On Tuesday night, I was invited to a special pre-opening of the Snow Days at Progressive Field for season ticket holders.  Unfortunately, it was a monsoon and we didn’t really get to venture out into the winter-related activities.  (Aside from one drenching ride down the “Batterhorn”).  What we did get to do (in the dry and warm confines of the Terrace Club) was participate in a “Chalk Talk” with broadcasters Matt Underwood and Jim Rosenhaus.

There were a lot of good questions from fans, and some really great discussion.  I figured I’d highlight some of the bigger ideas (that I remember).

Collective Bargaining Agreement – Underwood and Rosenhaus seemed to think that the changes to the draft (the hard draft slotting) was a good move for small market teams like the Indians (I’ll have some more discussion about this in another post).  I asked about the idea of international players being added to the draft; they seemed to think it was a possibility in the the future.  They thought that MLB had to take some small steps first before they could institute more changes.

Radio Broadcast Team – One fan asked Rosenhaus if he will be taking over full time on the radio since Mike Hegan is retiring.  He didn’t really say with much certainty what’s going on; it sounds like there may not be a final decision yet.

Trevor Crowe – I asked if Crowe still had a chance at the Major League level; the broadcasters thought that he was viewed as a fourth outfielder, but could still have a professional career as such.

Shelley Duncan – How does he figure into the Tribe’s plans for the 2012 season – it sounded like he’s very much in the mix going into spring training, especially due to the Indians’ shortage of right handed hitters.  They discussed Duncan’s passion for the game, and how he’s already excited for next season.

Arizona Fall League – How did the Indians perform in the AFL?  They mentioned that Jason Donald spent some time in the outfield, meaning that he could be a backup option next season.  (They did not mention that the team with Indians finished last in league standings)

Beau Mills – Does he still figure into the Indians’ plans?  They said he made a case for himself in the minors last season, and may be able to push his way to the Majors.  The one man at a table next to me started joking about failed draft picks, and how John Mirabelli must have incriminating photos of Mark Shapiro in order to stay in his position for so long, without much success.

Matt LaPorta – There’s a possibility that LaPorta could face some competition at first in spring training, if the Tribe goes out and signs/trades for someone else.

Chris Perez – One fan asked an intriguing question that seemed to take Underwood and Rosenhaus by surprise – that the Indians were looking to trade Chris Perez and use Vinny Pestano as the closer instead.  They were completely unaware of the possibility of such a deal, but said that the Indians front office is always willing to at least listen when it comes to trades.  Personally, I don’t think Chris Perez is perfect…he’s certainly not the caliber of a Mariano Rivera and is probably replaceable.  However, I think when you mess with the chemistry/layout of a successful bullpen, you may invite trouble.  Things worked relatively well with Pestano and Sipp in the setup role, while Perez closed.  You take Perez away and have Pestano close, now who moves into the setup role?  I think you risk destabilizing other parts of the bullpen.

Manny Acta – Was he robbed by only placing fourth in the Manager of the Year voting?  They did not think so; the Indians tailed off at the end of the year, plus the other three that finished in front of him (Joe Maddon, Ron Washington and Jim Leyland) took teams to the playoffs.  In our SweetSpot voting, we had to pick the top 3 – I had Maddon winning, but then had Acta then Washington.  Nothing against Leyland, but sometimes I felt like the Tigers won in spite of him, not because of him.  He put together some terrible lineups and made some poor decisions; he just happened to have an extremely talented roster of players.

So what kind of things would you discuss in an open forum like this?  (Perhaps it will jog my memory on questions I forgot about)


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