Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tomahawk This & That with Even Stevens

The World Series is over and the off-season is officially upon us and what better way is there to celebrate the fact that the 2008 season can now be referred to in the past tense than by simply letting some Tomahawks fly:
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From the “Much Ado about Nothing” folder, it looks like the whole Mark Teahen didn’t have much behind it. The KC Star is sticking to their story that they heard the rumor from “sources” on both sides, but what does that even really mean?

You know, it would be nice if it was a little easier to separate fact from fiction in this age of “instant disinformation”. Perhaps next time before I commit too much time thinking about (and writing some 1,650 words on) a subject, I’ll try to see if it actually has any merit behind it. To that end, Anthony Castrovince has a fascinating take on his blog on the difficulty that beat reporters have when they get caught in the propellers of the rumor mill, particularly in this day and age. Obviously, these guys want to “break” the big story, but “reports” that allegedly contain some kernel of truth should be taken with a grain of salt, particularly when you read the story that Castrovince relays about the two beat reporters seemingly inventing a rumor out of nowhere in the lobby of a hotel.

Essentially, AC (and can we just refer to him now as THE Indians beat reporter as he’s the only one that anyone that I know actually gleans information from) presents the Teahen ordeal as a bit of a cautionary tale as the Hot Stove starts to put off some heat and there will certainly be thousands of words written (undoubtedly here…but also elsewhere) on topics that ultimately have very little basis of fact.
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This past Wednesday night, Indians’ minor-league reliever Jeff Stevens was gracious enough to join us on the weekly “Smoke Signals” show that I do with Tony Lastoria, the audio of which can be heard here.

During the interview, Stevens commented on his development as a pitcher over the last few years, particularly on the addition of a slider to his mid-90’s fastball to serve as a “2nd swing-and-miss pitch” that will hopefully help him in his transition to MLB. He also talked a little about the impact that AAA pitching coach Scott Radinsky has had on his mentality as a late-inning option for the future while admitting that it was difficult to watch the struggles of the Cleveland bullpen while he (and others) were pitching well in Buffalo and Akron.

Stevens was very frank in his admission that he was disappointed to not get the call to join the Indians in 2008, but seemed to take the right approach to his stay in Buffalo as he took it as the opportunity to “finish off” his mix of pitches to hopefully help him avoid being shuttled back and forth between AAA and MLB and simply make a smooth transition to the Bigs. He also said that it’s impossible for the guys in the Minors to NOT sit around (particularly in the bullpen, I presume) and try to predict the moves that the Indians are going to make next.

Stevens talked about his international experience (he closed the final game that clinched the 2007 World Cup for the USA and was part of the 2008 Bronze-medal winning team in China), including an explanation of both the Olympic game in Beijing that saw The Gatekeeper take one off the dome and his blown save against South Korea.

Finally, he DID answer the obligatory question about the player for whom he was traded, the ubiquitous “Franchise”, relaying some funny stories of his buddy’s texting him every time that the Reds’ 2B hit a HR and joking that he is “not just a bag of balls”.

All told, it’s interesting to hear the perspective of a player who figures to be right on the cusp of joining and legitimately helping the parent club in a substantial role and how he tries to simply go about his business and improve himself. He said he’s been given no indication of where he’ll be in 2009, only that the Indians told him to continue to improve and be ready to report to Goodyear to fight for an MLB roster spot.
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Did anyone else catch this week’s episode of “How I Met Your Mother”?
Yes, I know it was a repeat from last season, but the main character (Ted Moseby) was chilling in some Tribe gear during the episode, a nod to the Cleveland roots of show co-creator Carter Bays. If you get Cleveland Magazine, there’s actually a very good article on the 33-year-old (yes, 33) Bays, who is a Shaker Heights native and is basically Ted Moseby in real life.

EDIT – Thanks to Andy Netzel at Cleveland Magazine, here is the link to the aforementioned Bays piece in this month’s issue. If you read the previous post that contained my thoughts on Cleveland Magazine not putting things online…I take it all back.
Mea culpa.

If you’re still not watching HIMYM, do yourself a favor and catch it at 8:30 on Mondays on CBS (because of it, I found that my TV does, in fact, receive a CBS signal for things other than Browns’ games…who knew) as the show has continued to be one of the most consistently funny shows on TV.

With the boys on “Entourage” getting less likable with each passing episode and my unrealistic expectations for “The Office” each week to pull off something like “The Dundies” (still the best episode) not being met, HIMYM is quickly moving up the ranks of best shows. We’ll see how the new season of “30 Rock” progresses, but Barney Stinson is making a serious run at Jack Donaghy as my favorite TV character.
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Finally, SI.com’s Ben Reiter ranks the top 50 FA this off-season (who are now FA…it officially being the off-season) and projects landing spots for those 50. Showing an obvious bias towards 4 teams, Reiter has 14 of the top 25 (including 8 of the top 10) going to either the NY or LA teams in either league. Reiter’s “predictions” beg the question, “With the dominance that the Yankees, Mets, Angels, and Dodgers exert over their minor-league feeder teams…what’s the point of even playing the season.”

Seriously though, while NOTHING should be taken from his “Best Fit” column, who is the only player that Reiter sees coming to Cleveland as a FA?

As Barney Stinson would say, “Wait for it…Mr. Lacey Cake”.
Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin in style this off-season for Tribe fans.

6 comments:

peter said...

The news out of DC today is that the Nats have outrighted Chad Cordero, who refused a minor league assignment and opted for FA.

Cordero had some solid success as a closer before arm trouble rendered him useless.

This is just the type of guy I can see Shapiro bringing into camp with an incentive-laden contract, to compete for the back end of the bullpen. Given how few outstanding FA's there look to be for the closer spot, and how expensive the good ones will be, COrdero looks like a typical Shapiro low-cost, high-upside move.

Andy Netzel said...

If you'd like to read the Carter Bays piece in Cleveland Magazine, it is here: http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=E73ABD6180B44874871A91F6BA5C249C&nm=Arts+%26+Entertainment&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=1578600D80804596A222593669321019&tier=4&id=28F8477638F747D68764B8B2E0EF64A9

Doug said...

The Tribe should look at Renteria. It would make the middle evry strong and he would bat at least as well as Blake. The net effect would be to increase team speed, defense and slightly improve offense.

davemanddd said...

if the indians do sign casey blank to a free agent deal during this off-season, i think i will slit my wrists, gouge my eyes out and use my scrotum as a tobacco pouch, and i don't even smoke!!! if shapiro is dumb enough to re-sign blank, that shows you all you need to know about the indians intentions of actually ever winning a world series as being secondary at best with the primary motivation to spend as little money as possible and still remaining competitive so that the dolan discount gang can maximize their own profits with the least amount of investment. 'nuff said.

Paul Cousineau said...

Peter,
Cordero is the kind of guy that might fit into the Tribe's off-season plans, but I'd likely only do it with an incentive-laden contract as shoulder surgery is pretty scary stuff for a pitcher. My sense is that he'll probably get a deal from a team desperate enough for bullpen help (think the Mets) to guarantee him a deal or even a couple of years.

Doug,
Renteria might be more attractive if the whole idea this off-season would be to look for a SS. The rationale behind looking for a 2B is to allow Cabrera to go to SS and improve the defense. Since Renteria's never played 2B or 3B in his nearly 2,000 MLB games, I'm not sure how getting a poor defensive SS would help if you're moving Jhonny to 3B and keeping Asdrubal at 2B as a result.

dave,
For your sake, I hope that your illogical and unnecessarily petty comment is dripping in the sarcasm that the final line of my post was. Unfortunately, I think you really believe what you wrote.

Doug said...

Paul,

Yes...Renteria has been an enigma the last few years. But he has the capabilities to be a gold glove short stop. Peralta will never be his defensive equal. Maybe Cabrera will be...he seems to have a high ceiling.

My though is this....there are not many 2b or 3b out there that can help unless you are held hostage with salary. Of those available to the Tribe...none are that attractive. Renteria has been a star with the polish now tarnished. Depending on what he is asking for....it may be the better gamble. And...he failed in 2008 and 2006. @007 was a success at Atlanta. I think Atlanta's team and character is more like Cleveland than Detroit or Boston. I agree with you that I would not spend a lot of money and would look for other opportunites first. But please....he is a lot better option than Blake or Teahen.

Here is a thought for you to ponder...

What is the reason catcher do not switch to 3rd base any more?? Catchers often would switch to 3rd base later in thier career. Since Victor was oncw a short stop...I am wondering if he could make the switch. (I used to catch and played through college...and often would play 3rd) Just wondering….

I like your blog….keep up the good work,


Go Tribe