Hey hi and hello there. It’s a new face for your Thursday While We’re Waiting, as #TeamThursday has undergone an injection of different writers. Kyle Welch and Jacob Rosen, long-time contributors to this spot, are gone but not forever. Replacing them are myself and the internet’s Frank Ryan. While I don’t plan on writing any screenplays for you, I do hope and believe that between the two of us, we can keep up with the level of talent that Kyle and Jacob both brought to your eyeballs.
It’s hard starting. That can be intentionally taken a lot of different ways. Ledes have always been a tough thing for me to write,1 so there’s one, but starting a new chapter of #TeamThursday is tough. Trying to follow behind Kyle and Jacob and Jess and all the others before me is akin to undrafted rookie free agent Desmond Harrison trying to take over for Joe Thomas. I often think in memes and GIFs2 and all I can think of is Harry Potter screaming at Snape for taking over as Headmaster after Dumbledore died. How dare I stand where they stood.
But nevertheless, here we are. As I try to think of what to write about, how to match if not do better than those before…I am stuck. Starting is hard. Kind of like starting a season with the ghosts of better teams past. In the outfield for the Tribe is a starting group of Jake Bauers, Leonys Martin…and a collection of players including Greg Allen, Jordan Luplow, possibly Tyler Naquin, maybe Jason Kipnis, a statue of Grady Sizemore, a blueberry scone, maybe a 6-pack of Great Lakes Brewery craft beer? Yes, as Michael Bode wrote earlier this week, this team is still good, but it could be better. There were moves (and still are moves) to be made to improve upon this team.
Gone is Michael Brantley, a player for whom I basically had to attempt to dislike last year due to my disdain for picking up his option, yet despite all that made me look like a fool when he continued to produce pretty much exactly as he had previous. Tasked with filling in for him is Jake Bauers, a prospect who has more swing and miss than Brantley but also a higher walk rate. Gone is Edwin Encarnacion and his clockwork 30+ home runs, replaced by never-should-have-left Carlos Santana and his underrated ability to take a frickin walk. Gone are Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, with little to no replacements, unless you are like newcomer Mitch Krall and think our bullpen could be solid.
In the new-age of Cavaliers basketball, starting over seems to be the routine, as some players were here for fewer than days than it’s been since I’ve changed my underwear. In was Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin but then out again they were for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Out with them was Alec Burks, who ended up being a semi-useful piece for a tanking team like the Cavs, which meant he and his expiring contract were on the road again. Will all of this starting and stopping ultimately make like Elphaba and be for good?3 Time will tell. Zion Williamson4 looms as the big door prize, the giant stuffed animal waiting for the team that’s able to drop the hammer in the standings hard enough to ring the bell. Will Cleveland be able to pull off the tank? That has already started.
Starting this offseason for the Browns is one of renewed hope. Oh, sure, we have all been excited about a season, but not like this. This is the potential beginning of a run of success that football fans in Cleveland haven’t seen since juuuuust before I was born.5 With my mancrush Baker Mayfield at the helm, it truly seems like anything is possible, except for losing.
So what will the new #TeamThursday look like? An amalgamation of everything, such as this entry. Frank and I both are storytellers with an eye to the analytics, so sometimes you’ll get a rambling diatribe about nothing, (Oh hey hi.)) and sometimes you’ll get a deep dive into the stats of why Carlos Santana is actually good despite fans being in an uproar that he needs to swing the bat. One thing I can promise you is I will always rant with you, so let’s do that.
Rant Of The (Every Other) Week
I’m a hopeful guy. Despite my sometimes physically crippling anxiety, I really try hard to be optimistic about most everything. But after the Paul Hoynes interview with Chris Antonetti this week, I find myself deflated. The second question posed to the president of baseball operations was about a Francisco Lindor extension and whether or not the payroll savings created this season were directly tied to trying to accomplish a long term deal with the shortstop. Antonetti’s answer left me with more questions that inevitably went unanswered. Antonetti spoke in the general sense when talking about extension candidates, not wanting to cast aspersions that they were dissatisfied with Lindor but the second paragraph of the answer worried me as well. Antonetti is quoted as saying, “Beyond that, for a team and player to reach an agreement on a multi-year contract, both parties need to be motivated by the desire to make something work and find common ground. Without that desire, talks never progress.”
Obviously, both sides have to come to an agreement, you can’t force a player to sign an extension, but the idea that Frankie might not want to work out a long term with the team has me dour. The face of the franchise, Lindor has been an Indian for life and should continue to be. Alas, no one can be upset with a player wanting to test free agency, top out and get as much money as possible, especially given the pennies-on-the-dollar players are paid compared to the value they give to teams prior to even arbitration. I tend to be a little cold when it comes to player movement, not wanting to become too “fan heavy” so as to cloud my judgment, but the thought that in a few short years Lindor could/will be playing in another jersey just makes me sad.