Creativity was always the strong suit of this regime. Between Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, there never is a moment where the duo has not looked to be creative. With a limited budget, you almost have to search low and even lower if you want to find a way to fill your gaps.
Reaching out and trading for starter Derek Lowe and getting the Braves to absorb 2/3rds of his contract is creative.
Signing a mess of bullpen arms that are far from ancient, have had some proven success, but are far from options you can count on is creative.
And when it comes to filling your gap at first base, nabbing a guy who was on waivers in a cash transaction, who has yet to prove himself at the major league level, but certainly could is creative.
No one is saying any of these moves are good or will pan out, but you have to certainly give Chris Antonetti just due for doing what he can with what he has.
Russ Canzler may or may not be the answer at first base. But if the Indians can't lure in a first baseman off the free agent market or through a trade that makes financial sense for them, this is the next best route.
The Indians are getting Canzler as he is coming off a International League MVP season in which he popped 18 home runs, but hit .314 and carried a healthy .401 on-base percentage. The Indians would ideally play him at first, but he has some versatility (or rather, lack of position?) in that he can play the outfield (which could make all the difference in him making the roster or not).
The Indians missed out on Carlos Pena, not because of money but because Pena was set on Tampa and when Jeff Keppinger was signed, it pretty much put the Rays in a position where Canzler wasn't needed. Remember the last time the Indians got some of the Rays' scraps, Mitch Talbot was of some value to them, albeit for a little bit..
Antonetti has made it seem based off comments that Canzler will compete for the first base job, but his remaining options gives the Indians some flexibility. Two thoughts come with this.
The first, the Indians could still go out and get Casey Kotchman if he continues to dangle out there without a team, and they could get him for cheap. Unfortunately it sets up the same situation for Canzler this year that he had in Tampa last year.
The second, Russ Canzler is not the guy you thought the Indians would be plugging their first base hole with, but what if it works out? You have a guy in Matt LaPorta who comes in with the impressive college career, the home run numbers, the power potential, the minor league success, the prospect rankings.
And then you have some 26-year-old named Russ who I will likely be calling Crusty Rusty all season.
That's how baseball tends to work sometimes.