Mailbag: Discussing Progressive Field
Beat reporter Anthony Castrovince answers fans' questions
When it becomes Wal-Mart Wednesday, Coca-Cola Catholic Church or Mitsubishi Maryland, then we'll know this naming rights situation has gone a tad too far.Until then, devoted mailbag readers, let's hold back our hate and restrict our resentment. Life's too short to get all bent out of shape about corporate entities slapping their signatures on our beloved buildings, right? Well, maybe I'm not right. Because judging by the wealth of e-mails I received about this subject the last few days, it's going to be quite a while before Progressive Field is embraced by the Cleveland populace. That's to be expected, I suppose. And as you might expect, Jacobs Field's new name is the hot topic in this week's edition of the mailbag. Are you upset about the renaming of Jacobs Field to Progressive Field?
-- C.J. T., Orlando, Fla. It takes quite a bit to upset me, C.J. The proliferation of Nickelback songs on the radio upsets me, as does anybody who prefers Jay Leno over David Letterman (and that's an issue that probably deserves its own column). Other than that, I consider myself fairly mellow. Still, the Jacobs Field name had tremendous sentimental value to Indians fans, so the Indians' decision to make like P. Diddy and announce a major name change was bound to ruffle some feathers. The Dolans would have to be delusional to think fans will immediately embrace a change (and they didn't think that, for the record). By the same token, though, fans are delusional if they think the Indians should have passed up the chance to add $3.6 million annually to the general fund. In a market such as this, where every dollar counts, the bucks reeled in from this deal provide an asset that can't be ignored. My simple suggestion: Deal with it. If you still want to refer to the building as The Jake or Jacobs Field, that's your own prerogative, and I don't imagine it will cause you to get escorted out of your seat. If you're longing for a simpler time when tomatoes were cheaper and ballparks weren't named after major corporations, perhaps it's time to give Doc Brown a call.
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-- Kevin J., West Chester, Pa. Nice to see the token "Saved by the Bell" reference work its way in here. Beyond the $3.6 million, the good news here is that while Progressive Field isn't quite as catchy as Progressive Park (which was already under copyright elsewhere), it is worlds better than the M&T Bank Stadiums and TD Waterhouse Arenas of the world. The question of an informal name has already been tossed around, and here are my two cents: "The Pro" sounds too haughty, "The Prog" too clunky, "The Sive" too porous, and "The P" too, well, lavatorial. As is the case with the presidential election, I'm still waiting for a better option to come along. Perhaps we should give it the Prince treatment and call it "The Ballpark Formerly Known as The Jake." For what it's worth, I'm told former owner Dick Jacobs hated seeing the ballpark referred to as "The Jake" -- as "jake" was, to his generation, a slang term referring to lazy people. So I guess at least one person is happy to see that nickname fade away. Andy, what will happen to the old Jacobs Field signs? I would be willing to bid on some old field gear. If nothing else, can you tell me what dumpster this will be in?
-- Christopher F., Maumee, Ohio At least once a month, someone writes into the mailbag and mistakenly refers to me as Andy. Usually, those e-mails end up in the garbage bin, right alongside the ones selling me hair growth products and those offering the opportunity to deposit my money into foreign bank accounts. But I'll break tradition just this once to let Christopher and everyone else know that the Indians are considering the possibility of having some sort of garage sale or auction involving the old Jacobs Field signs. As for the marquee sign at Carnegie and Ontario, the plan is to preserve it, in some fashion, though the details have not been solidified yet. All right, enough with the naming rights subject. Let's get back to the team, shall we? There is one way to answer the Tigers' big move, and that is to get Erik Bedard and Brian Roberts from the rebuilding Orioles. What do you think it would take, and are there any talks that you know of regarding this move?
-- Jeff F., Bend, Ore. Bedard and Roberts haven't been dealt yet for a reason. The Orioles are reportedly stubborn in their desire to acquire about five top prospects or near Major League-ready players for either guy. So the possibility of the Indians getting both guys is pretty much nonexistent. The Mariners, it appears, have the best package available for Bedard, and the Cubs are the reported front-runners for Roberts. As for making a "big move" simply to respond to the Tigers, that's not the Indians' way of doing things, Jeff. I am tired of people saying we get nothing if our free agents leave. I hope we can sign C.C. Sabathia, but if he leaves, don't the Indians get two first-round Draft picks as compensation?
-- Dan B., Akron, Ohio Sabathia would most assuredly be a "Type A" free agent, meaning that if the Indians lost him to free agency, they would get two Draft picks as compensation. In this hypothetical scenario, one of those picks would be a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds. The other would be either a first- or second-rounder, depending on the 2008 record of the team that signed C.C. If the team was in the top 15, it would surrender a first-round pick. If it was in the bottom 15, it would give up a second-rounder. You indicated in an article that Andy Marte would make the team as a backup third baseman. With newly acquired Jamey Carroll backing up short and second, that only leaves one spot on the bench for a reserve outfielder. Correct me if I am wrong, but don't the Indians have six outfielders (Jason Michaels, David Dellucci, Grady Sizemore, Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo) under contract who must play in the big leagues?
-- Rich S., Columbus, Ohio Barring an unforeseen surprise, Marte will be on the club on Opening Day. So yes, Rich, that limits the Indians to just one reserve outfielder. But Francisco can still be optioned to Triple-A, and Choo, rehabbing from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, won't be physically ready to participate by March 31. It will get interesting when Choo, who is out of options, is ready to come off the disabled list (at least a month into the season). That's when the roster will get squeezed. In last week's mailbag, you stated that the White Sox put their future at risk by trading their prospects away, and that that's not something the Indians are willing to do. Help me understand why the Indians are not willing to do that when they already have their core players signed for the future.
-- Kevin W., Lexington, Ohio The '07 Indians proved that to win in the American League on a fixed budget, you have to have depth in the upper levels of your Minor League system. Dealing away a handful of those depth options for a single player is risky business. That doesn't mean you never do it, of course, but the Indians, obviously, haven't been swayed by any of the trade scenarios presented to them this winter. And finally ... I regret to inform you that I will not be able to read your work anymore, as I am no longer going to follow sports. After what's happened to the Cavs, Indians, Browns and Buckeyes the past year, I'm not sure I'm strong enough to keep holding on. If my VHS tape of the Cleveland Crunch beating the St. Louis Ambush in two overtimes to win the 1994 NPSL Championship ever gets eaten by my VCR, I'll probably drink some bleach.
-- Jeff G., Upper Sandusky, Ohio My condolences to all the Ohio State fans out there in Mailbag Land -- especially Tribe director of media relations Bart Swain, who made the trek to both Glendale, Ariz., and New Orleans, La., for first-hand viewings of the Buckeyes' back-to-back BCS beatdowns. I'm sorry to hear you're leaving us, Jeff. But please get yourself a VHS to DVD converter and stay away from those Drano daiquiris.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.