Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Lazy Sunday After Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving past us (and the enjoyment of the 2nd and 3rd turkey meals finally putting the leftovers to bed) there’s a long drive ahead of me to make it from Wisconsin to Cleveland today so let’s get right into a quick Lazy Sunday with really not a lot happening.

To say that not a lot is happening would perhaps be the understatement of the day (other than that a St. Ignatius win, a University of Dayton win against Marquette, and a Cavs win in Milwaukee make me feel good about SOME local teams), but we’ll soldier through an LS:

Seemingly the only thing that was written in the past week about the Indians by the “traditional” beat writers (that is, the newspaper guys, not Castrovince at the Official Site), is this piece by Hoynesie which attempts to give an update as to how the Indians’ off-season plans are progressing. I often forget why I exclude the “traditional” beat writers from a link on a Lazy Sunday, but this brings it all back into focus.

Given the opportunity to interview Paul Dolan, the piece does nothing to shed any new light onto what was known about the Cleveland economy, the 2009 payroll, or the needs of the team that wasn’t known in August. The biggest bits of info come from the fact that Jhonny is, in fact, playing 3B in the Dominican Republic – which would make one think that the Indians are leaning towards adding a 2B to move Jhonny to 3B, right?

Not Hoynes, who dismisses the idea of adding Furcal OR Hudson because physical “questions” (in today’s article) about each would make multiyear contracts too risky for either, then stating that Furcal is close to inking a 4-year deal with the A’s (without citing Rosenthal as the source for the rumor), which would put Hudson CLOSER to what you would think the Indians would be willing to commit to him, not further away. Maybe there are legitimate concerns about Hudson’s risk that would preclude the Indians from offering him a multiyear deal, but if you’re looking for an area to assume some risk, 2B is your spot…but that’s been covered here.

Back to the news that Peralta is playing 3B, as Hoynes takes the information as an opportunity to discuss Blake coming back as an option at…3B! While Hoynes could be going only off of what is told to him by the Indians, or Blake’s agent, or whomever, I still find it hard to believe that Casey Blake (who could have still been an Indian had they added a club option on the 1-year deal he signed less than a year ago) is suddenly worth committing multiple years to over Hudson (injury risk considered), or even the likes of Orlando Cabrera or even (gasp) Edgar Renteria. What makes it more unbearable is that Hoynes dismisses Garrett Atkins as an option, partly because of his defense (which is valid), then says that Atkins’ defense is “one of the reasons the Indians have continued to pursue Blake”. Wait…the same Casey Blake who combined with Peralta on the left side of the infield to cover about 10 of the 90 feet between them with their limited range last season before Blake was moved? Casey Blake’s DEFENSE is what’s keeping them in pursuit of him?

Pardon me while I look past this giant grain of salt in accepting much of what Paul Hoynes predicts about the Indians’ off-season moves (the Coco deal being reported from Boston and the CC deal being reported from Milwaukee have embedded this grain of salt in my line of vision), but accepting “news” or “updates” from the PD in terms of what the off-season has in store for the Indians lost some luster more than a few years ago.

But I digress from the matter at hand as I have no problem with the Indians having an interest in Casey Blake, as long as he’s used in the way that he should have been used (but wasn’t through no fault of his own) for the past few years. Blake’s greatest value is not his defense, not his bat, and not his beard – it’s his versatility to play 3B, 1B, and RF adequately if not spectacularly. He’s a nice auxiliary piece that teams laden with talent need to fill the cracks and go where he’s needed. Is that worth a multi-year deal, given his age? Probably not…which is why the Indians didn’t offer him one when they had EVERY opportunity to do so last year when they agreed upon a 1-year deal with NO options and shouldn’t do so today.

His defense is what is keeping them interested?
Please…let’s move on to some links that are written with some intelligence about the Indians and baseball.

Terry, oh Terry, my oasis of research and logic in the desert of laziness and mind-numbing analysis at the “traditional” media outlets comes through in full force with another batch of thoughts about the Tribe. Pluto throws Freddy Sanchez’s name out there as a player that the Indians could target to man 2B and has similar dreams to me regarding how Michael Brantley could fit into the Indians’ 2009 planes – which would be at LF and eventually sit at the top of the lineup, meaning that LaPorta would slide his way back over to 1B assuming that The BLC in RF isn’t a mirage.

On the closer front, unless the Mets are REALLY trying to freak out K-Rod and his agent, forcing them to accept fewer years and fewer dollars with some smoke screens, here’s the weekly piece from the NY papers (this “time” it’s the “Times”…ba dum dum) on how the Mets will look for cheap closers before looking at K-Rod and Fuentes.
Remarkably, with each passing week, it looks like this closer market is falling right into the Indians’ laps, particularly when ESPN’s “Bottom Line” tells me during a football game on Saturday night that the Mets won’t offer more than 3 years to K-Rod because…well, because nobody else will either.

Speaking of weekly links, here’s one that says that the White Sox are basically offering anything on their roster that isn’t nailed down. Regardless of what you think of Chicago GM Kenny Williams, the man is not afraid to stir the pot…a lot. I love how all of these White Sox stories involve the headlines “shake up”, when the White Sox could be looking at a 2009 without Cabrera, Crede, Swisher, Dye, Griffey, Vazquez, and Jenks. That’s 4 to 5 of their primary position players, a middle-of-the-rotation starter, and their closer.
You know…just a little shake-up.

Tony Lastoria has a health update on Rob Bryson, one of the players acquired in the CC trade, among other topics he hits on, including another link to the Jordan Brown interview that we did last week in case you missed it.

Finally, now that Thanksgiving is behind us, is it finally time to let everyone know what my Christmas Wish List is?
Here goes:
1) Sign Orlando Hudson to a 4-year, $40M deal ($9M per with a $4M buyout of the 5th year, $10M option)

2) Sign Trevor Hoffman to a 1-year, $8M deal ($6M in 2008 with a $2M buyout of the 2nd year, $6M option)

3) Trade Kelly Shoppach, one other 40-man player (perhaps an OF or an LHP), and two prospects (one from AAA or AA, one from A) for a young, somewhat-established starting pitcher either just entering arbitration or already in arbitration years (Ricky Nolasco, Shawn Marcum, Paul Maholm, Zach Greinke, Josh Johnson, Andy Sonnanstine, and Wandy Rodriguez are the types of pitchers I’m talking about here) and a middle infielder who projects as a Futility Infielder with the idea that he could spend 2009 manning SS in Columbus and move up to Cleveland in 2010 so the Indians aren’t forced to spend $3M on the FA for a Utility IF

Do the things on the list involve some level of risk, forcing the Indians to “go outside their comfort zone”? Absolutely, but the holes the Indians have to fill will have to be taken care of while assuming some of that risk so the Indians don’t find themselves looking back at unmade moves once the season is in full swing.

Nothing on my list happened on Black Friday…maybe they’re waiting until Cyber Monday.


Unknown said...

Newsflash to college basketball sportswriters everywhere: If a team cannot sink perimeter shots, and has 0.5 post players, they're probably not #15. It's going to be a rough season for my Bradley Center boys at MU.

Can't say I agree with a thing out of Pluto's mouth this week, Paul.

Freddy Sanchez? Terry sees a career .300 hitter; I see an aging player who has suffered a worrying drop in walks and power and slowly declining defense. Factor in the Indians' apparently obligatory 50-point OPS hit when they pick up an NL player, and I'd rather give up cash in free agency than talent in trade if a Sanchez-grade player is the target -- particularly since we're not going to fleece Huntington.

It irritates me that Pluto thinks Brantley is here to bump Grady down in the order. I'm okay with that move ... if Brantley's OBP is higher. Unless and until we're leading off with somebody who gets on base more often than Grady, batting Grady anywhere other than first will be a net loss for the offense. Fewer ABs for our best hitter, fewer RBI opportunities for the middle of the order. It's just that simple.

I'd rather have Wood than Hoffman. There's no good reason for that. I just want to see some blankety-blank-blank actual fastballs from this bleepin' bullpen. I'm sick of 88 mph.

Had fun watching the D-1 game last night. That famed alma mater gracing every shrine within your heart today, PC?

The A.G.B said...

I was with you completely on your plans with the off-season until #3.

I am one of those in the minority who think that Mr. Show-Pack is damn near untradeble at this point in time. The man plays one of the most premium positions in the game and proved that he can be a Top Ten Catcher in baseball, I believe. When someone combines superb defense at an important position and an impressive power bat and knowledge for the game, I just don't think you should trade him for a #3 or #4 starter.

I would rather have Jeremy Sowers or Dave Huff holding down the #5 spot, than have a quickly-aging Victor Martinez behind the plate with no one behind him in case his knees give out and he has to move to DH or 1B. Even assuming that Victor holds up: Kelly will find his way into the line-up, some way, some how.

Oh.. and St. Iggy would not have held up as well if they had to go up against those Twinsburg Tigers in the 3rd Round.

I know, local pride can make people say from pretty outlandish things.

Adam said...

I'm firmly not on the Freddy Sanchez bandwagon. Whenever someone brings up the name of a guy whose numbers I'm not really familiar with, I go over to and look at the players graphs to get a sense of where they stand and what direction they are headed in. If you like Sanchez, go look at his graphs....I'll just say the trends aren't good.

A.G.B...I don't think you're going to find too many people who aren't big fans of Shoppach. Maybe a few who feel his high K% isn't really sustainable, but that's about it. The problem is simply where he fits with this team. Victor Martinez is the heart and soul of the team, the Indians have a fair amount of money committed to him, and there's no real reason to think his injury problems last year are suggestive of what's to come. Shoppach, meanwhile, is not that much younger than Victor and is about to start getting more expensive as he enters his arbitration years. The Indians probably can't commit too much capital to what is only a part-time, if not true backup, position. This is even more apparent when you recognize that the catching position is probably the deepest position in the farm system. Wyatt Toregas and Chris Gimenez can probably be better than average ML-backup catchers right now. And Carlos Santana, who isn't too far away, is arguably the Indians top prospect.

If Shoppach isn't part of the long-term future of the team (if he is, the Indians should sign him to a 3-4 year contract now), the time to trade him is sooner rather than later. As he gets closer to free agency and more expensive his value as a trade commodity goes down. And while Shoppach's probably a safe bet to be a better than average offensive catcher (especially in terms of power), it is less than certain he can repeat what he did last year.

Count me in the trade Shoppach now camp...but get something very good in return.

The A.G.B said...

Maybe I was getting a little irrational with my Shoppach love. I failed to realize just how far back the depth in the organization goes for Catcher and I can certainly understand the thinking that trading him now would be ideal after his breakout season and the current state of Catching in Major League Baseball.

But when I think about the Indians without Kelly Shoppach, this is the only thing I can think about:

- I trust Victor Martinez will bounce back in '09.
- I trust that Victor Martinez AND Travis Hafner will bounce back in '09 a lot less.
-And I don't trust at all that Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner and Ryan Garko will all bounce back in '09.

When I look at that trio, I break out in cold sweats. And sometimes the only way I can sleep at night is by reminding myself that Kelly Shoppach is still there. So if Victor can't get healthy and begins a downturn, we can just turn to Kelly. If Hafner continues to hit .188 for the rest of his career and can't hit the ball farther than 200 feet, we can move Victor to DH and start Kelly at Catcher. If Garko can't cut it as a Major League firstbaseman, then we can move Victor to first and again, turn to Kelly.

So, I can understand wanting to strike while the iron is hot, but that Martinez-Hafner-Garko trio just worries me.

Paul Cousineau said...

Yes, Terry's Talkin' this week was not one of his finer submissions - no thanks on Sanchez and I think (hope) he was talking about Brantley in 2010 and not 2009 perhaps sitting at the top of the lineup.

Extolling his virtues was more of a way to differentiate what he does (think outside the box, have facts and original thought in his pieces) to what gets trotted out by the rest of the "traditional" media.

Gotta say that Adam nailed it on Shoppach, though I see where A.G.B is coming from. I think one thing that gets lost in a lot of the Show Pack love is that Victor is 16 months older than Kelly. Sure, Victor's body has had more recent wear and tear, but we're not talking about replacing a 35-year-old catcher with a 22-year-old wunderkind.

I'd throw LaPorta into the mix of 1B/DH as insurance against Hafner/Vic/Garko falling flat on their face in 2009. Maybe I'm overly bullish on LaPorta this early, but that's what he was purported to be when he was acquired - a nearly-ready-for-MLB impact bat.

As for the alma maters, it was quite a weekend as Chris Wright's dunk on Marquette (who is in BIG trouble in the Big East if they can't defend the UD guards on the perimeter with no inside presence to speak of) should become a YouTube classic as I think 3 dunks were executed by UD players in my 4 years there...and now that.

Nice little win for the 'Cats too as my admiration for what they do grows as I grow older. No longer is the accomplishment of winning a State Championship just something achieved by guys I didn't hang out with that got me a day off (and the team won 4 state titles all of my 4 years there) every year. Now that I have cousins and nieces/nephews that compete in high school sports, there is a much greater appreciation.

Regardless, any good feelings were erased by a 9 1/2 hour drive yesterday from Milwaukee that usually takes about 7 hours, thanks to driving right along with the path of the snowstorm that canceled 50+ flights at O'Hare.

Adam said...

I didn't know you were an Iggy alum, Paul? What year? I'm '97.

Paul Cousineau said...

Class of '95...that's pretty wild.