Inbox: Miller's spot with Tribe in 2009
Beat reporter Anthony Castrovince answers fans' questions
-- Dom D., Staten Island, N.Y. No chance. Not this year, Dom. Keep in mind that injuries have limited Miller to a grand total of 94 innings of work over the last two seasons, so the Indians don't want him pitching any more than, say, 100 innings this year. If he took on a starter's workload, he'd max out his innings threshold in the first half of the season. That's why the Tribe moved him to relief work. I wouldn't rule out a return to starting work for Miller in 2010. Though his raw stuff certainly leads one to believe he could be a star in the back end of a bullpen, he might have more value to the Indians in the rotation, assuming, of course, he can stay healthy and he can be effective in the big leagues. With Cliff Lee only signed through 2010 and question marks abound in the starting rotation, the Indians could use an arm like Miller's in the mix. Do the Indians have room on their roster for a top prospect to impress this spring and earn a roster spot? Is David Huff a legitimate contender for the rotation? Could Miller start the year in the bullpen? Does Trevor Crowe, Matt LaPorta or Michael Brantley have a shot at being a reserve outfielder?
-- Chris B., Tallmadge, Ohio Miller has to be considered a favorite for the open bullpen spot. Huff is indeed a legitimate contender for the open rotation job, though the Indians would have to make room for him on the 40-man roster. Even if he doesn't break camp with the club, Huff will be on the short list of potential callups from Triple-A Columbus. As for the outfielders, Crowe probably has a better shot of breaking camp with the team than LaPorta or Brantley. The Indians want the two high-profile acquisitions from the CC Sabathia trade to get their first exposure to Triple-A, and they want them playing every day. But even the 25-year-old Crowe is a long shot, because, thanks to the versatility of Mark DeRosa and Jamey Carroll, the Indians aren't expected to carry five outfielders. That being said, if a player puts up an electric spring, the forecast could change. Does Miller have any leashes on this spring? Actually, thinking about it, does anyone, really, other than Hafner?
-- Scott, Chicago I swear I didn't intend for this to be the all-Miller edition of the Inbox, but apparently he has piqued fans' interest. The Indians probably won't have Miller pitch back-to-back days -- at least, not early on. Cliff Lee, coming off a career-high workload, won't make his first start until about 10 days after the exhibition games start, and Anthony Reyes, Carl Pavano and Kerry Wood will also be protected, to a certain extent. With Wood, the Indians don't want him "ramping up" too early. He's already considered way ahead of where he needs to be. Left-handed relief prospect Tony Sipp, coming back from shoulder tendinitis, is about a week behind the other pitchers.
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-- Nate D., Copley, Ohio Wood's trying to avoid the wild side, as evidenced by his impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio last season. I asked Wood what song he'll use as his entrance music this year, and he said he'll probably go with Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle," because that's what he used in Chicago last year. Funny you mention that quote, though, Nate. It was a different manager named Lou -- Lou Piniella -- who told Wood to "forget the curveball" last year. Wood used his curve early in the season and hit a guy, and Piniella told him he didn't want to see him throw that pitch ever again. So Wood didn't. But this spring, Wood is working on his curve, and he hopes to make it a valuable part of his repertoire in the season ahead. To restore integrity to the game, MLB needs to get serious about drug testing. I suggest that they adopt a program similar to that used in horse racing. Blood samples could be taken from each player at the start of a game. These samples would be tested during the game. If a player tests positive, the team forfeits the game. If players on both teams test positive, both teams forfeit.
-- T.R.J., Cleveland Genius. But the players' union probably won't allow this unless each guy is promised his own stable. Welcome to V-Mart, K-Shoppers! Whether you came by F-Car, J-Car, or A-Cab, we stock your G-Size! I think we should S-Choo this kind of thing. It's, well, C-Lee.
-- Bob B., Austin, Texas A-men. I know it's been Eric Wedge's practice to drive to Winter Haven by himself each year before Spring Training. Did he continue this tradition with a Cleveland-to-Goodyear trek?
-- Matt D., Mentor, Ohio Wedge's driving days are done, now that the Tribe's headed out west. But those taking the scenic route from Cleveland to Goodyear are encouraged to stop off at The Big Texan on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. You can get a 72-ounce steak for free if you finish it within an hour. I hate to live in the past here at the beginning of a new season, but with all this talk about how bad the bullpen was last year, why doesn't anyone mention that the Indians released a guy named Craig Breslow at the end of May, who ended the year with Minnesota with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Should management get a pass on letting this guy go, or should this be an example of how the bullpen is poorly managed?
-- Chris W., Columbus, Ohio You're right, Chris. That was an underrated mistake made by the Indians last year. Breslow was unceremoniously dumped when the Indians activated Joe Borowski off the disabled list, even though seldom-used position players Andy Marte and Michael Aubrey were both on the active roster at that time. Considering how highly the Indians spoke of Breslow when they acquired him in Spring Training and how long they supposedly had their eye on him, you would think he would have gotten more than 8 1/3 innings of work over seven appearances. It's not as if the back end of the bullpen had caught fire at the outset of the season and there was no room to give Breslow a shot. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is not to suggest Breslow could have saved the bullpen. But he deserved a closer look. Chalk it up as a loss, I suppose. And finally ... If it's not broken, don't fix it! I miss the Tribe Mailbag! "Indians Inbox"?! This is like "Progressive Field" all over again!
-- Mandy M., Cleveland The Mailbag didn't have quite as much tradition as The Jake. Besides, a little alliteration never hurt anybody. Embrace the change, Mandy. I wouldn't steer you wrong.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.