Wright was drafted in the second round by the Indians six years, and had some success in the minors as a conventional pitcher, but last year he started to throw the knuckleball. It didn't hurt that he had some help from Tom Candiotti:
Wright, a former second-round draft pick by the Indians in 2006, has a 90-mph fastball. But he turned to the knuckler as his primary pitch last season as a collective decision among Wright and the Indians. Team President Mark Shapiro hooked him up with his friend and former Tribe knuckleballer Tom Candiotti in spring training 2011.
"His knuckleball is nasty," Candiotti said. "It's filthy."
Wright has allowed just 44 hits in 64.1 innings with the Aeros, and has decent strikeout rates as well. It also doesn't hurt that he has a decent fastball as well. At some point, the Indians are going to promote him to Columbus, and if he does well there, they'll probably add him to the 40-man roster after the season.
With the Draft over with, front offices are now turning towards the trade market and the July deadline. The Indians have some obvious needs: a corner bat (preferably right-handed), and given recent history, at least one more back-end reliever. But with the extra wild card, there's going to be now buyers than sellers, and that will mean the price of rental players will be going up. One factor mitigating this is that clubs will not be receiving compensation draft picks if a free agent leaves, so that would remove one piece of leverage in negotiations.
As things stand now, though, there's not too many obvious sellers. Right now I'd say that Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, Houston, Chicago Cubs, Colorado, and San Diego are the only teams that are already looking towards next year. Carlos Quentin (Padres) and Carlos Lee (Astros) seem like the two players the Indians should be really going after, but there are other more creative possibilities, including Alfonso Soriano (Cubs) or even Kevin Youkilis (Boston).
The other part of the formula is what the Indians have to offer. The Indians don't have nearly as good a system as last year, and many of their top prospects are several years away from the majors.
As soon as Manny was given his release, you know this question would pop up. Manny of course started his career in Cleveland, and like with Thome, would be definitely be a draw. The question is whether Manny has anything left; he was hitting .302/.348/.349 with Sacramento, and while the average is fine, it's rather disturbing that he wasn't hitting for power in a very power-friendly league. And then there's his defensive limitations. But if Travis Hafner isn't going to be back for another month or so, I don't see the harm in trying.
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