Millwood, Almonte, and….Juan Gonzalez?

It looks like things are starting to happen with Kevin Millwood and his agent, Scott Boras. WTAM and AP writer Tom Withers are both saying that Millwood is close to signing with the Indians for about $7M plus incentives. The Indians put Millwood’s arm under the microscope, and apparently they’re satisfied that he’ll be healthy for 2005. Millwood would probably slot behind CC Sabathia and Jake Westbrook in the rotation, although I think Millwood should be better than Jake. This would also move Jason Davis to the bullpen, where he may be more effective. If the Indians can get 210 innings out of Millwood, they’d have to be thrilled. If he gets injured, the rotation’s in trouble in 2005, but they also won’t have his salary on the books in 2006. I’d really like for there to be a team option for next year…maybe $8-9M, but Boras is probably smarter than that; If Millwood is good enough to warrant the Indians picking up the option, he could get much more money (and years) from another team. Either way, it’s a nice value signing for the Indians.

The other day, the Indians announced they had sold Erick Almonte to the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League. For Almonte, this is a great move; he’ll make a lot more money in Japan, and could parlay a good season in Japan to a major-league deal next season. For the Indians, they lose their Plan C shortstop. He would have been a nice 25th man, or at the very least a fallback in Buffalo.

Now what about Juan Gonzalez? I’ll admit that bringing Juan back didn’t even enter the picture when thinking about who the Indians would target. If it’s a minor-league deal, great; the team gets to see if Juan’s back is fine, and see how he looks. What I can’t understand is where he’d fit in if he does make the club. Justice B. Hill speculates that Coco Crisp would move to center, and Grady Sizemore would be optioned to Buffalo. I don’t see that happening unless Sizemore is hurt; Grady is ready for the majors, and sending him back to AAA wouldn’t do much good at all. Juan could be Aaron Boone insurance; if Boone couldn’t play early in the season, Casey Blake would move back to third, and Juan would take over in right. Or maybe the Indians want him to challenge Ryan Ludwick for the backup outfielder’s job. Given his durability issues, a part-time role might work out; but Juan has never had any real platoon splits. I guess I’ll have to hold judgment until I see how the Indians envision Juan’s role on the team if he makes the club.

Finally, John at ‘Till You’re Blue in the Face has his Michael Aubrey scouting report up. While you’re there, check his other prospect reports out. Also, I’d like to welcome to the Indians blogosphere Knuckleball Sandwich and Tribe Report. Hopefully you’ll make them part of your daily surf.

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