Better days are coming

We can, thankfully, put those Orlando Hudson rumors to bed. Grady Sizemore wants to put his “mug” shot picture issue to bed (though that didn’t stop an inappropriate female TV reporter from telling Grady, in the midst of his press availability yesterday, that the pictures were “pretty nice”).

So let’s look ahead. And what better way to look ahead than to inform you that on Monday morning, the annual rite of spring that is the equipment truck leaving for Progressive Field, bound for Goodyear, Ariz., is taking place. It won’t be long before this blog begins chronicling every piece of minutiae from spring camp, from the words and wisdom of Manny Acta to the minute-by-minute accounts of Niuman Romero’s progress.

I’m also passing along word that a dedicated group of Tribe fans will be holding their annual “Major League” party at Stampers Bar in Fairview Park on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 3 p.m. The classic comedy will be aired, and it will be a chance for fans to get together and talk about the looming 2010 season.

32 Comments

I thought the same thing when I heard/saw that woman say that yesterday. Very unprofessional to say that to him. Didn’t she also ask something that was none of her business after that?

What station was she from? I’m going to guess 19 or Fox8.

Exactly. She probably thought she was being funny but regardless if she actually thought that about them, you keep that to yourself when you’re there to do a job. That was the equivalent of a male reporter telling Erin Andrews she looked hot in those videos.

16 DAYS!!!

Seriously, could you imagine a male reporter making such a comment to a female athlete? It would be all over the news by now.
I can’t believe pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks!

AC, I wish I could share your confidence and resolutely declare that “better days are coming,” but I can’t. As a 21-year old diehard Tribe fan, I have never been less excited for an upcoming season. I get excited when I think about what our lineup could be for this season, but then I think about our pitching staff and all the excitement disappears. Something about trading away consecutive Cy Young winners and not getting any viable pitching help in return will do that to you….

The Tribe will always be my team, but I feel like they have some problems when hardcore fans like me begin to find it hard to care.

…Is this what is was like to be a Tribe fan between 1965 and 1995?

I like that the title of the article about the Twins getting Hudson is “Eying World Series, Twins nab Hudson” … Hahahaha … that’s pretty optimistic. On another note, I have a feeling this Verlander contract is going to blow up in Detroit’s face. 5 years is a long time, 3 years in the $50 million range would’ve been safer and more understandable. After his weird 2008 where he wasn’t throwing hard I’d be very hesitant to sign the guy for 5 years. 240 innings pitched last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Verlander has a rough 2010. The Tigers were a borderline playoff team to begin with that would have trouble finishing above .500 were they in the AL East, and downgraded at least short term with the Granderson move, but they sign Verlander to this huge contract. With so much money tied up with him and Cabrera, and another $18 million to Ordonez, I can’t imagine they can afford much else and it’s not like either Cabrera or Verlander are safe bets, either of those guys could crash and burn. If I were the Tigers GM I’d have waited on Verlander to see how he follows up on the increased workload from last year, and to see how the team performs before making that commitment. As it stands they are paying massive $ for a team that’s average at best on paper … And although I’m not one to rag on the Indians’ ownership (not Dolan’s fault that Hafner broke down, Westbrook was injured and the bullpen and Carmona were awful), Detroit’s situation does make me wonder about the truthfulness of the Indians saying that they lost $16 million — if the Indians are in the red, where are the Tigers? And if the Tigers could afford this Verlander contract even with Ordonez and Cabrera, why couldn’t the Indians have kept Lee and made a reasonable offer to him after 2010? I don’t see how Detroit can be taking in significantly more money than the Indians.

I believe the Tigers lost a whole bunch of money last year. I know their attendance dropped. This is why they’re shedding payroll and trying to shed more.
tracerbullet, you’re at least old enough to remember when we dealt away Colon and had to wait for the guys we got back to become what they are now, so to suggest that we didn’t get any viable pitching prospects back for dealing Sabathia and Lee (well, we didn’t go after any pitching prospects with Sabathia) would be premature.
And better days ARE coming — baseball season is coming, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what some of our youngsters are made of.

FoxSports.com reporting that Indians offered Hudson 2 years $10 million but he turned it down for a better chance to win with Minnesota. That’s a head scratcher as a Tribe fan. No reason to spend that kind of money. Unless they planned on pulling a DeRosa and trade him two months after the acquire him.

You have to appreciate each season for what it is. I can not wait for spring training to start, and it has nothing to do with contending or making the playoffs. With a new coaching staff and tons of young talent, this season is all about watching development and (hopefully) improvement with each game. Why should you watch? Because you’re a Tribe fan. And when things turn around for our team, you will take that much more pride in them, because you watched it from the beginning.

Hang in there. Believe me, every person who writes on this blog shares your sentiments. But we seem to be perpetually optimistic (perhaps to a fault), and at the end of the day, we are going to be proud to turn on that TV and watch the Indians trot out on to the field.

IF the Fox report is accurate, let’s be happy the Tribe was awful last year. That’s a big “if,” though, because Fox has been wrong an awful lot.
I, for one, am willing to just put it all behind us and move forward with the group we have. I’m looking forward to seeing how this group shakes out.

If I am a Tigers fan, I am happy about the Verlander signing. They had two choices: 1) Sign him now for a big, but not enormous contract, or 2) Wait and see how he pitches next year. If they go the route of two, and Verlander has a big season, then they may not be able to resign him. I think it is safe to say that he will have at least 3 very good years out of the 5. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see him put up 5 good years. He has some amazing stuff.
However, it is concerning to have so much payroll locked up in just three players… especially with their economy and attendance.

It will be interesting to see how it works out for the Tigers. I feel like they’re screwing themselves long term but it could work out. I personally 100% agree with the Phillies’ line of thinking, that they never sign a pitcher to a contract longer than 3 years. And there’s the flip side to your scenario, where Verlander has a sub-par 2010 in which case you can either sign him cheaper or you don’t mind losing him. Is anyone going to give Verlander a contract better than 5 years $80 million when he is a free agent? I suppose the Yankees might, but the reason they do that is they’re one of 3 or 4 teams that can risk getting zero return for that money. If I’m the Tigers, I don’t risk that much on a pitcher, if he’s injured (better case, since they probably get some money back from insurance) or ineffective, they’re trapped worse than the Indians have been with their Hafner and Westbrook contracts. So many teams are wishy-washy like the Tigers, cutting payroll but then giving a long, pricey contract to a pitcher, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Even if the FoxSports report is true I would have to imagine that Hudson rejected a 2 year deal b/c he is sour. He wanted a big contract when he signed with LAD but the economical constraints proved otherwise. He wanted a big contract this year and settled for a one year deal rather than two years guaranteed b/c he wants his money long term. The potential excuse of “winning now” is just a cop-out. He’s a greedy SOB and wants what’s coming to him. Problem is, it probably won’t come given his age and deteriorating skill set.

Not to mention, Paul Hoynes, the biggest moron in Cleveland tried to argue that Cleveland should have pursue Hudson even harder. Nothing that that guy writes makes any sense to me but perhaps that’s because not an ignorant joker.

Yeah I really don’t get the Hudson pursuit, especially for 2 years. 1 year $5 million … maybe. 2 years, that’s just giving up on Valbuena. I’d think it a little early to say “Valbuena can’t hit left handed pitching”. His minor league splits were up and down against lefties, he had some awful years, but had some decent years as well. Again, I’d go back to, if you’re going to give Orlando Hudson $10 million, why not instead give Belliard $1 million? Belliard took Hudson’s job last year. If you’re going to give Orlando Hudson $10 million, why trade Cliff Lee for middling prospects to save $9 million? If you’re going to give Orlando Hudson $10 million when you don’t expect to be competitive for another year, why not save that $10 million and use it on a pitcher for 2011?

Yeah, it’s probably best not to look at the Hudson deal too closely, just because it was all rumor and we could drive ourselves insane going over it.
But speaking of Hudson, evidently the Twins payroll is going up $30M pushing them close to the $100M mark ($96M, I believe). I’m kind of stunned by that for a number of reasons, not the least of which is I don’t know how they can afford it. I wonder if they’re getting additional funds from left over money that went to build the new stadium, or perhaps from the naming rights Target paid for.
The main reason I’m stunned is because I’m not entirely sure where that $30M went and if they’re demonstrably better than they were last year.

Hudson should be a legit upgrade for the Twins at 2b, other than that I don’t see that they’ve improved … It’s interesting that if you read some of the stuff that’s been coming out about the revenue sharing numbers, supposedly very few if any teams actually lost money. It definitely makes me questions the Indians’ honesty in that regard. I can’t imagine the Twins and Tigers are losing significant $, if any (they’re certainly not losing $30-40 million, which is the gap in payroll between the Indians and them), so there’s practically no way that Cleveland isn’t well in the black. I wouldn’t really care had it not been for the Cliff Lee trade, every other trade they made I think made sense regardless of $, and I’d rather see them give the guys they already have a chance than pull in someone like Hudson for 2 years. But if the Tigers can afford that Verlander contract when they’re already paying Ordonez, Willis, Robertson and Bonderman something like $52 million (those contracts make the Indians Westbrook, Hafner and Wood follies look not so bad), and the Twins can afford a $95 million payroll before they lock up Mauer, the Indians should’ve been able to make a competitive offer to Cliff Lee and certainly could’ve afforded his cheap 2010 salary. Carrasco and/or Knapp better turn out to be awesome, or that was one of the dumbest trades in Indians history

I completely believe that the Tribe lost money last year, just as I believe the Tigers are losing money now — I don’t see why they’d be trying to move guys with big contracts if they weren’t. As for the Twins, I think they’re spending money to make money — the gamble being that they believe a brand new stadium with a top of the line team will bring in enough money to cover what they’ve spent. They’re also only competing against one other franchise, given how awful the Timberwolves are.
As for Lee, I don’t think the issue was ever the option for 2010, it was the fact that they were going to lose him to free agency, which they would have. I don’t think it’s accurate to suggest they could compete with teams like the Yankees or Red Sox in a bidding war. So the question became, what was the advantage of keeping him for another year as opposed to moving him when he had top value? Given that the team wasn’t winning WITH him, there was no reason to believe they could have done so in 2010, so they cashed in that chip when they could.

To label the Indians as noncompetitive in the Central with a rotation of Lee, Westbrook, Laffey, Masterson, Carmona (or others in that 5th spot) is a bit disingenuous. I figure they have a shot at competing this year without Lee, if they had Lee they’d not only have a much better shot at the division but would actually have potential for success in the playoffs–in which case with increased revenue they could make Lee an offer at least equivalent to what the Tigers gave Verlander. If the Red Sox or Mariners offered him more, then the Indians get a 1st round pick and a supplemental pick in the draft — none of the players they received from the Phillies were picked that high so it’s quite possible they get better prospects simply by losing Lee to free agency

We wouldn’t have Masterson if we hadn’t traded Lee. Sure, they were different deals, but trading Lee was based on our decision to reload — had that decision not been made, there would have been no reason to trade Martinez, either. Then you have Westbrook, who hasn’t pitched in a year and a half, and Carmona, who was still in the minors when they traded Lee and was only called back up after they dealt him — not exactly building blocks for a rotation around Lee.
When Lee was dealt he was surrounded by Laffey, Huff, Pavano, and Sowers and we had no one in Columbus showing a glimmer of hope to step up (I don’t think Rondon had even moved up from Akron yet). When they dealt Lee, he was the only sure thing in that rotation and the only sure thing on the radar for the future.

I’d disagree with that logic, LACF. There was good reason to trade Martinez. As I said before you wouldn’t really want to re-sign him after 2010 anyway, even if you had unlimited funds, because he was blocking either Laporta or Santana, younger players who both have the ability to equal or surpass Martinez’s productivity. They were offered 3 good pitching prospects, one who could help immediately, for a player they weren’t going to need in the near future, you take that deal regardless of a need to “reload” … Of course you could be right, maybe the Indians never would have had the balls to move Martinez unless they’d already traded Lee … and I know I definitely harp on the Lee deal too often, but rumors of giving $10 million to Hudson frighten me. I’d like to think Shapiro has a good idea what he’s doing, that the Lee trade, the weird Meloan trade, and the original Derosa trade were exceptions, but then I see this Hudson thing and I think that Shapiro’s lost it, that maybe he’s been secretly hanging out with Paul Hoynes, Omar Minaya and Ken Williams and their ideas are starting to rub off on him.

LACF, before he died, Carl Pohlad was the richest owner in ALL of professional sports. That’s where their money comes from and I would assume (unconfirmed) that his family still owns the team.

And apparently we offered Hudson two guaranteed years and an option for a third with the intent of moving Valbuena into the utility role. I cannot say that I understand this logic given his improvement in the second half of last year thus relegating him to utility only. I’d still look for Valbuena and Grudz to be the guys.

ST, they would have made Martinez a full time first baseman and perhaps even DH, given Hafner’s woes. That would then give them LaPorta in the OF and an option if Grady leaves with Brantley. At the very least, keeping Victor another yet would have meant giving Santana more time in Columbus. I can’t think of any situation in which keeping Victor would have been a BAD thing — IF we had a reasonable chance of competing in the future. Trading our ace pretty much removed that option, thus the deal.
AM, I SUPPOSE I can understand the idea of signing a proven second baseman just as a way of limiting all the unknowns we have for next year…but I don’t consider Hudson a proven second baseman anymore, so it still doesn’t make any sense.

Oh, and I should say I appreciate what the Twins are doing. There is absolutely no better time for them to spend money like this, what with coming off a division title and opening a brand new stadium. The level of excitement for the Twins should be at an all time high.
But I still don’t see how they’re all that better than they were last year.

That might make sense if the Indians had no need for pitching, but they obviously did, and they needed to trade someone to get pitching prospects–Victor was the most valuable expendable commodity. Alternative would’ve been to trade Laporta or Brantley, in which case they get nowhere near the haul they got from Victor. I’d definitely consider keeping Victor over getting Masterson, Hagadone and Price a bad thing

Yeah, but you can’t argue that we needed pitching and then suggest that keeping Lee was feasible because, aside from a money standpoint, that assumes we had anyone to put around him to put together a good rotation. We still don’t know enough about Laffey or Masterson, and our other two starters are, as I said before, a guy who hasn’t pitched in two and a half years and a guy who got sent back to Arizona before Lee was even dealt.
Now, the argument can be made that we should have gotten more/better arms for Lee, but at least Martinez would have had a place on the team, since there were other bats around him to help. Lee was and would have been the sole surefire arm in our rotation going forward.

oh such revisionist history. Good convo happening here guys.

As for the content of this discussion, I still have a problem agreeing/suggesting that the Indians will be competitive in 2010. That’s not pessimistic glass-half-empty analysis, just how I see that reality. As I have said before, there would have to be many “ifs” that go right in order for us to legitimately compete, even in a so-called weak division (hence I’m suggesting that the AL Central is getting much better top to bottom).

The Seattle Mariners lost 101 games in 2008, won 85 games in 2009 and have probably made themselves better than any team in MLB for 2010. Small-to-mid market teams go through peaks and valleys in terms of being competitive (but Seattle’s turnaround was unquestionably rare; the exception, not the rule). Honestly, we should have seen our reign last longer or come to fruition quicker if it hadn’t been for putrid drafting by Shapiro and company.

Trading Lee and Martinez were not mutually exclusive deals IMO. One hand washed the other so to speak, out of necessity for the future and monetary reasons. The idea that “prospects” are being blocked by All Stars is a bad scenario (in any organization) is an argument that I will not try to make or support. Organizations take the chance that the prospect (in this example lets say Kyle Drabek) will not equal or surpass the return investment (lets say Roy Halladay).

You may remember that I argued in early June, before the Indians were completely out of it, that trading Martinez for Buchholz would be a good move (I like the actual trade better than my hypothetical Buchholz trade), I think you had posted some discussion where Boston fans were talking about that scenario, AM. There was talk about trading Martinez before the 2009 season, so you can’t tell me the idea of moving Martinez didn’t cross anyone’s mind until they traded Lee, that’s ridiculous. Martinez, unless he hits well above his career averages from here on out, is nothing like an All-Star 1st baseman. If Laporta only hits as well as Martinez, he’d be something of a disappointment. Martinez averages have been 21 HRs a year with an .837 OPS (as I’ve pointed out before, that .837 OPS would/ve put Victor 20th out of 25 qualifying 1st basemen in MLB in 2009, 21 HRs would be tied for 19th…as a catcher he’s top 2 or 3, but he was not going to be the Indians catcher, and I imagine if he remains a catcher at Boston injuries will take their toll quickly). He’s was also poor at throwing out baserunners and isn’t really anything special defensively as a 1st baseman, and he’s now 31 years old, 32 when he’s a free agent. So yes I’ll take Laporta and Santana over Martinez … My problem as I’ve said all along with the Lee deal, I remember when Shapiro said he’d have to be “blown away” to trade Lee. He should have stuck to that plan, if he’d been blown away with awesome prospects then make the deal, if not, let it ride and hope you compete in 2010. You can say the Indians rotation would still be shaky with Cliff, but no moreso than the Twins and Tigers rotations, that’s for sure. You can’t possibly argue that the Indians would have no chance at the division this year if they had Cliff Lee.

ST, the problem with the Lee deal is that we didn’t get a ML ready pitcher. Carrasco wasn’t ready in 2009 and probably won’t be for the start of 2010 but the book is still out on him for the future. Obviously no one would argue that the Indians would be better in 2010 without Cliff Lee. Conversely, with the Martinez deal we immediately got Masterson along with Hagadone and Price. Much better package.

As for your previous Buchholz trade idea, there were many of us that thought it would be better (but highly unlikely) to get a high ceiling SP with #1 type of stuff in return but the word out of Boston was the they weren’t going to offer him up. I think Shapiro bit off more than he could chew with his “blown away” statement. I’d have to imagine that Shapiro made that statement thinking it was true at the moment only to have Dolan instruct him to dump payroll.

Shapiro figured that the haul for Lee was greater than the compensation first round draft pick he would have gained from losing Lee without picking up his option. Factor in that reality with the notion that EVERYONE in baseball knew we were slashing payroll like Jason Voorhees was our GM and it was inevitable that we were to get lowballed for Cliff Lee.

Well, and let’s keep in mind that the jury is factually out on the Lee deal. We’ve heard from two different so-called experts over on ESPN, one who thinks we got the better deal, the other who thinks Seattle did. In the end, though, we need to at least give it as much time as we gave the Sabathia deal before coming to a conclusion.
ST, I think the Martinez for Buckholz deal supports what I’m saying. The idea in dealing Martinez for a guy who appears to have a high ceiling would have been to put someone behind Lee. The problem, at that time, is that we also had no offense, as Hafner was still basically day to day, Grady was playing hurt, Peralta was slumping, and Cabrera was, I think, out hurt. And none of that addresses our bullpen problems. So dealing Martinez for a starter might have helped us, but we had so many other holes that I don’t know that it would have made a difference.
In the end, dealing Lee was the white flag which meant all expendable pieces were going to go.

I should also point out that I don’t know how competitive we’d be even if we had kept Lee because, again, we don’t have much of a rotation around him — and we don’t have much of an offense, for that matter. What proven bats do we actually have in our line-up? None, aside from maybe Choo and Cabrera, assuming neither of them slips backwards. And while I think Chris Perez is going to be great, our bullpen is also a huge question mark. And let’s say we HAD dealt Martinez for Buckholz and kept Lee — we’d still be short on offense and we’d still have an unpredictable bullpen. For that matter, Buckholz started to get really locked in with the Red Sox in the second half…after Martinez started catching him! Who knows what we would have gotten out of him? We basically would have been in the same situation as we were last year, with a nearly guarenteed win every 5th day and complete chaos every other day.

My thought are more immediate LACF–I do know that it’s highly unlikely any of those guys are going to make a significant impact this year, certainly not the impact Lee would make. I’ll take Masterson and Laporta over Martinez right now, I have no problem with that, that’s potentially a net upgrade, especially if Santana’s hand is fine and he’s in Cleveland in June …I’m sorry, I just don’t get the idea that from Dolan and Shapiro to sportswriters to fans, everyone thinks the Indians are a competitive team going into last year with Lee, Carmona, Pavano, Scott Lewis and Reyes, but then with Lee, Westbrook, Masterson, Laffey, Carmona this year, they wouldn’t be? The whole “we don’t have a realistic shot at competing next year” thing when they traded Lee is ridiculous. I’m really not sure how you can be defending that trade, they could’ve traded him this year if they fail again, I don’t mind moving Lee this July if they’re out of contention. What’s so hard about that? Oh no, we might not get anything as awesome for him as Carrasco, Knapp, Marson and Donald? I tremble to think of what our future would be without those guys. Come on. The one justification for trading Lee that sorta made sense was “not only do we get these guys but we’ll save money, so we can have money to spend to upgrade the team in the future when our next wave of top prospects is up here in 2011″, that justification was blown out of the water when (if it’s true, and i haven’t seen it refuted) they offered $10 million to a 2nd baseman who may or may not be better than the 2nd baseman we already have … I have beaten this topic to death, so I promise not to mention the name of Cliff Lee again until at least July.

ST, you’ve probably read AC’s inbox by now, so you know the Hudson deal was back loaded so the majority of money would have come in 2011, which I take as a good sign that, after the 2010 season, they’ll have the money to fill any holes they have left.
I think you’re focusing on the rotation too much when you’re comparing the team last season versus what they could have had this year. Going into last season, we assumed our bullpen was going to be great and it stunk. Going into last season, we assumed our offense would be as good as it normally is, yet Sizemore played hurt, Peralta slumped, and we had a rotating line-up where no one ever got hot. So, yeah, going into last season they were competitive because what we had on paper said they would be, but what we got was much different. What we have on paper going into this year — even if we still had Lee — would be drastically different than what we had going into last year, across the board.

And this year we know we have question marks in the bullpen and in the line-up — big question marks at nearly every position AND our rotation. I don’t see how we could honestly believe this team would compete even with Lee when we have no idea what kind of offense we’ll get, no idea if our bullpen will be any good, and no idea how good any of our other starters will be. Going into last year, the only question most of us were asking was about the rotation, and that pretty much came down to whether or not Carmona would be any good.

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