hi, Brantley fans! let me cut right to the chase. January was another slow news month as far as information about Michael's rehab from right ankle surgery goes. he is now over three months into his recovery, but we haven't gotten any insight as to where he is in the process and what type of baseball activities he's been doing thus far, if any. has he started to run on a treadmill yet? no clue. did he swing the bat at all during the offseason? couldn't tell ya. besides that, there's been no timetable put on Michael and it's currently unknown whether or not he'll be ready to open up the 2018 season with the Tribe.🤔
the consolation though is that we're definitely going to hear some detailed updates shortly because Michael is due to report to camp in just two and a half weeks (or possibly sooner)! so hang in there a little longer, #TeamBrantley. the countdown to February 18 is on!😃
meanwhile, if you've missed anything since Michael's surgery or need a refresher, here are my three previous news/update blogs:
Brantley News from October 2017
Brantley News from November 2017 & Why He Shouldn't Move to 1st Base
Brantley News & Ankle Updates from December 2017
now let's get to the January news and updates!
January 2: in Paul Hoynes' article on cleveland.com, he wrote Michael will play left field when healthy, but he might not be ready for the start of the season.
January 6: Hoynsie reiterated again that Michael might not be ready for Opening Day in a cleveland.com article about Jason Kipnis, and mentioned that Kip could go back to the outfield temporarily if Michael isn't ready to open the season in left field.
January 8: speculation of where Michael will bat in the lineup has begun, and according to an article on mlb.com/indians by Quinn Roberts (whom i've never heard of/read before), Michael's batting 5th behind Edwin Encarnacion. um, unless Terry Francona changed his mind, i know he always liked Michael (when healthy) hitting 3rd in front of EE and Jose Ramirez batting 5th to protect EE. Roberts also identified Michael's health as a question mark, noting that the verdict is still out on whether he'll be ready for Opening Day.
January 9: Buster Olney ranked the Top 10 left fielders on espn.com. his lists are for people who subscribe to ESPN Insider only, which i do not. Olney seeked input from evaluators and ESPN researchers Mark Simon, Paul Hembekides, and Sarah Langs to compile his rankings. if i had to guess, i'd say Michael is not on this. if you are an Insider and know who made the list, please comment below and confirm/deny Michael's non-placement!
January 10: i noticed on the Tribe Fest page of confirmed players on indians.com that Michael's name was no longer there. he had originally confirmed on November 30 (per the website, anyway), and i stopped checking it on a regular basis after that, so it's unclear when exactly his name was removed. my mind was spinning with thoughts about why Michael would have to back out, and i hoped this was simply an accidental deletion of his name.😟
January 12: i reached out to the Indians through twitter to ask if Michael had to cancel his Tribe Fest appearance. the Indians' twitter account replied with "unfortunately, Michael had a family conflict come up." at least that erased my fear that he had an ankle setback. nevertheless, i was sorry to hear that Michael would not be attending the final Tribe Fest that he'll be a Cleveland Indian for. i wrote a separate breaking news blog about this here.
January 14: in Terry Pluto's Terry's Talkin' article on cleveland.com, he acknowledged fans' confusion as to why Michael's club option was picked up. (omg, are we STILL on that?!) Pluto claimed the key is Michael's deal is one year. he praised Michael for being a relentless worker and said the Indians believe he can make a comeback. if he has a huge 2018 season, they can offer him a qualifying offer for 2019, and if he rejects it, the Indians receive a draft pick.
January 15: Jordan Bastian's Indians Inbox on mlb.com/indians led off with yet another complaint about Michael's option getting picked up. i shouldn't have been surprised, but considering this went down over two months ago, it's like, when will the bitching stop? anyway, @dex_ou on twitter posed the question: "what was the thought process on keeping injury prone Brantley for 1 year $12 mil and not getting Bruce for 3 year $13 mil year average?" first off, the Tribe's reason for exercising Michael's club option was made public in November. where's this guy been? aside from that, for the millionth time, two big injuries in two out of nine total seasons does not make a player injury-prone.
Bastian's answer began with pointing out that the Indians had to make a decision on Michael's option on November 3 (actually the deadline was November 4), and they chose to keep him in the fold for $12 million. at that time, they knew Jay Bruce wanted to test the free agent market in hopes of getting a big deal. Bruce just agreed to a deal with the New York Mets last week for a reported three-year, $39 million contract, and now people are wondering if the Indians made the wrong choice between the two outfielders.
JB goes on to prove that, despite their style, Brantley and Bruce potentially offer the same value as hitters. he additionally reported that by signing Michael to a one-year deal, even though there is risk there due to his past injuries, the Indians avoided a long-term commitment, as they're only "obligated" to Michael for one more season before he becomes a free agent. (well that's an interesting way to put it. eye roll.) keeping Michael and not re-signing Bruce may further allow the Tribe more financial flexibility for the 2019 season, when they'll be losing up to six players to free agency.
why couldn't somebody request an update on how Michael's doing after surgery and what step he's at in his rehab process instead of crying about this 💩? i already tried once a few months ago and got ignored, but maybe a different person would have had better luck.🤷
January 19: the day before Tribe Fest, Francona, via Bastian's article on mlb.com/indians, informed that Michael is "doing terrific" in his rehab. "he'll be dying to start the season on time, as he always does. that will be our biggest challenge -- to make sure we get him back and keep him back and not let Opening Day be an arbitrary deadline."
January 20: in the morning at Tribe Fest, President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti spoke with Dave DeNatale and Stephanie Metzger of WKYC Channel 3 News during their live stream. the interview is now archived on wkyc.com. eventually, Metzger asked for the status of Michael, and Antonetti disclosed, "Michael had a recheck in Green Bay last Monday [January 8] and he's progressing really well from his offseason surgery, and we expect that he'll continue to progress and meet all the check marks in his rehab, and we know he's chomping at the bit to be ready for Opening Day. the thing that's gonna be the challenge for us is how do we make sure that we're taking the long view to get the best Michael Brantley for the entirety of the season and not just focus on an artificial deadline whether that's in spring training or Opening Day or some other time?"
DeNatale then stated, "you felt it was obviously a good bet... you know the kind of player he is, Tito knows the kind of player he is, so when the opportunity came to, presented itself to pick up the option, you guys didn't even flinch."
"right," Antonetti agreed. "there's no easier person to bet on than Michael Brantley in terms of who he is, how he prepares, the teammate he is, how he lifts other people up around him. so from that standpoint, it's easy. we did have to be thoughtful and make sure that we were comfortable with his medical prognosis and that he was gonna be able to play for the bulk of the year because, if we know that and we know he's healthy, the other pieces fall into place with Michael and we know he'll be a big contributor for our team this season."
later in the afternoon, Francona sat down with Matt Florjancic and Betsy Kling of WKYC Channel 3 News during another live stream. the interview is now archived on wkyc.com. here's what the skipper shared about Michael: "Michael Brantley just got looked at in Green Bay about 10 days ago. we don't know his timetable yet. we'll know as he starts ramping up, like his baseball activities. i think more importantly than maybe Opening Day is getting him back healthy. he's been through so much, we gotta give him a chance to come back so he can stay back, and when we get him back, we're all gonna be happy. he's one of those guys where you just put him in left field, leave him alone, hits third, does everything he's supposed to, and you don't have to worry about him. we need to let him have a chance to do that."
"and a lot like Jose Ramirez, with Michael, in a day and age when it's a lot of home run or nothing, they put the ball in play with two strikes. they can pick up an RBI from running around 3rd base cause they don't strike out. ...[Michael] lengthens your lineup so much."
Florjancic then wanted to know how big of a decision it was to bring Michael back and how glad Tito is that he knows Michael's gonna be healthy at some point. "it was actually a very easy decision. and we're betting on the person. we know he's been beat up, we've seen it personally. we also know him very well and what he's about. it was a very easy decision."
Florjancic followed that up by inquiring if it's hard to reign Michael in when he's trying to get back. "he's getting better at it because he's been through so much and he's missed so much time that he's actually pretty more realistic cause he just doesn't want to miss time. he has worked so hard and been relentless and he wants to stay on the field."
furthermore, in Ryan Lewis' ohio.com article, Francona declared, "whether we have Brantley right at Opening Day or maybe a little later, he goes to left."
January 27: MLB Network revealed their Top 10
Left Fielders: Right Now and Michael, for the first time since 2014, was not ranked on their list. however, in the back half of the show, Vince Gennaro,
SABR President, had Michael 5th on his individual list and remarked, "there's a belief that his ankle surgery
is not going to be a big issue."👍 my separate blog with more details can be found here.
so that's it for the first month of Michael's last year with the Tribe.😟 got any comments or concerns? leave 'em below!
if you missed my big announcement, i will be #CelebratingMichaelBrantley every Monday throughout the 2018 regular season. beginning on April 2, i'm going to tweet one of the many exciting memories from Michael's career with the Indians. so make sure you're following me on twitter @clevelandgirl23 for that, and to keep up with all the news about Michael that comes out of spring training in Arizona!
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