Here's a a quick pre-offseason overview of what the Indians need, and how they should go about filling those needs. I'm going to be vague today, and as November approaches, will start to add details.
Current situation: the Indians are about to finish fourth in the AL Central, the best division in baseball. The 2006 season has been very disappointing, as the team has not performed up to expectations. The main culprits of the mediocre record were infield defense and relief pitching, both of which ranked among the league's worst.
The financial situation is actually the best the organization has seen since 2001. All of the bad contracts from the late Hart/early Shapiro Era are gone, and there will be a sizable (for Cleveland) amount of money to spend in the offseason. The Indians have no free agents to speak of, and only a couple arbitration cases to deal with. In other words, Mark Shapiro can be aggresive in acquiring outside talent. There are no Kevin Millwoods or Bob Wickmans to wait out instead of talking to someone else's free agents.
The Indians also have a rather deep minor-league system, with a range of pitching and position player prospects. If they wish to do so, they should be able to best just about any other organization in a prospect(s)-for veteren(s) trade.
Short-Term Needs: Infield defense and relief pitching, not necessarily in that order. If those are addressed satisfactorily, marginal improvements in the offense and starting pitching.
Long-Term Needs: Budgeting wisely enough in the short-term to keep most of the core in place for the next 4-5 years.
Obviously you shouldn't take the above for granted, so over the next couple of months, I'll try to back those statements up with concrete facts and examples. But for now, just treat this as a jumping-off point for discussion.