Mailbag: Hot corner, 'pen upgrades

Mailbag: Hot corner, 'pen upgrades

One of the many things I'll never understand in life is the obsession we Ohioans are groomed to have with "Hang on Sloopy."

I know I'm in the minority here, but my whole life I've heard this silly song at sporting events, complete with the "O-H-I-O!" break in the chorus, and my whole life I've struggled to understand it. Who is this Sloopy? What does she have to do with Ohio? Does she even like football?

After attending a Browns game last week and watching "Sloopy" once again inspire the masses, I decided to do some research.

"Sloopy" is, in fact, a reference to singer Dorothy Sloop of Steubenville, Ohio, and she apparently lived in a bad part of town. Songwriters Bert Russell and Wes Ferrell composed the song, and the McCoys took it to the top of the charts in 1965. That same year, the OSU marching band made it a staple at Buckeyes football games.

In 1985, the Ohio General Assembly, clearly taking care of important business, wrote up a resolution proclaiming "Hang on Sloopy" as the state's official rock song. The resolution states: "If fans of jazz, country-and-western, classical, Hawaiian and polka music think those styles also should be recognized by the state, then by golly, they can push their own resolution just like we're doing."

As the old proverb says, the more I know, the less I understand. And I guess I'll never understand "Sloopy." But at least it beats "YMCA."

Anyway, let's get to this week's questions, from Ohioans and others ...

Please tell me the Indians are at least considering a trade for the Rockies' Garrett Atkins. I think he fits well, and Jhonny Peralta and Asdrubal Cabrera wouldn't have to move and risk a potential season-long adjustment period.
-- Christopher F., Maumee, Ohio

If the e-mails that come into my inbox are any indication, Tribe fans have been targeting Atkins ever since it was speculated elsewhere this summer that he might be a good fit for the Indians.

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Frankly, I'm not so sure Atkins is worth the trouble. He's not the same hitter outside of Coors Field as he is in it. In his career with the Rockies, he's hit .337 with a .921 OPS at home and .260 with a .752 OPS on the road. And 63 of his 89 career homers have come in Coors, as have 327 of his 431 RBIs. Those numbers have to be considered a concern.

Atkins' numbers, on the whole, have taken a dip the last two years. He had a .965 OPS in 2006 and a .780 mark last year.

The Indians can't be incredibly picky when it comes to finding an infielder, but they still have to be smart. If Atkins is indeed available, the Rockies will be looking for starting pitching, and I'm not sure he's worth the investment.

This might all be a moot point anyway, because one line of thinking out of Colorado is that the Rockies might not move both Atkins and Matt Holliday. And if the most recent reports are to be believed, it appears Holliday is as good as gone.

Are the Indians taking a look at former Nationals closer Chad Cordero? He seems like a perfect fit for the Indians' bullpen philosophy.
-- Jason W., Columbus, Ohio

Cordero, who had 128 saves with the Nationals, is just the type of guy the Indians should take a look at for their bullpen, if they haven't already.

The Indians are known to take chances on guys coming off major injuries by signing them to low-risk, incentive-laden Minor League deals, and I suspect that's the kind of deal the 26-year-old Cordero will get after missing most of 2008 with a torn labrum that required surgery.

The Angels, Mets, Rangers and Tigers have all reportedly looked into Cordero's medical records, and Cordero is expected to begin throwing again this week. Cordero is from Anaheim, so the Angels might be his first choice.

A.J. Burnett -- any chance?
-- Bernadette, Avon Lake. Ohio

Nope.

One of my favorite stories this season was how the Indians treated Juan Lara after his accident in the Dominican Republic. Any news on how his recovery is progressing? Will he ever pitch again?
-- Martin W., Painesville, Ohio

I wouldn't expect a return to baseball, but, more importantly, in the words of head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, "Juan has come a long way." He has made a remarkable recovery, given the severity of his accident.

According to Soloff, Lara is back in the Dominican Republic, where he is rehabilitating. He is scheduled to have a follow-up CT scan on his cervical spine in December to ensure that he is healing properly. If he is, he will be cleared to engage in higher level cardiovascular and weight training.

I've been watching the bidding with CC Sabathia. Will the Indians put in a bid for him? I think a good contest would be to come up with the most interesting package for CC not involving money. Give Progressive back their money and name the field after him. Maybe even tilt it a little, like his hat?
-- Joe E., Des Moines, Iowa

An inventive suggestion, Joe, but I'm afraid it's time to let CC go.

Actually, I take that back. It was time to let him go on July 7. The Indians have no chance of signing Sabathia -- and, come to think of it, neither do the Brewers.

I still don't see Sabathia grabbing every last dollar to pitch for the Yankees, because I know he'd like to pitch in the National League and, preferably, on the West Coast. But money talks, and sometimes it screams.

With the Indians shopping for a closer and the Red Sox in need of a replacement for Jason Varitek, what are the chances we tell Kelly Shoppach, "Go back from whence you came!" and get Justin Masterson in return? He certainly has the demeanor to be a closer but is blocked by Jonathan Papelbon. This could be a good matchup.
-- Devin R., Philadelphia

In theory, sure. But are the Indians compelled to move Shoppach, with Travis Hafner hobbled, Ryan Garko a question mark at first and Victor Martinez flexible enough to move to first? And are the Red Sox compelled to move Masterson, who helped their bullpen gel by pitching in a setup role and also has the ability to be slotted into their starting rotation?

My guess is no on both fronts, but we'll see.

Oh, and I don't even think a Princeton guy like Mark Shapiro would use the word "whence" in casual speech.

I thought Anthony Reyes looked terrific in his abbreviated stint with the Indians. Any news on the condition of his elbow? It's still attached, right?
-- Kevin S., Kirksville, Ohio

Reyes was going through a return-to-throw program at the Indians' new complex in Goodyear, Ariz. The Indians expect him to report to Spring Training with the elbow soreness behind him.

Fear not, Kevin. The elbow hasn't fallen off. And if the plan continues to be carried out without incident, I'd expect Reyes to be in the back end of the Tribe's rotation next season.

What is the actual possibility that the Indians could trade to bring in Brian Roberts to play second and slide Cabrera and Peralta over?
-- Jeffrey E., Toronto

It's slim. The Orioles are going to want a heavy package of players for Roberts, and the Indians, as we well know, are always hesitant to deal away their young talent.

More to the point, as a starting point in negotiations, the O's are stubborn in their desire to acquire Cabrera, and that's a deal-breaker, from the Tribe's perspective.

It's a shame, because I think Roberts would be an excellent solution for the Indians' needs -- not just in the infield, but also in the leadoff spot. He could have pushed Grady Sizemore down a couple notches, where he belongs.

And finally ...

Anthony, no mailbag question here, but rather a note about Bob Feller. I read the article on Bob's 90th birthday. I grew up listening to stories about Bob and the glory days of the Indians from my parents and grandparents. I've had the pleasure of meeting Bob on many occasions. I love listening to his stories, both of baseball and of his days in the service of his country. It will be a sad day for Cleveland, baseball and, more importantly, humanity when Bob passes on. He is truly an American hero.
-- Dave E., Columbus, Ohio

Nice note, Dave.

If you don't really get to know Feller, his gruff, no-nonsense delivery can have a way of making him come across as -- for lack of a better term -- a cranky old man.

But I've been lucky enough to spend some quality time with Rapid Robert over the last few years -- most notably in visiting his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa, with him in 2007 -- and I've seen firsthand that this guy is not only a living legend but a truly endearing character. His wealth of stories and experience, his incredible memory, his unshakable love of country and the game of baseball (if you don't already know, he still attends most Indians home games) make him a one-of-a-kind figure. We are lucky to have him around.

I'm taking an all-too-brief European vacation this week, but the mailbag will remain up and running, so keep those questions coming and I'll keep getting to as many as I can.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.