Wednesday, January 30, 2008


After months of reading and listening to rumors about Johan Santana and where he'll be playing this season, we finally know.

At least we're pretty sure.

If the Mets can reach a contract agreement with the lefty ace he will be headed for Queens.

In exchange, the Twins will get outfielder Carlos Gomez along with a trio of pitchers: Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.

Three important things here for the Tribe.

Santana is no longer in the AL Central, he didn't go to the Red Sox or Yankees and we will finally see just exactly what kind of money it will take to nail down an ace in today's market.

That's information that will undoubtedly impact the Indians' talks with their own ace, CC Sabathia.

So just who are these guys the Twins got and will they come back to haunt the Tribe a few years down the road. Based on the reaction in today's New York papers it sounds like the Twins did not come away with the store.

On the (NY) Daily News' blog Touching Base, Jesse Spector runs down just who each player is and what he will likely bring to the table.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects list ranked Guerra, Gomez and Mulvey 2-3-4 in the organization, with Humber at No. 7.

Guerra, an 18-year-old righthander from Venezuela, was 2-6 with a 4.01 ERA for Single-A St. Lucie, but held opponents to a .240 average and had 66 strikeouts in 89.2 innings while compiling a 1.51 groundout-to-flyout ratio. Eighteen is a very young age for the Florida State League, and while Guerra didn’t thrive, to be able to survive is impressive. It’ll be a while before you hear about him in Minnesota, though.

We learned last summer what a joy Gomez is to watch as he stole 12 bases in 58 major-league games. The 22-year-old still has some work to do as a hitter, but he should be able to battle Craig Monroe for the Twins’ everyday center field job.

At 22, Mulvey was expected to perhaps compete for a spot in Flushing this spring after going 12-10 with a 3.20 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last year. It will be interesting to see whether the Twins immediately put him in the rotation or have him start in Triple-A for a little more seasoning. If it’s the former, Mulvey could be a contender for AL Rookie of the Year honors.

Humber, who turned 25 in December, was 11-9 with a 4.27 ERA in Triple-A last year, and struggled in one start and two relief appearances in the majors. He should be part of Minnesota’s rotation this year, and the Twins will need him to come along quickly.

Four nice players, certainly, but considering that the Twins were talking about Phil Hughes with the Yankees and Clay Buchholz with the Red Sox, Minnesota fans have to walk away from this deal shaking their heads.

In his column today John Harper of the Daily News quoted a unnamed A.L. scout:

"The Mets gave up some solid prospects, but there's no can't-miss in there."

And then there's this from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

The Mets did not include a player who projected to make their Opening Day roster nor one that is likely to even make that of the Twins. "The Mets had to do this," one AL executive said. "These are prospects who have a good chance to fall by the wayside while in the NL next year Santana is going to have a 1.90 ERA."

The Twins obviously like this Met group, particularly Gomez, a lot more than most of the industry. ... "I don't like what the Mets gave them at all," an AL executive said. "Look at it this way, I am glad those four guys are in our league and Santana is in the NL."

Losing these four, as much as I like Gomez's talent, is unlikely to sink the franchise. It was one thing for Brian Cashman to hold his ground on Hughes, because the Yankees gave up on kids such as Hughes for much too long. Hughes should have been a deal-breaker. Gomez, Humber, Mulvey, Guerra are not. Not for Santana.

Of course we won't know until three or four years from now, but it appears the Santana ordeal has ended in the best possible way for the Tribe and the rest of the A.L.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Shapiro out of hibernation

OK, that headline is a bit sarcastic and probably unfair.

The bottom line is Indians GM Mark Shapiro didn't accomplish a whole lot this off-season, but - as he told the Plain Dealer today - it's not for lack of effort.

"Every single major guy that has been traded, with the exception of Johan Santana, we've been involved in the conversations. We've weighed what we'd have to give up. It's not been an issue of just giving up prospects. For us, for some reason, big-league talent has been part of the equation. In each case, we viewed the net result to not be an overwhelming positive for our team." --Mark Shapiro quoted in today's Plain Dealer

OK, fair enough. The truth is the Tribe has a lot of young guys who have already logged some time in the big leagues - Franklin Gutierrez, Aaron Laffey etc... -so I guess it's not surprising teams would seek out those guys when talking to the Tribe rather than some of their untested youngsters.

Shapiro also strongly hinted that we shouldn't expect much in the way of roster additions in the spring.

"We've gone through the most active part of the off-season. Historically, big deals don't get done in spring training."

Every other team is in the Central Division has made major additions - and some have had some major subtractions as well.

But, Shapiro says, for the Tribe it looks like improvement will have to come from within.

The general manager mentioned Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Franklin Gutierrez, David Dellucci, Jason Michaels and Shin-Soo Choo as players who could add more to the offense than they did last year. Of course he admitted that others might come up a little short of what they did last year as well.

Shapiro did not talk much about his efforts to extend CC Sabathia's contract, but reading between the lines it doesn't sound like much is getting done in that area.

"I don't see us ever closing the door. There's no reason to do it. Even if he files for free agency, I still think we'll be an active player."

At the risk of sounding like what George W. would call a "half-glass-empty" kind of guy, Shapiro's comments don't sound too good to me.

The Tribe might want to at least take a look at what's happening down in Tampa today. The Rays reportedly have reached an agreeement with pitcher James Shields on a seven-year pact worth up to $40 million.

Only four of the seven years are said to be guaranteed and that part of the contract is worth only $12 million.

The contract is irrelevent to CC's situation in many ways. CC is a veteran who's been around a long time. with "staff ace" and "Cy Young winner" on his resume.

Sheilds has one year and 125 days of MLB roster time and has performed admirably - except for a two-month slump last year.

Sabathia can be a free agent after the upcoming season.

Shields can't even take the Rays to arbitration until 2010 and won't be a free agent until 2013. At least that was the case prior to the signing of the contract.

Sabathia is a proven stud. Sheilds has the potential.

Still, the basic frame of the contract - four guaranteed years and thee option years - might be a place to start with CC.

You might go four years, with the fifth being a mutual option and the last two years a club option. It provides CC with firm numbers for seven years worth of paychecks, but cuts the Tribe's risk considerably.

Don't know if it would get the job done, but it's worth taking a look at.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Talk about your nostalgia

The names Brian Anderson and Bartolo Colon have been mentioned in the same sentence with the Tribe lately.

Except for the disappearance of the name on the ballpark it's like the 90s all over again.

Sort of.

is Anderson and Colon both have had serious arm injuries and it's questionable either can pitch.

Anderson, a Geneva, Ohio native has had not one, but two, Tommy John surgeries and is looking to make a comeback at 36.

Now he's said to be
drawing interest from the Tribe and others.

Anderson last pitched for the Tribe in 1997, last pitched in the majors in 2005 and was last seen in the Tribe's broadcast booth this summer.

Colon also worked out with the Tribe and others watching. The Tribe's best starter in the late 90s, who has
rotator cuff problems that he chose not to have surgically repaired apparently did not impress the Tribe.

Other teams also seem to have lost interest in the former flame thrower.

Not impressed yet?

The Tribe is also taking a look at Scott Elarton, who was in the organization for a brief time last year.

Why is the Tribe rummaging through the scrap heap and looking at these broken down thirtysomethings.

Good question. I have no answers.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Beating a dead horse

I hate the fact that my last three posts (including this one) are about the Jacobs Field name change.

But that really is all that's going on with the Tribe these days.

Today, as you can see from the picture posted here - and taken by the Plain Dealer's Chuck Crow - the Jacobs Field name came off the ballpark where the Indians play.

The mostly negative fan reaction has not abated in the past week, as you can see from the comments posted on today.

Personally, though I don't like the change at all, I just keep wishing I could find something else to write about. Something about the team itself. You know, about baseball.

In Detroit they're writing about new 3B Miguel Cabrera signing a one-year, $11.3 million contract, and how the Tigers are selling tickets like mad - Cabrera just one of the many reasons as the team has added four key players this winter.

In Chicago, they're writing about how Octavio Dotel has - or has not - joined the team's bullpen. That's just today's news.

For the Indians, aside signing a new member of the bullpen and trading for a new 25th man, there has been nothing.

So, if/when the Indians find that additional bat to bolster their lineup, or sign CC to a long-term deal, I'll be sure to have something.

Right now the only movement at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario is that of heavy equipment, hoisting up some poor soul who's task it is to "unname" Jacobs Field.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fans pan Progressive Field

So far sentiment seems to running against the renaming of Jacobs Field, which is no big surprise.

Lots of good things happened at The Jake and folks find it hard to say goodbye to a good thing, quite naturally.

Based on reaction on the name change may present a bigger-than- anticipated P.R. problem.

Progressive Corp. - which will pay $3.6 million a year for next 16 years to have its name plastered all over the park - laid off more than 300 workers just before the holidays. So the backlash is not only against the name change itself, but against the company involved.

Here are a couple of examples found on the Web site:

Let me get this straight. Progressive lays off more than 300 employees in November, and then purchases stadium naming rights for millions two months later. I think the new name should be "Lay-off Field." Or how about "Poverty Field" or maybe "Highest Bidder Field." This is just disgusting. I will always call it "The Jake"!

How about "Blood Money Field"? Now I see why I was laid- off right before the holidays.

There were a fair number of fans who defended, and even lauded the company's move:

This announcement is great news for many reasons. For one, how many fortune 200 companies are based in Cleveland? Progressive has chosen to remain in Cleveland, employ over 10,000 people locally, and significantly contribute to the economy here in Northeast Ohio.

It only seems fitting that the Indians play in a park that is supported by another Cleveland original.

Congratulations, Progressive. Thanks for believing in Cleveland.

Then there were those who, like me, just hate the whole idea of corporations sponsoring everything:

This whole company named arena/stadium thing is just sad. The Quicken Loans Arena still tops the charts as THE WORST NAME EVER . . . but now . . . The PROG. What's next . . . players giving up their nicknames for the right company paid price? "Now batting . . . number 48 . . . PROG!!!

Just as an aside here. Did you know that there is actually an "official bottled water" of the Yankee Stadium broadcast booth? Not of the Yankees, or Yankee Stadium, but of the broadcast booth.

How long before we get to: "the right butt cheek of C.C. Sabathia's uniform pants is sponsored by ..." And will it cost a sponsor more to sponsor CC's butt cheek than it would for - say - Kenny Lofton, because it's a larger advertising space? Would CC's right butt cheek cost more than his left because the right cheek is the one that faces home plate (and the TV camera) in the middle of his delivery?

Anyway, back to fan reaction.

A number of fans steered clear of the political aspects and just plain don't like the sound of the name. Many thought Progressive Park sounds better and some wanted to incorporate the Jacobs Field name in with the Progressive name, which would defeat Progressive Corp.'s whole purpose.

There were those who found some humor in it all, as P.D. columnist Jamie McIntyre found out:

Folks reacting to the news on yesterday had a sense of humor about the change, "Wait 'til Next Year Field." Another wag offered "Nine Dollar Beer Stadium." And a fan familiar with Progressive's commercials suggested, "When you call for tickets, they give you their price, plus the prices of tickets at other ballparks, so you can decide."

What do you think? Log on and leave your comments, or take our newTribe Fan Poll.

Friday, January 11, 2008

How much is enough?


Just when you think the greed in sports can't suck enough, something else happens that makes you realize it will forever get worse instead of better.

Later today we will officially find out that The Jake is no longer The Jake.

Instead, the Tribe's home since 1994 will be called Progressive Field, after an auto insurance company which is willing to pay big bucks to slap its name on the park - appropriate of nothing.

So what will its nickname become? The Prog? Catchy no?

Call it whatever the hell you want to call it, it will always be The Jake to me.

MY new ballpark will be known as The Couch.

You'll notice that following the official announcment this morning, the Tribe's Web site had the pages that relate the The Jake re-branded.

But, if you look very, very closely, you'll see the Webmaster either missed one reference, or just couldn't bring him/her self to go all the way with the change.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scouts, execs see Tigers as Central Division favorites

It's been six days since my last post and if I don't post at least once a week I turn into a pumpkin. So here goes.

With their addition of Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Jacque Jones and Dontrelle Willis, the Tigers are seen by most scouts and team executives polled by the Detroit Free Press as the team to beat in the A.L Central this year.

The White Sox are named as a team that could surprise, with their addition of shortstop Orlando Cabrera and outfielder Nick Swisher.

For his part, Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski tried to paint the bullseye on the back of the Tribe's new egg salad-colored unis.

"Cleveland has to be the favorite. They won the division. They have basically the same club coming back, and they made an addition to their bullpen with (Masahide) Kobayashi, who's a quality pitcher." -- Dave Dombrowski quoted by the Detroit Free Press.

More on Santana:

Depending on the week, Hank Steinbrenner says he's either likely or unlikely to make a deal to bring Twins ace Johan Santana to the Bronx.

This week is an "unlikely" week, according to a story in today's (NY) Daily News.

Meantime the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that Santana may indeed be heading to New York, but to Queens, not the Bronx.

Lofton to the Brewers?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal's 'Brewers Blog' reports the Brewers have spoken to Kenny Lofton, as has been rumored.

It makes sense I guess. Milwaukee is one of about three or four teams Kenny hasn't played for yet.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Our first post of the new year

Since this is my first post of the new year I thought I'd include a visual greeting from the heart of Yankeeland.

There's not a heck of a lot going on with the Tribe these days, so I'm mostly posting to let you know I'm still alive and keeping an eye on things.

I guess it is news - in the broadest sense - that one guy the Tribe allegedly had some interest in, rehabbing pitcher Matt Clement, has signed with the Cardinals.

Clement would have been a good low-cost, possibly-high-reward signing for the Tribe, but it's nothing to be too broken up about.

Central Issues:

While the Indians have been hibernating all winter, there is news being made - or at least threatened - involving other teams in the Central Division.

The Yanks' new boss Hank Steinbrenner told the Journal News (my daily paper in the northern suburbs of NYC) that he's leaning toward doing a deal for Johan Santana.

“Nothing is really decided at this point. I’m still leaning towards doing it. There’s others leaning not to do it. There are some others that are leaning to do it also. Disagreements within the organization. Nothing major, but just different opinions. I’ve changed my opinion a couple times.”-- Hank Steinbrenner quoted by LoHud Yankee Blog, The Journal News' Yankee blog.

Sounds like Hank has the same grasp on things that his dad did in his early years as Yankee owner.


The White Sox have made a bit of a splash with their acquisition of Nick Swisher, whom they apparently plan to play in center - I think.

Swisher is a decent pickup for the White Sox, but this doesn't feel like the blockbuster it's being made out to be in the dead of winter and on the heels of the holiday season - which is a deadly time for baseball news junkies.

Swisher hit 22 homers last year and 21 in 2005. His best power year was 2006 when he hit 35. His batting average has been steady at around .250-.260. He walked about 100 times in each of the past two seasons and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are good.

The numbers are impressive for a centerfielder, a bit less so if Swisher plays a corner outfield spot.

While adding Swisher's bat, there's talk the Sox may send another hitter packing. Major League Trade Rumors is reporting today that Chicago and the Angels are discussing a deal that would send Paul Konerko to LA. That is a bat I would just as soon see leave the division, though this sounds like a rumor in the most literal sense. There doesn't seem to be much to back it up at this point.


The Royals continue to do a lot of shopping in the bargain bins. They signed pitcher Hideo Nomo to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. The Royals are also said to be talking with Bartolo Colon about a contract. (Trust me it does say that somewhere in there.)

So, as we count down the days until spring training (42), that's about all I've got. I mostly wanted to just check in, thank you for logging on every day and wish you all a good new year.

By the way, for those of you interested in politics, I have re-started (at the urging of my journalism professor at Iona) my blog about the presidential election. If you are interested you can find it at