One of the big stories this spring will be Francisco Lindor, and whether he'll make the big league club right out of Spring Training. But based on what Terry Francona said earlier this winter, that isn't going to happen.
That quote tells us a couple things: the obvious, which is that Lindor will start the season in AAA, and the subtle, which is that Jose Ramirez is not going to be traded, at least this winter. Ramirez, who is still a young man himself, was impressive in his first extended big-league stint in 2014. He showed he can play shortstop, and was a contributor at the plate. The Indians traded Asdrubal Cabrera in late July, and if anything, the Tribe had better production at the position the rest of the season. Despite playing regularly only after Cabrera was traded, Ramirez put up a 1.8 WAR in 2014. His emergence should allow the Indians to be as patient with Lindor as they want to.
Hoynse is in fine form answering fan questions. I particularly liked this response:
Hey, Hoynsie: That everyone seems to be content with the way the Tribe played last year is disturbing to me. We used to love driving the 2 1/2 hours from our home to watch games at least three or four times a year. But watching an underachieving Class AA team is not appealing anymore. Management really needs to step up and get a team on the field that fans want to give up their time and money to watch. – Mark Lashley, Cambridge.
Hey, Mark: I don't think the Indians or their fans are content with how last year went, but they probably have different standards than you. After all, when was the last time a Class AA pitcher won the Cy Young award?
I've come to the conclusion that the Indians have a different set of standards than any other team in Cleveland. I don't know why, but it exists, and the club is going to have to figure out to overcome that if they want near-sellouts for most games. Maybe the renovations will draw some fans, but I think it will take at least one season in which they dominate the division from the beginning of the season to finally shift the above perception.
The stalemate between Dan Haren and the Marlins continues. I think he eventually gets dealt to a West Coast team.
AJ Cassavell makes the case for Mike Mussina. This upcoming ballot (the results of which will be released this Tuesday) may see a lot of borderline candidates such as Mussina get little attention because of how many legitimate candidates are on it. The best hope for these guys is to hope they stick around on the ballot (Mussina should be fine, others like Gary Sheffield and Larry Walker may not be) and wait out the next couple years.
The Cobb County government (though a quasi-goverment organization akin to Gateway) is borrowing $400M to pay for the new Braves stadium without any approval from the voters. I'm not a lawyer, so I have no idea as to whether that's legal or illegal under the Georgia constitution, but politically that doesn't seem very smart.