A pretty even-handed article, in my opinion. Well, except for the fact that he’s voting for Vizquel for the Hall of Fame, but that’s for another time to discuss.
I’m definitely not sold on Casey Blake the second baseman or even Casey Blake the outfielder, but even so, Blake is a better investment for next season than Vizquel. He’ll be getting a big bump in salary, as he’s a “super-2” and eligible for arbitration, but all things being equal, should be more productive than Vizquel. The big thing to remember is that Ben Broussard finishing the year strong forced the hand of Shapiro, who probably figured Blake would move over to first base after the season when he signed Aaron Boone. Well, Broussard finished the season hitting .275/.370/.488, something you can’t ignore. So now Blake’s position is in limbo, depending on what happens with Ronnie Belliard.
Here’s a rough chart as to where the Indians are going to see appeciable increases in salary:
Casey Blake +3M
Aaron Boone +3M
Jake Westbrook +3M
FA Starter +7M
Bob Howry +1M
Scott Elarton +1M
David Riske +$500k
Lou Merloni +$500k
CC Sabathia +$2M
Closer +3M (assuming Wickman isn’t coming back)
Scott Sauerbeck +$1M?
That’s roughly an increase in salary of $25M. The Indians will lose $6.5M from Vizquel ($7.5M minus the $1M buyout), roughly $1M each from Ronnie Belliard, Jose Jiminez and Scott Stewart, and $5.0M from Bob Wickman. So it looks like a net payroll increase (from my standpoint) of around $11M, which would be in the middle of the range promised by ownership. Of course, this could change drastically over the offseason, but at least it gives us some kind of starting point to go by.