Offseason price wasn't right for Tribe

Offseason price wasn't right for Tribe

CLEVELAND -- The Tribe's plan in the offseason was to find another bat -- someone whose stick could bring some firepower to either left field, right field or third base.

By all accounts, the Indians went looking, too. They didn't find anybody, not at a price the organization wanted to pay, manager Eric Wedge said Saturday.

"A real bad deal is a real bad deal," Wedge said. "You know what I mean?"

He pointed out that the organization did put time and energy into trying to acquire a productive bat, but those kinds of bats weren't everywhere to be found on the trading market.

At times last offseason, various names were bandied about, including Pirates outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, as possibilities. But if those talks with Pittsburgh were more than mere rumor, they didn't lead to anything, aside from more trade rumors.

"The last thing we wanted to do was give up some of our players up here if we didn't feel like it was going to make us better," he said. "If you look at the free-agent list, that was pretty much self-explanatory.

"So it kind of is what it is."

What that has left the Indians with is a lineup that looks much the same as last season, though it hasn't produced anywhere near the run totals as the 2007 team did.

Those prospects didn't look so foreboding -- not at the start of the season. But neither Wedge nor anybody else in the organization could have predicted the struggles on offense, where the Tribe entered Saturday ranking next to last in the American League in team batting average (.240).

Many of the men that Wedge had been counting on in his batting order this season have had early struggles.

From Jhonny Peralta to Asdrubal Cabrera to Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko, the offense hasn't kept pace with the pitching staff. Even with starter Jake Westbrook and closer Joe Borowski on the disabled list, the pitching staff ranks among the league's best.

Wedge was quick to point out that these offensive struggles are happening in April and May, not in August. It does make a difference. Players have plenty of time to break out of their offensive funks.

"There's a sense of urgency every day -- don't get me wrong," Wedge said. "But, you know, you also have to always recognize where you're at."

He said he's seeing progress with the Indians' hitting. As an example, he mentioned the good work the Tribe did Friday night against Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The Indians worked the count against Halladay, and in the seventh inning, they knocked him out of the ballgame.

"Those are the small victories that you look for," Wedge said.

The players are working hard, he said. He's not in panic mode, he said. He's remained optimistic that the hard work will display itself in time.

"Those guys are going to continue to get better and get more confidence," Wedge said. "We'll get [it] going. I mean, we're not that far removed from these guys having a lot of success up there."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.