Indians approached, but aren't budging
Talks heat up with other clubs, Tribe doesn't pull trigger
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The regularity of the ringing of the phone and the rapping upon the hotel room door picked up considerably for the Indians on Wednesday.But the reality remains the same. The Indians are inert at these Winter Meetings, though general manager Mark Shapiro did, at the least, seem intrigued by the increased attention his club received from other teams on the penultimate day of activity at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. "It's more initiated by other teams, because we're not aggressively looking to do anything," Shapiro said. "When you're in an environment like this, you have to fight the urge to do something just to do something. You have to ensure that, if you are, it makes your team better. Thus far, we haven't found the right thing." Shapiro is shaking off the unmistakable urge to do something drastic to combat the shockwave the rival Tigers sent through these proceedings with their acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. With one fell swoop, the Tigers have ensured themselves the infatuation of scribes and talking heads making their predictions for next season's American League Central champion. And add the Indians' front-office staff to the mix of those who were surprised to see Detroit pull off such a blockbuster trade without giving up any likely members of their Opening Day roster for '08. But while his emotions might want to make a knee-jerk reaction to the Tigers' upping of the ante, Shapiro's mind is telling him what it's said all along this offseason -- that the Indians have a young, deep team worth retaining. "You make bad decisions when you get emotional and try to build your team to beat somebody else," he said. "We've built our team to be as good as it can be. We've shown that when we do that, we're capable of being a championship-caliber team." That's not to say Shapiro doesn't have offers to alter that team.
Though the Indians haven't been mentioned in many hot rumors at these meetings -- with the exception of the bogus Jason Bay rumblings that sprung up again Wednesday morning -- there is a growing sense that teams are lining up for some of the Tribe's talent. Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach is drawing interest, though the Indians place a high value on him because of the dearth of upper-level catching talent available in their system and elsewhere and the way they use Shoppach to spell Victor Martinez on the days Martinez starts at first base. Left-hander Cliff Lee, who has two years and about $9.5 million remaining on his contract, might also be an attractive arm to those who lose out in the sweepstakes involving Johan Santana and Erik Bedard. Again, though, the Indians value their depth in the starting department. As for the Indians' needs, they remain as the direct desire to acquire a utility infielder with speed and range up the middle and the opportunistic desire to improve the offensive production in the corner outfield. They'll only seal the deal on the latter option if it provides incremental improvement over in-house options David Dellucci in left and Franklin Gutierrez in right. "I wouldn't characterize our chances right now as being very good to do that," Shapiro said of acquiring an impact outfield bat. "There's just such a limited supply. But I still don't think it's impossible." But what appears probable is that the Indians will walk out of these meetings on Thursday without having made a major move.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.