As excited as I am for baseball season to start, I figured I’d finish things up today by looking around at some of the latest Indians news stories.
First, Jordan Brown had his surgery to repair his medial meniscus today at the Cleveland Clinic. By all accounts, the surgery went well and Brown is expected to miss 4-8 weeks of actions. I’ve always been a huge Jordan Brown fan on a personal level. I’ve seen plenty of interviews with the guy and he’s a really likable person who has done a remarkable job of keeping his head up and excelling on the field in the minors despite being consistently overlooked by the Indians. I’m hoping Jordan’s recovery goes smoothly and he can finally get his shot at the bigs this year.
Next up, per Clippers broadcaster Scott Leo and his View From the Booth site, the Indians have finalized their deals on the 40 man roster:
RHP Hector Ambriz
INF Brian Bixler
OF Michael Brantley
INF Asdrubal Cabrera
RHP Carlos Carrasco
OF Shin-Soo Choo
OF Trevor Crowe
LHP Kelvin De La Cruz
INF Jason Donald
RHP Jeanmar Gomez
INF Wes Hodges
LHP David Huff
INF/OF Matt LaPorta
LHP Aaron Laffey
RHP Jensen Lewis
CA Lou Marson
INF Andy Marte
RHP Justin Masterson
RHP Chris Perez
LHP Rafael Perez
INF Carlos Rivero
RHP Hector Rondon
CA Carlos Santana
LHP Tony Sipp
RHP Joe Smith
LHP Jeremy Sowers
RHP Mitch Talbot
RHP Jesse Todd
CA Wyatt Toregas
INF Luis Valbuena
OF Nick Weglarz
RHP Anthony Reyes
The remaining 40-man members under contract are as follows:
RHP Fausto Carmona – $4.9M (’10), $6.1M (’11), club options for ’12-’14
RHP Jake Westbrook – $11M (’10)
RHP Kerry Wood – $10.5M (’10), $11M (club option for ’11)
CA Mike Redmond – $850K (’10)
INF Russell Branyan – $2M (’10), $5M (mutual option for ’11)
INF Jhonny Peralta – $4.6M (’10)
OF Grady Sizemore – $5.6M (’10), $7.5M (’11), $8.5 (club option for ’12)
DH Travis Hafner – $11M (’10), $13M (’11), $13M (’12)
On a similar note, Steve Gardner of USA Today’s Fantasy Windup blog tries his hand at projecting the starting lineups for every AL team. For the Indians, there are no real surprises as far as I’m concerned with the batting order:
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Grady Sizemore, CF
- Shin-Soo Choo, RF
- Russell Branyan, 1B
- Jhonny Peralta, 3B
- Travis Hafner, DH
- Luis Valbuena, 2B
- Michael Brantley/Matt LaPorta, LF
- Lou Marson, C
What’s interesting to note, though, is something else he noticed about the Indians’ starting lineup:
One of the more interesting clubs is the Cleveland Indians, who may only have one player hitting in the same spot he did last season.
Sizemore missed a good chunk of last season to various injuries, but he appears to be 100% again. However, he won’t lead off anymore. That distinction goes to Cabrera, who had a solid .361 OBP last season.
Sizemore moves to the second spot to give him a chance to hit with runners on base more often. (Of his 75 home runs the last three years, 45 were solo shots.)
On one hand, you might think it hard to be successful with so much turnover in your batting order, but on the other hand, the Indians’ record was pretty terrible and they have a new manager coming in, so changes could not only be expected, but also something to be desired.
Finally, for those of you who have not heard, the Minnesota Twins’ closing phenom Joe Nathan is likely to have season-ending surgery after tearing up his elbow. With the Twins hoping to contend in the AL Central this year, they will be looking for a closer to take his place.
This is where the non-contending and salary-slashing Indians come into play. It seems only natural that trade rumors will start picking up, as Kerry Wood to the Twins seems like a natural trade option for both parties. Anthony Castrovince has an excellent piece up on MLB.com about Wood and how he is dealing with the trade rumors:
Wood and his $11.5 million contract for this season don’t exactly mesh with the Tribe’s trim payroll and young, developing roster. Furthermore, the Indians would clearly rather not see Wood’s 2011 option, worth $11 million, vest on their watch. It vests if Wood finishes 55 games this season.
The 32-year-old Wood is not oblivious to his place in the rumor mill, but he’s not paying much attention to it, either.
“I’ve never dealt with [trade speculation] before, and I don’t want that to change,” Wood said. “I don’t want to deal with it. I’ll go out and get ready to go every day. And every time I get a chance to save a game, I’ll go out and do my job.”
Castrovince points out that the Indians would only trade Wood if the Twins would take on almost all of his salary, and that it’s unlikely the Twins would do that. So, it’s not like a trade is imminent or anything, but it’s certainly something to keep our eye on.
I realize Kerry Wood was far from great last year, but I still think there’s a chance he can be a great closer in Cleveland. And in the spirit of today’s themes of spring time and hope, I’ll allow my inner optimist to take over and consider the possibility the Indians shock the world and contend this year. That will only happen if the Indians have a stellar, reliable closer, and that’s where Kerry Wood comes into play. Hopefully the Indians can be patient and see how the season goes before they start shopping Wood and his $11.5 million contract.