I don’t care how bad the fans want it. Michael Brantley should not start the season with the big league club.
Now, notice I used the word “start.” He’ll be up with the Indians eventually, but It shouldn’t be until June at the earliest. There are a few reasons for this. Let’s go through them.
1. Because he’s not ready yet.
For starters, Brantley needs to work on his defense in LF and CF. He needs to develop some more power (12 HRs total in the minor leagues). Remember when the Indians rushed up Andy Marte at the start of the 2007 season and handed him the third base job? If you’re like me, you wish you didn’t remember, because it wasn’t pretty. Brantley could be a similar situation. Brantley’s spent only 1 season at AAA and getting the extra at-bats wouldn’t hurt him, because he’s most likely not going to start the season in LF. Why? Well…
2. Because it’s time to give Trevor Crowe a shot.
Crowe has been one of the Indians better prospects for a few years now. Yes, his bat is better suited for second base, but Crowe was unable to learn the position, so we’re stuck with him in the outfield. This doesn’t mean he’s worthless though. I personally don’t believe Crowe will be anything more than a 4th outfielder, but if you haven’t given the guy a shot, then how can you give up on him? Also, keeping Brantley off the roster opens up more time in LF for LaPorta and gives Andy Marte or Jordan Brown a shot to play (both guys who had better years in AAA last year). And the goal of this year should be to figure out who can play, and where we need to improve.
3. Because it’s financially a smart idea.
Due to how ML free agency works with regards to service time, bringing up Brantley at the beginning of the year could prove disastrous down the line, as it would make Brantley eligible for free agency a whole year earlier. By keeping Brantley in the minors until June, the Indians would gain an extra year of control of Brantley. For a team such as the Red Sox or Yankees, this doesn’t mean much. But to a team like the Indians, keeping a player like who the Indians hope Brantley can be at a minimum salary for an extra year it would mean the world.
So there you have it Tribe fans, you can either have Michael Brantley now, or keep him for longer. I know which I’d rather have.
Updating Keith Law’s organizational rankings, he also listed his top 100 prospects. I was wrong, as Michael Brantley IS included as a prospect this year. Here’s the Indians’s top 10:
1. Carlos Santana – C (#3 overall)
2. Lonnie Chisenhall – 3B (#26)
3. Hector Rondon – RHP (#51)
4. Michael Brantley – CF (#71)
5. Nick Hagadone – LHP (#100)
6. Abner Abreu – RF
7. Alex White – RHP
8. Nick Weglarz – LF
9. Jason Knapp – RHP
10. TJ House – LHP
No real surprises there. If Carlos “Smooth” Santanta is as advertised, I might have to stop hating Casey F-in Blake.
Finally, Bill Simmons takes a look at some of the most tortured franchises in sports. And yes, the Indians are definitely ranked. Here’s what he has to say:
5. Cleveland Indians
Last Title: 1948.
Last Truly Devastating Defeat: With apologies to the 1999 Indians (shut out by an injured Pedro coming out of the bullpen in a wild Game 5) and 2007 Indians (blew a 3-1 series lead to Boston), the answer is still Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Every bit as devastating as the 1986 Red Sox collapse at Shea, only without the fanfare because of residual bitterness from the 1994 lockout. Only when steroids use became mandatory the following year (wait, it wasn’t?) did we throw ourselves back into baseball again.
Rock Bottom: Two recent Cleveland aces (Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia) starting Game 1 of the 2009 World Series … but not for Cleveland.
Additional Thoughts: Lost some “tortured” street cred because “Major League” and “Major League 2″ have been on cable so often that 30.9 percent of Americans now mistakenly believe that Charlie Sheen was the 1994 World Series MVP.
FYI for those too lazy to read the whole article: The Cavs finished 10th and the Browns 4th. Yay Cleveland.