Sarbaugh the Key To Clippers Development and Success
Craig Gifford | On 18, Nov 2011
The Cleveland Indians, who went from being a bad team in 2010 to an average team 2011, are hoping to make the leap to the next level in 2012. With the major midseason trade for Ubaldo Jimenez and resent acquisition of veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe, Tribe management is showing the desire to win now. The team is even likely to make more of a splash in free agency than in most offseasons.
While trades and free agents have and will add veteran leadership to the club, the Indians are still expected to be young. The Tribe will remain bolstered and built on fresh faces like Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin and Vinnie Pestano, who were all in the minor leagues within the last two years.
That youth, however, should not put them behind the eight-ball as playing for the Triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers has given all the young players something important. That is the desire and expectation of winning. Columbus has won the last two Triple-A championships giving Tribe players a winning pedigree that can not be taken away. Clippers radio announcer Scott Leo, who has been on the air for seven seasons and has his own blog, The Mitchell Report & Livin’ La Vida Leo, said he has seen those players come through the Clippers organization and the winning base they are gaining can not be taken for granted.
“Winning in Triple-A fuels the desire to win when you get to the Major Leagues,” Leo said. “The guys who’ve played in Columbus have gone through the system winning and expect the same when they get to Cleveland.”
Not only are those players winning consistently, but they are doing so facing adversity. As is the case in all minor league organizations, player movement is rapid and ever-ongoing. The roster is constantly changing with new faces in the dugout. Leo said the players for the Clippers, as well as the organization as a whole has done a great job winning in the face of such change. That, too, should have the future Tribe players ready for the adversities of Major League Baseball that await.
“Columbus, like all minor league teams, goes through a lot of transitions,” Leo said. “(Manager) Mike Sarbaugh does a great job mixing at matching and putting the right players on the field. Some times, based on what the Major League club wants, the minor league team may have too many outfielders and not enough infielders or may have too many infielders and not enough outfielders. Mike really does well at utilizing what he has to the highest potential.”
This past season, Columbus saw many of its stars leave during the season to play in Cleveland. Another wave will likely head to the big leagues at some point next season, meaning Sarbaugh will again have to pull his team together to make a run at the coveted three-peat. Leo doesn’t expect a drop off in Columbus, much like he figures the winning pedigree the Clippers players have learned should continue at the highest of baseball levels.
“The Indians’ organization is very well run, top to bottom,” Leo said. “I think it will continue to run that way and I really do look forward to the good things to come for the entire organization, at all levels.”
Photo: Columbus Dispatch