What’s going on at the Jake?

The Indians missed out on Trevor Hoffman. They missed out on Nomar Garciaparra. Their big free-agent acquisitions? Paul Byrd, Jason Johnson and Eduardo Perez. Oh wait, Steve Karsay, Danny Graves and Todd Hollandsworth too. Can’t forget those monster signings.

I guess it’s too easy to blame the Indians for all the free-agency failures. Check that, it’s too easy to blame Mark Shapiro for those failures. There were big holes on this team that needed to be filled, and while guys like Byrd, Johnson and even Perez will help fill those holes, those aren’t the names we all envisioned heading into the offseason. Shapiro says the Perez signing likely will be the last major move before the start of spring training. Aside from questioning his definition of a “major move,” that statement tells Tribe fans that this is it. Don’t look for an out-of-the-blue signing of Frank Thomas or Mike Piazza. This is the team, at least until the trading deadline.

The unfortunate thing is, the Indians actually have some money to spend, with the coin from the Hoffman and Nomar offers still jingling in their pockets, not to mention the added cash they’ll see with this new TV deal. You’ve got to credit Shapiro for not throwing that money into a high-risk guy like Preston Wilson just because he’s got the extra cash. At the same time, I’m tired of having to settle for guys like Byrd and Perez when there were so many better options available. Maybe that means Dolan and Shapiro need to be much more aggressive earlier in the process and perhaps even overpay for someone who represents a clear upgrade in an area of significant need.

All I know is, the White Sox got better this offseason and the Indians did not. Granted, they could improve this year simply because their young talent will continue to mature, but as nice as it is to rely on all of that home-grown talent, you’ve also got to be able to supplement that with some key free agent signings. And I’m not talking about Eduardo Perez.

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