With over 47 of 69 remaining games against Central Division foes, the Cleveland Indians will have only themselves to blame if they do not win a division crown. At 13-12 against the Central this year, the team will have to improve if they are to make the postseason. As we creep towards the end of July we enter the Trade Deadline Zone in Major League baseball, and time when teams try and decide once and for all if they are Contenders or Pretenders.
What should the Indians do? In reality, can they do anything? GM Chris Antonetti has said that ownership will not hinder him from making a move that he feels could propel the Tribe back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007, but with so many teams in the running and financial resources always an issue for the Indians it is hard to believe the team can make a season-altering move before July 31.
Let's look at a few of the names that have been connected to the Tribe and decide if these are dreams or realites.
RYAN LUDWICK, LF - SAN DIEGO PADRES - One of the top names on the list is a guy Indians fans know pretty well. Ludwick played for the Indians from 2003, when he was acquired from the Texas Rangers, until 2005. He struggled to get on the field, however, for the Indians and fell of the baseball map until 2007 when he reappeared in St. Louis playing for the Cardinals. In 2008, Ludwick shocked the baseball world when he hit 37 home runs while driving in 113. Having Albert Pujols in your lineup certainly helps.
Since being traded to the San Diego Padres, Ludwick has struggled. He hit just .211 after the trade in 2010, and is hitting just .238 this year. He does provide some pop, however, and he would give the Indians a defensive presence in the outfield with Shin-Soo Choo still recovering from thumb surgery.
Probability - 60/40
CARLOS BELTRAN, OF - NEW YORK METS - The fact that Beltran's name is on this list at all may come as a surprise, but the Mets are willing to pick up a big portion of Beltran's contract if they get a good haul in return. Of course, Beltran has a no-trade clause meaning he could deny any deal to a team he doesn't want to play for.
That said, could Beltran decide to take a flier on a team like the Indians, playing in a weak division? He would at least have to think about it, and the Indians would at least have to pick up the phone to find out.
PROBABILITY - 10/90
ANY STARTING PITCHER - While fans would likely want a bat, the Indians big need at the Trade Deadline may just be a starting pitcher. The rotation that started the season so brilliantly is breaking down. Fausto Carmona returns from the disabled list on Monday night to face the Twins, but he was awful before. Mitch Talbot has struggled, and the Indians have gotten mixed results from the minor leagues. David Huff will be the latest Columbus call-up though his chances at the Major League level might be running out. The Indians need to add someone behind Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco before time runs out.
PROBABILITY - 70/30