Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/15/11
The last time, and only time, a baseball general manager asked me for my advice it was about the quality, aroma and drawing power of a hand-rolled Dominican cigar. I gave him a two-thumbs up. And as a life-long fan of the Cleveland Indians, beginning in my childhood as a resident of Akron, I feel a closeness to the Tribe, even though I live 250 miles away from Terminal Tower and I have covered the National League Cincinnati Reds for 40 years. Like all Tribe fans, I yearn for those days of yesteryear, back to the 1990s when the Indians were perennial contenders and Jacobs Field, as it was then known, was full every game. It was my great fortune in 1997 to be president of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which means I was one of the officials scorers for the All-Star game and for the World Series. The All-Star game was in Cleveland and, of course, the World Series was in Cleveland and Miami. The World Series outcome was not to my liking, a seven-game 11th-inning loss by the Tribe to the Florida Marlins during an outstanding series I could do nothing as officials scorer to stop Edgar Renteria from that walk-off game-winning single. Nor could I help second baseman Tony Fernandez catch that ground ball hit by Craig Counsell in the 11th that should have been an inning-ending double play. It has been a mostly long frustrating period for the Tribe since Renterias dagger to the aorta, with glimmers of prosperity in 2005 and 2007, but the question of the day is: How do we fix it? Like all the GMs I have covers Bob Howsam, Dick Wagner, Murray Cook, Bill Bergesh, Bob Quinn, Jim Bowden, Wayne Krivsky and Walt Jocketty Clevelands Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti have not sought my advice. But as a long-suffering Indians fans through thin, thin, thin, thick, thin and thin, I offer this without solicitation or remuneration. At first glance, it appears the Tribe is overloaded with left-handed hitters and a priority should be to find a right-handed bat with power, a guy who also carries a glove to actually catch baseballs. It doesnt appear the Tribe will re-sign outfielders Grady Sizemore or Kosuke Fukudome, so left field is vacant. It would behoove the Tribe to fill that left field gap with a right-handed bat via free agency or trade. With the Tribe loaded with young, low-salaried players, perhaps they could pursue free agent outfielder B.J. Upton to play center field and move Brantley to left, giving the Indians a potent right-handed bat in Upton and a guy with speed and a great glove. They also could use an upgrade at first base. Albert Pujols? Prince Fielder? Wouldnt that be delicious, but the Tribe would have to give them the deeds to all the lakefront property on Lake Erie to lure them to Cleveland. There are some other first basemen available and Carlos Pena might be a snug fit. The Tribe moved quickly to add Derek Lowe to the rotation, an excellent addition. Could they use another starter? If it is feasible, yes. Adding Ubaldo Jimenez last year added something the Tribe dearly needed and the projected rotation of Jimenez, Lowe, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Fausto Carmona is potentially solid. Carmona remain a mystery all potential, few results. Perhaps the Tribe could replace him with another starting pitcher acquisition. The bullpen is workable with closer Chris Perez, set-up men Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp, plus long man David Huff. A tweak here or there wouldnt hurt. So there it is a look from afar by a long-time fan. Find a right-handed outfielder, consider a first base acquisition and possibly another starter and additional bullpen help. And watch the Tribe return to the Glory Days of the 1990s. Yeah, every baseball fan dreams of their teams next year success in the cold, winter months and it doesnt get much colder than winters on the lakefront. They are well-manned at the other two outfield spots with Shin-Soo Choo in right and Michael Brantley in center both left-handed hitter. The other left-handers in the lineup include Lonnie Chisenhall, Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan and Jason Kipnis. When Sizemore could get out of the training room and play, the Indians had six lefthanded bats in the lineup. Look for a right-handed left fielder.
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