Winter Meetings: Day 2

WMpic.jpgWelcome to Day 2 of the Winter Meetings here in the land of walking, talking mice.

After two Meetings here at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort, I am now a pro at navigating my way around the lobby. Not sure how this skill will help me later in life.

As an aside, a big plus to being here this week if the fact that MLBastian Jr. is really into Mickey right now. One stop in a gift shop and my Christmas shopping will be done for the little man this week. Shhh, don’t tell him!

Things are still quiet on the Tribe front. There’s the rumors of having interest in outfielder Fred Lewis (a source told me the Indians did indeed inquire about him, but so have more than half a dozen other teams), and maybe Jeff Francoeur (not seeing it happening) or Nick Punto (as a utility man).

If those seem like minor discussions, well that’s because they are, and don’t expect the Tribe to be in on any big names this week or later this winter. The biggest name they’ll be talking about is Shin-Soo Choo, and that’ll be floating the idea of an extension with agent Scott Boras.

So, it’s more of the same right now here on Day 2. Make sure you keep checking back here on the blog, reading indians.com and following along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. We’ll be meeting again with GM Chris Antonetti this afternoon.

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: 5:51 p.m. ET — One online rumor indicated that the Indians had interest in free-agent shortstop Adam Everett. Probably the same type of infield utility role that the Tribe reportedly is interested in having free-agent infielder Nick Punto fill. Without going into specifics, Antonetti said today that the club could benefit from adding an extra infielder. More on our chat with Antonetti in a bit.

UPDATE: 8:13 p.m. ET — Indians are close to signing free-agent catcher Paul Phillips, formerly of the Rockies. Deal is not done, but would be a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. Another rumor swirling is that Mariners have interest in trading for Indians infielder Luis Valbuena.

UPDATE: 8:38 p.m. ET — The Indians met with the representative for free-agent infielder Nick Punto on Tuesday. Cleveland also met with a handful of other free agents as well.

Notes and quotes from Day 2:

  • The Indians are out of the mix for 3B Edwin Encarnacion. His performance in the field is simply too much of a risk to put behind a cast of young rotation arms, especially when the group relies so much on grounders. EE’s bat is intriguing, but not to the point that his fielding issues can be ignored.
  • Even though CF Grady Sizemore is making positive strides in his comeback from microfracture surgery on his left knee, the Indians have to be prepared in the event he isn’t ready for Opening Day. OF Michael Brantley is the favorite to move to center/leadoff if Sizemore is not fully recovered. The Indians have also inquired about free-agent Fred Lewis, though he only seems like a fit if the Indians do not currently believe Sizemore will return in time for Opening Day.
  • The more immediate concern in the outfield is obtaining a right-handed hitter. The addition would simply be a player who could provide a day off for the regulars on days when a lefty was on the mound. Don’t expect Jeff Francouer in an Indians’ jersey, though. His price is rising with multiple teams interested.
  • Antonetti noted that Jason Donald will see time at multiple infield spots in the spring. Donald remains in the mix for the starting role at second base. The Tribe could also benefit from more stability behind shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Punto would help in that regard, providing more depth around the infield.
  • Catcher Carlos Santana (left knee) is back in Arizona rehabbing. Antonetti said his rehab has gone well and he will likely be slightly ahead of Sizemore when Spring Training begins. That said, Sizemore remains on his initial progression and should resume running activities some time in January.
  • Asked of Jason Kipnis could be in the mix for the starting job at second base, Antonetti said you can’t rule anything out. Maybe so, but Kipnis has yet to play one inning at Triple-A. It seems more realistic that Cord Phelps makes a push for a roster job out of camp than Kipnis, who could benefit from more time on the farm.
  • I don’t expect the Indians to leave these Meetings with a new rotation member. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tribe does not add an arm to its staff. If they do, it will probably be a late-offseason add. Manager Manny Acta and Antonetti are on the same page in terms of the belief that there is no reason to add a veteran simply to add a veteran. Leadership and mentoring are great attributes, but the Indians are more interested in quality innings. If the veteran options out there are not clear upgrades, the Tribe will likely stick with its developing in-house alternatives. 

More tomorrow…

~JB

12 Comments

I am surprised that the Mariners are pursuing the Indians about Luis Valbuena. His defense is well below average and he has a career OPS+ of 74 in 692 at bats.
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No news is good news as far as I’m concerned. I know it’s probably not what most fans think, but I personally hope the Tribe just sits pat. Any money they have to spend this off season should be set aside from next off season when they will, in theory, have fewer holes to fill. The farm system seems to have a lot of guys who will get their first taste of AAA in ’11 and could/should be ready for 2012. I know what Shapiro said last year, but 2012 is the first realistic year this team will compete — but I think they can compete well.

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West Coast update from the East Coast:-With one out in the bototm of the twelfth and Marco Scutaro batting, Louis Coleman attempted to pick Josh Reddick off of first pase and ended up throwing the ball into right field; Reddick ended up at third. Terry Francona then called for a squeeze bunt, which is something that the Red Sox never do. Very predictably, Scutaro missed the sign (albeit with a pitch located such that he had better chance of making contact with his body than with his bat), and Reddick got caught in a rundown between third and home. Scutaro would proceed to be out trying to stretch a single into a double, so Coleman manages to allow two hits and put the winning run at third and still get a 1-2-3 inning. In the bototm of the thirteenth, still facing Coleman, the Sox again had the winning run at third with one out, and again they couldn’t score (Navarro foul popup, Ortiz groundout). Oh, and they also had that situation in the ninth (Crawford swinging strikeout, a somewhat questionable call, followed by a Reddick groundout). -In the top of the fourteenth, Eric Hosmer led off with a double, and Jeff Francoeur singled to make it first-and-third with no outs. Care to guess what was called for? Yep, you’ve got it: The squeeze bunt. Mike Aviles popped it up with enough force to get it over Adrian Gonzalez’s head. Successful squeeze bunt, executed! -So Coleman, allowing three hits and a walk in two innings and allowing runners to reach third with one out in both innings in which he pitched, gets the win. Of course he does.

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Yea with the Indians having a penchant for cheap options for the infield at the moment and I would rather we give Kipnis and Phelps a shot over any “bargain bin” infielder.

I also find it interesting that the Mariners want Valbuena back, but hey they can have him. It seems like Indians and Mariners are always making a lot of deals together.

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