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2.21.2009

More thoughts on Marte; The Passion of the Victor

Nino Colla | Saturday, February 21, 2009 | | | | | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips
You know I want to talk about this Andy Marte move a little bit more and sort of amend my opinion.

I've been thinking and listening to other opinions and I've come to the conclusion that there has to be more to this deal than what's on surface.

In one way or another... Look here.

This is awfully strange timing... The Indians said that if they were to add someone, Marte would be the first one off the roster, but this is after the fact, so if there is any truth to that, only Mark Shapiro and crew know.

They let him go to pick up a 30 year old bullpen arm. Which I'm sure they like, but if they really like Adam Miller and they don't want to get rid of Edwin Mujica if he's doing good, why pick this guy up?

Now that theory is debunked in the fact that he has an option left, but it still doesn't answer why they didn't dump Mujica instead of Marte. I mean think about it, if they want to add another arm to the pen race, why not use him to replace a pen arm instead of an infielder.

I mean it doesn't sound crazy by any means, but it screams that something is up with Marte and here's what I've sort of pieced together in my head.

1.) There is another trade looming. Someone showed interest in Andy Marte and the Indians are getting ready to ship him out. For what? Nothing crazy, but if a 30 year old relief pitcher who was busted for PEDs is worth an Isaias Velasquez, I don't think I'm overvaluing a 25 year old power hitting third baseman that was once a top prospect.

Sure, we know he isn't what he was billed up to be, at least he won't be here, but that idea is still out there and someone would give up an Isaias Velasquez to find out, that's how baseball works. So I'm not overvaluing him, we following the team tend to undervalue him because we saw what kind of performance they put up. But there are other teams out there that feel the risk would be well-worth it if he reaches just half of what people thought he could be.

2.) Andy Marte pissed off Eric Wedge. Remember that quote the other day about some people not coming into camp in-shape? Remember how I put my money on Andy Marte being one of those players? If this is all true, I'd put even more money on this being a response to Marte's lack of commitment to getting in better baseball shape.

3.) The Indians are really really scared of their bullpen depth. This is my least-favorite theory, but it does make you wonder why they would go out and get someone. I mean it's never a bad idea to have more arms and I don't think Mark Shapiro is shaking in his boots about his bullpen depth unless injuries start happening. So this theory is kind of silly.. But something to support it, why wouldn't you get a starting pitcher instead? Find a starter out there that is running out of time with his organization, wait for it to happen instead of jumping on Juan Salas.

Anyway it could be none of those and just a matter of the Indians thinking they can sneak Marte through and getting an arm they like, or just trying to grab an arm they like. But really, maybe I'm thinking to much, but this move is making me wonder the more I think about it.

Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get to the latest.

Speaking of Juan Salas, he's scheduled to join the team later today, but don't expect him to see the field until next week, he has a physical to pass.

Tony Sipp is kind of part of that bullpen battle, not really, but he's an arm to be looking out for. He's feeling good and says he doesn't even have any pain in his elbow.
"I'm just trying to keep my shoulder strong," he said. "I'll be up to speed by the end of spring training."
Wedge did say though that this battle is more than just who makes the final spot, with injuries being inevitable in a 162 game season, these pitchers are also trying to be the first and second guys called-up.

As you can see, we keep finding more tidbits about the Spring Training complex, including the fact that there are two kitchens, one bigger one for the minor leaguers to fit in and there are just loads of locker space for everyone. Lonnie Soloff is also enjoying the extra 700 square feet of trainer's room.

Hopefully, Josh Barfield can stay out of there. According to Wedge, he's really adapted well to the other spots that the Indians want him to play this year.
"I watched him at third base," said manager Eric Wedge after Friday's practice, "and he looked pretty good over there. I've been watching him in the outfield, as well, and he looked comfortable. I think he's going to be OK with it."
Wedge also mentioned that he looked better than what he was expecting him to look. All he has to do is that and he will probably lock that utility spot up.

Luis Valbuena has been working out at shortstop, but the Indians just want him working at second when the games start-up.

Side note from that CastroTurf entry. With the palindrome names.. Salas, Salas, Otto, Harrah.. If you haven't figured it out, it's when you can flip the word backwards and get the same name. But yeah with the palindromes. that's just... I don't really know what to say to that.. It's dedication to your research, or just hell of a memory.

You know Victor Martinez is really dedicated to this team. We haven't had someone who's been as prideful to wear the Indians logo in Cleveland for awhile now. Along with that, he just is dedicated to playing the game of baseball because he's one of those people that realizes it's a privilege.
"I just love this game," he says. "You look around, and we're blessed to be here, wearing a big league uniform with nice shoes, nice batting gloves, looking good. What else can you ask? You just need to go out and enjoy it."
That's why last year absolutely killed him. It was really the first time Martinez was hurt for an extended period of time. He missed time in 2007 early, but last year they had to actually tell him, Victor, you are hurt it's time to get it fixed, you can't play because of it.


"It was so tough that I wasn't even watching the games on TV," he says. "When you see your teammates playing hard every day, you want to be a part of it. It was something that was taken from my hands."
And clearly, Victor Martinez is the leader of this team. He's the guy that rallies everyone, he's the guy that makes everyone hold themselves accountable for their performance, he's the guy that makes everyone want to play better. Even Kelly Shoppach knows it and you have to hope that pushes him even harder.
"I've never seen a guy get so excited to play 162 times and not take any breaks," Shoppach says. "You can't help but learn from that. There's a reason he's a leader and plays with the passion he does, because he brings it to the field every night. How he does it is a mystery, but I've never been around a guy who wanted to play so much and wanted to win so much."
We know a lot of Victor's story. It's not a shock to understand why someone like him wants to win and doesn't take playing baseball for granted.

I'm getting really excited about Hector Rondon. A lot of the players that are selected to play in the Future's Game aren't neccessarily all top-flight prospects that everyone knows. They are ones that usually make it the big leagues not-long after appearing in the game and usually they make an impact.

People must share my excitement, because there was a large crowd watching Rondon throw yesterday.
"He has some good stuff, but he's still developing," said Wedge. "To stay within himself even with everyone back there watching. That was nice to see for a young kid."
Rondon is probably going to start the year at Double-A Akron and with the Indians starting pitching depth, they probably won't push him, but if people up at the Major League level can't hold the job and Columbus starts losing players, he could be in line to move up later in the year if he handles the Double-A level as well as he did Kinston.

Oh and he has 14 uncles.. That's pretty amzaing.

Looks like Masa Kobayashi has been told, thanks, but no thanks, without actually being told verbally.
"The Japanese team is already training in Japan," said Kobayashi. "They have a lot of young pitchers and I'm an old man. Maybe I won't play."
Which means you can probably scratch off yet another Indian off the WBC list.. But that's not official yet. Sure doesn't look like he's going to be asked though.

Latest prospect profile at the CPD, outfielder Michael Brantley.

Latest picture slideshow at the CPD, you can view it here.

Finally... Kirk Saarloos, the versatile pitcher that is in on a minor league deal.

That versatility is something that the Indians like and it will probably end up keeping him around the organization past Spring Training.

He doesn't even use the net when he throws batting practice, he says he hates them.

Saarloos is used to the multiple roles though. He closed and started for Cal State Fullterton back in 2001.
"My arm is pretty resilient to where I can throw three times in two weeks, then the next day, throw 100 pitches," he said. "That's never been an issue for my arm. Mentally it's an adjustment because you have to prepare your routines. But you can do that on the fly, really."
And while he's trying to compete for the rotation, he's ready to slide into the bullpen if they need him to do that.

Love to see that.

and of course, your morning briefing. It's photo-day bright and early.. In fact probably already underway as I type.

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