This post is part of a series in which we liquefy teams’ offseason recipes for success, and drink up the best ones served cold.
Any semblance between the Cleveland Indians and the powerhouse that was supposed to dominate the AL Central for years behind Pronk, Sizemore, Cliff Lee, et al, is but a memory. Their last hurrah came in 2007 as they went down in the ALCS to the eventual World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and entering 2010, the team is in full rebuilding mode.
Out of the pillars that made that 2007 team great, only Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore remain. Pronk has battled injures in the past few seasons and though he seems healthy, and new manager Manny Acta has talked 30 home runs and 100 RBI, his contract does not fit into the team’s rebuilding future if he doesn’t produce. (BTW, can someone confirm for me if Bud Shaw’s mustache is gray?)
Sizemore continues to be the team’s franchise player, and given his relatively young age he’ll remain a lock in the Indian’s line-up, at least, through 2012.
So what’s left? A core of young prospects and a handful of veterans, and a front office in transition. This is Acta’s first year as the team’s manager, and it’ll be Mark Shapiro’s last as general manager. Next year, his long-time assistant Chris Antonetti will take over the GM duties.
Sure enough, the Tribe’s offseason was relatively quiet. There was some interest in bringing in veteran players, losing out to the Twins in signing Orlando Hudson, and flirting with Jermaine Dye, who remains unsigned by any team.
They spent a whopping $2.85MM on Russell Branyan and Mike Redmond and shuffled a few minor-league trades and contracts, including deals for Shelly Duncan, Austin Kearns and Jamey Wright. But without Cliff Lee, the starting rotation is a giant question mark. And don’t look now, but Branyan, the team’s biggest offseason move, has a back problem.
Pronk’s contract and one-dimensional nature, not to mention, his inconsistency the past two years, prevent him from being good trade bait and Sizemore is the lone diamond left in the crown. The good news is the farm system is well and stocked, being ranked fourth by ESPN’s Keith Law, and for a team like the Tribe, the only thing left to do is build from the ground up.
It could be said that the Indians are still in transition from one administration to another, but the fact that Antonetti has been a crucial part of the Indians’ front office begs a better offseason. Looking back, it seems the Tribe started a slow process of dismantling after the 2007 run, instead of taking the firesale approach, and by now Indians fans must be wondering in which direction, if any, this franchise thinks it is heading.
Offseason grade: F
Notable Additions: 1B Russell Branyan, C Mike Redmond, SP Mitch Talbot
Notable Subtractions: C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Jamie Carroll
Starting line-up, rotation and closer:
C – Lou Marson
1B – Matt LaPorta
2B – Luis Valbuena
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera
3B – Jhonny Peralta
LF – Michael Brantley
CF – Grady Sizemore
RF – Shin-Soo Choo
DH – Travis Hafner
SP1 – Jake Westbrook
SP2 – Fausto Carmona
SP3 – Justin Masterson
SP4 – Aaron Laffey
SP5 – Mitch Talbot
CL – Kerry Wood