1.30.2009

You know the spiral florescents? They hurt worse than a Borowski blown save.

It's like you look at them for a bit and you don't even have to be staring directly at them. When you turn away you feel like you've just been staring into the sun.

Regular light bulbs do not do that. I would not be surprised if these spiral florescents cause eye damage.

Not the kinda of damage in Hafner's elbow either.

Need some Jhonny Peralta surgery to fix that.. Maybe.

Here we sit, the final two days of January, the most painful month for a baseball fan if you ask me. It's so close that you can smell it, but yet it's still so far away. There's nothing to do or talk about because you've already talked about everything.

If you haven't, it's because your team is late to the party and they are still trying to sign the scraps off the Free Agent pile.

In the Indians case, this year they got to the party early and took it with them when they left. In past years, they weren't even late to the party, but rather they didn't show up.

So for a Tribe fan, we've yet again gone through a dead period of January.

Well that dead period is over my friends.

February will come in a few days, hopefully bringing eternal sunshine and a sixth Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I know that's probably not the line most of you want to read, but what fun would it be if ever Indians blogger out there could feel sorry about the Cleveland Browns and want to destroy themselves and the people who read it.

I'm here to let you know that there is hope.

And at the expense of starting to sound like a politician, I'd just like to say that the Steelers could really start the year out on the right foot.

As they say, one step after another, one step at a time.

Or even step by step, which isn't to be confused with the crappy sitcom staring the immortal Patrick Duffy.

Either way, you get the picture.

If things go right with the Steelers, you never know what kind of luck I may harness.

The Orlando Magic are pretty freaking awesome right now.

If things go well there.

Then things are going to be looking up for the Cleveland Indians...

So if your a Browns fan, that is one reason to cheer for the Steelers this weekend. I know it may sound gross and you may want to take several showers and baths filled with high-grade disinfectant, but if I'm wielding a sword of luck and good fortunate, you best get behind me.

I can safely say though, you don' t have to worry about Michigan doing a damn thing though. Even if they put together an Alabama like turnaround, the National Title game is in 2010, and by then, the Year of Me will have run out.

So before I further jinx myself, and hopes and dreams of millions (if there are that many) Cleveland Indian fans, Let's take a look at what's floating around the interweb.

It was rather jerkish of Anthony Castrovince to put up a story about Shin-Soo Choo the day before I talked about the Outfield in Spring Training.

That's what you call, scooping your competitors.

Not that I'm any threat to him.

Then again, this isn't really about any of what I talked about, but rather the awesomeness that was Choo's second half of 2008.

Castrovince does bring up the idea that Choo could fit in the three hole, especially with Hafner's production unknown.

Really? Three hole? With Victor Martinez around?

That would mean, you put Victor in the four hole, Jhonny and Hafner in the fifth and sixth hole, where each is, I'm not sure but that's how it would look.

We've seen Jhonny hit and hit better than he has ever hit in the cleanup spot, and he did it for an extended period of time. If Wedge is really that focused on keeping Hafner out of the three spot, keeping Jhonny in the four and putting Victor in at three makes a whole lot of sense.

Eventually, could Choo do the three hole? Sure, but by then we may know about Hafner.

I think beyond this year, Choo could be a great two hole hitter. He's very sound and doesn't chase after bad pitches. He's very discplined at the plate. He's what you want out of a guy at the top. But he's not crazy fast so you don't hit him leadoff.

I think for now though. sixth or seventh behind either Hafner or Garko really makes that lineup stronger at the bottom. He could lead off an inning or be second up sometimes, so it's almost as if he's hitting first or second and he's making the pitcher work.

Get a guy like Francisco behind him and you can create some production.

Either way, that's a topic for a later date.

The article also mentions theat the Indians view Choo as a everyday player, but will protect him against left-handed hitters. Those are days we could see DeRosa in the outfield and someone like Carroll starting at third. or even shifting everyone over and playing Barfield at second if he makes the team.

Which transitions me perfectly to the forgotten man on this team.

His name is Andy Marte and he plays third base.

Even before the Indians acquired Mark DeRosa, when they made an infielder, ANY infielder for that matter, a priority this offseason, they basically admitted they were wrong about Andy Marte.
"At this point, in all honesty, it's a tough road for Andy," general manager Mark Shapiro said recently. "It's hard to see him fitting, if there's not an injury."
Ka-Kow.

That would be the hook shot that has stagered Marte. The knockout punch is up-coming with his imminent release and or demotion to Triple-A (if he were to ever pass waivers, unlikely as long as team's like Pittsburgh exist).

The only thing that can save him now is the person throwing the punches somehow not just hurts himself throwing the punches, but breaks his arm, falls over the top rope and lands on his head with a major concussion.

Again... Unlikely..

What is likely is seeing many many Cleveland Indians games this year.

For all of you who complained about the new cable channel that the Indians started up, Sports Time Ohio, when it first came around, I hope you are groveling at the feet of the person who came up with the idea.

First of all, if you don't have Sports Time Ohio and you are in the Ohio area with a cable service... You were either struck with bad luck or you live in an obscure area with no electrical wires.

We are blessed with 154 games of Tribe Baseball on either STO or your local station. They've answered my prayers by simulcasting the games on STO, so if you are in a place like Youngstown, with Armstrong and they are showing freaking NASCAR (which I love, but come on now) on FOX during the Indians game, you won't miss the Indians game.

Yes, that 154 is just eight short of 162, the full schedule. The other eight won't be dead, no no no, they will be on FOX in the afternoon, provided that that silly blackout rule doesn't take in effect, I'm not sure if that is going to happen this year, but from CastoTurf, it appears all 162 will be viewable in some way.

Either way, you are guarenteed 154 of the 162 games. Can't get much better than that.

Unless of course you absolutely despise Matt Underwood. I don't hate him but he isn't my favorite. I can deal with him, let's put it that way.

Especially when he gives us gem's like the 'ballsack' fiasco.

Here is a PDF File for the schedule if your interested in printing it out and stuff.

Finally...

Please ignore this stuff about Kris Benson. The Indians could have had someone there to see him workout, but don't think it's a possibility. The Indians are already taking a chance on Carl Pavano, they aren't going to invite him to camp and let him pitch decent, just to take the fifth spot in the rotation away from a young guy. Even if he comes in on a minor league deal. Someone out there can probably get him a better shot to make the team anyway.

I mean, how likely is it that he'll put up awesome numbers? It's not like he's ever had an awesome year.. And he's pitched the majority of his career in the NL.

Plus his wife is annoying.

Enough said man.

With that said.. We've got less than two weeks to go before the magical phrase of "Pitchers and Catchers Report" can be uttered. Expect elation or somberness on Monday. Or possibly nothing. I'm taking the weekend off to preare and fight the battle.

Also.. No more snow please...

1.29.2009

2009 Spring Training Primer: The Outfield

The people clamor and clamor for a "big bat" in the corner outfield spot more than anything else.

It's coveted by the fans of the Tribe. Why?

I think it has a lot to do with Manny Ramirez.

But that isn't the way Mark Shapiro has operated and really in the prospects he's acquired over his tenure, none of them really project to that "big bat" in the outfield, at least until now.

Cleveland has always had a "glut" of outfield prospects and it's the one position they've been dealing from to improve other aspects of the team.

From trading Coco Crisp to Boston for Andy Marte and Kelly Shoppach.

To being able to trade Milton Bradley (for other reasons) for Franklin Gutierrez and now using Gutierrez to improve the bullpen and infield depth in the minors.

Jody Gerut, Matt Lawton (not really a prospect per say), Alex Escobar. The names go on and on.

The one constant since he's been up is Grady Sizemore and he'll remain the constant. He's not even worth bringing up at this point. It's all about the corner outfield spots.

Which brings us to the group that is surrounding him.

As mentioned, Gutierrez is off in Seattle, the Indians moving on from their stud defensive outfielder, in favor of what they have and what they got.

Where to start?

Well we have five major players in this situation, so let's start up top.

Shin-Soo Choo started the year on the Disabled List, waiting his time from TJ Surgery that he had in 2007. For an outfielder, the time is probably accelerated, but he still does throwing from the outfielder, and for a former-pitcher I'm sure it took time for Choo to be feeling normal.

Choo was still recovering, as they say, from the surgery till the end of the season, so at this point, he should be 100% healthy and ready to move on.

He still hit the cover off the ball in the second half of the season.

One of the things with Choo was, can he hit the left-handers?

Choo improved, he only had 77 AB against the lefties but he hit .286 last year. He barely played in 2007, and 2006 was no better because when Wedge played him, it was against the righties.

And really, I can find Minor League Stats for Choo in 2006, but nothing where I can split it up against lefties.

So really, .286 looks good. I mean if he can do that, I think I'd take it, especially if he hits the way he did against the righties.

Defensively, he's solid. He's just a tick under Franklin Gutierrez in terms of arm strength, he was a pitcher after all, so we know he can toss it around.

So what's he doing in 2009?

Well he's the favorite to start in Right Field. Wedge is giving him every opportunity to be the guy to start everyday at that spot. With Gutierrez gone, and Dellucci not much of a threat for starts against lefties, there is a lot of faith being put into Choo.

Does that mean there isn't a short leash?

I wouldn't say there is or isn't, but certainly he isn't the end-all-be-all in the outfield.

Ben Francisco is the other main player in this and that is a little bit more of a... how would you say, thin ice?

What we have with Francisco is a little more uncertinaty. For a team that doesn't push it's young players quick, they sure did so with Ben Francisco last year, mostly because they had no choice.

Benny Fresh took it well though. For awhile he took that middle of the order task and ran with it.

But then he kinda hit that little wall.

Wedge is sort of taking the same approach to Francisco that he took with Gutierrez last year. He hasn't annointed him the starter, but it looks like Francisco is going to be given the chance.

Will he run with it?

That's what Spring Training could tell us. Choo and Ben don't have to do much to prove in Spring Training, but that doesn't mean they can go out and throw their bats in the batter's box and be done with it.

Francisco's 2008 Spring was one that many felt should have won him a spot in the outfield last year. Not a starting spot, but a roster spot over Jason Michael (who was dealt after a horrid start) or David Dellucci.

Francisco got his shot though.

Will a healthy spring give him more of a longer stay?

It depends on what the other three guys do.

Those other guys do need this Spring.

They are already being called the big three of Columbus and the hype keeps growing.

Trevor Crowe is back on track and after ending his year in Triple-A, Crowe looks like he is on track to finally get to the Major leagues sooner rather than later. Michael Brantley was the player to be named later in the CC Sabathia deal, so we have yet to get a real look at Brantley with the Cleveland Indians. While we have seen Matt LaPorta, the centerpiece of said CC deal.

All three will be at major league Spring Training camp, and according to Eric Wedge, all three could be in consideration for a final roster spot.

I'd say Crowe and Brantley more than LaPorta, more off the fact that they aren't going to push LaPorta into a bench role when he needs everyday at-bats and he isn't very fast.

We are going to assume Josh Barfield is a favorite for that last spot because of his speed.

Well Brantley and Crowe have speed.

Crowe probably stands the best chance out of all of them because of how long he's been around, his speed, his 40 man roster flexibility, and the simple fact that he's been in Triple-A.

But does that mean any of them are going to do it?

I don't think so.

We'll see but the task for them is to play hard in Spring Training. As we saw last year with Francisco, a player can have a better Spring and still not make the team.

That brings us to David Dellucci.

Is his job in jeopardy? We know it is, but how early is it?

Can he lose it out of Spring Training?

Dellucci is on a shorter leash than anyone. Mainly because he hasn't hit like they want him to and that's all he really s on the team to do. His defense is down, his speed sucks, he's getting old. He is a "Veteran Leadership Guy" but to me, he doesn't scream "THAT'S a guy that the clubhouse would fall apart with if he was gone."

So Dellucci probably should be trying his damnest in Spring Training. He probably can't lose his job out of it, but if a Trevor Crowe puts on a good show in Spring and Dellucci's season starts off bad, Dellucci's time to prove his worth is going to decrease.

That's six major players in Spring. Throw in Grady Sizemore, four are locks to make the team, which means if things break like we expect (which isn't always the case), that hyped up outfield of Brantley, LaPorta, and Crowe will start Columbus off on high note.

How long does that last?

It's up to Dellucci, Choo, and Francisco. Those are the guys next in line if a major injury or a complete bombing happens. So if one has a better Spring than the other, it could mean a lot.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for Choo and Francisco to at least be a little consistent and Choo to stay healthy. Dellucci needs to not completely SUCK, and we just wanna see the Columbus Trio play.. I think we all want to see Brantley in action, Crowe stay healthy and watch Matt LaPorta hit now that his whirlwind of a season is over and he can just concentrate on being a Cleveland Indian.

Either way, we don't have to worry about Grady Sizemore... Isn't that nice?

On Deck Next Tuesday: We take a look at the battle for the final bullpen spot. Everyone's been deemed a lock pretty much, from Wood down to Joe Smith, so that leaves one little slot open for a bunch of names. We'll sort through them all and pin which name has the best chance to win it.

1.28.2009

That Snow... It's Pretty Cool.. Like Johnny Carson or Grady Sizemore

There was more hype surrounding the snow that was heading for Northeast Ohio last night than there has been for the Super Bowl.

Is that possible?

Oh my all this snow is coming! Watch out.

It ain't nothing unless the University of Akron cancels their classes.

Well.. I woke up at the lovely time of 6:20 to get ready for my first class. I go down stairs, heat up some breakfast and look outside. And NOT to my surprise, it didn't look like an inch of snow fell. I don't know if it was the darkness or what but it looked like the hype was a failure.

Either way, I come upstairs and say to myself, well I better be safe than sorry, let me call the Snow line.

Four rings, very unusual and I get the message that I've been waiting to hear for the past year and a half.

The University is Closed Today.

Well Howdee Freakin' DO!

With my Tuesday and Thursday that contain no classes, I've basically got three days in a row that have nothing but awesomeness and being lazy.

For the record, I guess it wasn't about the snow that fell so much, but the snow that IS FALLING RIGHT NOW!?

HOLY CRAP LOOK AT IT OUT THERE!

It's falling faster than... Man I'm coming up empty here... How about... Joel Zumaya's career after he was introduced to Guitar Hero?

YEAH!

I needed a transition to actual baseball.

There are two reasons I'm doing the Spring Training Primers when I'm doing them. One is the simple reason that it's getting underway rather soon and the other is because the news right now is very far and few between.

What I have here is a culmination of Tuesday, Monday, Sunday and Saturday links.

For all I know, something could get posted later today by someone.

Either way, this is what we are working with today.

A Jake Westbrook sighting/update.
"I think we have to be really careful with him," manager Eric Wedge said, "and make sure the expectations are realistic when he does come back."
Which leads me to believe that they are going to be very careful, even if they are dying for another starter, with Jake.

Now if five guys are in the rotation all pitching well, the pressure will be even less to get him back.

When is Jake on track to return?

He isn't so much not on schedule because of a set-back, but rather because the Indians decided to take it slow, like they always seemingly do sometimes.

That being said though.. There really is no definite schedule when you are dealing with a surgery like this that requires a year recovery.
"Oftentimes after a Tommy John, you're allowed to play catch starting at four and a half to five months," head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said. "Just because it was the offseason, because the ultimate return to play is always about a year anyway, we decided to push throwing back for an additional four weeks. He started to play catch at approximately six months."
Jake also had something done to his hip. So really when you look at it, Jake should be coming back as a rebuilt monster.

Yeah....

From one pitcher to another... Aaron Laffey had much success last year and I talked about Laffey's potential to make the rotation after watching his interview last week.

Here is the quote that basically explains what happened to Aaron and his injury.
"My elbow just kind of locked up on me," said Laffey. "Being a sinkerball guy, if I don't have extension, then I'm not getting as much movement as I normally do. It just kept tightening up. Eventually, I just had to take some time off."
Since then, Laffey's been in Cleveland, working out at Progressive Field since early October.

The rest is stuff we covered in the interview. He's working on his core, he's not putting the pressure on himself to win the last spot, he'll just got out and pitch his game.

Terry Pluto has some interesting pieces to pick up on in his latest piece.. It revolves around another starting pitcher, Fausto Carmona.

The mechanical flaw that Carl Willis spotted has seemingly helped Carmona tame his walks issue. Which was evident in the Dominician League.

As Pluto astutely points out, it wasn't the hip injury that was causing the walks. He was walking more than he usually does. Fausto will give up hits and might walk some people, but he can do that the way he induces the ground-ball. Pitchers didn't really 'figure' Carmona out last year, Carmona just beat himself.

Make your adjustments, keep your walks down and Carmona can return to form.

Pluto also brings up Carlos Quentin in-comparison to Hafner and him having the same surgery on the same arm they swing the bat with.

Well well.. The plot thickens.

Moving onto the lineup, and Travis Hafner.. It's going to be a popular sticking point heading into the regular season. Wedge has a perfect world, but you know that won't be coming around, at least not in the beginning.
"In a perfect world, we'd have Haf in the three-hole and Victor in the four-hole," Wedge said. "It's different when you're hitting first, third or fourth. Those are prime spots, key spots. Victor and Haf have handled it well."
Jhonny will be somewhere in the middle as Wedge put it.

Ideally, I think to start off the year, I'd keep Peralta in the four spot, since he did so well. I'd keep him there and away from the three spot that he hasn't just been able to hit in for some reason.

I'd throw Victor up at three and give Hafner a bit of a break in the five hole.

Why?

Because, I'm not ready to throw that much pressure on Hafner from the start. The guy needs to take a step back.. The only other idea is to put a hitter like Victor Martinez in the spot that no one else can be in, because he can do it.

Victor is the guy.. He's our most consistent all-around hitter. Put him right there and let the pieces fall in place. Wedge kind of has a different plan though.
"We're still working through that," Wedge said. "We're going to work it all around Victor and Haf and see what our best lineup is and how they work off each other. Because the lineup really has to work off each other. It's not just who's best in the one-hole or the two-hole. The dynamic really has to work. It'll take us some time to work through that."
Right now it's a bunch of guess-work on our part. Which is fun, but it makes no-difference because Spring Training will probably tell us a lot about what the lineup is going to look like.

And we round-out our trip around the roster with a stop in the bullpen and Jensen Lewis.

We've already heard from Jensen on the Kerry Wood matter, so Paul Hoynes isn't really telling us anything we don't know.
"I look at it like now we have two closers. If something happens to Kerry, I'd be happy to step in and make sure there's no downfall. Right now he's our guy and we're going to get the ball as many times as we can."
Yeah and Jensen feels as if the job could still be his. You know. He knows good closers have sat behind great closers before they got their shot.

We all know how big of a fan I am of Jensen, so I'm in his corner on that one.

Paul Hoynes' latest mailbag of sorts provides us with nothing much. As usual.

It's not so much Hoynes but the ridiculousness of the questions.

It's like, okay we went over Randy Johnson before, he DIDN'T WANT TO GO TO CLEVELAND! Hoynes already went over this.. Yet people feel compeled to constantly bring it up, but Hoynes should stop answering the questions.

Then Chan Ho Park? What? Are we nuts?

Okay I know, Carl Pavano is nuts, but Chan Ho Park? Come on now.

But, by far, the greatest exchange of this mailbag is Hoynes being called old.

Hey, Hoynsie: I saw your recent answer about the Indians' statistics -- ERA, fielding percentage, saves and batting average. No one except baseball writers pays the least attention to these stats, especially fielding percentage. When will you come into the 21st century? -- James Rydzel, Bluffton, S.C.

Hey, James: Hey, I like it fine right here in my snug little cave that I share with a sabertooth tiger and a reformed sabermetric junkie.

By the way, if saves are so passe, why did the Mets give Francisco Rodriguez all that money? Just wondering as I flip my Woolly Mammoth burger over a roaring open fire.


For the record... I think the 21st century sucks.. You will know I'm not the biggest stat-head.. I appreciate some of the stats out there, but often times I feel people overuse these insane statistics and formulas they come up with.

And as usual, the commenters to Hoynes are sarcastic horses' asses. They are even worse than Hoynes himself.

Sorry commenters, but you are.

Let's move on to a mailbag that's worth it's weight but has been relegated to CastroTurf because the MLB.com big-wigs "want to go into a different direction."

Bruce Springsteen aside, Castrovince always brings us the goods.

It's so good, that you should just read the whole thing, okay? I mean the guy hits point after point and just leaves me with nothing left to say.

Yes, Yes, Yes and More Yes!

Then the way he snapped that wise-crack e-mailer at the end?

I give that a BOOSH. *Warning, teabag reference.*

And finally, because I didn't want to end it on that note, even though everyone loves a good BOOSH, for you fantasy nuts, like myself...

The Top Five Cleveland Indians, fantasy wise:

Sizemore, Martinez, Peralta, Lee, Wood.

Well Sizemore is a slam-dunk. You gotta love Martinez's value at where he'll probably be drafted because of his injuries last year. Peralta's numbers for a shortstop make him a must have and of course Lee will be overdrafted because of his awesome year.

I'm drafting Fausto Carmona in every league though.

FAUSTOOOOOO!

1.27.2009

2009 Spring Training Primer: Catching and First Base

The recent trend for the Cleveland Indians is that they have an endless amount of those players that are DH/1B type. Ohhhhhhh we have toooo many DH's and First Baseman.. Stop it.

Well now, it really isn't a problem. Not sure if it was a problem then, but a lot of people didn't like it.

Now, it's a bit of a luxury.

A lot of people thought, or at least believed in it happening, that Kelly Shoppach was on his way out after a career year.

I myself said it would be great to just trade him while he had the value, but I wouldn't at all be sad if he wasn't traded.

In fact, the way the market turned out, I'm glad we didn't make the move.

There were a few teams out there actively looking for a catcher. Those teams are Florida, Boston and Detroit. The problem with all those teams really make it difficult for the Indians to ship Shoppach.

Detroit is in their division, you can cross that off, plus they got Gerald Laird rather quickly.

Boston is probably someone you don't want to deal with anyway, still they never seemed interested in their former player.

Florida is just stingy. It would have been a likely destination, but like they ask for an arm and a leg, they don't budge in acquiring talent.

After Shoppach, the next likely player was Ryan Garko, just because everyone hates the fact that his power numbers were not there.

The Ryan Garko trade ideas didn't really have much fire, at least not any real one. As we've come to find out, Eric Wedge really likes Garko, I guess, and so do the Indians.

That brings us to the players involved in what we have this year and the multiple ideas the people have concerning the Catcher-First Base position.

It starts and ends with Travis Hafner at Designated Hitter. He is the guy. If he's not healthy, we will talk about the possible solutions, but going into the year, that's the spot he needs to produce from.

With Victor Martinez's ability to play first-base, it turns that glut of people that "all seem to play the same positions" into the idea that the Indians have a lot of versatility.

Eric Wedge has already stated that he wants to set up personal catchers for his two top pitchers. Fausto Carmona seems to work better with Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee with Kelly Shoppach.

So on back to back days, someone different will be doing the catching and it looks like Kelly Shoppach will be the opening day Catcher.

That doesn't mean he will be the everyday catcher though.

So what do we have, just a bunch of switching and mixing and matching?

Short Answer: Yes!

Here's how it goes.

Ryan Garko is a very good hitter against Left-Handed pitchers. His .317 average and .392 OBP Is something that is very appealing. Kelly hits the lefties better than the righties as well, but Garko does it better.

Ryan Garko Strikes out 18% of the time in 962 plate appearances against Right-Handers. Against Left-Handers? Just 13%.

While I bring that up.... Kelly Shoppach has struck out more times against Right-Handers than Ryan Garko, and he has 434-less plate appearances than Garko.

Yikes.... Shoppach strikes out way too much people.

Just way too much.

That's why he's not going to be playing more than Garko.

I'd expect Ryan Garko to get a majority of the starts at first, against the Left-Handed pitchers, sticking Martinez at Catcher.

Ryan Garko played in 70 games against left-handed pitchers last year..

Add in about 30 starts for Fausto Carmona.

I'll set the number of games for Ryan Garko at about 90(only count about 60 against lefties).. Shoppach starts another 30 from Cliff Lee..

That's another 40 some games unaccounted for.

Ryan Garko starts 90 Games, Kelly Shoppach starts 70.

Now... These are just rough ballpark numbers being thrown around. Victor Martinez won't start every single game, neither will Travis Hafner. Garko will get DH starts, Garko and Shoppach will get starts when they are both in the lineup.

It all depends on how each player plays.. If one guy goes on a hot streak, I'd be playing him the majority of the time.

It's a luxury to be honest.

So what are they going to do in Spring Training?

Nothing?

Ryan Garko has a lot to prove. He needs to go out and just show he can hit. Spring Training is a lot of blah blah, you can't take the numbers too seriously.

He just needs to go out and get to the season. Now, is there a realistic shot that he doesn't start the year on the roster? I don't think so, not in the least bit. So Spring Training for Shoppach and Garko is simply a time for both to get themselves tuned up for the 2009 season.

For Travis Hafner, it's about getting healthy and staying healthy for the season. Last year, I thought I saw Travis Hafner get his Pronk back the way he was driving pitches to center field.

I was wrong I guess?

All we need to see from Hafner is health. Get through February and March and show he can handle back to back playing without totally sucking. When you watch Spring Training, if you watch Spring Training, you don't care about numbers for Hafner. You want to see how he's swinging the back and how he looks.

Last year in Akron for the playoff game I saw him, he did this thing when he'd step out of the batter box where he swung his arm, almost like it kind of bothered him.

I want to see if he is still doing that, I don't know if there is any significance to it or not, but it is just something that struck me.

Also, it's going to be nice to see how "getting in better shape" has turned out for Hafner. That's something that you should keep an eye on. Same with Garko. I don't think he's done what he did last year in losing some weight, but he's bee in Arizona training at the new facilities and it'll be interesting to see what Tim Maxey has done for Garko.

As for Victor Martinez.

Look, he's healthy. All that junk he had last year is cleaned up and fixed, he came back last year and showed he was still Victor Martinez. Worried about the low home run total?

No... Not at all.

Martinez isn't playing in the World Baseball Classic, probably because of those injuries he had last year. Which means we are only looking for Victor to get through Spring Training.

This isn't where the competition is at, not in the least bit, but it's probably where the most intrigue is going into next season.

Between Shoppach, Hafner, Garko, and Martinez, they could all put up the power numbers you need from those three spots in the lineup.

If Hafner isn't healthy, Garko is good guy to have a round, considering he can fit well in that DH spot, Victor can play first, and Shoppach can catch, you can then get a guy like LaPorta up if you need another guy to handle not just first, but even the outfield.

We play that by ear though. Matt LaPorta will have a shot, but winning a job out of Spring Training will be very difficult. We'll talk more about him when we tackle the outfield spot though.

So what are you looking for? Health and the End. Like I said, this group really doesn't have much of a "battle" for playing time or anything, but rather a battle against themselves.

Next Up on Thursday: The Outfield! Speaking Matt LaPorta and the Outfield, we'll talk about everyone but Grady Sizemore, because the corner spots, while they look to be set in stone, have plenty of talk surrounding them.

1.26.2009

Spring Training Primer Schedule

With two weeks(plus a few days) till pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, it's time.

DAMNIT IT'S TIME I TELL YOU!

To Preview Spring Training.

Here is how it's going to go.

Tuesday, January 27th: Catchers and First Basemen

Thursday, January 29th: The Outfield

Tuesday, February 3rd: The Final Bullpen Spot

Thursday, February 5th: The Starting Rotation

Wednesday, February 11th: The Day Before Pitchers and Catchers Report, Full Preview of everything to know and look for. If you haven't seen me preview Spring Training, you haven't seen anything yet.

With news far and few between, I'll use Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for other stuff, provided nothing crazy happens.

Other than that.. We've got nothing much to discuss today. Other than the return of cold weather. Unless you want to discuss Alyssa Milano, and I don't feel like it today.

Spring can't come soon enough.

1.23.2009

LOLTribe: The Offseason Edition

There really isn't much out there, so let's end the week on a high note and summarize the offseason in a spirited way.. The only way I know how.. LOLTribe, the Offseason Edition.



If you don't get the reference, you better check the archives, just search Ketchup Cheats.



DeRosa, Pavano, the Browns got Mangini.. Love the Italians...



I really don't know, and really can't remember.. I did this a week ago and it was funny then.



I don't know why they are calling people "suckas"



Great, now Grady's going to want a raise.



Awwwee Don't Cry ;(



God, I love him already...



Indeed.


That was interesting...

and insightful... Alyssa Milano fans unite...

1.22.2009

Press Tour Wraps Up: More Tidbits; Interviews on STO

Final Thoughts - Wrap Up at 5:50

It's interesting. Skipping Matty Underwood because he really has nothing interesting to say at this point in time.

But like I said. Aaron Laffey is always a great interview. I don't know what it is with these guys like Laffey, and why they are better to listen and talk to than someone like Matt LaPorta. But, it was very informative and some good stuff to know, especially from Carl Willis.

Updated 5:48 - Carl Willis

-Joe Smith and Kerry Wood.
Thinks it could be an elite bullpen and Kerry Wood's addition can take a lot of pressure off the guys behind him. Also thinks it will take pressure off the hitters in not having to press for extra runs. A lot of guys that have experience that pitch the 7th and at the end of the game.

-Jensen Lewis. Great to have a guy who can step in and close a game once and awhile. Thinks Jensen's confidence can allow him to step in.

-The All Important 3-5 in the Rotation. Scott Lewis, Zach Jackson also in the mix with Sowers, Laffey, and Huff. It's a great position to be in to have quality of depth. A bit young and in-experienced, but it's nice to have someone to call up and plug in if need be.

-Fausto Carmona. Fausto needs to relax to get back to his 2007 performance. His delivery breaks down because he tries to hard. The injury set him back and he never caught up. He saw his DR start and said he was commanding the fastball and controlling the zone and most importantly kept his mechanics.

-Anthony Reyes. The philosophy was to play off the player and Reyes did what he did and was successful. Willis said he thinks Reyes felt comfortable last year after coming over.

-Zach Jackson and Scott Lewis. On Zach, he's going to compete for the final spot in the rotation but also be an option for the bullpen as a long man or a situational lefty. On Lewis, when he's healthy he's been effective. He's a "baseball player on the mound."

-Jeremy Sowers. It's command. Sowers has to rely on his control, they saw his velocity return.

Thoughts: You can tell by my comments that Willis really sacrafices no detail. Always insightful and he's always giving you great information about his pitchers. It's good to know Jackson isn't just battling for a rotation spot, but a place in the bullpen.

Updated 5:35 - Matt LaPorta

-
The Trade! THE TRADE! TELL US ABOUT THE TRADE DAMNIT! Great opportunity to be in Cleveland. It was an honor to be traded for CC, but mistake number one was saying he was going to go on to do great things in New York.

-The Chance to Move Up? His time will come and he'll do what he has to do to make it there. Sounds confident.

-His low strikeouts? Problem with it in College, and he's tried to tone down the strikeouts.

-His Position? Took fly balls in college and was used to the outfield and the adjustment wasn't too hard.

-Olympics Experience? Opportunity of a lifetime and an honor to represent the United States.

-The whirlwind after the trade? It wasn't easy and mentally tiring and it was a grind but he learned how to deal with it and overcome with it. He learned a lot how to handle situations that many minor leaguers don't learn how to handle that early.

-Spring Training Chances. Excited for Spring Training, completely avoided his chances for making the big league roster completely.

-Potential Triple-A Outfield. Exciting to know him, Crowe, and Brantley could all move on together to the big leagues.

-On Brantley. Great player and great person and he knows his role.

-Goals for 2009. Go out everyday and play hard, do the best that he can.

Thoughts: What is with these top prospects? Him and Miller were like drones with these short answers that were all politically correct and almost sounded rehearesed.. His more than Adam's. Miller just sounded ho-hum I don't really talk much, but LaPorta just sounded like he was confident, but he didn't want to talk about a few things. I thought that was an interesting interview really and honestly it was probably our first exposure to him as a person because other than his Akron Presser, he hasn't done anything like this since coming over.

Updated 5:22 - Aaron Laffey

-How he's feeling?
100% ready to go, full extension on his arm.

-His hot streak earlier in 2008. He was confident, not afraid of contact and throwing well. Middle of the season he got away from that. His struggles snowballed after that Cincinnati start where he gave up five runs in an inning after pitching four shutout.

-His Confidence? Not concerned with making a spot in the rotation. He's concentrated on staying healthy and pitching his game and staying focused.

-Fifth Spot in the Rotation Competition? Last year he tried to hard in in Spring Training and got away from what made him successful. This year he isn't putting any pressure on himself to make the club.

-Toughest Outs in the Majors? No one specific but he talked about the division and the different lineups in it.

-How Awesome is Cliff Lee? Laffey said he talked to Cliff about the difference in his performance and said Lee strengthened his core and improved his location.

Thoughts: Aaron is a very good interview. He loves to talk. He definitely gave a lot of insight into his game. If he keeps that mentality that he says he wants to have going into Spring Training, we have to start remembering that run he went on last year. He can be a very good pitcher and at one point he was a given for a rotation spot going forward.

Updated 5:10 - Adam Miller


-Bullpen or Starter? Not sure until he feels himself out in the bullpen.

-Health? Feeling good and 100%

-Kerry Wood's Potential Impact and Picking His Brain: He wants to find out how you pitch on back to back days. He wants to see what kind of leader Wood is.

-Opportunity to Make the Club? Excited, and he's working hard.

-What did he learn from the injuries? Patience. He's also really motivated to make an impact.

-Big League Friends? Aaron Laffey and Jensen Lewis.

-His Fastball? His breaking pitches benefit the most because they have to cheat to catch up his fastball.

Thoughts: Adam was very timid, but he seemed to be motivated and confident in staying healthy. His answers didn't really get too deep, but he knows what he has to do.

Initial Post 4:35 - I'm starting this as a live type of a thing.

As I type, it's about 4:35 and STO is broadcasting live from one of the final stops on the Press Tour with Al-TV doing the hosting duties on ABAO.

He's scheduled to have some people on and I'll comment on that as it happens.

But right now, Anthony Castrovince has updated his blog with a bunch of valuable information from the Press Tour.

-Slim Chance but a chance that one of the trio of outfielders makes the Big League Roster. But, like CastroTurf, I don't see it. Not the way they've been talking up Josh Barfield and the fact he can play the infield.

-AC confirmed what we've basically been hearing from Wedge and the attitude that I've basically thought about Josh Barfield. Earlier post today I said, hey I guess Wedge doesn't hate Barfield and Garko as much as I thought. Well AC is too wondering, and it really is weird to see the turnaround in Wedge liking Barfield. But hey, whatever. I like Barfield so I'm not going to complain.

-If you saw the clips of Jensen Lewis' interview the other day on STO, you know the shaved head isn't that bad of a look on Jensen. Damnit, people complain about the sideburns, he shaves his head and they complain about that. Well you know whaaaaat. I like both.

-Rafael Betancourt has I guess gotten some muscle? Well.. That's all fine and dandy but will he still touch his hat fifteen thousand times between every pitch? That gives me an idea. I'm going to start a Betancourt Cap Counter, because God knows we need to know how much he does that in every game.

The rest is really stuff we've heard about or I've mentioned before. The other thing is with Adam Miller and how he's a little bit more into the race for the bullpen spot than I thought. Miller is going to be on STO here, so we'll see how he's doing, but really if this kid is healthy, he could be one of those starting pitchers that come up near the end of the season (David Price last year, Joba Chamberlain, Adam Wainwright, Jonathan Papelbon, ETC.) that make an impact in the bullpen.

Long term though, I really don't care. Sure, Joba is still being debated about being a starter/relief pitcher, and even Papelbon went through that should he switch thing after he did so well as the closer. Let's just get him healthy and up here and see what he has to contribute before we worry about him as a starter.

Carmona could be held out of WBC; Quoting Galore

I've been humming that song..

You know...

Do do do do, DO DO DO! YEAH!

It's one of those songs you don't know the name of, but you can hum it and explain it and people know what your talking about.

Kinda like Day Bow Bow...

Ahh forget it..

It's impossible to google by the way.

It's also impossible to google Eric Wedge without getting an epic picture like this one.

Eric did some talking on a the press tour and it's pretty much the same type of stuff that we've been hearing from other press clippings or whatever and what I heard last week from him on STO.

It's the same run of the mill stuff.. One thing, I don't remember if I brought it up, but it's worth repeating about Kelly Shoppach.
"I think it's important that we have Kelly catch Cliff Lee and Victor catch Fausto Carmona. If I feel in time that we're better with Victor playing more first base, that's what we'll do."
So basically Kelly is going to be the man every time Cliff is out there. Which already equals more starts than being Paul Byrd's personal catcher. Throw in a start here and there on Sunday, provided Fausto isn't pitching, maybe two in a row once and awhile, and you start getting up there in the amount of games he's playing. So, I think Wedge has a good plan there.

Also, a lot of people feel Victor Martinez's injury hurt Fausto's performance and that Martinez knows how to catch Fausto so he's effective. I'll buy that a little.

We've talked about Ryan Garko and Josh Barfield ad nauseum these past few weeks and we will continue to.

I think Ryan Garko and Josh Barfield are probably going to be the most talked about players this Spring Training, aside from the battle for the fifth rotation spot.

But Wedge continues to say how much he loves Ryan Garko and he likes what Josh Barfield brings to the table. So, hey... Maybe I was wrong about Wedge disliking them.

How is Wedge going to use his bullpen's set up men and who are they going to be? Mass Chaos!
"The set-up men are the most abused in the bullpen. We've got four or five of them in Jensen Lewis, Smith, Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi. We're going to use them all."
Of course... With all those guys, who knows ro cares. Matchups... Basically... I'd still expect Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis to get a majority of those 7th and 8th inning apperances though, at least to start out.

Moving on to another stop on the press-tour, my hometown of Youngstown. Shin-Soo Choo was at the Antone's Banquet center(love that Antone's food by the by), and they were chanting his name!! Damn these wrestling references.

Nine years ago, Choo didn't know a lick of English, now he's doing a Q&A.
"I don't want to think about it," he said. "I have to serve in 2010. I want to help my team win and make the playoffs this year, then I'll think about it."
Obviously, this is more Military talk.. Hopefully that lays to rest that talk till next year, because honestly, even I'm getting tired of it now.

What's with his son's name by the way? Woon Mi is his wife's name and his name is Shin-Soo.. Or is it Choo and they do it backwards? I don't know, but his son's name is..... Alan.. ALAN?! Its like, damn.. Alan?! Pick a non-less boring American name guy!

Yeep It's just a quote fest this week with all the press tours going on and players coming into Cleveland and what not.

Cliff Lee is up on deck and the two main points with him are the following..
"Things can change for the worse just as quickly as they changed for the better," Lee said Tuesday. "I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that from happening."

"Hopefully I can continue to remember the things that were going through my head and try to build off of it and have success," Lee said. "There's no reason I can't have success. I try not to overcomplicate it. It worked last year, so why not stick with it? I don't put any extra pressure on myself being the No. 1 guy or winning the Cy Young. That doesn't mean anything."

Will you take a step back? Of course he won't go 22-3, or at least no one will for a long time, that's hard to even do once a year, let alone repeat.

But who's to say he still won't win 17 games and put up a nice little ERA.

Cliff will handle his business... He's a changed pitcher, even though the pitcher he was before that wasn't that bad. He had a bad year, had some injuries, but before that he had good numbers. Now he has the mental part of the game down and it's all come together.

Let's not worry about a major setback.

Now the other spot... Is a contract extension... Which I don't expect.

"Why not? Yeah," he said. "That's something that interests me. But nobody's talked to me about it. It's something I'm open to. I don't see why not."

General manager Mark Shapiro actually addressed the topic during a Press Tour stop at the Boneyard in Mayfield Heights on Monday night.

"It's bad business to negotiate with a guy coming off a career year," Shapiro said. "But we'll explore it."

Even Shapiro flat out said, yeah that's a dumb idea. Why would they do that? Cliff isn't expecting CC money though and probably wouldn't push too hard for it, so.. We'll see.

Finally... WBC News... It looks like Fausto Carmona might skip it, YAY!

Fausto is probably the one guy that the Indians are pushing for to not play in the game and because he missed time, they can do that.

"I don't know if that's going to play out," Wedge said of Carmona's placement on that roster. "That's something we're working through right now."
If the Indians get their way, Carmona will not be playing in the WBC, and I want that. With the injuries he had, I want to see Carmona in camp and ready to go for the season, without worry of getting hurt in a tournament that has no meaning towards the MLB.

Finally.. The Cleveland Indians are fifth in Keith Law's organizational rankings..

5. Cleveland Indians: The trades of Casey Blake and CC Sabathia combined with some depth-oriented drafts have filled out this system over the past two years, although it's arguable how many impact guys the Indians have after Carlos Santana. A healthy Adam Miller, who has No. 1 starter stuff, would have had them a little higher on the list. They are one of a half-dozen teams whose prospect lists genuinely run 12 to 15 names deep.

Yes! I think we might be Top Ten in BA or BP or Whatever.. But a nice fiver ranking by Keith Law is cool. Peter Gammons said we have the most talent in Triple and Double A than any other team. So, hey, some high praise about our farm system.

1.20.2009

If we are in the outfield, who's in the infield?!

I took Martin Luther King day off, because I'm pretty awesome.

Okay, I lied, there was nothing to say, but I'm still pretty awesome.

The real reason I took off Monday.. I'm bathing my joy and celebration of my football team's victory... I know most Cleveland Indian fans are also Cleveland Brown fans, so I'll refrain from any more discussion on that topic in fear for.. Actually, I'm not sure what I'm fearing so I'll get it out of the way.

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Ric Flair style.

Let's talk about Ryan Garko.

This outfielder stuff is getting way more attention than it should be and it's probably because there is nothing else worth discussing.

Everyone is all Carl Pavanoed-out, so they talk about something as un-noteworthy as Ryan Garko shagging fly balls in the outfield.

Honestly, it wouldn't be too horrible, but this is just a preparation thing. Hey he can play outfield in a pinch, great...

But... would it be in a pinch and is it just a preparation thing?
"Anything that allows [Wedge] to mix and match a little more and gives him opportunities to put the best lineup out there is good," Garko said. "It's good to be versatile in this game."
Now, this is Garko talking and he probably realizes that his playing time could take a big hit if he's not producing.

Yesterday, Garko was on All Bets are Off with Andre Knott and he was rather focused. He didn't sound like peppy Ryan Garko ready to tackle you and give you a noogie. He sounded like he wanted to tackle you and cover you for the pin, wrestling mention count 2, so he could take the title belt.

That, I like.

The Press Tour got underway yesterday and Garko's high school teammate Ben Francisco also had an encouraging quote.
"Success in the big leagues is all about being able to adjust when the other team adjusts to you," Francisco said. "I spent a lot of time in the middle of the order last year, and it was a good experience. I learned you can't be too aggressive. You've got to be patient up there. I'm excited to put that to use this year."
See, If Benny gets this whole, ballyplayer, adjustment thing down. He's going to be a legit starter in the Major Leagues. His swing is so compact and short, and powerful by the by, that he won't go in many slumps.

If he can get the adjustment thing down, his slumps won't be long and they won't be often. There's a reason he hit for high averages in the minor leagues. He can flat out hit.

Now.. Let's handle some World Baseball Classic stuff.

There are 14 players on the provisional rosters for the WBC.. Now that doesn't mean all of them are playing.

Here is the list, via CastroTurf.

Venezuela
Rafael Betancourt

Dominican Republic
Fausto Carmona
Jhonny Peralta
Rafael Perez

United States
Grady Sizemore
Mark DeRosa

Panama
Cirilo Cumberbatch^
Damaso Espin^*
Paolo Espino^

Korea
Shin-Soo Choo

Japan
Masahide Kobayashi

Chinese Taipei
Sung-Wei Tseng^

Canada
Nick Weglarz^

^ = Not on 40 Man
* = Spring Training Invite

Look..

This is provisional, it isn't final.

The one thing I'm glad to see.. No Victor Martinez, that's a bit of a relief.

I'm not sure I like the idea of Fausto Carmona doing the game, but we'll talk more if he actually makes the roster. I say for sure that Weglarz, Choo, DeRosa, Grady, and probably Betancourt are all definite plays and guys who will make the rosters. DR is loaded and I'm thinking of Jhonny makes the team he'll play. Same with Perez and Fausto.

There are just eight players on the provisional roster that are on the 40 man. I'm hoping that number won't the same come the actual number. But we'll see.

Alright and I think that's it.

Pretty soon, it's time to start getting into previewing stuff.. The next day that doesn't have any news, you will find a special LOLTribe. Oh yeah, it's coming...

I'm going to start ignoring the Pitchers and Catchers ticker at the bottom.. It was moving so fast, now it's moving so slow.

Also... The Steelers won.

Okay, I'm done.

1.16.2009

Garkos in the Outfield?; Chulk and Herges Signed; Byrd Trade Done

So I didn't expect this much info to be out there today, but lucky us.

This weather is ridiculous. Its like in the negatives. With the sun out too. But the wind is blowing hard, that's what she said. I mean damnit, this is the coldest weather I've ever been in.

It's almost as crazy as the idea of Ryan Garko playing in the outfield.

Yeah you heard that right.
"He doesn't know [if he can do it]," Wedge said with a smile, "and I don't know if he can do it yet, either."
Ryan Doumit, played catcher and outfield and plenty of players play corner outfield and first base.

But come on now.

This is Ryan Garko.

And I love the guy and he's made terrific strides playing first base and has actually become very underrated making plays.

But the outfield? Man I don't know.

I guess Wedge is willing to sacrifice defense... clearly.
"I don't care where people play," Wedge said, "as long as they're able to make the play. I just want to put the best lineup out there."
So that's fun..

I mean really, Josh Barfield playing there makes more of a sense than Marte playing there. Yes, so that's why I can see Josh staying too.

It would be nice to have all the versatility though.

I'm just not sure Garko could handle the outfield and it seems like the guy has worked hard at first to be pushing him around.

Anyyyyyyway..

This all came about at a Town Hall meeting for Season Ticket Holders that I'm too lazy too read about.

The Indians made a few moves. They've now added a few more bullpen arms to the mix in Vinnie Chulk and Matt Herges. It's a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training for both of them. This also makes the Jack Cassel signing a little more prominent.

Guys, please don't look into these moves. It's normal stuff.. The sarcastic sillies on the Plain Dealer comments are just.. I mean come on.

All of these guys are either going to blow Mujica away or get cut or go to to the minors until their clauses are up and they can go elsewhere if they are not on the minor league roster. I believe that day is May 15th for Chulk. Not sure if Herges or Cassel have one.

Same thing with Mickey Hall. This is the completion of the Paul Byrd trade. Apparantley we got more than just not paying his salary, we got ourselves a reserve outfielder for a team like Akron.

That's all this is people.

However, feel free to sing.

It's amazing what you can find in the "related" section of YouTube.

It's also amazing that I took time out to link to that..

I almost linked to one by that chick from the Musical movie.. But then I realized I'm of the male gender and I don't want to scare any more people off.

Alright that's it.

1.15.2009

Hafner, DeRosa Talk to Media; Winter Haven can Suck It

Okay, I don't really know what any of this means.. I'm not a legal eagle or have any interest in the business part of stuff like this, or whatever... lawsuits.

With that said, I have no clue who is in the right or wrong, which means I'm going to tell Winter Haven to suck it, even if they might be right.

They are suing the Indians because, um they didn't pay them like 100 grand.

Okay whatever. Get that out of the way. Now that I have your attention with a silly idea.

Let's get to the important stuff.

Travis Hafner talked to the media and the Plain Dealer actually has a video.






STO and ABAO just aired the session. I wish I had a more definitive schedule when this stuff happened.

What's Bootleg? Is that another wrestling shirt? I'd expect a HERE COMES THE PAIN CAUSE STONE COLD SAID SO type shirt on him at this point. Any chance to show off how much of a wrestling dork, Hafner would do it.

LOOK AT HIS NECK! HE SKIN AND BONES! As my Mom says..

Castrovince still hasn't got his full report up, so let's go off Paul Hoynes' report.

Hafner has lost 10 pounds, bringing him to around 250, which is great to hear. It was more of a shape thing than dropping weight, so if it helps Hafner, that's awesome.

The most encouraging quote?
"It's a night and day difference between now and the summer. It used to take me three to five minutes to recover after I'd do a set of exercises. Now I can hop right back in there with no rest at all. It feels like it's getting back to normal."
Add in to the fact that he expects to be ready for CACTUS League play, he wants to be 100% for opening day and he's going to Spring Training almost a month early (next week). Sounds like he is determined as all get out.

Finally, my constant bitching and moaning about the weather now pails in comparison to what Hafner's home town is getting.
"My brother called me today and he said it was 33 below zero with a wind chill of 55 below zero," said Hafner. "When I went home for Christmas, the wind chill was 50 below zero."
Wow..... Okay, Um... Yeah.. HI...

On a side note, some of these questions that the reporters ask.. What kind of player are you expecting to be? What the hell do you think? If I was Hafner and, I wish I had the freaking strength that man does, I'd probably crush that reporters head.

Mark DeRosa was at Progressive Field yesterday with his wife Heidi. No video or evidence of that anywhere on the web, what a shock. But, DeRosa talked to the media and he revealed something about his heart, and not surprisngly, people want to make a big deal about that.
"They put a catheter in my heart and cauterized the parts that were defective," said DeRosa. "I went into the operating room at 9 a.m. and was back in my hotel room eating a chicken sandwich at 9 p.m."
See guys, chicken sandwich. Not quite Milano cookies, but still. BDAN.. Which is an alternative to BFD. I try to be at least PG-15.. Or Maybe 18.

Yeah this whole heart thing gave him his nickname, "The Pulse," along with the idea that he is the actual pulse of his ballclub. How convenient?

I say that because that's what Hoynes says, but earlier I read it had something to do with him being the heart and soul of his team. So whatever, they both work. Who cares. It's a cool nickname, but we have to initiate him with one that has ridiculous flare that only I could think up. That's never a good thing.

I forgot to mention. That Baseball-America link that told us the signing of Jack Cassel, also told us of the releasing of Ryan Goleski. Goleski was taken by the A's in the Rule V draft last year, but was returned and really, who cares. The OF depth just makes it impossible for him to even advance at this point.

Don't forget to keep up with Tony Lastoria's Top 100 Prospects. He's just hit 90. Tony just doesn't have scouting reports and stats, he has videos as well. It's all top notch.

There is a good chance I don't post anything tomorrow, which also means I might not post anything Saturday. Which means I will return Monday, on MLK Day.. Yay.

Matt Cassel's Brother and One of the Coolest Names in Baseball

Thing is...

I've quickly realized Wednesday is going to be what is called, the day of hell, especially if snow is on the ground.

It's like, up at 6:30, get to campus, first class at 7:45, another class right after that. An hour break that really lets me do nothing, another class, another hour break to get lunch, another class. Then I can go home. But, I have to go back for a 5:10 class. Well I left home at 4:30 and walked into class exactly at 5:10. My drive usually takes 10 minutes at least, sometimes 15. That's how bad the snow was yesterday.

For all you Ohio people, really, get off the freaking road. It was madness yesterday. Cars on in the middle of the freeway buried in the snow. One screw-up and you are with them, even if you have an SUV.

Anyway.. That's my complaint about the snow. The good news is, I planned my schedule to where I get Tuesday and Thursday off and I tell you, it's quite refreshing. I might have five classes on Wednesday and four on Monday, but just three on Friday and the awesomeness that is two whole days off. It's like a recharging. It also leads me to a four day break with MLK day coming up.

Alright, let me cut it out and get to the news, because we got plenty.

Let's start with the silent news that hasn't even been released by someone else. Baseball America has this little tidbit.

The Indians signed pitcher Jack Cassel. Who's Jack Cassel? Well he's the brother of Matt Cassel, Quarterback of the New England Patriots. Cassel is 28 and has 50 some innings of experience in the big leagues with San Diego and most recently Houston.

So. Minor League deal I'm going to guess with an invite to big league camp.

The Indians also made official the singing and invite we already knew in Greg Aquino. But also the announcement of Kirk Saarloos, getting a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Saarloos is such a cool name.

It looks like some character deezenuts, and that is so clever by the way, has made it his goal to terrorize the good people that read and reply to CastroTurf and Anthony himself.

Anyway. Kirk Saarloos, starting pitching, Aquino, relief pitcher. Saarloos, 29 years old, Aquino 30.

They join Tomo Ohka as the pitchers with some major league experience signed to minor league deals for the Indians.

The Indians also extended invites to some minor league players within their system. Matt LaPorta, David Huff, and Wes Hodges are just some of the names. Here is the current list of non-roster invitees as it stands now.

Pitchers
Greg Aquino
Tomo Ohka
Kirk Saarloos
David Huff*
Ryan Edell*

Infielders
Damaso Espino, C+
Michael Aubrey, 1B*
Jordan Brown, 1B*
Stephen Head, 1B/OF*
Wes Hodges, 3B*
Jesus Merchan, INF
Wilson Valdez, INF
Beau Mills, 1B/3B*
Andy Cannizaro, INF+

Outfielders
Matt LaPorta*
Mike Brantley*

That stands at 16 and I would think they would get some more outfielders into the mix. Where is Trevor Crowe? I think there are more invites still left to be given out.

Let's move to Ryan Garko, who is probably impacted the most by the Kelly Shoppach deal, besides Shoppach himself.

Garko could lose playing time if Kelly Shoppach plays well or he plays poor.

Look.

I love Garko. He is my guy and I want him on this team because I really believe he has a special bat.

He just has to stay focused and do what he does best and that's knock in runs and hit doubles.
"We'll see how it goes," said Garko, checking in recently from Phoenix. "The one thing I'm focused on is staying in the present and working every day to get a little bit better."
That's fine. Eric Wedge was on All Bets Are Off the other day and I forgot to mention it. But his interview by the by was outstanding. I think we saw Wedge in a new light with that. One thing he said that encouraged me about Garko is that he's a big Ryan Garko fan. You know I joke he doesn't like the Stanford boys and he seems to have a bias against a guy like Ryan Garko.

But I think he truely likes Ryan and wants to give him every chance to succeed.

The best thing Ryan can do is what he did in 2007 and not give him any other choice but to get him in the lineup on a daily basis. He should have an inside track on doing that.

I think something that hurt him was Victor and Hafner being hurt. He was all of a sudden the guy and he didn't adjust well to that. Now he's got those guys back, the pressure is off in terms of being the man in the lineup, and he has made those adjustments.

Ah well.

As I was saying about Wedge. I got a new found appreciation for the guy. I've supported Wedge, not like YEAH ERIC WEDGE IS THE BEST MANAGER EVER. Or anything like that, but I'm going to defend him more than I'll call for his head, because he really does have command of that clubhouse. All of these players have bought into the Eric Wedge idea. It's taken years, but they are a team and Wedge is the reason for a lot of that.

He's also a hard-ass. I'd like to see im get a little more upset and storm the field once and awhile, but he does a good job.

ONE THING though that I took away from the interview and it's about that final bench spot.

Don't underestimate the idea of Josh Barfield getting it.

Why?

Wedge brought up an aspect I didn't count on because I wasn't aware of Wedge having that much importance in it.

Speed.

With guys that can't run, Wedge needs a guy on the bench that has some speed for late in the game.

Dellucci is your 4th outfielder most of the night, he is slow. Carroll is the utility guy with a decent amount, but your other infielder is Andy Marte and he isn't fast by any means.

That's something that just jumped out of me when Eric Wedge brought it up. I can't believe I didn't consider that.

So, keep that in mind when we are looking at the final roster spot.

With that. Have a good one and avoid that snow. If you get a chance.. Stab a snowman... Evil Demon Ice Monsters..

1.13.2009

Shoppach and Indians Avoid Arbitration; Aubrey Clears Waivers

Well look at that, a normal header with some normal news.

It turns out because I'm an early bird, I miss out on all the juicy stuff.

So I saved it for today, even though it's a day late and a dollar short.

But it's still fun.

The big news is Kelly Shoppach has avoided arbitration with the Cleveland Indians. Yippie.

Not like the Indians have been to arbitration lately, as we all know. Shoppach signed a one year offer worth $1.95 million dollars. Pretty good I say..People didn't expect $5 million, he doesn't even crack $2 million.
"I think both sides were anxious and excited to get something done quickly and not have it draw out so we didn't have to go through court. There's nothing like being able to put your head on the pillow at night and know your family is going to be OK -- at least for the near future."
Shoppach has been down at Arizona and his wife is expecting their second child any day now. Shapiro was asked if Kelly will receive an increase in playing time as well, and while he said yes, he didn't want to give a concrete answer, because you can't just do that. Kelly is cool either way.
"Basically, you'll get my classic line of, 'I'll do whatever they ask me to,'" he said. "That's just the guy I am. I'm going to do the best I can, no matter what that position might be. It's not even about me. The Indians have done a very fine job of acquiring some talent that can help us go forward this season. Winning games is the bottom line. I think they did what they needed to do to shore up those holes. I'm really excited about the prospects of what we can do this season."
Now as far as the salary, I mentioned $1.95, which is what the AP reported, CastroTurf hasn't confirmed.

For everyone that belly-ached over losing Michael Aubrey... Fear not for the Indians made the right move as, he's back! Aubrey cleared waivers and was out-righted to Triple-A with an invite to Spring Training.

I like Aubrey, so I'm glad he's back, but he didn't need to be on the 40 man and was easily losable given his age. But still, depth if you can get it, can't hurt.

A new mailbag up at CastroTurf.. Nothing toooo interesting, but it seems like, before he signed his deal, that Shoppach was a favorite to get traded for a pitcher, to Boston, mainly cause they signed Smoltz.

Bosotn is probably going to sign Varitek or find a cheaper option, not trade for someone like Kelly Shoppach or Salty from the Rangers.

So I don't see that happening.

Sad news.. An Indian scout by the name of Henri Centeno died in a car crash yesterday down in Venezuela. Centeno was 39 and scouting players at the time of the crash.

1.12.2009

So we got this snow on the ground, but I smell baseball

Alright so I'm sitting here with a few hours on my hand and I've come to the conclusion that despite the fact that Pitchers and Catchers report in exactly a month, because the Indians have made all their major moves, there is nothing to talk about.

My point is proven not just by the fact nothing new is posted on Indians.com, but if you open up the Tribe page on Plain Dealer, there is a story about the hot dog races.

Look... I can sit here and make fun of Alyssa Milano, (that's three consecutive posts for you at home that her name has come up and I'll continue to if it warrants it) but hot dog races?

The Indians are looking for "fun" people to be hot dog runners. And these lovely people, would prefer that the person who plays ketchup be a cheater. Just to keep the legacy going.

So Ketchup Cheats?

You can guess my guest book entry by what I'm about to say, but I'm in the wrong business.

Here I am... Talking about the Indians on a daily basis and making fun of Alyssa Milano, and these people, in one crack just come up with something like this. I mean come on now, I've been searching for a year for a running joke and it's taken this long and Alyssa Milano isn't even good. It's mediocre.

These people have T-Shirts!!

T-Shirts!

I was at the game that ketchup got the big clothesline from Sargent Slaughter. I leaned over to my dad during the race and was like, is that Sargent Slaughter at home plate?

He squinted and said.. Yep

We we're late to the game so we had no clue he was there until then. But talk about a gimmick. I mean.. Damn

So a hats off to Ketchup Cheats. Because he does. Rumor has it Gene Winters the producer for ABAO was a hotdog for a little bit. I'm not sure if Gene can sprint 400-800 meters, but If does, I'd be impressed. He may need to cheat, which further leads me to believe he was Ketchup for awhile.

I saw Ketchup Cheats once..

This is going nowhere and fast.

This is actually semi-interesting. But it's our first look at some of the little things of Goodyear and the Indians new training complex.

This is the photo of the locker room via Plain Dealer, so that looks pretty roomy for all the players.

There's a nice gallery of pictures of Choo, Garko, and Grady all working out at the complex. As you know, Garko lives near there, Grady is around, Choo is getting himself in some shape.

But from what I can tell from a lot of these pictures, this is state of the freaking art. The red dots on the carpet in that room means its the big league locker room. There are two other ones for lower minor leaguers and higher minor leaguers. Not as luxurious though, if that's what you define luxurious as.

By far something cool that I've read in this article.
On the second floor of the complex, team President Paul Dolan, assistant general manager Chris Antonetti and General Manager Mark Shapiro have windows that look out onto the primary major-league field, featuring a scoreboard that reads Home of the Cleveland Indians.
That, is cool. Remember Seinfeld, when George had the office that overlooked the field? Yeah, that is cool. In fact that would be a dream of mine. To have an office that overlooks the field.

What field? Who cares! A Field!

So there is just one question in the new Hey Hoynsie, and it's puzzling if that's it, but you know. The question irks me.

Hoynes pretty much summed up all the points. That attitude bites, okay? If your a fan of ANY baseball team, and you are taking the attitude of "Why even show up to games," I'd like to slap you. Sir..

That's a stupid attitude to take, even if you are a fan of the Royals. If you like the team, you support them through the bad. Did it suck going to Indians games a few years ago when you knew they weren't in the playoffs. Yeah, it did, but it was a fun time at the ballpark.

Don't take that attitude, please. Especially when you look at the promise in this Indians' team. Detroit finished dead last in the AL Central last year, so what the hell damn guy? Detroit doesn't really have defense, do they?

Sucka..

They certainly didn't have much pitching last year. It could improve, but that idea this questioner takes is a non-sense one. Don't like it..

Oh and it's nice to see the commenters getting on Hoynes for one question, that deserves a laugh out loud.

Anyway...

That's really it. Propsect wise, Tony from Indians Prospect Insider has started his Top 100 Indian Prospect Countdown. Check it out and also, I'm doing so as I type this, but check out the interview with the trio that got traded for Mark DeRosa. Chris Archer, John Gaub, and Jeff Stevens joined him and Paul on their Tribe show.

Other than that.. Until this blog turns into Clowns and Cupcakes, I think we at least have some credibility working for us. As long as the Alyssa Milano jokes are intertwined beatifully. That will be a stretch though.

1.10.2009

Choo to WBC; Shapiro knows something... I know it

You know the Indians haven't really made a big deal about this whole military thing when it comes to Shin-Soo Choo. They've been like Choo, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

But Mark Shapiro said something regarding the issue that makes me think.

Choo has been granted the go-ahead to play in the World Baseball Classic this Spring, despite being on the DL for more than 45 days. Remember his injury wasn't something suffered this year and he finished the year strong, so I can see why they gave him the go-ahead and even if there is a slight chance that Korea changes their mind, and does give military duty exemption, then I'd send him.

That shot is probably not even there, so I'm probably just thinking too hard. But you never know. If they win the whole thing, who's to say the Korean government says, you know what, let's not crush a young man's dreams.

Shapiro when recently asked about this Military commitment said.
"We're confident it won't be an issue," general manager Mark Shapiro said.
That's interesting.. What does Mark Shapiro know that we don't, that he can say that?

Maybe there is an agreement to trade Andy Marte to Korea in exchange for Choo's military service?

Snip Snap.

Carl Pavano talked to the reporters yesterday and I've honestly got nothing to say that could make you smack your head so, I'll just get on quoting.

It sounds like the Yankees treated him pretty badly.
"When you're down, you expect your organization to pick you up, not kick you when you're down," Pavano said. "I've had to pick myself up quite a few times the last four years."
Maybe it explains why someone like Mike Mussina said it looked like he didn't have committment to the Yankees. Maybe the Yankees didn't have committment to him.

However he isn't totally dawgin the Yankees. Even though the softball was thrown up there. Me, well you know I'd dawg it.. He didn't.
"New York is a great place to play," Pavano said. "They've got a brand new stadium and economically the team will spend money to win. You have a lot of good teammates around you, a lot of future Hall of Famers.
We heard a lot about the medical attention the Indians provide to their players and how it's first-rate in terms of their training staff and that's a reason Kerry Wood was drawn to Cleveland, okay maybe a fake reason but one none-the-less. Well when Carl Milano saw Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook, and Aaron Laffey come to Progressive Field when he was in Cleveland for his physical. Consider him drawn.
"It shows the dedication the organization has toward the players, and the receptiveness of the players to the organization," Pavano said. "I've been in four or five organizations, and it was new to me. I was refreshed by it all. They obviously have the resources that I think will benefit me and the team. I was more excited once I saw it in action, and I've been blessed with the right fit."
Carl has a lot of great quote's you can read at the above link or this one by Hoynes at the Plain Dealer, but you know what. But there is one more that I think needs a good reading.

Overall I'd say Carl is not only grateful, but motivated to be in Cleveland. Take a look at this block. I combined two sections into this one.
"To make it eight, 10, 12 years in the big leagues, you've got to be a pretty motivated person. I've been through surgeries I wasn't sure I'd come back from. I've won a World Series, I've been to the All-Star Game. I've been at the top of the game and the bottom of the barrel. ... I don't think I could be any more motivated than I am right now. A lot of offers wanted me to come to camp and have to make the team. Not that I thought I was above that, but I didn't want to have to be looking over my shoulder. There is some risk on me, and I understand that. I failed for four years in New York, and the perception hasn't been that great, and I understand that. To have a team like Cleveland step up to the plate, how could I ask for anything more?"
I'm getting jazzed for this signing after reading that and all the quotes attributed to him.

There's also a chance that Milano gets a crack at the Yankees at the Palace in the opening series. So that's gotta be something he's shooting for.

I think Is aid it before. It'd be neat if he could take down CC in the opener, if Cliff Lee doesn't get the shot.

Other WBC news. Nick Weglarz will be playing for Team Canada in the WBC. He played for them in the Olympics. Asdrubal Cabrera is on the provisional roster for the Venezuelan team, just the two Indians we've talked about, Mark DeRosa and Grady Sizemore are on the US one.

Here is a Jonathan Mayo article on Adam Miller. I laugh at the Atkins quote at the end of not over-exposing someone and the Indians being the most careful team when it comes to their prospects. Because, it's true and sometimes, that's bad.

Milano cookies for everyone...