We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Indians Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Craig Lyndall from Cleveland/Ohio State sports blog WaitingForNextYear.
Pronk is a 50/50 proposition right now in my mind. The Indians organization is floating stories about other players who have had that surgery and they say they expect him to return to productivity. That being said, they could just be acting like a cheerleading squad because they are on the hook for almost $60 million for the next 4 seasons. So, it could be wishful thinking on their part. Also keep in mind there are some fans out there that are willing to also look at the timing of Travis’ decline and use the word “steroids” under their breath. I don’t buy into that personally, but it is out there. Pronk has a lot to prove this season, and it could turn out to be a nice story for fans if he can return to something resembling the guy who used to get MVP votes. But like I said, 50/50 proposition at this point.
I think Cliff Lee will remain that staff ace. Carmona might end up coming back this season and being effective like he was in the past, but it isn’t something you can bet on. Cliff Lee on the other hand looks so consistent in his motion from the beginning to the end of games that you have to think as long as he is healthy he will find his groove again. That isn’t to say he can put up Cy Young numbers again, but if you look at Lee over his career, consistency was always the word for him. 4 out of the last 5 years he has pitched 30+ starts. 3 out of the last 5 years he pitched 200+ innings. Carmona certainly doesn’t have that track record yet. Just to give you a hint of the Cleveland fan’s mindset, I think in our podcast at the end of the season, we briefly discussed whether or not trading Cliff Lee right now made any sense. We were probably half kidding. That means we were also half serious. Confidence isn’t a motto for Cleveland fans.
3) The Indians have a lot of hitters who project to be fair-to-average hitters. Which of this group do you think will most exceed expectations: Kelly Shoppach, V-Mart, Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, or Asdrubal?
Well, in Cleveland, we keep V-Mart in a class above the other players you mentioned. So excluding him, I think the best chance to exceed expectations for me personally is Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera risked looking like a flash in the pan with his early season struggles both on the field and with his weight and conditioning last season. But he turned it around in the second half of the year, presumably taking the temporary demotion to the minors to heart. Now that the sophomore slump is in the books, I am hoping that he can put together his first complete season at the major league level. It is also another year of experience playing almost exclusively at second base, which should help, given that his natural position has always been short. On top of that we always root for Asdrubal because of all the dirty nicknames you can use with him and that first name of his.
4) Will Grady Sizemore stay in the leadoff spot throughout 2009 given that he’s clearly the team’s best hitter? If he moves to the middle of the lineup, how much do you think his SBs will suffer?
I predict Grady will stay the leadoff hitter mostly because of the stubbornness of Indians manager Eric Wedge. I am kind of hoping that his stolen base numbers will “suffer” this season regardless of where he bats. I am hoping that the Indians can get a couple guys in the lineup to produce so they don’t have to spend so much time stealing bases and hitting and running. Mark DeRosa isn’t exactly like adding Mark Texiera, but he is just the kind of guy the Indians need to help solidify their lineup and help push down a few of the more questionable, and inexperienced batters. Grady doesn’t hurt the team batting leadoff, except when you are relying on a young guy like Ben Francisco to hold down the two and three holes. Of course cancel this response completely if at any point this year the Indians have to rely on David Dellucci for “production.”
5) Are you concerned that Kerry-to-Kelly sounds more like 7th grade girls passing notes in class than a fearsome 9th inning pitcher/catcher combination? Or are you just relieved that you don’t have to sit through another year with Wickmen or Joe-Bo?
Well, Kerry to Kelly sounds a heck of a lot better than the Cavs basketball combo of Sasha to Boobie. On second thought Sasha to Boobie is just hot. (Wait, what?) I digress. Tribe fans are happy to bet on a career injury history like Kerry Wood’s if it means a guy who can get a strikeout every now and again. I honestly think it has been since Mike Jackson since the Tribe had a strikeout closer. I think everyone is just hoping that Kerry Wood chooses something other than Staind’s “Pay to Play” as his warmup music, because there will instantly be flashbacks of an injured Joe Borowski straining his neck to watch the line drives fly out of the park. These flashbacks subsequently could give fans more coronaries than the nacho cheese at the ballpark ever could.