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Meet the new team, same as the old team...

Signed 3B/UT Casey Blake to a one-year, $6M contract

The dollar figure is not tied to the Indians' generosity, but to the history of arbitration contracts. Players with more service time are going to be paid more than players with less service time. Hence Blake will be paid more in 2008 than Victor Martinez ($4.25M), Grady Sizemore ($3M), Jhonny Peralta ($2.25M), Ryan Garko, Fausto Carmona, etc, etc. That the Indians are paying him $6M does not mean that they think Blake better than the above players, it means they are paying him because the system in place dictates it. Merit-based pay happens rarely in baseball.

I would guess that Shapiro would have loved to have stuck a team option on the end of the one-year deal, if only to serve as an insurance policy on Andy Marte. Hopefully this looming problem means that the team will give Marte a reasonable shot at winning the job.

Signed RHP Rafael Betancourt to two-year, $5.4M contract (2010 team option)

In this instance Shapiro got his team option, allowing the Indians to buy out a free agent year if Betancourt remains healthy and effective. If they pick up the $5.4M option, they'll have spent nearly $12.5M for seven years of outstanding relief.

Signed RHP Jorge Julio to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

It's now been five seasons since Julio's been really good. He hung onto the closer's role with the Orioles into 2004, and later got a closing opportunity with Arizona, but his penchant for giving up home runs (10+ in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006), and his generous walk rate has finally tarnished his early-career reputation. I presume the deal includes an "up or out" clause, where the Indians would have to bring him to the majors by a certain date or release him; if he is brought up, it should be because of injury, not performance.