So Long, Chief: The Indians' Snub of Jordan Brown Signifies End Before It Begins
You'd be hard pressed to find a player in the minor leagues that doesn't have a dream of playing baseball on a major league level. Many of those players don't ever get to live that dream and that number is higher than the players that actually do.
As a regular watcher of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, I couldn't help but put on an ear-to-ear grin when O'Brien had Little League World Series winner Chula Vista on his program. I often go along with the notion that baseball is a kid's game and should be played with child-like joy, so when I see a bunch of wide-eyed kids on a talk-show look like they are living the dream, I get excited.
At one point in the interview, Conan asked who on the team wanted to play in the Major Leagues and unanimously, they all raised their hands to signify that they did in fact have that goal. Not one of those players believes they won't ever make it either. They are all very good players in their respective areas and they all love the game.
And heck, they just proved they are the best team in the entire world as far as their age-range goes, could you blame them?
At this point, you are probably wondering what the Chula Vista team appearing on Conan O'Brien has to do with Jordan Brown, who is directly mentioned in the headline of this article.
Quite simply, Jordan Brown has that same dream, one that is shared by many other ball players from Little League to the college ranks. That dream is being delayed and many are wondering why?
According to the Cleveland brass, via director of player development Ross Atkins, there just are not any plate appearances for Brown to merit a call to realize his dream. In all reality, Atkins and the Indians are pretty on-point here, something would have to give.
Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta have entrenched themselves in the outfield with Grady Sizemore out for the year. Andy Marte's hot bat has warranted a look for the rest of the season at first base, and Travis Hafner is still taking up a majority of the time at the designated hitter spot.
The Indians believe Brown is destined to be an outfielder, at least if he's going to play for the major league team, mostly because of LaPorta's future at first base and Beau Mills not being far behind. However, I don't believe Brown's position is the question at hand; I think his status with the organization is.
With the sudden abundance of outfielders, Brown's move to the position complicates things for his future with the Indians. If not now with Brantley, but in the future with Nick Weglarz making his rise up the ranks, the position is crowded.
I'd be shocked to see Jordan Brown ever don the Indians uniform and play on a major league field with it.
It was assumed that when Columbus' season had ended on the seventh of September, Brown would be the final Clipper called up and added to the 40-man roster.
It was also assumed Brown would be one of the minor leaguers that would get added to that same 40-man roster an offseason ago. That didn't happen and neither did his call-up.
The fact that he wasn't added to the 40-man roster has nothing to do with service time or anything that would benefit the Indians and their control over Brown in the long run. His time with this club is ticking in more ways than one.
If they don't add him to the 40 man this offseason, he's surely to be taken in the Rule V draft this coming December. There are 29 others teams that will not pass on the International League's batting champ for 2009 and a two-time MVP at the minor league level.
There are teams that will have nothing to lose, especially in the National League, that can stash him on their roster for a year as someone they can give regular plate-appearances to as a pinch-hitter as they work on his defense. And it's not like his bat isn't major league ready, it's most definitely time to see if he can sink or swim with the bat at the next level.
If the Indians do add Brown to their 40-man roster, which is unlikely in my opinion, given the treatment in this situation, then they've got a little more time with him, but not much more. Brown is still someone who will need to be given a chance. His defense in the outfield still needs work, but how much longer can you keep him at the Triple-A level?
Next season, Jordan will be 26 and with the talent ahead of and behind him both being younger, the time to move is now.
There aren’t enough words left in this article to go through what Brown has with the Indians organization in his career. But let's put it at this. He's given a lot to the club, has performed with the stick at every level when healthy. He deserved a shot to get called to the big leagues and added to the 40 man roster to complete his dream.
Of course, as Atkins said, the Indians aren't in the business of rewarding players with roster spots, this is about what's best for the organization and in their opinion, the player in their organization. But to me, there is no reason to not call him up and give him a look, even if there may not be as many at-bats for him.
There's nothing wrong adding him to the roster, especially if you believe he belongs in the organization and he's in your plans. Let him get late pinch-hitting appearances, spot starts at first and in the outfield when needed. Or even just get him to Cleveland to sit in the crowd and do homework. It's something the Tribe has done before with young players.
Get him used to the situation, let him soak up the energy of being at the big leagues, with the club, in the clubhouse, around the big timers.
But apparently, the Indians don't see it that way.
Or maybe they do.
Maybe that is the plan they'd take if they really had plans for him long term. This leads me to believe they don’t have any plans for him.
Sure they could add him to the roster this offseason and stash him back at the Triple-A level again next year, but that's just wasting his and the Indians time.
Most likely, Brown is not going to be rostered when the time comes to protect players. He'll either be traded, which the Indians would be wise to do if they were to rid themselves of him. Or he'll be taken in the Rule V draft by another team.
And don't think the Indians can't trade him. They've got plenty of room on their roster to add him, so teams can't be convinced they can just get him in the Rule V if they wait long enough. Brown has trade value, the Indians have a motive to trade him, but they don't necessarily have to.
Now this is all coming from the fan that screamed his head off when Niuman Romero was given the call over Brown. However I understand the circumstances and reasoning the Indians have given, so I'll be the first to admit my initial reactions were made in the heat of a decision.
But what's been found in the underlying meaning of all this is clear as day. Cleveland may like Jordan Brown on the field, but there are other players they like better. And there is nothing wrong with any of that. It happens all the time, especially in Cleveland when you constantly have pieces that you trade for younger ones.
There are players in the organization that you think are going to be the guys you eventually rely on for awhile and then the team makes a trade and all of a sudden, someone else is there.
What upsets me though is the way the entire situation has been handled. It seems as if Brown hasn't gotten the deserved channel of communication that he deserves as a hard working baseball player trying to make a living and his dream.
Of course, though, the Indians certainly don't owe Jordan Brown anything, they've got a business to run and he and everyone else should know that. But that isn't the Indians organization that I know and that isn't how they operate.
Brown has every reason to be upset with his club and while he's voiced his disappointment, he deserves all the credit in the world for not acting like a rotten apple in the middle of a big tree. Even more credit to him if he takes this as even more of a motivating factor.
In the end though, I can't see Jordan having a future with this club. I think Cleveland has made clear their agenda without actually saying it. He's a good player, but there are better players around him.
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