After tussling over Brendanukkah's controversial post this week, Jay from Let's Go Tribe and I got into it over who are the territorial baseball kings. It's kind of a Q and A and Q and A. Here's a transcript of our conversation, cross-posted at LGT:
Red Reporter: How much does it suck that we have Brandon Phillips and you don't?
Let's Go Tribe: You really want to start there? Okay. I admit it, it sucks pretty bad. We got took, but then we took the Mariners a few months later to get Asdrubal Cabrera -- very similar package of skills, but younger, and still a bit raw. But anyway, it sucks.
LGT: How did you guys feel about Krivsky getting the axe? Did you ever get a fix on whether he had any idea what he was doing, running a ballclub? He had a couple of these miraculous moves with Phillips and Hamilton, but then he kind of seemed like an idiot outside of those.
RR: You'll find a lot of mixed feeling about Krivsky. He did some stupendous things -- picking up Phillips on the cheap, getting Josh Hamilton (who he parlayed into Edinson Volquez) for practically nothing -- but he did some incredibly stupid things -- The Trade (Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns for relievers), signing Rheal Cormier and Mike Stanton to substantial deals, passing on Tim Lincecum in the 2006 draft. But the strange thing about his firing was the timing. We were all ready to fire him last year, but a dozen or so games into the season seemed like a really odd time to hand the reigns over to Jocketty. In the end, he did show a severe lack of direction (notice we have 4 centerfielders, none of them any good, and three catchers, ditto, and no decent right-handed bats off the bench), but I think he was improving toward the end of his tenure. It was his first job as the head guy, and I think he showed a decent learning curve. I expect to see him at the helm of another team.
RR: How much does Travis Hafner's slow start worry you? He's a big, hulking 31-year-old dude, and we've seen players of his stature and prowess suffer severe declines at similar ages. Last season was a disappointment, but from an outsider's perspective this year is shaping up to be a disaster.
LGT: Oh, it's already a disaster. He was a very mediocre hitter for more than half of last season, and this season he's been terrible. Just awful to think about how his contract would have been expiring at the end of this season had we not given him that huge extension — and one of the key reasons behind the Indians' success in rebuilding has been avoiding those big contracts that kill you. At this point, he's apparently looking at totally re-tooling his swing. I will say, however, that I think comparisons to other similar players collapsing have been very superficial. For the most part, he gets compared to slow, immobile DH types with low averages, guys like Mo Vaughn. That's not Hafner at all — he's always been a capable baserunner as big guys go, and he was an all-around great hitter, with high averages to go along with the take-and-rake stuff.
LGT: So, how sick are you guys of Adam Dunn? Is it like this constant debate, where half the fans love him and half the fans hate him, and each half thinks the other half is a bunch of idiots? And can we please have him? (Just think about how great Josh Barfield could be as a Red.)
RR: That is the most worn-out conversation on our site, in our city and among our fans. Many (most?) fans don't understand how valuable he is as a hitter and just consider him a terrible fielder who strikes out way too much. He's very unique, but he's been our best hitter over the past 7 years or so, and many of us adore him. That said, I don't think there are many people who think we should re-sign him, given his age (29 next year), likely decline (105 OPS+ so far this year) and likely a huge salary demand (which he's earned). So we're ready to part ways. I don't know that we match up for a trade, though... We need prospects of the following talents: a catcher who can hit; a right-handed power-hitter (preferably an outfielder); or a left-handed starter or two. It doesn't look like your farm is set up in that direction, although...
RR: So what do you have to offer for Adam Dunn (or Ken Griffey Jr. for that matter)? And do you want any of our other players?
LGT: I already told you: Barfield for Dunn. Dunn is off to a shaky start, and you can't be hoping to sucker anyone in a trade for Dunn, because all the sucker GM's will be afraid of his strikeouts. We are willing to take him off your hands and give you Josh Barfield, though, who should thrive once returned to the Mickey Mouse league, not to mention that ridiculous bandbox you're playing in. Doesn't seem like you have any other players worth having, frankly.
LGT: Speaking of which, you guys have fluked into two wins over us now, and I was just wondering, are you really enjoying this at all? Or is it kind of hard to work up any enthusiasm, knowing your season is going in the toilet anyway? Have you pretty much written off the rest of the decade once Dusty Baker screws up all your young pitchers?
RR: Josh Barfield is putting up some monster numbers in the International League: .255/.301/.392/.693. Thanks, but we'd rather have Drew Carey in the infield. Our second baseman's not too bad, anyway. And yes, the five wins in a row have felt great. We haven't given up hope that we can win the NL Central, with our young and kickass rotation and some reinforcement bats on the way. Also, our closer doesn't give up walk-off home runs. As for Dusty's reputation for mistreating young arms, let's just say that claim is underdeveloped and overused.
RR: So what the hell happened to your farm system? You didn't graduate any of your top-10 guys from last year but still dropped 9 spots to 19th in Baseball America's rankings. Adam Miller's in Triple-A for the third straight year, and Beau Mills looks less than impressive in Class A Kinston. Is it nerve-wracking knowing there's no help on the way from the farm?
LGT: Nerve-wracking? You must have us confused with a team that has to fight for fifth place in a six-team division that's so bad, the Cubs are considered good. Hell, if the Reds were in the AL, they wouldn't even be above .500. Oh, wait a second ... I gotta be honest with you, we're not really sweating the farm system, considering we won 96 games last year and 20 of our players are under 30. Anyway, Baseball America isn't even sophisticated enough to rank our farm system -- that's why we got major contributions last season from three prospects who didn't even MAKE our Top 10 -- Laffey, Lewis and Cabrera. But there's no way you could have known that, since you didn't have any reason to watch the playoffs last year.
LGT: Anyway, you tell me -- which of your players should we have any interest in? And let's get serious for a second here -- let's say we were willing to send you Kelly Shoppach. Young catcher, great defense, genuine power threat. He'd be a starter on most teams, ask anyone. Moving beyond your overpaid rentals and our half-busted prospects, what could we do for real, significant moves on both sides? Because Shapiro and Jocketty have done business before, we are natural trading partners.
RR: Good point about playoffs. By the way, do you know anybody who was out of diapers the last time the Indians won a World Series?
LGT: Haha, well played, my friend. I'm surprised you even knew that they still hold the World Series. Something else you may not know is that teams are allowed to send more than one player to the All-Star Game — it's true, you could look it up. You know what you could do, drive on over to Kentucky, maybe you can get someone there to show you how to look stuff up with a computer, right after he teaches you to read. No offense intended, of course. I really respect the illiterate, you have so much courage.
LGT: So anyway, I guess I was right the first time, you don't have anybody worth trading for, huh?
RR: We have a lot of players on the chopping block, and some are even worthwhile. If you want an extra outfielder, take a look at Ryan Freel. If you want a good outfielder, you can have Dunn or Griffey if the price is right. If you want a major league-ready starting pitcher, check out Bronson Arroyo. If you want a pitching prospect with ace potential, we might be willing to part with Homer Bailey. Shoppach's shown good power in the minors, but he's 28 and I'm not sure he's much different than David Ross.
RR: What are you looking forward to the most: Our ERA leader striking out 10, or our hitters proving what kind of a pitcher your ERA leader really is? (No, seriously, Cliff Lee is not that good, right?)
LGT: Sadly for you, Cliff Lee really is that good, and he's enough of a badass that he might just throw at Phillips all day long — it's not like baserunners can score on him anyway. It actually should be a great matchup, one that any baseball fan should savor. But to answer your question, what I'm looking forward to the most is getting the hell out of Cincinnati. And you can take that however you want.