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November Reflections on the Cleveland Indians

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All of the news last month was regarding new Indians manager Terry Francona. Now that Francona has arrived, the local media has turned their focus to the other person who was in the running to be the skipper of the Tribe, Sandy Alomar Jr. Those of us from Northeast Ohio have a certain level of affection for those players who were members of the 1990s Indian teams when life was good and a Central Division title was guaranteed. Perhaps this is why many around town believe Alomar is the obvious choice to manage somewhere else.

Of course, the town loves having Alomar around. In fact, he is probably the most well-known bench coach in the Majors. Alomar has been routinely asked about his status as a managerial candidate for jobs this off season as some thought he would be a candidate in Toronto and Miami. This past week, when asked about it again, Alomar stated, “it’s hard to get to the moon without a rocket.” Reading between the lines: Alomar hasn’t had an interview for one of these open spots.

With the coaching staff in place, the Indians turned their focus on the field with a few decisions to make about team options. The Indians decided to pick up the option on starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez was the cornerstone of a deal made during the summer of 2011 in which the Indians sent the Colorado Rockies three of their top prospects in return for Jimenez. The fact that the Indians considered not picking up his option after just a season and a half when part of the reason they made the trade was because they could control him through 2013, is telling about how he performed on the field.

The Indians declined to pick up the option on often injured designated hitter Travis Hafner. When healthy, Hafner still produced at the level of the top tier designated hitters in the league. The only problem with that statement is that Hafner was rarely healthy. When I say rarely I mean the Indians had to give him the day off if there was a day game after a night game because they were too afraid that he would get hurt. Remember, he doesn’t play the field, ever. He just hits, and still managed to be hurt all of the time.

The Tribe also decided not to pick up their option on Roberto Hernandez. If you are not familiar with Hernandez, prior to this season, you may remember he was known as Fausto Carmona. Hernandez didn’t play in a game for the Indians until after the All Star break and even though they received his services at a much lower cost than originally expected due to his contract being voided, he still did not perform up to the level of expectations. Hernandez was at his height in 2007 when he finished third in the vote for the AL Cy Young Award behind then teammate CC Sabathia and the Boston Red Sox Josh Beckett. Hernandez never came close to redeeming that form again and although he was a serviceable middle-of-the-rotation starter over the past few years, the Indians have chosen to move on.

The Indians have moved onto the trading market this off season already. Their first move was to acquire infielders Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right handed pitcher Esmil Rogers. Although Aviles is coming from Toronto, he never actually played for them. He was traded by the Red Sox to the Blue Jays on October 21. He did, however, play regularly for the Red Sox last year. In 136 games, Aviles batted .250 with 13 homeruns and 60 RBIs.

The Indians have also been rumored to be in the running to acquire outfielder Jason Bay. He fits a need for them and would be welcomed as a corner outfielder who could actually have some production at the plate.




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