Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lazy Fall Sunday

With a gorgeous day in front of me and no Browns game on today, it’s time for a quick Lazy Lazy before we take The DiaperTribe out to the pumpkin patch to enjoy Fall in Cleveland. There’s no better time on the North Coast, so let’s get right to it:

In case you haven’t noticed the podcast (if anything that is 90 minutes long can really be a “podcast”) of the interview from Thursday’s “Smoke Signals” is up at the top of the right sidebar. We were joined by Michael Brantley for the first ½ hour, then were joined by his agent Josh Kusnick for the last hour. It was an informative and entertaining (I hope) chat, despite what I would call “technical difficulties” at the beginning – which is why I sound like I’m doing five different things at the open…because I was. Once it all got ironed out and Brantley and Kusnick called in though, things went swimmingly.

Highlights of the show (if you don’t have a spare 90 minutes) are that Brantley has been to Goodyear to work out with the Indians, is unsure where he’ll be playing Winter Ball, and will definitely start 2009 in Columbus. He’s a very well-spoken athlete who was insightful into why his power numbers were down this year (his injury was a high ankle sprain that made his weight transfer difficult and robbed him of his ability to drive the ball), who he has been most often compared to (Garrett Anderson, according to him), and how growing up around MLB (his dad is Mickey Brantley) has shaped who he is as an athlete. His agent, Josh Kusnick, then got into what it was like to be an agent, calling himself “The Dark Side” of sports and how he doesn’t really like agents…other than himself and his father. He’s a very colorful, passionate guy who laid himself out there and doesn’t mind being judged, for better or worse.
Regardless, I hope that you found it (or find it) insightful…I certainly did.

Serial Poster Terry Pluto (ha ha) has a piece on why the announcement of Hafner’s surgery may have an effect on where Ryan Garko fits on the team and intimates that the team may be hesitant to deal Shoppach if Hafner’s injury looks to linger as Garko would likely be moved to DH and Victor would be moved to 1B. To me, this is exactly where The Door (LaPorta) enters the equation as his natural position is 1B to provide that bat at 1B that Garko (RBI totals considered) is not. Now with Brantley in the fold (presumably as a LF), I would expect LaPorta to be that 1B/DH option in case Shoppach were dealt or if Hafner’s shoulder doesn’t recover. The thought of Garko being the full-time DH, by the way, is almost as scary as seeing that “Hafner” guy (and not Pronk) hold down the DH spot for the length of his contract.

Pluto also addresses his column from earlier in the week about the “volume” trade for Brian Roberts – the one which suggested trading some of the lesser lights in the system (and more than a couple of them) for the O’s 2B. I don’t doubt that the Orioles would be looking to upgrade their pitching staff and their organizational depth if they dealt Roberts (and maybe I’m giving the Baltimore Front Office too much credit), but I’d have to think that they’d want better players than Jeremy Sowers, Wes Hodges, and Josh Barfield. If Baltimore WOULD make that deal, it’s already done – and I’m all for dealing some of our ancillary players for 1 year of Roberts (and, yes, Hodges is an ancillary player to me), but I don’t see how they don’t ask for a deal-breaker like Dave Huff if they’re looking for quality and not just quantity.

The other bit of the Roberts piece that I found unusual was Pluto’s dismissal of Orlando Hudson as a possibility saying, “Yes, Orlando Hudson is a free agent, a three-time Gold Glove second baseman and sometimes .300 hitter. His season at Arizona ended early because of wrist surgery. At 31, he should have several good seasons left.
Problem? He's a free agent.
It seems the Indians never can sign a guy like Hudson.”

Coming off a surgery? Isn’t this exactly the kind of guy the Indians sign?
And if the Indians think that they can get a starter via trade, there is money there for them to go out and sign an infielder and a reliever from FA. As I’ve said before, the fact that the 2B position is such a black hole in the system leads me to believe that the organization would have less trouble justifying giving Hudson a multi-year deal than it would making a move for one year of Brian Roberts as it would provide stability at the position beyond 2009.

Elsewhere (and there’s not much out there not Pluto-related), Indians Top Prospects has a nice little rundown of the Tribe prospects that are participating in the Arizona Fall League with good performances thus far for Wes Hodges and Josh Tomlin and Chuck Lofgren’s descent into oblivion seemingly finding no end.

Finally, I got a nice little surprise this week when my buddy e-mailed me on Thursday to say that he was perusing the latest edition of “Scene” magazine, which was their “Best of Cleveland” edition and came across my name. Befuddled, I called The DiaBride (who was running errands) to see if she could pick one up on her way home…and, sure enough:

Nice, right?
Enjoy the Sunday, I’m going to pick apples and get a pumpkin.


Anonymous said...

I'm hesitant to expect anything out of LaPorta or Brantley in 2009. Neither has played a day at AAA; a September call-up would be reasonable ETA for both of them -- if a little pessimistic on LaPorta. My sense is that the 2009 team photo is going to match up more closely with 2008's than with 2010's.

I certainly agree with keeping Shoppach. I don't follow the apparently prevailing logic that says he's a "surplus" we can't afford not to flip. We don't have a surplus in position-player talent until Martinez, Shoppach, Hafner, Garko, and possibly LaPorta are all healthy and productive.

Moreover, as valuable as Shoppach is, I don't think he's enough to net us either of the things we need most: a second-baseman or a true top-three starter -- not on his own, anyway. And which prospects could we afford to package with him? We've re-stocked the farm system somewhat, but I don't think we're so deep that there's a guy of real value that I'd be comfortable moving.

And you're right, of course: Those guys of real value are the ones Baltimore will want for Roberts. Five C+ players does not add up to two or three B+ players. I imagine those talks will start with Huff or Laffey, Mills or Weglarz, and a high-quality reliever or lower-level starter. The talks wouldn't END there, of course, but that's definitely how I walk into the room if I'm the Orioles.

A.G.B said...

Congratulations on the Scene recognition. I couldn't agree more with their analysis!

I am also of the mind, along with Terry Pluto, that the Tribe should think twice before trading Kelly Shoppach. Here is what we know: Shoppach is an excellent player at a premium position in baseball. You can't just roll out of bed as a GM and find a guy who has 30-home run potential, calls an excellent game behind the plates and stops balls like a brick wall.

And there is always the possibility that either Hafner OR Garko is done. If that is the case, I would much rather have Shoppach at Catcher so we could move Victor to first, than not have almost any other player we received in a trade for Shoppach.

I just think Mark Shapiro and company needs to be realisitc about Shoppach's value...and Hafner's shoulder.

Halifax said...

I'm just not convinced that Shoppach will produce like that over the long haul. He strikes out in bunches -- yes, he'll hit his fair share of HR, but although he has thrown runners out in the past, I haven't been seeing him calling great games, or being any kind of wall behind the plate. Actually, sometimes it seems he misses balls he should catch.

He is undoubtedly at his peak value, only to watch Shoppach's performance slip and be of no use to anyone. With catching being an organizational strength after picking up Santana, I just don't want to see the opportunity missed to fill a need by moving Shoppach when Victor will only need to catch another year or two.

They won't need Vic to play first when LaPorta and Mills are on the immediate horizon. When was the last time the Indians had anyone putting up the kind of numbers that those two and Santana logged this season in the minors?

Halifax said...

Sorry, here's what I MEANT to say:

"He is undoubtedly at his peak value, I just don't want to see the opportunity missed to fill a need only to watch Shoppach's performance slip and be of no use to anyone."

Paul Cousineau said...

I'm probably overly bullish on LaPorta, if only because I WANT him to follow that Ryan Braun/Evan Longoria path from AA, to a few games in AAA to start the year, followed by a May call-up.

Again, it's probably an ambitious thought, but LaPorta's numbers at AA are not much different from Longoria and Braun during their time in AA.

On Shoppach, I see the logic in keeping him as insurance - but the hole at the top-to-middle-of-the-rotation isn't going to be filled by FA and I'm not real confident in Reyes or Laffey breaking camp as the #3 starter. Perhaps Huff grows into that role, but not out of Goodyear. That said, I DO think that Shoppach could net that arm we would need (as part of a package with a LHP and a guy like Hodges or Crowe) as his value is pretty high at this point.

I completely see the impact that Hafner has on Shoppach, but I think that you fortify the rotation with Shoppach and use the newfound depth at 1B/DH (namely, LaPorta) to provide the same insurance that Garko/Shoppach does as the roster stands now.

Tyler said...

Just to be clear, I see no reason to think that LaPorta ISN'T a surefire major leaguer. But if he's ready any time sooner than late summer 2009, I'd call it a happy bonus. That's just not the sort of development on which I gamble major on-field personnel decisions.

I'm really looking forward to watching Carlos Santana, and catcher is a position of depth for us ... but it's a position of depth in 2010 or 2011. Until then, we've got only two major league catchers, and one of them played 55 games this season. Even BA/bip-normalized, Kelly's darn good, and I'd have to be very strongly convinced that we don't need him.

I see one good justification for flipping Shoppach, and that's getting high-ceiling starting pitching as Paul suggests. Otherwise, I see trading Shoppach as a move for 2010, not for 2009. I'll concede that may be the right thing to do, on the theory that the Central may be eminently winnable even without Shoppach, but I'll be bummed anyway.

Halifax said...

I just reason that his value is at its highest point and I'm willing to gamble that Vic can make it through one more season behind the plate to move Shoppach (for something we really need) before he pulls a Gutz/Sowers on us and is exposed as a career backup. I hope I'm wrong, I just don't want to wait around to find out while we have glaring weaknesses at IF and starting pitching.

TheNaturalMevs said...

Couldn't agree more with the blurb. Diatribe is one of the best blogs around.

Here's to more of the same!