The Indians' officially announced the re-signing of Scott Sauerbeck, who never even filed for Free Agency. The rationale for the Tribe is pretty obvious as Sauerbeck fills a need in a familiar place. Couple that with the idea that his now being two years removed from arm surgery should allow him to become more than just a situational lefty.
Sauerbeck's comments that the Indians' stuck with him and he wanted to reward them fall in line with those heard from Aaron Boone last year (when he extended his deal). It seems that the Indians' organization is quickly developing a reputation for taking care of players, taking chances on players, and sticking with them.
That respect is becoming a two-way street. In this time of Players vs. Management (see Owens, Terrell), the Indians actually seem to have a good relationship with most of their players. Whether that edict comes from the Dolans or it's just the way that Shapiro and his front office have decided to conduct their business - it's a welcome respite from the 25 minutes that SportsCenter devoted tonight to a malcontent. Let's hope that Howry and Millwood follow suit.
Off the soapbox, as I look more at this Sauerbeck move and hear that the Tribe is looking not only for a closer, but also a veteran set-up man, I have to wonder: Where is Arthur Rhodes in all of this? I'm assuming that he would be back next year to pitch the 8th until Cabrera was ready, but there remains a possibility that the Indians try to move Rhodes (possibly to a West Coast team to be closer to whatever problems exist at home) and pursue another set-up man.
If Rhodes (and Riske) are moved, there better be some other alternatives wearing Chief Wahoo next year that don't remind anyone of Scott Stewart and Jose Jimenez. There are young arms on the farm, but I have a feeling that Shapiro give veterans the first shot, forcing those young arms earn their way into the bullpen of 2006. Remember that it took Matt Miller getting hurt last year before Cabrera and his filthy stuff finally got the call.
While Brian Giles, Mike Sweeney, etc. will sell the papers, the bullpen and rotation remain the keys. As Justice Hill put it so eloquently in his mailbag on the official site:
I think until people realize that you don't need a roster of star players to be a good team, I'll keep getting questions about trading a boatload of talent for one aging, overpriced player (Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome fit into this category). Look at the White Sox. The priority should be on pitching, a strong bullpen, good defense and smarter production on offense.
The re-signing of Sauerbeck, though it won't make 216-420-HITS ring off the line, may be one of the most important moves of the off-season.