The Cleveland Indians appear to be on the rise but have some work to do this offseason to keep things moving in the right direction.
The Indians' main focus in the coming weeks and months will be on the outfield and at first base as there are some holes there that need to be filled.
Cleveland declined its $9 million option on Grady Sizemore and it appears Sizemore will move on and continue his career with another team. Cleveland is not going to tie up that much money in a player who hasn't been able to stay healthy the last few seasons. The Indians just can't afford the risk.
As for options in the outfield, Cleveland can look at a group of players that include veterans and younger players that may have more potential but also have more question marks.
Carlos Beltran, Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, David DeJesus, Coco Crisp and Johnny Damon are among the free agent outfielders Cleveland could land for the 2012 season.
With Jim Thome gone and Matt LaPorta not panning out, the Indians also need to find a firs tbaseman who can field the position and offer some power at the plate.
Acquired in 2008 from the Milwaukee Brewers as part of the CC Sabathia deal, LaPorta has not been the player the Indians envisioned over the past two seasons.
Names like Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Aubrey Huff, Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are out there but they would likely be too expensive for Cleveland's tastes.
Former Indian Russell Branyan is a possibility but Cleveland may balk at his penchant for striking out.
One thing is for sure, the Indians can not afford to strike out regarding who they fill these openings with if they want to contend in the AL Central next season.
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