Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lazy Sunday - One Week Later

As the Bizarro Season continues (up is down, night is day, etc.), the last-place Indians taking the first three from the first-place Rays constitutes a surprising turn of events as Matt Ginter led the Erie Warriors past Tampa Bay last night. Just when you thought you knew something about this game…

Nevertheless, it is Sunday and we are a full week removed from the CC deal, so round up the kids, it’s time for a Lazy Sunday:

Right out of the gate, the PD Sports Page (non-Pluto division) continues the trend that began last weekend in regards to the CC trade with another “effort” this morning. Starting with being scooped at every angle by the Milwaukee media, to simply getting all of their information from Tom Haudricourt of the Journal-Sentinel, to not even having an in-house writer do a piece on Matt LaPorta (a writer from the Huntsville paper was a “special contributor”), the PD’s coverage has been as disappointingly superficial as we’ve (unfortunately) come to expect, skimming along the surface of the deal, seemingly afraid to take a dive to any depths of examination for the trade.

As alluded to above, that broad brushstroke coverage continues today as Hoynes compares the Sabathia and Harden deal, though I can’t figure out what he’s saying, then goes off on how much better things were in the 90’s. If you’re looking for a link, by the way, you’re not going to find one as I would just feel more directly responsible for exposing you to it if I did link it. The link to the PD is on the sidebar, if you are so inclined, but the coverage provided here (bowing humbly), at LGT, and by Tony Lastoria has done laps around what the PD has provided, despite Pluto’s best efforts.

Speaking of Pluto, he has a thought-provoking piece on where Victor fits next year and how the Indians have a decision to make regarding 1B and C for 2009, which could ultimately be decided by the performances of Garko and Shoppach down the stretch. To me, Victor and LaPorta should fill 2 of the 3 positions between C, 1B, and LF (maybe not out of the gate…and no, I’m not suggesting Vic in LF, you know what I mean) to give the 2009 Tribe as much offense as possible.

I’d throw Shoppach, Garko, and the varied corner OF out there for the rest of the season is some sort of convoluted “position” battle for 2009:
If Shoppach keeps hitting at the pace he is, he becomes the de facto C, with Vic at 1B and LaPorta in LF.
If Garko can come close to his 2007 (finding his 2006 isn’t happening), Vic stays behind the dish and LaPorta goes to LF.
If Chootierrez AND The Ben Francisco Treat show enough to merit them taking up BOTH corners of the OF (and I think that The Frisco Kid has claimed one spot for 2009 with his play this year), Vic dons the tools of ignorance once again and LaPorta mans 1B.
The hope would be that ONE of these players would be able to separate themselves (that is, between Shoppach, Garko, and Chootierrez) as 2008 trudges on, because determining how to get the most pop in the everyday lineup remains tantamount to the Indians’ 2009 season, particularly considering the fact that you don’t know if Pronk is going to be returning to the team or if the “mild mannered DH” known as Travis Hafner figures to wear Pronk’s #48 for the foreseeable future.

Back to the LS, a very nice piece on the emotion of the CC deal and how the reality of the way that sports and particularly baseball operate comes via…wait for it…Shelden Ocker. It’s a very human piece that gets to the crux of what many of us were feeling, how running a sports franchise is a business that has to rise above the emotions of the fan, and a candid admission from Ocker on how he approaches news like this as a result of covering the team for such a long time. Say what you will about Ocker, but this piece (though it bears a striking similarity to Pluto’s first reaction…which, of course, is impossible to find on the PD website, so I gave up) rises above the din that came spewing from Livy, Hoynes, and the absurd world of Sports Radio (among others) in the past week as everyone took their shots at the Indians, resembling a pack of hyenas, ready to pounce on a wounded animal.

While it is easy to appeal to the basest of human emotions (frustration, anger, etc.) and lob arrows of “I-told-you-so” from a dismissive and arrogant perch, it’s much more difficult to explain a situation from an emotional standpoint without devolving into the “You should be mad at (fill in the blank) because (fill in the blank) failed you as fans” that plays to the lowest common denominator. The Ocker piece is a good effort to capture a feeling while not letting the feelings take control of the situation and water it down with cynicism and petulance. Knowing now that this writing exists somewhere in Ocker’s body I would hope that the article would represent the norm and not the exception that it is from the rest of the flippant members of the media.

Off the soapbox and back to the trade, I know that it’s been linked in the comments section, but for those that don’t peruse the comments, here’s Baseball America’s recap of the CC trade as well as a take on the deal from Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan, who felt that the Indians made the move too early and that the Indians should have waited for “desperate GM’s” to start their bidding war for Sabathia. My problem with this is that Rosenthal has reported that the Dodgers were only offering a package built around 3B Andy LaRoche (and even that alleged deal was nixed by McCourt) and many of the other teams rumored to be in the mix (namely the Cubs and Phillies) simply didn’t have a centerpiece to offer in a trade that is as highly-thought-of, or as close to MLB, as LaPorta was.
Does anyone prefer what the Cubs gave up for Rich Harden (realizing fully that Harden wasn't going to net what CC did), quantity over (what seems to be) quality?

Waiting for July 31st certainly would have made the next three weeks VERY interesting for us, but I seem to remember Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden holding out for “just the right deal” for Alfonso Soriano…right up to the point that Soriano was still wearing a Washington uniform on August 1st because Bowden didn’t think that he was getting fair value for Soriano.
What did Bowden end up with in return for Soriano ultimately?
Well…LHP Josh Smoker and RHP Jordan Zimmerman – the two players chosen with the compensation picks for the Nationals losing Soriano to the Cubs in Free Agency. Considering that Soriano left at the end of 2006, it couldn’t feel good to Nats’ fans that Zimmerman, while promising, has made 12 starts above A ball, while Smoker has pitched a total of 22 innings since joining the organization, none above Washington’s Low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League as the Washington parent club scuffles along with no help from trading Soriano when the time was right.

Is there something to waiting out the best deal?
Sure (although the same logic that led Billy Beane to move Harden now, that is injury, is applicable in any case…even given the night-and-day injury histories of Sabathia and Harden), but it’s not ALWAYS the best thing to do, despite what ESPN (who has a rooted interest in “creating” stories) tells you. If the team gets the deal and the player they want on July 7th, why wouldn’t they take it if the Brewers were going to take LaPorta of the table on Monday morning? By the way LaPorta (or “The Door”…and no, I’m not sold on that one either) is picking up right where he left off in his dismantling of AA pitching.

Excuse me, if you will, I have to go watch “The Door” (not good if I have to sell MYSELF on it…maybe “The Doorman”?), Wes Hodges, and Hector Rondon in the Futures Game while watching to see if Jeremy Sowers and his 7.81 ERA can benefit from this upside-down, inside-out season and keep this train rolling into the Break.


Rockdawg said...

Anyone else having trouble with the fact that they selected TWENTY candidates for Titletown USA? The contest itself is a nice idea, but Knoxville?? Louisville?? I am half waiting for them to profile Mentor next, using their multiple GCC swimming and track titles as evidence that Mentor, OH is "Titletown, USA."

Although the season is over, I am seeing some (slight) signs of hope, with the exception of the bullpen, which is still a mess. Look at some of these numbers over the last month. (BA/OPS)

Grady - .295/1.011
Blake - .255/.927
Peralta - .355/.919
Shoppach - .273/.871
Francisco - .286/.852

Did I say hope? Now, check out these stellar performances over the last month.

Frankie - .087/.215
Marte - .226/.467
Gark "Oh-my-God-what-happened-to-this-guy?" - .191/.472
Looch - .227/.594
BLC - .217/.688

When I started this list, I had some point to be made about maddening inconsistency and certain players staying and going. But the Real World reunion is on, and I HAVE to see if Joey fell off the wagon.

-Mike said...

Hey, I'm a huge Garko fan, He's my favorite feather head on the team, but it's not looking good for him. I am watching the Futures Game right now, and LaPorta is playing first, not OF. I don't know what we are going to do with Garko, has anyone thought about him going back to catcher? And if LaPorta is a 1B, has anyone thought about him at 3rd? just throwing stuff out there.

csusi said...

so, big sunday. the indians are 3 innings away from sweeping the rays. i just watched cc take one deep in milwaukee and finally. you ready for this one?

so my wife has a real close friend in florida that she grew up with. so, she calls us yesterday knowing that i was an indians fan and just happen to mention that her best friends fiancee just got shipped to the indians system. my wife mentions it to me and my interest arises and i ask, "do you remember his name?" you know how that goes. she gives me the confused look and says, "i think his name is matt or mathew." thats when the "youve got to be kidding me" face kicks in on my part. "would his last name happen to be la porta" i ask. "yeah i think thats it, i remember it sounding 'spanish' when she told me". yikes.

so, it was one of those moments when the excitement shot through me and i had a moment. i calmed down when i realized that i personally would not benefit in anyway from having only one person in between me and la porta, other than maybe being able to tell a story like this one. but, hey, you never know. ill be hoping for whatever benefits might come my way.

anyway. to the indians possibly sweeping the rays and the possibility of grady winning the HR derby, the pacino in me says "hoo-rah!"

csusi said...

oh yeah, and for those wondering about lofton coming back to cleveland to play catch in the outfield. probably wont be happening seeing as to how lofton seems to occupy his free time by playing in "celebrity" golf tournaments on nbc.

probably holding the #1 spot for the most random thing ive seen this weekend.

Cy Slapnicka said...

sweet article on laporta. i'm catching the aero's game on saturday, so hopefully i get to see some of his magic in person. he went yard for the game winner on friday.

in case anyone missed it, in CC's start yesterday he needed 11 pitches to strike out the side in the 9th to throw a CG.

Les Savy Ferd said...

so, is it wishful thinking to imagine the tribe finishing third in the AL Central? Like 6 or 7 games back of whoever wins the division?

I am going to set this somewhat improbably horizon as a target for now, with my optimism-tank refreshed after that sweep of the rays.

Playing Seattle and LAA on the west coast will be a whole different ball of wax. Anyhow, interesting to see the kids playing the rest of the way (and the return of Fausto and Vic)

Halifax said...

Just a little tidbit found on Cot's Baseball Contracts (link found here) for all of those who wish to bash the Dolans as cheap owners.

* Opening Day payrolls for 25-man roster
(salaries plus pro-rated signing bonuses):
o 2008: $ 78,970,066
o 2007: $ 61,673,267
o 2006: $ 56,031,500
o 2005: $ 41,502,500
o 2004: $ 34,319,300
o 2003: $ 48,584,834
o 2002: $ 78,909,499
o 2001: $ 93,360,000
o 2000: $ 76,500,000

As you can see, spiking at 93M in 2001 (which was a HUGE payroll for a mid-market team in 2001) with the rebuilding effort came a downsizing and as they are becoming more aggressively competitive it has been gradually rising. Granted, part of that is for the departed JoBo and CC and the possibly soon deposed Looch and Casey Blake.

Point is, I believe the man pt his money where his mouth was, and has been sinking more into the team as the time is right. Some of the choices of where to sink said funds have been somewhat questionable, but as we've ween in the past, the name free agents don't really want to come here now, do they? The Indians need to grossly OVERSPEND to get these guys, and where I agree it's not a real sound business move, overpaying for a really good FA this off-season may be in order for two reasons.

First, they still have a core of good, young talent with some of these contracts ending within a one- or two-year window. It would be nice to pair these young veterans with some excellent talent rather than the J-Mike's of the world.

Second, say you sign a stud FA corner for four years -- the last two or three years of his deal would be seeing the arrival of the likes of Matt LaPorta, Wes Hodges, Beau Mills and Nick Weglarz into the mix that already includes Asdrubal Cabrera and, well, the rest of the team. Those four youngsters will someday be productive major leaguers, and should not be compared to "phenoms" such as Brad Snyder and Russell Branyan. On top of that you have guys like Trevor Crowe, Jordan Brown and the mysterious CCPTBNL who will probably be a viable major leaguer someday.

Just my thoughts on it (please save the crystal ball comments). And by the way, COT says this about the value of the Tribe:

Lawrence Dolan bought the Indians for $323M in 2000.
Forbes magazine valued the club at $417M in April, 2008.


Halifax said...

For those of you scoring at home, the Indians control the following players through the following years (including club options:

2010: Lee, Victor, Westbrook, Betancourt

2011: Peralta

2012: Sizemore

2013: Hafner

2014: Carmona

I'm loving the fact that Carmona's name falls on the 2014 line... great for us, not him. Also, having the rejuvenated Lee and Carmona anchoring your staff the next two years at least solidifies a staff along with Laffey and Westbrook's return for 2010. Hopefully, Adam Miller, David Huff and Chuck Lofgren amount to something (am I giving up on Sowers too soon?).

It looks to me they'll be good for the next five years.