I had the opportunity through 93.1 The Fan in Lima to sit down for a few minutes with Indians radio broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus. It was my first opportunity to meet him and I came away impressed.
Rosenhaus was named Tom Hamilton’s partner for the 2012 season back in December, replacing the retiring Mike Hegan. Rosenhaus has been involved in production for the Indians for the past five seasons, including hosting Indians Warm Up and filling in for Hegan on longer road trips. Before his time with the Major League club, he worked for the Buffalo Bisons for 11 seasons as their play by play broadcaster. Jim was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame for his work with the Bisons. He was the play by play broadcaster for 3 AAA championships in Buffalo.
Rosenhaus recognizes the irregularity of having two play by play men in the booth, particularly when both have no MLB playing experience. His baseball playing days ended at little league.
“The team looked for a former player with some broadcast experience and background in the off-season” said Rosenhaus. “We’ll continue to have special guests in the booth.”
Guests like Mike Hargrove, Brian Anderson and Joe Borowski who all appeared in the booth for the Tribe last season. (Borowski was amazing. He would make a great color man someday in my opinion.)
With his background in AAA baseball, I asked Rosenhaus why the team’s success at the AAA level wasn’t necessarily translating to success at the Major League level. He said it was a bit surprising, especially if you measure success at the AAA level by wins and AAA championships. (As opposed to measuring it by prospects being ML ready.) He said to win in the Majors you have to have a good mix of youth and veteran talent. He did say that learning to win in the minor leagues is important.
“You learn what it takes to win, and it creates a winning environment. There is nothing worse than a bad AAA team. There you have a situation where nobody wants to be there. The players all think they should be in the Majors anyway.”
He sees a lot of promise in Jason Kipnis. “He knows where he wants to be and he is doing what it takes to be there. He has confidence in himself. Not a cocky arrogance, but a confident nature that he knows he belongs.”
What will be the difference this year for the Indians? A healthy outfield, and the X factor- Ubaldo Jimenez. “Jimenez has been working with the Indians staff all off season. He played just enough winter ball, and is on the program that he used when he had success in Colorado.” A program that Rosenhaus says Ubaldo did not use last season for whatever reason.
When talking about that healthy outfield, Rosenhaus told a story about Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was relieved of his military commitment to his country when the national team won the Asian games. He did have to serve in a 4 week training exercise. “Choo was asked if they just had him lift weights and run around. No, he said they got to shoot rifles and throw hand-grenades.” With his arm and accuracy, I pity the enemy on the other end of a Choo hand-grenade.
He did say that the Indians were still working on a contract extension with Asdrubal Cabrera, and that the reports of the Dolans possibly selling the team were news to him when they surfaced not long ago. He did admit that if they were shopping the team they certainly wouldn’t go around telling everyone in the organization, but he hasn’t heard anything to make him think the team was for sale.
I asked his opinion on some of the position battles. He thinks Hannahan will end up getting the nod at third, with Chisenhall starting the year in Columbus. He likes Chisenhall, but thinks it makes more sense to have Hannahan there. He thinks Kotchman gets the nod at first. “He wasn’t brought in here to sit. He’s going to play.”
Finally, I asked him if all the players make it out of spring training healthy, who is the lead-off hitter? His response, “I think Manny will keep hitting Grady first. When Sizemore has been effective in his career it has been leading off.”
Another big thanks to Rosenhaus and Vince Koza at 93.1 The Fan in Lima for making the sit down possible.