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This Week on Wahoo's on First: Hafner Leaves, Santana Replaces Him?

Here are the highlights from Wahoo’s on First this week.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Lewie argued that letting Travis Hafner sign with the Yankees was a huge mistake:

This has been a phenomenal offseason for the Indians. I’ve been fully supportive of almost everything they’ve done this winter and I truly admire the work Chris Antonetti & Co. have done in accumulating talent for 2013 while continuing to build for the future. But I can’t see the rationale in declining to cheaply fill the biggest hole on the roster. Maybe this isn’t a swing and miss, but letting Pronk leave seems like a pretty big called strike.

Merritt searched for the Indians’ equivalent of Stan Musial:

Have we already lost our Stan Musial—was it Bob Feller? The two were contemporaries, one a dominating pitcher who shattered bats and loved his country, the other a stunning outfielder who laced doubles and loved everyone. Feller’s got the stats like Stan’s got the stats, and about the only knock on Bob is he was a bit of a curmudgeon, and that’s putting it lightly. But they both loved the team and city that adopted them, were the face of the franchise for their careers and even years later.

In this week’s Wroundtable, we offered our suggestions for players we’d like to see Cleveland sign to minor-league deals.

TD (WaitingForNextYear): I’m always in favor of adding more starting rotation options. You can never have enough arms for the rotation. One guy that intrigues me is former Chicago Cub Carlos Zambrano. Carlos spent 2012 in Miami with the Marlins and had a pretty solid open to the season, allowing 22 earned runs in 66 innings. Yes, he faltered in June and July before being moved to the bullpen, but Zambrano is worth a flier. He is only 31 years old and not that long ago he was a work horse for the Cubs. Yes, he is a volatile personality, but on a minor league deal, there is little risk. Not to mention if anyone can handle Zambrano, its Terry Francona.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brian explained how the Dodgers’ new TV deal hurts the Indians:

As you can see, the Dodgers are assuming absolutely no risk in this agreement. Time Warner is handling every programming and advertising decision as well as covering any and all fees that might be associated with getting the Dodgers into every home imaginable. For Time Warner it makes sense as they can claim stake to operating the Dodgers official television network. It’s all marketing ploy for them designed at boosting the bottom line and stock prices over the long run.

Lewie argued that fans should care about minor-league signings:

But even if you can’t any reason to get excited about a minor-league signing (guys like Joe Martinez and Brian Jeroloman probably aren’t full of untapped potential) there’s another reason not to be down on it: There’s nothing to lose! The worst that happens is the player fails to make the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training and either gets his release or heads to the minors. Don’t think of it as low-risk, low-reward. Think of it as no-risk, some-reward.

Steve thinks the Indians must be bullish on their collection of left-handed relievers:

Over the winter the Cleveland Indians said goodbye to both of their established left-handed relievers, Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez. Sipp was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the package to acquire Trevor Bauer, and Perez, who was coming off surgery, was due to receive $2 million in arbitration and was not tendered a contract. These moves left the Indians with only Scott BarnesNick Hagadone, and David Huff as left handed relievers with major league experience on their 40-man roster.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Evan took an early look at the AL Central rival Kansas City Royals:

The Royals may live and die by the production from their inconsistent youngsters going forward. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain will carry this club by either becoming reliable bats or huge failures. Perez and Hosmer, statistically, seem poised to become stars, while the others need help from their once-promising skill-set to reach their potential. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon are the stars on the club right now, but they could become afterthoughts to the budding potential on the roster.

Katrina made the case for moving Carlos Santana to designated hitter:

While his ability at the plate has been impressive, it’s no secret that Santana has struggled with defense. Originally a third baseman, the 26-year-old was converted to full-time catcher in 2008—the same year Cleveland acquired him from the Dodgers. The team has patiently waited on his catching skills to improve ever since then, but it hasn’t happened as rapidly as they once hoped. Last year, he led the league with 10 passed balls, and his caught-stealing percentage the past two seasons has been average or even slightly below. The blame doesn’t fall completely on his shoulders (the pitching staff certainly didn’t do either of the Tribe’s catchers any favors) but his struggles have been consistent throughout his short career.

Jeff also expressed skepticism about Santana’s ability to stay behind the plate long-term.

The key thing for me is that Santana is going to be 27 years old just after Opening Day. If he were 24, I would say give him another year to figure things out. But most of the time, what you get from a guy when he’s 27 is what you’ll get. If he remains at catcher for the next five years I believe he will be at best average defensively.

Steve explained the rationale behind the Tribe signing Nate Spears:

Is he a top prospect who is going to threaten any one of the infielders for a starting job? No. Is he someone who due to a series of injuries, poor performance, or eventual trades in mid-season that we may eventually see added to the 40-man roster and get some playing time? Yes. In a nutshell, Spears fits the description that drives many stat-driven analysts crazy: he is the gritty, grinding player chock full of intangibles that a manager somehow finds a way to fit on a major league roster.

Finally, Jeff offered some thoughts on the offensiveness of Chief Wahoo.

Still, our history tells us that cultural stereotypes become less tolerable as time goes by. African-Americans are a perfect example. Fifty years ago they were referred to as Negroes, a term that is almost never heard anymore. For several decades the term “black” was the primary description used, but that is becoming less and less prevalent. Part of the reason is the blurring of racial identification as mixed marriages become more common, but a more significant reason is that calling someone “black” just seems disrespectful.

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