Friday, July 13, 2007

Thank You Amy Hafner

It's hard to imagine much better news to begin the second half of the season with than the four year deal with Travis Hafner that the Tribe announced yesterday. Combined with Jake Westbrook's signing earlier this year, I think it's fair to say that Travis's extension provides some tangible evidence that the Dolans really are serious about building something here.

Ben Cox had an interesting post the other day about how the Coco Crisp trade explains a lot about why fans haven't been turning out in droves this season, despite the Tribe's performance. Ben's point is not that we're all sitting around pining for Coco, but that his trade was one of a series of events that helped to cement fans' belief that the Dolans just weren't credible when they said they'd spend money to win when the time was right.

After Mark Shapiro and his staff put together a bona fide contender in 2005, fans spent the offseason watching the Indians let guys like Kevin Millwood and Bobby Howry slip away to free agency without even putting up a fight. Then there was the Crisp deal, which most knowledgeable fans reacted to just like Vinny did. After that came the Brandon Phillips debacle, and the subsequent flushing of the 2006 season down the toilet.

The dismantling of the 2005 team made it easy for fans to overlook positive developments like the signing of extensions with guys like Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore. Frankly, I think a lot of us viewed those as classic "on the cheap" moves. After all, the Tribe didn't avoid free agency with these guys, just arbitration. The risk that was managed through these deals wasn't that the players would be lost to free agency, but the uncertainty of arbitration and the potential impact of an arbitrator's decision on the team's budget.

The signings of guys like Westbrook and Hafner are in a different category altogether. Let's face it, the Indians have flat out stepped up. The Dolans have made a $90 million commitment to the future of this ball club with these two players alone, and Paul Dolan's comments yesterday indicate that the team wants to be a serious player for CC's services as well. Frankly, his credibility when he says stuff like that is a lot higher now than it was before the season started.

Shapiro and Dolan are getting some well-deserved praise for this deal, but my guess is that a lot of the credit should go to Hafner's wife, Amy. She's from Cleveland, and Terry Pluto's column this morning mentions the prominent role that she played in his desire to stay with the Indians.

So while everyone else is slapping the guys in the Tribe front office on the back, I want to make sure to tip my hat to Mrs. Pronk. Hey, as every married guy out there knows very well, "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," so my guess is that, if anything, Pluto probably understated her influence on this deal. In any event, thank you, Amy Hafner.

5 comments:

epdaws said...

I knew Amy pretty well in high school -- when she was Amy Beekman and was one year behind me. She loved choir, was very chatty and peppy, and she was not the homecoming queen by any stretch. Probably perfect for Travis; she fills the Type A to his Type D, while not being a trophy wife. (By the way, Sports Illustrated's piece on Hafner recently confirmed that her personality has not changed).

All along I had hoped that Amy would nudge him to stay. Well, good for her, good for him, good for us.

And one question: looking back, would you know simply trade Kelly Shoppach for Coco Crisp straight up? I would not. Marte is gravy if he can man the hot corner for a while.

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope for Pronk's sake that his wife Amy is cool about going to strip clubs with him and maybe even the occasional dabbling with one of the girls. I know my wife ain't. Congrats on the contract, Pronk.

Your pal,

A Rod

Hornless Rhino said...

Epdaws,

Crisp's offensive struggles in Boston are pretty well known, but he's still an established major leaguer and a very good defensive outfielder. As for his offensive problems, Coco's currently on a 15 game hitting streak and has raised his average 40 points in the last three weeks, so maybe he's getting that situation straightened out.

Shoppach's a part time player with less than 100 major league games under his belt. He's had a great start to this season, and will probably be a pretty good catcher when all is said and done. However, his minor league statistics strongly suggest that over the long term, he's not going to post offensive numbers anywhere near what he's done so far this year.

So I guess the answer is that I wouldn't trade Crisp straight up for Shoppach either. Marte was the primary motivation for that trade, and my guess is that it will be his performance that over the long term determines whether it was a good deal or not.

Ben said...

The Tribe has stepped up. Seriously, did anyone expect them to sign Hafner?

Sure, it helped that Pronk has struggled thus far, but still. The Tribe did their job. People are still waiting for CC, but they can keep waiting. The big man is going to test free agency (though if he keeps giving up 6 runs a game, maybe they can pull a Hafner...)

And thanks for getting my point on Coco. I've gotten a few emails saying "what do you mean we're staying home because of a .260 hitter". When you trade a starting OF for a prospect, it doesn't exactly say "win now".

davemanddd said...

at least she spared us all from hearing another one of those tear-jerking jim thome "she's my rock" type of comments.