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Left field - so what's the problem?

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Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:08 am

Shelley has picked right up from where he left off in September. So far this year...

25 at-bats with a line of .320/.485/.600/1.085

Obviously he won't keep this up for the long haul, but like I said earlier, if Shelley hits one 2-run dinger a week and a couple of sac flies he's a 100-RBI guy. Oh, and Crowe is hitting .429 in Columbus with an OBP north of .600.

Why did we sign Damon again?

Damon is a left-handed Austin Kearns, only much older.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby daingean » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:51 am

I think the issue has less to do with Duncan than the whole team's offense. If Brantley cannot prove he can man the lead off spot this team has issues with table setters. You like a guy at the top that both gets on base and causes the pitcher to alter his approach to the run producers (most pitchers are more effective from the windup than the stretch and guys on base that have some speed lets run producers see more fastballs....it also opens up a whole between 1b and 2b). So I think Damon is a move so that they can move Brantley down the order (because he is struggling). I think if there was a better option both offensively and defensively then the team would have went in that direction.

I do think this poses a problem for the Indians in that they will have a too heavily slanted left hand hitting line-up and you have seen how teams can throw a lefty long reliever at us and it slows our offense but it does give us Duncan who is a pretty capable RH pinch hitter to break up that string of lefty hitters (I know Asdrubal and Cabrerra are switch hitters but they are more effective from the left side).

So I think the Damon move has less to do with Duncan (who is hitting 6th) than getting the top of the order set and more effective.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Rocky55 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:14 am

By the time Damon's ready we'll see what we have in Duncan/Brantley. Agree that Damon is better leading off than Brantley & a better fielder(sucky arm though) than Duncan in LF but with the bat Duncan is doing exactly what we wanted to sign in FA. If Duncan is still hitting in 2-3 wks, Damon does seem superfluous. Maybe we just have to fit him in to get AB's but I want Ducan starting in LF until he proves he can't.

I don't understand why they don't just move Choo to leadoff. He gets on base, he's a good baserunner, & chances are he only leads off the inning in the 1st. He could score a lot of runs at the top of the order.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:39 pm

Rocky55 wrote:I don't understand why they don't just move Choo to leadoff. He gets on base, he's a good baserunner, & chances are he only leads off the inning in the 1st. He could score a lot of runs at the top of the order.


I'm thinking two reasons. One is because when healthy he's a proven 20 HR hitter. Nice to have that behind a couple guys that get on base. Another I think is that coaches tend to just fall into routine. Choo has been the 3-hole hitter, he's been successful there, Acta won't change it. I don't know if Choo would score a "lot" more runs at the top as it would likely only put Cabrera behind him vs what he basically already has (guessing Pronk would hit 3rd, Santana 4th). I think the 3-hole is fine for Choo...though I would have no issue batting him leadoff (think Choo, Damon, Cabrera could be an interesing 1-2-3).

IMO Indians are trying too hard to make Brantley a leadoff hitter. He's actually a much better fit lower in the order based on how he's hit in his career. He's been terrible leading off innings (career .214/.270/.288/.558 line), but has been pretty darn solid in his career with men on base (.308 BA, .367 OBP) and RISP (.321 BA, .368 OBP). On the other hand a career .232 hitter with .286 OBP with the bases empty. His K/BB rate is also much better with men on base. He's just a different hitter, a much better hitter, with men on base.

I know many want Brantley to be like Kenny Lofton...but IMO he's much more like a Carl Crawford type hitter, which is not bad at all. He's built a lot like Crawford too. Better LFer than CFer. May not have quite the power but think he could settle into a 10-12 HR hitter. Crawford for all his speed gets caught a lot stealing (has led the league before), similar to Brantley. Crawford too is a better hitter with men on base. And like Brantley his OBP is just not high enough to warrant hitting leadoff.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Hermie13 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:43 pm

Prosecutor wrote:Shelley has picked right up from where he left off in September. So far this year...

25 at-bats with a line of .320/.485/.600/1.085

Obviously he won't keep this up for the long haul, but like I said earlier, if Shelley hits one 2-run dinger a week and a couple of sac flies he's a 100-RBI guy. Oh, and Crowe is hitting .429 in Columbus with an OBP north of .600.

Why did we sign Damon again?

Damon is a left-handed Austin Kearns, only much older.


Not saying the Damon signing was the reason that the Tribe had a great offensive series against KC, but I think it would be a bit foolish to think that it didn't light a bit of a fire under their butts. Similar to when a coach or manager gets fired, can wake up a club and bring out the best in them. I'm sure the warmer weather and KC's lackluster pitching played bigger factors, but guys like Duncan and Kotchman could be looking at playing time reduction with Damon coming....looks like neither wants to sit.

Not sure which is crazier right now....Duncan tied for the team lead in walks and leading in OPS....or Kotchman tied for the team lead in steals!
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby GeronimoSon » Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:44 pm

...because last year is last year.. and isn't going to have anything to do with this year.. Duncan is hitting a paltry buck sixty against RHP's.. but is just HAMMERING lefties.. Damon hasn't played this year, so what he will do or can do is an unknown... I'd also like to see either / or Choo and Donald leading off some..
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:32 am

daingean wrote:I think the issue has less to do with Duncan than the whole team's offense. If Brantley cannot prove he can man the lead off spot this team has issues with table setters. You like a guy at the top that both gets on base and causes the pitcher to alter his approach to the run producers (most pitchers are more effective from the windup than the stretch and guys on base that have some speed lets run producers see more fastballs....it also opens up a whole between 1b and 2b). So I think Damon is a move so that they can move Brantley down the order (because he is struggling). I think if there was a better option both offensively and defensively then the team would have went in that direction.

I do think this poses a problem for the Indians in that they will have a too heavily slanted left hand hitting line-up and you have seen how teams can throw a lefty long reliever at us and it slows our offense but it does give us Duncan who is a pretty capable RH pinch hitter to break up that string of lefty hitters (I know Asdrubal and Cabrerra are switch hitters but they are more effective from the left side).

So I think the Damon move has less to do with Duncan (who is hitting 6th) than getting the top of the order set and more effective.


I understand your point, but putting Damon in the leadoff spot as an upgrade over Brantley would involve benching Duncan. Last year Damon's OBP was .326 versus .318 for Brantley. I don't see that as an upgrade at all, and certainly not worth taking Duncan's bat out of the lineup for.

Duncan was a monster in September, then he hit six HRs in spring training, and he's still raking. I'd leave him in there every day until something changes.

Also, Damon is 38 and played only 33 games in the outfield last year, spending most of the season as a DH. I'm wondering how well he'll be able to hit if he has to play left field instead of DHing. No way I'm taking Hafner's bat out of the lineup now that his shoulder is better than it's been in three years.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby TonyIBI » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:48 am

I believe Damon was signed not just to fill left field, but center field and designated hitter as well. We all know at some point Hafner will go on the DL.....and for as bad as Damon is defensively, he is still a significant upgrade overall to the team over Cunningham. And let's not forget that Brantley is not exactly lighting it up right now either. Having Damon in CF (or LF for that matter) is dangerous.....but for a team with so many injury concerns and so many underperforming hitters, it is a risk worth taking and seeing what happens. If it doesn't work, you can release him for little cost.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:50 am

IMO Indians are trying too hard to make Brantley a leadoff hitter. He's actually a much better fit lower in the order based on how he's hit in his career. He's been terrible leading off innings (career .214/.270/.288/.558 line), but has been pretty darn solid in his career with men on base (.308 BA, .367 OBP) and RISP (.321 BA, .368 OBP). On the other hand a career .232 hitter with .286 OBP with the bases empty. His K/BB rate is also much better with men on base. He's just a different hitter, a much better hitter, with men on base.

I know many want Brantley to be like Kenny Lofton...but IMO he's much more like a Carl Crawford type hitter, which is not bad at all.


I posted the same argument a while back. I saw a stat that revealed a much higher percentage of strikes on Brantley were non-swinging than the league average. IOW, he lets a lot of hittable pitches go by and gets behind in the count. It's obvious he's trying to work the count and draw a walk. He was quoted in the PD today as saying it's his job to get on base for the 2-3-4 hitters.

The stats Hermie presented show he's a much better hitter when he is aggressive rather than trying to draw a walk to lead off an inning. I argued that he should be hitting 7th and just let him swing at the first good pitch he gets. The numbers don't lie - .214 with the bases empty, .308 with runners on and .321 with RISP. His approach is completely different with men on base and the results speak for themselves. The Indians should let him be himself and stop trying to make him into Kenny Lofton. Either move him down in the order or explain to him that a double is better than a walk to lead off an inning.

I agree with Rocky that Choo would be an excellent, although unconventional, leadoff hitter. It would mean more at-bats for Choo and less for Brantley, which is good. And more of Brantley's at-bats would come with men on - also good.

Choo RF
Asdrubal SS
Pronk DH
Santana C
Duncan LF
Brantley CF
Kotchman 1B
Kipnis 2B
Hannahan 3B
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:02 am

TonyIPI wrote:I believe Damon was signed not just to fill left field, but center field and designated hitter as well. We all know at some point Hafner will go on the DL.....and for as bad as Damon is defensively, he is still a significant upgrade overall to the team over Cunningham. And let's not forget that Brantley is not exactly lighting it up right now either. Having Damon in CF (or LF for that matter) is dangerous.....but for a team with so many injury concerns and so many underperforming hitters, it is a risk worth taking and seeing what happens. If it doesn't work, you can release him for little cost.


I don't think it's a given Hafner will go on the DL. His shoulder is supposed to be stronger than at any time in the last three years and for the first time in years there are no restrictions on his playing time. He hit a ball 456 feet the other day. Maybe I'm being unrealistically optimistic, but he might make it through the season without any trips to the DL, assuming he doesn't get his hand broken by a pitch.

If Damon shows up in May and is told his job is to wait for Hafner to get hurt, I think his agent will ask for his release. Also, who gets dropped from the 40-man to make room for him? Are we going to lose a prospect over this?

If Hafner does go on the DL in the second half, Sizemore would be the logical replacement. Yeah, I really am that optimistic. Hey, it's April and the Tribe just swept a road series.

Santana will DH some as well since he can't catch 162 games, which will make it harder to find DH at-bats for Damon.

I agree Damon is an upgrade over Cunningham, but Cunningham isn't playing, so what's the point? I'd rather see Crowe as the 4th outfielder than Damon or Cunningham. He's another guy who's finally healthy after two years of injuries. Time to see what he can do at the ML level once and for all.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby TonyIBI » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:07 am

I'd be surprised if Cunningham is not ousted from the 40-man for Damon. The only other option would be Weglarz, but even if doing that the Indians then need to make a move on the 25-man. I think the other possibility exists that once Damon is ready the Indians may clear a spot on the roster with a trade.

Between left field, center field and DH, Damon can easily play 5 days a week, if not more depending on how much Acta and the Indians want him out there. Duncan has played well, but should not be out there every day. Brantley has not played well both offensively and defensively. And Hafner always needs a few days off.....hell, Damon could even get in at first base if needed.

They will get him in there, and it won't be at the expense of any offense. Defensively? Depending on who he replaces, yes....though right now he would probably not be much worse defensively than Duncan in LF and would be a step back in CF to Brantley, though Brantley has REALLY regressed with his defense and has the same noodle arm as Damon.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby daingean » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:31 am

TonyIPI wrote:They will get him in there, and it won't be at the expense of any offense. Defensively? Depending on who he replaces, yes....though right now he would probably not be much worse defensively than Duncan in LF and would be a step back in CF to Brantley, though Brantley has REALLY regressed with his defense and has the same noodle arm as Damon.


Brantley arm would play better if he got himself into throwing position before he catches the ball. Too many times he's moving away from 2nd or 3rd when he did have time to circle the ball and get into a good throwing position. For a guy with speed, Brantley doesn't use it well smh.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:37 pm

Prosecutor wrote:Also, Damon is 38 and played only 33 games in the outfield last year, spending most of the season as a DH. I'm wondering how well he'll be able to hit if he has to play left field instead of DHing. No way I'm taking Hafner's bat out of the lineup now that his shoulder is better than it's been in three years.


This is true, however, it should be pointed out that he began started the year as the Rays started LFer. Manny Ramirez was the DH for the first few games until he was suspended/retired. Only then was Damon moved full-time to DH, but he was brought in initially to be the everyday LFer.

And the year before in Detroit...well, Detroit's OF poses bigger issues than most OFs, especially in the AL. Not saying I'd be thrilled with Damon in our OF, but don't think it'll be as big an issue as some are making it out to be, especially with the amount of groundball pitchers we have. He still moves pretty well and let's not forget that we were planning on Grady being in CF....arm is a bit better than Damon's but wouldn't argue by much.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:42 pm

Prosecutor wrote:I agree with Rocky that Choo would be an excellent, although unconventional, leadoff hitter. It would mean more at-bats for Choo and less for Brantley, which is good. And more of Brantley's at-bats would come with men on - also good.

Choo RF
Asdrubal SS
Pronk DH
Santana C
Duncan LF
Brantley CF
Kotchman 1B
Kipnis 2B
Hannahan 3B


Really though...is Choo even that unconventional of a leadoff hitter? Moreso than Grady (30 HR guy at times)? Or even more recent, Alex Gordon in KC like we saw this weekend? 23 HRs last year for him...

Actually like the lineup you have moreso than the one we are running out there currently. Though Damon will shake things up when he's here.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby GeronimoSon » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:06 pm

Brantley's defense in the OF: He is tracking the ball waaaaaaaaaay better than he once did.. and he is taking charge of the fly balls as a CF'er better than he has in the past.. but to be honest.. it won't be Michael Brantley's defense that takes him out of the lineup.. it will be his bat.. He's put together some pretty solid AB's over the weekend series with the Royals..let's see if he continues to work on this aspect of his game...

Damon.. isn't here.. It's not likely he can supplant anyone on the indians roster defensively in the outfield (*and that includes shelly duncan, who is pretty terrible).. There's a reason 38 year old guys are DH's...
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:17 pm

TonyIPI wrote:Between left field, center field and DH, Damon can easily play 5 days a week, if not more depending on how much Acta and the Indians want him out there. Duncan has played well, but should not be out there every day. Brantley has not played well both offensively and defensively. And Hafner always needs a few days off.....hell, Damon could even get in at first base if needed.

They will get him in there, and it won't be at the expense of any offense.


Well, I have to admit Damon has been amazingly durable, so he could easily play five days a week. The question is - why should he? Why shouldn't Duncan be out there every day? We need a right-handed power bat a lot more than we need a left-handed singles hitter with a .326 OBP. We already have that guy in Michael Brantley. The difference is Brantley has an upside whereas Damon's OPS has declined three years in a row.

When Hafner needs a day off we have Santana DH to give him a break from the grind of catching while keeping his bat in the lineup.

Sorry, I'm just tired of watching the Indians sign guys on the downside of their careers hoping to squeeze once last decent season out of them. Austin Kearns. Orlando Cabrera. Mark Grudzelanik. Johnny Damon. I'd rather give Crowe or Canzler a shot.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Hermie13 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:19 pm

Prosecutor wrote:Sorry, I'm just tired of watching the Indians sign guys on the downside of their careers hoping to squeeze once last decent season out of them. Austin Kearns. Orlando Cabrera. Mark Grudzelanik. Johnny Damon. I'd rather give Crowe or Canzler a shot.


Should probably add Duncan to the list if he's there....as Shelley Duncan is older than Austin Kearns.

Surprised that people are really arguing against this signing. Duncan is off to a nice start, but he's 32 himself and never had anything more than a month or two stretch of decent play. Even Kearns did that for us to start a season...

This season shouldn't be about giving chances, but winning. Damon even in a terrible year (for him) had a better year in 2011 than most Tribe hitters. He's an upgrade for this club. And if his walk rate bounces back even a bit, could be a huge add. I like Duncan too though, don't get me wrong...but you can't bank on him as your everyday LFer, at least not if you want to win the division and go far in the playoffs.

Plus...with this "out" Damon has, where he can ask to be released if he's not getting playing time, seems like a no-lose situation for Cleveland. If Duncan does continue to play well and Damon struggles...well, just bench Damon. $1.2M is really nothing. jose Lopez is getting $800K, Wheeler $900K, and had Spilborghs made the club over Cunningham, he'd have made $1M. $1.2M for a guy like Damon is a bargain.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Rocky55 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:25 pm

After last night's game Duncan's OPS is up to .514/.593/1.107-- :eek
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Prosecutor » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:53 pm

Rocky55 wrote:After last night's game Duncan's OPS is up to .514/.593/1.107-- :eek


10 hits and 10 walks in 37 plate appearances. Not too shabby. Maybe he did finally figure it out during the second half of last season. Wouldn't it be ironic if he ended up having a better season than all the guys the Indians tried to get to play left field this year?
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Pork Chop Pough » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:18 am

Prosecutor wrote:Wouldn't it be ironic if he ended up having a better season than all the guys the Indians tried to get to play left field this year?

He'd better keep it up then because Josh Willingham (.356/.431/.756, tied for AL lead with 5 hr) is still off to a better start than Duncan, and has a much better track record. Then again, Cleveland's front office claimed Willingham "wasn't a fit" after he signed with Minnesota, so maybe he doesn't count.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby GeronimoSon » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:15 am

Pork Chop Pough wrote:
Prosecutor wrote:Wouldn't it be ironic if he ended up having a better season than all the guys the Indians tried to get to play left field this year?

He'd better keep it up then because Josh Willingham (.356/.431/.756, tied for AL lead with 5 hr) is still off to a better start than Duncan, and has a much better track record. Then again, Cleveland's front office claimed Willingham "wasn't a fit" after he signed with Minnesota, so maybe he doesn't count.


Yeah.. because if he doesn't keep it up.. then you'll.. uhh.. well.. ummm... :rolleyes

Shelly Duncan's start to the season is now approaching 50 plate appearances.. Amazingly, he has 12 walks (one IBB) and is just KILLING left handed pitching. It's against RHP's that he has issues.. While it may look like he's struggling, hitting a buck sixty seven against RHP's, more than half his walks have come from them. This may be part of the impetus for signing Johnny Damon... we shall see...
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby TonyIBI » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:18 pm

Nice start by Duncan. But I am still very skeptical. I mean, last year Jack Hannahan got off to a great start the first month of April (.273/.349/.481 with 4 HR, 14 RBI in 77 ABs). It is encouraging....but the Indians would be smart to have a backup plan or two based on Duncan's track record and limitations.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Pork Chop Pough » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:49 am

GeronimoSon wrote:
Pork Chop Pough wrote:
Prosecutor wrote:Wouldn't it be ironic if he ended up having a better season than all the guys the Indians tried to get to play left field this year?

He'd better keep it up then because Josh Willingham (.356/.431/.756, tied for AL lead with 5 hr) is still off to a better start than Duncan, and has a much better track record. Then again, Cleveland's front office claimed Willingham "wasn't a fit" after he signed with Minnesota, so maybe he doesn't count.


Yeah.. because if he doesn't keep it up.. then you'll.. uhh.. well.. ummm... :rolleyes

Then he won't end up "having a better season than all the guys the Indians tried to get to play left field this year". It's really not that difficult to follow... try to keep up.
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Re: Left field - so what's the problem?

Postby Pork Chop Pough » Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:30 am

For everyone overreacting to Duncan's extremely small sample size, stats so far in 2012:

Michael Cuddyer: 13 g - .383/.408/.702 (1.110)
Carlos Beltran: 13 g - .347/.448/.653 (1.101)
Josh Willingham: 14 g - .333/.410/.685 (1.095)
Carlos Pena: 14 g - .308/.429/.558 (.986)
Shelley Duncan: 12 g - .270/.449/.459 (.908)

Last April, Duncan OPS'd 1.022 in 10 games. Putting together small hot streaks has never been a problem for him. Anyone they pursued over the off-season would be making us very happy now (although I don't think they really pursued Cuddyer, and Pena would have resulted in different personnel moves). I just hope Duncan/Damon and Kotchman keep us happy all season. The other factor is probably unanswerable -- what has the team done (or will do) differently with the money saved. However, the advantage of the other players listed is that they all have a track record to show they can hit for the long-term.
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