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Keith Foulke

First of all, I am alive. I've been out of the country for the past week, without access to the Internet, English-language television, and any Indians news. And while it was certainly nice to spend an entire week not worrying about work, clearing your car's windshield each morning, or the vagaries of the 40-man roster, I arrived back in Northeast Ohio somehow missing those things. A big thank you to Jay for keeping the conversation going, and especially to you, the reader, for continuing to make this blog what it is.

If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you'll know that I hate projecting a bullpen because of the agonizing volatility that it brings, at least from an outsiders' perspective. There are a few organizations that seem to produce good relief corps year after year (Minnesota comes directly to mind), but we don't much about why they are successful - is it mechanics, pitching drills, or even yoga that makes random relievers into ace stoppers for a season or two?

So it is comforting to hear that the Indians have had serious discussions with virtually every decent to good free agent reliever, and even more reassuring that each of the three relievers signed thus far can be let go at the end of next season if need be. And Keith Foulke, if the reports are true, may become the fourth such reliever signed this winter:

If signed by the Tribe, Foulke would likely compete for the closer's job with fellow veteran Joe Borowski.

Horwits said Foulke is intrigued by the Indians because he views them as a club capable of a playoff run. The reliever is more interested in a one-year deal than a multi-year one.

"He prefers to have some flexibility after '07," Horwits said.

If this isn't just agentspeak, then Foulke and the Indians seem to be a good match. The Indians have made it a major part of their player acquisition philosophy to reduce salary risk ever since the disastrous off-season of 2001-2002, and Keith Foulke seems willing to trade short-term uncertainty for an eventual long-term payday. The Indians also have created a bit of a niche in revujenating injured pitchers' careers such as Bob Howry and Kevin Millwood.

Another reason I'd love to see this happen is that I'm very unconvinced about Joe Borowski's ability to close games. Joe's a control pitcher who's pitched sparingly in the AL. Best case scenario, he's a slimmer Bob Wickman. But if you add Foulke to the mix and make the two compete for the position, you can seriously hedge your bets. In this case, there's (more) safety in numbers.

Get it done, Mark.