The Cleveland Indians' 2012 season was mathematically concluded on Sept. 15. Let us eulogize the season that was.
What went right
After 70 games, the Indians were playing far over their heads and sitting in first place in the AL Central despite a negative run differential and basically being below average at everything.
What went wrong
After that start, everything.
MVP: Chris Perez, but not necessarily for his play. No, Perez gets the nod here for making things significantly more interesting and not being afraid to speak his mind -- even if it meant going after hometown fans or his bosses. He takes no prisoners. No one is safe!
LVP: I wouldn't even know where to begin. I guess Larry Dolan, the owner? When everything is such a mess, you gotta start at the top.
Game plan heading into the offseason
See those club options above? They shouldn't pick up anything. The emphasis needs to be on the future, not the past.
The next order of business is to get some starting-pitching prospects back for Shin-Soo Choo. He's a free agent after 2013 and CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has reported that the chances of the Indians retaining Choo after next season are basically nil. Choo will, however, garner significant interest on the open market.
After that, it's probably time to cut ties with closer Chris Perez. Closer is one of the most overvalued -- and overpaid -- positions in baseball. It's entirely possible handing the job to Vinnie Pestano would be akin to the Orioles realizing Jim Johnson has what it takes to close. Meanwhile, Perez could land a decent starting pitching prospect in return, as many teams still buy into the "closer mentality" thing.
So the Indians are left building around Carlos Santana (C), Jason Kipnis (2B), Asdrubal Cabrera (SS), Lonnie Chisenhall (3B), Michael Brantley (CF), Justin Masterson (SP), Pestano (CL), Joe Smith (setup) and a few other pieces. These guys are all young enough to expect improvement, too.
The focus should be on developing the young talent they have while adding as much more minor-league talent as they can. It's a shame they can't get back Drew Pomeranz and Alex White for Jimenez, but that awful trade shouldn't be ignored. It should serve as a reminder of what the Indians should not be doing. This organization isn't in the position to win with a quick fix. A long-term rebuild should be beginning immediately.
Ridiculously premature prediction for 2013
The front office spends too much money on spare parts of little value, refuses to trade Choo in order to bolster the already-ailing minor-league system and picks up a few of those club options in hopes someone like Jimenez gets better. Basically, a rerun of 2012 without the promising start.