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Indians Links: Memento Edition


Cover of Memento

I compiled today’s links while watching Christopher Nolan‘s masterpiece, Memento, and prefaced each with an appropriate quote from the movie.

We all lie to ourselves to be happy.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that “(a)n interesting aspect of Cliff Lee — and part of the reason the Indians didn’t invest in a huge contract for him — is that when he misses his spots, he tends to get lit up.”

Oh, really?

The Indians didn’t sign Lee, the 2008 Cy Young winner, the most consistent pitcher of the past three seasons, and the owner of an absurd 13.73 K/BB ratio this year, because they were afraid of him missing his spots?

Don’t you believe it.

The only reason that the Indians chose to trade Cliff Lee, and not sign him to a long-term deal, is that they knew they would not be able to afford him. Dealing him with a year-and-a-half to go before free agency was a way to recoup the most value before he inevitably left town.

Using Lee’s recent poor starts to justify the trade is just lying to ourselves to be happy.

You mix your laundry list with your grocery list you’ll end up eating your underwear for breakfast.

We don’t know yet whether the list of prospects that the Indians received for Lee are of the grocery or laundry variety. Will they nourish the rebuilding process or just fill out a jersey? Are they better than the likely compensation picks that the Tribe would have received had they kept Lee, or even the prospects that the Mariners received for him?

We do know that analysts project the 2011 draft to be deep, and that  Justin Smoak is a far better prospect than Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, or Lou Marson.

Even after Jason Knapp‘s stellar return to the mound, the taste in my mouth is more BVD than BLT.

Memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.

In the Indians Comment of the Day, Plain Dealer reader TheGreatMichael remembers the Travis Hafner extension as a good move at the time, and thinks that calling the deal a mistake is revisionist history.

That’s his interpretation, and he’s wrong. Here are the facts:

Fact 1: On July 11, 2007, the day Hafner signed his deal, he was a 30-year-old DH who had lost over 200 points of slugging from his highwater 2006 season.

Fact 2: Hafner would not be a free agent until after the 2008 season; the Indians held a club-friendly option for 2008 that would pay him just $5.05M.

Fact 3: A certain 26-year-old ace pitcher, who shared the same agent as Hafner, would also be a free agent at the end of 2008.

These things were all known by Mark Shapiro at the time. And yet, he chose to extend Pronk’s contract five years, paying him an extra $57M to stay with the Indians through his age-35 season.

Why? Perhaps he tried to curry favor with Sabathia’s agent in hopes of signing him to a long-term deal. Or more likely, he knew that the Indians would not be serious players for Sabathia, so he turned to Hafner and Jake Westbrook as consolation prizes.

Shapiro could not have foreseen the injuries that both suffered or the economic downturn that suppressed team revenues, and thus, player salaries. But even if using the money to resign Sabathia was not an option, he should have known better than to commit $90M in salary to players who were not great bets to return that value.

You can just feel the details. The bits and pieces you never bothered to put into words. And you can feel these extreme moments… even if you don’t want to. You put these together, and you get the feel of a person. Enough to know how much you miss them… and how much you hate the person who took them away.

Paul Hoynes has tender memories of the young Manny Ramirez and some unresolved feelings about the person who took him away.  While I, too, would prefer a world in which Manny was not a PED cheat, it’s impossible to separate the player from the historical context in which he played.

Manny remains one of the greatest hitters that I had the privilege to witness. PEDs or no PEDs, he is a Hall of Famer.

And the present is trivia, which I scribble down as fucking notes.

Oh yes, the Indians have resigned Saul Rivera and assigned him to AAA Columbus, perhaps to satisfy Manny Acta’s fetish for ex-Nats. Rivera was an effective reliever in 17 IP with the Clippers this season, before his sale to the Diamondbacks. He was likely resigned to restock the Clipper bullpen in their race to win the IL West.


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