I was touched by the many e-mails, tweets and personal conversations I received last week in response to my column on Major League Baseball's Stand Up To Cancer auction during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. It was hard to reply to everyone, so consider this my message of gratitude.
It was even more touching to see the wave of support that was poured into the event, which raised more than $150,000 for cancer research and treatment. The Indians' special gameday package received 19 bids, with the winning offer coming in at $2,525 for SU2C. Thank you to everyone who took part, and to those who took time to reach out.
Here is this week's Indians Inbox ...
I was born and raised in Nashville (my basement is dedicated to the Tribe) about seven minutes from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. I had a chance to come down to the Winter Meetings and check things out. How about those Christmas lights?
After agreeing to sign Mark Reynolds to a contract, is there any meat left on the bone for the Indians to still bring in Nick Swisher? I attended the Yankees-Indians series last year, and between innings while "Hang on Sloopy" was playing over the loud speakers, I spotted Swisher doing the O-H-I-O with the fans in right field. Genuine moment. He seems like a great fit for Cleveland on so many different levels.
-- Chris S., Nashville, Tenn.
The Opryland is certainly something to behold during the holiday season. For last week's Meetings, I actually had my wife and son in tow so they could enjoy all the festivities while I searched the halls for baseball rumors. Our 3-year-old son was in heaven with all the lights, trees, waterfalls and the boat ride down the hotel's river.
We spent the weekend playing tourist in and around Nashville, too. What a great city. I wasn't sure we'd need to eat for a few days after getting dinner at the Loveless Cafe. I should probably get to your question, though.
As of this writing, the Indians were still very much in the mix for Swisher. His Ohio ties are well known, so playing here might be appealing. A four-year contract offer -- surely worth more than the $44 million offered to Shane Victorino -- is likely appealing, too. New Indians manager Terry Francona has also personally reached out to Swisher in an effort to reel in the outfielder.
On the field, Swisher would provide solid power and on-base ability for a Cleveland offense that could use improvement in both areas. Swisher has played mostly right field, but he has experience in left (vacant at the moment) and at first base. He could even spend time as a designated hitter on occasion. In the clubhouse, he could help take some pressure off the Tribe's young players.
I think the Indians have a good signing with Reynolds, and many people seem to think the team is now backing down on Kevin Youkilis. Do you think the Indians should still make a move on Youk and put him at third and sometimes at DH?
-- Steven P., Kingsville, Ohio
Third base belongs to youngster Lonnie Chisenhall, though there will be some at-bats available there on his days off. It also never hurts to have a backup plan in case Chisenhall slumps or gets injured (both Reynolds and Youkilis can play third). In order to have both Reynolds and Youkilis, they would likely need to be sold on a shared rotation between first and DH. It might be unlikely, but it is certainly a possibility.
With Reynolds signed to a similar deal as Casey Kotchman last season, are the Indians just using a revolving door at the position while they hope for someone to emerge from the farm system? A guy like Jesus Aguilar is very close to Major League ready, isn't he?
-- Michael, Salem, Ore.
The Indians have some in-house options for first base in Russ Canzler, Mike McDade, Lars Anderson and Chris McGuiness, but Aguilar definitely best fits the description of prospect. Cleveland might have something in the other internal alternatives, but Aguilar is certainly a rising star in the system. He was only at Double-A last season, though, so he might still be a year or two away from reaching the big leagues.
How likely do you believe a trade of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is this offseason?
-- James K., Cleveland
Where there is smoke, there is fire. And there has been a lot of smoke over the past few weeks. With their free-agent targets, the Indians have shown they are trying to address their main roster holes. With their willingness to explore trades for Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and others, the Indians have shown a desire to strengthen the team's long-term position. Cabrera's value is high right now, so it makes complete sense for the Tribe to attempt to net a solid package of players, especially if top pitching prospects can be acquired.
What are the chances for the Tribe to pick up both Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs from Arizona in a trade for Asdrubal Cabrera. And where would they fit into the rotation?
-- Jake C., Athens, Ohio
I think it is fair to assume Cleveland would acquire one of Bauer or Skaggs in any trade resulting in Cabrera heading to the D-backs. If the Tribe can get both as part of a deal, I think it should pull the trigger. I'm not sure Arizona is desperate enough to let both go in a deal. As for where the young pitchers would fall in Cleveland's rotation, let's get them in Indians uniforms before we start that speculation.
I don't know if this has been addressed yet, but what does the plan seem to be for Josh Tomlin? Are the Indians going to keep him in the bullpen or put him back in the rotation?
-- Cal H., San Jose, Calif.
Tomlin will miss most, if not all, of the 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. When he does eventually return, Cleveland will probably have him work as a starter. That said, we're getting way ahead of ourselves on this one. Ask me again next December.
I think the Indians' attempts to improve the offense are great. Although it won't matter if the team is giving up six runs per game. What's the latest on the pitching front as far as the in-house plans and the search for outside help?
-- Rex H., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The pitching market has been slower to develop this offseason, so Cleveland has been more aggressive on the position-player side out of the gates. Once more chips begin to fall on the pitching front, expect there to be more clarity concerning the Tribe's search. The Indians need to add an arm or two before the season starts. Right now, the rotation projects to include Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez are also in the mix.
In closing ...
Over the last few months, I've heard thousands of words about trading this guy or buying that guy, but I haven't heard one word about Grady Sizemore. So, what's going on with him?
-- Mike T., Charlotte, N.C.
Well, Mike, I hope you're sitting down. It turns out Sizemore underwent another microfracture knee surgery -- this time on his right knee. The snake-bitten center fielder will be sidelined until at least midseason. I wouldn't expect him to be signing anywhere for quite some time.