Market
The Indians don’t have many assets to offer up in the trade market due to a lackluster farm system and an average Major League roster, but we all know what teams crave – pitching, especially young, power pitching. Thus, I present the trade of Danny Salazar. Salazar has been up & down in his two years with the big club, and even though his fastball hits 100 mph, it’s straight as an arrow. So where do you trade him and for what? How about sending him to Arizona straight up for Mike Trumbo or packaging him with Bourn and Lonnie Chisenhall to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton? Come on, let me dream a little. Salazar is a valuable commodity and should be used while he’s still considered a prospect.
Spend Some Money. Wisely.
The Indians are in desperate need of offense! The Wahoos need hitters that get on base, move runners and, most importantly, get them across the plate. I understand the Dolans have been burned by the less than dynamic duo of Swisher and Bourn, but I believe they still must trust their baseball people and shop on the free agent market. Strong bats like Michael Morse, Michael Cuddyer and Chase Headley can help, as well as the continued development of their own players like Tyler Holt and Zach Walters.
I’m not saying these are the actual moves that will be made, but it should be the general direction. The Indians need to clear salary to obtain pieces that will help them win games, not just take up spots on the roster (calling Bourn, Swisher and Kipnis). Secondly, the team should deal from a position of strength and trade Salazar for another bat, or even a dependable fielder, which they can certainly use. And once they’ve cleared some salary, spend wisely on the free agent market for more offense.
I’m looking forward: forward to a winter of Hot Stove action and a summer of Indians baseball where the players live up to their contracts, the offense isn’t offensive and the Tribe’s back to October baseball. Indian Fever…..be a believer!!!
Jim Brazytis is a 43-year old amateur athlete still waiting for the scouts to find him at his "old man" baseball league games. A life-long Clevelander, he has suffered through decades of losing sports teams and heartache while waiting for some Cleveland professional sports team team, besides the Cleveland Crunch, to win a championship.