7.31.2009

Victor Martinez Traded: The Farwell I Wish Would Have Never Happened

I think I've twittered enough.

I've got my trade recap article up and now I'm ready to discuss Victor Martinez.

I was following all the news all day at work and really knew something was coming, eventually.

The roller coaster of finding out that Buchholz wouldn't be in the deal to finding out we got the number three prospect in the Boston organization, Justin Masterson, AND another pitcher with potential?

Man.

First reaction..

What a haul.

Second reaction.

We just traded the Captain. Or as fellow Tribe-blogger Paul Cousineau of The DiaTribe called him El Capitan. Too bad he's gone and we can't call him that.

And that reaction that we just traded our emotional and team leader.

Kicked... In.. The Junk.

I'm really hurt by the fact that this guy was willing to bleed for this team.

For the past few years, Vic was the heart and soul for this team.

And now he's going to Boston, the team that ripped his heart out two years ago.

Are you serious?

Why is this feeling so hard to put into words?

Maybe because it's just hard to fathom.

And it is.

I've made all of these trade topics about the players we get and have neglected to really talk about the players we've lost at long lengths initially.

So I'm using this for Victor and Victor only.

Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson, and Bryan Price get their time and I'm going to go over every single prospect we get a little later tonight.

I look back to the time when the Indians had just blown things up. When things started to progress and some of the names we know and love that brought this team back to contention were starting to come up, I remember one guy's specific debut.

Want to know why?

I was there.

I was there when Victor Martinez made his major league debut.

It was against Toronto, in September as a call-up, he was making his first start behind the plate and there was certainly a buzz.

The Indians weren't any good, but there was a good crowd on hand to witness the start of someone special's Tribe career.

No surprise, Martinez knocked in two runs in his MLB debut and the hype surrounding him, for me at least, was rather large. Being from Youngstown, and having known that he played for the Scrappers, it was sort of a big deal.

At that point, I wasn't big into the Indians as I am now as far as knowledge. I know we've got players and the ones in the majors are the good ones, or at least the ones who are good enough to play there until we get the good ones up here, but when I saw Victor Martinez, and heard that he was this hot-shot catcher of the future, I knew I was seeing someone special start his career.

And what a Tribe career it has been.

I don't remember the result. I just looked it up and saw that the game was a loss, but that didn't matter. Our catcher of the future had arrived.

Through the years, the hits, many of them clutch, the moments and passion. Everything that Victor has provided us.

What I will remember most from Victor are three things.

1) The overall passion he's shown for this club. Which includes the most specific moment I can remember back in 2007 when he was literally in tears following the loss. That right there... That shows you, this guy cares.

2) I remember a few clutch hits. The most recent one was this year when he was in the middle of that bad slump, well his first of his bad slumps and he was having a bad game and then he comes up and tops off that magical comeback against the Rays with the walk-off hit.

The other was last year when Travis Hafner hit a bloop shot against the Tigers. Then Victor Martinez comes up and ties the game up. David Dellucci ended up hitting the walk off hit, but it was Victor's AB that tied the game up.

3) Finally, I remember the pure emotion that this man shows while he plays the game that he loves.

The pure emotion is also guided with the pure love, respect, and ability to know when to do what is best for the team.

Victor didn't want to move to catcher, but he did it because it was going to help the team and it gave him his best chance. He didn't want to play a lot of first base, but he realized it might help the team. So he did it.

The emotion he shows, when he hits a double, ends up a second base and does that little blowing into his hand. The emotion he showed when Cliff Lee threw at Sammy Sosa's head and he took charge and said, no that's not how it's done.

The emotion goes hand in hand with the passion.

That is a player that you want on your team every day of the week and you can say that about a lot of players, but for Victor, it goes double and anyone will mean it when they say it.

I'm really running out of steam here because it's getting hard to think straight. Seeing him in his final talk with the Cleveland media left me heartbroken. This is a guy who's given us everything he's had and more. Seeing him struggle last year and get dissed for his performance, when all that was really wrong was injuries.

He puts it all on the line for the team, for the city, and for the fans.

And we're never going to have someone quite like him come through this organization. There might be better players, there might be better hitters and defenders and catchers.

But there will never be anyone as special as Victor Martinez.

Until we meet again Victor. I hope there really is a day when it's possible to get you back here and if it just so happens to help us bring a title to the city, I would love nothing more than to see you celebrate the joy of that moment on the field, with us fans.

7.30.2009

Sleeping Thoughts: Cliff Lee Trade

So not only have I slept on it, I've read endless amounts of information on...well everything quite frankly. And I think I've got a good grasp on the opinion of other people, to give mine.

I watched most of Shapiro's press conference and read Castrovince's interpretation of what Shapiro said and Mr. Shapiro said something I was forbidding him from saying yesterday. Don't feed me the garbage.
"The value was compelling," Shapiro said of the prospect haul. "It had to be compelling. We received three players who can contribute [soon] in a meaningful way, as well as one player with high upside. We had some lack of conviction with the team's ability to be a definitive contender next year. If felt we could contend with zero additions, we definitively would not have made this deal."
But maybe, as you will read on later in the Blogger reactions, maybe I was wrong. Maybe this package is compelling enough. Who knows. Based off that and what else Shapiro said, maybe he's right.

Shapiro said that the Dolans will not be able to increase payroll, at all, and given the trades, he was probably asked to decrease payroll as well. Which led Shapiro to the conclusion that the Indians won't be able to compete in 2010, with the team in place.

I'd have to agree with that.

The Indians are not winning the division in 2010 with Cliff Lee a top the rotation and the current state, not making any additions of any kind.

So that forced Shapiro to have to have his cake and eat it to, which I don't fully agree with, but understand to a point.

The decision was to trade Lee for players that are close to major league ready to contend in 2010 and beyond, and cut payroll.

So in the end... The Indians decided that this team at it's current state wasn't contending in 2010, which is perfectly reasonable considering they aren't now. So make some moves to try and do that, but also prep for a extended run starting in 2011 when a lot of those key pieces that are with the Aeros are ready to go.

I'm going to rule out a Florida Marlins-like contention right now. Shapiro mentioned it specifically, but I don't think it's possible. I'd rather be surprised than get my hopes up and be let down for such a thing. Shapiro can use that, but we all know that 2010 isn't going to be one of those years where we feel good about what this team has.

The goal is 2011 now, not 2010, and as much as it is painful to admit, we have to look towards that with this package.

And speaking of this package, let's talk about it more. I've included quotes from different scouts, links at the end.

THE PIECES: Lou Marson

Let's start with probably the most puzzling piece of this deal, catcher Lou Marson.

His positives seem to be Anti-Kelly Shoppach offensively. He's disciplined at the plate, not a power guy, but more of a true hitter type with high on-base percentages and equal numbers in strikeouts and walks, which I'm always in favor of.

Defensively, he is probably also Anti-Shoppach. He doesn't have the arm that Kelly does, but defensively, he is what Shoppach used to be. Baseball-America says he needs to improve on the game calling aspect, but defensively, he's sound. Baseball-Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein via IPI.
"He hits for average and draws walks. He uses the entire field and sprays a lot of line drives. He does not have a lot of power and he is not going to fall into a lot of power as it is just not in his game and not in his swing. He definitely has an approach that is oriented towards contact, but he is a good hitter and nice prospect."
Marson is interesting because he has a lot of vast experience. He didn't get to Triple-A last year, but rather had a stellar year with Double-A Reading, went to the Olympics, and then got a September call-up which led to being on the travel roster during the Phillies run to the World Series.

So Olympics, the World Series, those are certainly positive check-marks.

He hit .314 last year for Double-A Reading with 5 HR, 46 RBI, and only two more strikeouts than walks. His .433 OBP percentage is something that pleases me.

This year for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Marson has hit .294 with just one homer and 24 RBI. His OBP is still nice at .382 and he's still keeping a good respectable ration of walks to strikeouts. Remember, as you advance a level, you start looking a little more human.

The question is this... What do we do with Marson?

Possibilities include...

A) Flipped in another deal to another team.

B) Indians trade Kelly Shoppach and eventually Wyatt Toregas and make Marson their back-up catcher next year.

C) Indians trade Victor Martinez and make Marson their bridge to Carlos Santana.

D) Indians trade Kelly Shoppach, make Victor Martinez their first baseman for next year, Marson their catcher and use Gimenez and Victor in a back-up catcher role with Gimenez and Martinez having the ability to play in different spots.

E) Something else crazier than the last scenario.

I think it's either A or C.. I'd much rather have B though. It makes the most sense for what the Indians are trying to do (don't agree with what they are trying to do, but still trying to get behind it the most I can).

THE PIECES: Jason Donald

Here is where I get almost even more confused.

Did the Indians really acquire him to be a utility player if he doesn't beat out Luis Valbuena for the second base job next year?

Because that's what it looks like.

Donald and Valbuena are both guys who can play both middle infield spots, and Donald can play third as well, so really, you are basically looking to find as many pieces to fill in spots and hope it works?

I guess it's a good strategy, but it's not one I'd do.

Donald also played for the Olympics last year and the scouting report of him in Baseball-America speaks very highly for his offensive stick, which isn't indicated in his stats this year.

His defense probably isn't long for short, but they grade him out as a decent second baseman and a long-term fit at third with more work. However at the end of the BA Report, it basically says that Donald could probably end up being a super utility player.

Which is awesome and in the end I think Donald is probably the final piece of this trade. But I don't necessarily believe a top four prospect in a team's organization should have a ceiling of super utility player. Even though someone can have a long and successful career as one of those, look at Jamey Carroll, I don't really think that as high praise as the Phillies organization has had in terms of their system, that their fourth overall best prospect is a utility player.

Then there is the injury concern with Donald. He's hit just .236 this year in 51 games due to an injury that has just recently brought him back. Seriously, his first start with Lehigh Valley since the injury was Tuesday.

Take the positives in his numbers from previous years though. .307 at Double-A Reading last year and he was one of the best players the USA Team had last year in Beijing.

As long as Jason Donald doesn't turn out to be John McDonald with the bat, then things will be fine.

THE PIECES: Carlos Carrasco

And here we have who I believe to be the most important part of this deal.

Everyone is going to look at Knapp, but I'm looking at Carrasco as far as importance to the deal being successful.

The Indians need pitching and in order to justify the stance on cutting payroll, trading their best pitcher, and still trying to contend, Carrasco has to be in the rotation and do well next year.

Remember this and I'll keep bringing this up.

Carrasco was the untouchable the Phillies were unwilling to part with last year when they were discussing a trade for the Indians CC Sabathia.

Now, because of JA Happ's success, and Kyle Drabek, and Carrasco's little numbers regression as far as ERA, he became expendable.

Carrasco came into this year as BA's number two prospect. He's moved down according to some, but not by much.

The book on Carrasco. Good fastball, good changeup, good stuff overall.

Hell.. You don't become number two and before that number one by being some lug. He has the stuff, he has the pieces.

The problem that BA has and probably a lot of scouts do with Carrasco is the intangibles and ability to just pitch. Which isn't good at all.

He's got the stuff and the talent, but BA says the terms fold-up and soft are thrown around with him. Kevin Goldstein says that Carrasco has a knack for letting things getting away from him.

It sounds like he just needs to focus to me. Get him to focus and you have a quality starter right there.. Sound familiar? Does to me.. We just traded him.

Carrasco is going to and has to contend for a rotation spot next year. He needs to be there for this deal to work. he has to be important. The Indians will say Knapp is the big chip, but Carrasco has to produce big time. He's the only other pitcher they got, and they need pitching. Put the two together.

As you'll see later, Rob Neyer has high praise for Carrasco. Let's hope he's right and it pans out.

THE PIECES: Jason Knapp

And yes, the final piece and the one that is furthest away.

Knapp throws hard and is very young.

That's it. That's all you have to know.

He's got the potential to be special, but right now, we can't sit around and dream, because it's going to be at least two years before he's even on the major league radar. He's starting with Lake County, maybe could be in Kinston by years end, but at best he'll be in Triple-A by the start of 2012.

That is if injuries don't get to him and they've already sort of started. Don't get worried though, most say they aren't anything to be overly concerned with because the Phillies have babied him so far.

The thing that bugs me about Knapp is that he's got a very loooooong range of possibilities. They say he could be a top of the line starter or a back-end of the bullpen closer. That's a big jump for me, even though they are important.

However comparison's to Jonathan Papelbon make that a little bit more easier to swallow. Okay so he's either going to have the stamina to be a starter, or he'll end up being a dominant closer. I guess that isn't bad, but when you are dealing with someone this year, that seems like a big let-down.

We can put Knapp in the back of our minds right now. The other three players are the ones we need to focus the most on, but in the end, it might be Knapp that makes or breaks this deal in the long-run.

THE PIECES: The Roundup

I used various quotes and notes from different people, but mostly from Kevin Goldstein, who was talked to by Tony at IPI. Goldstein had Carrasaco, Marson, Donald, and Knapp in his own personal rankings coming into the season as 1, 5, 6 and 10. His opinions have changed as Carrasco wouldn't be one, Marson probably doesn't move, Donald maybe moved down a little, but Knapp has moved up.

Baseball-America's handbook was used a lot, like I use for most prospects. Contributing quotes and notes are also mentioned later in this entry. Read on read on for more reaction from around the web.

Let's put this final stamp on my opinion though.

I think this deal has a long way to go before it can be judged. I feel a lot better than I did last night, but I still feel as if something doesn't line up right for one reason or another. It may turn out to be something, nothing, or nothing big at all.

I will say this though.

Don't kill the players.. Just give them a chance. They deserve a chance to prove to us they are worthy. They aren't garbage yet. That isn't fair to do to them or Shapiro or the scouts that scouted these players.

Give them a chance, give Shapiro's trade a chance, don't go crazy. Don't call it garbage. Disagree with it, debate it, say you don't like what we got in return.. Question it! Do any of things like that... But don't call it garbage and don't dismiss it without giving it a chance to see how it pans out.

Around the Web: Notes and Media Reaction

I respect Keith Law, but honestly, he's never really seemed positive towards anything the Indians have ever done.
For the Phillies, this looks like a steal. In Cliff Lee, they acquire one of the best pitchers in the American League over the past 18 months while retaining their top two prospects and trading four guys who all have serious question marks.
Okay that might all be true, but he was a lot more negative on Mike and Mike this morning. While I agree the package is disappointing because the Indians didn't get a single player the Jays wanted, that doesn't mean they got ripped off here.

Yahoo! Sports' Gordon Edes says the Phillies beat out the Dodgers and Angels for Lee.
The Dodgers and Angels, among other teams, had pushed hard for Lee, whose market expanded in recent days when it became clear that the price tag for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay was extremely steep.
I really respect Jayson Stark and the work he does though and being a Philly guy, he has a sort of inside track on the deal. He talked to some scouts who had this to say about Knapp.
One scout we surveyed Wednesday compared Knapp to a young Jonathan Papelbon. Another said: "If his medicals check out, they may have gotten a young Roy Halladay."
And Finally, Rob Neyer has high praise for Carlos Carrasco.
I think the Indians got a fine haul. Everyone's going to fixate on the Indians not getting the Phillies' best prospects, but that speaks more to the Phillies' incredible wealth of prospects more than anything else. As I've written at least a couple of times, Carlos Carrasco is an excellent prospect; he might be the Indians' best starter as soon as next summer.
Let's move on to Blogger thoughts.

Around the Web: Indians Bloggers


There is a lot of Indians blogs out there, so let's take a look at what my fellow blogging buddies have to say.

Start it off at the Cleveland Fan with Gary Benz, who is taking what I like to call the normal Cleveland fan reaction to this deal. This is the reaction many casual fans have had, only Benz is a lot more educated than the normal lunatic Indian fan.
At this point it really doesn’t matter what Shapiro has to say about any of these prospects. Cleveland fans have been through this drill so many times that they can conduct the press conferences themselves. The prospects are all great, the economy is tough, and the Indians didn’t think they’d be able to sign Lee to an extension. Any questions?

Of course, the Indians never did try to sign Lee to an extension. His agent tried to engage the Indians in those discussions before the start of this season but Shapiro wanted none of it, probably because Lee’s leverage was at its peak given his Cy Young season of 2008. But as Lee continued to pitch well for a truly awful team put together by Shapiro, it became apparent that the Lee’s price wasn’t going in Shapiro’s direction. Time to move on.
I can't say I agree with Benz's whole point of the article. I do echo his Eric Wedge thoughts, I think most do, but it does matter about these prospects. Let's not just take the opinion that the return is worthless. Sure, the current Cleveland fan in myself is pissed off, and most Indians fans are casual, but this isn't just about the present.

Of course though, you could take the opinion that, regardless of the future, it never comes for the Indians. Which is what Ron at Tribe Fan in Yankee Land said.
Now it's wait until 2011 - at least.

But if you've followed this team long enough, you know that tomorrow (in this case 2011 or 2012) never comes.

It is awful as a fan to always be on the butt end of these kinds of trades - where you get the prospects and watch one of your team's guys go off and help fulfill some other fan's dreams.

But it's even harder in cases like this one, where the deal fails to bring in return even the promise of something better down the road.
I can't say I disagree with that opinion. Tomorrow came in 2007. but tomorrow was rather short and we are now into next week and still waiting for that best day of our life. It hasn't come yet and we were told it was coming soon.

Let's look to the positive though.

I don't think there was anyone more positive about the deal than Jay Levin of Let's Go Tribe. While he points out other points to look at, not just positives, look at this paragraph and just remember how true it is.
They [These Types of Trades] work, and nobody in the business does them better than Shapiro. The Indians have problems, maybe systemic failures, maybe incurable incompetencies. But this isn't one of them. There is no question that deals like this have been highly effective for the Indians, even if little else has gone right. Regardless of how long we go without getting to the World Series, it most definitely is not time to "try something new" in this particular area, and anyone who says otherwise should have his or her head examined.
The most part, that sucks, but is probably true. If there was any time to do this, from a PR standpoint, it would be now, when things are probably at its worse. Don't do it a year from now after yet another disappointment or in the middle of a situation that looks, maybe slightly positive.

I've got to tip the hat to Paul Cousineau though. I said this deal is disappointing, but I also said that we have no clue. Truth is, we have no clue, so it can't be disappointing. It's sort of a contradictory statement on my part. Maybe we were just fooled by the Jays and J.P. Ricciardi's obnoxious statements about him not making that deal. He doesn't have Cliff Lee though, he has Roy Halladay, a perceived, hotter commodity because he's had more long-term success in a tougher division.
For today, we’re left asking whether Clifton Phifer was worth more or if we had been deluded by grand packages being mentioned for Roy Hallday and wondering what it all means in the grand scheme of things.

In terms of whether the Indians could have netted more for Lee - we’ll never know, just as we’ll never know if contention in 2010 was possible with Lee fronting the rotation (at least to start the season) – but the overhaul seems to be on in full force and while the blue-chipper doesn’t seem to have emerged yet, the Indians certainly look to be just starting the Extreme Makeover of their roster with an eye towards sustained contention…starting in 2011.
And finally, Tony Lastoria, who knows the prospect game inside and out, I think is pretty much the voice of reason here. Don't over-react to these trades and packages... I termed the package as disappointing, and I think that was pretty accurate at the time.. But look past that.
After getting over the initial shock of the Lee trade itself and looking at what the Indians are doing with all their pickups in the past week, you are beginning to see a plan at work here. The overall package received in the Lee deal may be disappointing on the surface, but rather than looking at the players individually there are a lot of things to like about the deal when evaluating and looking at the big picture to get a better context of what the Indians are trying to bring to the organization.

While GM Mark Shapiro is the public figure talking about and announcing the trades when they happen, it is the in-house work behind the scenes involving the input from scouts before any decision is made to acquire a player. There are many trades discussed that do not come to fruition, but Shapiro and his staff rely heavily on their scouts who are dispatched all over the place to get firsthand looks at potential players they may look to acquire in a deal. They get together, interpret the reports, and with so many options to choose from they ultimately come to a decision on a player.
It's not just simple numbers and ratings like you would do on MLB The Show 09.. You just don't trade that way. Hey this is a 80% on the meter, they'll accept this and I get this guy out of the deal! Awesome!

It just doesn't work that way. In the end, we've got no clue.. We've got no clue what Cliff Lee's package from the Phillies is compared to Halladay's. The Jays wanted Kyle Drabek, but is he worth that?

Is Kyle Drabek even better than Carlos Carrasco? The Phils not trading him for a pitcher that is perceived to be lesser than Halladay would indicate so, but you just never know at this stage of the game, you just never know.

We can't sit here and compare Carrasco and Drabek. Look at Carrasco before this season. He was rated as the number two prospect in the Phillies system and before that, he was the best they had.

Carrasco got to Triple-A this year and things haven't been as good as they have been. Kyle Drabek could be the same way for all we know. He could get to Triple-A and put up bad numbers for all we know.

We don't know though.. We just don't know.

7.29.2009

Losing Trust and Someone's Getting Desperate: The Cliff Lee Trade

You liking Carl Pavano as the ace now?

Cause right now, he's the best pitcher this team has.

That's freakin' scary.

Look, I'm not going to come out and bash the trade.

Fact of the matter is, we don't have a clue, we never have.

On paper, it's sketchy. On paper, past trades have looked better. I've praised trades in the past because they've looked good on paper, but we really have no clue.

But I've got no problem saying I disagree with the trade. I won't sit here and say, boy this trade sucks, because really, I have no clue.

Would I have traded Cliff Lee?

Depends on the deal...

And after this deal, I can't say that Shapiro shared that same idea. I had believed he did, but it appears as if I was wrong there. It seems like based on the package he received for his Cy Young award winner, he was told to cut payroll, anyway possible.

This was his answer.

And you can expect Victor Martinez as well, because he's the last tradeable chip we have that justifies being traded that costs money next year.

I didn't want to buy into that cutting of the payroll, but he did it.. He went ahead and did it.

There's a Shapiro press-conference going on as I type. I'll see what he has to say, but I can't believe him if he sits up there with a straight face and says "We just couldn't pass this deal up."

Hey Mark... If Kyle Drabek was in this deal, I'd believe you. But he's not, so don't even feed us that garbage. I mentioned on twitter earlier that I'd have asked for JA Happ. In the end, I'd actually rather not have Happ after a second thought. This is Cliff Lee AND Ben Francisco, give me Kyle Drabek.

It's disappointing.. The package is disappointing, flat out.

Carlos Carrasco was the guy the Indians targeted last year when CC was on the market. He was their number one pitcher last year.

He was actually number one this year as well, number two overall, coming into this season.

But Baseball-America does these mid-season ones and that's changed.

Kyle Drabek is the guy.

And now look, ratings change and we can freak out oh my god. Prospects change and really prospects are all wild-cards. There really is never a sure thing, so honestly, the guy could be freakin' awesome and Mark Shapiro will look brilliant.

But on the surface, it does not look like Shapiro did his best.

I look at the fact that all four players are in the top ten, three of them are in Triple-A and Major League ready within the year, and we are getting their pre-season 2, 3, and 4 ranked prospects.

That's all great... But really?

We got two pitchers, which was a must for me. I agree there.

But why, if you are going for position players... Why get a catcher and a shortstop?

Especially ones that are so close to the majors?

My first reaction at work when I found out was... Excuse the language and I apologize in advance Mr. Shapiro.

WHY THE HELL WOULD TRADE FOR A CATCHER YOU DUMB SON OF A BITCH

Okay.. I didn't mean that.

But really..

How many question marks have I used and how many times have I said "But really..."

Seriously now... Lou Marson, whatever. We have Carlos Santana ready and two catchers right around ready to contribute.

You gotta trade Victor or Shoppach now right?

If not, what the hell?

Still.. Why Lou Marson? Are we flipping him? We better.

Too many questions left un-answered for me to go ballistic, but seriously.

But really.

I'm always serious...

But really why?

I think some fans are over-reacting to be quite honest. Some are like oh my god all these guys we got, they are so horrible, or whatever.

That's the life of a Cleveland fan, oh the trade is so horrible, these players are garbage.

No.. That's not the case here.

The Indians got some good talent in return for Lee. Four top ten prospects is nothing to laugh at. And really the lowest ranked one, Jason Knapp, is said to have the most talent and upside.

It's just that the package is disappointing because of what we have, what we traded for that package, and what we have in place of that.

Like I've been saying, I'm not going to bash the trade, I think it's too early to even tell anything. I'm just ticked at the package and how it seems like Shapiro laid down on this one.

I'm going to go over the package tomorrow... I've got the day off and I won't be tired because I'm sleeping a lot tonight. I'm too amped up to disregard it.

And now I just found out that it's Trevor Crowe getting called up to take Francisco's spot.

ARE YOU JOKING ME?! WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS TOWN!


Oh and one final note. I said in the title that it sounds like someone is getting desperate. Now that isn't the total case, or else Shapiro wouldn't have made such a deal, he'd have put a lot of stock into 2010, rather than do something like this, which signals more of a run in 2011 than anything.. But all these players are so close to major league ready, it looks as if he's trying to still contend in 2010, but also please the ownership in cutting payroll.

That isn't the way you operate. You can't have your cake and eat it to, it just doesn't work that way. I want to contend in 2010 or just give away next year and get the best package possible.

7.28.2009

Sleeping Thoughts: Ryan Garko Trade

Things get much better after I sleep on something.

In the case of the Indians trading away players I love, no.

I won't go bazerk on this one like I did with the Franklin Gutierrez deal, I promise. As I said, the writing was on the wall, this move was coming a mile away, it was just a matter of when and what the Indians would get for him.

But I still can't help and be upset the way Garko was treated in his time with the Indians. Yes they drafted him, yes they got him to the big leagues... Yes he did a lot more good than bad for him.

But Eric Wedge was a jerk and a half and Garko hasn't been the only player he's done it to, and he won't be the last.

You know that phrase, you don't really know what you have till it's gone?

I think it's going to repeat with Garko, as it did with Franklin Gutierrez.

You can say what you want about Brandon Phillips and Milton Bradley, they were jerks. I would have gotten rid of them myself.

But Ryan Garko isn't a jerk... In fact he's one of the best locker room guys this team has had since Mark Shapiro took over.

This is a guy who's moved to first base in order to play in the majors and accommodate Victor Martinez. He took harsh criticism about his first base play, even though it isn't his normal position. He's fine-tuned himself into a respectable first baseman.

He worked hard as all get out just to be decent there and he's done a great job.

He took jokes, from people like myself, about moving to the outfield. I was always joking, but some people actually went out of their way to say Garko is trash. Why? Because he's a lug playing in the outfield and it isn't his position. Hey, look, the guy isn't an outfielder, but he did it anyway. Why? Because the team wanted him to.

Yet we sit here as fans and bad-mouth him.

Garko is a true professional and a guy that I'm going to root in favor of for the rest of his career, no matter where he goes. I'll still wear my Garko shirt to games, even though he's gone, because he's still a guy I consider an Indian. He gave a lot for this team and they didn't always give the same back.

Wedge is doing it again though with other players. Josh Barfield, was doing it with Andy Marte, let's see if he does it two times, Franklin Gutierrez, name anyone in the bullpen really that isn't named Betancourt or Perez.

It just sucks because these guys go on to new teams and things all of a sudden are working.

Watch Garko go there, hit in the fifth or even fourth hole for them.. Knock in a bunch of runs, add a really important bat for them down the stretch, he'll earn a long-term deal eventually and be their first baseman for the next chunk of years and we are all saying, well damnit.

Anyway... That's my peace on Garko. Let's talk about the return.

SCOTT BARNES
Drafted: 2008, 8th Round
Age: 21, B/T: L/L, WT: 180, HT: 6'3"
2008 (AZL/SS/A-): 3-3, 2.06 ERA, 7 GS, 44 IP, 12 BB, 63 K
2009 (San Jose A+): 12-3, 2.85 ERA, 18 GS, 98 IP, 29 BB, 99 K

Pitches: Fastball (High 80's to Low 90's), Changeup (Plus Pitch), Curveball

Strengths: Changing speeds seems to be his way of life. He racks up strikeouts based off that. He has a deceptive delivery. He isn't a power pitcher, but he isn't Jeremy Sowers redux. He is big on location, good. Good pick-off move.

Weaknesses: I guess experience? He's already at High-A though and could be in Double-A by the end of the year. He's on the same track as Eric Berger. I really really hope this isn't Jeremy Sowers redux.

I'm not disappointed in the return. The Giants are a good team to trade with because they are A) A good farm system and B)Deep in pitching prospects.

With guys like Madison Bumgarner, and an already stout rotation, they can afford to trade us a pitcher like Barnes. He's still in Advanced A Ball, which is where he will start, but I have a feeling if he makes a few starts and is good, he, and Berger for that matter, will both be in Akron by seasons end, and they'll start there next season with Triple-A being the long-term goal for them in 2010.

Barnes has been flat out dominate this year in Single-A's California League, which is more of a hitters league. Remember Carlos Santana went from a hitter's league in the Cal League to a pitcher's league in the Carolina League and did just as well.

So Barnes should not only transition very well, he should make his stay in the Carolina League very short.

It's not a bad return. Garko isn't chopped liver as some people would make you believe. He isn't going to net you some bag of balls in return, he's going to get you someone that can help the major league team down the road.

It's just a matter of picking the right guy. Let's hope Shapiro has done that.

Let's just take a look though at what he's done as far as pitchers go since the DeRosa deal.

MLB: Added Chris Perez, Power Arm
AAA: Added Jess Todd, Sort of a Power Arm
AA: Connor Graham, Power Arm
A: Scott Barnes, Not a Power Arm

Two starters and two relief pitchers, with the goal of Todd and Barnes to probably move up a level by the end of the year and one that could be a starter or a relief pitcher.

It's interesting. Let's see how these pitching acquisitions change the outlook of this team's pitching. It was Hector Rondon, Kelvin De La Cruz, and then really nothing coming into this season because most of the talent was up in Triple-A and had already debuted. Tony Sipp and John Meloan were exciting relief prospects. I think you could throw David Huff in there, but in the lower levels, you were kind of like, ehhhh what do we have?

Gomez has emerged, and some look at him and Rondon as 3-4 starters. De La Cruz is looked at as a 2-3 starter, you've got Barnes now who is in that Rondon range. Graham is a fringe rotation, maybe important bullpen part and Todd and Perez are looked at as back-end of the bullpen relief pitchers, both potentially future closers.

So obviously, Shapiro knew he had to impact the pitching and he's certainly done that after things have gone south.

7.27.2009

Garko :tear drop: :*(

Let me preface this by saying I fully expected Ryan Garko to be dealt at some point between... earlier this month and next season.

The writing was on the wall and the only reason he was getting playing time as of late was to boost his stock.

Shoppach sucking probably had something to do with it all.

But I'm still pretty sad about this.


I'll probably go more in depth with Garko later, but I've got some high-expectations for this kid we received in return for the Shark.

I'm not all that pumped.. Really I'm not. Garko got treated like absolute crud after what he gave the organization and it blows with the way things ended.

Great for him going to his home state though. Back in California where he's always hit well. He's going to be playing regularly in the national league for a team that needs a hitter to run-produce. He couldn't have fallen into a better situation.

Looks like I'm cheering big time for the Giants this year.

Carl Pavano, back to back to back home runs.. What the hell is this garbage?

More on the return, Scott Barnes, tomorrow when I sleep on this.

Damnit Garko... My t-shirt is now done-for.. I'll wear it in memorandum of your awesomeness.

Positive? Andy Marte gets to freakin' play.

I've got a few bones to pick with you

Okay there are a few names here that are in the minor leagues that need moved.

Let's start from the bottom, shall we?

Well let's start from the top.

It's typically said, at least for pitchers, to move someone up, you need to have someone who can replace that person at the next level.

Columbus

Andy Marte is a given... The guy needs up now while he's hot to see if he can carry it. Drop one of these extra pitchers. I doubt Wedge plays him though. Drop Winston Abreu

Frank Herrmann would get a shot with me. Since John Meloan is gone, Herrmann is the last young guy left in Triple-A worth a damn. Get rid of Mike Gosling.

Jensen Lewis would also get a call-up... Hell with Jose Veras.. Jensen Lewis has proven himself enough, Wedge misused him, he's killing it with the Clips.

Fausto Carmona, drop Tomo Ohka, move Jeremy Sowers to the bullpen. I don't really care anymore.

Matt LaPorta needs called up soon. After the deadline, if they do make a deal. Either way... Get him up here soon.

Akron

Ryan Edell needs a call-up to the rotation. Ken Ray sucks... Why did Michael Tejera just get the call-up? They needed to make a rotation spot for Connor Graham... Which is okay, but doesn't make a lick of sense. Just drop Tejera or call up Edell instead. Time is not lost though. You could still promote Edell and replace him with someone from Kinston.

I know Akron is in a race... But to replace Lewis and Herrmann, they could call up Carlton Smith. Or just call up Berger, keep Tejera and move him or Livingston to the bullpen. I'm sure Vinnie Pestano is on his way back soon anyway.

Kinston

Eric Berger is done with Kinston. He's too good for the level. He's not given up more than three earned runs in the past ten games and has gone at least five innings in all but one.

Mahoning Valley

Marty Popham needs to be advanced. His time there is done. 1.80 ERA in 38 IP. 45 strikeouts to 6 walks. Come on now. Get him to Lake County!


Anyyyyway..

That's all I got... I'm pretty ticked off about this organization doing things like this.

I mean come on now. What business does Ryan Edell have in Akron? I mean why Michael Tejera? Why Why Why Why?

Oh well.

Winston Abreu and Eric Wedge were handed suspensions for the deal the other night. Both are serving their suspensions tonight, which means Datzy is going to be the manager tonight. I wouldn't mind dropping Winston right now, loser garbage clown.

The Clippers did some stuff today, like win.. Who cares, nothing big happened. It was last night where things went down.

Fausto Carmona went seven innings, gave up three runs off six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He took the loss. Does this mean he gets to go one more time in Columbus?

Andy Marte homered again, his 18th of the year. This is getting pathetic.

Jeremie Tice was activated and played yesterday for the Captains. No word on who he replaced.

The mysterious Juan Salas made an appearance? Are you for real? I thought he was like, gone forever. Well yeah. Salas got bonked big time in his one third of an inning. He's listed as a "rehab" on the roster, so who knows what's going on there.

Connor Graham is scheduled to make his Akron debut tomorrow as a starter.

7.26.2009

ITS TODD TIME!!!

The Deal is Complete!

We've got our guy!

The Indians completed the Mark DeRosa deal today and acquired RHP Jess Todd as the player to be named later in the deal that sent DeRosa to St. Louis in exchange for Chris Perez and now Todd.

Matt Underwood gave us the goods over the air during the game. The deal is complete.

Jess Todd should report to Columbus, "in the coming days" according to Underwood.

OFFICIAL UPDATE - 5:50

It's official, according to the Indians Twitter.

Todd takes Betancourt's spot on the 40 man roster and the Clippers will add the PCL's save leader in the coming days.

Blockbuster for Lee and Vic in the works? Oh my... *Denial Update

About 20 minutes ago, MLB Trade Rumors posted a rumor from FOXSports Ken Rosenthal that has the Indians and Dodgers in "serious discussions" for a trade that involves BOTH Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez, both going to Los Angeles.

Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez would be out and Martinez would take over First Base for Los Angeles.

James Loney and a Young Starter would be out and Loney would play first base for Cleveland, obviously.

That young starting pitcher is no prospect, it would be either Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw.

I'm officially, salivating at the mouth.

I'm in love with James Loney, so you don't have to tell me twice he's in the deal.

Then we'd get either Kershaw or Billingsley? Either one is a future ace, hell Billingsley is one now, we'd get what we'd want if we traded Lee and Martinez.

Prospects.. First off, you'd need at least two, maybe three and two would have to be in the top five of their system.

The prospects in discussion, followed by their Baseball-America rank.

OF Andrew Lambo (#1)
RHP Josh Lindblom (#4)
LHP Scott Elbert (#5)
3B Josh Bell (#8)

First off, you better get a stud pitching prospect out of the deal... Here are some scouting reports via BA's handbook.

JOSH LINDBLOM (#4)
Drafted: 2008 2nd round, out of Purdue (2005, 3rd Round, Houston, Did Not Sign)
Age: 22, HT: 6'5", WT: 220 lbs
Pitches: Fastball (Mid 90's Fastball), Slider, Splitter (swing and miss pitch), changeup
Strengths: Durable, Clean Delivery, Mound Presence.
Weaknesses: Tips pitches due to HS Arm-Slot, favors splitter too much.

Was a closer in college, Dodgers have had him in the rotation since last year when they drafted him, but more recently he's been coming out of the bullpen.

2009 AA: 3-5, 4.71 ERA in 11 Starts (14 Games), 57 IP, 14 BB, 46 K
2009 AAA: 1-0, 3.68 ERA 2 Starts (6 Games), 14 IP, 7 BB, 13 K

SCOTT ELBERT (#5)
Drafted: 2004 1st round, out of HS
Age: 23, HT: 6'1", WT: 210 lbs
Pitches: Fastball (Low to Mid 90's), Curveball (Mid 80's), Changeup (Plus)
Strengths: Tough, Former Football Player, Operates Bottom of Zone,
Weaknesses: Several Injuries, may end up as a reliever due to control and mechanic issues from injuries and missed time.

He's had some injuries that have had him missing time and it was thought he might have to move to the bullpen because he overthrows and stuff. Their words, not mine. Paraphrasing. He's got some ML experience.

2009 MLB: 1-0, 3.97 ERA, 6 Games, 11.1 IP, 2 BB, 12 K
2008 MLB: 0-1, 12.00 ERA, 10 Games, 6 IP, 4 BB, 8 K
2009 AA: 2-3, 3.90 ERA in 11 Starts (11 Games), 62 IP, 30 BB, 87 K
2009 AAA: 1-1, 6.27 ERA 4 Starts (4 Games), 18 IP, 9 BB, 19 K

Lambo and Bell.. Position players are a must, but I don't really know if we need another outfielder. Now Lambo is mostly an outfielder, but he could move first base where BA says he'd be an above-average defender. If we get Loney though, we have LaPorta and that would probably keep him in the outfielder.

So, when it shakes down to it... If this deal does have legs..

Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee for James Loney, A young, but experienced, MLB starter, a young pitcher that is top five in the Dodger organization, a young position player that is top ten in their organization, and I'd ask for another prospect to be quite honest.

If you are trading both of these players, you better damn well get a big haul on this. Get greedy Mark... Don't trade them unless you are getting something that not only replaces the two guys you are trading on the ML Roster, but also puts some more youngsters into the system.

Also... Get your Jess "The Todd" Todd Watch goggles on because CPD says the deal could be completed as soon as today. I draw your attention to the Memphis Redbirds' roster, that has pitcher PJ Walters as "reassigned". He was just in the majors and got optioned down, but he did pitch yesterday. Could this mean something? I don't think so, but while he's ranked 17th in the Cardinals system by BA, their report is very high on him.

-----

DENIAL UPDATE - 5:30ish

It looks like everyone is in deny mode now.

Why would a rumor that would net us some really good players, like now, be even close to true?

One Dodger official says that there is less than zero percent truth to the rumors. I wasn't aware you can have negative percent truth, but okay, whatever works.

The Rosenthal report now has an update that says both club officials have denied talks have exchanged between both teams with those players specifically and the Dodgers have not said anything about Victor Martinez. They do have interest in Cliff Lee though. Add in, both clubs have internally discussed some of the players mentioned.

Denieeeed. Of Course! If this deal is dead, or wasn't even started, I wouldn't even consider dealing either one the rest of the week. This was the only thing going to be remotely close as far as a good return.

Morning Update: Three Straight, Two Straight, Whoa

Two straight series wins, already, nice ain't it? And three straight wins in total.

What's this?

I'm not sure if I've been able to say that at all this year.

If I have, I can't remember.

I probably should since it hasn't happened all that much.

It's been a long year, and we've still got two months to go, dear lord.

Two months of what though?

We're out of the basement and no longer the second worst team in the game. If Washington ends up signing Strasburg, I won't feel so cruddy, but we're not winning for any reason right now.

I mean it's nice to win, don't get me wrong, but at what cost? I don't want to tank, but I don't want to go on this massive run that will get us to .500 like we did last year.. There is no point in that.

I'd rather finish in like the bottom five or something.. Get a nice draft pick to make use of, then go on some huge run that puts us in the 10-15 range.

Either way, yesterday was quite the win.

However, Eric Wedge can believe all he wants that his team's best baseball is ahead. I believe that as well.

But he is crazy if he believes that will translate into playoff contention.
"It's important for us to understand it's been a tough year, but if we keep playing, at some point we're going to put a stretch together that will be the best of the year," Wedge said. "I believe that's still ahead of us. Hopefully, this is the start of it."
He didn't say anything about playoffs, but really, what are we hoping to accomplish with a big run? I don't know.

The biggest thing for me is Jeremy Sowers, who was on his last legs with me personally. He needed to go longer than five innings without imploding and he did just that.
"I was very impressed the way he was pitching early," Wedge said. "He made some adjustments, got off line, got behind, had some walks, but he came back. In the later innings, he was still strong."
Seven innings, 103 pitches, just four hits and two walks, that's a Jeremy Sowers game there and it works.

Jose Veras and Winston Abreu with their garbage followed him up. I swear, those two are loser clowns that need dropped ASAP. Get Jensen Lewis back up here and make a call to someone like Frank Herrmann. I'm done with the circus, it's time to stop.

And I don't know what happened with the bean-balls and the ejections, so I won't get into it. It's like the only non-televised game of the year.

The offense was fantastic, which allowed for those two losers to come in the game and work their magic. Garko was in the center of it with his second home run in as many games. See what happens when the dude plays regularly?
"I think we've been swinging the bats pretty well lately," Garko said. "I think that's a sign guys are doing a good job following the game plan when they're in the box."

"It's nice coming to the park expecting to play instead of hoping to play," said Garko. "When you wake up in the morning you can focus all your attention on that game."

Big ups to Chris Gimenez who's getting some regular playing time lately. He not only hit a home run, but robbed on in right field. He didn't rob just any old home run though.
"I have some sympathy for him," said Gimenez, who has three homers. "I know that would have been his first big-league hit."
Recently called up Michael Saunders was making his first start and that home run would have been his first major league hit, home run, and RBI. Good work Gimmie.

Now perhaps a sweep?

The Indians will have to do it against yet another left-handed pitcher though. I mentioned yesterday all the lefties the Indians have been facing, and guess what, it ain't over.

It's the longest streak of left-handed starters since 1952 and it's going to grow to at least nine. With Jason Vargas on tap for today's game and Joe Saunders of the Angels scheduled to go on Monday.

STATS has yet to find anything close to nine since 1919.

And while it isn't a huge deal, Wedge did mention that some of our best hitters, Hafner, Choo, and Sizemore, are all lefties... So yeah it's kind of a damper on things when against lefties, Choo is .246, and Sizemore is .198

Peralta and Garko are living it up, as you could imagine being right-handed hitters.

Grady Sizemore got the day off yesterday though. The elbow is in pain and he needs one of those breaks every once and awhile. Why not do it in the string of lefties?

In Terry Pluto's latest, he had about four notes on the Betancourt trade, about Raffy, Jensen and Perez, and the acquistion, Connor Graham. Pluto says it's a typical John Hart move, to acquire a hard-throwing starter and throw him in the bullpen.

Terry usually has a good feel on things and he notes a few interesting things.

Carmona is making another start for Columbus today. Keep a close eye on what he does because Pluto says one more good start and it could mean a promotion.

Garko's recent streak will do wonders if the Indians are indeed trying to trade him, which Pluto believes is true and the reason Andy Marte isn't called up yet.

I've been screaming for Marty to get up here, there's no reason for him to be in the minors any longer. We need to see what's up. If Garko is moved, Marte would play first base regularly, hopefully.

I love Garko, so I'm kind of hoping Terry's sense of a Garko deal is wrong, but I want Marte up here very much. I just don't know. I won't go crazy if Garko is dealt, but I certainly will be disappointed, just because of what happened leading up to it.

Is Paul Hoynes talking? I think so.. Bah..

If the Nationals don't sign him, and the Indians get the opportunity to take him next year because of their poor record this year, I guarantee you they will not draft Strasburg. There are all sorts of rumors about the price Scott Boras, Strasburg's agent, has put on his client. Some go as high as $50 million.

Jeremy Guthrie was the Indians last No.1 pick represented by Boras. We all know how that turned out.

You know Hoynes, if he doesn't get signed this year, he's going to have to lower the asking price next year, because, is he really going to not pitch in professional baseball two years in a row? I don't think so. Someone will sign him next year if the Nats don't this year. He has to get into the system.

I think I'm done for now though... A weird 4:10 Sunday game today because of the damn west coast and more late games in LA next week.

Minor Issues: Marty, Mickey, and Rondon....y

WHAT'S THE NEWS

Tony at IPI has a piece on Carlton Smith up. You can read it here.

Overall, no huge roster moves over the past week or so. Lurvin Basabe was sent to AZL and Casey Frawley was promoted to Mahoning Valley. Frawley will play some second base from the looks of it and is off to a great start there.

Basabe was hitting in the .220's, so the demotion isn't much of a surprise.

A new Minor Happenings is also up, with a focus on Player of the Week, Nate Recknagel. I like that title.. One Man "Reck"ing crew.

I think we should call Nate, "The Recking Ball."

Disagreements? None? Good, It's Done.

COLUMBUS

Let's go back to Thursday and I mentioned Mr. Marte going deep twice.

But Hector Rondon has started his time at Triple-A off right with his third win. He's carrying a 1.50 ERA and looking as if this level isn't going to be much of a match for him so far. I think he'll spend August in Triple-A and then get a September Call-Up.

The Clips started their series with Pawtucket on Friday and they earned a win. Chuck Lofgren was the mastermind behind the great pitching effort, going six innings, giving up one run off just two hits, but he did walk three.

Jensen Lewis went two innings and struck out three with just one hit. He's struck out 24 hitters 15.2 innings of work with just five walks and ten hits. Also, no home runs. It's time for him to come back up if you ask me.

Jordan Brown and Matt LaPorta hit solo home runs and Marte doubled in a run, what's new?

Last night was a barn burner of a game with lots and lots of offense. Jordan Brown was the star with a 4-5 night, knocking in three runs. Trevor Crowe was 3-4 with two walks, three runs scored and a RBI.

Andy Marte didn't knock in any runs, but he scored two and doubled. Wes Hodges was at third base, he went 3-5 with a two-run home run. Josh Barfield stole a base and knocked in two runs.

Of course all of that wasn't enough because Ken Ray sucks and he gave up a lot of runs, as usual.

AKRON

On Thursday, The Aeros completed a game from Wednesday by scoring two runs in the ninth to beat Erie. Carlos Rivero hit a solo shot in the ninth to help the Aeros. The Mascot Zach Putnam picked up the win and Josh Judy with the save, his fourth.

Then the Aeros played another game, this one going extras and Erie won it with a walk-off hit.

Mickey Hall walked three times and homered for the second day in a row, a two-run shot in the 2nd inning. Jeanmar Gomez gave up five runs in 4.2 innings of work. It was fives, five hits, five runs, five walks, and even five strikeouts. Matt Meyer took the loss.

On Friday the Aeros got back to winning by beating Altoona 2-1. Beau Mills had two hits, Kyle Haines knocked in a run, and Carlos Santana hit a solo home run, his 16th of the year.

Pitching done by Michael Tejera, seven innings with just one run surrendered. Steven Wright picked up his first save with two innings of scorelessness.

Josh Tomlin gave up three runs in seven innings of work, but took the loss as the bullpen gave in on Saturday. Carlos Santana followed up Friday's' performance with a three-run shot the next night, his 17th. He also had three hits on the night as Akron's lone run-scorer.

KINSTON

Kinston took just one game from Winston-Salem, a 5-2 victory thanks in large part to Adam Davis' three-RBI performance. Lonnie Chisenhall and Ron Rivas with the other runs batted in.

Paolo Espino went six innings giving up just one unearned run. Dave Roberts picked up a two-inning save with three strikeouts.

The K-Tribers beat Wilmington on Friday despite a ninth inning run scored. Lonnie Chisenhall hit a solo home run and Roman Pena knocked in a run off two hits.

Russell Young spun an absolute gem of a game, going 8.2 innings giving up just the one earned run with seven hits, no walks and six strikeouts. Kyle Landis got the final out for the save.

After winning 3-2 the previous night, Kinston lost by one run on Saturday. Chisenhall knocked in two runs while Cord Phelps had another off two hits.

The loss was of no fault of Eric Berger, who went six scoreless innings, with just three hits, two walks, and 11 strikeouts. Jonathan Holt took the loss after a four-run inning.

LAKE COUNTY
After the first game of the series was rained out and Lexington won the second, the Captains have run off three in a row over the Legends.

The first win was game two of the double-header on Thursday. Dan DeGeorge with one and Michael Valdez with two knocked in the runs for the Captains in the seven-inning affair. Kaimi Mead picked up his second win with five innings of work. Steve Smith with save 16.

The Captains won again on Friday by scoring seven runs. They gave up three late but still took home the victory thanks to Danny Salazar's seven scoreless innings. He gave up three walks, but just one hit and he struck out three.

Bo Greenwell hit his first Lake County home run, a two-run shot in the seventh. Donnie Webb in the three-hole had two hits and two RBI on the night. Karexon Sanchez stole base number 23 and Adam Abraham hit home run number four, a solo shot.

Lake County won last night as well, thanks to a four-run fourth inning. Adam Abraham hit a triple and knocked in two runs for the Caps as Mark Thompson, and Donnie Webb knocked in the other runs. Chris Nash had three hits on the night.

Trey Haley picked up win number three with five innings, three hits and one run. He only struck out one and walked SEVEN hitters.

MAHONING VALLEY

Mahoning Valley had a two-game stand with State College and they played both in one day thanks to rain. They lost both games to the Deer logo.

The first was a 4-3 loss thanks to a run in the bottom of the seventh. The Valley scored three in the first with Jason Smit, Kyle Bellows, and Ben Carlson knocking in the runs. Bellows had two hits.

Preston Guilmet gave up three runs, two earned, in 4.2 innings, but Nick Kirk took his first loss after he gave up the run in the seventh.

Game two was another loss
, but this one was more definitive after the Scrappers gave up runs in the first four innings. The topper was a five-run fourth. They did manage to score six runs themselves though.

Casey Frawley up from the AZL team knocked in three runs, two off a home run in the second, his first. Greg Folgia had two doubles and a run scored and Kyle Smith the shortstop had a RBI and two hits.

Jose Urena and Guido Fonseca got pounded around with five runs apiece.

Redemption time for the Scrappers though as they started another quick two-game stand against Williamsport, the team they are battling for first with in the NY-Penn league.

The Valley now holds a one game lead over Williamsport after they beat the bearded logo people 4-0. Marty Popham, Austin Adams, and Cory Burns held them to just seven hits and one walk and a combined 13 strikeouts recorded. Popham had nine of them in his five innings of work to pick up his third win.

RBIs for Kyle Smith, Jason Smit, Kyle Bellows, and Ben Carlson, with Bellows recording two hits and his sixth stolen base.

ARIZONA LEAGUE

The AZL Tribe were off last night, but they did beat the Rangers on Friday, 5-1. They lost two straight to the Dodgers and Royals before that.

Chris Kersten had three hits and a run batted in in the win on Friday. Giovanny Urshela DHed and had two RBI and Jose Camargo had three hits and a RBI.

Jeremie Tice was 0-3 in another rehab start and Lurvin Basabe was 0-4 in his first game since getting called down to AZL.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE

Might as well throw in a DSL update.

They've got an off-day today but they are probably welcoming it after three straight losses to the Nationals, Tigers, and Diamondbacks, the last two by one run.

Jesus Aguilar is the team leader in average with .319. He's got the lead in home runs and RBIs as well with 3 and 27.

Harold Guerrero with his nine starts is carrying a 1.83 ERA over 39 innings pitched, yet he's only 1-2.



7.25.2009

More Trades? I have no clue anymore.

I'm not sure where to start here.

The Rafael Betancourt trade has of course left a void in the eighth inning, not that the Indians have had many of those opportunities, just ask Kerry Wood.

But still, the Indians need people to pitch there.

It looks like that will go to youngsters Joe Smith and Tony Sipp. Platoon city.

The right-handed specialist will get the righties and the left-handed specialist will get the lefties, of course.

Smipp or Sith?

Ugh, let's just not do that.

Anyway, it worked in the game for David Huff with one out by Joe Smith and last night when the game was still close, with Smitty and Sipp tag-teaming the eighth inning with a four-run lead.

Chris Perez pitched a scoreless ninth and his ERA is coming back down to earth.

Speaking...

We need to clarify something.. on Wikipedia, Chris Perez is listed as Chris Ralph Perez Mercedes.

And on Baseball-Reference, Perez is listed as Chris Ralph (Mercedes) Perez.

What's the deal here?

Mercedes either way is in his name.. Is it his real last name and he'd rather just go by Chris Perez?

I'd go by Chris Mercedes if I were him, that's a pimping name.

Either way, it's brought on a new nickname.

BENZ!

This one will catch on, trust me.

Uh real quick, Rafael Betancourt's salary was picked up by Colorado and his roster spot will be taken by Jeremy Sowers when he's called up to make the start this afternoon. Betancourt's salary, plus maybe the remaining left on Carroll's could pay for a draft pick or two that might not have been signed otherwise.

This isn't last year's draft class though, so don't expect the money saved to go to an effort like the Indians did last year with Byrd's salary.

A 40-man roster spot is open and I'd expect that to remain vacant until Jake Westbrook is ready.

Any more trades? The deadline is less than a week away now and the only rumors that have really circulated are on Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, two players I don't believe are getting traded.

I'm just not going to bother anymore.

Cliff Lee gets traded only with desperation from another team. The Indians want two studs and they won't get a team doing that with Roy Halladay out there. Unless Halladay gets off the market and another team gets desperate, I just don't see it though.

The Indians have been asking for players like Clay Buchholz for Victor Martinez... Prospects that aren't actually prospects anymore.. Like Major League ready players with ML experience... Boston is smart enough to realize pitching wins and they aren't ready to give in. They'd rather make low-risk moves like Adam LaRoche and I don't blame them.

I've been asked twice the past few days, would you trade Victor for Buchholz.

I might, I'd really have to think long and hard. I'm just glad I'm not in Shapiro's position.

We've been over how trading Victor would look, I don't think we need to again.

Nothing much on the Carroll or Pavano front.. Or even the Garko or Shoppach front.. Those four remain the most likeliest to get traded, if traded at all though.

Carroll has to be dealt if you ask me, even if it isn't for much.

Either way, all of those moves, minus Pavano, would save a good chunk of change. Pavano's bonuses will add up, but nothing astronomical.

Plus, Hoynes reported that the Pavano front is completely dead. Teams are scared of his history and aren't willing to take him on, even if they don't have to give up much.

If Garko is on the block, he's sure doing a lot to increase his stock. It's about time he played regularly, this is what he's capable of.

Last night was a good game on all fronts. Aaron Laffey was typical Aaron Laffey. The offense was good enough when you wanted them to be and then in the end they just busted out.

We've probably had like three or four of those all year?

All of this equals them not being in the cellar anymore, which is nice, but BFD really. I mean am I right or what?
"I felt like all the kinks were worked out tonight," said Laffey. "I had command of my four-seam fastball. When I have that, the hitters can't sit on the sinker."
So I think we can depend on Laffey. I really do. I've always liked him. He just needs to be consistent for us. I think he's got a spot in this rotation over a guy like Jeremy Sowers, so really. What else do we have?

Speaking of lefties like Sowers and Laffey...

What's going on with all the lefties? We'll talk about that later when I'm not in a rush to just keep talking about other stuff, but damn.. They've been starting just about every game.

That lead to Wedge sitting Choo.


On Korean night?

And now people are pissed off at Wedge.

Give it a rest people. I mean really.. Is it really that much of a travesty? I'm as situational as anyone, but firing Wedge because of this? It's small and stupid. It's not why he needs fired, so don't use this small and petty stuff to be angry. It's no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

We'll catch up on the minor leagues tomorrow morning.

But holy crap..

Marty did it again.

Thursday night he hit two home runs, was 4-4 and knocked in four total RBI.

WHY ISN'T THIS GUY UP HERE?!

He's hitting .329 with 17 home runs and 64 RBI.

We need to at least see Andy Marte up here. I don't care if he comes up and goes 0-100 with 50 strikeouts the rest of the year, WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

If he isn't up here by the end of next week, when the deadline is passed and August rolls around..

Trouble... Is coming.

Gone Gavel Gone, Betancourt isn't in Session

Through the rebuilding years, or the few years previous to the players we got that are actually good, there was a relief pitcher that hung around that drove me crazy.

Rafael Betancourt was the center of hatred for a bad bullpen for me. He wasn't the worst relief pitcher, but for whatever reason, I didn't trust him. It often led to me calling him "Betansuck."

Then he had his brilliant 2007.

Then he became the guy that constantly touched his cap, regardless of performance. And this blog would obsess about that, because I like quirks.

Last year he drove us crazy with his bullish attitude of not listening to his damn coaches.

So maybe you say, the coaches suck anyway. I say he was sucking last year, so what's the difference?

Now he's a member of the Colorado Rockies.

A part of me is sort of sad. I'll no longer be able to add up the cap counter because really, he's not a part of this lovable bunch of misfits that can't provide us Cleveland Indian fans with a winning season when they're supposed to.

A part of me agrees with the trade, because a part of me is saying we got something for him and we can't draft anyway, so why settle for a draft pick?

But another part of me is just... bleh... As if, we won't really miss him.

Sure our bullpen is in shambles and he was one of the few pieces that hasn't sucked beyond expectations.

But really, Rafael Betancourt is an expendable arm.

However the Indians haven't ruled out the possibility (like they did with Casey Blake) of possibly bringing Betancourt back in the offseason.

It could happen, especially if Betancourt sucks it in Colorado and doesn't increase his signability.

I doubt the cash-strapped Rockies are picking up his option, it's the reason the Indians traded him, he was essentially a free agent this offseason despite that option laying around.

$5.4 million for a relief pitcher that isn't closing and isn't consistently one of the best set-up men in the game? Too much. If Betancourt could even do close to his 2007 every year, maybe, but that isn't worth it and I don't think the Rockies will disagree, unless of course he's perfect from last night to the end of the year.
"You never know when this is going to happen," said Betancourt. "I've seen a lot of guys come here and leave this year. Now it's my turn."
Good luck to Raffy Right in Colorado though. The nicknames and hat touching will not be forgotten. The silly graphic the Indians put up at one point in 2007 that had Raffy's headshot in a Judge's cloak and the words "Betancourt is now in session" is something I don't think anyone can really forget if they were at a game that had that.

And really, the guy was in session when he was on the mound. He'd take forever just to throw a pitch so much so that the Tigers decided to time him one time. That lead to that snake Jimmy Leyland trying to get the umpires to get him to speed things up because apparently, he was taking more time than the MLB rulebook allowed.

Fudge that. He may take long, but screw you for not liking it, because he was one of ours.
"I've been thinking about this situation," said Betancourt. "I feel I've been lucky to be around here for all these years. It makes me proud to do what I did here."
Betancourt isn't in session and the cap counter has been updated for the last time this year. I will take it down at season's end, but if he does return in 2010 to the Tribe, you can bet it will be back in action.

The upside is I don't have to upload a picture every time he pitches a game (even though I didn't do it every time this year). I tried counting them by watching the games at first, but soon realized I don't have a camera on him the entire time, so that's impossible. So the final total is a rough estimate that is based off him touching his cap three times between each pitch (including when he makes an out).



But really, do we realize what we got in Rafael Betancourt?

The guy was a struggling position player with Boston. We got him and put him in the bullpen and he became a major league relief pitcher.

Yeah he got busted for performance enhancers one year, but after a successful 2007 and years and years of.... nothing... we've seemed to forgotten all that.

I think I might have rambled enough though. I wanted to try and organize my thoughts a little more, but it just sort of came up as I was typing of all the memories.

The guy has been here for awhile, things just keep popping up.

His 2007 was special. I don't think "a good 2007" does it justice.. The guy's ERA was out of this world, he was the top set-up guy that year and his control was even more pin-point than Cliff Lee's last year.

He was un-touchable.

And with Rafael Perez, they were the Raffy Twins...

Now that Perez has sucked it up and Betancourt is gone, there is no more of that. We have to hope Raffy Perez comes back and Chris Perez is actually worth a damn for them to be the Perez Twins.

Again.. Rambling.

But aside from all the cap-touching and the Betancourt is in session stuff, the lasting memory for Raffy Betancourt is the day he and Victor Martinez sent the Indians to the post-season. Betancourt struck out Mark Ellis and immediately went into a celebratory mode with Vic. The two Venezuelan's hugged and jumped into the air as their teammates ran in to celebrate the joy of going to the playoffs.

Until we meet again Raffy. So far we are cheering for DeRosa in St. Louis and Betancourt in Colorado. Help us if Carl Pavano goes to the Brewers or Jamey Carroll and Ryan Garko to the San Francisco Giants.

Thanks for everything... Even the cap touching and heart-attacks. You wouldn't be a Cleveland player if it was simple without any quirks.

7.23.2009

Betancourt Trade and Series Win

So....

We traded one half of Los Rafaels.

The other half is middling around in Triple-A, apparently a ways away from even getting consideration for a call-up.

I was thinking Colorado earlier this week.. Thinking pretty hard that it would be them that would want Betancourt and could get them.

And boomness.

Colorado gets their guy in Betancourt.

What do we get?

Connor Graham, a right handed pitcher.

Who is this Connor Graham? You might wonder about that, like I did.

Well here's what I've gathered up.

Graham is from Ohio, which is the big sticking point about this (ugh, that's never good when the biggest thing about a trade is the fact that the player is from Ohio), he went to Miami of Ohio and is from Bowling Green.

He's a starting pitcher, for now. He's been a starter since he's been drafted at least and this year he's spent the entire season with Modesto, the Nuts in the SAL league, on-par with the Captains.

Graham is going to make the SAL League jump, Low Single-A, to Double-A Akron.

What's he about?

Well Graham was a relief pitcher in college and like I said, he's been in the rotation since the start of his pro career. The Baseball-America report on him says that if he can't develop an off speed pitch, he'll probably be a late-inning relief type and that he could make an impact.

Power arm, which is no surprise to me because that seems to be the way Shapiro is going. That also leads me to believe he's destined for the pen. He's got a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts this year.

He's also a giant, 6'7".

As for Betancourt, he was sad about the trade. I think I echo when I say, damn seven years is a lot for a relief pitcher, so he has that to hang on his hat. Especially with the bullpens we've had. I'll tip my cap to him and while I was never his biggest fan, he had some good moments for us in his career here.

I still wish we would have held onto him and offered him arb to try and get a pick, but I'm feeling good about this Connor Graham enough to say I'm not disappointed in the trade.

I'm very worried about this walking thing though. His control is something we've got to be concerned about, and I hate pitchers, especially relief pitchers, who don't throw strikes. He's got potential and obviously if he's got the power arm, he can stick, but the walks concern me.

As for these past two games.

Yippie! Series Win!

I'll take that.

David Huff was good enough to win today and the offense did enough.

Last night was brutal to watch Pavano.

I mean jesus.

Solo solo solo solo!

I was like, okay.. Aside from like four pitches, he pitched well. Pitchers make mistakes like Pavano did, but rarely does something like that happen. They either get away with them or they've got like runners on base and it becomes so damaging they have to get yanked.

Pavano truly pitched a weird game, up until he imploded.

So it was decent for awhile, then the wheels fell off.

And that was all.

Now we've got the win today though, which is a plus. Betancourt is now gone, someone is probably next and the way Ryan Garko is playing, he might have value to some teams, which makes me sad.

Very sad.

We'll see where it goes.. We'll see if Connor Graham can not walk anyone.. We'll see if this series win is an aberration. Franklin Gutierrez bobblehead this weekend in Seattle.. If he is healthy enough to play, expect us to get burnt double.

7.21.2009

Win it for the Cliffer!

It felt like one of those nights that they we're going to reward Cliff Lee for being awesome.

And boy did it feel good to see that happen.

It must have felt 10 times better for Victor Martinez and the rest of the dugout to actually do it.

Cliff Lee was at his best tonight. He had one mistake and that was to Scott Rolen and he took advantage. The fastball was a little elevated, but hey he kept the damage low. Really Cliff had a few jams the entire night, Millar's leadoff double comes to mind. But he turned it on in those situations and got it done.

It looked like the Indians would be the victims of not being able to cash in on opportunities. Both teams were pretty bad in situations, squandering opportunities multiple times, especially the Indians with all the walks Cecil gave up.

However better late than never.

Cecil did strike out nine, so he was able to reign the Indians in as well.

Boy was Lee masterful though with his pitches, he got it done in a 112 pitches and went the distance for the second straight time. It was his game to win and he did it. Congrats to him on the win, let's get him back to .500.

Victor seemed to have put some sort of damper on his slump. I bet it's because I benched him in every league I have him. That might have worked. Two doubles, including the one that knocked in the tying and go-ahead.. Big time. I think I'll keep him benched one more time to make sure, I can roll with the lost points.

One thing though...

The Indians got something they haven't gotten much of this year.

A break!

Lyle Overbay threw that Grady Sizemore grounder away and..... WE NEEDED IT!

Thank you big time boy... It's about time we got a break.

Okay... Tomorrow, Carl Pavano and Rickey Romero square off, let's see what we got.

[BOXSCORE]