Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report's Tribe fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the Indians each week throughout the season.
This week we discuss the potential impact of the Indians’ 2009 September call-ups, overpaid players, and the current and former Indians we love to hate.
I would like to thank this week's participants, Nino Colla, Jeff Poore, and Scott Miles for their contributions.
This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and pitch in your thoughts on the questions we're addressing this week.
1. This past Tuesday was September 1st, the day major league rosters expanded to 40. Which predicted September call-ups for the Tribe are you most excited about seeing?
Are there any players being called up who you feel are not ready and should not be exposed to the majors yet?
Samantha Bunten: I would have said I wanted to see Carlos Carrasco called up, but now I'm sorry I got my wish. File that one under "needs improvement."
I’m definitely excited to see what Michael Brantley can do. He brings much needed speed and defense to a team that is sorely lacking in both categories. Most importantly, the promotion of Brantley allows the Tribe to shut down Grady Sizemore, get him into surgery earlier, and thus allow him to begin his recovery that much sooner.
Brantley certainly isn’t going to take Sizemore’s job while he’s out, but he is an acceptable replacement in centerfield and could be a critical part of the Indians’ outfield in 2010.
Given the Indians' position in the standings, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in calling up any player I can think of, except perhaps Hector Rondon. While I’m really excited to see what Rondon can do, he may not be truly ready (due to a pitching logjam in the minors slowing his progress to AAA and just plain lack of experience).
I think he has tremendous potential, and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize that in any way by exposing him to major league hitters who will tee off on his fastball before he’s really ready to face them.
Nino Colla: Carrasco, but we'll get to him in the next question.
I can't wait to see Jordan Brown up here only because he deserves it. I don't know if he'll bottom out and be nothing or be a starting caliber hitter. Who knows, but he's earned the right to prove it either way. It's time to get him up to the major league level.
I'm excited about Hector Rondon, but we will not see him and I think it might actually be for the better.
Past that, there isn't much. I think Michael Brantley will probably be "up" here but not on the roster or added to the 40-man until the offseason.
Frank Herrmann is a relief pitcher I'd like to see get the call, as he's earned it in my eyes and at this point, he has nowhere left to go but up, so why not get him up here and see what he's got?
Scott Miles: I was intrigued by Carlos Carrasco, but I think he just gave up another home run. My enthusiasm has since tempered.
I think Michael Brantley will be the most exciting prospect on the roster. He brings a skill set that we haven't seen since the days of Kenny Lofton, in that he's a pure speedster who can swing the stick a little. With Grady Sizemore's eventual trip to the operating table, Brantley will have a tremendous opportunity to display his potential.
Jose Veras (6.52 ERA) should never have been exposed to the majors at any point this season, and his existence in the organization bothers me to no end. Where the heck is Matt Herges when you need him?
Jeff Poore: It will be interesting to see Carlos Carrasco go on Tuesday. He will be the first guy from the Cliff Lee trade we will get to see.
I'd like to see Lou Marson to see if he can hold down the catcher spot until Carlos Santana is ready (I don't see Kelly Shoppach on the 2010 roster). I'd like to give Jordan Brown a look, as they need to make a decision on whether or not to keep him on the 40-man roster in 2010 and he has torn up AAA this year.
Everyone else is here. I'd like to see Hector Rondon, but they have already said he is not being recalled.
2. Speaking of September call-ups: By the time this article goes to press, Carlos Carrasco will have made his big league debut with the Tribe (scheduled for Tuesday).
Do you think Carrasco is ready for the majors, despite reports that he still leans too heavily on his curve ball and can't confidently command his fastball? If not, are you in favor of allowing the start anyway just to see what he can do?
Samantha Bunten: I might have said "yes" before I saw him pitch on Tuesday. Now it’s a very emphatic "no."
His performance Tuesday isn’t anything to be concerned about in the long run. Carrasco has plenty of talent, he just wasn’t ready to face major league hitters. I don’t really blame the Tribe for giving it a shot, but I think that based on what we saw earlier this week, it should be clear that Carrasco does in fact need to get better command of his fastball before he will truly be ready to be in the big leagues.
Detroit hitters sat on his fastball on Tuesday, and he doesn’t have the well-honed repertoire of pitches to go along with it to work around the problem. He will be fine ultimately, but his mechanics still require some fine tuning in AAA before he can be effective in the majors, evidenced by what we saw on Tuesday.
Nino Colla: I think he's ready. He's going to have to hone his skills at the major league level, but from the numbers and the reports that have come out of Columbus, his stuff is there. He's got stuff like no other, it's just about commanding it and not losing his emotions.
So far the reports have been positive and the Indians probably will start working on that "relying on his curve ball" at some point, starting now. Point blank, I want to see him, regardless of whether he's totally ready. Expose him to the majors and see what he's got.
Scott Miles: You might as well give him a shot now to get his feet wet. Of course, his three innings against Detroit looked like he got thrown in the deep end without learning how to swim.
And it looked like those reports you mention about his fastball command are correct, as Carrasco learned the formula (pitch + insufficient speed + insufficient location = bombs away.)
But yeah, let's toss him out there and see what he can do. Heck, we know what Cliff Lee is capable of in Philly.
Jeff Poore: Ready or not here he comes. The Tribe has a very thin group available for the 2010 rotation. They need to see if Carrasco is major league ready or needs more time in the minors. This is what September is for. Let's see what he is made of.
3. Carrasco's aforementioned start is happening so that the Indians can skip David Huff in the rotation. They say they aren't shutting Huff down, but will keep both pitchers in the mix and go with a six-man rotation in September.
What do you think of this idea? Should Huff be shut down because his total innings (140 and 2/3 between the majors and triple-A) have raised concerns of overuse, or should he continue to be part of the rotation for the time being?
(Note that he is absolutely expected to be capped at between 160 and 170 innings).
Samantha Bunten: Tentatively, I would stick with a five-man rotation in September: Laffey, Masterson, Carmona, Sowers, and Carrasco.
Laffey has earned the right to be there, no questions asked. Let’s give Sowers one final chance to prove he belongs here, allow Masterson and Carmona to continue to work out their problems, and as for Carrasco, well, he’s already here, and things can only get better.
As far as Huff is concerned, I am in favor of shutting him down around 160 innings. He’s done a nice job of stepping up and handling the role he was given earlier than expected, and I believe his recent struggles have a lot to do with fatigue.
In a season that no longer matters in the record books, let’s give Huff a break and hope that he can come back stronger next year. With the way our rotation projects right now, we’re going to need him.
Nino Colla: I think this idea is fine. Huff will be pushed to Thursday and they'll basically give him a few more days, no skipping here. They'll shut him down at 160ish, which is probably about three to five more starts, which if he makes at least one every week, puts us at the end of the season.
No problem with this. Continue to get him his experience, let's address his innings limit when he gets to it, and get another guy up here to ease that. I'm all fine with this move.
Scott Miles: I'm wavering between options on what the Indians need to do. Part of me is leaning toward a 7-man rotation, with Laffey, Carmona, Masterson, Huff, Carrasco, Rondon and Sowers. Instead of spring training auditions, let's do them now in September!
Part of me would also just like to see a 4-man rotation with Laffey, Carmona, Masterson and Rondon, because I think they will be the key group for our success (or failure) in 2010 and they need as much experience as they can get.
Of course, the odds of that happening are the same as a Dolan being elected mayor of Cleveland this November.
Jeff Poore: He should be shut down because he pitches like crap every other time. In all seriousness, he has had arm problems, has struggled at times and it would be nice to see what Carrasco has got so I have no issue with him being slowed down rather than shut down.
4. Last week we discussed Kerry Wood's disastrously large contract and how an alarming percentage of the Indians' payroll was eaten up by it.
Another player whose contract is comparably larger than other players on the Tribe payroll is Travis Hafner, who may be sidelined by shoulder issues indefinitely yet again.
Do you feel Hafner is being overpaid? If so, is that really anyone's fault, or is there really no way the Indians could have foreseen his decline in production when the contract was inked initially in 2007?
Who else (if anyone) on the roster do you feel is being significantly overpaid for what they're really contributing to the team?
Samantha Bunten: I don't think you can look at Hafner's contract the same way you look at Kerry Wood's. Wood came in as a question mark, a guy with lights out stuff who had been unstable over the years and had serious injury concerns. When Pronk inked his extension in 2007, he was one of the most productive hitters in the league and completely in his prime, and healthy as a horse (or a donkey if you prefer).
The club did perhaps overestimate his ability to duplicate his tremendous performance of 2006, but that is a risk that is attached to every single young, unproven player who ever picked up a bat. The Indians don't take many chances, and this didn't even look like a particularly risky one—it was just bad luck that their willingness to make the unusual leap backfired on them.
After the "this is not a salary dump" salary dump in July and August, there aren’t too many people left on the roster who are overpaid.
Jake Westbrook is a good candidate for this distinction though. In a way it is similar to the Hafner situation in that it was impossible to predict his injury, but unlike in Hafner’s case, I believe the fact that he was offered the contract he got at all (regardless of the ensuing injury) was, to put it kindly, a bit overgenerous on the part of the Indians' brass.
The fact that the Indians are still paying David Dellucci is appalling, as was the contract they signed him to in the first place. Regarding those who are still around, the team is certainly overpaying Kobayashi and Ohka, and I personally would argue that whatever they pay Trevor Crowe, even if it's a dollar, is far too much.
Nino Colla: Does anyone see injury coming? No? It's no one’s fault. For people to maybe suggest Hafner is at fault for taking what was offered, you need to seek counseling. For people to suggest Shapiro is an idiot, sure go ahead. But how could you not extend an MVP candidate in the middle of his prime? Also, this goes against Dolan-hater for being cheap.
Hafner got hurt. It happens in baseball. There are people with contracts they don't deserve based on their production, but based on what he did do, the contract was actually pretty solid. The problem is he isn't doing it because of an unforeseen injury. It happens, deal with it.
As for anyone else being overpaid, I can't see it after all the trades. Masa Kobayashi and David Dellucci still getting paid for nothing is a travesty, but whatever. You could get a utility player a lot cheaper than Jamey Carroll, but that doesn't mean he is overpaid and if he is, it's very little.
Scott Miles: Travis Hafner is being paid the appropriate market value for his production from 2004-06. Of course, no one could predict the debilitating shoulder injuries that have hampered his production the last two years. So you can't really fault the Indians for this contract—it's just one of those unfortunate things that small-to-mid market teams can't afford.
Who is getting overpaid? Wood (only has 22 save opportunities); Veras (he's awful); Tomo Ohka (ditto); Rafael Perez (7.17 ERA...seriously?); Shoppach (.206 batting average, can't throw my grandma out); and Mark Shapiro, for assembling this squad.
Jeff Poore: When he was re-signed, despite his slow start in 2007, everyone thought he was going to be the Pronk of 2004-2006 and anchor the Indians lineup for 5-6 years. Then injuries struck.
So, yes, of course he is ridiculously overpaid but at the time it was done everyone lauded the Dolans for "locking up their young star" and now we are having some revisionist history. It's no one’s fault, it just was a move that did not work out.
For injury reasons, Jake Westbrook is also overpaid but once again, at the time of his deal, it looked good on paper. No one’s fault again.
5. Fun Question of the Week: In the last installment of Tribe Talk, we weighed in on our five all-time favorite Indians. Now it's time to talk about the ones we love to hate.
Who are you five least favorite Indians and why?
Samantha Bunten: 1. Brandon Phillips: Phillips was unbelievably bad during his time with the Indians, and it’s great for him that he has since improved and has found a way to succeed in Cincinnati.
But Phillips is a jerk of epic proportions, a guy who blamed the Indians for his struggles and still, so many years later, just can’t resist stooping to the lowest level and taking a shot at the Tribe every time we play the Reds. His attitude was a problem in Cleveland, and clearly it’s still a problem now. His play may have improved, but his professionalism hasn’t. Good riddance.
2. Milton Bradley: I imagine this guy makes a list like this for every team he has ever played for. Fans will forgive a lot of bad behavior if you can produce on the field, but Milton was never nearly good enough as a player to come even close to balancing out the unpleasantness of his presence on the field, in the club house, or driving down a Cleveland freeway and mouthing off to a cop while earning himself an arrest for disorderly conduct.
Albert Belle may have been a jerk, but at least that jerk played like an MVP. Bradley spent his time in Cleveland rivaling Belle in the jerk department, and rivaling no one with his mediocre play.
3. Jhonny Peralta: I guess Peralta didn’t get the memo that no one likes a whiner, and that you’re not a victim if whatever misfortune you’re bemoaning was brought on by none other than the guy in the mirror.
For all Peralta’s sniveling about being moved to third, or about Eric Wedge somehow slighting him by suggesting he wasn't playing hard enough, he did absolutely nothing to prove that Wedge was wrong on either count.
Peralta was too busy fussing about the injustice of it all when he should have been improving his range at shortstop and running out ground balls. I hate lazy players, especially those who don’t hit or field well enough to force me to overlook their lollygagging.
4. Jaret Wright: He started off alright, but before we knew it, it was like flushing money down the toilet. His reputation as a head hunter didn’t help his cause either, particularly once he became largely ineffective on the mound.
His excellence in 1997 followed by his painfully slow decline from the end of 1998 through 2002 has always served as a symbol, at least for me, of the slow death of the late 1990s Indians dynasty.
I know, I know, he was injured, and far from deserving to shoulder (pun intended) all the blame, but I maintain that the guy just had a bad look about him and someone had to play the scapegoat after Mesa left.
5. Jose Mesa: My arch-nemesis for life, for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain.
Nino Colla: Oh man this was the wrong question to ask me, because I won't stop. Let me get right into it. It was hard to come up with five, but I did. I'd rather count Milton Bradley and Matt Lawton twice each. All these players are in the Shapiro-era, because it's the one I'm most familiar with on a more day-to-day level. Albert Belle might be a jerk, but I don't remember much of it because I was too young to understand.
5. Jeremy Sowers: I threw a current one in here for fun. Jeremy rubs me the wrong way.
Good kid, smart kid, can't argue about him as far as being a bad person. He's not in the realm of Milton Bradley or anything. But his attitude to me isn't one that gets me excited that he's on my team. He's very laid back and nonchalant about everything. No emotion whatsoever, just that same blank look on his face. Even when the Indians win a game, he's meh.
If someone in a post-game interview congratulates him, he just shrugs it off. My point is illustrated quite beautifully in this picture.
I genuinely dislike the next four people, Jeremy on the other hand is just someone I'd rather not have on my team, due to his indifferent attitude. Not even one blip of excitement, ever.
4. Jason Davis: The Indians have very rarely in the past few years, at least under the Shapiro era when I've been involved the deepest, brought in a player who is, at least in my opinion, not very dedicated. Not saying Jason Davis wasn't dedicated, but how many chances did this guy get?
No one pulled harder for Jason than me, because of his ability with the fastball. He threw harder than anyone to ever come through this system in the past ten years and he wasted so much of that talent time after time. He got chances to be a top of the line rotation starter, a closer, a setup man, everything. And it took forever for the Indians to give up on him.
So really, I have problems with Davis and for the time invested in him and the return he gave. He was dedicated, but I feel Jason Davis could have done way more than what he did. He's probably in the Pirates organization right now, doing the same thing, so maybe that talent I thought he had was a bit overrated, but seriously, he failed too many times.
3. Brandon Phillips: The BP era coming to an end in Cleveland wasn't all BP's fault, but he didn't help matters in anyway. What a Grade-A jerk Brandon is. He still mouths off every year when the Indians face the Reds and how seeing Wedge in the other dugout motivates him. Great for him for finding motivation, but shut up. Plain and simple. He just needs to shut up.
2. Matt Lawton: You have to do a whole hell of a lot to displace Milton Bradley as my number one least favorite Indian, but he's close. First of all it comes down to one comment. I don't know the situation, but I remember the words "My child's bike is better than your child's bike," coming out of his mouth before.
He was the definition of contract player and you know he never really was a guy I could tolerate when he was with this team. I'm not even sure if he had any real talent. If he did, he sure did a good job of not displaying it as well as he could have.
1. Milton Bradley: Is this guy liked by anyone? I mean really, when you go to fifteen different teams and leave hated from fourteen of them, you are doing something wrong and you must be a total dork. He called the Indians a sinking ship awhile after he got traded to Los Angeles, and some of his most famous moments didn't even come in an Indians uniform.
The Indians had the foresight to drop this malcontent before he did any permanent damage. Quite frankly, if he isn't on every other list, I'll be shocked. It would be the biggest upset since the Miracle on Ice.
Scott Miles: Just five? Sheesh. Here goes...
1. Brandon Phillips - I worked at a sports facility in Twinsburg and he came to work out there several times. An absolute primadonna. I despise him.
2. Milton Bradley - I sat in right field when he came back to Cleveland with Texas and responded to fan taunts with inappropriate hand gestures.
3. Masa Kobayashi - He was stellar. Reeeeeeeal stellar.
4. Todd Hollandsworth/Jason Michaels/Trot Nixon/David Dellucci - Collectively known as "Mark Shapiro's fetish for overpaying aging corner outfielders with diminished skills."
5. Everyone in the bullpen in 2006, 2008 and 2009 - For making great contributions to the situation the team is in now.
Jeff Poore: Hate is a strong word I reserve for bad people in life. But a few Indians I dislike are Keith Hernandez who stole money, Roberto Alomar because I can never forget him spitting as an Oriole and not hustling as an Indian and Jose Mesa, of course, for not being able to come through when it mattered the most.