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Geez, I like Street but hate the idea of giving up $$ or prospects for a reliever. No chance we come close to Rodriguez or Fuentes, thankfully.


Atkins is intriguing however that concern about his home/road splits is very real. Here's a link to his career splits:


http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bs ... ocat-hmvis


Check out that OPS and BAbip.


Dana Point, Calif.- From Francisco Rodriguez to Brian Fuentes to Trevor Hoffman, the Indians have ruled out nothing in their pursuit of a closer.


GM Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, assistant general manager, have talked - or are talking - with the agents for just about every closer on the free-agent market. They are talking trade as well.


Oakland's Huston Street, who lost his closer's job to Brad Ziegler, drew strong interest from the Indians this past season and is still on their radar.


"There's a decent free-agent market and there will be trade alternatives as well," said Shapiro, Tuesday afternoon at the general managers meetings. "It will take time to flush out the alternatives. What is the cost from a free-agent standpoint and how it stacks up with trades. It looks like there will be some alternatives for us."


Street, 25, bothered by right elbow problems the last couple of years, went 7-5 with 18 saves in 25 chances last season for the A's. The cost for Street could be high, perhaps third-base prospect Wes Hodges.


Florida closer Kevin Gregg is reportedly available. He's eligible for arbitration and the Marlins don't want to pay him.


The Indians' three main needs are closer, starting pitcher and an infielder.


Jensen Lewis ended the season as the Indians' closer. Given the job Aug. 8, Lewis went 13-for-13 to stabilize a bad bullpen.


The Indians consider Lewis and left-hander Rafael Perez their best internal options at closer. What they'd like to do is to acquire a closer and move Lewis and Perez back into setup roles, which would make the bullpen stronger.


If they can't find a closer, they'll try to add a reliever to put in front of Lewis and Perez. Right now, they're looking for a closer.


Rodriguez set a big-league record with 62 saves this season for the Angels. He could be looking for a five-year deal worth $75 million.


"At this point we haven't determined if anyone is out of our price range," said Shapiro. "Until it goes there, I won't assume anything. That would be a mistake. You never know what can happen in this setting."


Shapiro and Antonetti talked with Fuentes' agents Monday. Fuentes, Colorado's closer, is said to be seeking at least a three-year, $36 million contract.


Teams can't bid on other team's free agents until Nov. 14.


In December 2005, Shapiro tried to sign Hoffman, the all-time leader in saves. He returned to the Padres for less money, but at 41, Hoffman might have run his course in San Diego.


"With a guy like Trevor Hoffman or Kerry Wood," said Shapiro, "guys that have strong ties with the teams they're with, both those guys have to determine if they [fit] with their old teams first. If not, they are guys we'd have interest in."


Hoffman went 3-6 with 30 saves and a 3.77 ERA. Wood went 5-4 with 34 saves with a 3.26 ERA for the Cubs. Fuentes went 1-5 with 30 saves and a 2.73 ERA.


"If there's a closer out there that is being discussed by their teams, we're going to know about it," said Shapiro. "If there's an alternative that fits our need, we'll have discussions to determine the value that it would take financially or in terms of players."


The easiest way for the Indians to solve their infield need would be to acquire a third baseman. Casey Blake is one option. Colorado's Garrett Atkins, Houston's Ty Wigginton and free agent Joe Crede are others.


The Rockies are looking for a young starting pitcher for their big-league rotation. The Indians have depth there, but there is some worry about how well Atkins would hit away from Coors Field.


Crede is a former All-Star with the White Sox, but has a history of back problems. He underwent another operation recently and agent Scott Boras said he should be fully recovered by January.


The competition for an infielder, whether he plays second or third, is intense in the AL Central. The Twins and Tigers are also looking for infield help.


Play ball: Here's what select Indians are doing in winter ball: Jordan Brown, .286 (4-for-14), three RBI, Scott Lewis 0-0, 6.78 ERA, 16 strikeouts, two walks, 10 2/3 innings, and Adam Miller 1-1, 9.28 ERA, seven strikeouts, two walks, 10 2/3 innings, for Aguilas, Dominican Republic; Matt LaPorta, .196 (10-for-51), two homers, nine RBI, 17 strikeouts, two walks for Caracas, Venezuela; Roman Pena .340 (17-for-50), two HR, nine RBI, for Aguilas, Mexico; Wes Hodges, .393 (22-for-56), four HR, 17 RBI, and Beau Mills .212 (7-for-33), two HR, four RBI, for the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League; and Matt McBride .292 (26-for-89), three HR, 17 RBI, for North Shore, Hawaii.


Finally: Cliff Lee has been named the AL Cy Young winner by Baseball Prospectus in its annual Internet awards. Fans vote on the awards.


To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

phoynes@plaind.com, 216-999-5158


http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ss ... unope.html



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Here's the latest on another candidate to eventually become a closer:


11/05/08 2:23 PM EST

Miller getting back to form in Dominican

Promising righty could be in Tribe bullpen for 2009 season


By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Adam Miller had a 6.48 ERA through four starts in the Dominican Winter League.


But that's not a number that concerns the Indians.


Rather, the Tribe is encouraged by another number -- 97. That's the mile-per-hour mark Miller is consistently clocking with his fastball, and he's also shown confidence in his slider.


In all, then, the reports on Miller, who is building up his innings total with the Aguilas Cibaenas after missing much of 2008 following finger surgery, have been positive this fall.


Miller's numbers -- a 1-1 record, the 6.48 ERA, 17 hits and 12 earned runs allowed in 16 2/3 innings -- don't tell the whole story, farm director Ross Atkins said.


"He's the most dominant pitcher they have," said Atkins, checking in from the Dominican. "He's the guy they want to pitch there every fifth day. If you look at their rotation, they'll skip other guys to get to Adam Miller, as long as he has four days' rest."


Miller, who turns 24 later this month, had plenty of rest in 2008. This was supposed to be the year the 31st overall pick from the 2003 First-Year Player Draft impacted the Indians' big league rotation. Indeed, he was well on his way to that point when he strung together a 1.88 ERA in his first six starts at Triple-A Buffalo.


But Miller, who was sidelined throughout the Indians' Spring Training schedule because of a nasty blister on the middle finger of his right throwing hand, saw his season unravel when the blister reappeared in May.


The blister was a byproduct of a 2007 injury in which Miller suffered a pulley strain in the finger. The Indians had hoped he could get by without surgery, but the strain caused his tendon to sag and his skin to rub up against the baseball, causing two calluses and an open hole.


To combat the problem, the Indians had surgery performed to reinforce the pulley system in late May. With that, Miller's season was over. He began a return-to-throw program in August and began pitching in the Indians' Arizona instructional league in September.


The Dominican stint is geared toward building up Miller's innings threshold and transitioning him from starting to relief work. Atkins said Miller will make two or three more starts, depending on how many innings he needs to get through them, before moving to the 'pen. Miller will finish up his winter ball activity around Thanksgiving.


When Spring Training 2009 dawns, Miller will be a full-time reliever. The Indians hope he can remain healthy enough to contribute to their 'pen next season, but their enthusiasm is tempered by his substantive injury history, which includes right elbow troubles in 2005 and 2007.


"If he makes our bullpen, he has the talent, ability and toughness of a guy who, over the season, could factor into the back end," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He's a sinker/strikeout guy with a fastball in the mid-90's, when he's healthy. That guy fits into our bullpen. Is that guy going to be back? I don't know."


For now, Miller, who has struck out 12 batters and walked four in those 16 2/3 innings, appears to be making his way back, if the Dominican reports are any indication.


"Every outing has been a positive one," Atkins said.


One question, aside from the ongoing injury concern, is whether Miller can make a positive transition to relief work, where he'll have to alter the way he attacks hitters.


Atkins said he believes Miller can handle it.


"He's an incredible competitor," Atkins said. "He's a huge baseball student and fan. He really pays attention to the game, even when he's not playing it. He understands the adjustments he has to make, and it's just a matter of applying them. He has a low-maintenance delivery once he gets into his comfort zone."


Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/news/a ... p&c_id=cle



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I'm now fully on board with the "let's get Hoffman" train. Short contract given to a guy like him who is still putting up nice peripherals = sign me up!


Indians ready to leap into closer fray

With deadline passed, teams and free agents can talk terms

By Jason Beck / MLB.com


The free-agent shopping portion of baseball's Hot Stove market opened up as the clock struck midnight ET on Friday morning. And dawn rose on the Indians' search to fill their needs to reload for another run at the postseason.


With the exclusive negotiating period having expired at midnight, free agents are now free to talk contract terms with any team they wish, not just their 2008 club. And while the Indians aren't expected to move quickly on any transactions, they now have a chance to pick up on discussions, including on a closer market that continues to shift.


After the Padres' decision to pull their contract proposal to Trevor Hoffman and the Rockies' acquisition of Huston Street in the Matt Holliday trade with Oakland, the Cubs took another potential closer off the trade market when they traded a prospect to Florida for Kevin Gregg. However, the Cubs' move puts another closer in the open with Kerry Wood's future in Chicago now doubtful.


"If there's a closer option out there, we will be involved," Shapiro told the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week.


None of that figures to be resolved anytime soon. History shows that the marquee free agents on the market are usually among the earliest to sign, setting the tone for a market and establishing values for the next tier of players. The Indians are not expected to be involved in that top tier.


It's beyond that where the maneuvering begins for Cleveland. Hoffman's agent, Rick Thurman, listed the Indians among teams potentially interested in his client earlier this week in remarks to the San Diego Union-Tribune.


Beyond the bullpen, the Indians can now talk monetary terms with players in their other target areas, especially around the infield. The prospect of Casey Blake returning to Cleveland after his late-season stint with the Dodgers now takes on more potential with the exclusivity hurdle removed.


Also on Cleveland's list of needs is help in the middle infield, an area with quite a few options beyond the top tier. The Indians also wouldn't mind adding a veteran starter for the middle of the rotation, but that end of the market likely won't sort out until big names such as CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett find their interest and price range.


Friday's flip side, of course, is that Tribe free agents are now free to talk financial terms with other clubs. In Cleveland's case, however, that isn't a major issue.





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Just in case that Hoffman thing doesn't work out, Jensen Lewis is preparing for the job. I continue to hope he's given the opportunity to "learn" from Trevor:


Lewis preparing as if he's Tribe's closer

Righty reliever understands that Indians may bring in veteran

By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com


CLEVELAND -- As the Indians' search for a closer carries on, Jensen Lewis is carrying on as if he will remain the ninth-inning guy.


"I went into the offseason with the mentality that I was the guy until told differently," Lewis said Wednesday. "As of right now, that's my mindset."


But Lewis knows the Indians are dead-set on finding a more veteran option for the closer's role. And just in case that point hadn't been hammered home, manager Eric Wedge, who had once suggested he might be comfortable with Lewis returning as closer, offered strong comments Wednesday on the need to find somebody new.


"You hate to put all your eggs in one basket," Wedge said. "Jensen did a great job at the end, but he's still unproven. Until you've done it a whole year, or really even beyond that, you can't look at someone as a proven closer. There are too many X factors involved there."


Of course, the search for a closer has some X factors, as well. The Indians have no shortage of competition in the market for back-end relief help, as the Mets, Brewers, Angels, Cardinals, Rays and Tigers are among the teams looking for somebody. And the Tribe is always limited by its mid-market payroll. But given the competitive market and the need to improve the 'pen, the Indians do appear more willing than usual to go the multiyear route with a reliever.


They are less willing to stick with Lewis, even though the 24-year-old converted 13 straight opportunities at the end of the year, after Joe Borowski was released and Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi flamed out in the ninth.


When told of Wedge's remarks, the 24-year-old Lewis took no offense.


"It's a logical thing, especially from last year and how the whole situation unfolded," Lewis said. "I don't think it would hurt at all to have two closers, per se. At the least, you get a chance to learn from a guy who has done it for a while. It's only going to benefit us and make our bullpen deeper."


One guy who has done it for a long while is the 41-year-old Trevor Hoffman, who is the game's all-time leader with 554 saves. Hoffman's long tenure with the Padres has come to a close, and the Indians have been in touch with his agent, Rick Thurman.


Lewis specifically mentioned Hoffman as a veteran he could stand to learn from.


"As a young kid, if you sign a guy like Trevor Hoffman, you're talking about the all-time saves leader," Lewis said. "He's been in every possible situation. It's one of those things, as a young player and a young closer trying to make yourself better, why wouldn't you welcome the chance to learn from a guy like that? To have a chance to learn from a guy like that would be priceless."


It might not necessarily take a multiyear offer to land Hoffman, and that makes him a "pass the baton" type of guy, should the Indians view Lewis as the likely closing candidate of the future. And that might, indeed, be the view, if Wedge's other comments about Lewis are any indication.


"This guy has got the guts, he's got the confidence, and I think he has the mindset to do it," Wedge said. "Because of that, I feel he's capable of doing it. Whether or not that plays out, time will tell. You hate to go into the season hoping for that, if you have the opportunity to go out and get somebody who's proven in that role."


Hoffman isn't the only proven closer available. Kerry Wood is on the open market now that the Cubs have replaced him with Carlos Marmol and brought aboard Kevin Gregg as ninth-inning insurance. But it would definitely take a multiyear contract -- perhaps a three- or four-year deal -- to land Wood.


In the trading market, the Mariners' J.J. Putz, the Pirates' Matt Capps and the Orioles' George Sherrill might be available. And if the Rockies decide to dangle the newly acquired Huston Street, the Indians would most assuredly have interest.


Lewis is watching this all play out from his offseason home in Nashville, Tenn., where he has been focusing his workouts on his core and lower body in an attempt to have more consistent velocity in 2009.


"To be able to have a solid foundation," he said, "and be able to build off that and hit the ground running will be a really good thing to have going into this year."


Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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Wedge hasnt always been that great at spotting talent in the relief department. he needs to rely on the front office and his scouts to get him a good closer. we always need at least 1 or 2 set up men.


I hope Lee will be able to stay in the number 4 or 5 spot, it will definatly help him down the road.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't want to go with a 40 something Hoffman as a closer. I hate a closer whose best pitch is a changeup.


I'd rather go with Lewis, Perez and see if Adam Miller can contribute. Last report is that he was throwing a 98MPH fast ball and a 89 MPH slider in winter ball. It took him awhile to get his arm stretched out and get some consistency but the last few weeks, he threw great.

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