In which I take letters written to and printed by Paul Hoynes in the Plain Dealer and attempts to give them better answers. I don't try very hard, because that would be cheating. Is this getting old yet?
Hey, Jaysie: What is Mike Hargrove doing, and is he still living in the Cleveland area? -- Theodore Whitten, Clearwater, Fla.
Hey, Theodore: I have no idea. I think I recall something about his still living in the Cleveland area, and I know he was a coach in the Indians' fantasy camp last month because the son of a guy who went to the camp told me. I guess this is the kind of question "real reporters" are good at answering.
Hey, Jaysie: The Indians drew over 2 million fans last season and there is no reason they shouldn't be able have a payroll close to $80 million. So, tell me now, when is some enterprising general manager going to realize that former Reds and Diamondbacks behemoth Adam Dunn is poised to be the steal of the off-season? -- Keith Stone, Garfield Heights
Hey, Keith: The Indians already have a payroll close to $80 million. Dunn would have taken it close to $90 million. I don't really know what the Indians' payroll "should be" — a topic both Hoynes and I probably should explore more deeply — but I basically take Paul Dolan at his word when he says they just try to break even and not get into deficit spending. I agree that Dunn would have made a nice addition to the batting order, but with so many teams not showing any interest, I wonder just how many runs the professional evaluators have decided he gives back in the field.
Hey, Jaysie: When Gary Sheffield charged the mound in September, could Fausto Carmona, or any other Indian who may have had the ball, have tagged him out before the scuffle started? -- Patrick Smullen, Mentor
Hey, Patrick: Yeah, although the umps never seem to call that. I think actually he was out as soon as he left the path between the bases, unless the ump had already called time-out, which is unlikely.
Hey, Jaysie: I look at the money the Indians will be spending in 2009 and I see this: They spent a lot of money on Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, Jamey Carroll and Carl Pavano; roughly $19 million. That, coupled with the bad contracts of David Dellucci and, I daresay, Masa Kobayashi, and I can only think that they could have filled every one of those positions with an internal player and kept Cy Young winner Carsten Charles Sabathia. -- Joe Cepec, Columbus
Hey, Joe: There is so much wrong with your question that I hardly know where to start, but I'm going to stick to the two main problems. The first is that money was obviously a top priority for Sabathia, and the Yankees obviously were determined to sign him at any cost; they outbid every other team by $50 million, and there is no particular reason to think they wouldn't have gone even higher if necessary. The second and more serious problem is that your mind has become completely warped. I don't mean this as an insult — I know it seems like I do, but I don't. All I mean is that your question (which is not even actually a question) suggests that you have re-arranged all of your thinking about the Indians to revolve around keeping Sabathia. Dude, I would love for us to have kept Sabathia, but that is not the main goal of the team. The main goal of the team is to win. If you start thinking about how the Indians (specifically) can have the 25-man roster most likely to win the most games, then you will quickly realize that keeping Sabathia at any cost was very clearly not the best way to do it.
Hey, Jaysie: Where do you see free agent Manny Ramirez landing in the midst of this economic situation? -- Jonathan Gudaitis, Euclid
Hey, Jonathan: I see Ramirez playing for the team that offers the most money. I'm not aware that any team but the Dodgers has offered more than $25 million even for multiple years.
Hey, Jaysie: Why don't the Indians try Shin-Soo Choo batting leadoff? -- Chris Zanon, New Philadelphia
Hey, Chris: Maybe they will, who knows? I think the Indians believe in defining roles for players and then letting them stick there, as much as possible. They like Jhonny at shortstop and Grady at leadoff, even though they probably believe that eventually Jhonny will play third base and Grady will bat third. What I think they don't want to do is to move either of those guys temporarily, because once they make those moves, they want for the players to be able to make the mental adjustment that from that moment on, he is now playing third or batting third. That means, specifically, they don't want to move Jhonny until they're rather sure Asdrubal will stick in the lineup full-time, and they won't move Grady out of the leadoff spot until they're rather sure some guy who profiles as a good leadoff hitter will stick in the lineup full-time. Maybe that guy will be Choo, but they probably would like to see another really good three months out of Choo before they consider that kind of move seriously. I imagine they also want to see a little more of how he looks against lefties.
Hey, Jaysie: Manager Eric Wedge has been consistent in defining roles for the bullpen. Why is he so inconsistent with the position players: different lineups and positions for players? It must be difficult on the players, never knowing what to expect. -- Rachel Mullins, Cleveland
Hey, Rachel: I don't think Wedge is that inconsistent with position players. He made a point of making sure Francisco and Gutierrez got time to work on playing both left and right, and he got good, long looks at Carroll at second and third — as I said above, the Indians like giving each player a well-defined role, but for certain players, being versatile is a big part of that role. On the other hand, last season, Wedge avoided playing Blake anywhere but third base more or less like the plague, despite the fact that Blake was an excellent outfielder and a fairly bad third baseman. I don't think Wedge tinkers with the lineup too much except (a) when the offense has been a prolonged disaster, when it apparently couldn't hurt, or (b) when there's a lot of roster turmoil, so he has no choice. We had great, heaping helpings of both (a) and (b) last season. I think if the offense is performing decently, you won't see too much lineup craziness.
Hey, Jaysie: In reading your article about the Indians' infield in The Plain Dealer recently, I didn't realize Jhonny Peralta's on-base percentage was so poor. Has he been working with anyone this off-season to improve his hitting and fielding? -- Bob Richards, Cleveland
Hey, Bob: His OBP isn't poor. It was a little down last year, but the league average OBP last year was .340 (park-adjusted) and Peralta had a .331. That isn't great, but it's probably right about average for a shortstop if not a little above. Over his career, Peralta has a league-average OBP (park-adjusted), solidly above-average for a shortstop. By the way, he hits a lot more home runs than other shortstops, but God forbid you should ever appreciate a guy for what he does, rather than pick away at what he doesn't do.
Hey, Jaysie: How many options does Adam Miller have left? -- David Bruno, Chagrin Falls
Hey, David: Two.