Inbox: What will bullpen look like in '10?
MLB.com's Castrovince answers your Tribe questions
Major Leaguers have many decisions made for them. When they look at the calendar, they see the schedule-makers have laid out their travel itinerary. When they come to work, their predetermined attire is hanging in their locker. And when they finish a game, the clubhouse cook has already selected and prepared their dinner.So it is with New Year's resolutions, which I have taken the liberty of providing for a handful of members of the Tribe: Jake Westbrook: You're penciled in for Opening Day. Put it in ink. Fausto Carmona: Leave the Goodyear (Ariz.) player-development complex at the end of Spring Training. Do not return midseason. Travis Hafner: Four games played in a row would be nice, Pronk. And if you return to the old days of driving in 100 runs, you can keep the WWE championship belt. Jhonny Peralta: Now that you know you're on the hot corner, avoid another cold start. Shin-Soo Choo: Make them say, "Chooooo!" Lou Marson: Make them say, "Louuuuu!" Manny Acta: By all means, keep sporting that fedora. But make winning seem like old hat. And my personal resolution is to continue to use this space to answer your Tribe-related queries. So let's get to it in this first Inbox of 2010. What's in store for the bullpen depth chart? Does David Huff figure into the 'pen at all?
-- John N., Cleveland If I had to guess the Opening Day composition of the bullpen, I'd say it includes Kerry Wood as the closer, Chris Perez as the primary setup man and Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Jason Grilli (currently a non-roster invitee) and Jensen Lewis in there in some capacity. But it's Jan. 4. By April 4, we'll know more about Rule 5 pickup Hector Ambriz, non-roster invitee Saul Rivera and trade pickup Mitch Talbot (who will initially compete for a starting spot but could factor into the 'pen). We'll also know whether the Indians view Jeremy Sowers as a bullpen possibility if he doesn't crack the rotation. Keep in mind that the Indians have Minor League options remaining on Jess Todd, Lewis, Sipp and Smith. Of that group, I'd say Smith and Sipp are, at present, the safest to remain in the bigs, while Todd and Lewis are more likely to get optioned out, should it come to that. And to answer your second question, Huff does not figure into the bullpen. He'll compete for a rotation spot, and, if he doesn't land one, he'll begin the year in the Triple-A Columbus rotation.
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-- John F., no location given I wouldn't initiate the Sizemore swap watch just yet, John. While Grady's trade value is inherently high, it is not quite as high as it might usually be, as he's coming off an injury-plagued '09 in which his numbers took a hit. Furthermore, the Tribe has him locked up through 2012, so the incentive to deal him and his affordable contract (he'll make $5.6 million this year and $7.5 million in 2011, with a club option in '12 worth as much as $10.5 million) just isn't there at present. But beginning next year, multiple factors -- most notably Sizemore's performance, the team's performance and the development of Michael Brantley -- will coalesce to force the Tribe to determine whether Sizemore is available to other clubs. And by midseason 2012, at the absolute latest, the Indians will have to decide if they want to take advantage of Sizemore's trade value, because, as I've written several times before, it's difficult to imagine him signing his next multiyear deal here.
Any chance the Indians could make a run at someone coming off injury but with a huge upside like Ben Sheets? Sheets would be a nice addition, assuming he can show his velocity is back. I know our payroll is extremely limited, but our pitching staff needs a lot of help.
-- Reid, Norwalk, Ohio
-- Kevin F., Wadsworth, Ohio Well, yeah. When you owe a guy $11 million over the next two seasons and he's coming off a two-year span in which he walked more guys (140) than he struck out (137) while posting a 5.89 ERA in the process, you tend to be open-minded about trade possibilities. But the Indians simply wouldn't get a worthwhile return for Carmona at this juncture. They're better off continuing to try to fix him and turn him back into a top-of-the-rotation arm. How do you think Acta will cooperate with general manager Mark Shapiro? Do you think there could be some potential clashing if Acta doesn't appreciate as much input from Shapiro and the front office as there is likely to be?
-- Chris P., Peoria, Ariz. I don't think Shapiro and company would have selected Acta if they didn't think they could work with him the way they worked with Eric Wedge. That's why it was so surprising -- to me, anyway -- that Bobby Valentine was a finalist for this job. Perhaps it's an unfair assertion on my part, but it seemed difficult to imagine Valentine going along with that kind of input. Anyway, it's already obvious that the front office had a strong voice in the selection of Acta's coaching staff, as the pitching-coach spot -- arguably the most important position on the staff, given the team's direction -- was filled in-house by Tim Belcher, as were the hitting-coach (Jon Nunnally) and bullpen-coach (Scott Radinsky) posts. Acta, for the record, has seen this happen before, as his second coaching staff in Washington (the first was all but dissolved after his first two seasons at the helm) was created with a great deal of influence from the front office. For now, Acta appears to be in "happy to be here" mode, and that tends to lead to agreeability. Both sides have a lot riding on the success of this relationship and, of course, the end results on the field. When talking about the Cliff Lee trade to Philly and then Philly to Seattle, one thing that gets overlooked in the discussion always seems to be that we also dealt Ben Francisco. So, we didn't get four prospects for Lee. We got four prospects for Lee and Francisco.
-- Keith K., Westlake, Ohio True. Francisco was viewed as a "throw-in" at the time of the trade, though the Phillies had him in their starting lineup in two World Series games. He has value as a fourth outfielder, particularly in the National League. The Indians' outfield depth made Francisco expendable. In the grand scheme of things, the trade will be remembered as the one that shipped Lee to Philly for four prospects. And even without the inclusion of Francisco in that sentence, it's too early to tell if the Indians got enough in the deal. The early returns obviously leave a bit to be desired. Are the Indians planning on doing the annual media tour in January? Usually there has been some information out before Christmas on this great PR event that the Indians do, but I have yet to see anything on it.
-- Josh C., Holmesville, Ohio The tour will take place over a three-day span -- Jan. 26-28 -- and will include stops in Akron, Youngstown, Ashtabula, Toledo, Sandusky, Mansfield, Columbus, Lima, Wooster, Elyria and Erie (Pa.). Full details will be announced soon.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.