I found myself further and further from my home

You never forget your first love.

My inaugural visit to Progressive Field

I went to my first Indians game of the year yesterday, against the New York Yankees. It wasn’t your typical first Indians game of the year: the Yankees were playing, I had a shiny new digital camera to play with, and the stadium was newly renamed and newly rebranded. I took some pictures, as well.

I got to the stadium about ten minutes before first pitch. I was handed my “Go Tribe” rally towel and made my way to my seat. My seats were in section 550, row H, offering a pretty nice view:

Yankees @ Indians 002

The Indians played pretty well, and we got a win out of it on Victor Martinez’s walk-off single (the Yankees have already shown some issues with pitching around guys; why pitch around Travis Hafner to get to Martinez?).

There were definitely more Indians fans than Yankee fans (whose annoyance is surpassed only by Red Sox Nation), but there was one stupid Yankees fan behind me (you know who you are). She seemed to be deeply impressed any time Ian Kennedy found the plate (a loud “NICE.” after every strike), and also seemed to think that saying “drop it, drop it, drop it” as loudly and as annoying as possible on the most routine ground balls would help the Yankees. Fortunately, on the other side of me, in the row behind me, was my favorite type of Indians fan: the loud, obnoxious fan who heckles the Yankees very creatively (Jason Giambi: “He needs some JUICE! JUICE HIM UP!”).

All in all, a good game. Sorry about the lack of posting lately, and for those of you from New York who thought I was dead: if I do die soon, I hope to get a blog post in beforehand explaining what goes to who and such. I’ll try to post something longer tomorrow.

The 2008 Cleveland Indians: Major League II

And here it is! The long-awaited preview blog for the 2008 Cleveland Indians season. Before I begin, what a 2007 it was! Much like the original Major League, the Indians were a bunch of upstarts who rallied in the end to beat the Yankees, but, as we found out in Major League II, the Indians lost in the ALCS to the…wait for it…White Sox.

So maybe it’s not exactly like the movie.

But anyway, here we go. I’ll start with a to-do list of what I would do if I were Mark Shapiro (and thus what I believe he should do before Spring Training is over.

The To-Do List

  1. Trade Cliff Lee, David Delucci and Andy Marte for whatever I can get. Marte being traded is provisional based on his play during Spring Training, but I anticipate that it wouldn’t be good enough to merit keeping him. Marte has obvious issues playing in cold weather, which is a problem not only in the beginning of the year but in the playoffs as well, and to me does not provide an upgrade defensively or offensively at third.

    As for Cliff Lee, he is part of a trio of left-handed starters (joined by Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers). The Indians’ future, in my mind, has room for two left-handed starters (barring injury), so who is traded is really a matter of personal preference, but a trade is necessary. Of the three starters, Lee is the oldest, is paid the most, but probably has the most trade value due to his experience. He is signed through 2009, and was paid $3 million last year, making him a relative bargain for a team like Tampa Bay who is looking to build for the future and has room to take some risks – and Tampa Bay is loaded with prospects.

    Finally, David Delucci. Nothing against the guy, I just feel that Ben Francisco/Shin-Soo Choo is our future left fielder and that Delucci is good trade bait. Of the three, he’s the one I don’t mind keeping as much.

  2. Make an offer to C.C. This should be obvious. I’m not saying sign him, necessarily – to me, he has a lot to prove in the postseason – but an offer should be made. I would give him the years he wants (which is rumored to be about 5) and maybe offer about $20 million a year. That’s far less than Santana got and a deal I think the Indians would be thrilled with. If we don’t sign him now though, don’t panic – we still have plenty of time.

A pretty short to-do list. But that’s a credit to Shapiro’s work so far, he’s done a heck of a job.

Opening Day Lineups

On March 31, the Indians will take the field at Progressive Field (hold your groans please) against the Chicago White Sox. I’ll assume Mark Buehrle (had to check the spelling) will start for the Sox, against C.C. for the Indians. Here’s my proposed starting lineup:

CF. Grady Sizemore
2B. Asdrubal Cabrera
DH. Travis Hafner
1B. Ryan Garko
C. Victor Martinez
SS. Jhonny Peralta
LF. Ben Francisco
RF. Franklin Gutierrez
3B. Casey Blake

On the bench: Jamey Carroll (INF), Josh Barfield (INF), David Delucci (LF), Kelly Shoppach (C).

Rotation: C.C. Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, Aaron Laffey, Paul Byrd

The lineup might surprise you a bit – I’m a huge Ben Francisco fan ever since I saw him play for the Captains, and he did a great job in the beginning of the summer too – and also, Buehrle is left-handed. As for the rotation, I put Laffey ahead of Byrd in order to stagger the right-handers and left-handers (LHP, RHP, RHP, LHP, RHP).

And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Predictions

AL East: Red Sox
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Mariners (kind of an upset pick – but Bedard/Hernandez will help)
AL Wild Card: Tigers (Yankees don’t make it!)

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs (I picked the Pirates last year, look where that got me)
NL West: Padres
NL Wild Card: Phillies

AL Champions: Indians (they did it in Major League II, right?)
NL Champions: Mets

World Series: Indians (Johan Santana? Pffff….we beat this guy 5 times last year)

And just for good measure…

AL MVP: Curtis Granderson
NL MVP: Ryan Howard

AL Cy Young: Fausto Carmona
NL Cy Young: …wait for it…Johan Santana

Biggest liar (between Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds): Clemens

And there you have it…my official pre-Spring Training blog for the 2008 season. Comment if you will, and we’ll see you on Opening Day!