2.28.2009

Breaking Down the 2009 Promotional Schedule, Because I Can

It feels like the party is over with no more Spring Training games on TV until late-March. No more reviews, we just have to go off the stats and we know the stats are rather meaningless in Spring.

Since there isn't much that I didn't talk about last night, Curtis Danburg was on ABAO and Bobby D was in the booth, both showing off some promotional items for this year's schedule.

If you don't know, I'm obsessed with the promotional items to a point. Not so much getting them but talking about them. Why? Because my opinion matters.

So with pictures now available, I think I'll run down the list of promotional items for you on this Saturday morning and give you my personal critique.

April

Opening Day at Progressive Field: Against the Blue Jays, 2009 Magnet Schedule. It's a staple of opening day and I've never been able to get one. I could realistically use it too.

April 11th, Blue Jays: Indians Scarf. They did this last year with gloves and a hat I think. This was in wake of the debacle on opening week in 2007 with the snow. It's become comical almost.

April 12th, Blue Jays: Schedule Key Chain. Now I could actually use this more than I could the magnet schedule. It would be fun. Opening weekend is very plentiful for the fan.

April 21st, Royals, Thursday: Lunch & 3 Innings. I'm not sure what this means, but I'm guessing it's a free lunch? I need further verification on this item.

April 25th, Twins: Kerry Wood Bobblehead. Just a preface note, most bobbleheads and good items are on Saturday nights. That's mostly the nights I go, I wonder why? Anyway, kudos to the marketing brains for jumping on this while they could. As always the bobbleheads don't always look like the player, but it's still nice. We haven't had many straight-up bobbleheads like this one in awhile. For some reason it's gone out of style. What does Garko have to do to get a bobblebuddy?

April 26th, Twins: Peralta Wristbands. Kids Fun Day gets their first real item with Peralta wristbands. Keeping the kiddies happy. This is one kids item I don't mind stealing, but I would never do that. They wouldn't fit me anyway.

April Fireworks: Just one on the 24th and it's a Rock N' Roll Show, the RNR HOF inductions are a month earlier so I don't think there is anything that matches.

April Dollar Dogs: Tuesdays are DD nights, and you get one on the 28th against the Red Sox. I'm always a supporter of the DD nights.

May

May 9th, Tigers: Cliff Lee Cy Young Bobblehead. Last year they did a Cy Cy Sabathia bobblehead that I got my hands on. This year they are doing a Cliff Lee Cy Young Bobblehead that I hope to get my hands on. This actually sort of looks like Cliff if you ask me, with the beard and everything. This night you also get a Post-Game Concert. It's also "faith" night which seems to be a staple of most promotional scheudles around the MLB at least once a year now. I'm guessing the post-concert is a faith concert and not Ben Broussard singing.

May 10th, Tigers: Slider Slippers. On Mother's Day to boot. If you saw the game yesterday you saw the Slider Slippers. They actually look rather comfortable. They are just asking to get torn up by the dog though, they look too much like stuffed animals and not enough like slippers for him to leave them alone.

May 25th, Rays: On Memorial Day. A special Are You in the Tribe Grill Apron. That's rather fitting. The new Are You in the Tribe Slogan aside, that would be ultimate for the griller in the family. Kudos to the marketing dept for doing something like that on Memorial Day, that's actually clever.

May 30th, Yankees: Are You in the Tribe Rally Towel. Continuing that AYITT slogan theme with a towel against the hated Yankees. I think they are doing the towel stuff against the Yankees on purpose. I'm all for it. I don't get the Route, Route, Route thing though. Is that like Root Root Root for the Home Team?

May 31st, Yankees: The damn hotdogs are taking over the promotional schedule now too. Ketchup is cheating with his new cap for the kids. Don't worry, Mustard gets his due later this year.

May Fireworks: Two! May 8th a country Fireworks show and May 29th is 70's fireworks night.

May Dollar Dogs: May 26th against the Rays.

June

June 11th, Royals: Half Price Student ID Night. That happens on Thursday. First time this year I believe.

June 13th, Cardinals: Shin-Soo Choo 80's Bobblehead. What? Bobby D says he'll be in a white suit, that's going to look awesome with Choo's hair. There is no picture of this, but I wish there was. It can't be worse looking than the CC Disco with the Afro that was handed out a few years ago. This also kicks off Major League week with a post-game showing of Major League.

June 14th, Cardinals: Sizemore Reversible Jersey. It's better looking than the cheapy Pronk shirt they gave out a few years ago. It's a 80's jersey of Sizemore that reverses and shows the current jersey of Sizemore. Pictures have gone away.

June 15th, Brewers: "Wild Thing" Bobblehead. With Milwaukee and Harry Doyle in town the Indians are paying homage to WILD THING and giving away a Ricky Vaughn bobblehead. A step up from the glasses last year. There is also an 80's fireworks show after the game. This is big time value for a Monday game.

June 27th, Reds: Money Night. Free Money and Money envelopes to everyone 18 and over. I'm not really sure how they are doing it this year. 17 and under get baseball cards instead. It's also the Indians Wives Mystery Ball night which is always fun. It's also NASA night. Whatever that means.

June 28th, Reds: Slider Bank. It's Slider's Head as a Bank, Right.

June Fireworks: Three, you have the one I mentioned on Rick Vaughn night. That will actually be a repeat of what you see if you go Friday to see 80's fireworks night (Confirming I'll be there already). There is also Pop Music Fireworks on June 26th.

June Dollar Dogs: June 16th.

July
July 4th, Athletics: Indians Cap Day. This is more involved then past cap nights are. Red White AND Blue in honor of Independence day and Independence Day Weekend. This is July 4th after all. I always like the hat giveaways but they are never fitted so I can never wear them.

July 5th, Athletics: Victor Martinez Catcher's Mitt. You've had the regular kid's baseball mitt and all that. Now you get a catcher's mitt! So your kid doesn't grow up to just be a pitcher or left fielder. He can also grow up to have creaky knees.

July 16th, Mariners: Kicking off Beach Weekend on Thursday with a Half Price Student ID Night. More Beach fun to Come.

July 18th, Mariners: Surfin' Sizemore Bobblehead. Sizemore bobbleheads are a must every year. And it is mandatory for the Indians marketing department to get at least two or three Sizemore-centered giveaways. It just drives the crowds there when Sizemore's mug is on it. This year we've got two Sizemore bobbleheads and one has him on a surfboard. You can bet this is going to be sold out.

July 19th, Mariners: Slider Bobble Belly. Kids fun day gets the Bobble Belly of Slider. Slider is just as exposed as Grady Sizemore is. This concludes not only beach weekend but a very quick month of giveaways.

July Fireworks: July 3rd, a day before Independence day, I'm sure it will be American themed or just good old fashioned Americana fireworks with nothing special. Beach weekend has fireworks again on July 17th and there is one more on the last day of July, the 31st . It's "celebration" fireworks.

July Dollar Dogs: July 16th, a special Thursday going on with Beach Weekend and Hald Price ID Night.

August
August 1st, Tigers: Victor Martinez Catcher Bobblehead. This is with the Hall of Fame induction night. They've also got the Negro League uniforms on this night which are always cool. No picture of the bobblehead unfortunately.

August 2nd, Tigers: Slider Bobsterz. To celebrate the birthday of Slider (I forget how old he is, I bet everyone else did too) you get a slider Bobster.. Which is basically a figurine of Slider bobbing on a baseball as you can see. Get one of those balancing birds once and awhile and make Slider that. Those are cool.

August 6th, Twins: Victor Martinez Chest Protector Backpack. They are just overloading on Victor this year. This is a backpack that looks like a chest protector. That's just genius. It celebrates Summer Camp Month. Who the hell wants to go to camp?

August 13th, Rangers: Fausto Carmona Hat Clip Figurine. This is a kid's giveaway to celebrate the second Summer Camp day. I don't know what this is or what it does. They only have two Saturday games this month though so they are just searching for something.

August Fireworks: To make up for the lack of fireworks this month, they are putting on Rock N' blast on both Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd. Okay then.

August Dollar Dogs: August 11th.

September

September 4th, Twins: Car Giveaway. You love the Car Giveaway.

September 5th, Twins: Travis Hafner Pen Holder Bobblehead. I'm guessing this is a bobblehead of Hafner that holds the pen like a bat? Maybe? I an hope, Hafner's first and last promotion of the year, poor Pronk. This also is the Wives shirts off their players backs night, where I'm assuming they auction off the jersey's off their husband's backs. HAR.

September 6th, Twins: Onion Doll. Onion hot dog get's his due with a plus doll.

September 7th, Rangers: Indians Brand Cap. This is a Cap.. It is not fitted most likely, so I will not use it. This is a Monday anyway.

September 12th, Royals: Historic Logo Towel. Kicking off Wahoo weekend with this lovely towel that has all the logos in the history of the Tribe. That is cool.

September 12th, Royals: Sizemore Wall Banner. Because there wasn't enough Sizemore and because they haven't given the kiddies any Sizemore love, you get a Sizemore Wall Banner. I bet the girls try and bring their brothers, sisters, nephews and neices with them to try and steal this item. They will do anything for Grady.

September 26th, Orioles: Sizemore diving Catch Bobblehead. Ah yes, you didn't think that would be it would you? The mandatory third Sizemore give away and second bobblehead of Grady Sizemore. Genius marketing for putting this closer to the end of the season, unless of course there is a playoff spot on the line, they wouldn't need a give away. This is on Tribe Pride weekened, the last weekend home stand of the year, but not Fan apprecation day, that's on Tuesday and Wednesday against the White Sox.

September 27th, Orioles: Yes Mustard finally gets his due with the best prize of them all. A bobster. He definitely wins the hot-dog give away race and Ketchup didn't cheat!

September Fireworks: Sept 4th, Car Fireworks. I don't know how that works or if they are going to be shooting off fireworks in the shape of cars or not. Sept 11th it's Patriotic Fireworks show on 9/11, very fitting. Finally on September 25th it's Cleveland Rocks fireworks show, which I can only imagine is a fireworks show to the continuous loop of CLEVELAND ROCKS! CLEVELAND ROCKS! CLEVELAND ROCKS! If not, I'd be disappointed.

September Dollar Dogs: September 22nd, get there while you can.

Overall

A very solid year for promotional items. Check out the entire list here. There are many more with charities and stuff like that, but I don't bother going over. There are value nights and everything. The Indians are being very good with the down economy and giving chances for people to come to the games without killing themselves and they are even lowing prices for some things. So great stuff as usual from the marketing department and as we've learned in the past, Grady Sizemore giveaways pull in the fans. I still haven't gotten my Gold Glove Grady Bobblehead from last year because of it. So get there early on those days.

2.27.2009

Goodyear Gets a Win; Martinez Double Dips

So there was a lot to take away from the Indians 5-3 win over the Padres today.

Let's start with the power surge from our beloved catcher.

Everyday I get new thoughts into my head about certain players and I get optimistic. I know Spring Training is the sucker period for someone like me, who is an eternal optimist with certain situations.

But I don't think I'm being overly optimistic with Victor Martinez and what he's going to do this year. You just look at some of the quotes about how determined he is. Mix that with the fact that we've seen this guy do it before.

That's different than Carl Pavano, who yes is determined and yes has done it before, but we've SEEN Victor do it before and do it more than once. Which gets me excited. You add that to what he did last year after he got healthy and the realization that the injuries were a main root for his struggles.
"I put two good swings on the ball today," he said. "I'm really happy about it. I'm trying to get my rhythm and my timing. I still have a long way to go."
You got a whole month plus to do it my friend. He's one guy, that I can honestly say I'm not only expecting, but I'm banking on a rebound from, injuries aside, of course.

Anyway, the two home runs from Victor were great to see today. Just absolute no-doubters that he really got a hold of. Great to see indeed.

Ben Francisco also went deep and his too was a no-doubter and as Eric Wedge pointed out, it was an off-speed pitch, great to see that specifically.

Michael Aubrey knocked in the other run, great piece of hitting from Aubrey so far this Spring. Jhonny Peralta also had a swing on a ball.

Jamey Carroll, Tony Graffanino also had hits, as did Wes Hodges. Loved the way Hodges swung the bat on his hit, looked real good.

Defensively.. Ryan Garko in the outfield. Eric Wedge said the triple as the coaching staff's fault for having him too far in, but when I saw that ball I immediately though, Garko isn't going to get to that. Still, he made a nice catch on a deep fly to left. He looked decent out there.

How about that play by Luis Valbuena? That was stellar stuff.

Ben Francisco misplayed a carom off the centerfield wall, just a tad. I was interested to see him out in center and not Crowe, tells me Wedge wants Francisco to be ready in center just in case.

Pitching... Ohh pitching, finally some good pitching.

Fausto Carmona, how about him? He looked mighty good today. His stuff was working, he challenged hitters and most importantly, his command was sharp. He got the strikeout with the guy on third and less than two outs, he got his ground-ball in the second inning. He was Fausto today and hopefully that's the Fausto we get for the majority of his 30 some starts this year.

David Huff had the lone bad appearance... Not sure what went wrong with Huff today, but he'll have plenty of more outings.

Masa Kobayashi was great getting out of that jam he put himself in, hats off to him. Still don't get into those jams though damnit.

Rafael Betancourt, I mean John Betancourt (PA Announcers, pfft), pitched a solid inning. Matt Herges gave up a couple of hits but kept them stranded. Greg Aquino let up a run.

But John Meloan, boy was he sharp, 1-2-3 inning, bing-bang-boom, great to see.

That was about it. A lot of great stuff from this game to take away. Garko in the outfield, Fausto pitching, Victor hitting, stuff to take away in a pointless game pretty much.

Joe Smith is back with the club after a viral infection gave him a five day headache.

Boy I hate headaches, so I can only imagine having one for five days straight.
"I just sat around waiting for it to leave my body," Smith said. "I was in and out of bed and on floors."
Yikes... Smith is back with the team now though and he even began playing catch today. He'll work on the old arm strength and get back to it, he has plenty of time.

All thumbs up from the Kerry Wood-front though. Carl Willis was on ABAO and said he looked good and Castrovince says that Eric Wedge not hearing anything is more of a good sign than a bad sign, I'm sure.

Following up on Grady Sizemore and his WBC dropping. You can see a video of parts of the Grady press conference on Indians.com, here is what he had to say though.
"It's very disappointing," Sizemore said. "[Playing in the Classic] is something I was looking forward to doing. I was excited to compete and play for my country. But I'm not doing them any good to show up with an injury, and I'm not doing my team any good to try to battle through an injury for three weeks then come back still hurt. I didn't want to fight through an injury that could possibly get worse."
Like I said earlier, a couple of negatives to take away, including the injury. But I'm sure the Indians feel good to be having him in camp this year after all is said and done.

[BOXSCORE]

Grady Sizemore Pulls out of World Baseball Classic

Yep that's the breaking news on this Friday morning. Grady Sizemore is pulling himself out of the WBC due to a sore groin.
"It's tough, because you don't want to put yourself in harm's way," he had said. "Obviously, my obligation is to the Cleveland organization to get ready for the season. But you still play the same game. The odds [of getting hurt] are the same. The biggest thing is, you make sure you prepare yourself and your body so that you can compete at a high level at that time."
Sizemore said he experienced soreness in his left groin for about a week now and he decided to test it out by stealing that one base after his second RBI hit and even playing in these first two games. When it didn't feel right, he decided that he would rather prepare for the 2009 season than risk hurting it in meaningful games.



The quote was from earlier this week believe it or not. So you can better believe Grady is going to live up to what he said earlier and make sure his body is prepared for the season.

On one hand, it sucks he'll be missing out on some nice exposure. On another it's good that he cares about this organization enough to hold back, even if the injury is just minor like this one is.

It also kind of bites that Mark DeRosa won't have a new teammate along for the ride, it could have been a great bonding experience for both of them.
"I'll get a chance to spend some time with Grady on a personal level," he said. "We can go out to dinner and get a chance to know each other. It sets up good for us."
I don't think Mark Shapiro or Eric Wedge mind this at all though. In fact, Shapiro is probably doing a small jig in his office right about now.

One parting thought about this though... He stole a base with a sore groin? That's partially awesome and partially scary.

Today Fausto Carmona takes the mound against the San Diego Padres for the final game on this three-game Goodyear Park opening extravaganza. Last game on TV until further notice, so make sure you park yourself in front of STO at 3 PM or MLB Network at 5 PM ET to get a gander.

A much different lineup today without DeRosa or Sizemore.

RF Trevor Crowe, 3B Jamey Carroll, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Victor Martinez, LF Ryan Garko, CF Ben Francisco, 2B Tony Graffanino, 1B Michael Aubrey, DH Wyatt Toregas.

Ben Francisco goes into center and not only will he have to deal with showing he can handle it in case of emergency, he'll have to put up with the game-official debut of Ryan Garko in left. Garko, good luck with the sun brother.

Trevor Crowe gets to show his leadoff skills meanwhile and Tony Graffanino gets a start at second base.

Slotted to pitch after Carmona: David Huff, Rafael Betancourt, Masa Kobayashi, Adam Miller, Jon Meloan, Hector Rondon, Ryan Edell and Greg Aquino.

We actually haven't seen Aquino I don't think. Huff, Miller, Meloan, and Rondon are all making their debuts as far as the games go as well. Some of them pitched in the intrasquad game.

It appears that one Jody Gerut is not on the Padres lineup for today, this is mildly angering for me.

Turns out two teams were interested in Andy Marte's services.
"My agent said the Marlins and San Francisco were interested," said Marte, "but I don't know what happened."
We knew the Giants, but not the Marlins. Interesting.

David Dellucci had his stitches from his alligator bite removed, but he also got pink-eye.

More on the hustle of Matt LaPorta, which you know Eric Wedge will love.
"Our college coach at the University of Florida told me to always think double coming out of the box," said LaPorta. "That's the way I've tried to play my whole life. I knew I didn't hit it well, but you might as well hustle."
How often do you see a guy with LaPorta's speed and power potential and super-elite prospect status hustle like that? It's a rare combo, but the kid has it.

Finally if you are a historian, an older Tribe fan that remembers this, or you are younger and want to learn about one of the great stories of the Indians history, give Terry Pluto's latest about "Super" Joe Charboneau a read.

I expanded upon what I did the other day with Player Resolutions and did "Player Requests" of sorts for the 2009 season. This one has put the new MLB Photo Day portraits to use and I get slightly even more sarcastic and demanding.

2.26.2009

D'Backs Go Wild in the Arizona Sun; Derek Shelton is kind of my hero now

I'm watching the current All Bets are Off and Derek Shelton is on.

For as much flack as he got, from even me, last year... I gotta say... Shelton is setting Bruce and lot so fans, for that matter, straight.

1.) Grady hitting leadoff..

The best point I've heard made ever, not sure why I never thought of it. But if there was one guy who's going to get the most at-bats in a game, Grady is the guy. With the additional reasons that we don't have a legit guy to take over that spot, this is a fantastic point. Bravo Derek, bravo.

2.) Garko needs to hit 90 home runs.

He pretty much shut up Bruce on this Garko needs to hit for power thing. Bruce maintains that Garko needs to get 90 RBI, but he needs to do it by getting more Home Runs.. I say, who gives a damn? Shelton agrees. While Garko needs to hit more doubles like we know he can, as long as he's being that run-producer, he's doing his job. Thank you Shelton for saying something that I've been saying for awhile now.

So with that...

I won't recap the game, as I just did that live blog which was a huge mistake in terms of my sanity.

But here is a quick recap.

For as many runs as there were, only two home runs in the game, both solo-shots, one by Cleveland Indians left field prospect Matt LaPorta. Impressive how it was of Dan Haren of course. Great day for Matt aside from that ball he lost in the sun. He made the great defensive play, the jack and the hustle double.

Obviously as I mentioned in the live blog, Sizemore and DeRosa really turning it up. Sizemore had a great day with two RBI hits and a run scored. Wedge likes seeing those two at the top of the order. You think we can tell Davey Johnson to hit them back-t0-back when he plays them?
Said Wedge, "There's a nice dynamic with Grady and Mark hitting at the top of the lineup.They can get on base and they can also drive the baseball."
Shoppach, Toregas, and Espino, the three catchers all knocked in runs as well.

No earned runs for Aaron Laffey, who I thought pitched okay. Jensen Lewis despite losing his control for a bit was solid in his inning of work. Obviously the implosions of Jack Cassel and Tomo Ohka were not fun to watch. Only two earned were charged to Ohka however.

Ryan Edell was impressive in one inning of work, he struck out one with no walks or hits.

Obviously there were the four errors. Head's botched fielding in the outfield, Laffey missing the catch from Mills, and Jordan Brown just having a downright bad day at first base. But Eric Wedge said it was early. I tend to agree.

Some bits and pieces on the particular individuals from above from the latest CastroTurf entry.

Wedge also said Aaron Laffey looks more relaxed than last year in competition. Remember that was something Laffey said he was going to try and do this year rather than be nervous as he was last year. Easier said than done, but it looks like he's done it.

Looks like that one ball that was lined into the dugout hit Jesus Merchan. That was the second time he got hit, remember he got pegged in the stomach when he was at the plate. That's probably like getting punched, wouldn't you think?

The affliction t-shirt craze is making Castrovince go bazerk and now LaPorta had a NEON BLUE t-shirt?! He deserves getting a sign with "Prime Time" above it if that's the case. Good work to whoever did that. Come on now, Neon Blue?

LaPorta on another note, said he was "impressed with his approach."
"It was nice," LaPorta said of the home run, "I'm impressed with my approach right now. I'm still getting adjusted to playing again. My timing is coming back."
That's rather interesting. I don't know why.

Remember when I talked about Bart Swain and his son in the outfield with the folding chairs? Wasn't that ridiculous as all get out?

Well here's something hilarious.. Unless you don't find little kids grabbing cacti (cactuses if you don't want to be politically correct) funny.

The other son of Bart Swain grabbed, as you can guess, a cactus by two hands. I think this is mighty funny and would probably watch a youtube clip of such a thing if it were provided to me. Does that make me a bad person? No, I think it just makes me twisted and or someone who gets comedy out of little kids grabbing cacti.

I still can't get over those two in the outfield though, but as Castrovince points out, it was in the area were players run during the game, so I guess it wasn't in the field of play. It is still madness though, and in a game where Tomo Ohka is getting himself rocked, can you blame them for wanting to contribute to such madness?

Anyway... From Madness to Marte.

I guess it isn't a surprise that Marte was surprised he wasn't claimed, I was surprised as well.
"I can't control that," Marte said. "I was waiting to see what happened. I thought somebody might pick me up, but it didn't happen."
The title of that link is "Marte on a mission to turn things around."

We'll see.. That's all I really have to say, isn't it? Take the Nike slogan you bastard. Just do it already.

It kind of helps to have a Dad who played in the Major Leagues, does it not? That's the case for Michael Brantley.
"You put him at 215-220 pounds, with another 10-15 pounds of muscle on him, and he's going to drive some balls out of the ballpark," Mickey Brantley said. "That will come. I want him to stay with what he's doing right now. He's in a BP group with some big boppers, but I tell him, 'You can't worry about what they're doing.'"
Mickey Brantley is of course the father of Michael Brantley. It also helps that Mickey is a hitting coach, or it absolutely drives Michael nuts. But according to Mickey, Michael really studies the game hard and is perhaps too hard on himself sometimes.

Like father like son I guess. If his father is like that, I wouldn't have a clue, I never met him.

Finally... Mark DeRosa didn't get along with former manager Lou Piniella?
"I don't understand that," DeRosa said Thursday. "Whoever wrote that article is wrong. I had a great relationship with Lou. I respect what he did as a player, and I respect what he does as a manager. I enjoyed playing for him. He lit a fire under my butt. That guy [the writer] has it wrong."
And Lou Piniella said DeRosa had his best year under Piniella and echoed what DeRosa said. They even had a bet that DeRosa won (but won't be honored because he's in the WBC and on another team of course). So I'd have to say this is a journalist looking for a story.

Who would hate DeRosa anyway? He does it all... He's one of those guys.. What the hell damn guy?

[BOXSCORE]

ST Game #2, D'Backs/Tribe: Live Blog - Finished

If you are around at 3:00 PM Eastern Time, I'll be raising the mediocrity and absurdity of this blog an extra 10 times with a live blog for a Spring Training Game.. Why?

A) I feel like it

B) It could be amusing to myself

C) I've got very little to do right now and I need to pass some time.

So Check back at 3 or later if you want to see me make a fool out of myself.
---------------------------------------

2:58 - Here I Be, just watching the Astros and Braves ST game. I love it when Kruk bags on Steve Phillips. STO is showing a Cliff Lee-Classic. Rafael Perez is closing this game out. Interesting.. I just got done flipping through my weekly magazines. SN has 5 Reasons Mark Shapiro would never trade Grady Sizemore.

Number 5? He said he'd alienate the entire female fanbase. That's for sure. I'll share the rest later.

3:04 - First Pitch in a minute. We get to see Aaron Laffey... Hopefully he looks better than Jeremy Sowers did yesterday. You think they'll change the STO intro for this year? Last year they had players in it and then they started sucking or getting hurt or get traded.

3:07 - Matt Underwood just said he might be late for tax day... Isn't that not advised?

3:08 - Have I ever mentioned how I have a Diamondbacks hat. I have Padres, Pirates, and Astros hats as well, but they are more cause they were A) Cheap or B) have cool logos.. Yah I'm stupid. Lead-off hit for Felipe Lopez, not good Laffey.

3:10 - Drew flies out to Grady.. Good work Aaron. The mighty Chris Young (hitter) is up. Looks like MLB listened to me and you can watch the game online.. Wow that's cool. Day too late though.

3:11 - Laffey almost got destroyed on the Shoppach throw. Lopez is dead in the water though. Great job by Shoppach. Inning now over after Young grounds out to DeRosa. Good inning for Laffey.

3:14 - The Indians have the task of taking on Dan Haren. I've been avoiding Haren in all the mock-drafts for Fantasy Baseball I've done (I've done like 4 so far). Why? I'm not sure, I've always liked him. Grady rips a ball foul, then rips one to 1B Tony Clark, one out.

3:16 - Haren makes DeRosa look foolish.

3:17 - Shoppach skies one high up into the air. Great work there Kelly. Doof.. Matty Williams after the commercials!

3:20 - Matt Williams with the Diamondbacks and as Underwood says he's a jack of all-trades. Connor Jackson absolutely crushes one that should have been caught at the warning track. But Matt LaPorta loses it. I'll give him a pass with that glaring sun.

3:23 - Upton just keeps spoiling pitches off.. He's kinda tall... Kinda built too.

3:25 -Yeah Matt what can you do to improve on 204 strikeouts? Daunting task. Upton keeps spoiling pitches, great at-bat.

3:26 - Laffey botches the throw from Mills on a sharp grounder. It would have moved the runner to third with an out, but now Upton is at first and the run is scored with no outs.

3:27 - K-Master Reynolds is up. I'm sorry but if you out-strike Ryan Howard, you are aggressive as hell. Laffey gets out if it with a patent double-play. I'd rather him strike out there.

3:29 - I know I said Upton was tall, but Tony Clark is giant. Laffey walks him, I'd pitch him inside and up, jam his.. that wouldn't sound right.. But Jam him.. At least it works on MLB The Show..

3:31 - Chris Snyder strikes out. Tony Clark coaches basketball in the offseason? He'll, if I was that tall, I'd play basketball in the offseason. Aaron Boone would forbid me though.

3:35 - I went downstairs so I missed Beau Mills' at bat. Darn.. BUT WAIT WHAT IS THIS? Matt LaPorta crushes one to left field.. Good work young son! Tie Ballgame.

3:36 - Stephen Head tried to match LaPorta, not quite and kind of foul. The at-bat continues.

3:37 - I'm trying to figure out who Stephen Head looks like in terms of his batting stance. It looks familiar.

3:38 - Head grounds out while Matty Williams says he didn't want to leave Cleveland. No one does, do they? Good for Matt in the situation he's in though, sounds ideal.

3:40 - Asdrubal Cabrera flies out to left. Inning over, baldy leaving. LaPorta's jack was quite awesome though.

3:43 - Here comes Jensen Lewis, speaking of baldy. Or partial baldy. Derek Shelton joins the broadcast from the dugout. We need a new name for J-Lew since I can't technically call him "The Closer" anymore.

3:43 - Cabrera catches the weak fly at second. One down for Jenny.. Yeah that didn't work.

3:45 - Lewis gets Lopez to ground-out. Derek Shelton is talking about Hafner and he says Hafner took BP again today. He's excited about where Hafner is at and he's driving the ball the other way.

3:48 - Why is everyone is calling Rick Manning, "Arch"? Including Matt Underwood? I've NEVER heard him called that. Lewis walks Stephen Drew.

3:50 - I mean, that doesn't even make sense? Maybe I've never heard any of the coaches call him that, and that's fine... But Underwood never has called him that until yesterday. Jensen is getting a little wild here. Settle down buddy. There ya go.. Young gets jammed and flies out to Grady. I was wrong about watching live on MLB.com I guess it was a trick. Why can't I at least listen to a game, I can verify I'm in Ohio!

3:52 - Slider did the chicken dance as Doug Davis takes over and now Carl Willis is talking. Poor Carl and this air. Great double for Jesus Merchan.

3:53 - There is Arch again... See.. Damaso Espino doesn't like it either, he tried to kill Willis.

3:54 - Merchan over to third, Espino moves him over.

3:56 - Hit up the middle by the Grizzle, 2-1 game. Great piece of hitting.

3:58 - DeRosa must not like it either as Carl Willis has realized everyone is gunning for him.

3:59 - Hey you think the WBC are going to be glad to get Sizemore and DeRosa? Marky Mark rockets one off the left field wall for a double.

4:00 - Shoppach charges one into center-field, getting Sizemore in for a 3-1 lead.

4:01 - Beau Mills knocks DeRosa in with a nice single over the head of Lopez. Taking Care of Business plays over the PA system, what?

4:02 - LaPorta ends the inning with a shattered bat groundout. 4-1 Tribe.

4:06 - Rich Rundles is in to pitch. He hits Connor Jackson. Bravo.

4:08 - Upton hits one into right for a single, but ends up on third with a run scoring as Head can't field it. That won't help anyone.

4:09 - Upton scores on a Reynolds RBI single up the middle. Richie not doing so hot.

4:13 - Reynolds steals second, Shoppach doesn't throw, but Tony Clark strikes out, I told you, go up and in on the big man. Reynolds then steals third, what the hell damn guy? Not liking what Rundles is doing. He just threw a 69 MPH pitch, is that gun off? 54 MPH now? Seriously? Jensen Lewis was throwing 86 MPH fastballs earlier.

4:16 - Snyder lines out to Cabrera. Roberson grounds to DeRosa who makes a nice backhand stab and throw, 4-3 Indians still lead.

4:19 - Stephen Head reaches on an error by the catcher Chris Snyder.

4:24 - Hasdrubal the Headless Roman drew a walk. Merchan is up and he had a good year at Triple-A last year. Quad-A player? That sucks, Triple-A isn't mince-meat, and he can play the infield positions and hit well at that level. People like him need a little hat tip once and awhile. Oh well, he struck out, one down and two on. Espino knocks one into right field for a RBI-ground rule double. Cabrera scores on a wild pitch/passed ball, who knows.

4:25 - Grady Sizemore with an RBI single up the middle once again. 7-3 Indians rolling. Doug Davis is getting yanked.

4:30 - Tony Barnette is in to pitch, DeRosa pops one up. Grady proceeds to steal a base with Shoppach up at-bat.

4:33 - I don't see Shoppach adjusting, he swung at a changeup he had no business swinging at. Then he strikes out on a fastball in. End O' Inning.

4:37 - Tim Belcher is joining the program and honestly I've never heard of him, yet I've heard of most of the Indians personnel/management/coaches, I'm sorry, even though he's been with the club for awhile, I'm not worthy. Jack Cassel, better known as the brother of New England Patriot's backup quarterback. That in fact is what we shall refer to him from now on... He gives up a hit to Felipe Lopez.

4:43 - Cassel had a double-play ball, but not with Lopez and Drew on the base paths. Chris Young cracks one into left-center and there is now first and third. Conor Jackson sneaks one between first and second, he's 2-2 with two runs and an RBI.

4:44 - Justin Upton.. Almost went yard. But he didn't. LaPorta staggers back and makes a leaping catch into the wall. Mad props to Matty for making that catch. Run scores. 7-5, Good Guys. Mark Reynolds strikes out to end the inning, what a surprise.

4:50 - I totally spaced out and there is one out. I guess I missed another Beau Mills at bat. LaPorta bloops one in and HUSTLES to second base. I told you the story how he hustled down the line of a Double-A playoff game last year when he really didn't have to. He plays the game hard. Head chops one to second and LaPorta goes to third, there was a mass change in defense for Arizona.

4:52 - Cabrera ends the inning with a ground-out. Four innings to go!

4:59 - DeRosa is speaking about the WBC. Mass defensive changes for the Indians as well. I have no clue who just got a hit and who got a hit after him. They've abandoned the game. Mark DeRosa meanwhile says he's impressed with Choo and his power.

5:01 - Wilson is on second base, which means that he's Josh Wilson. That means Ryan Roberts is at first. Which would put someone else at-bat cause that sure as hell ain't Chris Young. I'm so confused. His tattoos anger me.

5:05 - Another mention that the brother of New England Patriots backup quarterback is the brother of New England Patriots backup quarterback. Now according to Underwood, Ryan Roberts is the one at-bat. Josh Wilson almost got picked. I have no clue who is at first. Jordan Brown is at first-base in terms of defense and completely ignores a foul ball. Okay he didn't, he just couldn't find it. Damn the sun. Manning says he needs to change to different colored glasses. I fail to see how that makes a damn difference. Just get better ones.

5:06 - Bart Swain and his kid were in the outfield on folding chairs. What the hell is this, a circus? Wilson is picked off between second and third, good work on Cassel. This tattoo guy is still at-bat, what the hell?

5:07 - He finally plugged a double and a run scores, 7-6 game. I have no clue who scored still. But at least I know Josh Barfield is in centerfield now.

5:08 - HEY! Luke Carlin punches one up the middle and we get to see Barfield's arm. Jack Cassel is an jerk-face and cuts it off. It probably wouldn't have made it, but I wanted to see. Tie-game.. Why did I decide to do this again?

5:12 - Tomo Ohka is in to pitch. And just like that the inning is over, like I said earlier in the offseason, SAVIOR! I wasn't lying!

5:16 - Converted outfielder with a weird name is pitching and the D'Backs make one more defensive change. Charlie Frye is in centerfield. No, some other guy named Frye. Carilla is up on deck, you better recognize! Merchan is pegged. Looked like he took one right in the bread-basket. That can't feel good.

5:17 - Carilla grounds into a DP. Shoot

5:20 - Josh Barfield draws a walk, good work young one. Tony Graffanino should pick a bulkier number so his ridiculously long name doesn't stick out on his jersey. Barfield was picked off dead to rights, but the first baseman can't get the throw off and Barfield steals second.

5:24 - Graffanino walks and Toregas is up at the plate. Thankfully Barfield scores on a smash over the shortstop's glove. Toregas delivers! No more runs now!

5:27 - Okay 9-7, wild pitch by this dude and Graffanino scores. Executive decision that this live-blog ends at 6, game over or not. Brown pops out end of the sixth inning.

5:31 - Torey Lovullo is bad luck. He comes on and this Whitesell kid kills the ball. Well, actually, I'm sorry. Tomo Ohka is pitching so, I apologize Torey. Another hit for the D'Backs whoever it is that is.

5:35 - I got distracted by this video. So I have no clue what Lovullo said. Double play ball turns into both guys being safe. This game has unraveled to the point of being worse than a Spring Training game. We now have a tie game again. I might quit earlier than 6 at this rate.

5:37 - Tomo Ohka gives up a hit, someone scores, Graffanino cuts the ball off and records an out at third and according to Underwood, the Astros have scored three times. I had no clue I've been watching Houston this whole time and haven't seen Lance Berkamn or Carlos Pena this whole time. I guess we all can't be in mid-season form this early.

5:41 - Destruction double off the center field wall as Torey compares Trevor Crowe to a young thoroughbred. Take solace in the fact that Josh Barfield played that ball perfectly and hit the cutoff man.

5:44 - Chris Gimenez is showing his versatility in left. But he can't get to the ball, great effort though. Tomo Ohka unfortunately isn't done though. Just a visit to the mound. Put the guy out of his misery and just end it! They've even let Torey Lovullo go. He's probably hoping Ohka gets cut so he doesn't have him in Columbus. Ohka gives up another hit and another run. Boy does he suck. Eric Wedge is finally ending this massacre.

5:47 - Double AAOO is in and he immediately does something Ohka had trouble doing, get an out. He's my new favorite pitcher.

5:50 - Kyler Newby is the new pitcher for the Astros, I mean D'Backs. Haha reminds me of Dr. Cox and that is a good thought. Much better than Tomo Ohka. "Newby delievers outside for ball one." Too bad I can't rewind and record that for posterity. I'll just have to try and remember it forever and ever, NEWBY!

5:53 - The feed cut out momentarily with just the audio and a blue screen. Why didn't that happen when Ohka was pitching?

5:56 - The way Underwood says Newby is funny. Or maybe it's just because he says Newby. Valbuena strikes out and that's the end of the 7th inning and this running blog. I've subjected myself to enough pain for one afternoon.

Welcome to Goodyear, Now get to work!



Covered a lot last night, so that leaves me plenty of room to bore the living hell out of you on this lovely Thursday morning.

I've spent time updating stuff around the web, the biggest update, all the chats on the left side.. The offseason is now over so the chart is gone and in the archive that I've now created. So catchup with all that.

Anyway, Indians type news.. Obviously the game is today. Aaron Laffey and Dan Haren will take the mound. Scheduled to pitch include: Scott Lewis, Jensen Lewis, Jack Cassel, Tomo Okha, Kirk Saarloos, Greg Aquino and Hector Rondon.

The lineup is up and here's what it looks like.

CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Beau Mills, LF Matt LaPorta, RF Stephen Head, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, SS Jesus Merchan, DH Damaso Espino.

Shoppach did not play yesterday, neither did Cabrera. Espino pinch-hit for Santana at the DH spot yesterday, Sizemore, DeRosa are starting for the second game in a row.

Beau Mills and Jesus Merchan get the starts, while LaPorta and Head are starting in the outfield after playing yesterday.

Joel Skinner said some fans were already booing him yesterday.

Jesus guys, go easy.. I'm only going to assume it was on holding Carlos Santana at third.

Which brings me to the fact that I did see yesterday's game on the replay.

And Santana.. Boy can you tell he's taken after Victor Martinez. He doesn't quite have the same batting stance or swing, but it looks eerily similar. He seems a lot bigger build too, but he still looks athletic as all get out.

Ryan Garko's double was awesome, loved the way Peralta got his hit too. I can honestly say I'm not sure what happened with Sowers. He was actually better than the stats indicate. He and Jackson were actually pretty good if you ask me. You can tell Mujica sucked though. Sowers got beat by Ishikawa the least with the single he hit, just a good piece of hitting.

I loved Travis Fryman when Travis Ishikawa hit that first tower shot over the party deck.

The other Travis, Travis Hafner was in rare form yesterday. You'd have to listen to it to appreciate every comment. One cracked me up, but I can't seem to remember it this morning, damn me.

That's three Travises in a row by the by.

Oh and Frank Viola, never heard him talk, but I like it. Can we sign that guy up? He said the one guy he was really impressed with was David Huff out of the left-handers. He said Carmona has great stuff as well.

The love-affair with the complex is in full-force. The Winter Haven people can't be happy, but it's true.

Bob Feller was pretty funny though.
"If the ballclub's as good as the facility," Feller said, "they ought to win the World Series in four games."
Boy it would rock if he was right.

It turns out that Joe Smith has a viral infection.

Wedge can't say much because it is a non-baseball related injury, but he did say he's getting taken care of and he'll be back at it soon.

And an update on Kerry Wood, straight from Kerry Wood himself.

He'll workout today and throw a session tomorrow. But the back injury may have been from being on spikes for the first time in awhile and that it typically does this.
"About once a spring, it's been doing that," Wood said of his back. "But I know how to manage it."
Hey, I get those kinds of aches and pains at certain times of the year in certain situations.

It's like allergies.

2.25.2009

Tribe outslugged in Spring opener; Marte's Wrath Continues

Boy the MLB really has a wrap-up on making sure you pay to hear a baseball team.

I can't get a live stream from the radio on the internet, it is impossible without paying money.

Even though radio is free and I'm in Ohio. I find this unfair.

Either way, I followed what I could on MLB.com and haven't seen anything but Mark DeRosa's home run and Matt LaPorta's fly-out.

I'm going to attempt to watch the game tomorrow morning or catch the replay later tonight.

But here is the rundown.

Home Runs: Mark DeRosa hit the first official game Home Run of Goodyear Park with a three-run blast, introducing himself to the Tribe in a big way. Stephen Head, and Michael Aubrey also hit home runs later in the game.

Josh Barfield came in to play some second base, went 1-2 with a run scored and a run batted in off a double.

Carlos Santana didn't record an official at-bat from the DH spot, getting walked twice and scoring a run, but Damaso Espino came in to knock in a run with a doubke.

Also collecting hits, Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, Michael Brantley, and Ryan Garko, who had a double in two at-bats.

Pitching-wise.. Boy was this bad.

Jeremy Sowers got off to a rough start thanks to first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Ishikawa got to both Sowers and Zach Jackson and on top of that, he had 4 RBI in the game.

Rafael Perez pitched an inning and gave up a run, but by far the worst outings go to Eddie Mujica and Vinnie Chulk.

Eric Wedge said both were over-throwing and I think Anthony Castrovince put it right on. Ed Mujica looked great in batting practice.. In the game, he looked like Ed Mujica. He was tagged fo four earned in just one inning of work. Two home runs, one to Nate Schierholtz, the other being the second jack for Ishikawa.

Vinnie Chulk pitched two innings and gave up three runs. Matt Herges was the only Indians pitcher to not give up a run and he struck out two. Gold star to him.

Former Tribe farm-hand Luis Perdomo, a Rule-V pick of the San Francisco Giants (from the St. Louis Cardinals) faced his former organization and gave up just a walk and struck out one in his inning of work.

The CPD reports that attendence for the game, 4,181.

This Travis Ishikawa... Something else..

Anyway the big news isn't really the game but so much the return of the never left Andy Marte.

Marte cleared waivers without anyone sniffing him. It must say no one has any faith in him to give him a 40-man roster spot.. Interesting... He's been outrighted to Columbus and indications are he'll be in a bench role with the Clippers as a backup 3rd Baseman. Tony Lastoria seems to think either he or Michael Aubrey will not survive Spring Training in terms of being in the organization. I think he may have a point.

If everything counts, you gotta think Aubrey got a start on it with his home run today.

Kerry Wood and Joe Smith, the two bullpen acquisitions have got some injury issues, nothing to get crazy worried about though. Wood has a sore back.
"We don't need to rush that at all," said Wedge. "He'll work his way back into some bullpens this weekend. Carl Willis (pitching coach) has talked to some people who had him with the Cubs. They say Kerry gets ready pretty quick. We just want to be smart about it."
Like Wedge says, he needs to be ready for April 6th, not March 6th.

This according to Castrovince won't be much of a setback at all. They want him in two games before March 10th and they think that's still possible. He'll actually throw a bullpen session on Friday.

Joe Smith on the other hand, is sick. Whatever it is, yukky. He'll be out 4-6 days, then he'll need to play catchup. At least it isn't an arm injury or anything like that.

I've been diving into My Baseball Prospectus book that I just got a week ago. It's amazing how much information is in it and I'll start relaying it too you as I see fit. But Carlos Santana heads the list of Indians on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects for 2009.

Santana cracked in at 26, Matt LaPorta one behind him at 27, Nick Weglarz, AKA THE CARILLA checks in at 58, and Adam Miller is 82nd. The Indians to my knowledge have the most prospects on the list in the AL Central (W/Chicago) and all of the prospects are going to be at the Double-A Level or higher.

This leads me into some of the word going around that Castrovince has uncovered.

Joel Skinner is waiting for the "jack in the box" with Santana. Meaning he seems way too good to be true and he loves his swing. Skinner works with the Catchers as well so he gets to see him defensively too.

Also now, the Indians feel Michael Brantley maybe is the better player in the Sabathia trade, not LaPorta. I kind of get that feeling that Brantley can do more and I myself am not worried about his lack of power. Why should a guy who doesn't strike out much and hit for average need to hit a lot of home runs? Oh, he's only 21!

Finally.. Travis Hafner hit two moon shots according to Castrovince. They cleared the scoreboard in right center. You know that big scoreboard that you've seen in the pictures and videos? Yeah I'm getting excited again.

[BOXSCORE]

Barfield Does Some Cool Stuff in Meaningless Game

Yesterday the Indians got together to play a little game of backyard baseball. Split 'em up and play a quick game. The only thing missing was the wiffle bat, Grady Sizemore, and the thunder.

The thunder?

YEAH BRING THE THUNDER.

Let's just set it up like this, the Arizona air made for a perfect day to hit some Home Runs. As we hear though, the Cactus League might as well be the thunder league because of the inflated ERAs.

The list of homers, is as follows.

Trevor Crowe
Josh Barfield
Kelly Shoppach

Crowe and Josh Barfield were on the winning team, the homers, and Barfield even turned the game ending double play from his third base position. Mighty fine debut for Josh.

Kelly Shoppach, in addition to homering, also hit a two-run double in his three RBI performance as the DH.

It seems like everyone had a part in this game, so let's just run down highlights as I've gathered.

Trevor Crowe did homer and score on Barfield's three run homer.

Luis Valbuena hit a two-run triple.

Jamey Carroll, Beau Mills, Jhonny Peralta, Stephen Head, and Michael Brantley all had RBI singles.

John Meloan, Rafael Betancourt, and Masahide Kobayashi were the victims of the three home runs, while Jensen Lewis surrendered the two-run triple. Hector Rondon and David Huff were both solid.

As for Ryan Garko in left field.. Well he was fine.. He handled a ball in left with the sun blinding him. For pictures, click here.

Anyway, that was then, this is now and the Indians are close taking the field for their first game at their new Spring Complex.

I'll get to that in a second, but I'm not even going to BS you guys.. The biggest story aside from the Intrasquad game yesterday was the return of none other than Joe Borowski.

No no, don't go jumping off a cliff, not the actual return but the appearance Joe made at the Indians complex. He pretty much announced his retirement and stopped by to see his old teammates. He's basically retired as an Indian, after no one picked him up last year.
"I guess 38, 87 and 88 wasn't looking good in people's eyes," said the former Indians closer.
Age, Fastball, Fastball.

He worked out for some teams last month, but I'll give him some credit, he knew it was time to hang it up.
"With all the people who are still free agents out there, I see what's going on. Finally, I said that's it. I said I can't complain about any part of my career. I'm shutting it down. It was like the weight of the world came off my shoulders."
You know Joe might not be the most liked guy, but that's because we hate his fastball and the heart attacks. I can honestly say the guy is as genuine as anyone who's come through Cleveland these past few years. He was honest about everything and he wasn't trying to fool anyone. For that, I respect him. I mean he did save 45 ball games for us one year.

And now, with his home being in Arizona, it wasn't hard for him to drop in to a place he really loved, even if not everyone loved him.
"I made friends here that I'll have for the rest of my life," he said. "There are a lot of shady organizations, but this isn't one of them. They treated me very well. It was enjoyable and I wish them nothing but the best."
So ends the book of Joe Borowski, who can now get fat off Starbucks and wear those affliction shirts Castrovince hates. I hate to tell him though, if he keeps drinking it, those shirts are going to make him look bad.

The beauty is, he could probably care less.



I'm also going to give some credit to Kelly Shoppach. Look, I'm not convinced he's going to do what he did last year, his plate discipline and approach is going to get him in trouble unless he can figure out how people are going to pitch him and adjust. So at first I'm expecting him to struggle.

But he needs some props for not trying to do something he doesn't know how to do. His idea is to hit home runs and doubles, for that you are going to get a lot of swings and misses and a low average and not very many walks.
"I need to be on second base," said Shoppach. "If I can do it with one swing, I'm going to do it. It's a lot harder for me to score from first than it is from second. You've got to know who you are."
It's going to get him in trouble though, at least for the start of the year, and I'll go on record of saying that. I don't trust the league to continue to throw him fastballs.

And like Borowski, Kelly doesn't care about the strikeouts. I mean after all, why should we if he hits 20 home runs as the part-time catcher? This isn't fantasy baseball after all, we want a title.

With that, I'm going though the links here rather quick.

Bob Feller has arrived, which usually signals the games are about to begin. Cleveland's legend will throw out the first pitch today with Paul Dolan. And being such an ambassador to the game, Feller was ready to go.
"Are you guys going to write about steroids or baseball this season?" asked the Indians winningest pitcher.
God he's so right. Why don't we listen to that man?

The WBC rosters are out and as expected, Sizemore, Choo, Perez, and DeRosa are the lone Major Leaguers on the rosters. Nick Weglarz, Sung-Wei Tseng, new comer Chen-Chang Lee, Damaso and Paolo Espino are also participating. Choo left Tuesday, while Grady and DeRosa are slotted to leave Sunday.

Side note.. I really like Canada's team. They might not have the stars that the US or the DR have. But guys like Jason Bay, their infield with Morneau, Russ Martin, Mark Teahen, Joey Votto. Hopefully Nick Weglarz has a chance to shine.
"I'd never turn down a chance to [represent Canada]," he said. "At the Olympics, it was pretty cool to think that all the best athletes in the world are right there in that little section of the world. Half the world's watching the opening ceremonies. To be with your country walking out there is pretty special."
And I'm going to continue to push the Carilla name. It isn't exactly Pronk, but it's the best I can do until further notice and I'm determined to make it stick. Half Canuck, Half Gorilla.. Don't worry Nick, it's a term of endearment.

From one outfield prospect that is supposed to hit a bunch of home runs to another who tries to hit a bunch of home runs.

Trevor Crowe (Or Russell Crowe as Bruce Drennan seems to think) has a little bit of a problem.

Oh Crowe can hit the jacks, but once he does it, he tries to do it more often, which could maybe explain why it seems a lot of his homers come in bunches. But Crowe is making strides.

There have been a lot of GMs coming by and having tours. Dan O'Dowd, who used to be with the Tribe and is now the GM of the Rockies had his tour on Monday. A few more strolled through on Tuesday but O'Dowd's name keeps coming up, A) Because he used to be with the Indians and B) It appears he's just scouting for the Rockies and their move out of Tuscon.

Heck with the Rockies though. It's game day and we are inching ever so closer. I'm pulling it up on the radio due to the fact that I'm on campus, but I've got it taping and will make it a point to watch the game sooner or later. The lineups are out though.

CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Mark DeRosa, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Ben Francisco, 2B Jamey Carroll, DH Carlos Santana, RF Trevor Crowe. With Jeremy Sowers on the mound. Slotted to pitch: LHP Zach Jackson, LHP Rafael Perez, RHP Ed Mujica, RHP Vinnie Chulk, RHP Matt Herges, RHP Jack Cassel and RHP Tomo Ohka.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis Hafner, and the Hawaii-bound Shin-Soo Choo are not expected to play.

We get to see Carlos Santana hit, and AC said he put on quite the display in live BP. That will be exciting.

Meanwhile it will be Jeremy Sowers on the mound and he gets to get the first crack at winning a rotation spot. He's even going to be trying a different spot on the mound, something Carl Willis has tried to adjust for Sowers to help his command.
"You try to take advantage of the opportunities you get," Sowers said. "I have a great opportunity here in Spring Training, and we have a little bit extra time to get an extended look and try to convince them one way or another."
Jeremy could really be one of the surprises.. So let's just hope things go well for him. You just never know.

Game Recap if I'm not dead by the end of the day, hopefully!

2.24.2009

2009 Season Resolutions...Like a spinoff

The whole giving up for lent for each player idea kind of grew on me and while I got tired of it after a few players, it gave me an idea.

So, baring in mind how successful Saved by the Bell: The College Years and Joey was, let's go oppo and get what we want to see from certain Indians in 2009.

Side note.. while trying to decide which failed spin-off's I'd use for this example, I came across the Doug remake, by Disney, where they changed a bunch of stuff like the intro and the hair for characters like Roger and Patty Mayonnaise. I just shake my head.

Anyway... Here is my list of Resolutions/What's like to see from certain Indians in 2009.

Some are serious, some are comical, some are just lame....

- Pitchers

Juan Salas: No suspensions, visa issues, and proof that the Indians didn't waste their time on you.

Tony Sipp: Closing for Columbus or on the verge of cracking the Majors.

Rich Rundles: To no longer associate you with potato chips.

Scott Lewis: A complete game in your 2009 debut.

John Meloan: 0 Games Started

Hector Rondon: Double-A Pitcher of the Year

Chuck Lofgren: Indians Minor League Comeback Player of the Year

Kelvin De La Cruz: Indians Minor League Pitcher of the Year

David Huff: None of the above, but for a good reason, 2009 Major League Success.

Zach Jackson: Long-Relief/Lefty Specialist Role at the Major League Level

Ed Mujica: Cut, as soon as possible.

Adam Miller: Many many ML strikeouts

Joe Smith: Memories of Franklin Gutierrez erased.

Jeremy Sowers: Not to suck

Aaron Laffey: 2009 Starter and beyond.

Anthony Reyes: Top Flight Number 3 Starter

Carl Pavano: No injuries and comeback player of the year, but that may be asking too much. Fine, make me not use an Alyssa Milano joke.

Jake Westbrook: Half a season and an elbow that isn't ruined.

Masa Kobayashi: Consider shopping at Target.

Rafael Betancourt: Throw inside.

Rafael Perez: I really hope your arm doesn't fall off, ever.

Jensen Lewis: 5/5 in save opportunities, meaning you weren't needed.

Kerry Wood: 40 saves.. Meaning you were awesome.

Fausto Carmona: 3-3 in different Indians' starters winning the Cy Young Award.

Cliff Lee: 23 wins.

- Hitters

Wyatt Toregas: I really have no clue....

Chris Gimenez: Kick ass, somewhere.

Carlos Santana: EL MVP

Michael Aubrey: Cut someone or be cut.

Jordan Brown: See Aubrey, Michael.

Luis Valbuena: The Hell Away from the Major Leagues, Meaning Nothing is Wrong.

Wes Hodges: Major League Ready and Less Errors.

Carlos Rivero: Amazing Stuff.

Andy Marte: Don't BP us.

Lonnie Chisenhall: No grand larceny charges.

Josh Barfield: To silience the shouting of "Kevin Kouzmanoff"

Jamey Carroll: Double Career HR Total.

Michael Brantley: Proof you really don't strikeout much.

Trevor Crowe: To hold the knife that stabbed David Dellucci

David Dellucci: Retire, now.

Matt LaPorta: Ryan Braun, Part II.

Nick Welgarz: To formalize the nickname as a second coming of Pronk. Instead of Project Donkey, we use Canuck Gorilla and call him Carilla.

Beau Mills: Repeat 2008 Performance and possible Triple-A apperance.

Kelly Shoppach: Don't touch Mark Reynolds' strikeout record.

Asdrubal Cabrera: A gold glove.

Ryan Garko: 100 RBI, even if they come off 100 singles.

Travis Hafner:
30 HR, but that's too much, so 20.. If that's too much, I'd rather be taken out back and shot.

Ben Francisco: To Prevent, LaPorta, Matt.

Mark DeRosa: To make it awfully hard for the Indians to let him walk in the offseason.

Shin-Soo Choo: A kind gesture from your homeland to let you skip military duty. Or.. 25 home runs.

Victor Martinez: Lead the AL in Average.

Jhonny Peralta: Make it hard to take you out of the 4th spot.

Grady Sizemore: 45-45 or three letters, MVP.

- Coaches

Joel Skinner: Send Lofton Home.

Jeff Datz: HONK!

Luis Rivera: Trip Sheffield

Chuck Hernandez: Luis Isaac who?

Carl Willis: Carmona, Fausto or Reyes, Anthony.

Eric Wedge: Less than 100 blinks per minute.... and a title

This Tuesday is Fat, Seems Like a Perfect Marte Day

Better stuff the Marte Buffet today since it's Fat Tuesday. Get your licks in.

I've given up on giving up on something for Lent. I just don't do it. I don't even follow the no meat on Friday rule. That's how much of a bad person I am. I just forget. That and my Mom makes meat on Fridays anyway because no one else in my house follows it.

So with that.. Let's take some ideas here on what some players should give up for the next 40 days.

Fausto Carmona: Sweating

Victor Martinez: Blowing into his hand

Kelly Shoppach: Striking Out

Cliff Lee: Giving up runs, that won't be hard

Andy Marte: Cake, obviously

Rafael Betancourt: Touching the brim of his hat

Carl Pavano: Getting hurt

Jhonny Peralta: Chasing the Curveball

Masa Kobayashi: Wal-Mart, just Super Wal-Mart, regular is fine

Travis Hafner: X-BOX or Wrestling, impossible

Jensen Lewis: Cutting his hair

David Dellucci: Baseball, period

There... Those are my ideas, on the fly. I personally like the last one and think it's probably the best idea of the bunch.

Let's get to the news though.

It seems like a perfect place to throw this one in, because well, it involves David Dellucci giving up baseball, at least with the Indians.
"I don't want to go down that road," Wedge said. "He's a guy that has some presence in the clubhouse, and he does have some ability to be a good hitter against right-handers when he finds it and locks it in. If he proves he can go out and do it again, there will be a place for him."
"Go down that road" is the road of Dellucci getting a guarenteed spot on the roster. It looks more like Josh Barfield isn't really battling anyone for that final bench spot, not even Trevor Crowe and it is David Dellucci who is in fact fighting even more for his roster spot.

And it's Crowe who is pushing Dellucci for that spot.
"I think the coaching staff knows me," Crowe said. "They've seen me develop the last couple years. And I've finally realized I can only control so much. I can only go out and play well and, when it's my time, I'm going to be in the big leagues."
Crowe is a better option for the fourth outfield spot anyway. So even if he doesn't make it out of Spring, as we saw last year with Jason Michaels, if Dellucci isn't getting it done, the hook will be quick. Dellucci better do it because Crowe can run, he can play all spots in the outfield, two things a fourth outfielder need to do that Dellucci can't.

Let me lead off with this note.

If you are in Arizona or are going to Arizona within the next few weeks, I'd like to pass this note onto you.

I got an e-mail about Fan Appreciation event down in Goodyear. If you are in the area, Estrella is holding a short event for visiting fans and after the get-together you'll be transported to Goodyear for the opening pitch of the Royals-Indians game on March 7th.

Click here for some more information on the event. I encourage anyone down there or going down there to take advantage of it, I'll try and bring it up again closer to the date. It's great to see the communities in Arizona such as this one welcoming in the Indians fans. Thanks to Tyler for the information.

Today is the first game of Spring Training, not officially of course. But still, fun.

And I do mean fun.

It's the intrasquad game and it is your basic backyard baseball, let's have some fun type of game.

The beauty is that this game matters even less than a Spring Training game, so Eric Wedge is going to do a bunch of crazy things.

Ryan Garko is going to debut in left-field and Josh Barfield is going to be lining up a few feet behind him in left field.
"I feel OK out there," said Garko after practice Monday. "It feels a lot more natural than when I moved from catcher to first base. At least I'm still facing the ball."
And Garko has said that hitting is his primary concern, so he knows what he has to do. He isn't a position to be impressing Wedge in left like Barfield has to. In fact, Barfield is rather excited about making the switch.
"It's another challenge," said Barfield. "I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable over there. You're closer to the plate. It's a little longer throw, but I'm not worried.
Along with Garko in left and Barfield at third, Jamey Carroll will be in right field. I don't know if this is all on one team or not, but that team isn't going to be rather rusty defensively if that's the case.

It will be a five inning affair today, with Huff and Rondon getting the starts.

Speaking of one David Huff, early word is, he's impressing.

Huff's mechanics were all out of whack, until big brother Tim came to the rescue and fixed him up. Now Huff is on the verge of making it to the big leagues.

And according to special instructor Frank Viola, Huff's mechanics are top notch.
"Huff has textbook mechanics," said Viola. "Everything is right there. His release point is consistent with all his pitches.
That's very good news and some high praise from Viola. Huff probably has some work to do to win a rotation spot, but it won't be long before he's up at the Major Leagues if he continues doing what he's done. His brother meanwhile, a former pitcher for Long Beach State, still helps him out.
"I compare my life to [the HBO fictional series] Entourage," said David Huff, laughing. "My brother is like the little red-haired guy [Eric Murphy] on the series. I was a history major coming out of college. If you want me to tell you a story about something that happened 100 years ago I can probably do that.

"When it comes to money, I'm an idiot. That's why I have him."

Hopefully Tim Huff has plenty of money to manage, that means good things.

Good things are usually equated to Cliff Lee now a days, so here are a few notes on Cliff..

He's trying to waste a week of Spring Training, to avoid pitching more than he has to in a Spring with an extra week.
"Right now they want to burn a week of spring training so we have as close to a normal spring training as possible," said Lee, who will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. "That's fine with me. I'd like to be out there pitching, but this is a long spring training."
As for his contract extension... Yeah just blah, no news and no news going to happen soon sir.

Derek Shelton had put together a quirky game yesterday to loosen things up. While the Yankees had a pool tournament, the Indians did something with an infield drill.

The game is simple. It was DeRosa V Sizemore, with teams pitted against each other in a situational hitting drill. Members of each team would shout out a situation and what the hitter must do and if the scenario was met, the one team would get a point.

Here are a few highlights.
"Bases loaded," DeRosa said, "bottom of the ninth, two out, two strikes, down one."

In came a batting practice fastball, which Sizemore lofted into left field. If a fielder was out there, he probably would have caught it.

"Pay your clubhouse dues!" DeRosa yelled. "Game over! Indians lose!"
Hey! Sounds like DeRosa is a bit of a jokester. And while this was a game that was meant to have fun, the Indians used this as a great tool... In other words, make the least likely guy to hit a home run, hit a home run.
"Bases loaded, down three, nobody on deck," Shoppach said. "You've got to go deep!"
To, who else, but Jamey Carroll.

By far though, the one that makes me laugh the most is this.
Shin-Soo Choo, who has been crushing the ball in these early days of camp, was given the opposite direction. He was challenged to do anything but hit a homer, and he responded with a towering shot off the center-field wall -- about a foot and a half short of going out. That drew a roar of laughter from his teammates.
Could he have possibly done that on purpose? Or could he have been trying to hit a home run just for fun? I'm not sure, but it makes me laugh.



The Indians have made a conscious effort to improve baserunning this spring. As you can see in the above photo, Michael Brantley looks like he's having some fun on a slip and slide, but I assure you he's not.

With guys like Francisco, DeRosa, even Cabrera and Choo to some extent, and of course Sizemore and the two bench guys, Carroll and Barfield, there is no reason for the Indians to not be at least more polished.
"It's all about the awareness and the anticipation," Wedge said. "Good baserunning is the ultimate team play. You're out there and doing it for the guy at home plate and for your team."
It isn't so much speed or stealing bases, but rather going from first to third. So I like this. None of the guys I mentioned are burners, aside from Sizemore and the two others that Wedge mentioned as his best baserunners, Barfield and Carroll. But, Francisco is decently fast, DeRosa probably isn't a guy who's goign to steal a lot, but some of those guys can run a little.

Grady Sizemore though. There is talk here of his batting average, which I don't get.
"No, it doesn't," said Wedge. "Batting average, unfortunately for a lot people, it's only been really noted in the last five or 10 years, that it is somewhat of an overrated stat. There are so many other numbers that are more important to a team winning a ballgame -- that's all that matters."
While it probably is a little overanalyzed and people are ready to worship the ground OBP walks on, I wouldn't say its completely overrated. For Grady though, you can't really use that.

The attention on Grady has gone up. While his average has sunk, he still gets on base and his HRs have gone up. That will happen, especially with Hafner hurt and Victor out of the lineup.

Wedge also thinks Grady got a little tired and he's going to TRY and sit him more, but as Shapiro laughed, we all know that won't last long. Especially with Gutierrez gone.

The 40-40 talk is going to heat up though.
"When you start thinking about that kind of stuff is when you get in trouble as a player," he said. "I don't stress home runs or those kinds of numbers. I stress wins. If you're trying to help your team win, those kinds of things take care of themselves."
I believe it was ESPN's Tim Kurkijan who said that he thinks Sizemore is going to get there this year and even went as far as saying he thinks Sizemore will get 45-45 (I think I remember him prediciting that, don't quote me). Boy would that just add to the long list of awesomeness that Grady Sizemore is.

Two notes from Castrovince that sort of went without further explanation here.

Castro describes Nick Weglarz, as a beast, of course, but also as a Travis Hafner like build, that has enough athlete in him to play the outfield. That's mildly scary when you think about it in those terms.

Despite what Jhonny Peralta said about not being told he'd be playing some third, we've heard that and now Castro confirms, he'll play SOME third this spring, not too much though.

And speaking of third base... The former 3BOF(3rd Baseman of the future, from here on out), was not traded and is now on waivers till Wednesday. If no one claims Andy Marte, he'll be back with the club officially and will probably star the year in Columbus as a bench player.
"I want to be with the Indians," Marte said, "but I've got to think about what's best for me in my career."

"I'll see if someone picks me up," he said. "If not, I'll come back here and work harder this spring to prove I can play in the Major Leagues."
That's a little better than what we thought we've been hearing about him trashing the club. So, maybe this is the wakeup call he needed, or maybe he really just does suck. We'll find out soon enough.

Scott Lewis, prospect profile is up, here. Scott has the task of trying to win a rotation spot, but he isn't the favorite despite his amazing work last year at the end of the year.

With it being my day off, more later today, maybe something fun. Who knows.

2.23.2009

Swing dontcha wanna, Pronk brings the thunder

I'm not impatient by any means.

However, I don't tolerate bullcrap.

What I define as bullcrap is something being slow when it should not be, or something giving me fits when I'm in the middle of something.

Sometimes the network here at the good old University loves to give me some issues with my wireless, saying something about limited to no activity. For the past half hour its been going in and out and immediately coming back, but it is a hindrance nonetheless.

Which leads me to realize that I'd love to take a baseball bat to the wall here just for funsies.

Don't ever get in bed with computers boys and girls. Take the road most-traveled, despite the payoff. Unless of course, you are a freaking genius, then go right ahead.

I've completely lost my lead-in. But looks like the chatter is heating up.

One Travis Hafner is getting his Pronk back.



Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh baaaaaaabbbbyyyyyyy!!!!

Excuse me if I sound a little giddy.
"It was," he said, "a good first day."
And that's all that needs to be said.

Hafner took BP outside for the first time on Sunday. Kind of a surprise to me but also a pleasant one. According to him and the people that saw him, he looked good. Granted this is batting practice and you aren't seeing changeups and the fastballs aren't really fast.

It's encouraging to see that the "pop" is still there, and according to Hafner, will always be there.

Haf was also especially dry in his humor, so maybe that's a huge sign of him being more relaxed. Here are some of his gems.
"Not on the first day out," he said. "I'm taking things kind of slow. Day four or five, I'll be working up into Pronkville."

"I don't want to set a limit or a bar," he said with a smile, "but I'd say 30 [steals], minimum."


"I'm not lighter, I'm just ripped," he said with a laugh.
And according to Castrovince, he didn't quite reach Pronkville on the field that was the exact dimensions of Progressive Field. But he was close. That's something to be giddy about. He's also going to be at it again today, yes two days in a row, another thing that kind of surprises me.

I know last year I was really excited because I thought he was coming back and he ended up failing even worse, but I'm remaining hopeful that he's coming back this year as well. People can continue to write him off, but I'm not going to give up on the guy.

In other injury news, our two outfielders are already putting themselves in danger before they even reach the World Baseball Classic.

Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore collidied yesterday, with Choo getting ready to leave on Tuesday for the WBC, and Sizemore on the first of March.

Both are fine though, thankfully. Choo had disappeared after the incident, but returned unfazed and without any noticeable injuries while Grady remained out on the field. Choo did say his knee was a little sore however. Grady did joke about the collision though.
"I wasn't hurt," said Sizemore after practice. He added to teammates, "I guess Choo forgot I was a linebacker."
I thought he was a Quarterback? Maybe he's both.. That's even more impressive. You don't usually play both ways and be a Linebacker and a Quarterback.

Wedge even said Grady looked like Jack Tatum standing over Choo. I find that mildly amusing.

Another Choo note for the WBC. He'll be playing in the outfield for one game and then DHing the other two, at least, because the Indians are still worried about him participating.

And by the by.. Masa Kobayashi and Jhonny Peralta are looking like outs for the WBC, leaving just Sizemore, Choo, Perez and DeRosa. Kobayashi was made a definitive.

Choo was one of nine players the Indians signed to contracts yesterday, leaving 14 pre-arbitration players left with contracts to get done.

The deadline for contract renewal by the MLB is March 11th, but the Indians are going to set one up that is earlier.

The following signed: Josh Barfield, Shin-Soo Choo, Aaron Laffey, John Meloan, Adam Miller, Anthony Reyes, Tony Sipp, Jeremy Sowers and Wyatt Toregas.

I believe the following are unsigned: Ryan Garko, Chris Gimenez, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Valbuena, Trevor Crowe, Zach Jackson, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, Edward Mujica, Scott Lewis, Hector Rondon, Rich Rundles, Joe Smith.

Don't quote me... But I'm almost sure.. The 40 Man Roster and Salary Board is updated but not uploaded, it will be rather soon. I'm not positive on salary infomation for guys that just signed, but hopefully that is available soon enough so we can get a good idea. Castrovince says a few more signings in the next few days.

I know guys like Franklin Gutierrez are still on the 40 man roster, even though guys like Luis Valbuena are... Slight oversight on my part. But on my editing copy, they are not. Promise.

Josh Barfield is one of the players that signed and he's adjusting to life as a utility player and seemingly embraced the idea.

"I've got to be efficient," Barfield said. "I can't neglect one position or the other."

"I feel pretty good over there [3rd base]," Barfield said. "Fielding ground balls is the same. Putting yourself in a good position is the key. I feel comfortable over there. I just have to get more reps."

That tells me he's really taking it seriously. Hopefull he can learn a bit from guys like DeRosa and Carroll, who've done the moving around thing and he can keep himself on the team with it. This is baseball, things never go as planned, very rarely do they. He could end the year starting for all we know.

The steroid controversy is so big, it would be impossible for the Indians to not get caught up in the talk some way. Hafner earlier saying any accusations aren't true, Cliff Lee being very open about what Alex Rodriguez did. Now with this Latin trainer that Rodriguez worked with being a popular name among the Latin players, Jhonny Peralta has spoken up.

He knows the name, but never acquainted himself with Angel Presinal. But he knows some people who did.
"I know a lot of players work out with him in his gym," said Peralta, "but he's from Santo Domingo. That's about three hours from where I live."
Including former Indians, Bartolo Colon (that's some laugh out loud stuff there) and Juan Gonzalez. You suckas have been outed!

Peralta said that steroids were also very easy to purchase in his country, but that he was never tempted to do so.

A prospect profile on Trevor Crowe. That Arizona connection with Crowe, Meloan and Brown is really nice, Crowe being from Arizona should be great for him and the complex.

Andy Marte.. Is he gone or not?

The Indians aren't optimistic about trading him, the Giants are said to have interest, while he could have already cleared waivers, nothing official yet though.

Okay the game and television schedule for the upcoming week is as follows.

Tuesday: The Intrasquad Game at 1 PM Arizona Time. Not televised of course.
Wednesday: Giants @ Indians, 3:00 PM ET on STO and Radio
Thursday: Diamondbacks @ Indians, 3:00 PM ET on STO
Friday: Padres @ Indians, 3:00 PM ET on STO, 7:00 PM on Some Radio(WMMS FM 100.7, probably if you are just in Cleveland i'm going to guess). We better see Jody Gerut damnit.

All Bets are off 6 to 9 PM ET all week, including following the games on Wed, Thur, and Fri. It was on last night but I forgot and I taped the replay. Best watch it because there are interviews galore. I'll comment on things that pop out to me, but won't go too in-depth.

Here is the pitching schedule for those games.

Tuesday: Team One Starts David Huff. Followed by: Rafael Betancourt, Kirk Saarloos, Adam Miller and Greg Aquino. Hector Rondon starts for Team Two. Followed by: Jensen Lewis, Masa Kobayashi, John Meloan and Ryan Edell

Wednesday: As noted, Jeremy Sowers will start. Followed by: Zach Jackson, Rafael Perez, Ed Mujica, Vinnie Chulk, Matt Herges, Jack Cassel and Tomo Ohka.

Thursday: It will be Aaron Laffey getting the start. Followed by: Scott Lewis, Jensen Lewis, Jack Cassel, Tomo Ohka, Greg Aquino, Ryan Edell and Hector Rondon

Friday: Fausto Carmona starts it off. Followed by: David Huff, Masa Kobayashi, Adam Miller, Greg Aquino, John Meloan, Kirk Saarloos and Rich Rundles.

Looks like Greg Aquino is getting worked. Everyone but Herges, Chulk, Jackson, Perez, Mujica, Betancourt, and Rundles look like they are getting two shots, Aquino getting three.. And of course the three starters.

Wedge did say that all that isn't set in stone, especially for linesup as well and he says a lot of guys like Carroll, Barfield and Graffanino will be in a lot of different spots.

That literally took me an hour.