August 26, 2014

Looking Forward to Baseball Season with Jim Rosenhaus

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.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ WFNYRick

    For the record, I would hit Brantley in the lead-off spot.

  • Steve

     Where does this come from? And why are we so determined to put Brantley in the leadoff spot? He may look like the prototypical leadoff hitter while he’s standing around, but certainly not when he’s playing the game. OBP of just under .320 for last year and his entire career. Stole just 13 bases in 500 PAs last year, and at a below average rate (his career SB% is below average too). Yeah, he may become a leadoff hitter someday, but he’s not one yet.

    Just a quick example: If they start Hannahan at 3B, with Duncan in LF, and Brantley in CF, looking at the 2011 numbers, Brantley would have the lowest OBP of the starting 9. That’s the guy you bat last, not first.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ WFNYRick

    I’m assuming an increase in production from Brantley, as part of a natural progression of a player with his service time and age.

    Part of it would also be my distaste for Sizemore in the 1 spot.

  • Steve

     By the aging curve, we should expect Santana, Cabrera, Kipnis, Choo, and Kotchman to increase production as well. We’re still looking at Brantley batting near the bottom of the order.

    As far as Sizemore, it all depends on the health, so yeah, he’s not a leadoff hitter anymore either.

  • mgbode

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4106&position=OF

    projections for Brantley this year are around .330 OBP.  honestly though, I can see him making a bigger jump than that because his main problem is that he strikes out too much and doesn’t walk enough.    a little bit of plate discipline would go a long, long way with him.

  • EyesAbove

    Maybe Im crazy but I think Kipnis may be our best option to hit leadoff. Hes not a prototypical leadoff guy, but he might be the best man for the job right now. Choo is most comfortable hitting 3rd, Cabrera seems to be best suited to hit 2nd, Santana will hit cleanup. Where do we put Kipnis? Leadoff might not be a bad idea. 

  • EyesAbove

    Maybe Im crazy but I think Kipnis may be our best option to hit leadoff. Hes not a prototypical leadoff guy, but he might be the best man for the job right now. Choo is most comfortable hitting 3rd, Cabrera seems to be best suited to hit 2nd, Santana will hit cleanup. Where do we put Kipnis? Leadoff might not be a bad idea. 

  • mgbode

    IMO that is too much pressure for a young kid.  i’d rather put Sizemore there just because I don’t think it will affect him as much.  let Kipnis hit 6th and just let him hit rather than having the offense focus on him every single game.

  • mgbode

    http://www.freep.com/article/20120216/SPORTS02/120216055/brandon-inge-detroit-tigers

    What? I mean Inge has never played 2B. Throw him in there in his mid-30s and see what happens?

    Is Detroit just trying to see if they can have the worst defending IF of alltime?

  • Schmoker

    People, we are all kidding ourselves here. We will be lucky to finish within ten games of the Tigers. Considering the Indians don’t have a single player under contract past 2012, their failure to fill a single hole via free agency is pathetic. And to trade their best prospects for a screwed up pitcher only two seasons away from free agency was unconscionable.

    They aren’t even trying to win, so I’m not going to try and care anymore.

  • Steve

     Kipnis had the vast majority of his PAs batting second last year. It didn’t seem to affect him. Once you step up to the plate, its only you and the pitcher. If Kipnis is one of our better hitters, and he looks to be just that right now, he needs to bat near the top of the order.

  • Steve

     This is the best sarcasm of all time.

  • Steve

     This is getting more and more hilarious. The reason you put Cabrera at third is to take Inge’s bat out of the lineup. Detroit is messing with their entire defense for the sole purpose of getting Dirks or Kellys bat in the lineup instead of Santiagos or Raburns.

  • brandon

    I don’t know who you’re talking about but Brantley has a great eye at the plate IMO and is a very balanced, disciplined hitter. I think his lack of OBP is due to his streaky play, if you recall, Brantley would go a quite a streak and then have a prolonged slump. I think he was really struggling before his injury which hurt his numbers a bit. I think that Acta should go with the following lineup.

    Cabrera
    Kipnis
    Choo
    Santana
    Hafner
    Sizemore
    Kotchman
    Brantley
    Chisenhall

    Brantley is the ideal leadoff hitter but I think It’s important to have our top 4 hitters getting the most at bats. Cabrera would also benefit from having a strong bottom of the lineup so his run production wouldn’t suffer tremendously. 

  • mgbode

    I hope so.  But, I think getting called up and thrown into a lineup is different than having all spring training and going into the season as the lead-off batter. 

    Batters tend to do best when they don’t overthink things. Perhaps Kipnis wouldn’t but it would be a concern for me at least.

  • mgbode

    I’m waiting for them to pull Cecil out of retirement and put him behind the plate.  Maybe they can put Austin Jackson at DH since he doesn’t fit their defensive scheme.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ WFNYRick

    I would hit Choo lead off long before Cabrera.