Every day there are more rumors around the “available free agents not named Prince Fielder” (i.e. the ones in which the Indians may have interest).  It’s sounding less and less like the Tribe may land one of them.  The Indians, Rockies, Twins and Mariners supposedly have some level of interest in Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham and Carlos Beltran.  As that’s three players for four teams, one of those teams probably won’t have a chair once the music stops.  I’m going to go ahead and bet that team will be the Indians.

MLB Trade Rumors has a story on Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham; both seem like they will settle in other locations.  If Carlos Beltran wasn’t interested in the Indians at the trade deadline, I doubt he’ll be interested now.  If the rumors about Cuddyer’s price are true, than I doubt the Indians ever got serious about making him an offer.  Supposedly the Indians never officially offered Willingham a contract.

The Indians do supposedly have interest in another player off the scrap heap – right-handed free agent infielder Jose Lopez.  He had a good year with Seattle in 2009, as he hit .272/.303/.463 with 25 home runs.  Unfortunately that was his last really solid season; last year, split between the Rockies and Marlins, he hit .216/.245/.372 with 8 home runs.  As a comparison with other possible right-handed infield options, Matt LaPorta hit .247/.299/.412 with 11 home runs at the Major League level, and Shelley Duncan (who could play some first) hit .260/.324/.484 with 11 home runs.  I know it doesn’t hurt to take a chance on some of these low-cost, low-risk players, but Lopez doesn’t appear to be an improvement over internal options.

It seems like Mark Shapiro is taking quite a virtual beating on Twitter tonight as he attempts to defend the Indians’ inactivity this far this season.   One of the reasons he said the Tribe isn’t going all out for Willingham is that they question his defense, even though they like his bat.  I hate sloppy defense, but at this point I’m willing to sacrifice for some additional offense.

While I do find this lack of activity frustrating, I always hate to see inflated prices for mediocre/decent players.  While I think Willingham would be a nice fit, I don’t want to see the Indians overpay and be stuck with him for several seasons.  I guess I’m torn; they need to improve the lineup, but there may be decent bats available through trade or within the organization.  I’d hate to see them spend a ton of money on little or no improvement.

On a slightly related note, the Indians tendered contracts to all arbitration eligible players yesterday.  They will now try to work out contracts with these players before the deadline in early 2012.  If they do not reach an agreement by the deadline, then the Indians would go to arbitration with the players.  I should add that the Indians have not gone to arbitration with anyone since 1991 – they’ve always managed to negotiate a deal on their own.


  • rick says:

    Will the tribe ever stop looking for players off the junk heap?? All they ever do is sign 6-10 junk players and hope that one or two perform decent enough to trade them at the trading deadline for more draft picks/and or/ someone else’s underperfoming players. It is a never ending cycle and I am sick of it.

  • Tristan says:

    indians inactivity is inexplicable; looking at their roster, they own 90% of their players for at least the next 2 years and have to pay them next to nothing. This is the time to load on a bat. Why do people insist Prince Fielder is not an option? Instead of picking up a 5th starters option for 7 mill (Fausto) and resigning a gimp (Sizemore), we could be 60% of the way there to pay Prince Fielder (expected to make 25 mill per). Knowing our payroll wouldn’t jump over the next two years, we could enjoy having a major bat to tie the lineup together and reasses whether to trade Fielder in two years when we decide if we will rebuild again or if we are happy with the team we have and attempt to resign Brantley, Santana, Ubaldo, etc. The bottom line is in 2 years, we will lose the good players we have anyway because we are too cheap to keep them. Why not make a run for the years that we control them and just gut our team for prospects then? Im sure when Fielder is 29-30 hitting 45 hrs a year he will command top arms/bats in contenders minor league systems. Who knows, maybe Fielder could even help GENERATE revenue and we could even sign some players. Instead, we settle for mediocracy, refusing to take any gambles, and in 2 years our team will be rebuilding, again.

  • akron42 says:

    The Tribe’s secret Plan for Excellence:
    try to sign scrapheap bozos and
    maybe “catch lightening in a bottle.”

    In other words, their business plan is to buy a lottery ticket
    and hope for the best.

  • Mike says:

    The last time the Indians invested big money in a 1B/DH (Hafner), it killed there chances at other players for years. If they want a first basemen, go ahead and sign Carlos Pena for 2 years, $20 million or so. They need to take a peek at how the Rays and Blue Jays are going about rebuilding and investing in young players. But they are not a big market team, and can’t afford costly mistakes.

  • Ernie says:

    Every winter it is the same: create enthusiasm among the fan base that the Indians are really going to open the wallet to buy someone good, only to be left with looking over the scrap heap for someone that we can pluck off cheaply. It is time to get honest with Indians fans and simply say that we do not have the money to spend and therefore will only be looking for values among the castoffs?

  • Brad says:

    Ownership’s the key to it all. I’m tired of hearing the “small market” excuse when teams like Detroit continue to step up and do what is necessary to put a contender on the field. Gotta give the tribe credit for going out and getting Ubaldo last year. It isnt going to be enough to sit on the roster as is, however, and expect to win the division.

    I certainly wouldnt minimize the opportunity to bring in a player who hits 25-30 HR’s a year. Our opportunity is now. hope they move soon!

  • Steve fowdon says:

    Last year the Indians said they were to young and not ready to make a run by spending on FA. Well in July they could have used that bat, looks like the same this season. They are going to sign a player whose career is done.

  • Joe says:

    Maybe once Fielder signs we can shark up the loser he’s replacing…

  • SeattleStu says:

    any bashing of shapiro is less than he deserves….his personnel decisions have been an absolute and consistent disaster…when he does open his wallet it’s for a steroid ravaged hafner or damanged/overrated goods like Jiminez (sorry to the plethora of UJ lovers on this blog)…he cannot make good decisions….even managers…remember charlie manuel? canned early by shapiro…obivously he can’t manage!

  • AJ says:

    The thought of a owner breaking the bank for so few fans to attend a game at Progressive Field is crazy to think… 93 wins a few years back and what did we average 23,000?…Yet you go and watch a very poor Browns team.

  • Lonny says:

    Still dont see why they didnt keep Fukudome. He had one of the best second halves for the Indians last year. Dont care that he bats left handed because he hit either one. Just like everyone else here on the ‘small market” team. Explain to me how the ‘Marlins” can spend the way they did? Did you ever watch a Marlins game and see how few fans were there? Isnt the fans fault Dolan overspent on buying this team…Try spending on it now …

  • Tristan says:

    Mike–The Blue Jays? We should model our rebuilding after the Blue Jays? Are you kidding me? That comment should get you banned.
    AJ—Did the Indians sell out for five straight years or not? You are crazy to bash the fans. That year we averaged 28k fans according to http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/cleiatte.shtml. We also had zero preseason enthusiasm and were terrible the following season. Sure looks like a fluke of a season rather than something we could’ve expected. Attendance rose once we started winning…we were 30k+ once the team proved themselves. Adding Fielder gives instant credibility and expectations. I was at games 4 and 5 vs. The Red Sox, the atmosphere was incredile, and so were the fans.

  • Bob Windle says:

    The Indians should do what is necessary to aquire Alonso from Cincinati! Even if it costs them Chris Perez.

  • John Z says:

    @Lonny — the Marlins have a new stadium with big revenue streams coming in (not to mention the money they’ve NOT spent in recent years).

    @Bob — my guess is that Alonso will cost more than Perez, but I’m with you in theory — he would be worth pursuing and my guess is that they have at least broached a conversation on that subject.

    To everyone who wants Prince Fielder – remember that Fielder has a say in where he signs and what contract terms he is seeking. It’s the combo of annual salary AND YEARS that makes it a waste of time for the Indians to bid on him. Of course the Indians can pay him a good salary for a couple of years, but that’s not what Fielder wants. (A potentially illuminating aside on Willingham — the annual salary the Twins are paying him is close enough to “fair” but I’d never sign him to three years — his B-R similarity score at 32 matches most closely with Glenallen Hill). My perception is that many fans think that spending money means having a winning product, but there is no strong correlation. Yes, talent costs money, but a lack of talent can cost even more.

    Since all the rage in discussing the government is to compare it to a “average” household, let’s do that with the Indians. Most of us want to live “the good life” (for the Indians that means winning, hopefully a WS) and we work hard at it. We take in the income we get. We do what we can to marginally increase it (second-job, e-Baying = Frozen Face-off, Snow Days) and then we choose to spend our money the way we think maximizes our happiness. Do we get a $300,000 car? Not many of us, because we know that spending $300k on a car means we won’t have that money to spend on our house (do we even want to spend $300k on our house?), or vacations. If we do spend too much in one area, we have to cut back in others (another Staycation? Really?). The mere act of spending our money does not and will not mean our happiness will increase or we will be closer to our goals. We need to spend wisely. So the Indians like going to yard sales and picking up some knick-knacks to freshen up the house instead of getting the 80″ flat screen. But there was that person on Antiques Road Show who turned that $5 purchase into $10,000, so it can happen to you, too. And the downside is that you only spent $5 — no need to turn off the cable to pay for food.

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