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Food for Thought

Here, off the top of my head, are some issues the Indians have to deal with this offseason, in order of importance.

  1. Kevin Millwood. He might be the best starting pitcher available on the free agent market, his agent is Scott Boras, and he's been biding his time for three years looking for a big deal. I'd love to have Millwood back, I'm sure Shapiro would love to have him back, but at what point does the bidding get too high?
  2. Bob Wickman and/or Bob Howry. I think this is an either/or question, because if the Indians bring one Bob back, the other one will be elsewhere. I think it makes more sense to sign Howry, make him your closer, and groom Fernando Cabrera for the job in a year or two. Howry may be the best setup man on the market, so other clubs may have the same idea.
  3. If Millwood's gone, do you bring back Scott Elarton? If you assume that the Indians want one of their young pitchers to fight for a spot in the rotation next season, should the Indians tap Elarton to fill a spot, or should they go out and get a different veteren for the rotation?
  4. Right field/First base. It's pretty obvious that Casey Blake and Ben Broussard are not full-time fits at first base and right field. Blake is under contract through 2006, and Broussard is arbitration-eligible. Do you try to deal one of them, and if you do, who replaces them?
  5. Ronnie Belliard. I think picking up his option is a no-brainer, but where would that leave Brandon Phillips?
  6. David Riske. He's arbitration-eligible, and will probably get upwards of $2M to be a middle reliever if the Indians try to bring him back. Should they trade him, non-tender him, or keep him?
  7. Scott Sauerbeck. Is he a guy the Indians want to keep around, or do they find a left-hander elsewhere?
  8. 40-man roster concerns. The Indians have a really deep farm system, which becomes a problem exactly once a year, when clubs can draft unprotected prospects on the condition that prospect remains on the 25-man roster the entire season. Who gets protected?
  9. The trade market. Is there anyone who's available that could fill a need?
This is just an overview. I'll address these issues one at a time as the free agent period gets closer, but I guess there's no time like the present to start talking about this stuff.