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Sunday Roundup

Byrd remains a target for Tribe. Sheldon Ocker, ABJ

The quest to fill the two pitching holes continues:

Shapiro said Friday that he has one offer on the table, to free-agent starting pitcher Paul Byrd, who visited Cleveland earlier in the week. Byrd, who celebrates his 35th birthday today, could celebrate the occasion by taking the Tribe's offer.

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:

The position player highest on the Indians' list, Brian Giles, opted to re-sign with the San Diego Padres for three years and $30 million, forcing Shapiro to turn his attention to Chicago Cubs infielder Nomar Garciaparra. The Tribe GM wants him to play right field, but several other clubs are in the hunt for the former Boston Red Sox superstar shortstop.

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 Tampa Bay Devil Rays have Baez on the market. He has one year left at $4.5 million and then is a free agent. The Devil Rays want prospects. The Indians like Baez and have prospects to trade, starting with Brandon Phillips and some younger pitchers. But do they want to risk losing Baez after one year to free agency?

* 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.