2007-04-03T00:35:07.246-04:00This is probably the final entry of this blog as it is currently constituted. But don't fret; I'm moving to a new location, and the format shouldn't change much at all.
2007-01-12T23:34:10.586-05:00The Indians, in a bizarre game, beat Detroit 9-6 last night. The game featured two instances of starting pitchers self-destructing after a run of pretty good pitching. Fortunately for the Indians, Nate Robertson's implosion resulted in nine runs being scored, which was enough to overcome Sabathia's five-run seventh inning. CC had looked pretty good up to that point, only allowing one run on one hit through six innings. The win was encouraging because it came in the wake of probably the most devastating loss of the season. Some transactions:Reinstated 1B Travis Hafner from the Disabled ListOptioned OF Jason Dubois to Buffalo (AAA)So the Indians, instead of trying out Dubois at the very least against left-handers (note how Coco Crisp and Grady Sizemore do against southpaws), the Indians keep Jeff Liefer around, who has the same defensive ability as Dubois, plays the same positions, and who is five years older than Jason. How exactly does Liefer fit in the lineup, except as a replacement to Casey Blake? I don't get this move; yes, Liefer is out of options, but who's going to claim him now when they could have had him for a song when he was with Buffalo? I wrote when the Gerut-Dubois deal was made that the Indians owe it to themselves to see what Dubois can do. And that hasn't really happened yet. Dubois will probably put up some great numbers for the Bisons in the interim, but that wouldn't be anything unexpected.Placed LHP Arthur Rhodes on the Bereavement ListRecalled RHP Fernando Cabrera from Buffalo (AAA)Rhodes, who is attending to a sickness in his family, will be gone a minimum of three days, which puts even more of a strain on the Indian bullpen, especially the back-end folks. Bob Wickman was not available last night, and Scott Sauerbeck has been used a lot lately. The Indians could have a used a blowout on Friday, but thanks to the five-run seventh inning, the Indians had to use Bob Howry to save the game. Cabrera hasn't been inserted into any high-leverage situation, but he has the stuff to handle a seventh inning assignment right now. Of course Brian Tallet is still in the bullpen, and yes, he hasn't been used yet; that can be looked at as a good thing, because no starter has been taken out early since CC Sabathia's blow-up in Oakland. But like it or not, the Indians will have to use a relatively inexperienced pitcher sooner or later, and Cabrera is the best young relief arm in the system right now. MLB Suspended RHP Kevin Millwood for five games, RHP David Riske for four games, and Eric Wedge and Robbie Thompson for one game apieceWhat really got me is the guy who started the whole mess, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, only received a fine. Obviously the umpire that night believed that Hasegawa threw at Sizemore intentionally, so why does MLB not believe so? Take for example Cliff Lee's suspension last year: he was thrown out of a game for throwing behind Ken Griffey, Jr, and he was suspended for six games (one start). How are the circumstances different here (besides the fact that Hasegawa actually hit Sizemore)? Is it because Grady Sizemore isn't the superstar Griffey was? To me, this smacks of a double standard. Here's what Millwood had to say about it:"[Hasegawa's] the one that started the whole mess," Millwood said. "If he doesn't get suspended, then it's pretty much a joke."Millwood, who will make his next start on Thursday in Kansas City, gleaned a message from the discipline dispensed after Cleveland's 10-5 victory."I guess it's OK to throw right in the middle of somebody's back when you're getting your [backside] whooped," Millwood said. "But it's not OK to [stick] up for your teammate." Amen.[...]
2005-08-03T17:06:32.320-04:00Exercised (and restructured) the 2006 Option of 3B Aaron Boone; Added a 2007 Mutual Option
2005-08-03T03:25:05.350-04:00Boy am I glad when I'm wrong.Elarton made his second start against the Yankees, and for the second time he pitched as well as you could hope for. His line:6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 0 BBI'll take it. But to look long-term, is Elarton, who is eligible for free agency after the season, worth bringing back? After all, the Indians do have a couple pitchers that they could plug into the rotation in 2006.The standard pitching numbers look pretty good. Elarton has given up 120 hits in 117 innings of work, which is pretty decent. He's struck out 68 hitters this year, which translates to 5.0/9IP. One reason why Elarton has been successful has been his low walk totals: he's only walked 30 this season, which is especially important given his penchant for giving up homers (all the runs scored off him tonight were via the long ball). My view is that you're looking at a guy who has marginal stuff, but can survive if he can spot his offspeed pitches. If he can't throw his curve or change for strikes, then he's in trouble. But you could say that for a lot of successful MLB pitches. What I want to know, then, is if this season's numbers are a product of luck, or whether they are indicative of what Scott could do for the next couple of years. To do that, let's look at some of the numbers I used to evaluate Jake Westbrook's 2004 season.xFIP ERA: 4.70 This statistic normalizes fielding independent pitching to the pitchers' home park, which is especially useful when considering that we're looking at a flyball pitcher. FIP itself is a statistic used to take out all the externalities (mainly fielding) that can affect a pitcher's regular ERA. In this case Elarton's xFIP ERA is a bit higher than his regular ERA, but not by a large amount. So you can say that Elarton's current ERA is pretty good measure of how he's pitching. LD%: 20.6% This is expected given how most of Elarton's outs are recorded. I will say that I believe Elarton has been helped very much by the Indian outfielders, specifically in center and left, and that if a an inferior outfielder is playing behind Elarton, some of those line drives may start to fall in for singles and doubles. Just a word of warning. One other thing that should shed some light on Elarton: a trend analysis. I've broken down Elarton's perforance by month, noting innings, hits, and walks (the strikeouts seem to have remained constant):April: 19.0 IP, 27 H, 9 BBMay: 29.1 IP, 33 H, 9 BBJune: 31.0 IP, 29 H, 5 BBJuly: 37.2 IP, 31 H, 7 BBNote that Elarton has gotten better during every month. To my untrained eye, he seems to have more control over his pitches, and more hitters are making "weak outs" than before. In summary, everything looks good, and the Indians should entertain bringing Scott back on a one- or two-year deal if they can't retain Kevin Millwood. If they keep Millwood, Elarton is probably redundant. Notice I haven't mentioned the cost; because I underestimated last season what pitchers would be getting on the free agent market, so rather than by suggesting numbers that might look comical four months from now, I'll say Elarton should be retained with "fourth starter money." Jim Ingraham has figured out why the Indians are trailing the White Sox by umpteen games:Despite the fact that they are 10th in the American League in hitting, and have lower slugging and on-base percentages than the Indians, the White Sox are running away with American League's Central Division race.Why?They play the game the right way. They move base runners, they hit with runners in scoring position, they catch the ball. The Indians do none of that. At least not consistently.Of course, he failed to mention that the White Sox lead the AL in pitching. And hitting with RISP is not a "fundamental;" it's hitting (and it involves some luck). "Catching the ball" is called fielding; it is not (by my definition) a fundamental. And while the White Sox are second in the league in Defensive Efficiency, the Indians are right behind them. I've come to believe tha[...]
2005-08-02T16:41:49.850-04:00Reinstated LHP Jason Stanford from the 60-day Disabled List; Optioned him to Akron (AA)
2007-04-13T03:24:50.650-04:00has been suspended by MLB for violating its drug policy.
2005-08-01T03:07:18.260-04:00I did find it amusing that Buster Olney and Steve Phillips spent two hours on Sunday breaking down the trades that weren't made. Although I do have to say I enjoyed watching the Sunday night broadcast sans Joe Morgan, although I know it's only a one week reprieve. Jon Miller and Steve Stone would be a great pairing, but I know it'll never happen. For those unfamiliar with Stone, he used to do Cub games for WGN, and now he's doing ESPN broadcasts, usually for daygames. Hopefully he'll get better assignments in the future, for I think he's the best there is among color analysts.
2005-11-21T08:35:58.653-05:00Alright, no punches were thrown in last night's victory, but give it time; there's two games left in the series.
2007-04-16T06:22:56.680-04:00I guess this is karma coming back on Wickman (and me) because of all those saves he almost blew, but it was an awful time to receive it. Again, there's a lot of season left, but with virtually everyone in the AL still in the race, merely keeping pace with the peloton isn't good enough. What makes the loss even more frustrating is that the Indians collected 14 hits, and had but 4 runs to show for it. Whether it's due to the lack of getting hits at the right time or just plain idiotic baserunning, wasting opportunities just grates on me. But if you look at the stats, Oakland left just as many runners on base (11), and had as many hits (14). That's baseball, I guess.
2005-07-27T12:02:12.703-04:00Placed 1B/DH Travis Hafner on the 15-day Disabled List (post-concussion symptoms)
2007-04-14T19:39:13.226-04:00I have to admit I go from thinking the Indians should be sellers to buyers from day to day. But the trade (non-waiver) deadline is upcoming, and Mark Shapiro has a major decision to make. He has to not only make decisions based on the players involved, he has to consider the PR implications as well, like it or not; if the Indians deal Kevin Millwood or Bob Wickman for guys the average Joe doesn't know, then the team will take a PR hit. Of course, the team could be absolutely correct in making that move, but that's the way professional sports seems to be heading. If the Indians land a "name" player for the rest of the season, more fans might start to believe in what the Indians are doing; of course, in doing so, they might have to give up a Brad Snyder or a Jake Dittler in order to do so, which would tick off the die-hards, who would bring up Richie Sexson and Brian Giles. Or they could just stand pat, which would anger a whole other class of fans.Here's what I would do if I were GM of the Indians for a day:(1) Deal Bob Wickman if you can shore up an area of weakness. Since there aren't that many true sellers out there, see if you can trade Wickman to another buyer for a player that can fill a need. Baltimore could be a possibility, as would Florida, Texas (if they still think they're in it), or Boston. Since Bob doesn't know if he's going to pitch next year, there's no guarantee that you'd get draft pick compensation, so you might as well deal him now. Wickman for Juan Encarnacion plus a prospect would seem a nice fit, but I'm sure there's other possible deals out there. Bob Howry would probably move up to closer, and David Riske could take his place as primary set-up man. Once Matt Miller comes back, you'd have a bullpen of:HowryRhodesRiskeMillerSauerbeckBetancourtCabrera(2) Keep Kevin Millwood unless you get blown away. Millwood's been the best pitcher on the staff, and although you figure he's not going to be back, he's going to fetch some compensation via the draft. Keep in mind that Jim Thome's departure to Philadelphia netted the Indians Brad Snyder and Adam Miller, so you can get some pretty good prospects if you draft right. But if a team that loses out on AJ Burnett offers you a great package of players, you jump on it. Possibilities include Texas, both New York teams, Baltimore, and the Cubs. Again, deal Millwood only if someone makes you an offer you can't refuse. (3) Get Adam Dunn. I don't care if he hits left-handed. I don't care if he strikes out a lot. The guy is one of the best hitters in baseball, and he's 25 years old. And you can have him under your control through 2007. The Reds are paying Ken Griffey, Jr a lot of money, and Dunn is probably going to get $7M+ in arbitration, so I would think he's the outfielder the Reds would deal. He isn't going to come cheap; the Indians would probably have to give up at least two of their better pitching prospects or a major-league pitcher to get him. But if you park him in right field and hit him fifth in the order behind Hafner and Martinez, he consolidates your offense. (4) Deal Jose Hernandez if you can get a decent return. He can be replaced by either Ryan Garko or Jason Dubois. Again, you deal from your strength in order to shore up an area of weakness. It is possible for a team to be a buyer and a seller at the same time. In this year's market, it looks like the only way to fix a hole is to do both; there are a lot of teams still in contention, and the teams that are out it don't have much that the Indians would want. I do admit that making the above deals is more difficult than I make it seem, but creativity in deals seems to be one way to make both trading parties happy. I invite you to play GM for a day: what would you do (within reason) between now and the deadline? Oh, please use the [...]
2005-07-22T02:31:58.106-04:00After I broke out my midseason updates, I received a couple of emails regarding some relievers that I left off the list, namely Chris Cooper and Edward Mujica. While both pitchers may make the majors and succeed, I don't rank them highly due to the highly volatile nature of relief pitchers. I listed only one true reliever (Fernando Cabrera) among my top 20, and his age, statistics, and closer potential made the decision for me. The other, Tony Sipp, is thought of as a future reliever, but has been starting for much of his professional career. This organizational philsophy (start first, relieve later) is one of the reasons why the following relievers are all in Akron or Buffalo. So, in no particular order, my top reliever prospects:(1) RHP Fernando Cabrera. See my comments on him here.(2) LHP Tony Sipp. See my comments on him here.(3) RHP Andrew BrownAcquired: Trade, 2004 (Milton Bradley)Born: 2-17-19812005 Stats (AAA): 48.1 IP, 4.28 ERA, 44 H, 62 SO, 15 BBTrend: UpETA: September (or sooner)The ERA is a little bit misleading, because Brown has been dealing for a couple of months now. Brown is a big dude (6'6" 230), and he throws an "effortless" 93-95 mph fastball. The Indians left him in a starting role after they received him last year, but finally moved him into a full-time relief role in April. After a slow start (presumedly an adjustment period), Brown has settled into his role nicely. He's probably ready if the Indians need any further help in the bullpen, and may make parting with Bob Wickman and/or Bob Howry much easier. (4) LHP Chris CooperAcquired: 2001 Draft (35th Round)Born: 10-31-19782005 Stats (AA): 48.1 IP, 2.05 ERA, 41 H, 50 SO, 17 BBTrend: LevelETA: 2006I don't have access to minor-league splits, but Cooper looks like a prime LOOGY candidate. Chris served as the Aeros' closer before his promotion to Buffalo. The 26-year-old has moved up the organizational ladder slowly, but if Scott Sauerbeck isn't back, Cooper could get a shot in 2006 at being the second lefty in the pen. If he isn't added to the roster, he's prime Rule 5 bait, his age notwithstanding.(5) LHP Rafael PerezAcquired: Non-Drafted Free Agent, 1-25-02Born: 5-15-19822005 Stats (A+): 77.2 IP, 3.36 ERA, 54 H, 48 SO, 32 BB (AA): 27.1 IP, 0.99 ERA, 20 H, 21 SO, 5 BBTrend: UpETA: Late 2006Speaking of LOOGYs, Perez looks like a perfect candidate if the Indians convert him to relief. His 2004 Baseball America Prospect Handbook entry mentions " a slider [that] is tough on lefthanders," which is a staple of most good left-handed relievers. He was fairly old for his league this year, but upon a promotion to Akron seems to have gotten a bit better. I'd almost guarantee he gets taken in the Rule 5 Draft, so I would think the Indians would aggresively promote him in order to make a good decision on whether to protect him or not. Perez could start or relieve in the majors, but I'd probably lean towards relief right now.(6) RHP Edward MujicaAcquired: Non-Drafted Free Agent, 10-22-01Born: 5-10-19842005 Stats (A+): 26.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 17 H, 32 SO, 2 BB (AA): 12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 10 H, 14 SO, 1 BBTrend: Way UpETA: 2007When you combined strikeouts with control, you have yourself a nice relief prospect, especially considering how young he is. Mujica was a fairly medicore starter until this season, when he was thrust into Kinston's closer role. He performed above expectations, going a perfect (I think) 14-14 in save opportunities. Now he's in Akron, and peripherals look similar or even better when compared to his Kinston line. [...]
2005-07-20T15:49:39.036-04:00Let me try to examine why the Indians can't seem to score any runs lately.
2005-07-19T16:06:26.726-04:00Traded OF Jody Gerut to the Chicago Cubs for OF Jason DuboisMark Shapiro got his white whale, or at least this version of it. Jason Dubois is a masher, a guy who can hit for power, but doesn't really have a position. He's been playing left field for the Cubs, but he's a poor outfielder. He'll be under the team's control for the next 5+ years, and will be cheap for the next two seasons. The problem (for me, at least) is figuring out where he's going to play. In the short term, the Indians might take the hit on defense to get Dubois in the lineup, but ultimately he looks more like a first baseman or DH. And you already have one guy (Hafner) who is pretty much a full-time DH, and another guy (Ryan Garko) who looks like a first baseman or DH. The other problem is that guys like Dubois tend to be a "boom or bust" player; if he sticks, the Indians will have themselves a 30+ HR player. Offensive, Dubois has a lot going for him; he can hit for power the other way, which is critical for a major-league power hitter. He's proven himself in the minors (2004 AAA numbers):386 AB, .316/.389/.630, 31 HR, 26 2B, 97 SO, 41 BBThe problem is figuring out how to get him in the lineup. Hopefully, the Indians will run him out to right (or left) field for the rest of the season and see how he does. If he works out, you figure out where to put him next year. I don't want to see him given the Josh Phelps treatment and banished to the bench, only to see the light of day against left-handers. In his limited major-league at-bats, he seems to hit equally against righies and lefties. Note that he's been the right-handed half of a left field platoon for the Cubs, so he hasn't been receiving regular at-bats. Recently he was shipped back to Iowa, and went 9-18 in his short stint with the AAA Cubs. As for Gerut, I've made my feelings known recently. The Indians lose a very good defender in the outfield, and he's a nice contact hitter, but with the production problems the team has been having lately, the Indians can't afford an outfielder with a defensive specialty. Now if they turn around and give the everyday job to Casey Blake, another miscast fourth outfielder, then there's something wrong here. Blake should probably be a late-inning replacement for Dubois, or spell Aaron Boone or the other two outfielders against southpaws. But he shouldn't be taking at-bats away from Dubois; the Indians owe it to themselves to find out what Dubois can do given an extended opportunity. UPDATE: Some other opinions on the trade: BTF's Transaction Oracle, Tribe Report, Cleveland Indians Report, The Transaction Guy, and Cub ReporterIn other news, the Indians won a game in which Cliff Lee went the distance! Hey, it was only a five-inning game, but Lee got credit for the complete game. Cliff, after a shaky first inning, looked really good; he was spotting his curve and change for strikes. The Indians scored six runs, which almost matched their series total against the White Sox. Reinstated RHP Rafael Betancourt from the Suspended ListOptioned RHP Fausto Carmona to Buffalo (AAA)Believe it or not, no rookie has made their major-league debut for the Indians this year. And because Fausto didn't get in Sunday's game, he'll have to wait at least ten days in order to make his debut. Incidentally, Carmona pitched a gem for the Bisons tonight (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6 SO, 0 BB) but got tagged for the tough-luck loss. [...]
2005-07-17T03:57:14.483-04:00Why yes, folks....not only do I have depressing, vomit-inducing news and notes, but I also have various types of them!Pitching prospect JD Martin is having Tommy John surgery. For those unfamiliar with the surgery, Martin needs the elbow ligament in his pitching arm replaced. If all goes well, JD should be fully recovered (ie, pitching normally) within 18-24 months. The good news is that most pitchers who have the surgery come back from as good as they were before. The bad is...well, he's probably going to miss the entire 2006 season, and probably won't be pitching normally until 2007. Placed RHP Matt Miller on the 15-day Disabled List (forearm)Recalled RHP Kazuhito Tadano from Buffalo (AAA)I have no idea how long this stint will be for, but hopefully it's just a short stay; Miller has been one of the bullpen's unsung heroes, and I think has been misused as a longman. Tadano hasn't been all that great in Buffalo this year (75.1 IP, 4.54 ERA, 82 H, 64 SO, 17 BB), but he should be all right as a mopup pitcher. I believe Rafael Betancourt is technically off the disabled list, but I have no idea how much longer his suspension lasts. But whatever the case, Betancourt should replace Tadano when he returns. If Miller's injury isn't serious, it could be a blessing in disguise; most bullpen pitchers could use a couple of weeks off during the season to keep them effective. Speaking of Betancourt, he's blaming his positive banned substance test on an OTC drug purchased in his native Venezuela. Juan Rincon, also from Venezeula, said last week that the league's testing program unfairly targets Latin players:"Look at the percentages. How many guys (in the majors) are from Latin America? And how many tested positive?'' he said.While I still remain skeptical of this being the case, I do admit that Bud Selig is running the program, and he has been known to screw up before. Travis Hafner left Saturday's game after being struck in the mouth by a Mark Buerhle pitch; He went to an area hospital for testing. It should go without saying that Hafner is pretty much the Indians' entire offense right now, so hopefully there isn't anything seriously wrong with Pronk. I think this Buerhle quote after Saturday's game summarizes the Indians offense perfectly:"This was one of those days I should have gotten hit around harder more than I did," Buehrle said. "I got lucky. My control wasn't what I wanted it to be."The more I think about it, the more I believe that right field is the area that despately needs an upgrade. If you could combine Gerut and Blake into one player hitting .273 with 10 home runs, you could take them in the lineup, but having one-half of a decent outfielder in the lineup every day won't cut it. You can live with Ben Broussard in the lineup, but having to hit him cleanup is a sign that help is needed. The trade market looks pretty unattractive, though, unless Moises Alou decides he can spend a couple months away from his father. [...]
2005-11-19T20:20:58.033-05:00In June 2002, Indians GM Mark Shapiro made a trade that shocked the baseball community: he dealt Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos for Lee Stevens and three prospects. At least that's how I saw the trade on ESPN's Bottom Line. Colon, after several years of disappointment, had finally seemed to make good on his massive potential. And given the organization's recent inability to procure pitching, trading the team's best pitcher with another year left on his contract angered a lot of people, especially the fans of Cleveland. After all, this deal followed on the heels after Shapiro dealing away Roberto Alomar, a popular player, to the Mets the previous winter. Shapiro had decided that the time had come for the team to undergo a rebuilding process, and the Colon deal was the opening salvo of a massive demantling of a franchise in order to shorten the rebuilding window as much as possible. And with the farm system barren and not much money to use for free agents, Shapiro essentially nuked the roster, and over the next couple of months dealt pretty much everyone with some value for prospects. It was a very risky course of action, given the volatility of prospects, and given the backlash by the fans that still seems to exist today. But three years after the Colon deal, the Indians sit two games behind the Wild Card leader, and are six games above .500. And unlike last year's team, most of the key contributors are under the team's control for the next 4-5 years. While Shapiro has made plenty of mistakes since then, his decisions in 2002, including the one to break up the team in the first place, have placed the Indians in a great position going forward. This series will recap the context, the media coverage, and of course the trades themselves. We start after the 2001 season, a year which saw the Indians win their sixth AL Central title in seven years. Players Under Contract for 2002 (2001 WARP):2B Roberto Alomar - $7.9M (11.6)RHP Danys Baez - $4.125M (2.3)OF Ellis Burks - $6.667M (5.0)RHP Bartolo Colon - $4.925M (7.3)1B Wil Cordero - $4.167M (0.2)C Einar Diaz - $1.087M (6.3)LHP Chuck Finley - $7.9M (1.5)3B Travis Fryman - $5.82 (-0.1)RHP Charles Nagy - $6.00 (0.8)LHP Ricardo Rincon - $1.50 (2.1)RHP Paul Shuey - $3.25M (2.3)C Ed Taubensee - $1.8M (-0.2)1B Jim Thome - $8.0M (8.0)SS Omar Vizquel - $4.50M (4.7)RHP Bob Wickman - $3.40M (6.0)RHP Jaret Wright - $4.312M (0.2)By this time, Travis Fryman, Charles Nagy, and Ed Taubensee were pretty much done thanks to injuries. Jaret Wright was in the midst of several arm surgeries, so he wasn't going to be counted on for much in the coming year. The bullpen looked to be in decent shape, with Baez, Wickman, and Shuey coming off stellar seasons. The rotation, on the other hand, didn't look so good. Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia both had good seasons in 2001, but the back end of the rotation looked pretty bad. The offense remained more or less intact, although the team had to replace the entire outfield (Cordova, Lofton, Gonzalez). Overall, this looked like a good team, but it was getting old and expensive. Of the starting nine, only Einar Diaz was under the age of 30. Here's the pending free agents for the Indians (2001 WARP): OF Marty Cordova (4.2)OF Kenny Lofton (2.9)OF Juan Gonzalez (8.3)RHP Dave Burba (1.6)LHP Rich Rodriguez (1.0)Obviously the biggest name of the bunch was Juan Gonzalez. Kenny Lofton looked done as an everyday center fielder. There was some thought to bringing Cordova back, but only at the right price. But overall, there weren't too many holes to fill. The Indians were going to plug Milton Bradley in Lofton's place, but they needed two cor[...]
2005-07-14T01:30:57.560-04:00Is it just me, or is the Wednesday after the All-Star Break the longest day of the baseball season?
2005-07-10T01:25:11.206-04:00The Indians have had one of the roughest first-half schedules in baseball, so right now the number one goal should be to remain within shouting distance of the Wild Card lead. Today's victory over a the sizzling New York Yankees is exactly what the team needed; it kept the team at most two games back of the Twins, it stopped a four-game losing streak, and kept the team in sole possession of second place in the Wild Card race. The win wasn't easy. The Indians were leading by four going into the eighth inning, when normally reliable Bob Howry gave up a cheap base hit to Robinson Cano, walked Gary Sheffield before somehow getting Alex Rodriguez to pop up to the first baseman. In came Arthur Rhodes - the left-hander miscast as a LOOGY - who promptly gave up a three-run bomb to Hideki Matsui. After getting a crucial insurance run in the 9th inning, Bob Wickman was his usual self. First batter of the inning - home run. Second batter - base hit. Third batter - botched bunt. Thankfully Robinson Cano whiffed on his first bunt attempt, for later in the at-bat, he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Wickman then walked Gary Sheffield, bringing up Alex Rodriguez. At this point I was in the fetal position, waiting for the end. But, like most of Wickman's other saves, he somehow extricated himself by getting Rodriguez to harmlessly ground out to short. Is there another player in baseball who has great numbers yet is almost universally reviled by the fans?Before the game, the Indians swapped out Brian Tallet for a position player:Recalled 2B/SS Brandon Phillips from Buffalo (AAA)Optioned LHP Brian Tallet to Buffalo (AAA)During Friday night's game, Ronnie Belliard tweaked his hamstring running out a ground ball, so the Indians needed a middle infielder for the last two games of the series. I don't think Phillips is going to be up for too long (they'll probably option him back after Sunday's game), and judging by his at bats, it looks like the same Phillips. Mark Shapiro was talking up Jake Gautreau on the pregame show, so I wouldn't be shocked if he got the call after the break. I already detest David Wells, so this comment didn't really make any difference as to how I feel, but just the same, the comlete and utter stupidity that comes out of his mouth continues to amaze me: Boston pitcher David Wells said he understands why Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers shoved two cameramen, comparing the situation to a sexual assault."Some guy's being aggressive with a woman, and she says no, and he keeps on doing it. Well, you know what's going to happen. No is no in anything, when it comes to sexual or you know, whatever it is. No is no," Wells said during an appearance on Rhode Island radio station WSKO on Friday. "And I'm sure Kenny said, 'Hey, get it out of my face, don't do it.' But no, they want the big story, they want the scoop, you know?"Wells added: "I probably would have done the same thing."Rob Dibble's rant on Derek Jeter's absence from the All-Star game is a humerous read as well. I especially liked this blurb:Second, can you imagine an NBA All-Star game without Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson? Neither can I, and Jeter is the Jordan of baseball.heh.[...]
2005-07-09T01:24:46.400-04:00MLB today suspended Rafael Betancourt 10 days for testing positive for a banned substance. Unfortunately, we don't know what exactly this banned substance is. Betancourt's suspension takes effect immediately, which does happed to coincide with his time on the disabled list (although the club could have called up a replacement anyway). Betancourt is the third major-league player to test positive for banned substances under MLB's new drug policy. It is kind of interesting that two of the three are relievers (Juan Rincon and Betancourt), and the third is nowhere near what you'd call a power hitter (Alex Sanchez).
Earlier today, Major League Baseball announced that RHP RAFAEL BETANCOURT tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance under the guidelines of Major League Baseball's Drug Testing Program. Rafael, who is on the disabled list, is suspended immediately for 10 days.
The Cleveland Indians strongly support Major League Baseball's testing program for performance-enhancing drugs. In addition to this support, we continue to implement an aggressive educational program at the Major and Minor League levels. We want our players to be aware of the short and long-term dangers of these substances. Until Rafael decides how he will address this finding, we will have no further comment on his situation.
2005-07-08T01:04:37.450-04:00A bit more comprehensive view of the trade:
2005-07-07T13:53:35.530-04:00To the Boston Red Sox, per WTAM. The Indians are getting "a minor-league infielder."
2005-07-07T02:52:43.976-04:00It was one of those games. If you watched last night's contest, you'll know what I'm talking about.What is troubling, though, is that the lineup had absolutely no patience at the plate. Jeremy Bonderman cruised relatively unscathed until the eighth inning, when the Indians started some semblance of a comeback. Detroit, who was last in the league in walks, showed an immense amount of discipline, laying off CC Sabathia's never-ending supply of offspeed pitches in the dirt. Personally I think Sabathia out-thought himself. His fastball-changeup combo worked wonderfully against Baltimore the previous start, but CC changed his approach because the Tigers are a fastball-hitting team. Until he learns to spot his breaking pitches in the strike zone, teams will just lay off them; instead he might as well go with his 95 mph fastball and 85 mph changeup, because those two pitches are good enough to get most hitters out. He didn't really get hit hard by the Tigers (only two of their ten hits off him were for extra bases), but they could sit on a pitch, mostly his fastball. Where has Jody Gerut's power gone? I don't care much for the modifications he's made to his swing; gone is the uppercut stroke, replaced by one almost like the one Barry Bonds uses. Gerut is still hitting for a high average, but his slugging percentage is dropping like a rock. Singles hitters who can play good defense tend to end up as fourth outfielders, and that's where Gerut's future seems to lie. Right field is one of several areas where the team could use an offensive upgrade. The others are first and third base, although the team has steadfastly (or perhaps obstinately) stood by Aaron Boone. Barring injury, he will most likely meet the plate appearance threshhold necessary for his 2006 option to kick in. While I take no issue with Aaron's defense, an AL team simply cannot hope to succeed with a corner player hitting .195/.255/.354. As for first base, that will probably be addressed after the season, when the team will most likely deal Ben Broussard. I really don't see a circumstance where they'd open the 2006 season with him at first base, unless they make a major acquisition elsewhere. Rick mentioned Aubrey Huff as a possible acquisition; I'll mention Raul Ibanez as someone the Indians could get on the cheap. Ibanez isn't a guy that would attract a ton of attention, but he's quietly had a very good season in a poor lineup. He currently is hitting .292/.355/.471 in a pitcher's park. The only problem is that he's a left-handed hitter. But he's someone to watch out for, as he's signed through 2006 for a relatively affordable salary. Another guy who might be available is Texas' Kevin Mench, although he'll probably cost more to acquire. Mench, who didn't really earn a permanent spot in the lineup until this season, is hitting .290/.356/.550, although those numbers are inflated by where he plays his home games. The Rangers are obviously looking for pitching, both of the starting and relieving variety. But given the relationship between Shapiro and Texas GM John Hart, I'd be shocked if they haven't at least discussed Mench in the past few weeks. Mench isn't much of an outfielder, but he's right-handed and would fit nicely behind Hafner and in front of Victor Martinez. He's also making close to the minimum.[...]
2005-07-06T16:21:22.226-04:00Last night, manager Eric Wedge gave Travis Hafner a night off. The reason given was fairly understandable: Hafner had played in both halves of a doubleheader, and manager Eric Wedge wanted to rest Hafner in order to keep his elbow in check. So of course, when the Indians lost by a run, Jim Ingraham ripped Wedge for not playing Hafner:
It was a curious decision, given that the designated hitter is not, by definition, a physically demanding role, given that he gets to rest every time his team is in the field. Adding to the intrigue was that Maroth is a left-hander, and Hafner has the third highest batting average against left-handed pitchers (.289) of any player on the Indians' roster.
2005-07-05T01:17:56.996-04:00The Indians now stand ten games above .500, the team's high-water mark thus far. On Sunday and Monday, the team won three games rather easily, thanks to good hitting and very good pitching. First, let's recap the small flurry of moves that happened in order to allow Jason Davis to start last night's second game.(Before Sunday's Game)Placed RHRP Rafael Betancourt on the 15-day Disabled List (shoulder)Recalled RHP Kazuhito Tadano from Buffalo (AAA)I have no idea how serious the injury, but if Raffy just misses the requisite fifteen days, the DL stint probably does him more good than harm. The move was retroactive to June 30th, when Betancourt first started to complain about the injury, but I'd think the Indians would like to wait until after the break to bring him back. Missing a key bullpen cog for a couple more days is a small price to pay for having him healthy and effective in August and September. Kaz Tadano filled Betancourt's roster spot on Sunday and the first game on Monday, and would have been the longman. It turned out that he wasn't needed.(After Monday's first game)Optioned RHP Kazuhito Tadano to Buffalo (AAA)Recalled RHP Jason Davis from Buffalo (AAA)Davis was brought up to start Monday night's game against the Tigers. Davis, who has filled in a couple times before, looked shaky at time against the Tigers, but got out of a couple jams and left after a scoreless six innings. In all probability, he's going right back down to Buffalo, where he should make his next scheduled start with the Bisons. At this point in his career, the thing Davis needs more than anything else is stability; he needs to be given the ball every fifth day until the end of the season, because he could start the 2006 season in the big-league rotation. In fact, he's probably Plan B if Kevin Millwood leaves at the end of the year. Tadano, thanks to good outings from Cliff Lee and Scott Elarton, wasn't needed, and he'll return to his role as the Bisons' longman. So who comes up to fill Davis' spot before tomorrow's game? I'd have to think it would be Fernando Cabrera, and if it wasn't Cabrera, it'd be Andrew Brown. Both guys are on the 40-man roster, both have pitched well as of late, and each has good enough stuff to fill in for a week or so. Because Fernando is a week away from appearing in the Futures Game, it might make sense to see what Brown has now, and if he doesn't work out, then you can call up Cabrera just after the break, or reinstate Betancourt when he's healthy. Davis Riske seems to have recovered from week-long string of ineffective games, so you have some flexibility to work a youngster into the bullpen mix. Of course, the All-Star Rosters were announced on Sunday, and with it brought the usual cacophony of jilted fans everywhere. I've learned not to care as much about All-Star rosters, because it's not really worth it. But it did gall me somewhat that the lone representative was Bob Wickman instead of Travis Hafner or [other Indians player]. It wasn't really Terry Francona's fault; he only picked four players to fill out the roster, and I believe all four were of the "one per team" variety. But picking Wickman as Cleveland's lone All-Star is a double whammy; you realize he's the only one that's going, and you just know that he'll do something idiotic if he's put into the game. I can just imagine it now: Mike Piazza beats out a chopper to the mound because the first baseman loses Wic[...]