I did not know Bob Feller. I have no great stories to tell about our dicussions of baseball's past and present. All I know is what I've read, and what I've read is a story that is more fantastic and inspiring than any Hollywood script.Baseball lost a legend and our country lost a proud American when Rapid Robert passed away last week at the age of 92. The press box at Progressive Field lost a frequent visitor and everyone around the team lost a magicifient storyteller. I'm sad that I missed the opportunity to hear his tales.What I do have is a baseball card with a black-and-white picture of a young Feller with his signature penned beautifully underneath. Don't worry, this was not the result of a breach in the reporter's no-autographs code of conduct. Feller often joked that he signed more autographs than anyone in history. One happens to be on a shelf in my office.
I'm proud to have his signature among my memorabilia, not due to its monetary worth, but for what he stood for as a person. Steadfast and outspoken in his beliefs, Feller's greatest accomplishment might have been serving his country in the Navy during World War II. It certainly was one of his proudest achievements.
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E-mail your query to MLB.com Indians beat reporter Jordan Bastian for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Can you imagine players in their primes leaving the game today like Feller and so many others did in the 1940s? Feller in a military uniform when he could easily have stayed on the ballfield is an amazing image. So was seeing him in his Indians uniform playing catch during Spring Training in recent years.
That last image is one I had the opportunity to witness. Rest in peace, Bob.Hey Jordan, how do the Indians plan on commemorating Bob Feller this season? Will they have some sort of patch on the sleeve of their jerseys this season in remembrance?
-- Thomas C., Powell, Ohio
They will, indeed, Thomas. The Indians are planning on wearing a patch that has a white background with a silhouette of Feller's famous high leg-kick pitching delivery. Above his image will be "HOF 1962" in honor of his year of induction into baseball's Hall of Fame and his number 19 will appear below in red lettering.
With the passing of Mr. Robert Feller on Wednesday night (Rest in Peace, big man), I had always wondered who signed the autographed baseball that he received, to go along with that famous $1 contract?
-- Nick M., Valley View, Ohio
This remains a bit of a mystery. I've been told by one person that it was "signed by the Indians," which doesn't really answer your question. I've also heard that it was signed by Cy Slapnicka, the Indians scout who discovered Feller in 1935. Adding to the mystery is the fact that the whereabouts of the baseball are unknown.
To be honest, I like not knowing who signed the ball. Not knowing only adds to Feller's remarkable story. Personally, I am more amazed by the fact that Cleveland was able to sign Feller for only $1. With inflation, that's roughly $16 today. Simply incredible.
On to some non-Feller topics ...I read that Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona is drawing nearly as much trade interest as Zack Greinke did. What else can you tell us? If a team is willing to offer as much for Carmona as Milwaukee did for Greinke, then I wouldn't be against trading him.
-- Michael C., Carlisle, Pa.
What I can tell you is that it should come as no surprise that Carmona is drawing interest from other clubs. He's 27 years old, coming off a solid season and has an afforable, team-friendly contract with club options for the 2012-14 seasons. If teams weren't inquiring about Carmona, they wouldn't be doing their due dilligence.
Now, does this mean the Indians are interested in trading Carmona? Hardly. Cleveland is not shopping the righty, and, while every player has a price, it would certainly take a lot to convince the Tribe to deal him. The Indians' current rotation is thin with Carmona in the fold. Moving him would damage the depth and only clear $6.1 million off the books for the 2011 season.
With the big free-agent names falling off the board, and a player like Greinke being dealt, it makes complete sense that contending clubs would check on Carmona's availability. The Indians believe they will be better in 2011 than they were in 2010, though, and a team can't make that claim if it plans on moving its No. 1 starter. It would have to be a significant offer in order for Carmona to be dealt.
In your first Inbox, people asked about bringing back Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel. Why can't people get over this and realize that the past is gone and it's not coming back?
-- Alan N., Rittman, Ohio
Because it's hard to get excited about an Indians team that lost 190 combined games over the past two seasons and Cleveland hasn't won a World Series since 1948. People want some reason to feel good, and players from the Tribe's successful teams from the '90s can help relive some happy memories.
What fans should do is have hope that they are going to watch a young group of players grow together and develop into something special in the coming years. Before that last sentence has everyone flooding my inbox, yes, I know that's easier said than done, especially when the team and city is so starved for a championship.
Were you a Tribe fan growing up or did you have to learn about the Indians when you got the job covering the team for MLB.com?
-- Aaron H., Steubenville, Ohio
I was not an Indians fan growing up. I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. Despite my geographic location, though, I was not a White Sox fan. I rooted for the Cubs when I was a kid, so I always pulled for the Tribe when they were facing the Sox. With my history of following the Cubs, I certainly can relate to how many Indians fans feel.
My late Grandpa Bastian was born in 1909 -- one year after the Cubs last won the World Series. I now have a son of my own, so that's four generations of Bastian men without a Cubs title to celebrate. I'll let my son pick his own team as he gets older. As for me, I now describe myself as a fan of baseball, but I don't root for any one team. I root for good stories to tell.
First of all, another welcome to you. It would make me very happy if you answer my question -- unlike the former beat writer who never answered my questions. How likely is it that the Indians will be able to sign Shin-Soo Choo to a long-term deal?
-- Charles K., Augusta, W. Va.
Anthony Castrovince never answered one of your questions? Well, shame on him. Consider this an apology from me on his behalf. In his defense, our inboxes get flooded each week with inquiries and it's practically impossible to answer every question that comes our way.
As for your question, if you're asking whether it gets done this offseason, I'd say it's highly unlikely. Choo's agent, Scott Boras, knows that the outfielder could be poised for a hefty contract when he's a free agent after the 2013 season. At the Winter Meetings earlier this month, Boras also noted that the sides had not yet discussed such a deal.
Boras added that, given the Tribe's current economic situation, it is hard to say how close to contention the Indians might be in a year or two. While Boras declined to offer more details, that statement likely meant that he would like to see how things go over the next season or two before considering a long-term pact. The Indians maintain that they plan on discussing an extension with Choo later this winter.
How about Joe Blanton for the Tribe, now that he seems to be on his way out of Philadelphia and Cleveland is in the market for a starting pitcher?
-- Don A., Cleveland
I know this will feel like a repeat of previous answers, but it is the reality of the Indians' situation. Blanton is set to earn $8.5 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012. Even if the Phillies agreed to pick up some of that salary, it's simply too rich for the Tribe right now. The time to add larger contracts will be when Cleveland is closer to contention.
Whatever became of targeting Edwin Encarnacion to play third base? I feel he's poised to break out and prove his worth. Was he simply out of the Indians' budget?
-- Chris. H., Yellow Springs, Ohio
All you need to know is the Blue Jays re-signed Encarnacion as a first baseman and part-time designated hitter. His defense at third base is a problem and would not have been good for a young Indians rotation that relies so much on ground balls.
Hey Jordan. My girlfriend and I are currently in the midst of a dispute as to what kind of creature Slider the mascot is. My money is on "non-descript wacky creature," while she thinks he's a "bird." Could you settle this dispute for us? Thanks!
-- Seth C., Columbus, Ohio
Slider is in the Mascot Hall of Fame. Isn't that all that matters?