Inbox: Tracking the managerial search
MLB.com's Castrovince answers Tribe fans' questions
The Indians will announce their new manager after the conclusion of the World Series, which, given the number of off-days built into the postseason schedule, should be sometime on or around Memorial Day 2010.Until then, we have plenty to discuss, so let's get to it in this first offseason edition of the Inbox. And please keep the questions coming all winter. Are the Indians considering Bobby Valentine as a potential candidate for the open manager's seat? I think he'd be pretty successful here considering what he's done overseas in Japan.
-- John, South Euclid, Ohio Several reports indicate that Valentine is -- or, at the least, was -- in the mix of the 30 or so candidates the Indians considered for the job. I can't confirm whether or not he's one of the eight to 10 candidates the Indians are expected to conduct phone interviews with this week. General manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians, despite having Eric Wedge on the 2010 payroll, will be able to afford the skipper of their choice. But Wedge is due to make about $1.3 million next year, and Valentine was making $4 million in Japan. It's hard to imagine the Indians affording a guy like Valentine. And it's equally difficult to imagine Valentine being a good fit for a young, developing team. Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell still seems to make the most sense for the Tribe's managerial vacancy. ESPN.com reported that Farrell pulled his name from the running, but it's altogether possible that Farrell pulled a bit of a ruse to distract attention from himself during the postseason. Now that the Red Sox have been bounced from the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if Farrell's name emerges as a legitimate candidate for the job, because I still think the Indians would jump at the opportunity to hire him. I knew heads would roll as a result of the disappointments the last two seasons, but are Eric Wedge and his coaches the only ones being held accountable? Are changes going to be made in the front office? Because if you ask me, the people who put this team together are at just as much fault.
-- Molly M., Brook Park, Ohio The Indians are still in the midst of a full organizational review. Wedge and his coaches got the axe, but that appears to be it. When asked about this, Shapiro said, "I don't think other staffing changes are possible, but I think there are possible changes to our systems and processes and the way we make decisions or, potentially, player personnel." Do any of the recent international signees have an actual shot at the bigs? Are any of them worth knowing about or following?
-- Michael B., Fayetteville, N.C.
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-- Ryan B., Seattle First off, Huff had a very encouraging finish to his '09 season. He had never pitched this deep into a season, yet he went 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in September. That fact will certainly work in his favor when the Indians put together their 2010 rotation. But if you haven't already done so, Ryan, now would be a good time to adjust your thinking on win totals, which, for a variety of reasons, can be overrated. I applaud Huff for winning 11 games in four and a half months as a rookie on a bad ballclub, but I also recognize that he had his share of growing pains (as evidenced by his 5.61 ERA) and he had more than his share of run support. Huff received 9.40 runs of support per nine innings of work in which he was the pitcher of record. That was the third-highest total in the American League among pitchers with at least 120 innings. That certainly helped his win total. Huff is a determined, competitive, smart kid, and he made a strong case for himself for next season. He did not, however (in the eyes of the Indians' front office decision-makers) nail down a spot in the Opening Day rotation. He'll have to earn one in Spring Training. There's a lot of speculation about next year's rotation. A name not being mentioned anymore is that of Anthony Reyes. I know he had elbow surgery. I'm assuming it was either career-ending or his contract expires. What's up?
-- Josh H., Cleveland You don't hear Reyes' name right now because, even if everything goes well with his recovery, he won't be considered a Major League option until midseason. And as we saw with Jake Westbrook this year, there are no guarantees that a pitcher will recover from Tommy John ligament transplant surgery within a year. Another complication with Reyes is that he's arbitration-eligible. But the Indians do appear to be willing to offer Reyes a contract, rather than non-tender him. Salaries in the arbitration process are based on a player's performance over the previous two years. Considering Reyes missed most of 2009 and appeared in just 16 games in the big leagues in 2008, he's not exactly in line for a major pay day. So it appears the Tribe will keep him in the mix as a potential rotation option later in the year. Looking at Carmona's track record, it appears to me that his issues are psychological, with some twinges of mechanics. Will the Indians work extensively with him to get him sound and get him some help, or are they at the mercy of the player?
-- Robb C., Auburn, Ind. The Tribe can certainly try to work with Carmona (or any player) in the offseason. In Carmona's case, at last check, the Indians had yet to determine whether he'd be pitching winter ball this offseason. Carmona wants to pitch to work on his mound issues, but the Indians (going back to that psychological element that you mentioned) also see the potential benefit of having him get away from baseball for a few months to clear his head. They don't want to completely ignore Carmona's wishes, so this was still a subject of internal debate, as of last week. But if I had to guess, I'd say Carmona gets some time off. Is it a realistic assumption to think the Indians will not be in playoff contention for the next three to four years?
-- Aric W., Muncie, Ind. I think in this game it's best not to assume anything, positive or negative. That being said, I don't plan on covering an Indians' playoff run a year from now. And finally... I recently read that Albert Belle called the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes to say that he was not interested in interviewing for the vacant manager job for '10. Considering that my odds of becoming the next manager of the Cleveland Indians are just about as good as Belle's, I thought I would let you know that I am going to pass on the job, as well. Please pass the message along to Mr. Dolan and Mr. Shapiro.
-- Chris K., North Olmsted, Ohio No Albert and no Chris K. from North Olmsted? Looks like this search is back to square one.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.