Some quick hits to cover the last few happenings in the Teepee:
- The Indians signed Ramon Vazquez to a one-year deal, officially eliminating any chance of Brandon Phillips playing for the Tribe next season. With the Tribe certain to pick up Belliard's option, Peralta entrenched at SS, and Phillips out of options expect Phillips to be packaged as part of some trade (major or minor). It's too bad that things never worked out for Phillips here, but his Felix Ferminesque play never really caught up to his Hall of Fame ego. Despite the fact that the primary prospect (Phillips) in the Colon deal never panned out, two out of three ain't bad.
- Signing Vazquez means that 2 spots remain open for position players. With Casey Blake likely to fill either RF, 1B, or a Utility position (comparable to what Jose Hernandez did last year), Shapiro can really survey the landscape for those spots and not have to worry about a backup catcher or anything else, position-playerwise.
- Millwood, Elarton, Howry, and Wickman all filed for Free Agency. Remember that last year Elarton never filed, opting instead to just re-sign with the Tribe. His filing does seem to indicate that he will at least test the FA waters. Plus, didn't Wickman say that the only place he wanted to play in 2006 (if he did play) was Cleveland? And he files on the first day? Curious.
- Cliff Lee underwent hernia surgery, but should be fully recovered by Spring Training. Lee can probably also expect to be approached about a long-term contract this offseason as the Tribe will try to lock up the young southpaw.
- Ryan Garko (whom the luminaries at the PD has deemed unfit to play until midseason of next year) is getting hits in the Arizona Fall League (as Phifer says) like Kid Capri makes tapes. Interesting poll on the official site:
Who would you like to see start at first base for the Indians next season?
Incumbent Ben Broussard 340 votes (14%)
Rookie Ryan Garko 551 votes (23%)
Free agent Paul Konerko 1269 votes (53%)
Free agent Kevin Millar 127 votes (5%)
Free agent J.T. Snow 124 votes (5%)
- Does anyone else see a combination of Ryan Garko and J.T. Snow as the hidden meaning in this poll?
I think watching the playoffs should only reinforce the belief that the Indians (with their strong pitching) should continue to focus on putting together a strong staff on the big league level, while cultivating an excess of arms on the farm. Sure, it would be great to add big time run-producers like Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez to the Indians; but last I checked they were both watching the World Series at home, just like Ben Broussard and Casey Blake. Baseball is about pitching, then pitching, and finally pitching. Luckily for Indians' fans, Mark Shapiro and his staff seem to understand that and prioritize it accordingly.