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Eric Wedge chats with fans online
10/21/2004 4:39 PM ET
Indians manager Eric Wedge answered fans' questions during an online chat Thursday. Wedge talked about the Indians' offseason goals, prospects in the farm system and player injuries. He also talked about who he'd like to see in a Cleveland uniform next season.

aruckman: Would you like to see the Indians sign Billy Koch to be a possible closer or set-up man for next season?

Eric Wedge: To sign a closer is a definite priority for us. We're looking at what those options are currently. We want to find the most dependable, proven closer we can to fit into our budget.

aruckman: What is your main team goal for next season? Winning above .500, making the playoffs, or winning it all?

Eric Wedge: First and foremost, we want to win our division. We want to take it one step at a time, but ultimately we want to win a world championship.

Ben_Hines_2: My first question is about Casey Blake and is there any chance of seeing him play in the outfield next season?

Eric Wedge: Casey is a great athlete and if there is a need at that area, I will feel comfortable giving him that opportunity.

Base_ball: Do you think any of your minor leaguers like Fernando Cabrera and Ryan Garko will be given the opportunity to step in and help next year?

Eric Wedge: I think Fernando Cabrera will challenge for a spot in the bullpen next year and I'm looking forward to taking a look at Ryan Garko in big league camp as well.

jordan_jung: Mr. Wedge, do you think Omar Vizquel is more likely to sign with the Mariners now the Mike Hargrove is the new manager?

Eric Wedge: Omar and Grover spent a lot of time in Cleveland together and I'm sure that is a possibility. However, we are still hopeful to sign Omar back to be in Cleveland.

jordan_jung: How did it feel sending five All-Stars to the All-Star Game this year?

Eric Wedge: I felt like it was a big step for us as an organization and I think it had an impact on how the league looks at us as a big league team.

Base_Ball: I am aware that everyone wants Omar Vizuel to come back as an Indian next year, but what are the chances that he actually will? I know the highest priority for the team is a starting pitcher, but can the team not re-sign a key player and fan favorite?

Eric Wedge: A starting pitcher and closer is a priority, but we recognize what he means to the team and our organization and will make an effort to re-sign him.

Base_Ball: I am a relocated Indians fan, living in the Pacific Northwest. What's the best way to stay in touch with the latest Indians news?

Eric Wedge: Keep visiting

bhouse997: Eric, How are Billy Traber and Brian Tallet coming along from their surgeries?

Eric Wedge: Tallet is further along than Billy Traber. Tallett should be ready at Spring Training and Billy once we get into the regular season.

Base_Ball_3: I was wondering what are your thoughts on John McDonald and where he will be next year? Do you see him returning even as a utility player or not at all?

Eric Wedge: It is probably a longshot for Johnny Mac to return with us.

bhouse997: If Omar does come back, where do you see Jhonny Peralta fitting in?

Eric Wedge: Jhonny can make our team as a starting shortstop or fill the role as a strong utility infielder breaking into the big leagues.

tribe129: I know the Indians are looking to pick up a No. 2 or 3 starter and a back-of-the-bullpen guy for 2005, but are there any preliminary ideas about who could fill those spots yet?

Eric Wedge: We are right in the middle of that process. We will continue to have meetings to discuss our needs, evaluate the different options that exist, put a plan together and see how it works out this winter.

tribe129: If Buddy Bell heads to the Phillies, who would be your choice to replace him?

Eric Wedge: That is something I'm thinking through right now. I feel very strongly about my coaching staff. What we'll have to do is make some adjustment from within and ultimately hire from within.

Base_Ball_3: How do you feel the season went overall?

Eric Wedge: Overall, I feel very good about what we accomplished this year. Anytime you can improve 12 wins from the previous year at the big league level is a strong accomplishment. What we need to do now is to continue to move forward.

Base_Ball: Thanks for joining us! Who was your biggest surprise this year in terms of performance?

Eric Wedge: Jake Westbrook from a pitching standpoint, and what Coco Crisp did in the second half from a position player standpoint.

tribe129: I hear Ryan Garko is tearing it up in the minors. With Victor (Martinez) and Josh (Bard) already established at the Major League level, is Garko ever gonna have a chance to make the team?

Eric Wedge: Garko is a strong bat and if he continues to post impressive numbers, we will find room for him.

bhouse997: What is the prognosis on Travis Hafner?

Eric Wedge: Surgery was successful and I expect a 100 percent recovery by Spring Training.

bhouse997: Eric, is it set in stone that Jason Davis will be in the bullpen next year?

Eric Wedge: Depending on the moves this winter will depend on whether he is a starter or in the bullpen next year. We feel strong about Jason either way.

Jim_Kont: Will Kaz Tadano be on the roster next year?

Eric Wedge: He will have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training.

Brian_Lashier: How do you think the 1994 Indians compare to the 2004 Indians?

Eric Wedge: It is hard for me to speak about the '94 Indians, but I do feel strongly about the 2004 Indians as well as what we're going to do beyond 2004. What we are doing here now is real and is hopefully something you can count on for years to come.

tribe129: It is my belief that the best player should start. If Matt Lawton or Aaron Boone are outplayed by lower-salary guys, what chance is there that they would be benched?

Eric Wedge: We are always looking to play our best players. However, when veteran players have a track record of success we want to be patient with them in order to give them time to perform and help us win as well.

Rob_Jarowski: Do you see the Indians being active in trades to fill needs instead of just free agency?

Eric Wedge: I think with the number of strong young players there is always a potential for trades to make us a better team.

Brian_Lashier: What do you think of C.C., Westbrook, (Cliff) Lee, and (Scott) Elarton in the rotation next year? How much do you think this season has helped the starting rotation?

Eric Wedge: I strongly believed what our rotation went through this year will positively impact next year and beyond.

Ben_Hines_2: How important do you feel it is for C.C. Sabathia to lose a little weight and come into camp in a little better shape?

Eric Wedge: At the end of this season, C.C. was in the best shape he has been in within the last three years. What he needs to do now is move forward with his conditioning this winter so he doesn't have to work as hard during the season to get in shape.

Brian_Lashier: When do you think Aaron Boone will be joining the team next year and what role do you think he will play?

Eric Wedge: Aaron should be ready during Spring Training. More than likely he will see most of his time at third base.

Eric Wedge: Thank you for your time today and support of the Cleveland Indians organization. Every Tribe fan should feel strong of where we're at now and the potential for next season.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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