"Flyin' cross the land, tryin' to get a hand"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
The Justin Bieber traveling circus pulled out of Cincinnati after rocking U.S. Bank Arena, next-door neighbor to Great American Ball Park, last night.
Next stop on the Bieber tour? Milwaukee, where the Mariners are in town playing the Brewers. That’s where Russell Branyan was headed, too. And if you can’t have fun conjuring up a scenario in which Branyan asks Bieber for a ride to Wisconsin, you’re not exploring the vast recesses of your imagination.
A number of prepubescent girls were in the lobby of my Cincy hotel late last night, recounting the dynamic stage presence and irresistible charm of young Bieber. When I asked one of them how the show was, she got all googly-eyed and swooned about Bieber “looking right at me.” She was in heaven. I get the same exact feeling when eating chicken parmigiana.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The Indians and Mariners first talked about Branyan around the time of the Draft. There were no talks for a couple weeks, and then the talks picked up again in the last few days. Though not overwhelming, the Indians appear to have gotten a decent return for Branyan, especially getting a 23-year-old with speed in Ezequiel Carrera. Could be a decent fourth outfielder type. But the main incentive, obviously, was to clear room for Matt LaPorta.
- For Mark Shapiro’s take on Carrera and Juan Diaz, click here.
- LaPorta attributed his upswing in performance at Columbus, which included five homers in three games in his first week with the Clippers, to the “law of averages.” Of course, there’s also the “law of Triple-A pitching.” But now that LaPorta knows he has not only an everyday role but also a fixed spot in the field, he should have more of a realistic chance to prove himself at this level.
- Jason Donald’s hurt. He jammed his left wrist Friday night and has been out of the lineup the last two days. He didn’t do any pregame activity today. But head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Donald’s injury is not considered serious and he should be back in the lineup Monday against the Blue Jays.
- As far as the trading is concerned, what happens from here? More gauging of the market and more hope that contenders find interest in Austin Kearns, Jhonny Peralta, Kerry Wood and Jake Westbrook. Kearns actually has attracted legit interest, but thus far the Indians’ asking price has been too high. They are valuing Kearns as an everyday outfielder while the teams they have talked to see him as more of a role player. The Red Sox, who lost Jacoby Ellsbury to fractured left ribs, have shown some interest in Kearns.
- If you’re wondering how this Shapiro-to-Chris Antonetti transition is going to shake out, Antonetti will essentially be the active GM after the Trade Deadline. Right now, the conversations being conducted between the Indians and other clubs are headed by Shapiro, though Antonetti has obviously built up his share of relationships with other GMs and assistant GMs over the years, too. Once we get through the deadline, the handoff that has basically been taking place over the last few years should be complete.
- Speaking of transition, a couple weeks back I told you the Indians will probably start working in Carlos Santana at first base at some point, just to have that position as an option to give him breaks from the wear and tear of catching. That’s not something they want to put on his plate this season, as he has enough to think about. But in Spring Training, he’ll probably begin taking groundballs at first. Keep in mind that Santana was originally a third baseman in the Dodgers’ system, so the acclimation at first shouldn’t be all that extreme.
- Manny Acta can’t say enough good things about Santana. He said Santana is the best position prospect he’s ever seen arrive midseason. Just in the time since Spring Training, Acta and Sandy Alomar Jr. notice major strides by Santana, from a defensive standpoint. He’s had some issues blocking the plate, and that’s all part of learning. But his ability to control the running game has come better than advertised thus far.
- The last few days, those of us on the beat have taken to mentioning that the Indians’ obvious flaws have all been exposed in NL ballparks. But Acta doesn’t think Interleague Play has anything to do with it. “Regardless of where you’re playing, baseball is baseball,” he said. “You have to execute.” So, essentially, Acta is saying that the Indians have played bad baseball and right now would be capable of losing in any park against any team. And on that point, I’d certainly have to agree with him.
- Remember Travis Hafner? He’ll be back as a real, honest-to-goodness member of the lineup tomorrow, when the Indians finally get back to the AL baseball they signed up for. Pronk said he didn’t realize the Indians had a nine-game Interleague trip basically until it arrived. But he doesn’t bemoan the schedule-makers. “We were going to have nine games in an NL park, anyway,” he said.
- Very little bright side last night, but Jayson Nix had a solid debut.
- Today’s game began after an hour and a half rain delay that involved very little rain. There was some lightning cracking the sky above and beyond Great American Ball Park. The Reds erred on the side of caution and took a little of the getaway out of getaway day. Then the game started, with the rain falling. As Don Henley once sang, “The more I know, the less I understand.”