Indians, WWW

Kipnis, the Marvel CU, and Vinyl: While We’re Waiting

The Cleveland Indians are welcoming back their All-Star second baseman, Jason Kipnis this weekend. For the first time this season, the Indians’ offensive line-up will be complete. While the Kipnis return is tasty for an offense that’s already starting to find its footing without Kipnis, it does present an interesting conundrum for Tribe manager Terry Francona.

And before we beat any drums, this is a good problem to have. The Indians roster is as stacked as it’s been since the vaunted 90’s, and any sort of lineup or 25-man incarnation that Francona comes up with will be solid. But there are some fun questions to be had, right out of the gate.

The first question that will need to be answered this afternoon is how the roster will change once Kipnis is activated. The likely scenario will have Yandy Diaz optioned down to Columbus to continue his development as a utility player by garnering time in the outfield1. With Diaz gone, Jose Ramirez will move back to his third base position, Kipnis will return to second, and Michael Martinez will remain as the 25th man on the roster.

This scenario allows everyone to entertain the ridiculous theory that Yandy Diaz needs regular at bats, which has been grinding out of the PR machine for the past two weeks. This is the same PR machine that said Diaz couldn’t play third very well (he can), and the same PR machine that says every team needs a Michael Martinez (who is possibly the worst player in the league, playing on the best team in the league—put that together).2

It’s the easiest move to make, since the only thing that changes is Kipnis replacing Diaz in the lineup. Today, this is a good thing. As I wrote earlier this year, Kipnis is a chameleon of sorts, altering his approach at the plate, dependent on where he’s hitting in the line-up. While it’s easy to soft-soap Kipnis and his impact to the Indians roster while he’s been injured, he was a 5 WAR player in 2015, and a 4.8 WAR player in 2016. In 2015, he was the primary lead-off hitter on that roster (121 times leading off), and without hesitation, he moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup in 2016.

This brings us to the second “issue.” Where does Kipnis hit in this line-up?

The current line-up has been fairly fixed in the 1-5 positions, and has looked like this:

  1. Carlos Santana
  2. Francisco Lindor
  3. Michael Brantley
  4. Edwin Encarnacion
  5. Jose Ramirez

The 6-9 slots have been a mish-mosh, as things tend to be, with Yandy Diaz getting the most slots in the six- and seven-hole, but overall, it’s been a daily switch for Francona, past the early big-five. With Kipnis returning, we now have a Big Six.

So how will that top six slot?

Kipnis has hit lead-off before, so it’s feasible that he could slot into there, at least in a part-time role. Kipnis, who is a better hitter against right-handed pitching, could lead-off against righties, moving Santana out of the lead-off spot, and back to hitting fifth. This would in essence, make Kipnis the primary lead-off hitter, but would provide the power slot to Santana, who hits more home runs when he’s hitting right-handed pitching. It seems to make some sense there, and would give the Indians this line-up vs. righties:

  1. Kipnis
  2. Lindor
  3. Brantley
  4. Encarnacion
  5. Santana
  6. Ramirez

Against lefties, Santana would shift back to the lead-off slot:

  1. Santana
  2. Lindor
  3. Brantley
  4. Encarnacion
  5. Kipnis
  6. Ramirez

But where do I begin with my angst with either one of these line-ups. What’s become instantly apparent in this early 2017 season is that Jose Ramirez isn’t a No. 6 hitter. While it’s really hard to move a guy like Kipnis down to the six-hole thanks to his back-to-back 5-fWAR seasons, let’s not forget that Jose Ramirez was a 4.8 WAR player last year as well, and in his age 23 season.

When do folks acknowledge that Ramirez very well may be one of the top three hitters in the line-up?

If the Indians have moved on from Kipnis leading off, there is an easy scenario, which was mentioned in several pieces outside of WFNY over the past week, and that would simply to use the “lefty” scenario in place full-time, or the righty scenario. I’ve seen a variety of reasoning for this, and will begrudgingly admit, that it’s likely what’s going to happen. I can’t fathom the Indians moving Lindor or Brantley at this point, and Encarnacion, for now, is entrenched in the four-hole. That leaves the only mobile spots the lead-off, five and six, and that’s where we’re likely to see the action.

In the end, the line-up discussion in 2017 is going to be a fun one, but for kicks and giggles, let’s make a fun line-up or two, shall we?

What if Jose Ramirez is way better than anyone has given him credit for. That’s hard for me to say, since I’ve had him in my top four prospects since he played in Lake County. But as high as even I’ve been on JRam, it’s distinctly possible that the Jose Altuve comparison I’ve been making since John Grimm brought it up in a conversation with Mike Hattery at EHC three years ago is not only true, but likely. What if Jose Ramirez is a 7 WAR player in the making? What if there’s more power there? What if he’s one of the top three hitters in the lineup?

Well…how about this line-up against right-handed hitters?

  1. Santana
  2. Lindor
  3. JRam
  4. Encarnacion
  5. Brantley
  6. Kipnis

I’ve heard some folks talk about making sure you “protect” Encarnacion. Well, what about Brantley and Kipnis? I know, Francona discussed meeting his Brantley and Kipnis about hitting two lefties back-to-back, but, wouldn’t that behoove the lineup against right-handed pitching? We can get into the semantics of that, but even if you swapped Lindor and JRam, or hell, moved Santana to the five-hole, slid up Lindor and JRam, and moved Brantley back to his three-hole, still looks pretty damn good, doesn’t it?

Now I know what you’re thinking. You don’t move veterans like that down in the line-up. But, aren’t Brantley and Kipnis the locker room leaders? Isn’t Terry Francona a wunderkind in the dugout? Isn’t he a leader of men?

Shouldn’t be an issue, and if it is, all that “locker mess” turns out to be BS. So let’s just get past that, shall we?

In the end, I suspect whatever line-up we see this weekend won’t be set in stone, and we still haven’t talked about the bottom three yet. While I’m sure WFNY will dive head-first into that discussion, I know I will…this coming week in my Corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

But that’s for another day.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Okay, I just watched the 12 MCU films, in order, over the past month, and here’s my current top 12 list:

  1. Captain America: The Winter Solder
  2. Captain America: Civil War
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Marvel’s Avengers
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger
  6. Iron Man
  7. Iron Man 2
  8. Ant-Man
  9. Thor
  10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  11. Thor: The Dark World
  12. The Incredible Hulk
  13. Doctor Strange
  14. Iron Man 3

A couple of things to note. I liked every one of these movies. They are all well done, and while when I saw Age of Ultron, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, I actually liked it a bit more while watching it as a piece of the MCU. A lot of things made more sense, having just seen the other movies. Thor’s part in the movie, for example, bugged me at first, but it fit better knowing where it came from, and where it was, and is going.

When I first saw Doc Strange, I rated it #6. For some reason, that movie just hasn’t resonated with me yet. I love the character, loved the production, and loved Benedict Cumberbatch in that movie. I have it 12, behind Hulk. That will likely change though, as time passes.

I liked the Hulk movie, and while Ed Norton takes his Hollywood beating yearly, and perhaps for good reason, I liked him in this role. That said, I like Mark Ruffalo as well. I’d have this movie higher, if Norton continued. He didn’t, so I don’t.

The Captain America arc is as good as it gets to me. CA isn’t on the playing field as Batman in the pantheon of characters, but boy has Marvel made him special. Also, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man gets overlooked all the time. Without it being as amazing as it was, would there be an MCU?

Nope.

To me, the Top 8 MCU movies are incredibly good for what they are, and 9-12 aren’t too shabby either. With Guardians 2 coming up to bat, I’ll reshuffle these then. And sheesh, how good was Guardians 1? I don’t have it #1, but I could, and at one time, I did. Give me some time, but either way, this should be fun.

Buy Vinyl, because it’s good and righteous

I had a talk with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, about vinyl, and why there aren’t necessarily better than remasters, but do different things. He said, “there are things on albums that you can’t remaster, because they don’t make the electronics that made the vinyl back then.”

Deep thoughts, right?

I’ll get into this more with my next While We’re Waiting, but Albums are going to be my thing. The next time I snag WWW from someone, there are rumors of a vinyl run with WFNY’s Jeff Nomina. Nothing good can come of this, although I’m sure we’ll be singing hillbilly songs. Look out My Mind’s Eye in Lakewood, we’re coming for you.

This week’s vinyl?

When I was nine years old, my friend gave me Queen: The Game. I was a Freddie Mercury fan from that moment on. “Another One Bites the Dust” was on that album, and to this day, remains Queen’s biggest hit in the states. The Game hit huge in the U.S., and it’s still one of my favorites.

Here’s the album:

Here’s the song:

  1. or perhaps, get more time at third base, where he proven to be solid already, but that’s for another piece []
  2. Since this piece is more about Kipnis, than about Diaz vs. Martinez, I’ll leave this here to boil for a bit, but rest assured, once the roster decision is announced, there will be another column to follow to address it. []

  • Saggy

    It’s MUCH better in writing. Just one of those things.

  • Garry_Owen

    And President of the United States of America . . .

    https://media.giphy.com/media/HOLg8oBAAvVBu/giphy.gif

  • mgbode

    Not exactly the proper position to tell someone to get off the plane. Why not just do it already.

    https://media.giphy.com/media/93Oadqx7jNOtG/giphy.gif

  • mgbode

    fair, quite possibly impossible to push onto the screen.

  • Chris

    That’s a “rigid airship”

  • Garry_Owen
  • mgbode
  • Hopwin

    1. Santana
    2. Lindor
    3. Brantley
    4. Ramirez
    5. Encarnacion
    6. Kipnis

    Drop Edwin til he gets his act together. He is not a clean-up hitter in his present state of mind so get that pressure off him til he is ready.

  • Hopwin

    Agreed on Diaz. He is not a very good 3B. I also think J-ram at 2B is over-rated. I have seen him make some great plays at the foul line but I am not seeing the miraculous double-play machine I was promised with him and Lindor.

  • mgbode

    I don’t remember any of those 6 MCU movies. Going to check them out this weekend.

  • Chris

    Nothing says “taking off the pressure” like a demotion.

  • Okay, not sure how I missed Avengers 1, but IM3 is straight trash. Avengers 1 goes 4, IM3 goes 14

    1. Captain America: The Winter Solder
    2. Captain America: Civil War
    3. Guardians of the Galaxy
    4. Avengers 1
    5. Captain America: The First Avenger
    6. Iron Man
    7. Iron Man 2
    8. Ant-Man
    9. Thor
    10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
    11. Thor: The Dark World
    12. The Incredible Hulk
    13. Doctor Strange
    14. Iron Man 4

  • I despised 3

  • Well…I despised 3 in a “They’re all good” sorta way

  • Garry_Owen

    There sure has been a lot of sizzle with some pretty average steak. Good thing I like steak.

  • Hopwin

    Guess we will have to disagree on what a demotion is. We can ask Yandy this weekend though when Kip comes back.

  • jpftribe

    Given how Chis, Almonte and Brantley are playing, moving Diaz out of the lineup is the right move. Even getting him more AB’s at Columbus is the smart move. Any justification that involves leaving MM on the roster though, is suspect IMHO.

    To me Diaz is a rock solid defensive 3rd baseman as much as Kip is a rock solid 2nd baseman. Defensively, I’d still prefer to see JRam at second. He and Lindor up the middle are about as good as it gets. But getting Kip’s bat in the lineup trumps that, at least for now.

  • mgbode

    IM3 did Fake News before Fake News was a thing (well, at least it wasn’t called such a thing yet).

  • Not fair…you don’t comment on the pieces I don’t talk about Martinez, of which there actually are a few. Picking and choosing stats isn’t statistically sound. Your comment metrics are off.

  • Steve
  • Hey guys…seriously…thanks for reading my stuff…

  • Steve

    The ZiPS projection system doesn’t just project overall numbers, but splits as well.

    Here are the projected splits vs LHP

    Edwin Encarnacion .268/.372/.514
    Carlos Santana .263/.377/.456
    Brandon Guyer .286/.375/.450
    Francisco Lindor .295/.350/.457
    Yan Gomes .252/.295/.447
    Jose Ramirez .281/.337/.405
    Michael Brantley .277/.339/.393
    Jason Kipnis .261/.324/.397
    Yandy Diaz .263/.350/.366
    Abraham Almonte .254/.310/.392
    Lonnie Chisenhall .255/.306/.392
    Austin Jackson .254/.313/.373
    Tyler Naquin .242/.309/.364
    Roberto Perez .203/.312/.329
    Michael Martinez .235/.269/.327

    and vs RHP
    Edwin Encarnacion .263/.352/.515
    Michael Brantley .300/.360/.466
    Carlos Santana .241/.358/.456
    Francisco Lindor .299/.351/.452
    Jason Kipnis .277/.348/.453
    Jose Ramirez .287/.339/.426
    Tyler Naquin .261/.324/.418
    Lonnie Chisenhall .269/.316/.420
    Brandon Guyer .260/.344/.385
    Austin Jackson .265/.313/.390
    Abraham Almonte .254/.308/.389
    Yandy Diaz .258/.327/.356
    Yan Gomes .231/.268/.403
    Roberto Perez .206/.303/.341
    Michael Martinez .234/.279/.314

    Throw in some adjustments that they machine may not know – Yan Gomes is broken, Michael Brantley is healthy, Ramirez cares not for projection systems designed by mere mortals, and you get something like

    Santana-Guyer-Lindor-Encarnacion-Brantley-Ramirez-Kipnis-C/Jackson vs LHP

    and

    Santana-Brantley-Lindor-Encarnacion-Kipnis-Ramirez-Chis-C/Almonte vs RHP

  • Chris

    It’s just a dig at Bode. No question it’s working out quite well.

  • Funny, when I watched it, I thought the very same thing. I just think they mismanaged the characters a bit. Everything was very thin, and while it set up Ultron quite well, I think Ultron was substandard as well. It’s truly the only film of all of these that I just…wanted to end…

  • My worry too…

  • Eric G

    YES! This was my second thought after ALL of the CA movies were above Iron Man 1.

  • Eric G

    Side note: I was not into comics at all, so their “true to form” status couldn’t be more meaningless to me.

  • Saggy

    I agree with your second lineup. I really like that one. Except I’d use real names.

    I like that it puts your best hitter at 3, and it takes pressure off of Brantley to play like a 3 hitter.

  • Chris

    Real names? Where’s the fun in that?

  • Hopwin

    Or you know leave him in the cleanup spot cause thats working….

  • Dorthaafay

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  • jpftribe

    You guys are all writing great stuff Jim, this no exception. I think you gotta give Francona credit for easing Kip in at 6, and Kip happy to be back and hit anywhere. Right way to start, and Francona will be taste testing lineups until August, so we’ll see all the variations at some point.

    Also interesting that Francona solicited the FO guys for their lineups. More data points and a little “those wankers upstairs think this is a good idea” air cover. Which is all good imo.

  • I was into comics, so their “true to form” status couldn’t be more meaningless to me as well. I guess it’s outside the box thinking to imagine that a movie could have different nuance…hate it when movies get derailed by fanboys that don’t take it in as its own entity. I mean, I love the references and homages, and love the connecting storylines, but could care less either way…

  • I was into comics, so their “true to form” status couldn’t be more meaningless to me as well. I guess it’s outside the box thinking to imagine that a movie could have different nuance…hate it when movies get derailed by fanboys that don’t take it in as its own entity. I mean, I love the references and homages, and love the connecting storylines, but could care less either way…

  • I don’t know, the storyline as the origin movie didn’t really provide him with the opportunity that Ruffalo got. I loved the last scene of the Hulk, the one in which Banner acknowledged who he was…and embraced it. Ruffalo gets that character, and carries it well…maybe it was just the natural order of things…

  • That, or the fact that they didn’t think the Hulk is best suited to stand-alones, which is a real possibility.

  • Yeah, to me, getting this on screen is so damn tough to do. The premise is fantastic…but just getting it to screen in a couple hours, is just so tough…

  • Yeah…Hammer was great…he would have been fun as the secular bad guy. Would have been a completely different film…but would have been pretty damn fun…

  • I think Roth is one of the most underrated actors on the planet. Just seemed like a guy that couldn’t find the right vehicle to completely break out, after reservoir dogs…but perhaps that was on purpose. He’s pretty unconventional, but always thought there was a Gary Oldman niche out there. I liked Blonsky here…not sure I agree 100% with the idea that he was better…because I’m always left with…”damn it, there’s more there….” with Blonsky. I did love the character though…

  • My vinyl collection was stolen a couple months back in Raleigh, before I could get it up to Erie…and all my Queen albums went with it. What I’ll be providing on WWW, when I get the follow ups, are my reacquiring my collection, and the original stories of the albums as I got them. I’m pretty damn upset about losing them…so don’t want to lose the stories. Thank god I catalogued them…

  • I think we could have a situation in which JRam just plays his way into the top 3. I mean, it’s hard to bump freakin’ Brantley or Lindor…right? So the next 12 months will be telling, especially regarding Santana, but also including Brantley…

  • Yeah…was having an interesting conversation with Nom and Hattery about this very thing last night. Whether Francona chooses to do this, or HAS to do this, you do have to give him credit. While I’ve been harsh on some of the have-not moves that I irrationally want done, he’s made 80% of the moves personnel wise that I wanted him to make. I’m monstrously curious about the input the front office has on a day-to-day basis…

  • Gloriambackman

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