As Shapiro defended the Coco Crisp trade this weekend, pleading with fans to be patient (what other choice do we have?), he added that he was having "zero discussions" right now about any other trades.
But this fly keeps buzzing around the Cleveland media, saying the Indians continue to dangle Jake Westbrook in front of the Reds for outfielder Austin Kearns.
It's hard to believe the Indians would want to stand pat with a corner outfield corps of Todd Hollandsworth, Jason Michaels and the incomparable Casey Blake. But as we all know, Shapiro holds his cards close to his vest and never rushes into anything. In a small-market setting, it is a great attribute to have as a general manager.
But something has to be done. I cringe at the idea of having the Indians' left fielders and right fielder combine for 30 home runs and 70 RBI. The whole purpose of this off-season was to upgrade the bottom third of the batting order so the rest of the lineup wasn't lugging it around like a ball and chain. Instead, the bottom third of the lineup might be worse than at the end of last season.
I commented on Zach's blog last week that I had no desire to trade Westbrook right now. In the aftermath of the Crisp trade, however, I have changed my mind. If Westbrook can get the Indians Kearns, that is.
Rumor has it that if the Indians trade Westbrook, Shapiro might be able to swing a one-year deal for free agent pitcher Jeff Weaver, a one-time prized prospect of the Tigers who is in limbo as the off-season winds down.
Even if that doesn't happen, there are plenty of young pitchers already in the Indians' farm system. Let Jason Davis, Fausto Carmona and Jeremy Sowers compete for the open spot in spring training. If none of them win the job, there's always a stopgap on the waiver wire somewhere.
I'd much rather hold onto Westbrook, but the situation at the bottom of the batting order just makes me really uncomfortable. Having Kearns would allay my discomfort. Having Andy Marte and Ryan Garko assert themselves as rising major-league stars would make me feel a lot better a year from now.