I was a huge fan of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade from this past summer, but however I also feel as though Chris Antonetti might have put the Indians window on a Cleveland Indians championship solely on the 2012 and 2013 seasons and should plan this offseason accordingly. That means no Orlando Cabrera, Mike Redmond or Adam Everetts signing contracts and winning jobs on the 25 man roster. He's got to go big or go home to compete with Detroit - but I think it could be done. We already have tons of talent in the organization at the MLB level and are only a few pieces away in my opinion. So I am going to play offseason GM here and lay out a plan that I think could get the Cleveland Indians into the playoffs - and hopefully a world championship - in 2012
Trade #1: My first idea centers around two outfielders from Florida. Both are very young, very good, and are exactly not on the greatest terms with their current organizations. The first one, if you haven't guessed by now, is Logan Morrison. Morrison just filed a grievance for his demotion to Triple-A after he apparently no showed an event, the Marlins seem like they are growing tired of his tweeting and he has had some scuffles with teammates. Right now could be the time to "buy low" on Morrison. He is still just 23 years old, and despite having a "down year" this he is still the owner of a 116 OPS+ this season and a 124 OPS+ last year as a rookie. He had a .914 OPS his last year in Triple-A. The other outfielder I am after is B.J. Upton. Tampa had explored trading him at the deadline this season and reports say with the raise he is due in arbitration he could actually be a non-tender candidate. I know he has been a .240 hitter the last three years and has really never taken that "next step" to one of the games true elite players everyone thought he would after a 24 home run season in 2007 but he still has loads of POWER and loads of SPEED something this team is lacking. And as a bonus he hits right handed. He also is - in my opinion one of the top 3 defensive outfielders in all of baseball year in and year out. It would be like having Gutz all over again - expect this version of Gutz has the talent to put up a 30/30 season.
It might take a little more to get Morrison than it would Upton (potentially being non-tendered?) but I am going to call both teams and offer one time "top prospect" Matt LaPorta (while his name still has even the slightest trade value), package him with Ezequiel Carrera (seems like the Florida teams like Carrera type players) and relief pitcher Bryan Price who had a terrific season in Akron. If need be maybe I could throw in another prospect in the lower levels to make the deal get done. So why offer these guys? The Rays currently have Casey Kotchman as their starting first basemen and despite how sick we are of LaPorta he still has sick minor league stats - he is still young and his name has to have at least some minor value to it. He also has played some LF so even with Gaby Sanchez at first base for the fish they might still have interest. Carrera is a decent to good 4th OF who helps offset losing their respective outfielder. Bryan Price is a good relief prospect who should reach the majors sometime soon and probably has the ceiling to be a back end of the pen guy. This is my offer and whatever team from Florida accepts first I am doing business with. It gives us nice depth if Grady dosen't play much next year or if Michael Brantley is really just a fringe starting LF or realistically maybe even more of a 4th OF.
Trade #2: I have lots of friends in LA and we talk baseball often. My understanding is that Halo fans view Kendry Morales in the same light we view Grady Sizemore. We love him, keep our fingers crossed hoping he returns to old all-star form, but don't really expect much of anything from him. It was two years ago Morales was basically an MVP candidate and now the Halos have rookie of the year candidate Mike Trumbo racking in LA and top prospect C.J. Cron in the minors. Even if this is a perfect "buy low" situation we are still going to have to give up a lot - which is why I am prepared to offer all-star Pure Rage straight up. It is great having a closer for once but I am willing to make this trade because I feel first base is our biggest weakness and MLB ready arms are our biggest strength - and vise verse for the Angels. They do have Walden closing games for them and he is having a fine rookie year - but he also leads the league is blown saves and the Halos don't have a security blanket for him. Morales has two years left until he is a free agent which is perfect for the window of opportunity we have.
Trade #3: Given the state of the Chicago Cubs a full blown rebuild might be in the works. And if it is - I want in. Losing Carrasco for at least the next calendar year really sucks and suddenly makes us in the market for another starter. We would probably be ok signing a BOR guy for a few mill or hoping Huff/Kluber/Gomez/Whoever else could take a job and run with it - but hey go hard or go home lets try and win a dang championship. That is why I am going to try and pry loose Matt Garza. The Cubs pitching depth is terrible and they need to start looking into the future - Garza isn't going to be on their next playoff team. I am going to give Chicago some good MLB ready depth to start building on. They are going to get Cord Phelps and his .870 OPS he put up in Triple A. I am also going to let them choose two of Huff/Gomez/Kluber as possible fixtures in their future rotation. Huff despite how much my eyes tell me he sucks - has a 3.40 ERA in the American League. Gomez has outstanding numbers in Triple-A and has held his own in Cleveland. Kluber might be the most "talented" of the three. So they pick what two they want - and the 4th player in the deal is Frank Herrmann - who can slide into their pen.
Trade #4: I give my movie co-star, Billy Beane a call. Beane dosen't give a crap about "saves" and has been known to trade away his closers, plug another guy into the role and watch them succeed more than the guy that came before him. Bailey's name was dangled at the deadline this year and I think I have a guy Billy Beane is gonna love. He walks a ton, has loads of power and his average leaves something to the imagination. Perfect fit for Moneyball. Nick Weglarz is going to Oakland along with Corey Burns, who had 35 of those worthless saves himself down in Akron, and another arm to add depth, something along the lines of Espino/Berger/Langwell - or heck even two of them. We are getting a guy for the next three years with a career ERA+ of 210 and WHIP of 0.96!!
So here is my 2012 opening day roster - no Mark Grudzielanks or Jason Michaels this season. (I will try and get Frankenstein Duncan to come back as Triple A depth for whever Hafner's first DL stint is though.)
1B - Kendry Morales
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera
OF - Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Morrison/Upton
DH - Travis Hafner
SP - Jimenez, Garza, Masterson, Carmona, Tomlin
RP - Bailey, Pestano, Perez, Sipp, Smith
Last 2 pen spots - ST battle between Hagadone, Putnam, Judy, Bryson, Lee, Talbot and probably a few arms I invented on minor league contracts.
So what do you fellas think - whats the over/under on this team? 92 wins?? Lets take home a championship!!!