After the Indians disappointing 2009 season that saw them finish a ghastly 65-97, the Tribe brass knew it was time for change. But not just any change. We're talking the real, serious kind of change.
So when General Manager Mark Shapiro took the stairs three at a time to owner Larry Dolan's office for their annual offseason powwow, he wasted no time asking what the budget for 2010 was looking like. Dolan stood up, emptied his pants pockets and dumped a modest pile of coins into Shapiro's cupped hands.
What's this? asked Shapiro, counting about $1.37 in nickles and pennies and a linty piece of Bazooka.
Dolan blinked. Whaddya mean, 'what's this?' Don't you recognize change when you see it?
But how am I supposed to build a winner with this?
You tell me. You're the basketball genius.
Whatever. I just write the checks.
This isn't a check.
That's right; it's change. Real change. That's what you said we needed, right? Now quit wasting time, kid. Go get me some thoroughbreds. And let me get that gum back.
Dolan, seeing Shapiro deflate, threw an arm around his beleaguered GM. C'mon, kid, smile. This is 2010. You read the papers, right? Who's a free agent in 2010?
Haha. Stop fooling. You know who...that one kid. He plays for Cleveland.
This is Cleveland.
Right. Wait, what? I'm talking about that James King kid.
You mean King James?
Yeah, that puppet kid. Heluva player. Sign him.
He's a basketball player!!
Don't be stupid. How can a puppet play basketball?
And so, with a sigh, Shapiro slumped away. After ownership once again busted open the coffers, the Indians will go to training camp having lured the following marquee free agents to Jacob's Field:
Jamey Wright - Nothing says 'committed to winning' like signing a 35-year-old Royals castoff.
Mark Grudzielanek - Nothing says 'commited to winning' like signing a 38-year-old Royals castoff.
Mike Redmond - The 38-year-old Redmond cited the triple he legged out last season as proof that there's a lot left in the tank. The triple was his third in a 12-year career.
Austin Kearns - Tribe deep thinkers hope Kearns, a .198 hitter for Washington last year, can bounce back to the Kearns who tore the cover off the ball at a .266 clip in 2007.
Shelley Duncan - Scraped from the bottom of the Yankees rubbish heap.
Jason Grilli - Journeyman bullpen bum.
Saul Rivera - Another bullpen guy who couldn't cut it on the Nationals.
Luis Rodriguez - Will compete with Grudzielanek to fill the gaping hole left by utility man Jamey Carroll.
Russell Branyan - At one time, when the Indian's farm system was churning out big talent, Branyan was the Indians third baseman of the future. This time around, the Tribe found the journeyman strikeout artist in a bin at Odd Lots and figured he could fill in at DH should Travis Hafner's freefall continue.
Currently, the Indians are 5-0 in Cactus League play. Here's predicting a 60 win season.
Oh, and Chief Wahoo is still on the uniforms.