Indians Offseason Checklist to Contention

By: T.J. Zuppe

The Indians face many decisions in the offseason. Ranking them is almost as difficult as making those choices themselves.

Of the many moves the team will make in the upcoming months, there are some that are paramount to the team’s success in 2012. Here are several the club must consider before heading into the winter months.

6. Pick up Carmona’s option / Decline Sizemore

At seven million dollars, Fausto Carmona’s team option has more to do with logistics. The Tribe has some question marks inside the rotation, and Carmona provides innings and depth at the very least.

However, the hook on the righty has to be quick, making him pitch better or face being replaced.

As for outfielder Grady Sizemore, in no way can a near nine-million dollar option be justified by the front office. But, a reworked deal could be in the cards.

A contract full of incentives offered over a couple of years is the route to go. If Sizemore would like to explore other options, he is more than welcome to.

5. Resign Kosuke Fukudome

Indians Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome

Cleveland cannot just rely on fewer injuries next season. It is part of the game.

Fukudome has quietly been very solid for the Tribe, hitting all over the lineup, playing a steady outfield and providing some veteran stability to a young club.

He will continue to provide a consistent glove, a professional hitting approach and flexibility in the outfield if resigned.

4. Work relentlessly with younger players on defense

At times, the defense killed the Indians in ’11. Not only physical mistakes, but mental mistakes became very evident after the team roared out to a 30-15 start.

Extra outs will kill any team, especially a young one. The club must work with players like infielders Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, as well as catcher Carlos Santana to limit those next year.

3. “Add to the pile” in the pen

To borrow a line from Browns president Mike Holmgren, adding to the pile has to be very important to the front office. To expect the bullpen bunch to be as lights out as they were this year is not fair.

Mostly, it will come from exploring the prospect-level relieving arms in the minor leagues. Those included right-handers Josh Judy, Zach Putnam and left-hander Nick Hagadone.

Adding depth, options and talent will benefit Manny Acta’s squad over a long season.

2. Go get a veteran starting arm

As the Wahoos make a push towards contention next year, they have to learn from this year. The lack of a veteran pitcher with playoff experience really emerged in the heat of a pennant chase.

It is a long season, and having a hurler with logged pressure-filled innings will assist solidifying the back-end of the rotation.

Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Tomlin will anchor the top, and finding a consistent “four” will help push this team over the top.

1. Find a legitimate power hitter

The Tribe was a different team when they hit the long ball this season. The problem was, they did not have anyone who constantly added that threat in the starting lineup.

To win games, you have to be able to provide the threat of hitting the ball out of the yard. The Indians did not provide enough of that.

Outside of when Travis Hafner can stay healthy and an emerging Santana, Cleveland does not provide a true raw power threat. Finding a bat with 30 to 35 home run potential will take this lineup to a respectable level.

Does that include a Prince Fielder? Probably not. But someone the level of a Carlos Pena could certainly make a great deal of sense.

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The Glass Half Full Tavern

By Munch

GREAT Tuesday morning to you C TOWN…you know I love YA’ BIG CITY…how are you friend?  We really need to talk about something, and I may need your help…

…Sure, some of it is Buck Showalter and “new life” for the Birds from Baltimore but as I was watching last nights Tribe-Orioles game I thought (and this was before Pie, pronounced “PEE – (long) A” hit his HR) that Baltimore was a better team than Cleveland!  The record does NOT reflect that, as the ORIOLES have the WORST RECORD IN BASEBALL, as they have lost two more games than Pitt, but with Santana down and Kearns and Jake shipped off indeed, the BIRDS are better than the Tribe!  Cleveland scores 8 runs and still loses – OUCH!  My 10 year old said before the game “I want to sweep them Dad” after the PIE HR is simply said “how ’bout if we win 2 of 3!”  The life of a Tribe fan!  Now, we were told that the Indians would avoid being the Orioles, Pirates or Royals.  Right now, that is who we are and YES, it hurts!

Speaking of hurt (Like that SEGUE? It was NOT planned!), we all have to be worried about D’Qwell Jackson, truly one of the good guys and a GOOD GUY who moved into that starters slot at ILB!  Of course, “DQ” missed most of last year with a torn pec, now he injures the other pectoral muscle.  Teammates were worried and so was D’Qwell.  Did it look bad?  YES!

NOW, AND I WILL REMIND YOU FREQUENTLY…THE CAVALIERS HAVE ONLY 3 GAMES GUARANTEED FOR TV THIS YEAR (ONE IS ON NBA TV) AND YES, THE lyin’ kings RETURN ON 12/2 IS ONE OF THE GAMES.  START THINKING ABOUT IT…DO NOT EMBARRASS THE CITY THAT NIGHT – SIMPLE AS THAT!

Enjoy every sandwich!

The 411 on Kluber

By Munch

Great MONDAY MORNING to YOU C TOWN…you know I LOVE YA’ BIG CITY…how are YOU friend? Yes, we are gonna talk and here is the low down on COREY KLUBER, the pitcher the TRIBE got for Jake Westbrook.  This info comes from direct contact with baseball scouts!  Here you go, the 411 on COREY KLUBER:
* Most feel he is a #3 starter at best, with some saying a #5!  The #5 comment comes from personal observation!
* Polished college pitcher with a FOUR (4) pitch arsenal!
* Solid command!
* Smooth arm action so injuries SHOULD be non-existent!
* Constant 88-92 mph fast ball.
* 80-83 mph slider.
* 78 mph curve and
* 81 mph change up!
* Now, 3 scouts told me he was NOT (OUCH!) one of the Padres best 30 players and
* these scouts feel he is a AAAA player!  WHAT!!!???  Better than AAA, in fact he will dominate at that level BUT .500 pitcher or a little above at the Major League level!
NOW, with all the above stated…he IS Jake Westbrook!  How many teams would have Jake as their #1??

Enjoy every sandwich!

Follow Munch on Twitter @MunchOnSports

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