Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lazy Sunday Through the Snow

After clearing snow 3 times yesterday due to about 2 feet dropping in my yard (really, 2 feet) and about 6 more inches that need to be cleared, let’s dive headlong into a Lazy Sunday:

Anthony Castrovince of indians.com has a nice piece on a player that I think will work his way into the minds of Tribe fans this year – Bad, Bad Jordan Brown (you may know him as “the baddest man in the whole damn town”). Some nice tidbits in the piece explain that Brown battled some through some knee pain last year en route to his MVP season in Akron. The scar tissue and bone spurs in his knee seem to explain his “low” (relatively speaking) HR numbers (11) from Akron last year, as well as the intriguing bit that he felt it slowed him down on the basepaths, where he finished with 11 SB. Nowhere in Brown’s history does it show him being a demon on the basepaths (2 career SB in 3 years at the University of Arizona), but seeing as how Ryan Garko racked up 11 SB in 4 minor league seasons, Brown (pictured above) would certainly bring more speed to the party than Garko…if it ever came to that decision.

And perhaps that’s the most interesting part of the Brown piece – in that he will be playing exclusively at 1B in Buffalo this year after an unsuccessful stint in LF (why do images of Ben Broussard “trying” to play LF enter my head here?) last year in Akron. Given the dearth of true impact prospects in the corners for the Tribe in the upper levels (look, Ben Francisco is 26 and Trevor Crowe’s “scrappiness” is not a quantifiable attribute…regardless if Pete Gammons said Crowe’s nickname among Red Sox scouts was Ty Cobb), I’m surprised that the Indians would be so quick to abandon the LF idea (unless Brown truly has NO clue how to take a proper line to a ball) with Garko seemingly ensconced at 1B. Some Indians’ fans feel that Garko established himself last year as a potential complementary piece, posting an .842 OPS and adding somewhat of a RH presence below Pronk in the lineup, while others see a low ceiling for Garko as a kind of “is what he is” player with limited potential for improvement on his 2007 and as a defensive liability at 1B.

Is it possible that the Indians are higher on Brown’s potential (the quote from Ross Atkins in the piece calls Brown “a Major League quality bat" right now) than they are on Garko’s? For comparison’s sake, Garko’s season in Akron as a 23-year-old (though he did only play 43 games for the Aeros that year prior to being called up to Buffalo) compares favorably to Brown’s 23-year-old season in Akron over 127 games:
Garko – Akron 2004
.331 BA / .397 OBP / .523 SLG / .920 OPS

Brown – Akron 2007
.333 BA / .421 OBP / .484 SLG / .905 OPS

The similarities between Brown and Garko in their development bring up a few questions as they both look to (eventually) be vying to handle 1B in Cleveland:
Why leave Brown at 1B in Buffalo? Was he that much of a butcher in the OF?
If Brown does continue his string of extremely impressive seasons, where does that leave him in the 1B pecking order?
Where does it leave Garko, or (dare I say) former 1st Round Pick Michael Aubrey (who needs to show that he can stay healthy for longer than 2 weeks at a time)?
If Brown does thrive in Buffalo, would the Tribe be looking at dealing from a newfound position of depth?
And finally, if Brown Jordan is a manufacturer of outdoor furniture, why do the youngsters on the Indians keep having names whose Google search nets places to buy furniture?
Is there a bed and breakfast somewhere in New England named “Beau Mills” situated on a picturesque waterfall that prides itself on its French cuisine?

Paul Hoynes updates everyone on the Indians’ pursuit of Edward Salcedo, a 16-year-old wunderkind from the Dominican Republic. There’s been an awful lot written in the blogosphere about the destination for Salcedo who, no matter how high his ceiling is, remains…16 years old! Also in the piece is a mention that Kevin Millwood is working his way through another injury in Texas…but we should just give C.C. as many years as he wants, right?
By the way, my favorite part of the link is the first comment, which illustrates very clearly why nobody should ever – under any circumstances – engage a commenter on the cleveland.com website…never, ever.

Terry Pluto provides an update on some Spring names, notably where Smoke ‘Em Brian Slocum could fit into the Indians’ plans going forward. The idea of SEBS replacing either Sabathia or Byrd in the rotation in 2009 just made me break out in a cold sweat, but stranger things have happened when a pitcher finally “gets his chance” (see Guthrie, Jeremy).

If you’ve been wondering why Sheldon Ocker’s musings haven’t been appearing as of late, I think his mailbag responses (which range from condescending to downright mean as they answer well-written questions and one that is actually a glowing commendation of Socker) will put your query to bed.

An analysis of roster construction and a team’s reliance on its best players comes from the LGT’s Jay Levin as he furthers some thoughts originally espoused by Joe Posnanski in regards to the make-up of the teams in the AL Central. This is pretty heady stuff, particularly if the concept of Win Shares does not exist in your universe. So, if you spent your Saturday shut in by snow and sipping a few too many cocktails (out of Bombay Sapphire here at the Tepee and the place I had to walk…yes, walk…for milk for the DiaperTribe yesterday didn’t exactly stock it – so we polished off some red wine), wait for your head to truly clear to absorb the depth and breadth of information and analysis provided here.

Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners are looking for a RH outfielder to complement their corner OF (Raul Ibanez and Brad Wilkerson, both LH). Hmmm…I think I know a guy who might be available. As long as they have that hair product in Seattle that allows his hair to retain that “just out of the shower” look (I believe serial poster smtp says the product is simply called WET), he should fit in. And I think the last few trades that we’ve made with Mariners’ GM Bill Bavasi have worked out in our favor (Benuardo netted The BLC and Asdrubal…just Asdrubal), so mark me as FIRMLY on board for shipping Michaels off to the Pacific Northwest for whatever they’ll give us.

I know that I’ve been rather remiss in not covering the results of these early Spring Training games, but the best place I’ve found for coverage of each game actually happens to be Mark Schwab’s WTAM coverage as you can watch videos and listen to interviews to come to your own conclusions, not biased by beat writers’ opinions. Plus, you can click on one of the greatest songs ever, “Indian Fever” while perusing the coverage.

For those out-of-towners (or if you’re in town and just haven’t heard), there’s a commercial on WTAM parodying Tom Hamilton making his introductory call to start the game. It starts with Hamilton saying “And welcome everybody to Progressive Field” (which, when I heard it the first time, my stomach dropped), followed by a pause and Hamilton saying under his breath, “no…that just doesn’t sound right”. I actually laughed out loud as Hamilton’s “practice calls” continued until the voice over came in that they’d “get this right in time for Opening Day”. It’s a fantastic little spot that pokes fun at the renaming of The Jake and whatever entity (the Indians, WTAM, etc.) came up with it should be commended for having a sense of humor about the whole thing. The fact that Hamilton deadpans it makes me wish I could find it somewhere online to link it…it’s that good.

Since I’m fully working under the realization that this 1986: Take 2 thing interests me and about 6 other people, I figured that I’d point out that the 1986 Tribe remains on the warpath, going 17-6 since the “All Star Break” and have climbed into 4th place in the AL Central, only 5 games out of 1st and clipping the Yankees’ heels in 3rd. Considering that the Tribe has taken 5 of 7 from the Tigers and 2 of 3 from the Yankees since the All Star Break and look to be getting fat on games against the 42-68 Orioles, the 1986 Tribe could be making some noise down the stretch in Take 2!

Finally, I should be getting into the breakdown of some position battles in the coming week as the team has finally started to play enough games that something can be gleaned from Spring Training numbers, outside of whether the bronze statue of Ben Francisco should go in the Plaza between Progressive Field and The Q or at the corner of E. 9th and Carnegie.
My vote is for the Plaza.

5 comments:

Voltaire said...

Top-notch as usual, and a tip of the cap on the Asdrubal call. We're training you, slowly but surely.

And add me to the camp that thinks Michaels should be playing in Seattle this year.

R.M. Jennings said...

Is it too late to make Brodzoski (The Close) an official nickname?

Paul Cousineau said...

RMJ -
By no means is it too late.
I took a screen shot as the PD inexplicably purges their content every few days and that comment needs to be saved forever.

You will be seeing the screenshot very soon, perhaps after Brodzoski (The Close) blows a save.

Steve said...

Is he related to the actress Glenn (The Close)?

fasolamatt said...

Haven't found the Tom Hamilton commercial yet online. Anyone want to post it? Anyone want to suggest to WTAM that they post it?

matt in st paul