Thursday, August 6, 2009

Future News?

As I sit here on this gorgeous Thursday watching the Indians '09 Futility Tour I encountered upon an ESPN article citing team owner Larry Dolan.

In the article Dolan backs the team decision to trade stars Vic Martinez and Cliff Lee, explaining that the team is more than 500,000 attendees short of their projections and expects to lose $16 million this season.

This isn't news, we all knew the Indians have problems. The news is that Dolan spoke. Of course, it wouldn't be so important if it weren't for the last segment of the article.

Dolan also said ownership will have input into whether manager Eric Wedge returns next season.

That seemingly innocuous sentence that served as an epilogue to an overall sobering article says a lot about the future of the Indians.

All season long rumors have been flying about the tenuousness of manager Eric Wedge's job, and all season long GM Mark Shapiro has stood by his man despite the obvious fan outrage. By addressing this issue to the media, no matter how small, I believe that the Dolan's are tipping their hand toward a regime change in Cleveland.

The bulk of the article was about the lack of attendance and clear resent from the Tribe faithful. I believe that the ownership recognizes that the resent is not just directed at these trades that were made to balance the books, but at the management, who may be the reason they need to balance the books.

Indians fans saw their team go from projected AL Central winners to basement dwellers yet again. The ire was placed upon Wedge, as it often is (warranted or not), yet the team stood pat.

This brief statement from the Dolan's gives me the sense that they sympathize with the fans, and are aware of their concerns.

With this I believe that it will be very difficult for Wedge, and possibly his BFF Shapiro to retain their jobs beyond this season.

The Dolan's, much like us fans, are tired of the ride-it-out mentality that has only resulted in a few above average second halves in recent history. The recognize the need for change, and in saying this, acknowledge that they will be making such a change.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New B.A. Prospect Rankings

In light of the Indians recent wholesale changes at the major league level and below Baseball America has corrected the Indians top ten prospects for 2009.

Prior to the flurry of trades the Tribe top ten looked like this:

1. Carlos Santana, c
2. Matt LaPorta, of
3. Nick Weglarz, of
4. Adam Miller, rhp
5. Beau Mills, 1b
6. Lonnie Chisenhall, ss
7. Kelvin de la Cruz, lhp
8. David Huff, lhp
9. Michael Brantley, of/1b
10. Carlos Rivero, ss

On the new and improved list only four of those original ten players are still listed. Of course you have to consider that Adam Miller has since gone through career threatening finger surgery, Dave Huff has ascended to the Major League level, which affects their status on the list, but the changes are pretty dramatic regardless.

This is what the Indians' top ten looks like now:

1. Carlos Santana, c
Stolen from the Dodgers last summer in the Casey Blake trade.
2. Matt LaPorta, of
Scouts are cooling a little on the centerpiece of the C.C. Sabathia trade.
3. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b
Surprise 2008 first-rounder is hitting just like the Indians hoped.
4. Jason Knapp, rhp
One of the hardest throwers in the lower minors is out with shoulder fatigue
5. Nick Hagadone, lhp
Has regained power stuff after Tommy John surgery, might be a reliever.
6. Alex White, rhp
Tremendous value pick at 15th overall in the 2009 draft, though still unsigned.
7. Nick Weglarz, of
Lefthanded version of LaPorta with a chance to surpass him down the road.
8. Hector Rondon, rhp
He and Weglarz are the only guys on this list who were Indians before June 2008.
9. T.J. House, lhp
Signed for $750,000 as a 16th-round pick in 2008.
10. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
What he has in stuff he has lacked in poise and results in the upper minors.

A couple surprising notes are that Chisenhall, Rondon and House ascended the list in spite of the new acquisitions. I believe that this really speaks to the Indians ability to develop their own talent, which has been questioned widely as of late.

These names are also significant because I believe that they may be names that we become more familiar with in the near future. Carrasco and LaPorta could (maybe should) be with the team by September at the latest and appear to be fixtures next year. Weglarz, Santana and Rondon will not be far behind them, possibly impacting the team next year or by 2011 at the latest.

Though things look bleak right now having traded two consecutive Cy Young winners and a true team leader, but the pieces for the future are in place and the team may be poised for an extended run at greatness just a few years from now.

Any disgruntled fans who still aren't convinced (and are ESPN Insiders) should read this article by Buster Olney on the widening gap between the rich clubs and poor clubs. This article will give some insight as to what the Indians are dealing with and why they have had to make these moves.

Above all else we need to stay fans and we need to keep supporting the team. Just take a look at those names, and plan on getting one of their jerseys in the near future.