Tag Archives: Travis Hafner

Cleveland Indians Thanksgiving

 

First off, I want to wish all of you readers out there a Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first time in several years, Cleveland sports fans can actually be thankful for their teams. That got us thinking at MTAF: Cleveland — What would different members of the professional organizations be thankful for as they sat around the table sharing Thanksgiving dinner?

As a fan of the Cleveland Indians, I attempted to delve into the mindsets of several different members of the organization, trying to ascertain what they would be giving thanks for.

Chris Antonetti & Mark Shapiro

My first thought with regard to what Chris and Mark would be thankful for would be getting Terry Francona to come on board and coach the Tribe. But then I sat back and looked at the larger picture. If I was Chris or Mark, I would be thankful for how well the trades they’ve made over the past ten years have worked out. Just look at how a handful of the following trades worked out (in terms of production) for the Indians:

Year CLE Sends CLE Receives
2002 Ryan Drese & Einar Diaz Travis Hafner
2008 Casey Blake Carlos Santana
2009 Victor Martinez Justin Masterson & Nick Hagadone
2006 Ben Broussard Shin-Soo Choo
2006 Eduardo Perez Asdrubal Cabrera
2002 Bartolo Colon Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips & Cliff Lee

And those are just a few of the trades that have been made. Think about this: In a three team deal involving the Cardinals and the Padres, we gave up veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook and received 2014 AL Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber. Had Matt LaPorta worked out better, the Sabathia deal (which included 2014 MVP finalist and Silver Slugger award winner Michael Brantley) would have been seen as more genius than the Colon deal.

As Mark and Chris pass the gravy boat, they’re going to be giving thanks that so many of their trades worked out so well.

Terry Francona

As Terry Francona rides his scooter to the store to pick up cranberry sauce, I imagine he too will think about what he’s thankful for. I would venture a guess that he’s thankful for several things:

1. His health

2. Mickey Callaway

Tito has probably never worried about his health (see: Urban Meyer). I’m not old by any stretch (I’m 23). I’ve found out that older men are thankful for their health, regardless of how healthy they actually are. Next, Tito should be counting his lucky starts that he has Mickey Callaway sitting on his bench coaching up his pitchers. Think about 2013. Mickey Callaway turned around a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez into quite possibly the best pitcher of the second half in the American League. I feel that if Tito had started Ubaldo in the place of rookie Danny Salazar, the Indians may have gone on to be World Series champions. Then we look back at 2014 and (channeling my innermost LeBron here) not one, not two, but THREE examples of what Mickey Callaway can do. First, Corey Kluber. Mickey has said that he really didn’t have to do much with Klubes this past season. As much as I’d like to believe that, there’s a reason he’s the pitching coach. Mickey worked with Corey to develop his secondary pitches and propel him into the upper echelons of pitching talent in the MLB. Next, there is Trevor Bauer. Bauer’s problem in 2013 was consistency and immaturity. Unfortunately for Trevor, he is young and often impatient. He need time to develop under more mature, accomplished pitchers. He got that with Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber. This year, while he had his troubles, Bauer was much more consistent and flashed some of the greatness that made the front office go out and get him. Finally, we have Carlos Carrasco. Known affectionately as “Cookie” among die-hard Tribe fans, Cookie experienced many of the same issues that Bauer faced — inconsistency and maturity. Remember his ejection and subsequent suspension in 2011 against Kansas City? How about his ejection for plunking Kevin Youkilis in 2013? That wasn’t a wild arm. Tito and Mickey worked with Carrasco and put him in the bullpen in 2014 and boy, did he deliver. Carrasco was electric out of the pen and proved to be the long-reliever we needed, especially when one of our starters couldn’t make it out of the 4th or 5th inning. How many times can you remember Carrasco putting in three to four quality innings, saving our bullpen arms for the home stretch?

Finally, The Indians are thankful for YOU, the fans.

When you go to a game or buy a jersey, you help finance the continued journey toward that elusive World Series title. When you get on Twitter or Facebook and talk about the Indians, you help them make a branding impact on new fans or fans who just don’t know it yet. When you write odes to Tom Hamilton or romanticize what the Tribe means to you on a t-shirt, you help the Indians build an regional identity. In a city like Cleveland, our professional sports teams need their fans as much as we need our teams. In some ways, we define one another. The Indians wouldn’t have much meaning without us and we wouldn’t have much meaning without them. So when the front office, the coaching staff and the players sit around their respective tables to share food and make memories, they will probably reflect, even if it’s only for a moment, on what it means to put on the Tribe uniform day in and day out for the best fans in the major leagues.

As for me, I’m thankful for football, a lot of food and a day off to enjoy it all with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving fans. Enjoy your turkey.

I am Divorcing Josh Cribbs

Josh Cribbs, Cleveland Browns (in Pro Bowl) by Automotive Rhythms, on Flickr
Josh Cribbs, Cleveland Browns (in Pro Bowl) by Automotive Rhythms, on Flickr

Am I the only one who is glad Josh Cribbs is no longer a member of the Cleveland Browns? I can’t be, but when I look at all the fancy social networks it seems everyone is still in love with this guy. Why? I thought as sports fans we were supposed to love the names on the front of the jersey not the back?

Josh Cribbs was great for civic pride, whatever that means in 2013, but as far being a Browns player he hasn’t been good for the team recently. In fact, in the past three seasons he’s been one of the biggest complainers and disappointments in the organization.

Remember in 2010 when he cleaned out his locker and said he wasn’t going to honor the three remaining years on his contract? I guess he thinks he’s the prize we’re all supposed to be after? Then he used you, the fans, and your emotions to get ownership to reward him with a new contract. Ask yourselves, has he lived up to the $20 million-plus this team has paid him since he was drafted?

Josh Cribbs is the biggest fraud in Cleveland sports. Many of you will argue Travis Hafner is, but his failures can easily be blamed on injuries. Hafner never used and abused you like Josh Cribbs did.

I wish Travis Hafner luck, not because I think he is a good person (he isn’t), but because he is what I thought he was. Hafner was given a contract, while he was injured, because he played well and had a good agent. Cribbs has been part of terrible teams, and hasn’t done much to keep his value high, that’s why the Browns parted ways with him. He had good spots, and at times was one of the brightest stars, but when he didn’t get what he wanted he cried like a third grader. Who does that?

Yet the city and its fans worship him as if he led the Browns to a championship. Sure, Cribbs went to Kent State and has amazing ties to the community, but at this point none of that will translate into advancing this team towards the playoffs.

Browns fans, it’s time to realize athletes are no different than most of us; they go to work because it pays them. Remember, these people play a game, and while some may consider what they do serious work, the overall economic value they bring is minimal.

It has come time to wish Josh Cribbs good luck in Arizona, hope that he is successful, but remember he only loved you as long as you were willing to give him everything and anything he asked of you. Sounds like that ex-lover who only wanted one thing from you, whereas you wanted the world.

Cribbs couldn’t buy a full page ad in the Plain Dealer, or just simply say thank you, he had to send this through his twitter account:

How cute. Where’s the checkbox for “yes, I’ll always love you?”

WAKE UP!

You are Browns fans, and as delusional as most of you are about how good your team will be every season you are still amongst the most loyal in all of sports. Josh Cribbs is a player who scored a few touchdowns in games you mostly loss. He never lived up to the hype, and cried like a third grader when he didn’t get enough playing time. Now, he’s someone else’s problem. Man up, and move on.

Remember this, you love the Cleveland Browns even though the franchise has generally pooped on you since 1999.

Is Cribbs a good player? No, he is past his prime, but at one time he was absolutely one of the best at returning balls in the league. What happened? He got old, and the league changed the rules.

It’s obvious Cribbs still has a lot of fans in the area, and if you’re a fan of his and you happened to like the Browns because of him, then so be it, but if you’re a Browns fan then at this point it is time for him and the organization to move on.

Make no mistake; this is not so much about Cribbs and the highs and lows he caused you on the football field as much as it is about fans who need to remember who you are fans of, the Cleveland Browns.

What the Tribe Needs to Do at DH

It was recently reported that the Indians are looking at two former sluggers of their own to fill the DH spot: Jim Thome and Travis Hafner. While I would love one of these two in the lineup, I don’t think either should be in f9r a full time role.

The Indians have an abundance of options when it comes to the DH spot. The current lineup probably looks a little something like this:

  1. Michael Brantley (LF)
  2. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  3. Mark Reynolds (1B)
  4. Nick Swisher (RF)
  5. Carlos Santana (C)
  6. Jason Kipnis (2B)
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)
  9. Mike Aviles(DH)

This may be the opening day lineup, presuming Thome isn’t brought it in, but regardless, this will rarely be the lineup. It’s becoming more and more obvious that Carlos Santana will be spending less and less time behind the plate, so here are some options to incorporate Carlos into the DH and First Base spots:

  1. Michael Brantley (LF)
  2. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  3. Mark Reynolds (DH)
  4. Nick Swisher (RF)
  5. Carlos Santana (1B)
  6. Jason Kipnis (2B)
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)
  9. Lou Marson (C)

or

  1. Michael Brantley (LF)
  2. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  3. Mark Reynolds (1B)
  4. Nick Swisher (RF)
  5. Carlos Santana (DH)
  6. Jason Kipnis (2B)
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)
  9. Lou Marson (C)

Presumably, these lineups would be options if none of the starters were resting. They seem plenty feasible, but rest is going to come into play at some point. That’s where Jimmy comes in. You’re not going to need Jim a lot. He’s going to come cheap and I feel that will make him the lowest risk move possible. You can assume that he will be productive, even if he’s rarely playing, so I don’t see the downside. Here are a few lineups with Santana or Reynolds resting.

  1. Michael Brantley (LF)
  2. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  3. Carlos Santana (1B)
  4. Nick Swisher (RF)
  5. Jim Thome (DH)
  6. Jason Kipnis (2B)
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)
  9. Lou Marson (C)

or

  1. Michael Brantley (LF)
  2. Drew Stubbs (CF)
  3. Mark Reynolds (1B)
  4. Nick Swisher (RF)
  5. Jim Thome (DH)
  6. Jason Kipnis (2B)
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
  8. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)
  9. Lou Marson (C)

Essentially, if Santana is catching, the DH hole becomes a problem. If Santana isn’t catching, the DH hole is filled by Santana or Reynolds. That’s why I don’t believe that Santana should be catching that much as it is. Marson is a great defensive catcher, and while his bat isn’t much at all, I believe that Santana’s bat will come alive with less time catching.

If Lou’s bat can catch up to his fielding potential, the Indians lineup could very well be set. They would be in the race for the Central Division crown if Marson can pull through and Santana does improve with a lesser role behind the plate.

Essentially, there is no real “need” for Thome which is why I think they could bring him in. You may be asking, well, if they don’t need him, then why would they bring him in? They should bring him in for a slew of reasons.

First and foremost, Jim is often considered one of the best teammates out there and would definitely help this club’s “chemistry”. I would love to see him mentor some of the younger guys like Santana, Kipnis, and even Marson. Honestly, I would rather see him in Cleveland as a hitting coach, but it doesn’t seem as if he is ready to retire just yet, and that doesn’t seem like a real option. Finally, I’m sure the Indians could get him for next to nothing. What’s the risk in getting a guy you use sparingly for little to no money? There is none. The rewards very, very, very much outweigh the risks. There is no risk; the worst thing that happens is that he never plays and sits on the bench, wasting what few dollars the Indians gave to him. Even in that case, he’s still bringing his expertise and leadership to the ball club, both of which are invaluable tools.

I’m not one for bringing in older veterans to fill huge holes. Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe, we saw how those turned out. I am a fan of bringing in older vets to fill the smallest of positions for the team. This DH position is a perfect example of that small role that should be filled by a vet.

If the options are Jim Thome, Travis Hafner, or no one, I think you have to pick Jim Thome or no one. Hafner comes with too large a price tag, too big an ego, and too little of the invaluables that Thome would bring. Hafner simply brings no value to this team. Sure he can connect every once in a while, but then again so can Thome. Jim Thome can do anything that Travis Hafner can do, but with infinitely more value.

I’m also ok with the Indians letting both of them go and letting someone like Mike Aviles take the DH spot when Santana is catching. Aviles was brought in to be a utility man, so why not allow him some ABs? I would even consider Nick Swisher to fill the role if he ever needed some time away from right field.

The Indians are lucky to have plenty of good assets on their baseball team. They have a good solid bench that allows them to be flexible in terms of the lineup. Whether they want to bring in Jim Thome or not, they will be perfectly fine. Thome’s role would only become noticeable if he started putting up major numbers and producing mightily for this baseball team. The rewards would be noticed, but the negatives wouldn’t. I am a huge Jim Thome fan, but would be ok with the Indians deciding to fix the problem internally. The only thing I’d have a problem with would be forgoing Thome for Hafner. That’s a high risk, low reward solution, one that I don’t think the Indians can afford to make.

Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove

Do the Indians Need to Make a Splash at the Deadline?

Well, the Indians are the Indians.

One week they’ll look playoff quality, the next week they look like no quality.

It’s an enigma that no one has been able to answer. One minute we’re calling for everyone’s head, the next minute we just need that one more piece.

Last summer, the Indians made moves that were supposed to put them into the playoffs. Those moves involved a certain Ubaldo Jimenez and needless to say, they didn’t work out. They needed that right handed bat, and they never got it.

This summer, the same theme seems to be occuring. The Tribe just needs that extra push to be in the playoffs, and the trade seems to be one of the options to put them there.  Continue reading Do the Indians Need to Make a Splash at the Deadline?

Message to the Indians: Weather the Storm

The Cleveland Indians are very fortunate to be where they are. They’ve lost 14 of their last 21 games and are only out of first place by 1 and a half games.

In this stretch, the Indians have been swept by the Reds, lost a series to the Pirates, and a series to the Minnesota Twins. They’ve kept up their success against the Detroit Tigers, however, beating them in a series in Detroit.

Right now, the Indians are looking for answers. The Johnny Damon experiment has not gone as they would have hoped, (read Josh Flagner’s Yahoo Piece!). Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez have been subpar in their pitching. They have had injuries to major players including Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Jack Hannahan, and Carlos Santana. Casey Kotchman, while a defensive mastermind at first base, has been just as most expected as a hitter. Matt LaPorta and Lonnie Chisenhall, among others, are stuck in Triple A and don’t seem to be yearning to come out. Continue reading Message to the Indians: Weather the Storm

Walks Equal Wins for the Tribe

First and foremost, I would like to say that I really want to write about the Browns, but I’ll save it until the very end of the draft. There’s way too many picks left to analyze anything.

Plus, it’s baseball season people!

As good as they have been on the road, the Indians needs to shape up at home and shape up now. The Los Angeles Anaheim Southern California Orange County Angels are coming into town and the Tribe needs to win this series. After a series against the Royals in which the Tribe pitching and offense struggled, not to mention the Royals won 2 straight after losing 13 straight, the Indians need to come back strong against the Angels.

While it is very early in the season, and the Indians are still in first place thanks to a 4-game losing streak by the Tigers and a 3-game losing streak by Chicago, the Tribe needs to solidify themselves as a contender as soon as they can. Continue reading Walks Equal Wins for the Tribe

Johnny Damon Signing is Typical Indians Move

by Ryan Isley

Leave it to the Cleveland Indians to make a move out of desperation and sign a player based more on name than on his actual playing ability at this point in his career.

The Indians have needed to get offense since early last season but continued to ignore the glaring hole in their lineup. At the trade deadline last year, the Indians sent their top two pitching prospects to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez and stood pat with what they had offensively.

Going into this season, they brought in first baseman Casey Kotchman, who hit .306 last season after hitting .218 and .217 in 2009 and 2010. While he had a better year offensively in 2011, Kotchman was brought in for his defense because Carlos Santana and Matt LaPota were such hacks at first base that they made Travis Hafner look like a gold glove first baseman.

They then relied on Grady Sizemore to stay healthy and hit at the top of the order. Insert your own joke here.

Continue reading Johnny Damon Signing is Typical Indians Move

MTAF Morning News – Wednesday, August 17

By Ryan Isley

Ugh-Baldo and the Indians Fall:

What do you get when you combine bad starting pitching, bad defense and bad umpiring? You get Tuesday night’s Indians loss in a nutshell.

For the second straight Tuesday night, the Cleveland Indians played a 14-inning game in which their starting pitcher had a short outing. Unfortunately this time, the Indians lost and the short start had nothing to do with the weather.

Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound for his third start as a member of the Indians last night and lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on nine hits on 105 pitches. He left the game down 5-2 but the Indians offense came right back to tie the game in the top of the 6th on RBI singles by Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana and a bases loaded walk by Jason Donald.

Continue reading MTAF Morning News – Wednesday, August 17

MTAF Morning News – Indians Win on Walk Off Grand Slam, Reds Lose, Cavs Get a D Team

Indians Top Blue Jays on Hafner Walk Off Grand Slam

Pronk knows how to win a ball game.  If you missed the game recap from earlier this morning, you can catch it here.  Trust me, it’s worth the read. And if you have not heard Tom Hamilton’s call of Hafner’s grand slam, take a minute to listen.  Hamilton has one of the best calls in sports.

Two other game notes:  Jose Bautista hit his 29th homerun of the season tying him with the Blue Jays club record for the most homeruns before the All Star Break.  He leads the league for the second year in a row in homeruns at the All Star Break.

There have only been two walk off grand slams this season, both by the Indians.  The other was by Carlos Santana.

Continue reading MTAF Morning News – Indians Win on Walk Off Grand Slam, Reds Lose, Cavs Get a D Team

MTAF Weekly: Indians Stop the Skid and Is Rory the New Tiger?

Another week of deep thought and shallow snark is in the books here at More Than A Fan.  Ryan Isley warned Carlos Santana about what would happen if he didn’t pick up the pace and that New Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell was right give Terrelle Pryor the cold shoulder. I blabbed for hours about where Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Rick Carlisle will end up in history after the 2011 NBA Finals and Lisa panicked about the Indians.

It’s Monday right now, but Sunday was Father’s Day, so Happy Father’s Day to all you dad’s out there.  I took Dad out to golf, smoked a cigar and got completely involved in a great sports day.  So let’s get caught up with the week that was… as soon as I get another Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat.

Continue reading MTAF Weekly: Indians Stop the Skid and Is Rory the New Tiger?