Sunday, August 10, 2008
Byrd Rolls - Does This Affect Indians '08 Rotation?
It seemed inevitable a month ago that Paul Byrd's career as a Cleveland Indian was winding down. The veteran was 3-10 after a loss on the 4th of July with an ERA over 5 and the most HRs allowed in the Major Leagues. Four straight wins later -- with no dingers given up -- the veteran is the hottest name pitcher on the waiver wire trade market. But do the Indians want to give Byrd up? With the trade of C.C. Sabathia, the loss of Jake Westbrook (Tommy John surgery puts his '09 campaign in question), the up-and-down nature of young hurlers Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers and the recent injury struggles of Fausto Carmona, would the Tribe consider bringing back the savvy Byrd for one, maybe two more seasons? It makes sense from a stability and leadership standpoint. Byrd has been consistent in the last 2+ seasons as an Indian being good for double digit wins and excellent control (230 strikeouts to only 90 walks) while bringing an excellent presence to the clubhouse day in and day out. It also makes sense from a monetary position. After being signed to a 2-year, $14 million contract in 2006, the Tribe picked up Byrd's club option for $7.5 million in 2008. There is no doubt that at 37 years old and towards the end of Byrd's career that he will be cheaper this time around. The simple fact may be that the Indians can't afford to take a chance on minor leaguers such as David Huff or youngsters such as Laffey and Sowers when they are looking to put this disappointing season behind them. Unless Mark Shapiro really feels confident about making a serious run at bringing back Sabathia (who rejected an Indians offer for $19 mil a year earlier this season) or picking up other Brewer ace Ben Sheets, it will probably be a guy like Randy Wolf of the Astros, an aging, relatively cheap back of the rotation starter. Don't we already one of those? Anthony Reyes may have pitched himself into the mix with 6.1 one-run innings, picking up the win in his Tribe debut last week vs. Toronto. However, like Laffey and Sowers, Reyes is young and has struggled in his recent career. If it were up to me, I would make a long run at the man who went 2-0 in last years' playoffs, Paul Byrd. It's not good to maintain roster stability on a team that misses the postseason, but Byrd is a winner, going 32-27 as an Indian. I have no doubt that he would help the Indians as a 4th or 5th starter next season as they look to reach the promised land once again.
My Projected '09 Tribe Starting Rotation
Emergency Starters: Anthony Reyes, Adam Miller, David Huff
Disabled List to start season: Jake Westbrook
A lot of things depend on how Sowers and Laffey finish this 2008 season, but I see them having potential breakout years in 09. Reyes is a relative unknown right now but he could easily be in this mix, as could Adam Miller if he could ever stay healthy. David Huff could make an impact as a late-season call-up. Jake Westbrook would probably bump out Laffey or Sowers when/if he returns from the Disabled List.