With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night
Greetings from beautiful downtown Indianapolis, where the locals are in a panic over the foot of snow that fell overnight (and is probably Cleveland-bound… or at least Columbus-bound) and the ridiculousness of baseball’s annual Winter Meetings is officially underway.
The Indians’ front-office brass is arriving today, but the Tribe, for better or worse, does not figure to be a prominent component of the rumor mill. That is, unless the scuttlebutt regarding the potential landing place of Jamey Carroll is particularly fierce.
To that end, Carroll’s agent, Jonathan Maurer, e-mailed with this synopsis of his client’s situation…
“Jamey Carroll has greatly enjoyed his time in Cleveland. While we are entertaining offers from other teams, we have not ruled out Cleveland because of this simple fact: Management is good, the city is good, and this team CAN compete in their division. The market for free agent infielders is quite good and the numbers of teams that have contacted us is indicative of Jamey’s value to any team wishing to win ballgames. No matter what the outcome, Jamey’s time in Cleveland has been a great experience.”
We’ll see how much money talks in that matter (it usually is pretty vocal), as it seems doubtful the Indians would be able to get into any type of bidding war for Carroll’s services. He made $2.5 million last year and is in line for the raise. If the Indians signed him for that kind of dough, their utility infielder would be one of their top-paid players in 2010.
The biggest piece of intrigue this week, where the Tribe is concerned, might be Thursday morning’s Rule 5 Draft. The Indians have a roster spot open, now that Kelly Shoppach has been moved, so they could make an addition in that draft. I’d say it’s more likely, however, that spot will be kept open for a utility guy.
And there is also the distinct possibility that the Indians will endure a loss or losses in the Rule 5. Yohan Pino (the pitcher acquired for Carl Pavano last year), Carlton Smith, Steven Wright, Chuck Lofgren and Matt McBride are among the potential targets of other clubs. It’s also possible that reliever Jason Grilli, who was signed by the Indians to a Minor League deal last week, could get swiped, as he’s not on the 40-man and is Rule 5-eligible. Word is, there is a National League team with interest in Grilli.
Anyway, that’s what’s shaking here, for now. MLB.com is, as usual, all over the Winter Meetings coverage for all clubs. Of particular note is the Hot Stove blog that is updated frequently with the latest rumblings.
UPDATE (7 p.m. ET): A few bits of Excruciating Minutiae from an overwhelmingly uneventful first day of the Winter Meetings…
- Manny Acta will name his hitting coach on Tuesday. The safe money is on Jon Nunnally, who was the hitting coach at Triple-A Columbus.
- When it comes to Acta’s hopes of landing a right-handed bat for first base and left field, one name on the free-agent wire that makes sense is Xavier Nady.
- Also, don’t rule out the possibility of the Indians taking a look at Ryan Garko, if the Giants non-tender him by the Dec. 12 deadline. He makes sense for them as a right-handed bat at first base, and his value is down after his post-trade performance in the second half. Obviously, though, Garko (who, for the record, got married over the weekend) would be looking for as much playing time as possible. It’s probably safest to assume the Garko ship (as it pertains to the Indians) has sailed.
- Overall, I don’t see the Indians doing anything in free agency until mid- to late-January, at the earliest.
- The reports on Jake Westbrook’s first two winter ball starts for Ponce in Puerto Rico have been encouraging. Westbrook reported that he felt better in his second start Saturday than he has at any other point in a game situation since his May 2008 surgery.
- Fausto Carmona made his first winter ball start for Aguilas in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings.
- Here’s what GM Mark Shapiro had to say about the Tribe’s 2010 contention hopes in a weak AL Central: “It’s still going to be dependent on our starting pitching and the development of those guys. The greatest condition upon us becoming a contending team is, can we take those nine guys and get five of them to pitch like No. 3 starters? Can we piece together five No. 3 starters for the season? That’s possible. It’s still going to take a lot of things positively working together. If that happens, I think the rest of our team gives us enough of a core to contend.”
- The Indians won’t hire another special assistant to take over Tim Belcher’s former role.
Matt LaPorta, recovering from offseason hip and turf toe surgeries, is a little ahead of schedule but still not doing anything baseball-related.
- Finally, there’s been a lot of talk (instigated by Scott Boras) lately about mid- and small-market ballclubs essentially hoarding money brought in through revenue sharing. Here’s the link to an interesting piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about that issue, as it pertains to the Pirates.