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Salvaging 2006

The season for all express purposes is over, and it isn't even summer yet.

You're still here? All right, gluttons for punishment, here's how to salvage something from the rest of the 2006 season:

(1) Look to deal, but not to dump. In 2002, the Indians had to sell every player worth something because the farm system was a mess and there was little talent at the major-league level. This season, it's a different situation. Yes, they should look to trade some of their non-core players, but only if they can get something of value in return. Trading Ronnie Belliard for some organization's Jim Ed Warden isn't going to help the club now or in the future; you might as well keep him around and try to re-sign him or get some draft picks if you can't get any value in return. This isn't a rebuilding situation; it's more of a reconfiguration.

(2) Sell high if you can. This is somewhat related to the above point. Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, and Casey Blake are having fantastic seasons, and the Indians control them beyond this season. That makes them more valuable to Cleveland, but also more valuable to other clubs. Broussard in particular seems a prime target for this tactic, because his contract for next season isn't locked in, and he's not likely going to continue hitting this well; this would be a no-brainer if Ryan Garko were hitting. I'd be less willing to deal Casey Blake, even though he's hitting over his head. His 2007 option is a bargain, and internal options haven't really stepped up this year.

(3) Play the kids, but only if they deserve to be here. There's a difference between talented young players and just young players. There's really only two (three if you count Gutierrez, who's already up here) prospects that should see significant playing time the rest of this season: Andy Marte and Jeremy Sowers. A couple relievers like Edward Mujica and Tom Mastny might get a look, but probably only in September. Marte and Sowers are probably both going to be with the team next season, and two months now will help them settle in for 2007. It also helps that the players in front of them (Boone and Johnson) are easily displaced.

(4)  Try to sort out the bullpen. Believe it or not, there are some talented arms pitching in relief. Fausto Carmona, Fernando Cabrera, and Rafael Perez need more experience in high-leverage situations, so continue to put them in them.

(5) Look to add long-term options. With some cash left over from last off-season, the Indians should be inquiring about players with long-term deals. These types of trades tend to get done after the season, but it has happened before (see Brian Giles to San Diego). In other words, treat now as the off-season.