2011 Winter Meetings: What Are The Indians To Do?

The 2011 MLB Winter Meetings are getting fired up. Every year around this time, baseball fans get real hot and bothered about the idea of baseball executives walking around the lobby of a hotel and holding hushed conversations over plates of chicken fingers at the bar. I've always found it odd that, in a world where Ellen Page makes commercials about telecommunications, baseball still likes to hold the equivalent of a dental convention to really grease the skids on dealmaking. Regardless, this is how it goes and, to add further excitement, this will be Chris Antonetti's first time drinking Long Island Iced Teas with Ed Wade or, at least, the first time he'll do so as the buck-stopper, the big cheese, the new Shapiro.

Despite his new status as Head GM In Charge, it initially seemed like Antonetti was not going to have a lot to do at the meetings. However, Hoynes reported yesterday that the Indians had been in on Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland and Aaron Harang. The targets left over since the Indians lost on those second-tier pitchers are less interesting, with Nick Punto and Josh Fields at the front of the line. 

As is often the case wtih Cleveland, this offseason is exciting for its mystery. The Indians might do nothing but, more than likely, they'll do something and it will probably be at least a bit surprising. Cleveland's front office is always tight-lipped and, even when they're just being tight-lipped about signing Austin Kearns, there's some intrigue to that. 

There's little point at guessing what low profile move Cleveland will make so, instead, I'll just express a desire:

Sign Manny. 

Manny Ramirez, one of the best players in the history of the Cleveland Indians, is totally nuts. Buster Olney has floated that Manny might be so nuts that he'll only make $2-$3 million base salary. Here's what we know about Manny:

  • He OPS'd 870 last year, which would've made him the second best hitter on the Indians. 
  • He's totally nuts, which means he might actually sign with Cleveland. 
There are a million reasons this wouldn't work: the Tribe is still committed to giving at bats to the skin that Pronk shed before he went extinct, the Tribe is still obsessed with high character (Nick Punto! Come on down!), and Manny Ramirez, although totally nuts, may take $800,000 from a playoff team instead of $2,000,000 from Cleveland. But, really, would it kill Cleveland to play Manny in left, split some ABs at DH, and install LaPorta permanently at 1B? Can Ramirez really be that much worse in front of the big wall than Duncan? Isn't he going to have a lot more value at the deadline than Duncan or Crowe?

I don't believe that free agent signings bring fans to the ballpark but the return of Manny would be a lot of fun, at least until he has to make his first defensive play. I'm fairly convinced Manny Ramirez will hit somewhere next year. Let's make it Cleveland. 

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