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Flexibility must be Shapiro's Winter Strategy. Paul Hoynes, PD

The ABJ has essentially the same article, btw.

To get an idea as to how soon the top free agent pitchers will sign, consider this:


 Agent Scott Boras represents Millwood. Jarrod Washburn, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver are his clients as well. It gives him four of the top five starting pitchers - A.J. Burnett being the other - in the free-agent market.

He also represents Johnny Damon, the top free-agent center fielder.

I get the feeling that the Indians aren't going to sign Millwood, and that they need to let other teams bid among themselves. Millwood is going to want to cash in after biding his time with one-year deals, so I wouldn't be surprised given the market that he holds out for 4/$48M or something in that ballpark.

There's also the fact that Boras clients generally don't sign quickly, so the Indians will probably make their best offer and then pursue other targets.


 Howry, 32, is in the same situation. After setting a club record with 79 appearances this year, he hit the free-agent market healthy for the first time in his career.

"Bob is going to have to maximize his value," said Shapiro. "I would do the same thing. It's going to take time."

The same seems to go with Bob Howry, who will probably take advantage of the only chance in his career to score a long-term contract. Wickman seems more a possibility, because he wants a one-year deal, and because there's a ton of depth among closers in the free agent market.

Finally, here's a nugget on the AFL:


 The conditions are ripe for hitters - hard fields, thin air and pitchers working late in a long season.

Still, Farrell was impressed with Snyder. He's seen improvement in his two-strike hitting and handling of inside pitches.

 He also liked Garko's approach at the plate early in the count.

"Ryan is such a confident hitter that he'd swing early in the count and expand his strike zone," said Farrell.

Farrell, like the rest of the organization, thinks Garko could be able to help the Indians at first base or off the bench by midseason next year.

Don't get too excited about the offensive numbers from Snyder or Garko - the pitching in Arizona is not the same caliber as the hitting - but all the same, you like to see them doing well. Probably the only thing preventing Garko from challenging for the first base job is his defense at the position. It looks like if Broussard isn't back, the Indians will probably bring in a free agent to keep the position warm.

Talkin' Tribe. Terry Pluto, ABJ


I know the Indians are pushing very hard to sign outfielder Brian Giles. I know that Giles has an interest in returning to the Tribe. I don't know if they have enough money to get it done. I know that he has a lifetime .413 on-base percentage, and the Moneyball executives love that statistic. I know that Giles is 34, but I hear that the Indians have confidence he can be an effective player for another two or three years.

If Millwood has been Plan A for a while now, Giles looks to have become Plan B. There's a lot of clubs that will be interested in Giles, but keep in mind that Shapiro was farm director while Giles was making his way through the system, so the two probably know each other well. The fact that the Indians won 93 games last season also doesn't hurt.

Other than Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, Giles is the only real impact outfielder on the market.   After those three, the talent falls off pretty dramatically (Burnitz, Sanders, Jones).


I know that the Cubs have picked up the $2.5 million option on Todd Walker for 2006, but I hear that the Indians still like him and might try to work a deal for him. Walker batted .305 with 12 homers and 40 RBI. They see him as able to play first, second and third bases. The idea is to get a good, veteran hitter in reserve, especially if one of the starting infielders is injured. The Indians have tried to trade for him in the past.

It depends on what happens with the Cubs in free agency. They apparently want to re-sign Neifi Perez (No, I'm not joking), and they have a pretty good prospect in Ronny Cedeno who hit .355/.403/.518 in AAA last season. The Indians wanted to sign Walker back in 2003 (but signed Belliard instead), and also was interested in dealing for him this past season.