Before heading down to enjoy a lovely Cleveland evening on Monday at the Jake (and watch Jeremy Sowers take on Jered Weaver), I opened the mailbox to see that my friend, Mark Shapiro, had penned me a letter.
OK, it’s to all season ticket holders and I don’t have a scanner to scan the whole document, but here’s the gist of it:
- The Indians organization is just as, if not more, disappointed about this year’s performance as the fans are.
- They remain confident that the core is in place to make the playoffs in 2007. That goal – the playoffs in 2007 – is reiterated many times throughout the 2-page letter.
- They admit that, once the team was out of contention, they began making moves with 2007 in mind.
- Shapiro speaks for the owners’ spending capabilities, saying they are “committed, both economically in the FA market and philosophically in our trades, to achieving the playoffs in 2007” and that they will make “the resources available to add the players necessary to bring us back to our championship-caliber level.”
- The “core” is very distinctly listed as Grady, Hafner, Sabathia, Martinez, Peralta, Lee, Westbrook, and Blake. The youth of these players is stressed, as is the fact that Hafner, Sizemore, and Victor have matured into three of the best hitters in all of baseball. It’s also pointed out that “C.C., Cliff, and Jake remain several of today’s best starting pitchers after leading last year’s staff to the top ERA in the AL.”
- The complementary pieces that have already been added are then listed as Sowers, Carmona, Marte, Inglett, Choo, and Luna.
- The letter ends with thanks for support and a statement that “we remain steadfast in our belief that this organization is poised to bring another era of championship baseball back to Jacobs Field.”
Maybe T-Bone will put a link up of the letter (with all of his fancy toys) that you can view in the comments section, but it’s an interesting letter in what it says and what it doesn’t say.
It’s interesting in that it’s a pro-active stance to ask the Season Ticket Holders to keep the faith and, while it’s an admission that they are not where they want to be (as evidenced by this year), they still believe that this Indians team is not far away from contending next year. It also nearly promises that players (and payroll) will be added, saying “it is of utmost importance to communicate our dedication to making the necessary adjustments and acquisitions to achieve our goal of reaching the postseason in 2007”.
The other VERY interesting thing to do is read between the lines to take note of the players omitted. Nowhere is there a mention of Paul Byrd, Jason Michaels, Kelly Shoppach, or any members of the bullpen (except Carmona, and the letter is dated 8-7-06, so the 9th inning meltdowns were common knowledge). Eric Wedge’s name also does not appear anywhere in the letter
Where does that leave Byrd and Michaels for next year?
Make your own assumptions, but the fact that Westbrook, who is signed for fewer years than Byrd and has comparable numbers this year, is mentioned but Byrd is not is pretty telling.
Also, I think that Michaels’ omission is an admission that the Indians realize that they need to have a run-producing corner OF at one of the positions and, if Choo/Blake is going to patrol one of those spots, Michaels would be the odd man out.
Shoppach is not as noteworthy as it’s rare that a backup C is identified as an exciting player. The only thing that it shows is that Martinez is seen as the starting C for next year, not a straight Vic/ShopVac platoon.
The bullpen not being mentioned as having any players worth saving is, well…taking it easy on the beleaguered pen.
In other news, Todd Hollandsworth is gone (yawn), which means that he can’t pinch-hit for Marte in the 9th inning and that the DiaBride can no longer call him Dutch.
Finally, here’s an interesting story on Juan Gonzalez and steroids back in 2001, when he was still an Indian. The story, inexplicably, not getting any play in the local (or national) media. It’s a pretty damning article and, once again, makes you wonder how widespread this whole steroids thing was (is).