You wake up, and it's another year

Haven’t posted here in a while, but just wanted to take a moment to wish everybody a Happy New Year, and to thank you for keeping the conversation going in my blogging absence.

If it wasn’t already apparent, I’ll point out that your comments help shape the topics I cover here and on Indians.com and MLB.com, so the writer-reader relationship is an important one to me. Thanks for your help and enthusiasm on that front.

I wish you all the best in the New Year, and I look forward to continuing to use this space in 2010 for a dialogue on all things Tribe (as quiet as those things might be these days) and, of course, whatever other topics happen to invade my brain.

On Monday, I’ll post a new Inbox column, so feel free to shoot your questions to tribemailbag@yahoo.com and be sure to include your name and hometown.

~AC

25 Comments

Happy New Year to you too, AC! Thank you for keeping us on the up-and-up on all things Tribe. And while some posts may get more attention than others, I can assure you that each post gets read. So thanks again, and keep up the great work in 2010 and hopefully we’ll see you in AZ! Take care, sir.

happy new year to you as well! :D

may this new year bring you much joy and a better Indians team ;)

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Does this mean your next blog will be about creating a second baseball league? I dare you!
Personally, AC, I’d love to hear your speculation on the 2010 roster.

If it’s about any of the traditional 16 teams of yore, I’m interested. Tribe is cool with me. Looking foward to checking you out in 2010. Cleveland is my next desired road trip, hopefully I pull it off next year.
Have a Happy and healthy New Year.
http://theBrooklynTrolleyBlogger.mlblogs.com/

Happy New Year, everyone! With AC’s “10 Questions” blog up, I thought it might be a good time to delve into one of those — particularly the issue of how competitive the Tribe can be in the AL Central.
So who has the advantage going into next season (at this point)? The Tigers have apparently retooled as well. Aside from Verlander, their rotation looks…well, it looks a lot like ours, actually. In fact, so does the Twins’ rotation. And aside from Greinke, the Royals rotation is eerily similar. Honestly, the only team in the division with what appears to be a quality one-two is Chicago, but their roster just looks unimpressive.
I suppose if I were forced to choose, I’d go with the Twins, even if they lack an ace — their main four starters are all solid, at least, and have experience.
It is interesting, though, to look at the other teams in our division and see just how middle of the road they all are.

Happy New Year to you AC, and also to the rest of the CastroTurf Commenters. Here’s to hoping that the Indians can greatly exceed what many of us expect them to in 2010.

Happy new year guys, here’s to hoping the Tribe fare better in 2010 than we did on 2009. As fort LACF’s question, I bet on the White Sox. Buehrle and Peavy are a very underrated one-two punch, assuming Peavy is back to 100%. They got a great clubhouse presence and utility infielder in Omar Vizquel, signed Andruw Jones and Mark Teahen to contracts, and picked up J.J. Putz. In this weak division, they are my pre-season pick to win the central… other than the Indians, of course.

With that being said, you can never count out the Twins. Their roster isn’t all that impressive, but having Morneau and Mauer in the middle makes up for a lot. Kubel has been a solid player for them (especially when he play against the Indians) and they have a decent pitching staff, nothing special there. But Ron Gardenhire is a phenomenal manager. He seems to get the beat out of his players, and I wouldn’t bet against his team.

I expect the Indians and Tigers to duke it out for third place, and the Royals to be locked in the AL Central cellar once again. But hey, who knows? My picks will more than likely change throughout the season.

Happy New Year to everyone: from the daily commenter to the daily non-commenting reader (we’d love to hear your refreshing opinion!) to the guru in charge. All the best.

as for my take on the 2010 roster, until I read otherwise I am reluctantly assuming 6 players will take up roster spots from the onset of the year whom have zero options left. Those being Carmona, R. Perez, Marte, Sowers, Talbot (5th SP), and Ambriz (7th RP). I am wondering if Manny Acta will be allowed to make his own roster with regard to the last two guys or if Shapiro will somewhat force his hand, at least for the start of the season. I would assume that of Ambriz and Talbot that the former is the easier to let go being a R5D pickup. How would Shapiro justify (to the media and fans) trading Shoppach and then dumping the PTBNL a mere 4 months later? “Umm, it was all about arbitration money, Lou Maron for right now and Carlos ‘the golden boy’ Santana, duh.” Shapiro was willing to leave the PTBNL from the Pavano deal unprotected so perhaps my opinion is skewed.

If we assume that LaPorta starts the year on the DL then the ONLY spot left open and worthy of signing is the utility infielder spot. When Matty returns then Shapiro should make a decision about Marte IMO. Although, with Nunnally in place the glass is still half full with me on Marte’s potential here in Cleveland but I can’t rationalize why. Here’s my 26 man roster:

Marson
Toregas
LaPorta
Marte
Valbuena
Peralta
Cabrera
Utility Infielder
Brantley
Brown
Sizemore
Crowe
Choo
Hafner

Westbrook
Carmona
Masterson
Laffey
Talbot

Wood
C. Perez
Sipp
Smith
R. Perez
Sowers
Ambriz

Let Huff and the other young SPs start in Columbus with Sananta behind the dish, keep a spot warm in the bullpen for Jensen Lewis or Jess Todd and role from there. I just don’t see a lot of changes being made. Shapiro has a history of sticking with his ML roster rather than letting a young kid splash on the scene when he lights it up in spring training ala Brandon Phillips and Adam Miller. I would not count Scott Lewis last year as an acceptable contrary argument but feel free to refresh my memory.

If the Indians still had Cliff Lee, I think I’d have to pick the Indians as the clear Central favorites. As it stands you could really go with anyone of the Tigers, Twins Indians and White Sox, I’d give all 4 of them about even odds to win the division. The Twins are decent but like the Indians don’t have any superior starting pitching, I’d say the Indians and Twins are the two most directly comparable teams. If you took their rotations, a healthy Westbrook might be the best SP on either team, which isn’t saying much. I’m not real familiar with the Twins pitchers but I’d like to think that with guys like Carmona and Masterson, the Indians at least have more potential there. The White Sox have Peavy, but their offense should be pretty horrible. To me signing Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Mark Teahen and J.J. Putz (and Alex Rios last year) shows they have no clue. They are wasting a lot of money and roster space on average players and old players, which seems par for the course for Chicago lately. Even Peavy is a pretty big question mark, outside of SD his ERA was a point higher during his career, and he was injured. The Tigers offseason moves would seem to have made them worse off in the short term, and they weren’t all that great last year. It will come down to who stays the healthiest and individual players stepping up. If the White Sox pitchers stay healthy and Rios and Quentin are decent, they might have the edge, but I actually have a feeling they’re going to get hit with some injuries and ineffectiveness and not be too good. Detroit like the Indians would need some young players to step up to have a chance. The Twins with Mauer and Morneau should be good for finishing above .500 again, but it’s not like they’re a powerhouse and I’m not sure what other players they have who have potential to make an impact … I would agree with AM’s roster, with Brown being on the team only if Laporta opens the season on the DL (or if Hafner regresses), although I think Ambriz is a long shot. They’d have to think highly of him to keep him, because I can’t imagine that he’d beat out guys like Jensen Lewis, Pino, Todd and Josh Judy if they based that roster spot only on performance. I don’t think dumping Talbot would necessarily be bad from a PR perspective, Shoppach’s trade value was basically nonexistence, as was Talbot’s, but if he has a decent spring it might make sense to put him in there to start the year, the only way Rondon, Huff or Carrasco will have a chance is if they have a dominant spring training.

ST, in terms of the White Sox I am on the other side of the spectrum from you as I consider them to be the most dangerous. While there is uncertainties with ANY ballclub let alone the disparity among the Central division I would look at the White Sox as the favorites. A starting rotation of Buehrle, Peavy, Danks, Floyd and possibly Freddy Garcia is the best 1-5 in our division. Bringing in Vizquel was all about mentoring Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham especially. Paul Konerko is an overpriced sieve IMO but they have to like an infield of Konerko/Kotsay, Ramirez, Teahen, and Beckham. They signed Juan Pierre to replace Scott Podsednik (an upgrade), along with Quentin, Rios and Andruw Jones they have a formidable and potentially potent offense. Rios was an All Star not that long ago and everyone not named Zach Greinke can and does get lost in the abyss that is Kansas City.

Their bullpen is what impresses me the most. Signing Putz was brilliant. The guy can pitch when he’s right and he will stabilize their back end with the likes of Matt Thornton and Scott Linebrink not to mention whatever they do with Bobby Jenks. Losing Octavio Dotel hurts but then again he is a Type-A player so the draft pick would ease their pain.

They could be good, I just think they’re going the same route lots of other teams try and fail at, the Mets come to mind, teams that sign guys who have name recognition but are past their prime (e.g. Robbie Alomar, Pedro). Juan Pierre is getting old, and though he bounced back this past year he didn’t steal a lot of bases, 30 SBs out of 42 attempts, compare that to Choo who isn’t considered a base stealer, with 21 out of 23. Pierre managed to hit 16 2b. To say he’s an upgrade offensively over Podsednik is a stretch, Podsednik stole as many bases as Pierre in ’09 and had a slightly better OPS, and their career OPS is basically the same. Pierre has better name recognition than Podsednik, but in this stage in their careers, I wouldn’t say that Pierre’s a better player. Jones hit a few HRs last year, but that was in Texas. He hit .199 in away games. Putz was terrible last year. Bullpen guys are generally unpredictable, so who knows maybe he’ll bounce back, but the same could be said for Wood, R Perez, basically the entire Indians bullpen. Rios hit .199 in Chicago last year. I agree that their rotation should easily be the best in the division, but if they can’t score runs it won’t help. And I have no real logical reason to believe this, but I think that Peavy’s going to be a major bust.

I don’t see the signing of Putz as a bad pick up at all. He had a rough year last year, with a 5.22 ERA, but before that he was phenomenal, and has a career 3.24 ERA. Andruw Jones at 500K is a bargain for a backup outfielder with experience, and like AM said, Omar isn’t necessarily about the numbers, even though he still plays great defense wherever he goes. If Beckham can improve upon a great rookie year, they should have a very solid lineup with speed and power. Can’t blame the Sox for spending some money. They play in a bigger market than the other teams in the division. And there is no way of knowing who the injury-bug will bite this year. The Tribe knows that all too well…

With no stand out team, the race will more than likely be determined by who plays well within the division. I know that may seem like an obvious statement, but I guess I never appreciated just how much a team plays within its division. By my count, the Tribe plays 71/162 of their games against divisional opponents this coming season (that was a very quick count, so I may have missed a series or so), which is a hair under 44% of their games. Anyone know if this is the standard?

I think they play 18 games against division teams so it should be around 72 every year. Why do the Indians play the stupid White Sox first every year? Why not the Twins or Tigers, or even better, KC? Is there some big rivalry against the White Sox that I’m not aware of? Maybe there was back in 1994, but now? … My feeling on Chicago is they should easily have the best pitching in the division, but they had the 2nd best ERA in the AL last year and look where that got them. Jones and Vizquel aren’t expensive and are bench players, but their strength is defense, both are likely to be bad to terrible offensively (I think it would’ve been better to sign some like Belliard, he can hit and that’s what the White Sox need. And why have the Indians not yet signed Belliard? He’s the perfect right handed bat that’s not too expensive). I guess the White Sox think defense was the issue? Maybe they can pinch hit the .160 hitting Jones for the .200 hitting Rios. And Omar hitting .210 can pinch hit for Teahan hitting .250. I find them annoying mostly because of guys like Rios and Pierre who are enormously overpaid. Either of those guys would be like the 5th best outfielder if they were on the Indians … would you take either over Sizemore, Choo, Laporta or Brantley? I wouldn’t. Actually I’d probably take Ben Francisco over them. And Rios is owed like $60 million, and they’re paying Pierre $10 million.

ST’s thoughts mimic my own almost exactly with regards to the White Sox. Yes, I think their rotation and bullpen means they could be great, but I think their line-up has just as much potential to bomb completely. I mean, their outfield is Quentin, Rios, and Pierre? Yes, all of them have had amazing years in the past, but they’ve also had awful, awful years. And who’s their 4th outfielder, Andruw Jones? Yikes. They could have the worst offensive outfield in baseball next year. They clearly aren’t sure about Beckham just year, since they signed a utility infielder who can play third AND Mark Teahen, and neither Paul Konerko nor the jerk who plays catcher are exactly spring chickens.
What’s interesting is that the Twins, to me, are built to win the division, but lose in the playoffs, while a team like the White Sox would probably have more luck in the post-season.

I guess it’s just me then, I actually like their ballclub. You could make the argument that with their starting pitching the offense can be spotty and they’d still win games.

ST, for a counter-point I will say that while the career numbers between Pierre and Podsednik are similar, Pierre is a year younger than Podsednik and stole as many bases as him in 157 less at bats. He was stuck behind Manny Ramirez last year and accrued his at bats while ManRam was on maternity leave. Not to mention, Podsednik is a LF and Pierre plays LF and (mostly) CF, both of which he does better than Scotty P. There is a reason why he’s still a free agent: he’s not that good. But his wife is quite attractive.

LACF, I believe they brought over Teahen to play 3B b/c Gordon Beckham is actually a shortstop. I believe that he was moved to 3B b/c Josh Fields (their Andy Marte) couldn’t cut it anymore. They move Alexei Ramirez from 2B to SS and now back to 2B to clear room for Teahen and Beckham specifically.

And preferring Ben Francisco over any young player that has put up All Star numbers is, well it’s an interesting choice I’ll just put it that way

It’ll be interesting to see if Pierre can put together a quality season after what he showed when Ramirez was out. But there’s a reason he lost his starting job in Los Angeles. What I find unreal is that 2/3 of the Chicago starting White Sox are basically salary dumps from other teams. Depending upon how he performs next year, maybe we should offer them Hafner…
I think Marte gets the boot if a) LaPorta is healthy to start the year and b) our unnamed utility infielder can play 3rd (and I think that’s probable). I think Brown’s offensive numbers in AAA and the fact that he can be a fifth outfielder as well as replacement 1B and DH make him more attractive.
Again, though, the idea of wasting either of those guys on the bench is kind of depressing, but what are you going to do?

SO…did everyone see the new article on ESPN? As if they were spying on the CastroTurf their recent post at 9:09 am est today is titled, “Early Favorites in the AL Central?”

They are not too complimentary towards the Indians and have lumped them in with the Royals as the cellar dwellers.

“The result is gridlock at the top of the division, with no clear-cut favorite and a case for all three, and it’s apparent that neither Cleveland nor Kansas City has the impact talent to compete this upcoming season.”

Let’s do a comparison between Francisco, Rios and Pierre for the past 2 years. ABs in ’08 and 09 Francisco 447, 405, Rios 625,582, Pierre 375,380

OPS Francisco/Rios/Pierre
’08: .770/.798/.655.
’09: .779/.691/.757.

RBI
’08: 54/79/28
’09: 46/71/31

R
’08: 58/91/44
’09: 48/63/57

And Francisco is 4 years younger than Pierre, and a year younger than Rios. Even without considering the huge pay disparity between the three, I’d say that’s pretty much a toss up. Rios had the best performance of anyone in ’08, but not a whole lot better than Francisco and his ’09 was worse than both of Francisco’s years, Pierre had an awful ’08, his ’09 was better but no better than equivalent to Francisco, about the same number of runs accounted for, Pierre’s SB advantage making up for the lower OPS. Taking guys who were All Stars in the past and who are overpaid because of it is exactly why I think the White Sox are making a big mistake. Based on current performance, they might as well have signed Ben Francisco … And yeah LACF, I was hoping they’d take Hafner too, I think I previously said we should offer them Hafner, Westbrook and Wood in exchange for an Ozzie Guillen baseball card.

Shelly Duncan, huh? Interesting. Here’s MLBtraderumors’ thoughts:

“Duncan has hit just .219/.290/.411 in 163 major league plate appearances over three seasons, but had another strong season in Triple-A this past year, posting a batting line of .277/.370/.546 for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Duncan is 30, and could challenge for playing time in left field with the Indians. Keep in mind that if he shows anything with the bat, he’s the type of player managers like to keep around, and would likely get the benefit of the doubt. His Triple-A numbers also indicate he could flourish with some regular major league at-bats. Good pickup for Cleveland.”

While I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that, doesn’t he sound like, well, Jordan Brown? But older?

LCF, I don’t think Brown has as much power, but i get your point. I read some time ago that they were looking at Marcus Thames, but that is obviously not going to happen now. I think they are about done. Donald is a possibility as the utility man. I guess it depends on finances.

A decent signing (shelly) as long as its a minor league deal. I hope he doesn’t interfere with Matt and brantley’s playing time.

The Duncan thing is bizarre to me. Why add another OF to the logjam that is occurring at the AAA/Cleveland level? The only thing I can think of, is that he is a right-handed bat, and has played some first base.

A fantastic article is up on the DiaTribe. Well worth ready. It relates to our conversation about markets and revenue a few weeks back.

ST, I agree with you that in his current form Alex Rios is severely overpaid. The Blue Jays got money happy and were doling out cash to Rios and Vernon Wells like it was candy. His 2008 extension was based on his 2006 and 2007 A.S. years. His 2008 stats were above average but not eye-popping for a $64M deal. You cannot blame Rios for having a back-loaded contract. The average dollars per year of his 6 year contract would be $10.67M. His backend deal pays him $9.7 million in 2010, $12 million each in 2011 and 2012 and $12.5 million apiece in 2013 and 2014. So his .199 batting average in Chicago is certainly not worthy of a $10M/year contract but his 2006-2008 years would be IMO.

Additionally, as I have had the same discussion with duane_kiper about Jason Donald when referencing stats, there is more to baseball than OPS. The problem with comparing Francisco, Rios and Pierre is that they are three different types of outfielders. Francisco and Rios would match up the closest to pedigree. I will agree with you that someone like Ben Francisco could give you slightly comparable numbers to other starting outfielders in MLB but what he doesn’t give you in stats you would benefit in cost. No argument there.

Btw, we’re so good that even when the Indians are not active we can find something else to keep ourselves occupied. It’s not like signing Shelly Duncan is going to send bloogers to the sphere.

so now we’re bringing Austin Kearns into the outfield mix?? Hmm.

And Shoppach signed a 2-yr/$5.5M deal with Tampa Bay. Good for him, so long as it’s not on Cleveland’s payroll.

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