Next up, the Tribe.
Mark Shapiro’s contract obligations:
C – Victor Martinez – $3MM
C – Kelly Shoppach – $0.38MM
1B – Casey Blake – $3.75MM + incentives
2B – Josh Barfield – $0.38MM
SS – Jhonny Peralta – $0.75MM + incentives
3B – Andy Marte – $0.38MM
IF – Hector Luna – $0.4083MM
IF – Ryan Garko – $0.3831MM
LF – David Dellucci – $3.75MM
CF – Grady Sizemore – $0.75MM
RF – Trot Nixon – $3MM + incentives
OF – Jason Michaels – $2MM + incentives
DH – Travis Hafner – $3.75MM + incentives
SP – C.C. Sabathia – $8.75MM + incentives
SP – Paul Byrd – $7MM
SP – Jake Westbrook – $6.1MM
SP – Cliff Lee – $2.75MM
SP – Jeremy Sowers – $0.3848MM
RP – Joe Borowski – $4MM + incentives
RP – Roberto Hernandez – $3.3MM
RP – Aaron Fultz – $1.5MM + incentives
RP – Rafael Betancourt – $0.84MM
RP – Jason Davis – $0.67MM + incentives
RP – Matt Miller – $0.56MM
RP – Fernando Cabrera – $0.3918MM
RP – Tom Mastny – $0.38MM
RP – Tony Sipp – $0.38MM
SP – Adam Miller – $0.38MM
RF – Shin-Soo Choo – $0.3831MM
It’s roughly $60MM committed; Shapiro has operated carefully to assemble such an affordable contender. He seemingly has room to add some players in the summer, especially if he discards some of Byrd’s salary.
Will the offense be second best in the AL again? I believe so. Their stars, Sizemore, Hafner, and Martinez, should maintain their levels. Hafner could be even better in sum if he can top 130 games played. Looking at some revamped positions: the Tribe could take a small step back at first base, and steps forward at the other three infield positions (youth is served and Aaron Boone is gone). With Dellucci getting most of the PT in left, they’ll blow past last year’s .258/.311/.393 from that corner. RF should hold steady or improve. It would be tough to spar with the Yankees for the game’s best offense but it’s not unfathomable.
Defensively the team looks OK if not spectacular. Improvement from Peralta would go a long way.
The rotation looks borderline top five to me. The Tribe had a collective 4.31 starter ERA last year, good for third best. This year, the lack of Jason Johnson plus some Jeremy Sowers regression should mostly balance out. Potential gains come in the form of 32 starts from Sabathia (a Cy Young candidate) and replacement of Paul Byrd with Adam Miller (4.64 ERA according to PECOTA) or Fausto Carmona (4.04 ERA).
The bullpen is the clear question mark, and Borowski/Hernandez/Fultz may not help at all despite the money spent. Two of the team’s seven best relievers may start the year in Triple A in Sipp and Mastny. If Shapiro is not afraid to dump a guy like Hernandez for Sipp if performance calls for it, the Indians can improve upon last year’s 4.66 relief ERA. Betancourt and Cabrera could be a nasty pair if things come together. It might make sense to overpay for a reliever with a young outfielder, if none of the above work out.
I should add that the team has great depth; they’ll be forced to leave Major League quality players in Triple A to start the season. The Indians look like a World Series contender to me, though wins could be sacrificed to play certain veterans over kids.