Monday, March 22, 2010


What will Manny do?

New Cleveland Indians' manager Manny Acta faces his first real challenge, at least publicly with the ownership and upper management of the team.

Left Field heir-apparent Michael Brantley had a great end of season in 2009 when the Tribe called him up in September. He batted .313 in 28 games after the call-up. Brantley was batting .357 with a .447 on-base percentage and a .419 slugging percentage this spring prior to rolling his ankle Saturday.

Brantley appears more than ready to assume duties full-time for the Indians in left field, providing his ankle sprain is minor as the team has reported.

But this may or may not take place, based on the recent financial misfortunes of the team.

Here is the struggle; Put Brantley on the opening day roster as he has earned the position or hold him back in the minors until 3 - 4 months into the season to defer his arbitration ability for the future, as has been the practice recently.

Owner Dolan and GM Shapiro have to be salivating over this ankle sprain thinking this is the deciding factor at giving Brantley more time in the minors and delaying his future at arbitration. It is no secret that ownership and upper management don't give the Indians chances to be competitive this season a snowball's chance in hell.

But manager Manny Acta has been charged with putting the best 25 men on the field on a daily basis when the season begins. His reputation and future depend on it.

It is no secret that I detest the ownership of the Cleveland Indians by the Dolans and the management of the team by Mark Shapiro. As a lifelong fan of the team, I can only wait out these circumstances until they improve. Long standing Indians fans have been through this many times in the past; the most infamous GM in Tribe history, Frank "Trader" Lane put this team in a tailspin that took decades to overcome, the near loss of the franchise in Cleveland in the 70's and 80's until they were heroically rescued by the Jacob's brothers, and now the short-armed ownership of the Dolans combined with the painfully economical management of Shapiro have brought this team to the brink of disaster once again. We need another hero and Dick Jacobs is no longer with us.

That said, Manny Acta is at a crossroads himself early on in his management of the Cleveland Indians. Does he knuckle under to Shapiro and see Michael Brantley off to Columbus for a few months or does he insist on having Brantley on the opening day team?

Unlike the Dolans and Shapiro, Acta has to believe this team can be competitive in the American League Central right now. The team is 11 - 5 in spring training games. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it is only spring training but what would you say if they were 5 - 11?

Manny, here is hoping you are your own man and Brantley is in Chicago with the team on opening day.

I still insist that, given the ability of the other 4 teams in our division, this Indians team will be competitive this season, just as they were in 2005 and 2007 with many such "unknown" ballplayers. Call me a dreamer, a homer, or whatever, but come August, you may be a believer as well. Come on Manny Acta, be all that you can be and put the best 25 on the field and that includes Michael Brantley.

This will be a very interesting two weeks!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

That's Right, we're 3-0!

Yeah,'s only Spring Training but what would you rather have, 3-0 or 0-3? All I can say is, so far, so good!

The pitching has been very good to date with a little bit of a rough outing for Jake Westbrook yesterday. He claimed that he felt strong but did not have command of his pitches. Regardless, he walked 3, gave up 1 hit, and allowed only 1 run. He may not have had great command yet, but he was in control. Pitching coach Tim Belcher has his guys attacking the strike zone early on and it is paying off.

The hitting has been an attack of its own. Michael Brantley came alive yesterday with a single, a double, and a triple as the Indians beat the Diamondbacks 3-2 for their 3rd win against no defeats in this very young Spring.

Something else that stands out; new manager Manny Acta is already in "win mode" as he is playing these games with late inning defensive and offensive strategies that are normally employed in the regular season. It is refreshing to see that this manager is playing to win from day 1 as opposed to his predecessor who was satisfied to "grind it out" and then "get after it" when the time is right.

We have a long way to go before we make any noise at all in the Amercan League, but aren't you pleased with how we are starting out?

"It's starting to come together Pepper!"
Manager Lou Brown to his coach in the movie "Major League".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

USA Today, Part Two...

Is this a face you can trust?

Another excerpt from the USA Today;

['"We made the critical decision halfway through last year," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro says, "that we didn't think the club this year was certain enough to contend if we had kept Lee and Martinez. So what we're doing is dealing with the reality of cycles. You try to govern against going into a long-term downside.
"If you aggressively manage your cycles, you hope the talent you get back in those trades will get you back into contention much faster."
The Indians certainly are better off now, Shapiro says, than in 2002, when they last rebuilt. They have more proven position players in the lineup. The farm system is considered among the best in baseball. And they're in a forgiving division.
"I know it hurts for the fans," says Shapiro, who will become team president after the season and will be replaced by assistant Chris Antonetti. "It's not that I don't go through moments where I'm not disappointed too. But I look at it from a business reality, with total focus on how do we get back as fast as humanly possible."]

Mark, I hear there are some great baseball prospects in the rain forests in South America. These talented ballplayers are so good, they really require your personal attention. Take team owner Dolan with you because he will need to assess this talent first hand as well. You both should plan on staying for about 36 months because the talent is so plentiful. Please do pet the big snakes as they are quite harmless and yes, do drink all the water you can find, it is very healthful.

Promoted to team president?
If I did my job half as bad as you, I would have been fired long ago.
I am hoping that the line above about "Hurts the fans" is out of context;
"I know it hurts for the fans," says Shapiro, who will become team president after the season and will be replaced by assistant Chris Antonetti.
Yes, the fans should become team president but as soon as possible.

It Ain't (Just) Me, Babe!

You called me crazy in 2005!

You dissed me in 2007!

You may be laughing now!

Read the link below to the USA Today story from this morning and you may just stop for a moment as think, "Hmmmm....Naw!"

Grady Sizemore was on the 2005 team that made a late season run only to lose their wild card play-off bid by one game to the Boston Red Sox.

Grady was an integral part of the Indian's team that was one game short of the World Series in 2007.

If Grady says that the future may be sooner than we think, that's more than good enough for me!

It is March 3rd and we have not yet played a Spring game yet (Friday is our first game). I will say it again; the 2010 Cleveland Indians have the ability to shock the baseball world as thy did in 2007 (everyone except me).
This team will be a factor in teams not getting to the playoffs. with the American Central Division as weak as it is, they could possibly be a factor in getting to the playoffs themselves.

[Center fielder Grady Sizemore says if the veterans play up to the numbers on their baseball cards and the pitching comes together, the future might arrive sooner than expected.
"It's a whole different feeling in here," Sizemore says. "It's tough to see good guys go, but when you're not playing well, moves have to be made.
"This is a new start. We know we can't control what people are saying about us, but you can change that when you step on the field. We still think we can do some damage."]

"This is my kind of team Charlie, my kind of team!"