Valentine a finalist for the Indians' job

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Bobby Valentine is getting a callback interview for the Cleveland Indians’ vacancy.  So too are Manny Acta and former Tigers and Indians third baseman and current Indians single-A manager Travis Fryman.

Interesting list of finalists in that it suggests that, rather than merely trying to find the right man for the job, the Indians don’t yet know exactly which direction the team is really heading.

Given his age and experience, you’d think that Valentine would be better suited to a win-now situation.  Despite his firing in DC, Acta is well-regarded and many believe he’d do much better on a team that was actually on the upswing as opposed to the hopeless situation he faced in Washington.  Fryman is totally green by comparison.  If you go with him, aren’t you saying that the team is totally at the bottom and is starting from scratch?

I actually like all three of those guys, but if Shapiro and Dolan think that the team is rebuilding, Valentine — a man with money, a high price tage, TV prospects and presumably a lot of options —  is probably not the best man for the job.  If, on the other hand, ownership thinks that the team is poised to compete in 2010, they’re probably not well-advised to install Fryman in the manager’s office.  Indeed, if he does have managerial talent, you’d probably want to wait until the team is better positioned in order to give him the best chance to succeed.

A lot can happen in the offseason, but my personal view is that the Indians will be better in 2010 than they were in 2009, but won’t truly contend.  I think that DQs Valentine as a serious choice, leaving Acta and Fryman as the better alternatives.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.