Just to bring together the events of the Winter Meetings:
Re-signed RHP Bob Wickman to a one-year, $5M contract
After the 2004 season, the Indians looked at Armando Benitez and Troy Percival before bringing Wicky back. This offseason, they had serious interest in both B.J. Ryan and Trevor Hoffman before turning to Bob.
2005 was Wickman's first full season since 2001, and while he waddled the proverbial tightrope in almost every save chance, he only blew 5 save opportunities despite allowing 57 hits and 21 walks in 62 innings pitched. How did he do this? He held opposing hitters to a .466 OPS with runners on. In many ways, his pitching style mirrored Kevin Millwood's in 2005, who also buckled down when runners got on.
It must be mentioned that the Indians' defense helped Wickman immensely in 2005. Wickman's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)ERA was 4.69. So consider Wickman's success partly a product of his defense. Of course, you could say that about any Indian pitcher, but Wickman, with his sinker/slider style, depends on his defense more than the average hurler. I can't argue with the results Bob has posted his entire career, but I continue to wonder how much longer he can do so with these kind of peripherals.
It's safe to say that at this point in his career, Wickman is a one-inning pitcher, and should be used only when needed. The Indians are still looking for another setup man, preferably one who could close in a pinch. Fernando Cabrera, the current closer-in-waiting, will probably work his way up the leverage chart as the season goes along, and would be the logical choice to replace Wickman as closer in 2007.
Released RHP Sean Douglass
Signed IF Lou Merloni to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training.
Merloni missed the majority of the 2005 season with due to torn ligaments in his right ankle. There's a chance Merloni could make the club, though that chance would be a lot lower if the Indians bring in an outfielder, moving Blake to a utility role.