Signed free agent LHRP Scott Sauerbeck to a minor-league contract with a club option for 2005
Sauerbeck will not pitch this season thanks to off-season shoulder surgery, so essentially it’s a delayed one-year contract. If healthy, Sauerbeck would be a nice leftie to pair with Scott Stewart next year. You could also look at this as the first piece the Indians added for their playoff run in 2005. But either way, it’s a nice low-risk move for the Indians.
Now that it’s been confirmed that Bob Wickman will miss a big chunk of this season, David Riske will assume the closer’s role, and Jimenez will move into a setup role.
The only two position battles are starting to heat up:
4th/5th Starter: Chad Durbin, coming off surgery, has a big start coming up on Sunday against the Expos. If he doesn’t pitch well, he’s probably out of the running. Jake Westbrook hasn’t really lost a spot in the rotation, Jason Stanford has probably pitched better than the other four competitors, and Jeff D’Amico and Jason Bere have the vaunted titles of “veterens”. In a perfect world, I think the Indians would prefer that Westbrook and D’Amico are the 4th and 5th starters, Bere and Durbin head to Buffalo, and Stanford sticks around in the bullpen as the second leftie/longman.
Utility Infielder: The more Ricky Gutierrez plays, the more it appears that John McDonald will be playing with someone else when the season starts. Gutierrez has a larger contract than McDonald, and is a much better hitter than McDonald. McDonald is definitely the better fielder, but on a team that needs as much offense as it can get, his lack of hitting is a definite concern. Lou Merloni looks to have the inside track on the Bill Selby Memorial 25th man, as he can play the infield and outfield, and unlike Selby (and Sorensen) he can hit.