This week we have Ed Carroll, lead contributor from Deep Left Field and Nino Colla from The Tribe Daily and their thoughts on some issues facing the O’s next opponent, the Cleveland Indians.  Have the Indians really taken over as the most hated team in baseball?  Ed and Nino let us know…

Were you excited or scared when Kerry Wood was reactivated?

I was more or less indifferent. RHP Chris Perez wasn’t doing a good job as the closer, but I know Kerry Wood isn’t going to be this team’s savior because they simply don’t get a ton of save opportunities. I am nervous that this injury might scare off potential trade partners for Wood. The Indians need him to perform in order to either get that contract off the books or to get something of value for him.

I don’t think either, I was probably just relieved more than anything that we finally got him back. Say what you want about Wood and his contract and what happened last year, but this bullpen is deeper with him at the back end. It lets Chris Perez be more flexible in terms of when he can be used and it pushes everyone back a slot as well. The biggest thing is getting Wood regular save opportunities, not just regular work. I think a big problem last year was his lack of rhythm in closing situations and that isn’t something he can exactly control.

Who is the one Indian who needs to step up if the team is to improve this season?

Before the season, I would have said, hands down, that man is RHP Fausto Carmona. However Carmona has had a decent start to the season, and while he hasn’t been sensational he has been effective (3.86 ERA in 39.2 IP isn’t going to set the world on fire but after Fausto’s last two seasons, Tribe fans will take what they can get). So right now I’ve been calling out 3B Jhonny Peralta. A .312 OBP from a guy who used to help anchor the Indians’ lineup and who is not known for his defense (and Peralta’s defense has been atrocious this year) is terrible.

It definitely starts and ends with Grady Sizemore, who the next question is actually about, so I’ll try and not answer the following question twice. But Sizemore is the gas that makes this team go whether he is hitting in the first or second spot in the lineup. Point blank he can do a lot of different things and he makes the team better when he is hitting. Let’s face it, Luis Valbuena stepping up isn’t going to turn anything around. As good as we think Matt LaPorta can be, ditto for him. The starting pitching has stepped up for the most part an dyou can’t really complain about some of the efforts in the pen, so it comes down to the two big bats, Travis Hafner and Sizemore, getting going.

What’s up with Grady Sizemore?

How I wish I knew. I thought Grady was fully healed from his injuries last year and would become the only sure thing in the Indians’ offense. Instead, he’s been a non-factor, as he struggles to adjust his swing to put less stress on his elbow.

I think this is one of the bigger mysteries of the early season. Everyone assumed he was healthy and after what he did in the spring, most were even convinced the old Grady Sizemore was going to not only be back, but possibly better than we’ve ever seen him. Of course that couldn’t be farther from the truth as he has been perhaps the worst we’ve ever seen him. There are a lot of theories floating around in terms of what is actually wrong with him in the early going. Some are still blaming him not being quite back from that surgery and dealing with some tentativeness while others flat out don’t think he has it anymore. I honestly don’t know as I can’t peg anything specific watching him at the plate.

What are your feelings on the recent report that says the Indians are the most hated team in baseball?

I was actually quoted in the article and you can read my full response here: Since I wrote that it was revealed that the WSJ actually misreported the findings, as the Indians are only the most hated this season, which makes a lot more sense, given the recent trades (CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa, etc.) and a whole lotta losing. This is a bad baseball team, but as many people have pointed out, too many people just don’t give a crap about the Indians anymore to make them the “most hated.”

I was one of the first I believe to point out what that report exactly was about. For one it only measured “internet postings” that were positive, negative, or neutral and it was only from a certain time period (20-21 days in April I believe). Not only that those internet postings only entailed twitter, message boards, and blogs. Why did the Indians top this list (they actually didn’t as it was later reported, the WSJ goofed)? It isn’t shocking to any Indians fan that reads the messages online from places like the Cleveland Plain Dealer, or the Indians facebook page, or even twitter. I’d venture to say a good 95 percent of the negative feed back is from the Indians fan base because of their unhappiness with the current state of the team. That’s really what it boils down to.

How much promise do you think there is in the Indians farm system right now?

A bunch, unfortunately most of it isn’t past AA Akron yet. One guy who is at AAA Columbus and who you need to keep an eye on is C Carlos “Smooth” Santana (I’m desperately trying to get the nickname “Smooth” to stick for him). Everything I’ve read about him says he’s like Victor Martinez with the bat, yet he actually knows how to play catcher. Also, file the name “Josh Judy” away for later. He’s a right-handed reliever at AA Akron who really impressed manager Manny Acta this spring. He could see a late season call-up.

Tons of promise and I think experts like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Keith Law have backed that up by picking the Indians as one of the top minor league systems in the game right now. Part of that angst from Indians fans is the trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, but those trades really re-stocked the system, especially the pitching. I can’t remember a period for as long as I’ve been an Indians fan that there has been so much potential in a pitching staff for this organization. There are multiple arms from Columbus to Kinston that all have major league potential from the front-end to back-end of the rotation. There also is a lot of hope in the latest drafts that have been conducted as they seem to have yielded more higher-ceiling prospects than drafts of the past and it all has to do with the club making a switch in it’s scouting personnel. Overall, there is just a lot of optimism about the clubs top two prospects as well, Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana and their impending arrivals.

As of right now, who do you think is the most indispensable player on the Indians roster?

Unfortunately, I don’t think any player on the big-league roster is indispensable, but RF Shin-Soo Choo is the only one getting anything consistently going on offense. The Indians’ All-Star representation is his to lose.

Submitted by Ed Carroll
Lead Contributor, Deep Left Field

Submitted by Nino Colla