Once every year or two, I like to steal Paul Hoynes' mailbag. Hoynsie does a fine job of answering his letters, but sometimes, I just think I can do better.
Hey, Jaysie: Do you think it was Luis Isaac's fault that the Tribe got held to one hit in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series? -- Larry Willey, South Euclid
Hey, Larry: Let me start by saying, thanks for the softball question, because Lord knows we really needed Hoynsie to hold forth on the subject of Isaac's firing yet again, all without doing any actual reporting, or for that matter showing any sign of abstract thought.
I'll answer your question with a story that leads to a question. By the time I was 25, only three years into the best-in-the-world-you-betcha American workforce, I had already been laid off twice, the first due to a minor corporate merger that transformed my small company in Philadelphia into a small division in the Bay area, the second due to my university employer going on a five-year outsourcing bender. Four years before that, at 21, I watched a guy at a Fortune 500 company get the totally unceremonious boot, after the arrival of a younger and more tech-savvy kid (working without benefits for the summer) showed that his not-all-that-old hands were superfluous. (I was the kid, of course.)
The point being, by 1995, I was under no illusion that anybody would be employing anybody for decade after decade — that's a thing of the past, something I think most folks have come to understand over the past 20 years. Paul Hoynes apparently has not gotten that memo. Like Luis Isaac, he's had a really cool job hanging around a major league ballclub for decades. Unlike Isaac, Hoynes is working in a dying industry. Point in fact, Paul Hoynes is about as likely to be working for me in five years as he is to be working for the Plain Dealer. I mean him no ill, but the newspaper industry is a wreck, and Hoynes knows it and probably doesn't have much of a Plan B.
So here's my question for you, Larry: When Hoynes complains bitterly about a guy working for one corporation for decades and then being told his services aren't needed anymore, what do you think he's really upset about?
And another question, Larry: What is it that you're really upset about?
Major league baseball is serious business. The fact that Isaac stuck around as long as he did is a credit to him, as it shows that he managed to fit in to a lot of new systems as pitching coaches, managers and general managers came and went over the years. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the Indians felt they could find a better fit for Wedge and Willis in that position. It's more surprising that he lasted this long. The Indians legitimately have had problems in the last few years getting relievers to make the transition from the minors to the majors, and yet the overall track record with pitchers is pretty impressive. If Wedge and Willis feel they might do better with someone else in that spot, you can't fault them for wanting to try.
It doesn't mean that everything was Isaac's fault, or even that anything specifically was his fault. It only means that they felt they needed to try to improve in this area. Nobody is guaranteed a job for life — not you, not me, not Paul Hoynes and not Luis Isaac.
Hey, Jaysie: What are the chances that the Indians trade Ryan Garko in the off-season? -- Angelo Costanzo, Cleveland
Hey, Angelo: Not good. Garko has no trade value after a hideously bad season in which he was just about the worst-hitting first baseman in the game for five solid months. Garko also has a remaining option year, so if we're really lucky, the Indians will pick up another capable player and stash Garko in Triple-A for depth, as we did with Barfield this season, make him earn his way back to the majors. It's unlikely he'll be traded, though. In general, smart investors don't sell low, and Garko is definitely low at this point.
Hey, Jaysie: Didn't the Tribe want to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka and Akinori Iwamura from Japan? Why did they settle for Masa Kobayashi? -- Larry Mitchell, Mansfield
Hey, Larry: This is almost a good question. The Red Sox committed $103 million to signing Matsuzaka, which is three times more money than the Indians have ever committed to a pitcher. The Red Sox also had to come up with most of that cash, about $59 million of it, up front, something almost all the teams would have had trouble doing. While it's worked out pretty well for Boston so far, the jury is still out on that signing.
The Rays, on the other hand, committed only $12.25 million to secure Iwamura's service for four seasons. The Indians expressed interest in him but didn't bid very aggressively. It seemed like a mistake at the time, and in retrospect, it seems like more of a mistake. The club has acquired or developed Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Phillips, Josh Barfield, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy Marte over the past five years, yet somehow, we still need an infielder. Iwamura would have been a good fit.
The decision to sign Kobayashi, a reliever, had nothing to do with the other two, who are a starter and an infielder. The Indians hoped to acquire a quality reliever at a reasonable cost, it's just that simple. They were not required to sign a Japanese player, or to sign only one Japanese player. On second thought, this is a pretty dumb question, and I'm sorry I answered it.
Hey, Jaysie: Any indications on how hard the Tribe will go after CC Sabathia this winter? Do you know if he's upset that they did not try to negotiate with him before the trade like they claimed they would? -- Chuck Rey, Cleveland
Hey, Chuck: All indications are that:
- The Indians were willing to give CC a huge truckload of money to re-up, right until the moment they traded him.
- It wasn't a big enough truckload for CC.
- He knew they were going to trade him if he didn't negotiate.
- He chose not to negotiate.
- He prefers playing in the National League.
- He prefers playing closer to California.
- The Indians are neither in the NL nor anywhere near California.
- The Indians front office would still love to offer Sabathia that truckload of money.
- The Indians front office has moved on and is focusing on other free agents, because
- It ain't gonna happen.
Hey, Jaysie: Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but what are the chances that Omar Vizquel comes back to Cleveland next year? -- Corry Groos, Hampton, Va.
Hey, Corry: The better question would be, why would you consider this wishful thinking? Do you dearly wish that the Indians had a well-past-his-prime shortstop to serve as an adequate backup or, God forbid, as a gaping hole in our everyday lineup? I mean, why stop with Vizquel? Why not wishfully think we could get Carlos Baerga back, too? And hey, we've got an opening at third base, why not bring back Al Rosen?
It would be fun to have Vizquel on the squad again, that is true. But with Peralta doing well overall as the starter, with Cabrera at second base, and with Jamey Carroll as a very capable backup, it's hard to see how Vizquel would improve this club.