Derek Lowe for $5 million and Fausto Carmona for $7 million. Man, what does that tell you about the state of ML baseball when two pitchers who give up about 5 runs a game get that much just because they can exhibit that mediocrity for 6-7 innings a game?
Some thoughts on these moves:
1. I like this move on paper. This move reminds me of the Kevin Millwood signing. First, Atlanta must have been going to release him. I like Chris Jones and he was one of my predictions to break out last year but this is just a salary dump. If Carmona is worth $7 million, Lowe is worth $5 million. Also, while I like internal options we are not talking about keeping Sizemore (the rookie) in the minors to have beat up Juan Gonzalez on your team. Or, if you want a more stinging analogy, it's not like keeping Ramon Vazquez to dump Brandon Phillips.
2. We are now done with the rotation. With Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Zach McAllister ready, we are now 8 deep. The talk is now that we will trade one or more of them. It's a good idea on paper but I can't imagine ANY of those guys, or all of them together, would bring much back. So I would just keep all of them if I can't get a king's ransom for them.
2. Along with declining Grady Sizemore's option, the Lowe move has put pressure on the Indians to upgrade the offense. Although Grady being Grady was like a 1000:1 shot at this point, keeping him would have given us, on paper, a good hitter. Injuries have lengthened the odds of him returning to his past ability but, still, even 0.05 of Grady Sizemore is more valuable than 0 of Grady Sizemore...just not for that price! So, we will have to find one of not two big bats. Here is the lineup right now:
C - Santana
1B - LaPorta
2B - Kipnis
SS - Cabrera
3B - Chisenhall
LF - Hole
CF - Brantley
RF - Choo
DH - Hafner
The odds of each of those guys even having a ML average season for their position is small. The hole in LF has to be filled and either LaPorta has to do the job at 1B or we have to fill that hole.
This is tricky. You can sign a 1B/LF guy and hope LaPorta finds his way. But if LaPorta doesn't improve, you still have a hole. Or you can sign a 1B guy and a LF guy but then you are wasting LaPorta and have really lessened his trade value, which is currently too low, IMHO, for him to be traded anyway. Plus you have Duncan. No way do I want another Jason Michaels/David Dellucci platoon. We already know that doesn't work.
We can live with the question marks about 3B, Choo, Hafner and even Kipnis IF we get a power-hitting LFer who we know can produce and at a reasonable cost and LaPorta can hit.
The key here is that we need production from LF and 1B. Whether or not we got Lowe, this would be true. However, for me, a healthy Carmona and a healthy Lowe means that we can seriously compete for the playoffs next year if we just significantly upgrade the offense at those two positions. I don't think that is true if McAllister, Gomez or Huff is the 5th starter. I see each of them with the same ERA as Lowe next year. It's just that Lowe will keep us in games, the others won't. I can easily see Lowe going 12-10 next year and, with the same run production, the others going 7-15. Lowe's performance will be consistently mediocre. I think the other three will pitch well in games they lose 3-2 and then get blown out in other games, taxing the bullpen as they do. In the end, the stats won't look much different but their impact on the team will.
So, good first 3 moves of the off-season, Indians.
Now, let's spend money and NOT trade prospects to bring in hitters. And, please, no more Jack Hanahans, Adam Everetts and Shelly Duncans. That is NOT going to fix anything. You need to invest money. If you can do a Chris Jones' like trade and take on salary, go for it. But don't trade real prospects for some washed up expensive veteran.