Reds, Indians weighing options

Originally Published: July 30, 2004
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
It's been a trying year for Ohioans, with the state's weak economy, rising unemployment and continued fallout from NAFTA. And that doesn't even factor in the really traumatic stuff -- like David Riske's 12.27 ERA in April, or Ken Griffey Jr.'s latest hamstring-induced visit to the disabled list.

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The state's two baseball teams, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, are smack in the middle of Decision 2004. The Reds, who figured to be afterthoughts in the National League Central this season, led the division by two games as late as June 6. Now they're in a free fall, and general manager Dan O'Brien must decide when it's officially time to give up hope.

Cleveland, 5½ games out in the America League Central, is slightly ahead of schedule in its rebuilding plan. GM Mark Shapiro would love to add a starting pitcher and a lefty reliever to help his team make a run at Minnesota and Chicago in September. But he has to determine if it's worth sacrificing a piece of the team's future to take a chance on an iffy present.

Even when Saturday's deadline passes and players must clear waivers to be included in trades, the Reds and Indians must decide if they want to buy or sell, add or discard, participate or observe. That's the challenge of life in Ohio -- Major League Baseball swing state.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer