Out With The Crowd: "Who wants to come to Cleveland?"
Ed DeSantis is a lifelong Tribe fan who, like many Indians fans I've met, starts each season full of hope. Is 2013 the year Cleveland makes it happen? One word: Detroit. DeSantis and I talked about the AL Central, pitching choices, and whether Francona should listen to the fans. We spoke last week.
Sarah D. Bunting: Who's your favorite new acquisition for 2013?
Ed DeSantis: Nick Swisher. He's incredibly energetic, adds a ton of experience to the team, and should have been named the captain. He'll be their spark plug. Whether he has all-star stats or not, that's secondary. They guys will want to play hard for him, just as much as they will for Terry Francona.
And who's your least favorite new Indian?
I can't say that I have one. The new acquisitions are complete upgrades to the team. I'm a little leery about Drew Stubbs in our outfield, but I think he's got great potential. His average leaves a lot to be desired, but he's got a good enough eye at the plate to get on base and steal a ton of bases. And his defense brings our new outfield together. Might be the best defense in all of baseball this year.
You had a bunch of departures in the offseason as well. Anyone you were happy to see the backside of?
To give you the short answer to this, it would have to be Grady Sizemore. Before he got hurt, he was great…don't get me wrong. Deserved every penny of that contract he was given. But as soon as that ink was dry on his contract, he blew out his knee…then his back…then his other knee…I think he had, maybe, 50 at-bats in the last couple of years. (An exaggeration, I'm sure. But it wasn't that many.)
I'm not sure that is an exaggeration, actually. A friend of mine called him "Spun Glassmore."
Ha! He was a great player for us, when he was healthy. My dad and I actually paid just to see him! But he ate up such a large chunk of our small-market budget that we couldn't sign anyone. We were stuck with the other cast-offs because of it.
On the flipside, are you going to miss anyone in 2013?
[Shin-Soo] Choo. He was a great player for us. The best on our team on an overall level, and had a cannon. But he's in the NL now, and it might not come back to hurt us.
I was also sorry to see Manny Acta go. He's a great baseball man. However, Francona is an upgrade. As are the players we got in return for Choo.
What's your biggest worry for the team in 2013? Defense? Middle relief? The Tigers?
Starting rotation. We have a team full of 3-5 starters. [Justin] Masterson is a solid 3 starter, but he hasn't proven anything. [Ubaldo] Jiménez…he'd rather throw 10 mediocre pitches than 3-4 great ones.
Our bullpen, I'd take against anyone's. And I really think we have the best overall defense in baseball. With the exception of maybe at catcher. But [Carlos] Santana is improving, and [Lou] Marson can play a great defensive catcher.
Where do you see Cleveland finishing in the standings?
I think we have a shot at winning the division. But I'll reserve saying that until I see how they play together. But the Tigers will probably catch fire with that offense, and win it. We'll probably be 5-6 games behind, and finish second. Maybe we can get one of those play-in spots. Second in the division is probable. Or a close third behind the White Sox.
Any surprises during spring training? (Pleasant or otherwise.)
The fact that Scott Kazmir made the starting rotation. Yes, we needed a lefty. But he's been in the bullpen the last few seasons, so I'm a bit concerned. With that being said, if he can come close to what his potential was when [he was] with TB, then so be it. Also, the fact that they cut Matt Capps. Yes, they re-signed him. But I thought for sure that he would make this club. He was one of the top closers in baseball 2-3 years ago.
Didn't they just give Kazmir the slot, like, Tuesday?
Yeah. We had a bit of "battle" for the 4-5 spots. We've got a couple of decent guys in our system. Guys that we traded All-Stars and Cy Young winners for, that have either been hurt or busts. But I think it came across my ESPN app early in the week that it was him.
It's funny to me that that's the story on him now, whereas five years ago…but I guess the vengeful ghost of Dontrelle Willis haunts every team somehow, right?
Ha, very true. Except Dontrelle Willis fell off of a cliff that nooooobody saw coming, and forgot how to make his pitches break. Kazmir got hurt, and was just never the same.
Don't forget the anxiety disorder.
We had a guy a few years a go, his name escapes me now. But he was in our system, could throw through a brick wall. He got a blister on his finger that needed surgery, and couldn't throw a curve after that. Kid was 21-22, out of baseball.
Zack Greinke had anxiety when he was with KC. They sent him back down for a couple of months, and look how that turned out. Roberto Don't-Call-Me-Fausto Hernandez also had an anxiety disorder in '06. We sent him down, and look at his '07 stats.
I'm a bit surprised [Greinke] consented to go to L.A. Not exactly a small market. But your point is taken. I had Fausto in my postseason pool that year. Looked like a genius.
I think that contract could help get rid of anxiety. Or could buy him a lot of meds to help with it.
A remote estate, sure. Heh.
I was also sad to see [Hernandez] go. But since they didn't know what to call him, I guess they just couldn't offer him anything.
Heh. So if you could tell Francona one thing, what would it be?
If you win us a title, our fans will canonize you. But do not listen to us, most of us think baseball started when our football team moved. …That was a joke. But that first sentence is the one thing I'd say to him.
(Four hundred fifty-five sell-outs in a row. All of which while we had a decent baseball team, and no football…might as well not have had a basketball team, either.
Last question: Anything else on your nerves baseball-wise? Could be your team, other players, Selig…mine is the "Jeter won't be ready for Opening Day; let's act like he's dying" narrative here in NYC.
LOL. If we don't start to win, or these big-time signings don't pan out, then we're screwed. Because we've never brought big-time free agents (players, or coaches) to Cleveland. [Larry Dolan, the owner] might not want to shell out the money, and/or we won't be able to attract top-flight talent again.
In all reality, who wants to come to Cleveland? You've got to really pay someone to come here, and when they get here they realize how great of a place it is. But by then, they're too old to contribute to our teams. So we need to be contenders every year, in order to do bring them in.
To talk/commiserate more with Ed, holler at him on Twitter at @edwardjdesantis.
Tags: "Fausto" "Carmona" Carlos Santana Cleveland Indians Derek Jeter Detroit Tigers Dontrelle Willis Drew Stubbs Ed DeSantis Grady Sizemore Justin Masterson Larry Dolan Lou Marson Manny Acta Matt Capps Nick Swisher Out With The Crowd Roberto Hernandez Scott Kazmir Shin-Soo Choo Terry Francona Ubaldo Jimenez Zack Greinke