The Cleveland Indians seemingly play mind jokes with their fans. They start the year hot, and slowly unravel as the season progresses. 2012 has yet to show any different signs, and it’s about time that the management looks to start from scratch.
While Chris Perez, Shin Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are all solid pieces, they have yet to find success together. In their defense, sometimes certain groups don’t always pan out no matter what how high the talent level may be. Let’s just say that the Indians face a tough road ahead.
Cleveland doesn’t have many resources to begin with. Meaning that rebuilding through prospects is likely their best bet. This also means that they will need to trade their best assets to acquire top prospects. Following the Oakland A’s approach would be definitely be a good starting point.
The first to go has to be Perez. The 27-year-old boasts plenty of upside, and should he hit the trading block, the Indians will draw plenty of interest. Not only is Perez in his prime, but he also has room to grow. His 36 saves aren’t too shabby either.
But what could the Indians garner in exchange for their star closer? Obviously elite prospects rather than seasoned veterans would a better path to go seeing that Cleveland is at least three years out from competing. With that said, they aren’t just going to dangle Perez for nothing.
His contract situation is still relatively affordable even for a small market team like the Indians, as he will reach arbitration this upcoming offseason. If he had an enormous contract already, then it would be a different story.
Perez shouldn’t be the only piece moved this offseason though. Outfielder Shin-Soo-Choo also needs to be flipped for prospects. The always consistent Choo boats a 162 game batting slash average of .288/.381/.464.
Few can match his consistent numbers, and at the age of 30, like Perez, there will also be a surplus of suitors for him. Considering that by the time the Indians are competitors, Choo’s good days will be far in the past, management needs to receive something in return. There’s not point in wasting him and his abilities.
With those two out, the Indians are down to Cabrera and Carlos Santana as their only two cornerstone piece. Second baseman Jason Kipnis is quickly emerging, and could be added to that group in the near future, but he lacks consistency.
But back to Santana. The Indians are grateful to have a catcher of his talent mainly because the catcher’s spot is the toughest hole to fill. Simply, that area is covered very well for the foreseeable future. Cabrera is locked up through 2014, meaning that he will anchor their infield down.
Then, it just becomes a waiting game. Cleveland obviously doesn’t have the benefit of being able to sign the big free agents. Having the lowest attendance record in baseball isn’t helping their cause either. Not just in the money area, but also because the upper tier of free agents want to play in front of a legitimate crowd.
The Indians also have issues on the pitching spectrum of concerns. Justin Masterson has the potential to be an ace, but Ubaldo Jimenez has gone from Cy Young candidate to nothing in just a matter of a couple of years. It doesn’t help the fact that the Indians traded grade “A” type prospects for him. Essentially, they already put themselves at a disadvantage barring what Jimenez has in store for his future.
The bottom line: the Indians are going to have a tough few years to come. They have some talent, but not enough of that talent has translated into wins. It’s time to look elsewhere.
Don’t let them play mind games with you. Because until they put together a formidable pitching staff, and a different offense group, they won’t be contenders no matter how well they may play in the first few weeks of the seasons.
A regular baseball season is 162 games long. Always wait until September before finalizing your verdict on a given team. In the Indians case, it means having a great deal of patience and facing unfortunate disappointment at the end.
Photo Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
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