Trade opens more opportunities

Trade opens more opportunities

CLEVELAND -- General manager Mark Shapiro ran out of ways to say it.

The player to be named that the Indians could possibly receive after sending Paul Byrd to the Red Sox on Tuesday will likely never exist.

And the Tribe's general manager is just OK with that. He found a buyer willing to take on the $2 million left on Byrd's salary this season and, more importantly, he freed up all-important space on the team's roster for a pitcher that could be in the mix next season.

It's a move that falls in line with what Shapiro has preached since he traded CC Sabathia in early July. Sure, wins are nice and the more they occur the better. But, to be back in contention next season, Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge need to get clear looks at as many players as possible.

Think of it as three extra months of Spring Training -- just in front of a few more fans and a little more importance on wins and losses.

"We look within the wins and losses every day and try to find certain indicators on the players we're evaluating," Shapiro said. "It provides us with more information to make better decisions in the offseason."

So, as the Indians continue their four-game series with the Orioles on Wednesday at Progressive Field, Shapiro will continue to have a watchful eye on the fringe players who may or may not be back for 2009.

For starters, there will be the pitcher Shapiro and Wedge decide to call up to replace Byrd -- scheduled to start Thursday -- in the starting rotation. Whether it be Zach Jackson, who was acquired in the Sabathia trade, or Aaron Laffey, who started for the Tribe from late April to late July, the player will likely be here for the remainder of the season.

But that doesn't mean more opportunities won't abound for the player not chosen.

When rosters expand in September, Shapiro plans to take full advantage of it. How he plans to approach it, however, is still in the works.

One thing is certain, though: He won't be calling up the whole farm just to do it.

"We don't want to call guys up just to have them here," Shapiro said. "The guys we call up, we want to provide either a meaningful opportunity or either a meaningful experience."

Shapiro said he will provide a list of players he would like to see in September to Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis. From there, the trio will discuss whether or not there are enough meaningful at-bats or innings to "make sure the experience would be worthwhile."

"We don't want to overpopulate the clubhouse," Shapiro said.

One player Indians fans may want to get a look at, but won't likely see in an Indians uniform this season is Matt LaPorta -- the key acquisition in the Sabathia trade. Since the Tribe acquired him, the 23-year-old slugging outfielder, who currently is playing for the U.S. Team in Beijing, has been just about everywhere except Double-A Akron.

"This guy hasn't been in one place for five days since we traded for him," Shapiro said. "I'm not sure [calling him up to the Majors] would be a constructive use of time."

But with the Tribe winning again Tuesday -- its fifth straight and eighth out of 11 games -- and a number of underperforming players stepping up, the pieces to the plan Shapiro mapped out when 2008 had to be scrapped looks to be falling into place.

"I hope over the next 45 to 50 games that continues to happen," Shapiro said. "We can head into the offseason both with positive momentum and with more information to make decisions."

Pitching matchup
CLE: RHP Anthony Reyes (3-1, 3.86 ERA)
Reyes, acquired from the Cardinals on July 26 and initially sent to Triple-A Buffalo, gave up just one run on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Blue Jays on Friday in his Tribe debut. The Indians were intrigued by Reyes because he was once the top prospect of the Cards and the winner of Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. This was but a single start, but it was a promising one for an Indians team trying to figure out its rotation options for 2009 and beyond.

BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (9-8, 3.26 ERA)
Guthrie followed up what was arguably his best performance of the season -- a complete-game four-hitter against the Mariners -- with an equally outstanding outing Friday. Guthrie threw seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits against the Rangers, earning his ninth win of the season in the Orioles' 9-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night. The one run Guthrie allowed was a solo homer to Chris Davis, and outside of that one at-bat, the right-hander was in control all night, using an especially effective slider to fool the Rangers' hitters. Guthrie has now been able to get the win in his last three consecutive starts.

Tidbits
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians have scored the sixth-most runs in the Majors since June 1. They still rank eighth in the American League this season. ... The Tribe has won eight of their last 11 games. ... In two outings against his former team last season, Guthrie was tattooed for six runs in 1 1/3 innings. ... The Indians are on pace for 17 shutouts this season, which would be the most since the strike-shortened 1994 season. ... After they broke an eighth-inning tie Tuesday night, Cleveland is now 4-13 when the game is tied after seven innings. It is just 2-11 when the game is tied after eight innings and 1-50 when trailing after eight innings.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

On television
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On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Thursday: Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 8-7, 4.78) at Indians (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Angels (Jered Weaver, 10-9, 4.51) at Indians (Cliff Lee, 16-2, 2.45), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Angels (John Lackey, 9-2, 3.15) at Indians (Fausto Carmona, 5-4, 4.91), 3:55 p.m. ET

Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.