The signs of summer are all around my quaint Ohio town.
I decided that it was beautiful day to go for a run around the neighborhood on Sunday morning. Throughout my eight-mile trek, I saw two young boys playing catch, a father and son doing the same and Chief Wahoo's face hanging on more than a few front doors.
It's an Indians summer around here.
Working out in the yard on a recent afternoon, one neighbor pulled to a stop on his way by in his car. He rolled down the window and called out to me.
"How 'bout them Indians?" he yelled out with a smile.
How about them indeed?
The Tribe was 22-11 heading into Monday's off-day, coming off a 3-3 trip through Oakland and Anaheim. Now, Cleveland will be at home for 12 of its next 16 games. On Tuesday, the Indians will look to extend a 13-game winning streak at Progressive Field.
Still, plenty of unanswered questions remain.
I'll try to tackle a few here in this week's Inbox ...
I am a big fan of the Dolan family (and feel they get tagged with an unfair reputation. However, do you see ownership giving the go-ahead to acquire a big-dollar player in July if things continue to go swimmingly?
--Jesse B., Pepper Pike, Ohio
What I can tell you is that, if the Indians remain in contention deep into the summer, they will probably be buyers. Now, how much will they be willing and able to purchase? That depends on a few things.
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First, it depends on the contract status of the available player. If said player is under wraps over a long-term pact, I think it is unlikely that the Indians would bite. I think the Tribe would be looking more toward short-term solutions. The long-term contracts will probably be saved for the young players already in the fold.
The age and salary of the player will also be factors. If the player in question is making an exorbitant amount of money -- in the short-term or long-term -- I don't see it happening. Much like the offseason, I would wager that the Tribe would be looking for experienced, affordable help.
Hey, so far, that approach has worked this year.
Obviously, a lot also depends on the asking price. The Indians aren't going to mortgage their future in order to go for it all right now. Cleveland wants to build a sustained winner, so ripping apart the farm system in order to strengthen one roster area with a short-term solution is an unlikely scenario.
Gee, I paint a pretty bleak picture, you say? The bottom line is the Indians have a solid group of youngsters who are playing above anyone's expectations right now. It is a good core group, with some highly-touted prospects coming, that the Indians will want to keep together.
In adding to that core, the Indians will need to keep an eye on the bottom line. There is no denying that fact. That said, the Tribe will likely be willing to add players via trade this summer if a playoff berth is in the sights. Please, don't start asking me about specific names until July.
If Alex White follows up his solid debut with a couple more quality starts, is there a chance we've seen the last of Mitch Talbot in Cleveland?
--Mike R., Boca Raton, Fla.
Not a big Talbot fan, huh? Even with that 2.32 ERA over his last six starts for the Indians? I know, I know. Sample size alert and all that.
My point is that the Indians aren't going to bail on Talbot this early in a season, or this early in his career for that matter, just because a prospect like White has had a handful of strong showings. White is a big part of the future, but Talbot has been effective for the Tribe.
As I said in last week's Inbox, the Indians might take their time with Talbot's recovery from right elbow soreness if White continues to pitch well. Part of the reality, though, is Talbot is out of Minor League options. Sending Talbot down would expose him to waivers.
Through two starts this season, Talbot is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Another team would gladly take a chance on him if he was up for grabs. That's lost depth Cleveland can't afford to absorb. So, White will stay put with the Indians at least until Talbot's return. Next year, White will likely have a spot from the get-go.
Why is Jason Donald the Indians' third-base representative on the All-Star ballot? And is there any realistic chance of a Jack Hannahan write-in movement being successful?
--Mat F., Eugene, Ore.
I said it last week, if Browns running back Peyton Hillis can win the cover of "Madden NFL 2012" through fan balloting, anything is possible. Of course, having Hannahan win the vote at third base for the American League might require some extreme assistance.
Perhaps putting on a "Vote for Supermanahan" shirt and running across the country like Forrest Gump might help. Just a thought.
As for Donald, he's on the ballot because mistakes and errant fastballs happen. Ballots are turned in by Major League teams early in Spring Training. That also happened to be when Donald -- the favorite for third at the time -- had his left hand broken by a pitch.
Do you see the only path Lonnie Chisenhall takes to the Majors being at third base? If either Hannahan or Matt LaPorta struggle (which we all hope they don't), could Chisenhall see time at first base?
--Scott, Dayton, Ohio
If Hannahan struggles, the Indians have both Chisenhall and Donald in the Minors. As for LaPorta, he has plenty of rope at first base this season. If he struggled, you might see more of Carlos Santana there, but that's doubtful. Plus, there's that whole Trade Deadline thing mentioned earlier
Chisenhall's path is third base and he will likely be at that position as a late-season callup this year and potentially as a regular part of the lineup in 2012. I know fans want to get a look at Lonnie Baseball in the bigs, but this fast start by the Tribe has bought the club more development time for its top prospect.
That's not a bad thing.
Don't ask me why, but I am a fan of Lou Marson. I just wondered if he has a good chance to stay in Cleveland, even as the backup, because I know Santana has things locked up. I would just like to keep seeing Lou gun runners out at second for a while.
--Jeff T., Mentor, Ohio
Well, the Lou Marson Fan Club can rest assured that, as long as he keeps playing like he's playing right now, he isn't going anywhere. The Indians like his ability to throw out baserunners and he's shown great improvement at the plate from last year until now.
Why on earth is Drew Pomeranz wasting his time at Class A Kinston? An SEC product that polished at age 22 should at least be at Double-A Akron. If there's no need to rush him, that's fine. A full season at Akron and a full season at Triple-A Columbus will have him ready for the 25-man roster at age 24.
--Gene M., Columbus, Ohio
Pomeranz certainly isn't "wasting time," I can tell you that much. First and foremost, he is working on developing a changeup. He can easily get by with that overpowering fastball and sharp curve, but a third pitch can go a long way for his big league future.
Your proposed timeline isn't all that different from the plan the Indians are using. Pomeranz will spend time with Kinston and likely finish the year at Akron. Next season, Triple-A will likely be in the cards with a big league promotion on the horizon. That's the path White took and he is already in the Majors.
What is the story with LeVon Washington, the Tribe's No. 2 Draft pick last June? They say no news is good news, but what about no stats listed? Is that bad news?
--Jeff J., Findlay, Ohio
Alas, Washington has some stats since you sent your e-mail in, Jeff. In three games for Class A Lake County, he's hit .250 with a run scored. Washington had a late start due to a leg issue that kept him in extended spring camp for the beginning of the season.
In closing ...
Any chance of seeing Shin-Soo Choo come in to pitch against a lefty when the 'pen is used up in a game in late August or September?
--Ron M., Panama, N.Y.
Choo certainly has a cannon of an arm out in right field and the one-time pitcher proudly claims he can still hit 95 mph on a radar gun. You'll have to settle for hoping someone puts the radar gun on one of his throws from the outfield.