During Terry Francona‘s introductory press conference, there was a certain baseball axiom that he said that is probably not at all profound, but nevertheless true.
“When you think you have enough pitching, get more,” he said. Simple and to the point.
It doesn’t matter if you have a Cy Young award winner on staff, or a cast of up-and-coming hurlers that kept the Indians in the playoff hunt until they ran into their usual buzzsaw buggaboo in the Tigers. The need for “more” is always there. How we find the replenishment is the question.
(Josh Tomlin is frantically waving at me trying to get my attention. I’m pretending I don’t notice him. That Cowboy needs to ride off into the sunset.)
We can all but guarantee that Max Scherzer is getting stupid money. Likewise for Jon Lester and James Shields, so we can automatically strike them off the list. A Cole Hamels trade would be system-gutting and the Indians are (were?) on his no-trade clause, so that’s not going to work for either side.
There are, however, a pair of familiar faces that appear to be on the Indians’ periphery; reclamation projects that are in need of serious fixing in hopes that Mickey Calloway can work his magic for them once again. One guy is Justin Masterson. The other is Ubaldo Jimenez.
Are they worth it? And more importantly, could they even be fixed? There are always doubts and pitfalls in this game of chance that the Tribe brass is forced to play, but it may be the only card they can put down.
Jimenez is one year into a $50 million blind-buy in which the Orioles pretty much rued the moment the pen hit the paper. They’d love nothing more than for him to go away. Pretty much that everything Calloway had driven into Jimenez’ head went away and the maddeningly inconsistent guy we despised (and then laughed at since he wasn’t our problem anymore) returned. Obviously, the Indians would want Baltimore to eat the majority of the contract if there is to be any real interest in swinging a deal. Ubaldo probably doesn’t deserve to be on a Major League roster at this point, but Calloway has proven to be a capable teacher, so…let’s stop talking about it before I start to think of it as an even remotely possible good thing.
Masterson is, shockingly, a dicier signing. Simply because he looks broken. Ubaldo is healthy; his mechanics are just something like that of a masochistic gymnast that keeps finding ways to dislocate their limbs on purpose. Masterson looked different; nothing worked for him, and he seemed to be even worse in St. Louis once he got there. It was a shocking fall from even the upper-mid-tier level of quality for a starter in which he resided on his good year. We got pretty used to his alternating from solid to mediocre seasons, but he never looked like he just couldn’t do it anymore. Maybe he could fill the vacated “Team Yoda” spot that was once held by Jason Giambi. Financially, he’d probably be cheaper of the two simply because he knows now that he doesn’t have the leverage to hold out for a longer-termed deal. At this point, I don’t think anyone would be shocked if he’s fallen off enough that he has to accept a spring training invite. And boy, absolutely none of this makes me feel better about my talking all sorts of crazy stuff.
Neither guy is ideal, but a reunion for at least one seems inevitable. Flip a coin and it may land on its side as an omen.
Here comes the usual horse-flogging about budgetary constraints (or the fortuitous lack thereof): This is where free-agency is a death knell for the Indians. Most of all of their shrewdness comes from trades (Kluber, Brantley, Gomes, Bauer (further development?), Carrasco (IS THIS REAL???????)), while their free-agency success rate has been spotty at best. The Indians can’t be big-sellers so the proven commodities aren’t going to come here without a serious overpay.
It’s easy to wonder how the Indians will be able to live in a market where $325 million Giancarlo Stanton deals inevitably impact and become somewhat normal and how it will coincide with the Indians’ payroll business model. The scouting department better get real good real fast. Until then, however, cherry-picking the retreads will be the way of business for the depth. One can only hope the Indians choose correctly if they choose between these two.