Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lazy Sunday with a side of Tomahawks

Not much for a Lazy Sunday, but here we go:

Terry Pluto checks in from Winter Haven, with some thoughts on Tribe players.

Sheldon Ocker wonders whether the Indians are too nice. That’s a nice bit of insight (heavy sarcasm). I suppose that the Patriots could use some more real jerks to give them an edge, too. I guess there wasn’t a lot to write about, so Ocker decided to turn on Art Rhodes.

And with the niceties out of the way, let the Tomahawks fly:
Reportedly, Jhonny Peralta & SuperSizemore are negotiating long-term deals with the Indians (likely in the 5 year range). This should get all the hype of a Giles or Hoffman courtship (it won’t), because this is a big deal. What this would do is allow the Indians to control their costs through the life of these contracts, avoiding arbitration and keeping these young players’ salaries under control. For those who don’t appreciate what Jhonny Cool accomplished last year, here’s what the Pluto says about him. I love it when Pluto’s in Winter Haven.

For the players, it means sacrificing potential bigger money in 3 to 4 years to gain the financial stability of a long-term contract, as well as being paid more in the first few years of the contract than they would under current MLB contract rules.

If these two signings go through, as expected, you just added Peralta and Grady to C.C., Hafner, and Victor as players locked up in long-term deals. There’s your “core” group of players, all under control for 3-5 years.

Cliff Lee will probably be the next one to be approached, giving the Indians 2 top starters and 4 position players to build from. Is it coincidental that those 4 players (C.C., Lee, Sizemore, Pronk, Peralta, and The Stick) are on the front of the 2006 Indians’ Media Guide? No, these are the players that have been identified as the “core” and should all be signed to multiple year contracts by the start of the 2006 season.

For those who don’t see this as that big of a deal, and would rather see the Indians make a splash in FA: would you rather give Jeromy Burnitz or Preston Wilson a big contract for a few years or have a guarantee that Sizemore and Peralta will be wearing the Chief until 2011? That’s right, 2011.

These young players will be locked in, not eligible for arbitration, and will be grateful (for at least the first few years) to the Indians for paying them more than they truly had to. In the latter years of the contract, they’ll likely be HUGE bargains, but you never know if something would be renegotiated in the future.

Another HUGE story out of Winter Haven - Brandon Phillips is not talking to the media. Wait, what? Exactly who cares? Even when he tries to do something mature, it comes off as selfish. His inflated ego makes him think that people are dying to know what he thinks or what his thoughts are about his situation. But, in reality, he’s a 24-year-old former “prospect” trying to make the team as a utility infielder, that’s it. This is not newsworthy. It’s in the same vein as Ramon Vazquez talking to the media…or Lou Merloni. Are either of those guys’ sound bites newsworthy? Was it a big deal when Enrique Wilson or Tommy Hinzo didn’t talk to the media? I know that Phillips has come out of the gate fast in Spring Training, but he and the Indians need to part ways this Spring, for the betterment of all parties involved.

Earlier in the week, I caught the first exhibition game in Kissimmee against the Astros on the radio. Nothing warms up a cold February day in Cleveland like Tom Hamilton calling the first game of the year (exhibition or otherwise). Terry Pluto has a great piece on the game, which should produce jealousy in any red-blooded Tribe fan. Did I mention that I love when Terry's in Winter Haven?

There were, as always, highlights during Hammy’s time on the radio:
Hamilton and Hegan began to talk about how being in Kissimmee always reminded them of Milton Bradley, because that’s where his infamous meltdown (walked out of the clubhouse, hailed a cab in full uniform back to Winter Haven, and paid the cabbie the $70 cab fare…from the wallet in his uniform pants, I assume) occurred. As the two discussed how Milton was the first real example of Wedge’s even-keeled handling of his players, the field mikes picked up a baby crying. The ensuing exchange was priceless:
Hammy: I don’t know if the folks at home can here this, but we’ve got an unhappy baby here in front of the booth
(Mumbling in the background, followed by laughter)
Hammy: Mike Hegan just wondered aloud if Milton had returned to Kissimmee.
(Audible groaning in the background)
It was classic. You could see the scene from Major League being played out, when Monty puts his hand over the mike and tells Harry Doyle what he cannot say on the air. Hamilton probably paraphrased the Harry Doyle line, “Don’t worry, it’s Spring Training – nobody’s listening.”

The other hot topic of conversation was the impressive inning by Andrew Brown. He came on, gave up a leadoff triple, and then struck out the side as he blew away all three batters. The accolades rolled in, with Hegan even predicting, “this guy’s coming back to Cleveland”. Brown is certainly a sleeper for the bullpen spot; and, at the very least, he should be the first call made to Buffalo WHEN someone in the ‘pen goes down.

In case you missed it, C.C. bailed on the WBC, saying that his body wasn’t ready for it. After his first outing (I know it’s only Spring Training), we can at least say that C.C. is learning to listen to his body.

I don’t have too much of a problem with C.C. dropping out of this, mainly because he is a starter, who needs more time to get into shape for the season with pitch counts and bullpen sessions. The WBC doesn’t seem like too much of a change of pace for position players, and even relievers, but starters seem to be very regimented; where C.C. is probably already on a program where he will be on schedule to pitch the opener in Chicago.

If you haven’t seen Ronnie Belliard’s hair, it’s worth its own section on Mullets Galore. When I see a picture online, I’ll post it. Right now, I’ve only seen it on highlights on TV.
He looks like…I can’t even explain it.

On a personal note, a shopping trip for upcoming birthdays turned into a personal shopping spree at the team shop.
The purchase of note: I’ve finally purchased my first player-specific shirt for the “new” Indians (the Cliff Lee jersey is technically the bride’s). And the winner is…Travis Hafner. Not the Pronk shirt, the Hafner shirt. There is nothing that I don’t like, or respect, about Hafner.

He took a Buerhle fastball off the mouth last year, he wears WWE gear in the clubhouse, and he lists Old School as his favorite movie. He even says that he graduated in the top 10 in his high school class (failing to mention that there were 8 kids). How can you not like this guy?

I debated with the Grady jersey until the bride said, “You’re getting on that bandwagon? Fine…have fun with Grady’s Ladies, maybe you could get a Mrs. Sizemore shirt next time we’re here.” You need someone to keep you grounded, fellas.

By the way, her attempt to get a Wickman jersey (a fellow Wisconsinite) did not pan out. No Sticky Wicky jerseys in the team shop.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and remember...
...Throw the snacks in the bag and I'm Ghost like Swayze.

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