Cleveland Indians 2011-2012 Off Season So Far…

Photo of the player to be named taken from Zimbio via Google Images

At this point, the Indians off season can unfortunately be described by three words: Roberto Hernandez Heredia.

Before mid-January, those three words didn’t mean anything to anyone in baseball circles perhaps except for the man who was calling himself Fausto Carmona.  As it turns out, when Carmona tried to get his new visa to come back to the United States from the Dominican Republic, to play another season for the Cleveland Indians, there were some problems with his paperwork. Not only was it discovered that Carmona wasn’t actually named Carmona, but the fact that he is actually 31 and not 28 like most thought, including those from the Tribe organization, was also discovered.

Carmona, or should I say Heredia, hasn’t pitched lights out in the past few years, but he has been a reliable starter. He has represented the Indians in the All Star Game and came in third in the American League Cy Young voting in 2007 behind his teammate at the time CC Sabathia and Boston Red Sox hurler Josh Beckett.

At this point, it is too early to tell what exactly will happen with Carmona, who is due $7 million this year if he is somehow able to recoup his losses. The smart thing for the Indians at this time would seem to be is to not overact and immediately distance themselves from Carmona as he could still certainly give the team some quality innings. The Tribe brass needs to be careful to not undervalue what Carmona being their property could do with a potential trade or even if he is able to come back as nothing more than an innings eater. There is a strong chance that when Carmona does get his situation worked out, the Indians will be able to rework his contract to a situation that would be much more favorable financially for the team.

One bright spot of the Carmona situation is that it could potentially free up some money that would have been designated for him to perhaps target the big bat the Indians so badly need. Currently, the only well-known player the Indians signed this off season was Grady Sizemore, and that was just a month after the team declined not to pick up his option, so it hardly counts as an addition.

Cleveland Indians

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Right now, the Indians are working to finalize the contracts of the last few players who are eligible for arbitration. The most prominent player still left to be wrapped up is shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who was by far the Indians most productive player last year. There is no doubt that Cabrera will be an Indian this year, but the Tribe are trying to avoid heading to arbitration as they have the longest streak in the Majors for avoiding that trip.

In a move that seems to be somewhat reactionary to the Carmona situation, the Indians recently traded for right-handed pitcher Kevin Slowey from the Colorado Rockies for minor league reliever Zach Putnam and cash. Slowey isn’t expected to be an immediate replacement for Carmona, but if this was a move the team was considering, the Carmona situation only gave them more reason to execute on it.

Ryan Spilborghs

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of the team’s other recent moves include signing outfielder Ryan Spilborghs and infielder Gregorio Petit to minor league contracts. Spillborghs was most recently with the Colorado Rockies during 2011 when he played in 98 games, but batted a dismal .210 with just three homeruns and 22 RBIs. Petit hasn’t played since 2010 due to injuries. The 26-year-old spent the 2010 season in AAA with Oklahoma City and hit .251 with seven homeruns and 53 RBIs.

The Tribe have been rumored to be interested in several different free agents, the majority of which were veteran corner outfielders, but they have yet to sign someone who will be an addition to the everyday line-up. It seems there is still a lot of work to do this off season for the Indians to even get back to where they were last year.

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