First of all, I apologize for the long absence. Real life and other projects came together all at once.
So what have the Indians done this offseason? They've acquired two players, both complimentary pieces. Jamey Carroll probably isn't going to hit, but is a good defensive player, and allows the Indians to play Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop. Masahide Kobayashi should a new member of Eric Wedge's exclusive Circle of Trust.
But none of the bigger issues have been resolved. The future of the infield is still muddled. Jhonny Peralta likely isn't going to stay at shortstop for much longer, Casey Blake isn't a long-team answer at third, and Asdrdubal Cabrera should be play at short, not second.
Beyond the starters are two young players who had awful years: Andy Marte and Josh Barfield. The Indians can be patient with Barfield, as they have an option on him, but Marte has to be on the roster. The Indians are in a very difficult spot: they really need to play him regularly to really see what they have in him, but are going to be competing for the division title. Marte's probably not going to beat out Casey Blake to be the starting third baseman, so he's going to have to win the job by having a great Spring Training and continuing that production while playing a couple times a week. Yeah, that's not likely to happen.
So if Marte doesn't work out, and Casey Blake leaves after the end of the season (both in themselves reasonable moves by the Indians), then what? If Jhonny Peralta, who played the position early in his career, can play third base, then that's the most logical move. It allows Asdrubal Cabrera to move to his natural position, and greatly betters the infield defense. This is assuming Josh Barfield figures out how to hit again, admittedly as likely as Andy Marte doing the same this season.
If Marte does work out, then you start to think about dealing Peralta, who is still a valuable player. He's signed through 2010 with a 2011 team option, so he'd still under control for three years if the Indians waited to dangle him after this season.
I guess you can detect a running theme through all this rambling: Asdrubal Cabrera needs to be playing shortstop, and here's how the Indians can make it happen. Infield defense continues to be one of the biggest weaknesses on this team, and now the Indians have the players to fix it. Now they just need the right configuration.
So what's your long-term infield configuration?