The Only Thing Constant is Change

   Its funny how fickle we can sometimes be as sports fans.  Consider that every year at the trading deadline we sit and hope for a big blockbuster trade that will put our team over the top.  Of course we only want to trade away bench players and marginal minor leaguers in exchange for low-priced superstars.  Ultimately it comes down to changing the roster.  Giving something up in order to gain something else.  We never seem to have a problem with this type of change,(unless of course its Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon but, I’m not here to dredge up the past) its the changing of the roster in the offseason that seems to cause us so much more distress.

   Players come and go.  That’s the way baseball has always been.  Even before free agency players were dealt like we used to trade bubblegum cards with our friends.  Anyone remember Boston trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees?  The great Cy Young pitched for 5 different teams before World War I and my broadcast partner Mike Hegan was traded 4 times during his playing career in exchange for cash!

   That doesn’t make change any easier for some of us.  Watching players like Scott Elarton, Bobby Howry and Kevin Millwood leave is a bitter pill to swallow.  Its like feeling betrayed, either by the team or the player, and we are always in the middle of the feud.  In Millwood’s case I knew there was very little chance of him returning.  GM Mark Shapiro knew when he signed him last January that if Kevin was healthy and had a good year the Indians probably wouldn’t be able to afford him but, it was well worth the risk at the time.  I wish Kevin all the best and I am truly happy for him and his family.  That still wont make it any easier when he’s not there in Winter Haven, Florida in February.

   Of course when one player exits another enters.  Paul Byrd will be a welcome addition to the pitching staff in ’06 and Jason Johnson also gives the rotation a solid veteran presence.  The Indians did not replace Millwood through free agency but, I believe there is a very good chance someone from within will step forward to fill the void.  Perhaps C.C. Sabathia will now truly become the ace of the Tribe’s pitching staff.  Maybe 18-game winner Cliff Lee or Jake Westbrook with 29 wins the past two seasons, will become the leader of the staff.  Kevin Millwood’s influence on the Tribe’s pitching staff will be felt in the years to come.  Sabathia, Lee, Westbrook and the rest watched very closely how Millwood handled every obstacle with professionalism and they marveled at how he was able to persevere through low-run support to win the ERA title.

   Sometimes changes come full circle like in the cases of Danny Graves, Steve Karsay, Einar Diaz and Tim Laker.  All four former Indians players are back after pursuing opportunities elsewhere the past few years.  Graves believes he can bounce back from a disastrous ’05 season that saw him dumped by Cincinnati after the Indians scored 6 times in the 9th inning against him on May 22.  Karsay just wants a chance to show people that he can still pitch after coming back from another arm injury.  When I spoke to him near the end of last season he said all he needed was an opportunity and now the Indians have given him one.

   Einar Diaz and Tim Laker will come to camp and try to compete with Josh Bard for the back-up job.  Diaz was the part-time catcher for St. Louis last year and Laker spent the season in the minors with Tampa Bay.  Diaz probably has the best overall ability of the trio but, his bat is nowhere near what it was when he first joined the team in the late 90’s.  The good news is that all Eric Wedge is looking for is someone who can give Victor Martinez a few days off here and there.

   Speaking of change, a number of you have been asking about the Tribe’s new TV deal.  It was officially announced after Christmas and appears to a brave new venture for the Cleveland Indians.  The good news for fans is that Tribe baseball will be even more available than ever before.  More details will be forthcoming about this new partnership between the Indians, WKYC TV3 and Time Warner Cable.

7 Comments

I am writing in response to the current article “The only thing constant is change”. I want to point out that I respect the opinion of Mr. Underwood and I am not writing this to make any unjust remarks, but he should restate the facts of the Millwood situation according to the article “When the fur starts to fly”. He stated in that article that it was not the money that kept the Millwood deal from being done, but it was that the contract was uninsured after three years. However in the current article he states that if Millwood were to have a healthy and productive year in 05′, the indians would knowingly not be able to sign him the following year due to not being able to afford him. And we fans are fickle?

I am disgusted by the contender attitude that ownership continues to employ. We had all the pieces in place, and ownership had a dispute about two years on a contract! Hence the Clemens situation all over again. I am starting to question the owners mentality to put a championship team out on the field. Why are teams like the White Sox able to keep their star players for less than the market value or just keep them happy to stay in the same venue? What is the Cleveland organization doing wrong? We like to boast about our farm system, but we still offer players like Juan G. a contract to which the front office likes to call a bargin, yeah nice bargin at 600k for one at bat. Why not see what the farm has to offer. Why are we trying to make a deal to trade Coco and break that continuity at the top of the order? I think maybe I have the answer to my own questions. Ownership is trying to make the money back that they overpaid to buy the team. I believe it is their intentions to keep the fans interested all the way to the end of September, to only be disappointed not to see them in the October showdown.

I don’t like being negative, and am normally not, but as a long time Cleveland fan, I’m tired of the contender attitude, it’s time for a championship. The fans have proven they will support a winner (455 the fans) the fans and the players deserve a championship……..

Go Tribe

A couple of years ago when the Indians went from free TV to all FSN, they got kind of arrogant (as did Triv) about people without cable.

Since then, I’ve done better than cable, I’ve gotten DirecTV. But the Indians TV deal is with Time Warner (which I don’t think I have access to in Strongsville) and according to the PD they hope (but don’t seem to care) if deals can be worked out with other cable/satellite providers before the season starts. So that means worst case 20 games on Channel 3 and some odd regional games Saturdays on Fox? Don’t think you’d ever see that with the Cubs/Chisox on WGN or Boston or the Yankees or the Dodgers. Travel to one of those cities when their teams are playing and you can catch them on any limited hotel cable TV system whenever they play. And you can watch the Braves on WTBS all the time anywhere. How about the INDIANS getting their new channel marketed to all the providers rather than Time-Warner which has no incentive to do so.

Cleveland fans must realize you must enjoy baseball because it is baseball and almost anything can happen. The only thing constant is the Indians not winning it ALL. I’m a LONG TIME TRIBE FAN, and it was nice to see how the other half lives when the team was owned by the JACOB Bros. That was an owner that understood you NEED TO SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY. The current ownership is just like a fan owning the team, (a rich fan) and he bought the team for prestige, because it would be a NEAT THING TO HAVE, and he paid top dollar because a business man (Jacobs; still a FAN) had bought low and sold high. Just get use to it, Cleveland fans will always be bridesmaids and never the bride. Unless the team ownership/management can catch lightning in a bottle because they certainly are not going to pay. GO TRIBE!

I currently live in Portland, Oregon. I grew up in Tallmadge and pitched for the Blue Devils and the University of Akron Zips in the mid 70’s until a torn rotator cuff ended the dream. I am still a diehard Browns, Buckeyes, and Tribe fan. Will the new TV deal help us get any access on the west coast? In ’05 our only option was to pay a gazillion dollars for every MLB game on satellite, or watch the teeny, tiny little screen on MLB.com. Not that I’m not grateful; any access at all is a heckuva a lot better than nothing. You would be surprised how many Tribe fans are scattered around out here. Last year I made it to a game at SBC Park against the Giants, and Chief Wahoo was all over the place. Anything management can do to make individual Indians games available for out-of-market fans on an individual (i.e. affordable) basis would be GREATLY appreciated.

Ed Franks

Tallmadge class of ’73

Zips Baseball ’74 & ’75

GO TRIBE!!!!

I agree with the above comments that the Indians offseason has been disappointing. How do you pass up a trade for Barry Zito? I like Coco Crisp, but if he can be traded to improve the team, do it. A second batter should bunt more, anyway.

And Matt, if the only thing constant is change– do you think you could change the blog a little more often? Its been two and a half weeks!

If the tribe owners really really really wanted to have a great shot of winning it all in 2006, they would have done whatever was necessary (including hanging on to the likes of Millwood and Howry) to make it happen. I’m not a Stienbrenner fan by any means, but if he had Cleveland’s 2005 team, he would have done what he needed to to keep that team together AND picked up the remaining piece or 2 to get it into October. Not rocket science. You just gotta’ have the burning desire to “win it all” more than you have the desire to “hit a homerun” financially…and the tribe’s owners just don’t have that fire inside…

I think I like the trade from what I have read. Of course it is important to realize that we have very little of the information available to Mark Shapiro, Eric Wedge and co. There were not in a positon of having to do this deal. So why? Some of the scouting stuff I seen say that Marte’s low end would leave him only being as effective as Matt Williams, who was always welcome playing my hot corner. His high end could be like some guy from Philly who’s name I can’t remember off hand. Smith or something…. The rest of the pieces seem to be quality players with significant upside potential. Certainly I like Coco Crisp and we will miss him, but the team could be much better in a couple of years.
I for one am not about to question the moves of Mark Shapiro who has given us a very exciting team in a very short time. I would rather have the 2006 Indians any day than any of the 95-00 teams…..chemistry is better, offense is as productive, and the pitching is WAY better, WAY younger and WAY deeper. Those of you who remember Pete Franklin will agree on the importance of that.

Remember no one wanted to play us in the playoffs last year…no one period.

As always the time will tell us if these trades make sense, so all of us our basically talking out our hats.

Reality is I was totally excited about my teams chances 3 days before the end of the season. I didn’t expect that for a few years. Give these guys a break they have given us a great young team that should be entertaining for quite a while.

So I suppose all you whiners still want Bartolo back?

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