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
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.