Every month or so I will do a sort blog on miscellaneous things that have happened or that might happen:
1. Any free agent signing or trade that we make to bolster our 2011 roster should have an eye on bringing in players who are solid Elias Ranking "B" players who will be eligible for compensation in the 2012 draft if they have a good or even career-average year. Even if we will questionably offer these guys arbitration next winter, we could also get prospects for them in mid-season trades. A great way to use filler for open roster spots in 2011 is to look to the future and turn them into draft picks or prospects in trade. A terrible way to use these roster spots is to fill them with AAAA guys, especially if those AAAA guys are blocking prospects. Thus, I would be OK with Nick Punto at third if he was a solid Type B with some upside as a Type A...but he isn't. To reiterate: if you sign FAs or trade for veterans to fill gaps this year, make sure you can get compensation for them next winter. Wonder how the Red Sox get so many high draft picks? There you have it.
If you can't find those types of free agents or veterans attainable in cheap trades just to take on salary, then I would go with young guys. Otherwise, we become the KC Royals.
2. I am thinking that Cliff Lee is a very smart guy. He is confident enough in his ability to know that it is about stats building for his next contract AND competitiveness. The NL and the Phillies offer him the opportunity to do both. I still laugh at the people who tried to rationalize the poor return we got for him by comparing it to the return the Phillies got for him. Any rational person then saw what was going on: The Phillies were trying to dump salary quickly and Lee was the easiest "dump" who would bring any return at all. Unlike some GMs, the Phillies GM obviously didn't want to non-tender guys or give guys away for nothing just to dump salary. He wanted some quality back, even if it was below market value. So Lee's trade from Philly to Seattle was not surprising and, considering he gave up very little to the Indians to get Lee, trading him for a little less to Seattle just to dump salary to pay Halladay makes all the sense in the world. Unfortunately, the perennial FO supporting bloggers who cover the Indians needed to rationalize the poor trade the Indians made with the Phillies by dissing Lee's worth. His FA deal with the Phillies and the Phillies' subsequent reluctance just to give Blanton and Ibanez away for nothing to save money reiterates all the points that negate those FO supporter arguments.
3. The giveaway of Josh Rodriguez makes me loathe the approach of spring training. Nothing to look forward to with the Indians and the chance of Rodriguez making the Pirates and succeeding and us paying Punto a lot of money or a minor league FA a lot to fill Rodriguez's spot in AAA or as a utility guy with the Indians really would bite. We all realize that an experienced AAAA minor league FA SS is going to make up to $150,000 more than Rodriguez would have made to occupy a AAA roster spot, don't we? I could turn that money into a Dischler, Goodnight or Holt signing in 2011, if money is that tight. We get some of that back from the Rule 5 fee but we lose a talent to boot in potentially losing money. How does that make sense?
4. Does it bother anyone that Michael Brantley, Jordan Henry, Ezequiel Carrera, Trevor Crowe and Tyler Holt hit less than 10 HRs combined last year? Part of the reason for Constanza to leave is that he saw multiple players like himself ahead of him on the depth chart. Signing with ANY other club would have been good for him but Atlanta especially has found a way to get value out of guys like Constanza. While I like speed, basically having Michael Brantley on your AL team means that all the other speed guys are irrelevant. An AL team who is decent defensively in the OF (Choo and Sizemore are good, at least, if healthy) can only really afford one singless hitter among their 4-5 outfielders. Brantley is that guy. Keeping him AND Crowe makes this team weaker. Ditto for Henry, Cerrera and Holt down the road. They are needless. Good drafting and trading by the Indians to get these guys who are all MLers or potential MLers but we need to start trading this speed for young power or ptiching or the above-mentioned salary dump 2011 Type B/A free agents.
Remember the mantra: trade your minor league strengths for your minor league weaknesses. Build organizational balance and balance to your feeder system to the ML in this way and augment with July deals and good drafting....but keep the balance by continually trading your excess.
5. As someone who has proposed for years to exploit the fear that pervades draft day team conference rooms (i.e., fear of serious injuries, fear of bad attitudes, fear of hangnails that pop up right before the draft, fear of higher than slot bonus demands, etc.) , I will be interested to see if the Indians' 2010 approach is successful. The best thing any of us can hope for is that all of these signings who fell due to bonus demands or other reasons (Wolters, Washington, Holt, Dischler, Goodnight, etc.) hit the ground running this spring and if they are augmented by Aviles' performance when he recovers from TJ surgery, although that won't impact the 2011 draft. If that happens the Indians will be more inclined to draft the same way in 2011 and beyond. History tells me that if these guys fall flat on their faces management will declare the 2010 draft experiment a failure and go cheap or go high end at #1 and cheap the rest of the way. Hope that this doesn't happen because the methodology in 2010 was sound for a small market club as I have shown time and again over the years. It's also interesting how some bloggers and fans are now saying "Yeah, I was saying to draft this way, too"....all evidence to the contrary. Well, what can you do?