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. []

  • RGB
  • RGB

    What about the first Avengers movie?

  • mgbode

    The Captain America comics were always the best as his character allowed for the deepest thoughts and most complex storylines. I was frightened when they brought him out that they wouldn’t do the same with the movies, but it is the CA arcs that bind the entire rest of the MCU together (seriously, the first CA movie is what makes the entire premise possible).

    Sadly, they handed the comic series to an absolute clown show writer now who hates the military (his words) and has decided to attempt to torpedo the entire character. It’s a mis-step in the comics but they have had those before. They are smart enough to know their movies need to be a cleaner sheen and have executed them so well.

    My list of the 14 (including the original Avengers & Iron Man 3, which you don’t have):

    Captain America: The First Avenger
    Captain America: The Winter Solder
    Iron Man
    Captain America: Civil War
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    The Incredible Hulk
    Iron Man 3
    Avengers: Age of Ultron
    Avengers
    Thor
    Doctor Strange
    Iron Man 2
    Ant-Man
    Thor: The Dark World

    Civil War would have ranked higher (even highest) but I had high expectations for the script, which was a bit lacking in some specific areas. The ideals from the comic story arc were all there (Tony’s paranoia, Vision’s pragmaticism, Captain’s freedom idealism, Scarlet’s grip on fear w/ others vs her own) but how they played out and were described missed some key elements where you sort of needed to know the comic backdrop in order to fully appreciate. Wish they would have had more Matrix style back-n-forths on these things, but that’s me.

    I don’t penalize Norton’s film as it was so fun and good even if he was an idiot who demanded too much and might have killed off us getting a 2nd Hulk-focused film. Ruffalo is meh as Banner. He’s supposed to hate himself & Hulk to really dark recesses, which doesn’t come across that much from him. Hulk himself is fun though, and looks like we are getting more Hulk, less Ruffalo moving forward (which sort of kills the best parts of the Hulk arcs but whatever).

  • mgbode

    and Iron Man 3

  • jpftribe

    I spun Steely Dan’s Kid Charlemagne on vinyl last night and it was just glorious.

    News of the World was my first Queen album. I spun the hell out of that. Still love it today. All Dead, It’s Late and Sleeping on the Sidewalk are total Queen sleepers.

  • Chris

    If only we had a real leadoff hitter…

  • JM85

    That’s a good top 3. Captain America movies have been the strongest and most entertaining. Infinity War could easily top the list though.

  • JM85

    He was an idiot and definitely demanded too much. It was a shame because I liked the movie and thought he was the best Banner.

  • Garry_Owen

    Okay, I’ve heard this “Diaz is a good 3B” thing bandied about, but I just don’t see it, and haven’t seen much in support. Somebody help me out. Use advanced stats, if you must, but only if you must (knowing that it does little for me). The “eye test” – and I know it’s not scientific – tells me that Diaz lacks confidence, is shaky, and has pretty significant mechanical issues with playing the position. I think he fields fine, but his throws give me the shakes. Either he’s not as good as everyone is claiming he is, or Encarnacion is a bad 1B (I’m open to either option). What’s going on here? Is Diaz really good, or do we just want him to be good and look for anything that confirms the bias?

  • Chris

    I really don’t think Tito can go wrong with the top 6. He seems to really like two things: Santana leading off and avoiding putting R-R or L-L back to back in the heart of the order. With Santana and Lindor cemented in the top-3, I don’t think Tito would put his third switch hitter up there. And so, we’re left with pretty much these two options. I prefer the top one.

    Santana
    MVP
    Brantley
    Edwing
    Heatmiser
    Kip

    or

    Santana
    Kip
    MVP
    Edwing
    Brantley
    Heatmiser

  • RGB

    I liked Iron Man 2 much more than Iron Man 3.
    They could have done more with Whiplash, but Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer was great. He stole every scene he was in.

  • RGB

    I didn’t like Norton as the Hulk, because he wasn’t Bruce Banner. He was Edward Norton.

  • mgbode

    I enjoyed Hammer (he was great), but the storyline fell flat for long stretches to me. Still a quality film, but I much more enjoyed the faux terror angle in 3 (and my boys loved that Stark started what becomes a repeating mentorship angle).

  • mgbode

    Norton is so brooding, I think Marvel shied away from giving Ruffalo his own vehicle due to being almost impossible for him to measure up from that side.

  • Chris

    I think it’s fair to say he’s beating expectations defensively. Maybe the whole PR-smear wasn’t to try to keep him down, but specifically to tamper the WFNY commentariat’s expectations.
    Don’t underestimate our clout!

  • mgbode

    He is average or as you say field’s fine. He purposefully throws on a bounce as Mills has instructed him to do so if you are worried about that portion (Lindor and J-Ram do the same). He does- as we’ve discussed- not use his legs enough on throws.

    After a Spring where Tito was crushing his defense constantly though, average-D jumps over expectations rather easily.

  • mgbode

    The big worry with Infinity War is that they try to do too much in each movie. They need to let it ride out (wish it was a trilogy).

  • mgbode

    Oh, you’ll like my column today.

  • mgbode

    Norton’s persona of dark, brooding and self-hatred while having full confidence in himself above all others is sort of exactly Bruce Banner though.

  • RGB

    I think Tim Roth is a far better actor than Norton and his Emil Blonsky was much better than Norton’s Banner.

  • Garry_Owen

    No problem whatsoever with bounce throws (though I would definitely like to see him be able to get those on a rope eventually). But I’ve seen EE pulled off the bag a few times too many, which understandably comes with the territory with throws from the 3B, but perhaps a bit much.

    Honestly, I think Tito was pulling some major Urban Meyer psychology with Diaz. Remember when Meyer absolutely destroyed the WR corps (justifiably, fwiw), and they proceeding to turn into probably the best WR group in CFB for a couple of years? I think that’s what Tito was doing, and it appears to be working a bit.

  • Chris

    Oh cool! The one about the Browns trading Joe Thomas?

  • Garry_Owen

    If we had that much clout, the Browns would be a playoff team. Or out of business. Not really sure which.

  • RGB

    He’s not “sciency” enough for me. He’s just not convincing as the reserved physicist that he’s supposed to be.

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    fair – he’s better as the Bruce Banner alter-ego of Hulk than he is of Bruce Banner before Hulk. No doubt.

  • mgbode

    They would constantly be changing head coaches, front offices, and even ownership because of how we run them out of town. Oh wait…

  • Garry_Owen
  • Chris

    “He does… not use his legs enough on throws”

    It’s because he routinely skips leg day.

  • Garry_Owen
  • Harv

    A Jim Pete joint invokes Michael Martinez – who saw that coming. If one disappears, does the other cease to exist? 🙂

  • RGB

    Maybe, but one of us still would have drafted JFF…

  • Chris
  • Garry_Owen
  • Chris

    At least he would have had Watkins catching passes for him

  • Chris
  • mgbode

    Do you remember the “Brandon Weeden was waived by the Cleveland Browns” thread? I imagine Jim, MikeH, and Nom all re-enacting that thread should M-Mart be DFA’d (though he was last year and came back all Jason-style).

  • swig

    I like that you like the Hulk and don’t like Thor. Most people have those two flipped and I don’t understand.

  • mgbode

    Dude, get with today’s theme. There’s only ONE Captain.

    https://media.tenor.co/images/feb89b55e3e02f2212a3de1473ca6de3/tenor.gif

  • Saggy

    hundred

  • Saggy

    I kept waiting for him to pull out a deck of cards and a slice of pizza.

  • RGB
  • Garry_Owen
  • mgbode

    Thor is candy. I understand people like candy, but I want a bit more. I want candy coated apples or something. I don’t know, I think I’m losing the metaphor here.

  • Saggy

    I think it’s more because The Hulk just isn’t that self-sustaining of a character. He needs other people around to matter. So often he is just sitting around (as Hulk) and brooding until something comes along that either makes him angry or asks him for help.

  • Chris
  • Garry_Owen
  • mgbode

    The interesting arc in the Hulk series is the inner battle of Banner between understanding how Hulk can help the world and wanting to do so, but also that he could be too destructive. Then, interplaying it on the angle that Banner & Hulk are actually fighting for control of the singular body and that it is driving both of them a bit insane. There is a ton there if they want it.

  • Saggy

    Re: Vinyl

    I have busted my paypal fun-money account a few too many times purchasing records. But pairing a great amp with a solid turntable and well-crafted recordings is bliss. I’ve got a really sweet-sounding Brubeck “Time Out” that tickles my fancy every time I hear it.

    What are you going to be running in your system? Solid-state, tubes, or maybe hybrid amp? Turntable?

  • Chris