Wednesday, January 18, 2006

East Coast Family

The trade of Brian Tallett to the Toronto Blue Jays for a guy named Bubbie brings an end to the BT Boys Era. With Billy Traber trying to make the Washington Nationals this spring and Tallett trying to do the same in Toronto, it got me to think how these two lefties were once seen as having the potential to be major cogs in the Indians' rotation for years to come.

Both started a few games in 2003 (Traber - 18, Tallett - 3) as they came to the Majors with another minor league southpaw, Cliff Lee (9 starts in 2003). Traber was the most ballyhooed, coming in the Alomar deal; with Lee seen by some as a throw-in for Colon, while Tallett was a home-grown prospect. A mere 3 years later, the 3 players fall perfectly into the East Coast Family Model (which those not into the hip-hop scene of the early '90s may not grasp completely, but should get the concept).

The East Coast Family Model
Michael Bivins, member of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe, launched his New Jack Swing sound with the "Motownphilly" video from Boyz II Men in 1993. In the video were pictured his 3 main acts: Boyz II Men, Another Bad Creation (ABC), and Sudden Impact.
Another Bad Creation burst onto the scene with a few hits and were seen as another Jackson 5, or at least New Edition. but after their initial success, they fizzled and disappeared.
Boyz II Men put together a solid career with singles and albums that consistently performed well, turning into a force in the music business.
Sudden Impact, the oft-forgotten white band of the group, never even recorded an album ; which, for the fans of the East Coast Family, fell under the category of falling below expectations, regardless of how high or low they may have truly been.

So, how does this ridiculousness relate to the Brian Tallett trade?

The three lefties that hit Cleveland in 2003 were all seen as potential fixtures in Jacobs Field, some coming with higher expectations (Traber) than the others. Each of these players followed the road of one of the bands of The East Coast Family Model:
Traber - ABC - After a promising 2003, including the memorable one-hitter against the Yankees, Traber disappeared from public view. Partly from injury and partly from his (alleged) avoidance of criticism, Traber is now toiling to find his footing in the NL.
Lee - Boyz II Men - Building on his initial success of 2003 (3-3, 3.61 ERA), Lee had a phenomenal 2004 and 2005, leading most to believe that he will remain a force in the rotation.
Tallett - Sudden Impact - Never really able to find a home in the rotation or the bullpen and plagued by injuries, Tallett eventually became a 28 year old pitcher without a track record or a specialty. Hopefully, he'll catch on as a LOOGY somewhere, or he'll fade into oblivion.

Not bad, eh? But, you're saying, "that's an isolated situation made to fit into the parameters". Or is it?

Also in 2003, 3 young outfielders made their debuts in Cleveland, slotting perfectly into the ECFM:
Jody Gerut - ABC - After a stellar 2003 campaign, in which he played in 127 games and won the Sporting News' Rookie of the Year, Gerut succumbed to injuries and ineffectiveness. Eventually, he was traded to Chicago, then Pittsburgh this past year.
Coco Crisp - Boyz II Men - Easily the least-hyped prospect of the group, Coco played 99 games in 2003 and has since managed to stay healthy and be productive in the Cleveland lineup. After fending off many challengers, Crisp may be looking at a long-term deal before Spring Training.
Alex Escobar - Sudden Impact - The Mets' top prospect, who came over in the Alomar deal, played in 28 games in 2003. Despite his gaudy Minor League numbers and rocket arm, Escobar was eventually given up on and has bounced around the league, unable to stick on a roster.

But there's more from 2003, regarding some RH starters:
Jason Davis - ABC - Davis started 27 games in 2003 and was thought to be the Indians' #2 starter of the future, right behind C.C. for years to come. But Davis has been unable to relive that success and has bounced back and forth between Cleveland and Buffalo, the rotation and the bullpen, until this year where it looks like he will be starting in Buffalo again.
Jake Westbrook - Boyz II Men - Starting 22 games in 2003, Westbrook went into 2004 as the long man only to rattle off some of the more impressive pitching of 2004, forcing his way into the rotation. He has stayed in the rotation since, even signing a long-term deal before the start of the 2005 season.
Ricardo Rodriguez - Sudden Impact - Acquired as part of the Paul Shuey deal, Rodriguez started 15 games in 2003, but never really experienced much success in Cleveland or in Texas (where he was dealt for Ryan Ludwick).

So what does this inane model show us, other than that I have too much time on my hands? Essentially, that not every "can't-miss" prospect is a can't miss, just as not every Player To Be Named Later is a scrub. It takes time for the true value of a player to show himself.

How will the Indians young stud pitchers (Sowers, Carmona, Miller) fit into the model? Or the young outfielders (Gutierrez, Snyder, Dubois)?

Time will tell, but let's all agree on what we're looking for more of:
Boyz II Men...hey, you know what I'm saying.


Cy Slapnicka said...

Thanks, I know have that damn song "End of the Road" stuck in my head.

For those of you that weren't inspired to look up their website, the guy with the real deep voice (Bass, as he is apparently nicknamed), left the group and they have a new album out.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Looks like there might be a bug in Shapiro's Kool Aid. This is downright scary if it is really him.

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