The same paper that started the first rumors now say that a deal is close between the Indians and Pirates. Apparently the Pirates requested medical documents on Lawton, which I gather means both clubs are serious about a deal. As it looks now, it's Lawton (and maybe some cash) to the Pirates for Arthur Rhodes. From a talent perspecive, the Indians lose this trade; Lawton, although overpaid, is still a useful player, and was one of the better leadoff hitters in the AL last year. If the Indians use the cash savings to keep Belliard AND land a pitcher like David Wells or Matt Clement, then I say the trade was worthwhile. But if the Indians dump Lawton, keep Belliard, and call it an offseason, it's a bad deal. Given that the trade may happen soon, the Indians may be able to up their offer to Clement or Wells before either pitcher signs with another team.
The Boston Herald says the Indians offered David Wells a one-year deal worth $6M. The Red Sox are also involved, but they have larger fish to fry, most notably Pedro Martinez. I really wouldn't mind landing Wells, given the current market. Russ Ortiz received about $8M a year from the Diamondbacks yesterday, which defies explanation. I think Clement is a better pitcher, and with more teams getting involved, most notably the Angels, who knows what he'll be getting? The middle-tier pitching market has simply gone insane, in my opinion.
Sheldon Ocker also thinks that Shapiro has started to explore the trade route for pitching. Obviously Tim Hudson should be priority #1, but there could be other possibilities. He mentions the Phillies and Coco Crisp, but I would think that Philadelphia isn't really looking for a center fielder after trading for Kenny Lofton last week. But San Diego, San Francisco, and Houston all are in need of one, so there's one possibility. Belliard should also be in demand, and I would think teams like Oakland, Houston and St. Louis have discussed deals for Belliard. Obviously I like the Oakland angle best of all, but it doesn't look like the Indians are among the front-runners for Hudson.
The rules seem to have changed in midstream. Now Shapiro has to get creative in order to get his goals accomplished.