Byrd remains a target for Tribe. Sheldon Ocker, ABJ
The quest to fill the two pitching holes continues:
There's really nothing new here. The Indians are still in on Byrd and Hoffman, with Byrd a better shot than Hoffman. I don't see Hoffman bolting San Diego now that Brian Giles is back in the fold and with the Padres still the best team in the NL West (I know, it's damning with faint praise, but winning your division still gets you into the playoffs).
The Indians are looking at Nomar Garciaparra as a right fielder, apparently:
This would probably lead to a Broussard/Blake platoon at first (unless they want Dubois there), for I don't see them acquiring a first baseman if they sign an outfielder. They still should be spending most of their money patching the pitching holes.
Talkin' Tribe. Terry Pluto, ABJ
* The Indians keep insisting they like Phillips, that he's only 23 and can become a viable big-league starter. He is out of options, which means he has to be on the big-league roster in 2006, or they can lose him on waivers. But Phillips hit only .256 at Buffalo. He was not called up in September. The longer he has played in the Tribe farm system, the less likely it appears he will hit. I'd be surprised if he's with the team by spring training. Other teams might want him because he was once rated as a top prospect.
I have no idea how Baez would feel about coming back to the Indians, due to the circumstances in which he left. Remember that the Indians tried to keep Baez around through a roster loophole, the players' union filed a grievance, and the team finally decided to cut him loose.
Frankly, if the Indians are thinking about going this route, it makes more sense to bring back Wickman than overpay guys like Todd Jones or Braden Looper, or deal for Baez. Dangle Brandon Phillips for something else, be it an outfielder or a starter. I still think there are enough scouting departments that think Phillips can turn things around to bring a good return for him.