Tag: Manny Acta

2011 Cleveland Indians: Prospect Alex White to Debut Against Tigers

After being drafted in the first round (15th overall) by the Cleveland Indians in the 2009 June Amateur Draft, pitcher Alex White is set to make his debut on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.

This move was prompted by the injury to Carlos Carrasco, who will spend some time on the DL. Starter Mitch Talbot was also placed on the DL, prompting the organization to promote Jeanmar Gomez to the parent club last week.

While Carrasco’s injury is not being considered to severe, Talbot’s, on the other hand, has been. While no official timeline has been given, it should certainly be longer than two weeks. Depending on the performances of White and Gomez, one could be sticking with the Tribe a little longer than the other.

The former University of North Carolina Tarheel has pitched in 30 professional ball games to date, spending the 2010 season with the affiliate Kinston Indians (high-A) and the Akron Aeros (AA). He has seen action this season with the AAA Columbus Clippers.

He was the organization’s 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

White was invited to Spring Training this season. While he did not perform perhaps as well as some had hoped (0-1, 10.80 ERA in three appearances), it is clear that White has worked at least some the kinks out in the early-goings of the 2011 season. As skipper Manny Acta said in a recent interview, he has confidence in the young hurler:

“In spring training it’s hard to judge people,” said Acta. “You could see the poise and maturity level he had. His slider has improved in Triple A. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. But he’s pitching well.”

So far, he has started four games and compiled a 1-0 record. Despite only earning one decision, he boasts an ERA of 1.90, a WHIP of 1.01 and a 10.6 K/9 rate.

White’s numbers have improved nearly across the board while spending the young season with the Clippers. His strikeout numbers are up, and his walk rate is much lower (he is issuing almost a full walk less per nine innings than he did last season).

The 22-year old right-hander will bring his overbearing fastball, as well as his improving slider and splitter, to Progressive Field on Saturday to square off against the Tigers’ Rick Porcello. Porcello has a 1-2 mark this season with a 4.76 ERA.

The series will be yet another important one, with the AL Central foes battling it out for position in the young season. A solid debut from White could put an exclamation point on the already exciting season for the Cleveland Indians.

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Ricky Vaughn to Come out of Retirement, Pitch for Cleveland Indians


The Indians got a bit of surprising news this morning when former Indians ace Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn announced that he was planning a comeback to Major League Baseball.

Vaughn was quoted as saying the come back is all about “winning and bi-winning.”

It was welcome news to a pitching staff that was a combined 69-93 with a 4.30 ERA in 2010.

The 45 year-old pitcher broke into baseball in 1989 with a terrific rookie year. Discovered in the California Penal League, Vaughn’s raw talent earned him a spot on the Indians spring training roster.

He had some control issues early, but once corrected, he anchored the rotation that also featured Cy Young award winner Eddie Harris. 

On why he decided to come back: “It’s always kind of bothered me that I retired a year before the Indians made their run in the 1990s.  When Lou [Former Indians Manager Lou Brown] died, I had to take a serious look at my life,” Vaughn said. “I called Jake [Taylor] and we got together over the offseason and started working on some stuff. You know, getting back into shape.”

He has also been working out with former Indians Gold Glove Award winner Willie Mays Hayes.

The workouts have been intense, but that has not deterred Vaughn: “I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.” Hopefully that Tiger Blood will translate into victories for the Tribe.

With an inconsistent Fausto Carmona as the opening day starter, there are a lot of questions heading into 2011. There is some promise with the likes of Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco and Mitch Talbot, all under 28 years old. None of them are proven starters.

Ricky Vaughn has said he’d like to compete for a job as a starter, refusing to entertain the notion that he would be relegated to bullpen duty.

When asked about the Indians pitchers, Vaughn clarified by saying, “They’re the best at what they do and I’m the best at what I do. And together it’s like, it’s on. Sorry, Middle America [American League Central].” That kind of positive thinking will be a welcomed addition to current skipper Manny Acta.

Slow starts have plagued the Indians in recent years. If Ricky’s aging arm can stand up to the rigor of a full MLB season, this might be the year they get it turned around. Wild Thing was not ashamed when he talked about what he expects from the upcoming 2011.

He said “It’s perfect. It’s awesome. Every day is just filled with just wins. All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary. People say it’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view.”

Not everybody is drinking the kool-aid. The groundskeepers at Progressive Field in Cleveland were quoted as saying “They’re still sh**** [crappy].”

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Bartolo Colon About To Re-Sign With the Cleveland Indians?

There’s something strangely fitting that former Tribe starter Bartolo Colon is rumored to be a potential free-agent target for the Indians during the 2010-2011 hot stove season. 

No, I’m not talking about Colon now “fitting” into his old Tribe jersey now that he’s allegedly lost 50 pounds, I’m talking about how he could fit on this team as a relevant starter.  Seriously, I know you all are chuckling.

I know most of you think that Colon is long past his prime.  I know that you think this rapid weight loss is bogus, or some sort of Oprah-Winfrey like rubber-band diet.  I know that you all think he’s really a grandpa.  I know you think he’s past his prime.  But c’mon, you’ve got to open up your mind a bit here.

I’m going to assume that the five of you that read my sad excuse for a blog are seated in front of your computer while viewing this exquisite and well thought out piece, and while you are likely dedicating the next ten minutes of your life into a wonderful retort about how insane I am (you’d be correct), please try and remain calm for a few more moments. 

Give me some time here people,  so please take this moment to relax, get nice and comfortable, close your eyes, and think back to the good ole’ days of 1998.  Don’t worry, if you can’t remember back that far, I’ll help you along a bit. 

Ah, yes, 12 years ago when the Indians were one of the upper echelon.  Back then, Mr. Colon was a 23-year-old ace-in-waiting.  He had helped the Tribe along to their second World Series appearance in three years back in 2007, and had really emerged as a plus pitcher in ’08.  He would win 14 games that year, and would then go on to win 10 or more games in his next four seasons with the Tribe. 

He was good…really good.  So good, in fact, that the Indians dealt him away for a net return of Lee Stevens, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips.  While Stevens turned into an afterthought, Lee and Sizemore became extremely valuable pieces to the Tribe cause, and Phillips did the same, just not for the Tribe (you’re welcome Cincinnati). 

Colon continued to pitch well for a variety of teams before winning the Cy Young with the Angels in 2005.  It was his last relevant season.

Okay, now open up your eyes.  I wanted to be fair to the former ace before we took a look at the reality of the “fit.”  Yeah, I know, you thought I was being serious.  You thought I really thought that Colon was a perfect fit.  Please let me rephrase a bit.  I don’t think he’s a good fit, but the Tribe brass does.  No, I’m not kidding. 

For once, I’d like to believe Paul Hoynes, who stated on his twitter account a few days ago that the “Indians have no interest in re-signing Bartolo Colon, who quit on his last two teams.”  Tonight, during Bart’s start with his Dominican team, sitting in the stands was one Manny Acta.  Of course, he could just be taking in a game…right?

Colon is nothing if not interesting.  “Manny being Manny” is a popular phrase, but there was also Bart being Bart.  Remember when I said that he was 23 years old back in 1998?  It turns out that a birth certificate showed up in 2002 with a birth date of 1973, instead of 1975.  So, as it turns out, Colon wasn’t as promising a prospect as he was.

Granted, a 25-year-old winning 14 games is still fairly outstanding, but it’s just not the same as a 23-year-old.  Like many players from the Dominican, questions to this day remain about Colon’s age.  Is he really 37?  Is he 40?  Is he 50?  Is he still alive?  It’s hard to tell.

There’s also the issue of Colon’s weight.  With the Tribe, Colon consistently struggled with his weight.  While he was never a svelte starter, Colon did manage some eating restraint.  Over the years, however, Colon’s food demons had seemingly caught up with him.  Of course, once they did, Bart actually ate them too. 

I remember seeing some listings of Colon’s weight back in 2006 and 2007 as somewhere around 185 pounds.  Now, I could believe that he was 185 pounds back then, perhaps if he was filled with helium, and not the better part of the Golden Corral buffet. 

Colon hasn’t pitched for the Tribe since June of 2002, and hasn’t pitched for any major league team since 2009.  In 2008, the Red Sox signed Colon, and he pitched fairly well.  Still, Colon wasn’t considered a starter with the Sox, and after making seven solid starts, Boston manager Terry Francona planned to meet with Colon about moving him to the pen.  Colon allegedly never showed up to the meeting…twice. 

Then, Colon headed off to the Dominican for “personal matters.”  While I can’t speak to what those matters were, it’s generally believed that Colon was ticked off about relieving, and spot starting.  Apparently it’s better to not pitch at all, or in this case, pitch in the Dominican.

Colon then signed with the White Sox.  After his initial signing, it took the White Sox three days to locate Colon to talk to him.  He’d again pitch fairly well.  He’d go 3-6, but he had a respectable 4.19 ERA before going on the DL on June 9. 

Colon would rehab in Arizona, but in late June, he disappeared again.  Manager Ozzie Guillen speculated that Colon was “depressed a little bit” because of his affinity for Michael Jackson.  He would turn up, but injuries derailed his season.

Is there anything that’s fitting about this potential signing that isn’t some two-cent joke about his weight?  There is a certain amount of nostalgia, but it’s not like the masses of Cleveland are clamoring for a reunion with the former enigmatic starter.  He was good, bordering on great, but wasn’t nearly as beloved as some of the other members of those great teams.

There is the Cliff Lee factor.  Lee was the young pitching prospect in that deal I mentioned before that sent Colon to Montreal.  Unless you live under a rock. Lee just signed a five-year, $120 million deal with the Phillies, managed by Charlie Manuel, Colon’s last Tribe manager. The Phillies, a relevant, big-market team are signing relevant, marquee baseball players. 

In this case, Cliff Lee, the pitcher the Indians hoped to help take Colon’s place, which he did, and then some.  Perhaps signing Colon to a minor-league, sub-million dollar contract is some sort of karmic balance to Lee’s massive deal.  While Lee fits himself in a staff of aces, Colon could himself in a staff of players half his age.

In a bit more serious tone, Colon is a low-cost option to come onto this club and potentially fill a hole as a veteran starter.  Of course, there’s that thing about him quitting on his last two teams.  There’s also a bit of an injury issue.  There’s also that bit about not having pitched in an important game in over a year.  There’s also his weight problems.  Of course, there is all that nostalgia! 

Maybe the plan is to sign Manny as well, and create some sort of quirky Cleveland sitcom.  I’m sure we could get Betty White involved, and maybe Cerrano as well.  I’m sure we could work some sort of Allstate tie-in.  Wait a second, what are we talking about again?

My guess is that there are better options that bringing back Bartolo.  Of course, if he does sign, and it pans out for the Tribe, I could always change the name of my blog…

For those wondering at home, Colon got lit up a bit tonight, giving up six runs, three earned.  The three unearned came on a throwing error by Colon on a bunt.  Overall, Colon is a respectable 3-1 with a 1.54 ERA in six starts, and 35 innings pitched.  He’s struck out 29 and walked only 3.

Check out Bringing Back Boudreau for more Tribe info!!!

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Tribe Talk: 2010 Indians vs. 2009 Indians, Rain Delays, and Choo’s 20/20 Season

Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report’s Cleveland Indians fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the club each week throughout the season.

This week, we talk rain delays, Shin Soo Choo’s 20/20 season, what statistical benchmarks a team needs to hit to be a playoff contender, and whether the 2010 Indians are better, worse or equal to the 2009 team. 

I would like to thank this week’s participants Nino Colla, The Coop, and Lewie Pollis 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.

Go Tribe!


1. Over the weekend, Shin Soo Choo reached both 20 steals and 20 home runs, giving him his second consecutive 20/20 season. 

In your opinion, how big of an accomplishment is a 20/20 season? Do you consider 20/20 enough to say the player in question has had a “great” season? 

Is this accomplishment more significant than usual in Choo’s case because the team has had so little success this season otherwise?

Samantha Bunten: Choo definitely had a great season, but basing that solely on the fact that he went 20/20 doesn’t do his performance justice. His average, consistency, eye at the plate, and arm in right field all contributed as much to his great season as the 20/20 feat did. 

What IS particularly notable about the fact that he hit 20/20 is that he did it despite missing significant time due to injury. The fact that he was able to do it two years in a row is no small feat either. 

Nino Colla: I think it is a big accomplishment given that he’s been injured and I didn’t think this club would have anyone reach 20 home runs this season.

I wouldn’t say just because he had a 20/20 year means he had a great season; he had a great season for many other reasons. He’s a good player but he needs to stay healthy for the entire year and more importantly, he needs someone that hits around him so they can take the pressure off.

Lewie Pollis: To call Choo a “20/20” player is to focus on the wrong parts of what make him so special. The power and speed are nice, but more important is his plate discipline and smooth swing. 

And don’t forget his sterling glove and cannon arm—even during throws where there isn’t a play, I’m always amazed at his arm strength and accuracy.

The Coop: I think the most impressive thing about what Choo has done isn’t the 20/20 part of the accomplishment, it’s the fact that he’s done it two years in a row. 

I remember a time—back when statistics weren’t overinflated due to steroids and HGH—that 30/30 was the true benchmark of a serious offensive weapon. These days, it’s likely that there will only be about a dozen guys that hit 20/20, and maybe only one or two with outside shots at 30/30. 

So, maybe I need to re-define what is “great”? I don’t think 20/20 is great, but it’s definitely solid. 

Also, it’s not necessarily an accomplishment that relies on the quality of the team and supporting cast, so no bonus points for that either. 

The problem for the Indians is, they need a bunch of guys who can hover around 20/20. A team with one guy who (barely) reaches 20/20 does not a contender make. 

Still—how can you not be happy with what Choo has done in his brief tenure with the Indians? He is one of only a few guys that the Indians can truly depend on for the future, so props to him.

2. When asked what it takes for a team to be a viable playoff contender, Manny Acta said it was crucial to do at least one of the following: score 800+ runs, have an OBP of .340 or higher, or have an ERA under 4.00. 

The Indians obviously reached none of these benchmarks. Do you agree with Acta’s assessment of what milestones are necessary for a team to reach in order to be a playoff contender? 

In your opinion, which of those three numbers is the MOST crucial, and why?

Samantha Bunten: I understand the point he’s trying to make but it’s really a gross oversimplification. This is essentially like saying, if you hit well and you pitch well you’ll win ball games, so everyone just needs to go out there and do their job and we’ll all be fine. Uh, duh? 

Besides, plenty of teams hit these benchmarks and miss the playoffs, and there are also plenty of teams that miss all three and make the playoffs anyway. 

If you’re playing good baseball in general, you might miss all three and still get there because the machine as a whole is working. Or you might reach all three but miss out on a playoff spot because you play in a very competitive division. 

I’ll give him points for using OBP instead of batting average, and for the fact that what he said was at least technically correct, but mostly it just comes off sounding like how you would explain how to win baseball games to an eight-year-old.

Nino Colla: Short answer, yes. Why? Because if you score 800 runs you have a good offense, and if your team ERA is under 4.00, you have good pitching. 

The last time I checked, you kind of needed both to be decent to make the playoffs. I mean, what Acta said about those benchmarks is so simple, but so true. 

The most important one is ERA. If you don’t have pitching you don’t have a chance. You can’t get by with marginal pitching and an explosive offense. But you can get by with stellar pitching and a marginal offense. At least in my opinion. I’m sure there are stats that counter that, but I agree with that in principle.

Lewie Pollis: The Reds aren’t on pace to do any of those things, so simply put Acta is wrong. 

Also, OBP and lots of runs are cause and effect of the same thing, so really, this is a pretty stupid quote. As for which is most important, does it really matter whether you prevent runs or score them? 

One thing I am proud of: our manager used OBP as a primary measure of batting performance. It’s not quite wOBA, but it’s a hell of a lot better than, say, Jerry DiPoto.

The Coop: Well, I think Acta has done an admirable job of oversimplifying things, but he’s probably on target. I mean, score lots of runs and don’t let the other team score very many? Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty decent formula for success. 

However, it seems to me that Acta is overlooking many of the intangibles that truly do contribute to a run at the pennant. 

For starters, how about a lights out bullpen? Even if you have a dominating crew to work the late innings, chances are they won’t make much of a dent in the team ERA but you’re going to win a ton of games. 

Same goes for timely hitting, not leaving men on base, and aggressive (but smart) baserunning. A big hit with two outs or challenging an outfielder’s arm on a ball in the gap doesn’t always show up in the box score, but who would argue that these things don’t contribute to making a team great? 

Of the things Acta mentioned, I say that getting on base and scoring runs gets you into the playoffs, but pitching wins playoff games. But the bottom line is, you need a strong combination of all of these things—and a good manager (which Acta conveniently neglected to mention).

3. Last year many of us expected the Indians to contend before the season began, and they completely imploded. 

This year most of us didn’t expect much of anything prior to the beginning of the season, and yet the team still managed to disappoint. 

In your opinion, were the 2010 Indians a better than, worse than, or equal to the 2009 Indians? What makes you say so?

Samantha Bunten: In my opinion, the 2010 squad was a worse team that had a better season. 

The 2009 team had more talent, or at least they did before they started trading them all away for peanuts in July. But they were also a team that was supposed to contend and instead played .400 baseball. 

The 2010 team can’t compete with 2009 talent-wise, but you have to consider this a better season because they didn’t fall so far short of what they were expected to do. 

Also, the team was getting worse in 2009; this season, even if they still have a VERY long way to go, at least they’re actually getting better. 

Nino Colla: I think they are separate entities. I don’t think either was better or worse because they are different teams under different circumstances. 

Was it worse having a team that you thought would compete, but didn’t than having a team you thought wouldn’t compete and didn’t? 

There was more talent on that 2009 team and for that there was a lot more expectations. All I know is that the 2007 team was the bomb.

Lewie Pollis: The Indians’ winning percentage right now is .408. Last year it was .404. Not much of a difference either way. 

From a fan’s perspective, though, this year was much better. We didn’t trade away any beloved hometown heroes. We underperformed expectations, but not by nearly as much. And we caught glimpses of Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Carlos Carrasco, et al who give us hope for the future.

The Coop: I’ve got to believe they’re better. This year, the Indians had the opportunity to give a lot of young guys a lot of playing time. And, even guys that weren’t in the everyday lineup got a good taste of the majors which should hopefully carry them forward into next year. 

First of all, the Indians got dramatically better when Eric Wedge was fired and Acta was hired. Acta is not going to remind anyone of Casey Stengel, but he’s done a fair job and, for the most part, has stayed out of the way. 

The Indians found some clear building blocks moving forward (Santana, LaPorta, most of the starting rotation), and also purged some of the wasted space (Peralta, Wood). They need to continue on this path in the near-term. 

Travis Hafner should be on everyone’s “must go now” list, and I wouldn’t shed a tear if the Indians got rid of Grady Sizemore too. There’s no doubt that there’s a ton of youth and potential at all levels in the organization, and it seems that, in terms of talent, they are headed in the right direction. 

Still, at some point, any assessment of how good or bad the Indians are has to be based on their win-loss record, and right now it seems like it would take a miracle to get to .500. But I’m willing to give the organization at least one more year before I call this entire rebuilding process a disaster.

4.  Fun Question of the Week: Saturday night, the Indians and Royals game was suspended due to rain for three entire hours, and was then resumed after midnight instead of being called. 

Many people thought it was ridiculous that the officials chose to resume the game after a three hour delay, particularly given that both teams were well out of playoff contention and would have no impact on any sort of postseason play whatsoever. 

Do you agree that resuming the game was ridiculous, or do you think the decision to resume play was correct? At what point has a rain delay gone on long enough that the game should just be called? 

If you had attended this game, would you have waited out the delay to watch the finish?

Samantha Bunten: I’ve always been a huge supporter of sticking it out as a show of faith in your team, which in theory, means never leaving a game early. 

Of course what I had in mind in terms of never leaving a game early was more like, sticking it out through a game where it’s 30 degrees out in April, or riding out a 15-inning game waiting for someone to break up a tie score even if it takes until midnight. 

What I did not have in mind is sitting through a three-hour rain delay in the middle of game between two teams whose doomed fates for the season were sealed, oh, somewhere around the middle of Spring Training. 

Riding this one out wouldn’t be loyalty, it would be insanity. So yes, of course it was ridiculous for them to resume play. It was pretty clear no one wanted to be there, including the players. 

This was a meaningless game where the officials needlessly risked injury to a player due to wet field conditions, not to mention leaving the audience to die of boredom. 

To date I’ve actually never left a game early, but if I had been at this game, it may very well have been the one that broke the pattern. 

Nino Colla: I’ve stayed ridiculously late into the night to wait out a rain-delay, so I know I would wait it out if I needed to. 

I thought it was crazy that they decided to continue that game and shocked when I woke up and didn’t see F/7 on the box score. I could see if they needed to get the game in because it was the last visit to Kansas City for the Indians and it wasn’t an official game yet, but that wasn’t the case. 

For this particular game, I would have left after that last delay. I’m not one to leave a game before it finishes, I hate that, but I think it would have been acceptable by my own standards to jet at that point, especially given the circumstances.

Lewie Pollis: About 10 years ago, I went to a game with my family. By the sixth or seventh inning we were losing and everyone else was getting tired, so we left in spite of my dramatic protests. 

I pouted all the way home, and as soon as I got out of the car I ran up to my room and turned on the radio. Here’s what I heard: “…swing and a DRIVE! DEEP LEFT FIELD A-WAYYYYYY BACK! WALK-OFF HOME RUN! INDIANS WIN!” 

The moral of the story is, never leave a game early.

The Coop: First of all, what does it say about Kansas City nightlife if waiting out a three-hour rain delay between two teams fighting to stay out of last place is a good idea? I feel like anyone who did that is in desperate need of a new hobby or geographic relocation. 

Of course it was ridiculous to resume play. The game meant nothing. Literally nothing. Not only does it have zero bearing on the pennant chase, but it probably didn’t even have an impact on fantasy baseball. I mean, I’m no expert, but if you have more than one guy from K.C. or Cleveland on your fantasy team, you’re probably not doing too well.

Secondly, there’s a serious chance of injury. I can just see it now—team MVP Shin-Soo Choo slips on the wet grass and breaks his leg, ending his career. Or slips on a wet top-step of the dugout. And for what? 

But getting back to the nightlife thing—what, does someone have an affinity for paying $7 for a beer when they could probably get one across the street for $2.25? Is the charm of Kauffman Stadium more alluring than, I don’t know, watching Saturday Night Live re-runs on TV? Is someone sad that they haven’t caught pneumonia recently? 

The fact is, in a situation like that, the players don’t want to be there, the managers don’t want to be there, the umpires don’t want to be there, and the peanut vendors don’t want to be there. So what kind of experience could a fan possibly get? 

All that being said—doesn’t surprise me one bit that the game was resumed. That’s what MLB is, that’s what they do.

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Indian Summer: 10 Reasons Why Cleveland’s 2010 Season Wasn’t a Complete Disaster

It’s been a bad year for Cleveland Indians fans.

Most of us Tribe faithful had low expectations when the season began. This was supposed to be a transition year, as the fruits of one of the deepest farm systems in the game got their first taste of the big leagues.

But even if they weren’t supposed to be serious contenders, it’s hard to see the Indians flailing behind even the Kansas City Royals in the basement of the AL Central without wondering how things went this wrong.

It wasn’t just the kids’ growing pains that sent the season off the rails—it was consistent ineptitude from the established veterans who were supposed to set good examples for their whippersnapper teammates.

Face-of-the-franchise Grady Sizemore got bitten by the injury bug again in 2010, (not that he did the team much good when he was healthy). Travis Hafner continued his decline, and guys like Jhonny Peralta, Luis Valbuena, and David Huff all were mediocre at best.

And yet, buried somewhere in the metaphorical pile of vomit that has been the Indians’ season (I don’t think that really makes sense, but it’s a fitting image) there have been some things that should make us Tribe fans feel hopeful and—dare I say?—proud.

Here are 10 reasons why Cleveland still rocks.

Begin Slideshow

Unknown Tribe Prospect To Garner Much Offseason Attention

After toiling away in anonymity his first two seasons in professional baseball, Chun-Hsiu Chen, 21, has posted numbers guaranteed to vault his status among the game’s top catching prospects. 

The Indians signed the Taiwanese backstop in September 2007 for $300,000 after he  grabbed headlines the previous season during the World Junior Championships. 

Chen, a dominant force in the batter’s box and on the mound, hit .417, slugged .500, and his fastball clocked as high as 92 mph. 

The team sent the young backstop to the Gulf Coast League, where he had a modest showing as a hitter, .261/.336/.409, and as a defender.  In 31 games behind the plate, Chen threw out 30  percent of base runners and committed four errors. 

Chen was promoted to low-A Mahoning Valley the following season and promptly struggled in most facets of the game. 

He often looked overmatched at the plate and the lack of experience on defense became apparent.  In 231 plate appearances, Chen hit a miserable .215/.328/.308 and committed seven errors and allowed nine passed balls.

The highlight of an otherwise lost season was his ability to rely on one aspect of his God-given talent: his arm.  The former high school ace threw out an incredible 42 percent (22 of 53) base runners during the season. 

Team decision makers, in one of the most underrated moves of the 2009-10 offseason, astutely promoted him to Lake County for the following season despite his obvious struggles. 

Chen did not disappoint.

In 240 plate appearances, he battered and abused A-ball pitchers on his way to hitting .312/.368/.518.  Power, his most attractive tool in high school, began to develop. 

Scouts, as a precursor to home runs, look for doubles in young hitters, and Chen morphed into an extra base machine. He hit 21 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 homers for an isolate power (ISO.) of .206. 

He continued to hit after a promotion and finished with a line of .320/.442/.523 in high-A Kinston. 

Below are Chen’s stats for the 2010 season.


















Lake County




















































The Indians already have their catcher of future in Carlos Santana but, Chen’s continued development could create a problem team officials would love: two middle of the order, power-hitting catchers. 

Prior to the season, Chun-Hsiu Chen did not even make Baseball America’s top 30 Indians prospects but, expect that change.  Chen will vault up the team’s list and could crack the top 5, or possibly top 3, prospects. 

Sunnier days are coming for Cleveland fans, and Chun-Hsiu Chen is just another reason for optimism. 

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Stephen Strasburg Loses Super Powers, Out for Season(Satire)

by Brett Lay

The Washington Nationals announced in a conference call this morning that phenom rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg’s mutant right arm has lost its powers due to recent sunspot activity.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Strasburg realized there was a problem when he could no longer summon the powers of a Norse god of thunder to fling baseballs at his normal average speed of several hundred miles an hour in a recent practice.

“As anyone who has had mutant powers granted to them and then taken away by a freak act of nature can tell you, it’s a traumatic experience. Just ask Cyclops or Wolverine,” Rizzo told reporters. “But he is fully committed to doing whatever he has to do to rehab and get back out there, because lord knows, we need him,” Rizzo continued between slow sobs at the mic. “Who knew that his weakness was random bursts of electromagnetic energy? We just assumed it would be drugs and alcohol, like the other red-blooded ball players we have on this team.”

Strasburg has been a rare ray of hope for these Nationals, who have spent the last several seasons perfecting their record of complete futility. The loss of Strasburg will be a big shock not only to this city, but also to his fellow players.

Truly morale was low in DC, as we asked some of the residents to throw in their two cents’ worth.

  • “Yeah, Strasburg was awesome. Not sure what we’re going to do now.” – Greg, street vendor
  • “If you ask me, I saw it coming. I can’t tell you how often the genetically enhanced mutant protectors of our national pastime come through here, raising hopes, but then fizzle out before any substance can be provided.” – Mara, food services
  • “We have a baseball team? I didn’t know that. Give me your wallet.” – Stitches, unemployed

“We were just getting in the swing of things, too,” Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals third baseman, stated to the swarm of reporters. “Ivan was just starting to learn how to block the plate like a real catcher, the janitor they brought in who was competing for the first base spot with Dunn had just barely gotten edged out, and we had just learned how to pronounce Nyjer’s name. I even thought we might win a game this year. What a rip.”

The Washington Post reported Strasburg will get a second opinion from Verðandi, a norn that once treated Thor himself when he had to have Tommy John surgery in 652 B.C.

“I’m no quitter, that’s for sure,” said Strasburg as he was loading Pegasus for the long trip to Valhalla for his evaluation. “Now that I’m temporarily a normal human, sort of like that dude in Superman 2, I have to be careful. It seems I can no longer smash through walls or melt things with my heat vision. But I’m not giving up on this season that easily, no sir, I’ll be back.”

At that point he mounted his steed and swiftly flew from sight into the sunset.

We can only hope, for the Nationals’ sake, that he gets his powers back.

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MLB To Lose Two Extraordinary Managers in Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox


Some take the hard-hand, run-suicides-until-you-puke approach. Some give the motivational “Go get ‘em” speech. Some throw you in the fire and force you to fight. 

The way sports coaches choose to manage and motivate players differs considerably and has varying degrees of success. How do you get the most out of your players? How do you instill a culture of dedication and hard work? How do you establish the kind of reputation that makes even the most hard-headed, arrogant and temperamental professional sports player trust and respect you enough to follow your lead?

Today, Lou Piniella managed his last game as a Major League Baseball manager. At the end of the year, one of his contemporaries, Bobby Cox, will do the same. This is consequential not only for the direct, near-term effects on the Cubs and the Braves, who will now have to seek replacements for two likely future Hall of Fame managers; the examples they have set will resonate for years to come.

Earlier this year, the sports world lost one of its most legendary and respected figures when John Wooden, who led UCLA to ten NCAA championships, died at the age of 99. Among the thousands of people he touched and inspired is Manny Acta, the current manager for the Cleveland Indians. 

“I read just about everything from him… I won two championships… Everything was just following his approach. He preached patience, hard work, and controlling your emotions. I’m a big believer in that.”

Yet Acta struggled in managing the Washington Nationals, perhaps precisely because of this approach, and he was criticized for what was perceived as an overly easygoing managing style. To some degree, this is less reflective of Acta’s managerial flaws and more a result of the particular status of the Nationals’ ball club at the time; apparently what was necessary for the Nats, who were 25-61 halfway through the season, was the invigorating hard hand of Jim Riggleman rather than the sympathetic ear of Acta.

Or maybe the flaw was the failure on Acta’s part to understand the Nats’ needs and adjust. Acta himself admits “Wooden’s approach doesn’t work 100 percent at the big league level. You have to make a lot of adjustments.” Still, Acta believes in the slow-and-steady method. “He did it and it worked for him. I’ve done it. So far it has worked for me and I’m sticking to it.” And despite an encouraging 17-14 start to the season, the Nationals find themselves yet again in last place, 20 games back under Riggleman.

Neither Piniella nor Cox exactly take from Wooden’s book—Cox is the all-time leader in ejections, and Piniella has been described as “irascible,” facetiously called “Sweet Lou” and once ripped first base out and threw it down the right field foul line after being ejected. But both are immensely respected by their players and among the league as passionate, loyal, and fiercely competitive managers. And, oh by the way, they have managed to do pretty well for themselves—Cox is 4th overall in all-time wins and Piniella is 14th.

So what works best? The John Wooden/Manny Acta patient, controlled demeanor? Piniella and Cox’s loyalty-induced temper tantrums? Different teams, different players, different situations call for different styles. But, if all else fails, there’s always Ozzie Guillen’s hot-headed and sometimes culturally insensitive M.O. that, if nothing else, gets media attention and PR.

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Tribe Talk: So, Cleveland, How’s That Rebuilding Thing Going?


Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report’s Cleveland Indians fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the club each week throughout the season.

This week, we evaluate Manny Acta‘s performance in his first season as Indians manager, assess the team’s rebuilding efforts by examining the cases of a few specific players, and predict what the future has in store for the Tribe at third base.

I would like to thank this week’s participants Nino Colla, The Coop, and Lewie Pollis 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.

Go Tribe!

1. A rebuilding effort such as the one the Indians are involved in now depends largely on the progress of the young talent the team has committed to, and how good a job the front office did evaluating on-field talent in the first place. 

The same can be said of the coaching staff during a rebuilding effort. Well into the second half of the season, how would you rate Manny Acta’s performance in his first year managing the Indians? 

Do you think the front office hired the right person for the job? What do you see as Acta’s biggest strength as manager? What do you see as his biggest weakness?


Samantha Bunten: Perhaps my standards are just exceptionally low from spending too many years watching Eric Wedge, but I am totally and completely sold on Manny Acta

He had me way back in May when he was asked about finding non-pressure situations for Rafael Perez to pitch in so he could get his confidence back, and his response was “Life is tough. Get a helmet.”

Acta is a tough-but-fair, no-nonsense kind of guy, which is exactly what a young, struggling team needs. He sticks up for and encourages his players, but he also doesn’t mince words when calling someone out for their mistakes. 

He’s also a purist who respects the tradition of the game. For example, he refused to allow post-game interviewers to turn his move to pitch Marte in relief into some sort of cutesy little gimmick. 

Truthfully, I don’t really know if Acta has what it takes in the long run to turn this team into a winner. But a lot of that is not in his hands. Thus far, I think he’s done the best job possible with the team he was given. 

As the team improves in the coming years, we’ll see if Acta can truly be a difference maker as a manager. One thing seems certain though: unlike Eric Wedge, he certainly won’t be a hindrance to the team’s forward progress.

Nino Colla: I think Manny Acta has done a fantastic job and I’m pleased with the choice the front office made from the candidate pool they had. Acta was the right man for this job and he’s clearly got this young team behind him.

It is hard to rate him because the team isn’t winning a lot of games. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you grade him highly despite the low win total, but I think for the circumstances that are present and for the tasks that he has to complete, he’s done a great job. 

His biggest strengths are his motivation and his game play. I love his style of managing a ball club because he isn’t going to kid anyone. He knows what kind of team he has and he plays to their strengths. He’s constantly trying to scratch out runs because he knows he has a lot of young players. 

I’ve also been favorable about the way he’s run his bullpen. You haven’t seen anyone go a long period of time with no use and he’s always throwing the hot hand in there. The same with his lineup. He’s not shy about moving his hot hitters up. 

I haven’t been a fan of pushing Brantley the way they did early on, but clearly Acta is trying to establish confidence in his young players that he thinks will be a big part of the future.

Lewie Pollis: I’d give him a solid B. 

I can’t really point to many specific things he’s done well, but when you think about, that’s pretty mark much the mark of a good manager–you don’t think about him. 

Take Ron Washington, for example: he’s probably the favorite for AL Manager of the Year. Is that because people think highly of his game theory? No, it’s because he doesn’t make very many bone-headed mistakes (also because his team is good). 

With that in mind, I think Acta’s done a decent job and I think he’ll grow with his young team. My one real complaint is his stubbornness with giving playing time to underperforming veterans, which seems counterintuitive to the rebuilding process. 

It’s not just Jhonny Peralta—how about Austin Kearns? From June 12, when he woke up with a .902 OPS, to July 30, his last game in a Cleveland uniform, he hit .221/.294/.287 with one homer and 11 RBI in 35 games. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a rebuilding team let a guy with a .581 OPS and no future with the team 33 starts in 43 games. 

Granted, that probably wasn’t just Acta’s decision; the front office was hoping to flip him to a contender, and he wasn’t going to open any eyes by sitting on the bench. Still, I would have much rather given the playing time to someone like Jordan Brown.

The Coop: If I had to give Acta a grade for his performance, it would certainly be “Incomplete.” It’s just too hard to evaluate someone who is working with such a young and generally sub-standard major league roster. 

However, I must say that it’s very refreshing to watch a manager who doesn’t long to be the center of attention. Acta’s predecessor was a nobody, and yet he seemed to make it all about him. Acta is the exact opposite. He’s not smug and arrogant, but honest and fair.

Acta seems to get maximum effort out of his players, and I can’t ask for much more than that in a forsaken season. 

The true test of that, of course, will be the team’s performance over the final few months of the season, when the games are virtually meaningless. I think that if the Indians finish strong, he will be a big reason why.

2. Let’s take a look at a few of the players around whom the rebuilding effort is centered. 

First up: Matt LaPorta

After struggling early in his Indians debut last season and continuing to have trouble adjusting early this season, it appears Matt LaPorta has finally started to come into his own. 

Are you pleased with where LaPorta is at in his development at the moment? Do you think that the adjustments made by LaPorta in his most recent minor league stint have finally translated into success at the major league level?

What do you like about what we’re seeing from LaPorta right now? What areas of his game do you feel he still needs to improve?

Samantha Bunten: I’m happy with what we’re seeing from LaPorta at the moment. The real question is, is he truly making solid progress, or is he just on a hot streak?

At this point, I’m inclined to say that he’s really making some legitimate strides. Unlike a lot of players who are resentful when they’re sent down repeatedly and spend their stint in the minors pouting instead of seeking to improve their game, LaPorta appears to have used his time wisely. 

I’m not sure I think he’s a better hitter now, but he’s definitely a smarter hitter. For a guy like LaPorta, who clearly has the raw skills necessary to succeed at the plate, that’s really what matters. 

He still strikes out far too often, but it’s obvious his pitch selection is improving. He’s horrifying on the basepaths, but then you don’t see many first basemen who aren’t. 

Defensively, he’s far from fantastic, but he’s not a liability either. Most of the botched plays we’ve seen at first this season were the result of bad throws, not LaPorta’s inability to field the ball properly.

Nino Colla: I’m very pleased with what Matt LaPorta has done with his game. It sounds like they adjusted his swing when he went down. 

But really I think the biggest thing with him is confidence. And health. He got a little confidence boost by not only going to Columbus and mashing, but by having the club trade Branyan and basically say, “Okay, it’s your show now.” 

The thing I like most is his hitting off left-handed pitching. I pointed out a long time ago when he was struggling that he never really hit left-handed pitching well, even in the minor leagues. So far his power numbers are still trending toward right-handed pitching, but he’s been consistent against the lefties by at least drawing walks and doing a good job of making contact and getting hits. 

You also have to like the defense he’s playing. It isn’t Gold Glove by any means, but he isn’t bad back there.

Lewie Pollis: I’m just going to come out and say it: I love what we’ve seen from LaPorta over the last month-and-a-half. 

As of this writing, he’s gone .286/.353/.496 since being recalled for the minors, and would be on pace for 27 homers and 90 RBI over a full season. Those certainly aren’t MVP numbers, and I’m guessing the ceiling Mark Shapiro and company envisioned when they traded for him two years ago was higher than what he’s doing now. But it’s huge progress. 

The best part is that his stint in the minors really seems to have helped. Since returning to MLB, he’s struck out in exactly 20 percent of his plate appearances—still a bit too high for my taste, but certainly not intolerable for someone with his power. The exciting part, though, is his 10-percent walk rate, which indicates an improvement in what was the most worrying aspect of his game. 

I would, however, like to see some improvement on the basepaths. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone that slow since Manny.

The Coop: I am most impressed by LaPorta’s character. Instead of sulking when he was sent down, LaPorta used his demotion to hone his swing. He dominated Triple-A pitching and proved that he belongs in the majors. 

When he was recalled, he made the most of it. While he cooled off a little in July, he’s had a good August so far, and I think he’s only going to get better. 

He’s also proven to have a very capable glove. I think he might have been pressing early on, trying to live up to the hype and justify the Sabathia trade. Now, in a pressure-free environment and playing first base (not the outfield) everyday, LaPorta will thrive.

I think the biggest area of improvement for LaPorta should be to learn how to hit during the day. His average is .291 (39-134) at night, and .221 (25-113) in day games. Wonder if he loves the nightlife a little too much?

3.  Moving on to a player whose progress isn’t going quite so well, let’s take a look at Michael Brantley. 

Brantley was a hugely pleasant surprise in his debut at the end of the 2009 season, but unfortunately, he hasn’t done much to impress since then. 

Are you surprised by how much Brantley has struggled this season? What do you think is the cause of his struggles? 

What do you think is Brantley’s biggest problem? Why isn’t he performing as well as he should be? Do you think he’ll come around eventually, or were we too quick to see great potential in him after his short stint of success at the end of 2009? Are there any areas of Brantley’s game at present that you ARE happy with?

Samantha Bunten: Michael Brantley is perhaps the one player who brings out the apologist in me. I love this guy, and I refuse to believe that the flashes of great play we’ve seen from him are just a fluke. 

To me, he simply just isn’t ready. Our outfield this season was supposed to be Choo, Sizemore, and Kearns. Injuries and a trade have instead resulted in an outfield combo of Choo (who also had a stint on the DL), Brantley, and (shudders) Trevor Crowe

Choo is a legitimate star. Crowe is a stopgap for Grady Sizemore while he recovers from injury. Brantley is the guy who should hold down the third spot in the future, if only he can get on base consistently. 

Brantley’s defense and baserunning are where they need to be already. He just needs to get his bat up to par. Ultimately I think he’ll be fine. He just needs more time to settle down, stop pressing, and adjust to major league pitching. 

Nino Colla: I’m not. He hasn’t received an extended period at the major league level. He’s had short stints so far. 

I did an article on Brantley’s problems and that is the conclusion I’ve come to: He’s putting too much pressure on himself and I think it has to do with the fact that he came up and he knew he was guaranteed. 

Now he’s back up here and he’s getting an extended look and the Indians have basically told him, this is your show. Austin Kearns is gone, Choo is the only staple in the outfield playing right now, and there is no reason for us to send you down or put you on the bench.

The one thing about Brantley that I dislike is his tendency to pull the ball. I think that is a result of the pressure he’s feeling. I think he’s pressured to not necessarily hit for home runs, but hit for power. That isn’t his game and it shouldn’t be his game. 

He should slap the ball the other way because 80 percent of the time. If he does, I’m pretty sure he’s going to find himself on second base, even if he only initially gets a single.

Lewie Pollis: Brantley’s current BABIP is .184. Using Chris Dutton’s xBABIP calculator, we should expect his BABIP to be .305. Doing some quick multiplication, that adds up to 12 extra hits, which brings his average up to .280, his OBP up to .338, and his SLG up to at least .364 (assuming all of the additional hits would be singles), plus it would increase his runs, steals, and RBI. 

Those aren’t great numbers and his power leaves something to be desired. But when you throw in his speed and defense and consider that he’s only 23, I think we have every reason to be optimistic.

The Coop: The simple answer is that Brantley is not ready. In a perfect situation where the entire Indians outfield was healthy for the whole season (including Grady Sizemore – remember him?), Brantley would not be on the 25-man roster. 

I believe he’s only there to fill a hole at this point. Who else are they going to use? Still, like with LaPorta, getting Brantley major league at-bats is the only way for him to improve. He can dominate minor league pitching, and he has had the right attitude despite his frequent bouncing from Cleveland to Columbus and back. 

Nevertheless, Brantley has tendencies and weaknesses which major league pitchers can obviously exploit. I’d definitely like to see him work more counts and draw more walks, but when a pitcher can get him to hit routine grounders by going right after him, why wouldn’t they? 

Ultimately, he is another guy that will benefit from playing everyday, and his glove is more than adequate. It’s going to take some time, but the upside is big.

4. One of the biggest question marks for the Indians’ rebuilding efforts, at least for the moment, is third base. 

Removing Jhonny Peralta from the equation can certainly be considered progress, but it’s pretty clear Andy Marte will never be the answer either. 

The Indians have two huge hopefuls at third in the minors (Jared Goedert and Lonnie Chisenhall) who are expected to fill the role nicely in the future. Who do you see being called up to take over the job first in 2011, Goedert or Chisenhall

Which one of them do you ultimately think will wind up with the job for the long haul? Also, given the strong possibility that neither is really ready to take on the job full time in 2011, do you think the Indians need to acquire some sort of stopgap this offseason for third base?

Samantha Bunten: Either way, this one is a win-win for the Tribe, because anything that is not Peralta or Marte at third is an automatic improvement, even if it’s an inanimate object. 

In the coming years, I think third base shakes out like this: Goedert gets there first, but Chisenhall ultimately winds up with the job. 

There’s no reason to rush Chisenhall. He isn’t ready, and probably won’t be ready at the beginning of 2011 either. That’s where Goedert comes in. He’s earned the first shot at the job, and I think he’ll fill the role nicely until Chisenhall is prepared to take his first crack at the majors. 

Ultimately I don’t think we want to see Goedert keep the job because his defense is, quite frankly, downright scary, and we’ve spent enough years enduring such horror courtesy of Peralta. I would like to see Chisenhall at third by the end of 2011, and perhaps Goedert can be moved to second.

Nino Colla: Jared Goedert is going to get the first crack, and might even earn a September call-up the way Jayson Nix and Luis Valbuena are playing at third defensively. 

The one knock on him is that his glove isn’t very good, but you have two guys there that are considered better defenders, even though third isn’t their original position, and even they are struggling.

I’ve been a fan of what Goedert’s done with the bat this season. Who hasn’t? The scary reality though is that he is just on a very hot streak in the minor leagues. 

Sure, he’s always had that potential with the bat and now that he’s healthy, he’s able to display it. But Lonnie Chisenhall has more staying power because his swing is more sound, he’s more of a pure hitter, and he’s got a much higher ceiling defensively.

Lewie Pollis: Looking at Goedert and Chisenhall, two things seem pretty clear. First, that Goedert will get first crack at the third base job. He’s pummeling Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .291/.372/.621 slashline and has rocked 18 homers in 57 games. Meanwhile, Chisenhall has a .266/.328/.437 line in Double-A, and has suffered through injuries this year. 

I think it’s pretty obvious that Goedert will reach the majors faster. A solid showing in a September call-up or Spring Training could cement him as the Tribe’s Opening Day third baseman. But Goedert isn’t the long-term solution. 

While his power surge didn’t come as a complete surprise (20 homers in 81 Single-A and High-A games in 2007), one has to wonder how sustainable his offensive surge is given that he posted an OPS of .709 at High-A and .657 at Double-A in 2008 and 2009, respectively. 

Perhaps more importantly, his defense is abysmal. That’s why Chisenhall will have the spot nailed down by midseason 2012.

The Coop: First of all, while Andy Marte is not the answer at third, please don’t discount his value to the organization as an emergency reliever. Teams with post-season aspirations should take note: need to get Nick Swisher out? You can, if the price is right. 

You hit on the most disappointing thing, which is that neither Chisenhall nor Goedert are ready. It seems that in the long term, Chisenhall will be the third baseman, so you have to wonder what the plan is for Goedert (second base?). 

This is where we all wonder aloud, Whatever happened to Wes Hodges? This was supposed to be his job, and you can’t help but think that if he would have panned out, we wouldn’t have had to deal with Jhonny Peralta for so long. 

Be that as it may, I’m rarely in favor of signing a washed-up has-been when the experience could be given to a younger player. I’m sure that Andy Marte will be given the job outright next year, but I’d really like to see Goedert get a few September at bats and make Marte earn the job next spring. (And, on the bright side, when Marte flops as usual, perhaps the Indians can get rid of him once and for all.)

5. Fun Question of the Week: The fans of any team involved in a major rebuilding effort are required to pay a lot of attention to the team’s minor league affiliates. 

How closely do you follow the Tribe’s minor league teams? How frequently do you attend minor league games? What’s your favorite minor league team/ballpark to go watch (it doesn’t have to be an Indians affiliate) and why?

Samantha Bunten: Indians fans, just like the fans of any team in the midst of a major rebuilding effort, are obligated to be on “Farm System Watch”. 

We follow our affiliates closely because, especially in the case of the Double-A and Triple-A teams, these guys could be on our roster tomorrow, and they’re also where all our hopes for the future lie. 

That’s not the only reason to attend a minor league game though. Minor league games are big on entertainment elements, very budget-friendly, and often give you an opportunity to meet or at least get close to players you would never have a chance to interact with at a major league ballpark. 

My favorite by far is the Aeros’ Canal Park, but I also think you can’t beat Single-A games for circus-like, off-field entertainment and how much bang you get for your buck. 

Nino Colla: I’m a very close follower of the minor leagues. Being in Akron, I follow the Aeros closely and attend multiple games during the season. When I was still in Youngstown, I’d see some Scrappers games, but not with the frequency that I’m at Canal Park. 

I haven’t been to many minor league ballparks, so Canal Park is probably my favorite. With this team, you almost have to follow the minor leagues so you have some sort of hope. 

Plus with a farm system that always seems to have players in it, why not? There’s always someone exciting to keep an eye on and hope that they are a part of the future some day.

Lewie Pollis: To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to the teams as a whole. The only MiLB stadium I’ve ever been to is the Aeros’ Canal Park, and I’ve been there only twice. I do, however, check in frequently on how individual prospects are performing and progressing.

The Coop: I probably don’t keep up with the Tribe’s lower affiliates as much as everyone else. The journey to the major leagues for most guys is long and grueling, and so many once-ballyhooed prospects never even make it (again, see Wes Hodges). So to that extent, I’m a little cynical and jaded. 

On the flip side, the purity and abundant hope of the minor leagues has a certain charm, as do the ballparks in which the games are played, so it’s definitely fun to take in a minor league contest from time to time. 

I think the minors tug on the emotions of what drew us all to baseball in the first place. For example: If Bull Durham was about a major league team, would it be as great a movie?

I have been to a few Washington Wild Things games (independent Frontier League), usually for a reason other than watching baseball, but I always seem to have a good time. (Of course, it might help that I’m only paying $2 for a beer and not $7.75 too!)

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