Inbox: Best and worst acquisitions
Beat reporter Anthony Castrovince answers fans' questions
Esteemed Yankees scribe Bryan Hoch sent me an e-mail the other day that read: "Just saw highlights from Goodyear. Admit it. You miss that hole in Winter Haven."And the truth is: Yes, I do miss it. I miss living in the condos behind right field, climbing over a chain-link fence to get to work. I miss the unchanging tray of deli meats in the media workroom, served up by an elderly gentleman who set off the car alarm on his Cadillac every single day. I miss the sound of the door to the workroom slamming shut every two or three minutes, and the sound of the fan whirring in the unisex bathroom. I miss dusting off my seat in the outdoor press box at Chain of Lakes Park, then trying to pick up a wireless signal from the Chevrolet dealer across the street. I miss the thrill of potentially being visited in the box by a slithering snake. And I miss the ballpark itself, with its scoreboard that would sometimes fall an inning or two behind and the occasional burst pipe spraying water on the field.
-- Rob D., Ames, Iowa March is a time for positivity, so let's start with the good. For my No. 1 pick, I'm going to take Grady Sizemore. He was but a mere piece of the Bartolo Colon trade, and he's emerged as arguably one of the best players of his generation. No. 2 is Manny Ramirez. He went No. 13 overall in the 1991 Draft, following the immortal likes of Brien Taylor, Kenny Henderson and Doug Glanville. If the Indians hadn't lost him in free agency, he'd easily be No. 1 on this list. No. 3 is Roberto Alomar. After signing a four-year, $30 million deal before the 1999 season, he batted .323 with 63 homers and 309 RBIs over three years, winning two Gold Gloves in that span. Then he was traded to the Mets, where his career immediately went into decline. No. 4 is Omar Vizquel. Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson and cash to the Mariners netted the Indians 11 seasons of Little O, who turned in a steady bat and stellar defense at short. No. 5 is Jim Thome. The 13th-round pick of the 1989 Draft went on to hit a club-record 334 home runs. Honorable mention goes out to the Kenny Lofton trade in 1991 and the signings of Doug Jones (who went from Minor League free agent in '85 to longtime club career saves leader), Orel Hershiser and Dennis Martinez, among others. Fausto Carmona was plucked out of the Dominican with a measly $10,000 bonus when he was 17, and that sure looked like money well spent in 2007. The list of the worst acquisitions has to start with Wayne Garland. In 1976, the Indians agreed to give him $2.3 million (exorbitant at the time) over 10 years (exorbitant at any time, for a pitcher), and he went on to go 28-48 over six seasons before his career came to a halt. No. 2 is Keith Hernandez. In 1990, the Indians granted Hernandez, already about three years past his prime, $3.5 million over two seasons. He appeared in 43 games and wasn't heard from again until his memorable appearance in the greatest "Seinfeld" episode of all time. No. 3 is Jason Johnson. He got $3.5 million in 2006. He was dumped by June.
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-- Paul T., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Marte will go to Columbus, where he'll vie for playing time at third base, first base and designated hitter with the likes of Wes Hodges, Jordan Brown and Michael Aubrey, among others. Not that it's likely to come to this, but the Indians could bring him back to the big leagues without him going through waivers again. They would just need to clear a spot for him on their active and 40-man rosters. Again, though, that's not likely, given Marte's recent history. It's more likely that he will play out the season, then explore Minor League free agency, thus ending his tenure with the Tribe. Marte had 100 hits with the Indians. Do you remember any of them? I know I don't. Why would you let him bat in a clutch situation? I'm very curious as to what Carl Pavano has left in the tank. Can you tell us what you have heard about his "stuff" and if the Indians really believe that he will be a major factor in this rotation?
-- Kevin K., Vermilion, Ohio Well, you have to like that he got five ground-ball outs in two innings of his Cactus League debut on Saturday. Pitching coach Carl Willis said Pavano did a good job making his height (6-foot-5) work for him to get good action on his sinking fastball, and he worked his two-seamer on both sides of the plate. That was, of course, one mere outing in a spring exhibition, with a long, long way to go. But Pavano looks strong and healthy, and the Indians feel he's capable of reinventing himself here. Realistically, though, you can't just assume that because Pavano is healthy he'll make a major impact on this rotation. The guy has only pitched 45 2/3 Major League innings (and another 19 innings in the Minors) over the past two years. That opens the door to the distinct possibility that he could tire out by the second half, even if he is effective in the first. Are the cream and block-lettered uniforms back for Sunday and holiday games this season?
-- Kipp H., Stow, Ohio Yes. They are also worn on Opening Day and at Saturday home games. Do the Indians plan on honoring the life of the late Herb Score this season?
-- Kenny K., Elyria, Ohio All the Indians' uniforms will have a patch that honors Score both for his playing and broadcasting days. The exact design will be revealed soon. In your projected batting order, you list Travis Hafner in the third slot and Shin-Soo Choo hitting sixth. Considering Hafner hasn't scared a Major League pitcher since May 2007, why in the world would they hit him third? Choo had a breakout year last season, and at 26 years old, is entering his prime years.
-- Jon S., no location given I'm just working off what the skipper says, Jon. Wedge said his ideal lineup would have Hafner hitting third and Victor Martinez cleanup. We'll see how the situation evolves this spring. If it's my lineup (and well-placed sources tell me it isn't), I'd bat Choo third and Hafner sixth, until we know what to expect from Pronk. Not only does Choo provide some power and production, he can also draw walks. I think he's a nice fit for the three-hole. I keep hearing rumors that the Indians are keeping an eye on Pedro Martinez, yet I also keep hearing we are out of money to spend. I guess they don't have to be mutually exclusive, yet it seems like they can't both be true. What is the scoop?
-- Keith C., Kansas City The Indians are out of money and have been for some time. And finally... Who do you think will be the No. 1 player on the 2009 Indians?
-- Martin K., Cleveland Luis Valbuena wears No. 1. Does that count?
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.