The probability of the Cleveland Indians winning the World Series in 2011 is less than 80%. But I still think we'll see the Front Office sign a major league patch or two or three to help that team along. I'm not talking about the total NRI gamble - we'll see several of those at every position.
I'm talking about signing players to a Branyan, Grudz, Pavano type contract. The favorite, of course, is the one year with a team option, but those are hard to come by. More likely we'll see a simple 1 or 2 year contract. And these are guys, like Branyan, who we could hopefully trade mid-season next year.
I just wanted to rank the priority of the different positions. Here's my take:
1. OF - Highest priority. We've got exactly 3 guys at the major league level that are (or might be) legitimate starters. Michael Brantley is still young and unproven; Grady Sizemore is coming off of microfracture surgery. It looks like all 3 will spend time on the DL this season. Shelley Duncan/Trevor Crowe - Hell/No. Wegz is set back by his injury. So there's a clear spot for someone of Branyan/Grudz quality. Maybe it will even be Austin Kearns himself. (Or Coco Crisp. Or Jody Gerut. I'm not familiar with any of the other names on the list.)
2. SP - It made a huge difference to drop Pavano in the middle/end of the rotation. Of course, with a pitcher, you're even more likely to be gambling on an injury recovery that could nothing. Let guys like Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff battle over one fewer spot.
Big drop off...
3. C - Can't count this out if Carlos Santana is anything less than fully recovered. Add another Redmond to backup Marson for a while. And maybe if Santana is recoved, we don't want Marson to be a full time backup yet.
4. Corner IF - Could easily go with the status quo. Decide on Andy Marte/Jayson Nix/Jared Goedert, and let the other(s) backup. Duncan is also a reserve option at 1b. But I could see the FO deciding to just put Ty Wigginton or Melvin Mora or Eric Chavez there. It's what they did with Branyan.
5. RP - Every bullpen ever has room for another quality arm, but we've got a lot of arms here. Most likely we just audition a bunch of NRIs, as proven pen guys are too expensive and possibly imaginary.