Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cleveland Indians fans gives thanks

I've always been a thankful Cleveland Indians fan.  Perhaps the feeling is based in being a fan of this baseball team in the dreadful 1970's.  Not a single Tribe team during between 1970 and 1970 finished above fourth place in A.L. East, and only two teams finished above .500.

It just got worse in the 1980's, with the Indians never finishing above fifth place, with only one team finishing above .500 (the now infamous 1986 Tribe, that led SI to put them on the cover of their 1987 pre-season baseball issue, only to have the Tribe lose over 100 games).  No, it wasn't pretty at all.

Growing up with those sad-sack teams has made it very easy for me to find the silver lining of just about any baseball club that Cleveland can field.  I can't tell you how many times I've said, "Yeah, but he's scrappy," or "Sure he can't throw a strike, but he hits 95 on the gun!"  I've learned to cope in a world in which coping is the only way to remain a fan.  No, the current version of the Indians aren't going to remind anyone of the 1927 Yankees, but there certainly is a lot of good, mixed up with the bad.

Here are ten reasons we all can be thankful for as Cleveland Indians fans.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A First Look at the Cleveland Indians Top Prospects

Carlos Santana Cleveland Indians catcherIt's that time of year when the Major League Basebal top prospect lists start pouring in.  Normally, it's just a part of the normal hot stove season for each major league team.  You know the drill:  sign some free agents, make some trades and reevaluate your minor league system.  For the Indians, that drill should be a much simpler proposition thanks to Paul Dolan's recent revelation to Paul Hoynes of the PD:
“It’s not the right time to spend. No question about that. It’s not the right time to spend in the cycle of this franchise. The spending is deficit spending. When New York and Boston spend, they’re spending from their profits. It’s a riskier proposition for clubs like us to spend. We’re taking a far greater financial risk than whatever it is a large-market club spends on a large free agent. It’s the unfortunate nature of our game.”
While the conversation about Dolan's statement will take the better part of the winter months, and likely the entirety of the 2011 baseball season (you know, the one in which Mark Shapiro believe the Indians would be in contention again...oops), let's instead discuss the first of the baseball prospect ratings that have come out.

On November 17th, Baseball America released their top ten rankings. BA's rankings always tend to veer towards the current drafts and/or trades, and while there is value to their rankings, the definitive rankings tend to come from Tony Lastoria via his prospect book and website, Indians Prospect Insider. To give some perspective, let's take a look at last year's rankings, compared to this year's, both compiled by Baseball America's Ben Badler:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Free at Last, Free at Last, Shin-Soo Choo is Free at Last!

The days of worrying about a 30-month long commitment to the South Korean military ended for Cleveland Indians rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo today as South Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 9-3 to win the Asian Games gold medal.  The South Korean government gives exemptions to any gold medal winner of the Asian Games.

More on this game later, and what the future holds for Choo later today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Choo leads South Koreans to Gold Medal finals

Shin-Soo Choo is one game away from leaving his 30-month military service, as South Korea defeated China 7-1 today in the semi-final game.  Today, the 28-year-old right fielder went 1-for-1, with a solo home run in the seventh inning.  Choo walked three times, scored three runs, and managed to steal a base as well.  Overall, Choo is 6 for 10, with three home runs, two doubles, two stolen bases and five walks.

South Korea gets a rematch with Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) in tomorrow's gold medal game.  Don't expect Choo to get many pitches to hit, as he went 2 for 4, with two homers and four RBI in 6-1 South Korean victory to open the games.

Should South Korea win the game, Choo would be exempt from serving a mandatory 30-month military obligation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shin-Soo Choo dominating Asian Games in his quest for military exemption

Shin-Soo ChooAnd so, the 2010-2011 offseason begins. The New York Yankees will be debating how many millions they will overpay Derek Jeter and Mariano River, while not blinking at the 150 million or so dollars they throw the way of former Indians ace, Cliff Lee. The Boston Red Sox will spend their typical offseason in the midst of their quaint Red Sox Nation, throwing around how many millions they will or won't throw at Adrian Beltre or former Indians catcher Victor Martinez, while debating on whether or not they will dally in the discussion for Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford and/or Prince Fielder.

The Indians? Our offseason will be focused on one player, and one player only: Shin-Soo Choo.

Let's face facts, Tribe fans, as far as players go, Choo has been the main topic of Cleveland Indians discussion for the better part of 2 1/2 years. You could make a case that he's really the only major league player worth talking about with any sort of consistency.  Not only has the Tribe right-fielder been far-and-away the best player to put on an Indians jersey since he's become a regular, but there's also been a rather large question hanging over Choo's head. Will he have to leave by July of 2012 to serve a mandatory two-year military service in his homeland of South Korea?

Let's just say that Choo is doing everything he possibly can to avoid that service.

Choo is currently spending his offseason at the Asian Games in China, trying to earn what could be a reprieve from joining the South Korean army.  Should the South Koreans win the gold medal at the games, the South Korean government would give every member of the team an automatic exemption.  Choo is taking this possible reprieve extremely seriously.

On Saturday, in the opening game for Korea, they faced off against the defending Asian Games gold medalists, Chinese Tapei, and promptly blew them out of the water, 6-1.  The clear star of the game was Choo, who went two for four, with two homers and four RBI.  Choo didn't stop there.

In game two on Sunday, he went one for three, with a double, a walk and two RBI in a 15-0 shellacking of Chinese Hong Kong, in a game that was stopped in the fifth inning, thanks to the long lost little league ten run rule.

Finally, yesterday, Choo went two for two with a walk and a double, scored three runs, and drove in two.  He added a stolen base, as the Koreans blitzed Pakistan 15-0.  You guessed it, the Pakistanis were ten-runned in this one as well, as Choo was taken out after the fourth inning, apparently out of breath from all the work around the bases.

Overall, Choo is batting .556, with two homers, two doubles, two walks and a stolen base.  I would guess you could call that motivation.

The South Koreans will face off in the semi-finals tomorrow against the host country, China.  It should be a win, but the game could get interesting.  You never really know what to expect when you're playing the hosts, who are 2-1, with two dominating wins.  Their only loss came to gold medal favorites, Japan, 3-0.  Japan is playing in the other semi-final, against Chinese Taipei.

Choo is two games away from closing the door on one of the most hotly discussed topics over the years within the Indians community.  Of course, if they do win gold, then what will we have to talk about?

Oh yeah, Choo signed with agent Scott Boras, so then we'll get to start worrying about how to sign him.  One step at a time folks, one step at a time...