The Cleveland Indians were busy on Wednesday, October 31 first announcing the 2013 Major League Coaching Staff followed by a trio of decisions on players the club held team options on. Every decision is critical as the team will be under the watchful eye of fans this offseason as they hope, prey, and beg for something to look forward to next season.
As the new skipper for the Tribe, one of his first duties was to put together his support group to lead the team next season. As it stands, it appears to be a very talented group.
As expected, Sandy Alomar Jr. was appointed as Cleveland's Bench Coach. It is a role he knows well and keeps the fan favorite in the Indians organization after being turned down for the manager position. Former Houston Astros manager Brad Mills was named Third Base Coach while former Columbus Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh takes over First Base Coach duties.
Mickey Callaway, the Tribe's former Minor League Pitching Coordinator takes over as Pitching Coach while Ty Van Burkleo was named Hitting Coach. Van Burkleo was the Astros interim Hitting Coach at the end of last season and also served as Bench Coach for the Seattle Mariners.
Rounding out the coaching staff is Kevin Cash, former Major League Advance Scout for the Toronto Blue Jays. Cash will serve as Bullpen Coach.
Francona's staff is a good mix of internal candidates that know the organization as well as some new blood that will bring much to the table. The staff owns a combined 148 years of experience in professional baseball.
Does this mean goodbye?
The Indians chose to pick up Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75 million contract for next season believing it would be less expensive than if he were to head to arbitration. It is a similar situation to Roberto Hernandez last season where he would remain under team control had they not exercised the team option. Jimenez went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts last season. He has been a huge disappointment since being acquired in 2011 for prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz.
Cleveland also opted to decline a $13 million option on Travis Hafner and a $6 million option on Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez went 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA after returning from the Dominican Republic due to false identity charges while Hafner had yet another injury-plagued season batting .228 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 66 games. Hafner and Hernandez are eligible for free agency.
The Indians made moves that were expected. There was very little doubt Cleveland would run the risk of paying more than $5.75 million for Jimenez. If he has yet another disappointing season, he is as good as gone.
Hernandez was simply a risk not worth taking at $6 million. Yes his contract was restructured after the identity fiasco last season, but he has been inconsistent for years. That money is better suited for a player that has more to offer.
While some can consider Hafner a fan favorite, $13 million for an often-injured player nearing the twilight of his career is to high a price to pay for a team on a tight budget. Now, Cleveland is free from such an overpriced contract with money to spend on a position player or two that can make a real contribution.
As free agents, Hernandez and Hafner can return to Cleveland (likely for less money) or opt to offer their services elsewhere.
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Paul Rados is an avid Cleveland Indians fan and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @PSRados.
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