Announced the Retirement of RHP Keith Foulke
This is a complicated issue, so my apologies if this gets long and convoluted.
As far as I know, since Foulke retired before reporting to Spring Training, the Indians are not obligated to pay him his 2007 salary. That saves the Indians $5M right off the bat, which could be used to acquire a replacement, or saved for other purposes.
If Keith Foulke was going to call it quits, doing so before Spring Training began was the best possible option for the Indians, in that they do have some time to search the trade market for a replacement, and in that Foulke will be foregoing his 2007 salary. I'd much rather he call it quits than stick around on the DL, essentially retired but still collecting paychecks. He certainly was within his rights to stay on the active roster, but he didn't, and I respect him very much for the way he handled this.
Although no specific injury was named, I'd guess that Foulke's elbow acted up in the past couple weeks, leading Keith to believe that he couldn't be an effective closer. I'm a blogger, not a doctor, so I don't know how a player can go from passing a major-league physical to being unable to pitch in two months. Yes, injury was always going to be a real possibility for Foulke, but it was very surprising that he was unable to pitch even before stepping on a mound.
But regardless of how it happened, the Indians are down their projected closer from Day One. Joe Borowski now inherits the role, and everyone else moves up a role. And while everyone's hopeful that young pitchers like Fernando Cabrera, Jason Davis, and Tony Sipp make Foulke's retirement a non-issue, you have to go into the season assuming they'll be typical young relievers. And that's why the four veterans were signed; at the very least, you needed some certainty. Now, although the Indians have the depth where Foulke's retirement won't be a disaster, it certainly makes things a lot messier.
Signed RHP Cliff Politte to a Minor-League Contract
Politte had shoulder surgery last August, so his return to the mound won't be for a while. He should not be viewed as a replacement for Foulke.