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.

1) What the Pronk is up with Hafner?  Do you think Dr. Freeze‘s shoulder cleanup will have a big effect or is Hafner’s performance or is he just a massively noggined flash-in-the-pan?

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.

2) Who do you think will be the ace of the Indians staff by the end of 2009 – Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona, or a wildcard candidate?

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.

  1. sean says:

    Cleveland is one of those teams that I’m looking out for this year. I don’t think they have the arms to challenge for the pennant, but I do think that they can make some noise in a pretty weak AL Central.

  2. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:

    Nice article… Don’t mean to be a downer, but seriously Cleveland… your mascot is totally racist.

  3. @IowaCubs: I disagree. I’ve found Native Americans are very accepting of all races.

  4. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Rudy Gamble: Good job over all, but 50/50 on Pronk? 50/50? Why didn’t you just answer that one “Pass.”

    I will say, when he connects, he drives it out like he’s angry. Like the ball should land in the bleachers, then retire. Only he and Dunn (and occasionally A-Ram) hit those dingers where the ball exits the park like someone getting ejected from a bar.

    But when he’s off, it’s hard to remember he could ever hit a ball, ever. (Same is true of V-Mart. In a related story, the Indians probably need a new hitting coach*.)

    We think he’s young ’cause he bloomed late but he’s actually an old 31, about to turn a wonky-shouldered 32. With homers down around baseball I think .260-25-90 is the best you can hope for, if he stays healthy. Draft accordingly.

    *In another related story, when did the Wahoos get so bad? I had no Indians last year so didn’t pay attention, then one day looked up to see Ben Francisco hitting third. Wasn’t this team a hair away from the Series two years ago and the bane of AL pitchers everywhere? Now Lady Grady is their best hitter!??!?

  5. @Baron Von Vulturewins: I didn’t say 50/50 – that’s the WaitingforNextYear perspective. Since he’s only DH-eligible, I’d definitely pass. MAYBE a flier towards the very end of the draft. As for old 32, yeah….he seems like a Latin 32…

  6. peter says:

    Pass (unless, sure, it’s the end of the draft). This is a DH who has had more than 486 AB *once* in his career. Over 30 HR? Twice. And not since 2006. Can anyone tell the difference between Pronk 2006-present and Frank Thomas 2006-present?

  7. Grey

    Grey says:

    Pronk is dead to me.

  8. sean says:

    Anyone hear that Sheets is undergoing elbow surgery with Dr. Freeze? First time I heard it was in the hour…

  9. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: Yup. Saves everyone drafting him. Reminds me… I have to update the top 40 starters post.

  10. sean says:

    @grey: is he a guy to keep an eye one for a season like Lackey or Harden coming off the DL?

  11. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: You don’t have enough headaches trying to make mortgage payments and your lady telling you you forgot her 30th birthday? Wait, maybe that’s me… Um, maybe. Let’s hear how the surgery goes first.

  12. Eric W says:

    @sean: Birmingham Alabama must be the best place to hang out if want some autographs

  13. @Baron Von Vulturewins: When did the Tribe get so bad? Well being from OHIO and a LIFE LONG cleveland fan, they got so bad when the whole team decided to get hurt! CC pitched like a terd the whole first half, then magically gets traited and realizes “hey I KNOW HOW TO PITCH!!!” as he goes on to have the best second half in baseball. Carmona, hurt, pronk hurt, vmart hurt…. Throwing Triple A guys in the central doesn’t work. Then Cliff Lee pitches like an ace and earns a cy young, thanks cliff where were ya in 2007? You know when we needed to win 1 of 3 games vs the Red Sox? You know when we had a chance????

    Wow i’m feeling violent right now? damn tribe so disappointing sometimes.

    It’s tough being a cleveland fan, tribe, browns, and cavs, wow… We can only pray LBJ wins a title this year and THAT is enough to keep him in cleveland, otherwise, ughhhh back to the drawing board….

    I believe the tribe can compete in 2009, but win it all? Pitching is too sketchy, They need miracles from 2-3 pitchers that are unknown rightnow…. thats not odds i’d take in vegas.

  14. and yes i said “traited” as in traitor/traded….. i guess dealing CC was better than just straight up losing him, let just hope Mr. LaPorta is the real deal and we see him this year, EARLY.

  15. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Tony Y: It’s all coming back to me now. I seem to remember that Unfrozen Indians Fan was a popular recurring character last season; i.e. the guy who wakes up and is like “Cliff Lee is pitching like Cy Young? We must be ten games in first! Wait? Whaa!!??”

  16. Tony says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: they made a great run second half, only ended being out by 7 games i think? it was just too little too late. I just wish they could pay someone, but they never will. They need all the pieces to stay healthy and come together at the exact same time (while contracts are still low) because once guys can hit FA and are worth two cents they leave….. If CC throws his second half in cleveland the way he did in MIL and Cliff pitches like he did? Tribe is in the postseason, its such a coin flip how things work out….

  17. Tommy says:

    I agree with most of the comments made but I have a marginal disagreement with the hitting expectations. I agree VMart is in another class separate from the pack. However, I would have thought the brightess hitting upstart on the Cleveland roster would be Chin Soo Hoo. I say that because he has an exellent minor league track record and his limited appearence at the end of last season was stellar…he is young…he had an injury lapse with TM surgery…but he looks like a hitter that could rake 20HRS and bat above .280…he could be the replacement of the mystery man T Hafner who might never show his bat again. By the way great site…love the playful but witty commentary!

  18. @Tommy: Hey Tommy. Congrats on popping your Razzball comment cherry! I’m not sold on CSH. His HR/FB ratio was higher than he had in the minors so I think he’ll see a drop in HRs to 15 if he played full season. So maybe he’s Ben Francisco 2008 which was just ok….we’ll do our best to keep up the witty commentary…

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