The Indians' offer to Shane Victorino was only moderately crazy

Jeff Zelevansky

The Cleveland Indians allowed 845 runs last year, which was the highest total in the American League.

Put that in a frame. Hang it on a wall. Study it. Walk around it, hand on your chin as you quietly ponder its significance.

If I could be so bold, I have a theory. It's possible the Indians need more pitching. I usually don't go in for abstract stuff like that, but hear me out. To get Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians traded away their two best pitching prospects. Then Ubaldo completely went in the tank, so you can see how they're in a bit of a pickle.

Now let's stop and switch gears for a bit. What's going right with the Indians? Carlos Santana, certainly. They have a nice, young infield with Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Their bullpen is pretty slick. And they have a young center fielder, Michael Brantley, who's gotten better every year he's been in the league. Why, with a first baseman and a left fielder, they could be okay.

Except for the pitching, of course. There's no way to sugarcoat that part.

So you would have to expect the Indians to enter the offseason with a spot of tunnel vision. Pitching, pitching, pitching. They can cross their fingers and hope a few things work out -- Ubaldo and Justin Masterson rebound, Zack McAllister develops -- but they can also supplement those hopes with an acquisition or two. They don't have to give part-ownership to Zack Greinke. There are second-tier guys like Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson, and third-tier guys like Francisco Liriano and Mike Pelfrey. There are options and fallbacks, and if all else fails, they still have a lot of internal candidates for rotation spots, at least.

But another pitcher would be nice, especially if the team has a little money to spend. At least, that's what you think before you remember the Indians have no money. Ha. Nice try. Now move along and discuss the merits of David Huff vs. Chris Seddon.

Except Indians do have a little money to spend. From the Mayor of the Winter Meetings:

Now give that the same treatment as the first sentence of this article. Really think about what it means. Walk around it and drink it in.

It doesn't make a lick of sense.

At least, not at first. Twitter at the Winter Meetings sends us all scrambling around like ants when someone blows on them, and maybe there's something we're not seeing. It sure looks like the one cash infusion for the Indians' roster was going to go to a 31-year-old center fielder, even though their current center fielder is perfectly fine. Which would be kind of nuts.

Or maybe, just maybe, talks are progressing quite nicely with the teams interested in Asdrubal Cabrera. They'll certainly get a major-league-ready pitcher back if a deal is made, and there are a couple teams who would be a good fit. The A's and the Diamondbacks both want a shortstop, and both of those teams are leaking young pitchers.

Maybe Cleveland is counting on a young pitcher instead of a free agent. Something might be close. And the same could be said about a potential trade of Shin-Soo Choo. The Indians could be quite confident that they'll get a pitcher back, or possibly a middle infielder to help fill Cabrera's spot in the lineup. After all those deals, what would the Indians need?

An outfielder.

It's so crazy, it just might work.

Now, you can argue the merits of Victorino compared to other available outfielders and debate whether he was a perfect fit for the Indians (probably not). But the idea of the Indians taking their modest nest egg and buying an outfielder isn't so crazy. The only problem is that to get there, you have to assume they're trading one or two of their very best hitters for young pitchers.

With Victorino gone, it remains to be seen if the Indians will go after another outfielder (Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross), or if they just had a Victorino fetish they can't really explain to the layperson. They probably dodged a bullet with Victorino, who looked horrible last year. But if they're really expecting to get some young pitching back in a trade, and if they really have extra millions to spend, they'll overpay for an outfielder somewhere. Even if it doesn't make any sense now, it probably will make a little sense by March.

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