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MLB Today: Indians Trying to Return to Glory Years

February 27, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Mike Hargrove is acting as a special advisor for the Cleveland Indians.
Mike Hargrove is in camp with the Indians as a special advisor — and he’s brought his bunny with him.

The Cleveland Indians were one of baseball’s biggest surprises last year, hanging around in the AL Central in the first half before finally fading down the stretch.

It gave hope to an organization that had struggled through back-to-back horrific seasons that a return to glory may not be far away.

To help turn that potential into reality, the Tribe has brought in several people associated with its big run in the mid-‘90s to try to inspire a young, improving squad.

Former Manager Mike Hargrove and stars Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga made an appearance at Cleveland’s camp Sunday to act as guest instructions (Hargrove is a special advisor to the team). Lofton and Baerga are also working on getting another of their star teammates from that era to come down and help out – someone that had a bitter divorce with the Indians. Yes, we’re talking about the fiery Albert “Don’t Call me Joey” Belle.

However, we’re going to have to question how wise a move this would be. After all, what are they going to ask Belle to do? Run instruction drills to help younger players learn how to run down trick or treaters, among other useful exercises?

Quick Hits

  • The Reds Sox’ move to ban alcohol from the clubhouse in the wake of last summer’s famous beer and fried chicken scandal is nothing more than a PR move that will have no teeth, says former Boston Manager Terry Francona. Perhaps it is only window dressing – and an overreaction to an extent – but it does send a strong message that the BoSox will be all business this year. Or at least more so than last year. And that’s not a bad thing.
  • Joel Zumaya, who was trying to make a comeback with the Twins this spring and hurt his elbow yet again on Saturday, said he may be finished entirely after this latest setback. Facing Tommy John surgery on his elbow, the 27-year-old won’t pitch at all this season, and the prospect of yet another operation has him rethinking things: “I’ve got a little 2½-year-old, so maybe it’s time to move on,” he said. Once considered a certain closer in waiting with his triple-digit heater, Zumaya’s career started spiraling out of control because of an injury he suffered by playing too much Guitar Hero. On the plus side, he’ll have plenty of time to play video games now.
  • Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon said he’s all but sold seven minority stakes in his team (for $20 million each) and could sell up to a dozen in total, giving New York an infusion of up to $240 million. However, whether they are able to sell all these stakes or not, the Wilpons will retain majority ownership of the Mets and have no plans for that to change at any time soon. Sorry, Mets fans, this picture won’t get any clearer until the lawsuit related to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme is resolved.
  • Bobby Abreu has been told he’ll get 400 plate appearances this season, but we’re not sure how that’s going to happen without a trade. Either way, Abreu is not happy, and he’d rather be the one dealt than become a utility player, but the signing of Albert Pujols and the return to health of Kendrys Morales has created a major playing time issue among the Angels’ 1B/DH/OF types. And that’s not even factoring in that top prospect Mike Trout needs a path cleared for him. What a mess. As if you needed another reason to steer clear of Abreu this season, this will cinch the deal for you.

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