"Flyin' cross the land, tryin' to get a hand"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

bieber.jpgThe 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.”

~AC

6 Comments

Ha! AC, I’m sure it’s just the way you phrased it, but I can’t imagine anyone really cares if Kearns is relegated to 4th infielder after he’s dealt. The idea that the Tribe values him as a starter is kind of crazy, given that his value is relative. This team is going to lose with or without him.
Jhonny has hit .298 in June so far. Here’s hoping that makes him at least somewhat attractive to other teams. I think the Angels could use him, but I don’t manage teams for a reason.
I do read things about Westbrook. Texas gets mentioned a lot. I’ve read absolutely nothing about Wood, but a few more outings like today would certainly help.

it’s been almost a year since we acquired an injured player via trade. Good to see Shapiro filling that quota rather early this season.

A pessimistic but painfully accurate point, amseeley. I would be surprised to see even one of these guys pan out for us. Honestly, I couldn’t care less whether or not they do. My main concern is the development of LaPorta, Brantley, and Santana. Those guys NEED to pan out very well for us if this rebuilding cycle hopes to take off. I get more and more concerned with our pitching future with every day. I continue to hope Masterson or Huff will turn into a legitimate starter, but beyond that any prized arms are at AA or lower in our system. I am just curious to see how the timing of all of this is going to play out. That is, I hope most of these prospects come in to their own around the same time, so that we can at least get 2 or 3 years out of them as a legitimate baseball team before they start leavinf for FA or being traded away. Man, I need a drink.

pigeon, hold out hope…just not for next year. Alex White has looked really good and I think Hagadone has the stuff to be a great starter, but it’s going to be 2012 before we’re able to put it all together. And, hey, by then we might actually have some idea as to whether or not Masterson can be a starter or not. Throw in Talbot and Carmona, and I think we’ve got some options.
Honestly, I’m fine with all of this, I just wish the FO was more honest about it. I realize they can’t just come out and say “we’re going to be awful for a year or two,” but the whole “reloading” spin was just so ridiculous from the very start.

We seem to have good luck with prospects we get from Seattle for guys we don’t want anymore. We got Choo for Ben Broussard and Asdrubal for Eduardo Perez. Maybe these two kids will pan out.

pigeon, my comment was tongue-and-cheek but as you pointed out there is some validity to the statement. The eye-popping numbers from a particular high ceiling prospect or even the random developmental player is like a pendulum. Ebbs and flows. Last year we were infatuated with Yohan Pino and Matt McBride. Where are they on our radar as of this moment? Things change. I’ve been high on Bo Greenwell and Jason Kipnis for some time as well as Carlos Rivero (albeit maybe unjustified) simply b/c of his age. There are things to get excited about but our current 25 man roster isn’t one of them.

The Jayson Nix move still puzzles me but I’m not a GM. What does concern me though is the logjam at 2B with the Phelps/Valbuena conglomerate at Columbus and now Kipnis/Rodriguez at Akron. If Valbuena is a career MLB utility guy then treat his as such. I feel as if the Indians flat out refuse to take a chance on the hot hand (Rodriguez for this example, even Donald prior to Cabrera’s injury while Valbuena was struggling). Some analysts and scouts believe that Kipnis is our 2B of the future. Others think that the positional move and his small frame won’t play in the majors (he’s almost a carbon copy of Dustin Pedroia’s size). We have so many uncertainties but a year from now we will have a more definitive picture about our future. We will just have to suffer through this putrid transitional period.

The trade for Ezequiel Cabrera to me signifies a Brantley promotion is looming. I expect Kearns to be gone within the next 10 days. The question I have then is will they move Crowe to LF and let Brantley play CF, b/c that’s what they should do. It makes sense and barring injury you would move Sizemore to LF at the start of 2011 IMO. More often than not we all get excited overt potential rather than actual play b/c that’s all we have right now.

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