An afternoon win, keyed by our young SS, for the good guys today with the offense and the bullpen coming through to get Westbrook a W despite not having his best stuff.
An interesting note from Justice B. Hill on the official site:
At 64-55, the 2005 Indians have a better record than the 2000 team, which was 63-56 after 119 games. The starting lineup for the 2000 Tribe in game No. 120:
Sandy Alomar Jr.
Looking at that lineup and reading that the current team has a better record at the same point in the season illustrates a point that has been hammered away at - pitching wins championships. The lineup above boasts 2 probable HOF's and 2 possible HOF's (though Thome's chances are getting very slim). Yet the current incarnation of the Tribe, with two 23 year olds leading the offense has a better record. And the reason is simple: solid starting pitching and a strong bullpen.
Which leads to the question of the day: With Millwood, Wickman, Gonzalez, Elarton, Howry, Sauerbeck, and Hernandez off the books for next year, where do you put the money? Do you invest in a stud starter and fill in the holes on the offense on the cheap? Or do you make a big splash offensively, sign Elarton and another reclamation project and hope for the best for the staff.
If I'm in the front office and I'm given carte blanche, here's the plan (keep in mind that I'm talking ideal situations):
- Throw a 3-4 year deal at Millwood worth $10 million per to stay. Millwood is 31 in December and will command some big dollars on the market, but make him think about staying in Cleveland. Granted, when Scott Boras is involved, he may ask for one of Dolan's grandchildren in the deal.
- Offer Wickman the chance to sign another one year deal and when he turns it down, give Howry an offer to close with something like a 3 year, $7.5 million contract.
- Sign Elarton to a 2 year deal at about $2-$3 million per. His relationship with the Tribe (and Shapiro in particular) is strong enough that a deal like that makes him stay.
- Promote Cabrera and Davis into the pen full-time and let either Tallet or Traber become your go-to lefty. If neither pans out, find a lefty and trade them.
- Package some prospects to the Brewers for Lyle Overbay, a solid LH bat to shore up the bottom third of the order.
- Package a boatload of pitchers who may not fit into the long term Indians' plans for Kevin Mench. The Rangers are desperate for pitching and may take a combination of arms to part with Mench.
Both Overbay and Mench are arbitration eligible this offseason, and both the Brewers and Rangers may be willing to talk about getting some prospects as well as some "major league talent". The Tribe could sign Overbay and Mench to manageable contracts and get two young hitters who would fit in well, not only in the lineup, but in the clubhouse as well. I purposely didn't throw names into the trade options, as I have no idea who Milwaukee or Texas would ask for.
We'll see how the Tribe plays against the resurgent O's this weekend and whether they can continue to make up ground in the tightening Wild Card race.
I'll be cheering from the in-laws house in Milwaukee, where I'll see if Overbay's name hits the local news for trade talks.