It’s time to sell for the Tribe

Kenny Roda will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the entire Cleveland sports universe. Check back often for his updates!

A 1-4 start out of the All-Star break to drop their record to 41-51 and 21 1/2 games behind first place Detroit proves what I’ve been thinking all along. The 2006 season is history. It’s time once again to start thinking about next year and beyond. So that means it’s time for Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro to raise the white flag on the season and start sending out the “For Sale” signals to all of the serious playoff contenders in the major leagues who might be looking for a few players.

What do the Indians have to offer to all the buyers out there? Actually, if one or two of these players end up in the right situation, like David Justice did a few years ago with the Yankees, they might flourish, or at least play a key role in helping a contender make it to the playoffs.

Ranked in order of desirability:

1) Paul Byrd – A veteran pitcher who has been to the post-season before. In fact, he was the only starter to beat the World Champion Chicago White Sox last year in the playoffs. Byrd, in 18 starts for the Wahoo Warriors this year, is 6-6 with a 4.26 ERA. He has one year left on a two-year deal that totals about $14.5 million dollars. The Indians would be getting rid of salary, which would make owner Larry Dolan happy. GM Mark Shapiro should be able to get something in return that could help their farm system and the team that deals for Byrd will get the starter they need. Teams in need of a starter like Byrd? Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, A’s, Rangers and Cardinals just to name a few.

2) Ronnie Belliard – A versatile player who is being showcased, in my opinion, at third base right now by the Tribe. Why you ask? Because the Indians would love to trade third baseman Aaron Boone but who is going to take a corner player hitting .249 with only four home runs and 36 RBI, not to mention leading the team in errors? So enter Belliard, playing second or third base, hitting a respectable .287 with 8 dingers and 43 ribbies. The only drawback is that he’s a free agent at the end of the season. This is a reason the Indians would love to deal him, but it may hurt their chances because a team may not want to give up much for a player they may lose after this season. The Padres are in desperate need of a third baseman. If I were Shapiro, I say to San Diego, “How about I throw in Boone for free?. That way, if one doesn’t work out you can try the other?”. Here’s hoping the Indians dump Boone somehow, some way soon so we can get a look at third base prospect Andy Marte.

3) Bob Wickman – Another wiley old vet who the Indians I’m sure would like to get rid of, since he too will be a free agent at the end of the year and isn’t part of their rebuilding, I mean, growing process. Wicky is the Tribe’s closer, posting a 1-4 mark with 14 saves and a 4.33 ERA. Teams in need of a closer, set-up guy, or any kind of bullpen help would get a player who could serve in all of those roles. This again would allow the Indians to get something in return for Wickman, dump his remaining salary, and give an opportunity for Bobby Howry to be their…oh wait, they didn’t keep Howry to be their closer. They could see if they have a closer in the making in guys like Jason Davis, Fausto Carmona or Fernado Cabrera.

4) Ben Broussard – For whatever reason, Wedge or the organization just doesn’t believe in Broussard. Granted, he’s played mainly against right handed pitching, but he is hitting .321 on the year with 11 home runs and 41 RBI. He would fit nicely into a Yankee Stadium and that short porch in right field. Besides starting pitching, the Yanks are indeed looking for a first baseman! And the more I think about it, the Indians would love to get rid of Broussard and here’s why. He’s arbitration eligible after this season, the money again factoring in with Dolan’s Discounts. They have Ryan Garko down on the farm waiting for his chance in the bigs. Plus they have a catcher in Victor Martinez who may have to move to first because he can’t throw out any would-be base stealers.

5) Todd Hollandsworth – His numbers aren’t bad for a part-time player (.250 – 6 HR – 26 RBI). I’m sure the Indians would like to get Franklin Gutierrez more playing time to see if he can make it at the major league level. Plus Holly is another vet that could be helpful to a contender coming of the bench, but you won’t get much for him.

6) Jake Westbrook – Another starting pitcher that could peak some team’s interest with a 7-5 record and a 4.44 earned run average. The Indians might actually get something for him if a team is desperate enough for starting pitching. Again, he falls into that free agent at the end of the season category and is in the final year of a two-year deal. The Tribe holds a club option for next year at $5.6 million, which again with Dolan’s Discounts may be too rich to keep him.

So let the fire sale begin and get as much as you can for next year and beyond. And speaking of getting rid of guys, you might as well pull the plug on Eric Wedge. Grab one of the hot prospects now to be your manager of the future before somebody else does. My list includes Larry Bowa, Tony Pena, Bud Black, Lou Pinella, Orel Hershiser and Sandy Alomar. Heck, you could name one of these guys your manager and another one of them your bench coach and put together a real coaching staff instead of the cheap coaching stiffs you have now.

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