The Indians have done what I would love to do if given the opportunity to be a general manager. They have themselves a starting pitching staff of ground ballers. Their projected starting pitchers are as follows (in no particular order)
Ground Ball % (2011)
In order for these pitchers to have success (with the exception of Tomlin) is to have the defence turn those groundballs into outs. The Indians as they currently stand are not in a good position to field groundballs.
Matt LaPorta (1B)
Jason Kipnis (2B)
Only Hannahan is a good defender. I am going to give Kipnis the benefit of the doubt as he is a converted outfielder who should improve defensively as he plays more 2B. Signing Casey Kotchman (1.6 UZR in 2011, and widely considered an elite defender) would solve the first base issue. That just leaves short stop as the main hole in the Indians infield. I propose a blockbuster trade that would shake up the AL Central.
TRADE ASDRUBAL CABRERA TO THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX FOR ALEXI RAMIREZ
Why the Indians would do this.
Ramirez had an 11.9 UZR in 2011, which lead all shortstops. He has been an elite defender for the last few seasons. Ramirez would provide the Indians the short stop they need. The offence that they would lose with Ramirez will be made up for with his glove.
Why the White Sox would do this.
Ramirez hit just .269/.328/.399 last season and is a career .279/.323/.421. Cabrera hit .273/.332/.460 last season and is a career .281/.343/.414. The benefit for the White Sox in this trade is the additional offence they gain with Cabrera over Ramirez. Cabrera had more HR, RBI, runs, SB, doubles, and the same amount of walks in 2011. Put Cabrera in US Cellular field and he will be even better than he was with the Indians. The defence that the White Sox would lose with Cabrera would be made up for with his bat.
This blockbuster trade along with the signing of Casey Kotchman would give the Indians a much better chance to overtake the Tigers in AL Central.