Mark Shapiro gave his end-of-season press conference yesterday. Some highlights:
-Infield defense and relief pitching are going to be priorities. I'm inclined to think of "infield defense" as meaning a starting second baseman and a glove-first utility infielder. Jhonny Peralta is still going to be the starting shortstop, but it would be nice to have somebody who could play the position competently if Peralta happens to need a couple of days off.
-The free agent market is pretty weak at both second base and in the bullpen, which may mean the Indians acquire help via trade. We've explored the free agent options at second and have found them lacking; the reliever market is just as thin.
-Nearly every team will be spending "significant" amounts of money this offseason. The good news is that the talent will be distributed more evenly between markets. The bad news is that free agent salaries are going to be even more inflated. This might make Paul Byrd's $7.5M salary palatable for teams looking for a starting pitcher, but it will also make Adam Kennedy a very rich man.
-The 2007 payroll will not be tied to attendance. I'm guessing, but this is probably because of other streams of income the Indians will be receiving, including profits from mlb.com and the sale of the Washington Nationals. Payroll might reach the low $70Ms, quite a jump from 2003 levels. The key is, as always, spending the money wisely.
-Grady Sizemore isn't moving down in the order unless they happen to acquire a player with similar on-base skills. To me, this is code for Trevor Crowe, particularly if he doesn't stay at second.
Related: Shapiro on WTAM, 10-3-06 (Scroll down)