Mailbag: The Pavano deal, Shoppach trade talk, Aubrey's designation and more

Many thoughts are running through my ever-churning mind on this snow-covered Monday.


I'm wondering who Browns fans will root for during next week's AFC Championship Game -- the Steelers, the Ravens or the apocalypse?


I'm wondering, in the wake of painting my dining room, if painting is the only job in which it is acceptable to cut corners.


I'm wondering why no one bought me a Snuggie for Christmas. Because everybody could use a blanket with sleeves, right?


Lastly, I'm wondering how it's possible that the Oklahoma and Florida football teams each played more than 1,000 games before finally facing each other for the first time in last week's national title game. You had to figure it would happen Sooner or Gator.


(Note: This Mailbag entry is dedicated to my good friend Kate, who despises that "Sooner or Gator" joke with every fiber of her being. Happy birthday, Kate the Great!)


Anyway, those are my thoughts. Let's check in on yours...


I don’t understand the Carl Pavano signing. Our rotation currently consists of Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona and three question marks. I’m sure I’m not the only person who is concerned about that. What we need is a reliable No. 3 or No. 4 starter to stabilize things. A guy like Paul Byrd. We know that he fits in here, he won’t be looking for more than a one or two year deal, and he won’t be too expensive.

— Mark E., Chagrin Falls, Ohio


The Indians showed no interest in bringing back Byrd. They were certainly appreciative of his efforts here from 2006-08. Byrd has done a remarkable job of getting the most out of what even he would admit is unremarkable stuff. But he’s 38, and there is a significant chance his smoke and mirrors act is on its decline.


This rotation has some obvious concerns, but they are concerns the Indians didn’t have the budget to address. They’re taking a chance on Pavano, but it’s really not much of a financial risk. Though it would be life-changing money for us, $1.5 million is chump change to a big-league club. For Pavano to receive the max value of his contract ($6.8 million), he would have to make 35 starts, pitch 235 innings, be selected to the All-Star team, win the Cy Young Award and win the League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards. The Indians would sign up for all that in a heartbeat.


I’m not at all sold on Pavano staying healthy and becoming the pitcher he was in ’04, but you never know. The bottom line here is that Pavano can easily be dumped midseason if it’s not working out.


Jake Westbrook will be back in the second half, Aaron Laffey and Dave Huff are, in my view, strong candidates to help this club in the back end of the rotation, and, if the Indians are in contention, don’t rule out the possibility of a midseason trade for a starter. Is the starting rotation a concern? You better believe it, and it’s one we’ll delve deeper into in the weeks leading up to Spring Training. But the Indians are not without backup options, so that’s a plus, going forward.


With Boston‘s signing of John Smoltz, as well as their newfound depth at starting pitcher, what do you think the chances may be of the Tribe dealing for Clay Buchholz? The Red Sox are seeking an upgrade at catcher, after all, and Kelly Shoppach could be their short-term answer.

— Matt K., Minneapolis


I’d say the odds are pretty good that the Indians have made the last of their major moves and will report to spring camp with the roster you see now.


That being said, if the Red Sox get desperate, anything can happen. Reportedly, Boston is not ruling out the possibility of bringing back Jason Varitek and has also shown interest in the Diamondbacks’ Miguel Montero. I haven’t heard a word about them keying in on Shoppach, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. It’s just that, at the moment, nothing appears to be happening on that front.

I was very excited when I saw the OU reference in the CastroTurf debut of the Mailbag. Anyway, I know you are the Indians reporter, but what are the chances Mark Shapiro can get ahold of the Browns’ GM job?

— Ken R., Athens, Ohio

Well, the Browns, for whatever reason, were intent on hiring a head coach first and then catering to his GM preference. So if Eric Mangini told them he wanted Shapiro, I’m sure they’d try to make it happen, regardless of how silly it looks.


Any chance the Indians would be interested in getting Michael Young from the Rangers?

— Brandon K., Blackstone, Va.


It’s not going to happen.


I was just working hard at my cubicle. By working hard, I mean printing up all my 2009 Indians schedule information. I noticed a lot of “TBD” on the 2009 regular season schedule. Also I did not notice, nor could I find, any information on who will be broadcasting the majority of the games.

— Jason F., Austintown, Ohio


I’m told the broadcast schedule and game times will probably be released sometime in the next week to 10 days. Now get back to work.


I was wondering if you could come up with any logical reason why the Tribe would designate Michael Aubrey for assignment? I know room needed to be made on the 40-man roster but, with the signing of Mark DeRosa, I feel Andy Marte is a little more expendable. Your thoughts?

— Matt P., Napoleon, Ohio


It is beyond dispute that Marte, who is famously out of Minor League options, has no shot at making the 25-man roster this spring, unless third base opens because of an injury. But because that injury risk is inherent and the Indians simply don’t have many other options at the hot corner, Marte holds more value to this club, at present, than Aubrey — a soon-to-be 27-year-old first baseman in an organization loaded with first basemen. Aubrey’s career has had no flow because of injuries, and he posted a .746 OPS at Buffalo last year.


Really, Matt, I wouldn’t get too hung up on this transaction, especially with Aubrey clearing waivers and getting outrighted to Triple-A today. By Opening Day, neither of these guys will be on the 40-man.


And finally…


I’ve got a great nickname for Choo. We’ve all heard the obvious ones — “Big League Choo” and whatnot. How about this: “The Godfather of Seoul!” It’s an homage to the late, great James Brown and the largest city in Choo’s native South Korea.

— Josh F., Athens, Ohio


What are the chances of Mark DeRosa becoming the new head spokesman for Ponderosa restaurants? Do Ponderosa buffet restaurants still even exist? If so, DeRosa would be their man. “Come to Ponderosa with Mark DeRosa.” That’s pretty catchy!

— Nile S., Indianapolis


Why am I such a sucker for this stuff?


Keep those questions — and nicknames and sales pitches — coming to (include your first name, last initial and hometown with all submissions), and we’ll keep the Mailbag alive here at CastroTurf. Note that there will likely not be a Mailbag next week, as I’ll be busy breathing in bus fumes during the annual winter Press Tour.


What music will Kerry Wood be entering the field to? I need to know what to download and add to my workout playlist…my hope is that you can come through with an answer before a certain sports reporter from the Youngstown area whom I have also emailed and asked this question of…

Um, wouldn’t STO broadcast the vast majority of the games next year, and by “vast majority” I mean every game not on a Saturday afternoon (Fox exclusive lock-in, even if Fox doesn’t actually broadcast the game) or ESPN? I’m also betting that the number of those ESPN and Fox games will be rather low considering last year’s performance and Cleveland’s continued existence as a small market. (No, I’m not bitter that, unless I pony up for MLB.TV, I won’t be seeing much of the season here in Chicago.)

Thank you for keeping the Mailbag alive!

Thanks for answering my question, AC!

Matt K in Minneapolis

the snuggie makes less sense than signing andy marte as a professional baseball player.

The only AC in Cleveland is Austin Carr. Watch it, Matt K.

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