Mailbag: Tribe's trade options
Beat reporter Anthony Castrovince answers fans' questions
My dad has decided to buy a new television set.This is a major development, given that his current set is about 15 years old. He won it in a raffle at work. It was state-of-the-art at the time. The screen was massive, its image immaculate and pristine. If he had needed a few extra bucks, he could have rented it out for family movie nights at the local YMCA. It was a 27-incher. Today, people buy 27-inch TVs for their garage. Inside our homes, of course, are the big boys. I bought a 42-inch plasma last winter, and that's not so much swank as it is standard-issue. Considering the only shows I watch with regularity are "SportsCenter" and "Letterman," I'm not sure I'm making the most of my TV purchase, though its high-definition capabilities do make it much easier to spot Dave's nose hairs. Still, I think we overdo it in the TV department. After all, it's all well and good to have a 52-inch, flat-panel LCD HDTV with a 1080p display and a 120Hz refresh rate, but if the Indians are losing five of six to the Cincinnati Reds, it's still going to look ugly. So maybe that 27-inch TV is worth keeping around, after all. Let's get to this week's questions ... What do you think is in the future for the Indians and C.C. Sabathia?
-- Kent P., Piqua, Ohio The Indians will most assuredly be forced to entertain serious offers for Sabathia in the next month. As it stands, the club has merely had preliminary talks to gauge interested teams -- and judging by reports, there are plenty of them. But until general manager Mark Shapiro and his staff determine this season to be over, from a contention standpoint, Sabathia isn't officially on the market. While the Tribe is far from mathematically eliminated, only the most optimistic of souls would deem this team to be a serious championship contender. The offense, bullpen and disabled list have compromised that ill-fated effort. Look for the Indians to analyze their position after this eight-game road trip through American League Central locales -- Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit -- and Sabathia could be on the market by the All-Star break. Of course, just because a player goes on the market doesn't mean he'll definitely be traded. Thanks to the injuries to Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona and Adam Miller this season, the Indians have no shortage of question marks for the 2009 rotation. That only encourages the club's desire to re-sign Sabathia to a long-term extension. The Indians would likely offer Sabathia a five-year deal, and they might even go as high as $20 million a season. But as much as he professes his love for playing for this organization, Sabathia might want a longer guarantee, and he might feel he has a better chance to contend elsewhere. And if the Indians were to ink Sabathia to such a deal, would they have enough leftover cash to make the upgrades their offense so desperately needs? I somehow doubt it. Trading Sabathia, then, appears to be the best move for this club to make. They took a chance in keeping him off the market over the offseason. They can't afford to do so now. Nor can they afford to rely on the Draft-pick compensation they'd receive if they kept C.C. through the season and lost him to free agency. That's too risky and the potential reward is too far off.
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-- John B., Akron, Ohio Not a heck of a lot to report here. Martinez has been doing range-of-motion exercises with his surgically repaired right elbow and reportedly feels good. As for his strained left hamstring, he rested it for two weeks and began rehabbing it Friday. The Indians still aren't certain on which end of the original six-to-eight-week rehab spectrum Martinez will fall on. He's out for at least another month. What will Jamey Carroll's role be when Asdrubal Cabrera is recalled? If Carroll continues to hit the way he has been, it's inconceivable for him not to be in the lineup on an everyday basis, isn't it?
-- Colin D., Tucson, Ariz. Most likely, Carroll would return to the utility role, spelling Cabrera on days he has off and days he takes over for Jhonny Peralta at short. But when Cabrera inevitably returns, perhaps the Indians should consider giving Carroll a little extra time at second, starting Cabrera at short and putting Peralta in the designated hitter spot. Could we see Wes Hodges in an Indians uniform at some point in 2009?
-- Andrew Z., Struthers, Ohio That's not out of the realm of possibility. When it comes to the hot corner, Hodges is the most promising long-term option the Indians possess -- and yes, I'm aware Andy Marte is still hanging around. Hodges, though, still has some room to grow defensively, as evidenced by his 15 errors through 79 games. And prior to this season, he had trouble staying healthy. But Hodges has an advanced bat with some pop and run-production capabilities, so he's certainly an intriguing prospect on a team with no clear direction for third base. With Vizquel Mania going on in Cleveland last week, I was perusing the great Omar's stats and noticed that he played one inning of one game in the outfield for the Indians in 1999. What were the circumstances that transpired to make that happen?
-- Vince C., Willoughby Hills, Ohio That was Aug. 31, 1999, at Jacobs Field. Angels closer Troy Percival hit David Justice with a pitch in the eighth after serving up a home run to Richie Sexson. Justice charged the mound and threw his helmet at Percival, and a bench-clearing brawl ensued. Justice was ejected, and manager Mike Hargrove inserted Vizquel as a defensive replacement in the outfield for the ninth. The last few weeks, I have heard about Jeff Stevens and David Huff possibly being with a Major League team this year. With both guys throwing great at Triple-A, how long do we have to wait to see either of them?
-- Adam W., Fort Wayne, Ind. The Indians have been high on Stevens for a while, especially after his performance in the World Cup finals in Taiwan last fall. Yes, I would definitely expect to see him at some point this year. He'd certainly be an option in September, if nothing else. It's more difficult to predict when Huff would get a call, because that, of course, depends on when the Indians have another need for a starter. He's put his elbow injury woes of 2007 behind him and shown better command of his breaking pitches at Akron and Buffalo, and that's certainly encouraging for the Indians, who need all the starting depth they can get with Sabathia and Paul Byrd entering free agency and Westbrook out at least the first couple months of '09. Does the Indians' offense put out a top effort when Sabathia is pitching? The Tribe seems to score more runs for other pitchers.
-- Jim F., Niles, Ohio The Indians' position players are hardly selective in this matter. They don't consistently score all that many runs for anybody. What happens to the players and staff at Triple-A Buffalo if the Indians switch to Columbus? Will the players stay at Buffalo or move to Columbus?
-- Tim J., Cleveland The "if" is not really necessary. The Indians will move their Triple-A team to Columbus next year. They are just not at the liberty to officially sign off on or discuss that move until after the season. As for the coaching staffs and prospects, fear not, Tim. They will be transferable. And finally... I think Edward Mujica should be the new closer. He has outstanding velocity on his fastball. His stuff reminds me of a young Trevor Hoffman. Also a trade proposition: Sabathia for Boof Bonser. Travis Hafner will break the home run record in five years. Peralta is the best shortstop ever to play in the Major Leagues. He reminds me of Derek Jeter. Marte reminds me of a young A-Rod. And Scott Elarton should be the new ace. Trade Cliff Lee to Toronto for Matt Stairs and Marco Scutaro. Thank you, and please post this letter, because I'm your No. 1 fan.
-- Jason Y., Woodsfield, Ohio I was with you up until that No. 1 fan stuff. Obviously, that was said in jest.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.