Indians LogoPeralta To Stay At Shortstop

I talked a little earlier this week about some of the changes I thought we could expect to see in the 2008 version of the Tribe. Yesterday, Mark Shapiro spoke to the press about some of those changes. He pretty much talked about all the main points that I mentioned, but he was able to speak in greater depth, and he also implied that some of the assumptions made on this site were not accurate. He talked about the left field situation, Kenny Lofton, the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation, the closer role, the bullpen, and Cabrera and Peralta’s positions in 2008.

The most important thing to note is that Shapiro actually seems pretty content to go into 2008 with virtually the same team, if need be. Not that he shouldn’t be, for obvious reasons, but as Shapiro said,

”I think about (changes) all the time, but one of the greatest benefits of the way the team has performed is that I don’t need to fill spots this year. We have a unique situ ation in that we can be opportunistic in the offseason. If we are open-minded, opportunities will present themselves to us…We do not have a declining age issue, we play exceptionally well as a team, there’s still upside to many of our players and we have depth.

He mentioned that he was pleased with Borowski, Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis, but he was somewhat unsure what he would do with the 3 other bullpen spots. He also mentioned that the decision on whether or not to pick up the club’s option on Paul Byrd would solely be a baseball issue and not an HGH issue.

The 2 areas that surprised me the most involved left field and the infield. I had assumed that David Delucci would be moved one way or another, as he really didn’t pay off at all this season, but Shapiro seemed to indicate that Delucci would very much be an option in left field, saying,

”I think David Dellucci can play a role if he’s healthy. Jason Michaels also is an alternative, and Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo also could be in the mix.”

It still seems to me that this is a rather pedestrian platoon of left fielders. I’ll be curious to see what Choo and Francisco can bring next year, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians go after another left fielder, although the pool of free agent left fielders is fairly thin. You can forget about Barry Bonds and the Reds have a team option on Adam Dunn (although I’m not sure Dunn would be a perfect fit for Shapiro’s style anyway). Cliff Floyd has a mutual option for next year and a 40 year old Luis Gonzalez would be less than ideal. So that leaves names like Ryan Klesko, Ricky Ledee, Terrence Long, Shannon Stewart, Preston Wilson, and Brad Wilkerson. None of those guys are really all that exciting, and I think this may be why Shapiro is more inclined to stick with what he’s got at LF already.

As for the infield, Shapiro made it abundantly clear that Casey Blake would be back at 3B and the team expects to work out a deal with Blake before he goes to arbitration. As a result, you can forget about moving Jhonny Peralta to third and Cabrera to short. Shapiro flat out said that Peralta will be our shortstop next year and that means Asdrubal Cabrera might as well settle in at 2B, although he needs to keep hitting or else Wedge may not hesitate to give Josh Barfield another shot at the starting job. It seems a tad unfortunate that our limited range defensively at SS is still going to be an issue next year. It will also be quite curious to see what happens with Andy Marte who will be out of options after spring training.

Also, for those of you wondering what will happen with Kenny Lofton, the prospects of his return sound less than optimistic.

”We haven’t addressed our free-agent decisions,” Shapiro said. ”But it was fun watching Kenny play. He engaged our fans, and it was good to see him play a meaningful role.”

In other words, thanks for the ride Kenny, but we’re looking to go in a different direction next year. Hey, who knows, maybe we’ll make a trade at the deadline next year to bring Lofton back for another run. Frankly, with our LF spot as up in the air as it is and with no plausible free agents to bring in who can make an immediate impact, I don’t necessarily see the harm in making Kenny an average contract offer and see what he says. If he’s willing to come back for a moderate price, I think it would definitely be worth it on every level.

Finally, Shapiro indicated that he expects to try to get CC Sabathia re-signed as quickly as possible, although he acknowledges that in reality, this is probably going to be a long process that may drag into the regular season.

”As far as C.C. goes, there’s not anyone who is stronger in wanting to stay here, and that’s after our best days and our worst days,” Shapiro said. ”But with the magnitude of his success, the question is whether there’s a business deal that can be struck with ownership. I think there’s a chance. It’s my job to put the strongest possible team on the field, and it’s hard to see how I could do that without C.C.”

All in all, we can expect a relatively slow off season. Stay tuned, though, as I’ll be trying to keep us all up to date on the shuffling of positions and any rumors and signings that may take place. Lets face it, at least this team is in a much better position and a much more optimistic mindset going into this offseason compared to where we were a year ago at this time.

Advertisements