Two things surprised me yesterday. I suppose actually three things surprised me if you consider that the first two things that surprised me both relate to Cleveland.

Anyway, the first thing that caught me unexpectedly was that the Cleveland Indians, presumably in an effort to further prove that randomly winning a bunch of games one year can be detrimental to a franchise the next, signed Casey Kotchman to a one year deal worth $3 million. And then, shortly after that I learned that the sitcom Hot In Cleveland not only exists, but was recently renewed for a fourth season by the TV Land network which broadcasts it.

While the terms of Kotchman’s contract are far from offensive from a team’s perspective, his addition, along with Ubaldo Jimenez’s last year and Derek Lowe’s this off season, represents a Baltimore Oriolesque delusion that either their current roster is competitive with the best in their division or that winning a few extra games this year is of more importance than the development of its younger players with upside.

You see, the Indians have an underachieving, just turned 27 years old first baseman already on their roster who over two seasons at the big league level hasn’t been able to equal the enormous numbers he’s boasted at Triple A. Which, with the addition of Kotchman, is exactly where Matt LaPorta is expected to begin the year, at a place where he has absolutely nothing to prove.

With Cleveland unlikely to compete for the American League Central Division title, given the off season moves of the Detroit Tigers, wouldn’t this season be the perfect time to give LaPorta one last opportunity to put it together? The problem of course is that the Indians fell under the spell of unlikely early season success last year, and foolishly gave up two of their better prospects in Alex White and Drew Pomeranz┬áto acquire the aforementioned Jimenez.

And now, as Baseball Nation’s Grant Brisbee writes:

The Indians are in kinda-sorta-win-now-maybe-let’s-go-for-it?-I-guess mode, a weird side effect of having such a supremely hot start in 2011. And with that in mind, they’ve acquired two of the biggest kinda-sorta-win-now-maybe-let’s-go-for-it?-I-guess mode players in Derek Lowe and Casey Kotchman. Really, it’s hard to pick two players who could have possibly exemplified where the Indians stood this offseason.

You might say that Cleveland is just as much in need of Kotchman as the television viewing world requires another three camera, canned laughter, guest starring sitcom about women and their kooky, unrealistic relationships with men. Aiming at mediocrity remains every bit as deplorable in baseball as it is in art.