Inbox: Managing expectations for 2011
Indians reporter Castrovince fields fans' queries
The cup containing my milkshake the other day informed me that the particular establishment serving this shake was, in fact, established in 1996.Yes, that 1996. The one that took place just 14 years ago. Having been established myself in 1981, this certainly didn't impress me. In fact, it bothered me. Because any company that incorporates "established in ..." on its logo is inherently attempting to demonstrate its staying power, to boast that it has stood the test of time in a fickle world of false promises and shortsightedness. But 1996? What does that prove? Absolutely nothing. We regulate everything else. Now, it's time to regulate the use of "established." I propose a 50-year waiting period from the time of establishment to the time of bragging about said establishment. And if you totally disagree, then I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that the Indians Inbox was proudly established in 2006. When Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez were traded last year, general manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians were taking a step back and were hoping to contend in 2011 and beyond. Based off everything you've seen this year, do you still think that's realistic? -- Mike F., Fairview Park, Ohio Thanks in large part to injuries, the Indians will enter 2011 with many more question marks than I'm sure Shapiro anticipated when he made that remark. We don't know how center fielder Grady Sizemore and catcher Carlos Santana will respond to their knee surgeries, and that is enough reason to have concerns about the lineup. Then you have to add in the fact that Travis Hafner is still dealing with right shoulder soreness and, at a salary of $13 million next year to be a designated hitter who is often rested against lefties, will continue to hamper the payroll. Question marks abound in left field and at second and third base, where the Indians are currently evaluating Michael Brantley, Jason Donald and Jayson Nix, respectively. Next year's rotation is also very much unsettled. Fausto Carmona went from outcast to All-Star, but I wouldn't classify him as a true No. 1, shutdown starter, by any stretch of the imagination. Mitch Talbot has revealed himself to be a nice option for the back end of the rotation. Justin Masterson has been unpredictable. David Huff was horrendous much of the first half and now has a chance to redeem himself. We've seen encouraging things from Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez early on in their Major League careers, and the Indians hope that continues. I'm not sure I've seen anybody get hit as hard as Carlos Carrasco was last September; we'll see how he fares this September. Alex White looks to be the most promising starting option in the upper levels of the Minor League system, but he'll likely be getting his first taste of Triple-A in April. Double-A right-hander Corey Kluber was an intriguing addition in the Jake Westbrook trade. All this serves to predict that the Indians, who appear doubtful to add much payroll this winter, will go into next year with low expectations similar to this year. But there will be more built-in upside because of the experience these young guys have gained in 2010. Is there any chance the current management takes a page from their 1990s predecessors and signs these young players to long-term contracts? This way, they can develop together like Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, etc. -- Ron L., Middleburg Heights, Ohio That's hardly the only inter-organizational precedent for locking up young players. The Indians did just that with CC Sabathia, Lee and Martinez, and, as you know, all three were traded before those extensions expired. Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta were signed long-term before the '06 season, with Sizemore essentially a non-factor the last two years because of injury and Peralta a non-factor because of performance. Westbrook and Hafner were extended in 2007, then promptly began to get hurt. Carmona was extended in '08 and promptly began walking everybody. The Indians made attempts to sign Shin-Soo Choo long-term before this season, but Choo's new agent, Scott Boras, wanted no part of it. If recent history with these extensions is any indication, maybe both parties were better off. I saw the White Sox called up 2010 Draft pick Chris Sale. I then look at the Indians, and our picks from 2007, '08 and '09 are still in the Minors, Double-A or below. Our 2010 pick, Drew Pomeranz, is not even on a team. What gives? Does the front office have no faith, or are they way too cautious? -- Daniel B., Rochester, N.Y.
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