Spring or Bust – Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo announced Friday through various media outlets that he will not be involved with long-term contract negotiations during the upcoming 2011 season.
“Every player wants a multiyear contract,” said Choo to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I will listen, yes. I don’t want to talk during the season, [but] it’s not closed. [Chris] Antonetti and Scott [Boras] can talk. My job is to play baseball.”
Similar to the demand recently made by St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols, Choo is in a much different position after just avoiding his first year of arbitration. That means the South Korean star is still three years away from being eligible from free agency, but a long-term contract should certainly be on the minds of both parties.
Through his various other interviews, Choo seemed quite content with starting to get prepared for the season, and relieved that he is fully cleared off his country’s two-year military obligation. He has been about as consistent as they get over the past few seasons, and it should be a joy to watch him, Sizemore and Santana, hopefully all healthy at once.
Hot Corner – The third base position has been one of much intrigue in the Indians organization for many years, and will continue to be a question mark heading into the 2011 season. Utility veteran Jayson Nix and second-year pro Jason Donald are expected to be the early options, but many more prospects could arrive on the horizon shortly.
In the end however, it seems that many people are on the bandwagon of supporting Lonnie Chisenhall as the future of the position in Cleveland. Chisenhall was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2008, and he was recently named the No. 36 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com. Yet, his numbers from last year in Double-A Akron (.278 avg, 17 home runs, 84 RBI) appeared average on the surface.
The best thing about Chisenhall is his youth, as he just turned 22 years old this past October, a full two years younger than fellow top prospect Jason Kipnis. I’d personally doubt that Chisenhall makes his debut until this coming September as Jared Goedert and potentially Cord Phelps join the Tribe beforehand, but by 2012, there shouldn’t be any more doubt about this roster spot.
Around the Millwood - The latest rumor this offseasons surrounding the Indians organization is that of potential interest in veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood. Most recently the owner of a 4-16 record with the 2010 Baltimore Orioles, Millwood is in the same group as the Bartolo Colon’s of the world these days in terms of free agency interest.
Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted earlier today that Cleveland and him still seem very far apart for a potential contract, but it is amusing to hear that name again. He was 9-11 with an American League-leading 2.86 ERA for the Tribe in 2005, but then spent four years in Texas with a large contract before moving to Baltimore this past season. It’s unlikely anything will happen here as the Indians continue to remain on the prowl for inexpensive pitching options.
Manny Being Manny – Finally, I’ve been looking to touch on this subject for a while, and then Anthony Castrovince wrote an awesome article for MLB.com about it entirely. Indians manager Manny Acta is now the longest tenured head coach in Cleveland, and it’s interesting how fan reaction toward him has changed since his hiring over a year ago.
Acta is a generally reserved guy who just happens to be overly optimistic about the potential success of his team in 2011. The Indians should be more competitive than last season, but health and the development of many of the organization’s top prospects will still play a huge role in the win-loss record overall.
Even in 2010 when times were tough, the organization always stood behind Acta’s presence in the clubhouse. Time will tell on how well he eventually does in Cleveland, but it seems that he is starting to win over the favor of this town and possibly more games soon.
(Photo above via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)