I hope you've had one fantastic week. Northeastern Ohio has been absolutely massacred with snow.
Which is lovely for me at work. But we won't get into that. Because I logged over 50 hours this week, I've had no time or energy for any of this.
But if you've been following the tweeties, you will have already seen me poking fun at Shelley Duncan.
I guess we'll start there.
Looked mainly as depth moves in preparation for the possibility of Matt LaPorta starting the year not 100% ready to go, the Indians made two moves. They signed both outfielder Austin Kearns and outfielder first baseman Shelley Duncan to minor league deals.
If anything, Duncan will bolster a Columbus lineup. The reigning International League MVP hit 30 home runs last year and will be making his return to Columbus if he isn't needed in Cleveland to start the year. Duncan can play first and he's an absolute loony-toon. This is the guy that smashes forearms with other players and has deranged looks on his face in the dugout after he hits a home run.
He's downright nuts.
But if LaPorta isn't ready to go, then Duncan could realistically be in the mix to be..something.
He could also realistically be in line to take Andy Marte's roster spot as a backup corner infielder/corner outfielder.
"We see [Duncan] as a guy that has a good track record of hitting left-handed pitching and being productive," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He has defensive versatility that fits well within our needs. He's certainly a guy that could come in and compete for that job."You might also know Duncan as the son of pitching coach Dave and brother of outfielder Chris.
Cleveland also signed a guy who could potentially compete for not just a roster spot, but maybe the left field job. Apparently all of a sudden there is concern over Michael Brantley getting the job from the start. I think the job is his to lose, but it seems that if he struggles in spring, and Kerns doesn't, maybe they could decide to start him at Triple-A just to get him more refinement.
And from the Saul Rivera-department of Manny Acta familiarity.. Kearns played under Acta at Washington.
"[Kearns is] a plus defender in the outfield," Shapiro said. "He's a guy who has had some recent struggles, but Manny was very familiar with him. Due to his age and athleticism, the upside and the potential still exists for him to be a productive Major League player. As a right-handed-hitting outfielder, he complements our existing outfielders well on the corners. I'd expect him to be a guy that competes for a spot on the Major League team."So we add a few guys that are going to compete. This is right where I thought it would be. However I'm wondering where the utility players are. This team still needs options for a utility player because Luis Rodriguez is not enough.
There is still plenty of time and we may even see some players that would ordinarily get signed to contracts be available on minor league deals that we can nab. So Shapiro may be just laying in the weeds waiting.
Anthony Castrovince has started to take a look around the diamond.
His first long edition of this is with the rotation.
Mitch Talbot seems to be gaining more and more support for a rotation spot. It just seems as if he's gaining because of that no option thing and it seems as if.. well maybe we finally bought low on someone.
Brandon Phillips, blah blah blah. Maybe for once, we got someone who just needs a change of scenery.
On that rotation front, Fausto Carmona continues to progress. Cleveland is happy with that progression so far.
"This was my first time really dealing with him," Acta said. "He was very receptive when we talked down there. He understood what we're trying to accomplish and what we expect out of him. The fact that he pitched well the last two games [of 2009] and during winter ball got him in a good frame of mind."Acta also said that no walks in winter league is a big step for Carmona and that he's even ahead of where they wanted him to be for Spring Training. He's already started to make fixes to his game that they were aiming for him to make in Spring Training. So that is good news.
Those Fausto Carmona trade rumors that were out there.. Please do not buy them. Sure the Indians would love to not owe him that money with that uncertainty, but they won't get equal value for trading Carmona at this point, they've put too much time and effort into rebuilding him to see it pay off somewhere else, and if he does turn it around, he becomes a player with a friendly contract, rather than a horrid one.
According to John Sickels' has his top 20 prospects for Cleveland out this morning. Give it a browse. He's very impressed with the depth in the pitching staff.
Baseball America has published their top 10 prospects early this week.
Consensus top three: Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Hagadone... Then it becomes a mess.. You got both lists having guys in different places.
The biggest oddity for me is Jason Kipnis in the top ten of BA's. That just doesn't make sense to me. For one, I don't like putting guys drafted last year in the top ten. Which is another reason I don't think Alex White should be as high as Sickels has him. Sure, he may be a top five talent, but he hasn't proven a damn thing in the organization yet.
It all depends on what you define in making your list though. All of these are interesting and when I get some time today or tomorrow, I'll add them to the prospect board so we can get a start on our our compilation.
Okay so Zach Jackson is gone. Tear....
Cleveland has traded Jackson back to his original stomping grounds of Toronto, the team that initially drafted him.
This will take Jackson out of the massive race for the bullpen, as if he even had a chance.. Let's face it, he had his chance last year, won it, but he just isn't a consistent major leaguer. He's a nice guy for depth, but nothing you can rely on. I can only wonder what Toronto will be giving us for him. You would think he's just one to get dropped.
And speaking of bullpen mix.... Chris Perez is expected to be one of the key cog's of that bullpen. Here is a Q&A with the Tribe reliever.
If you didn't give the latest mailbag from AC a read, give it a read, duh.
One thing AC confirms.. Is the incresing probability that the Indians may not even sign a pitcher coming off an injury to a low-risk deal. They don't even have the cash to do that. Chien-Ming Wang would have to take a minor league deal to get a shot.
To replace Tim Maxey, who was hired by Major League Baseball, Cleveland has hired Joe Kessler. Kessler joined the team last year and worked primarily in Goodyear at the Indians complex. Kessler has been with the Indianapolis Colts, Maxey has spent the last seven years as the Indians strength coach.
Dave Wallace will join Lonnie Soloff as the only other major coaching staff member to return from last year's club. He will reprise his role as bullpen catcher and be the assistant manager.. or is it assistant to the manager? Dwight Schrute needed for clarification. Oddly enough, David Wallace is a character on The Office.
Finally... Was everyone as shocked as I, and just about a ton of others, about Roberto Alomar coming up short of the Hall of Fame? I guess that spitting incident might have held back a few voters from getting him in on the first ballot (which is a completely phantom and ridiculous thing that the HOF voters do).
But wow.. I don't know. It sucks for Robbie. He deserves to be in if you ask me. I wouldn't worry about it though because it was his first year on the ballot and he was just eight votes shy. I think he's as good as in next year.
Bert Blyleven on the other hand, I'd feel super crappy about. What I want to know is, why the 12 percent increase in Blyleven? Has it taken us 13 years to realize that he's more of a Hall of Famer than he was when he was initially put on the ballot? I hate the way the Hall of Fame voters go about this. Either he's in or he's not. Blyleven should be in, in my opinion. I just think the guy would have better stats if he was in different places.
He's running out of time to being on the ballot, so hopefully next year is his year as well. Five votes short? Crazy!
Maybe I'll return tomorrow. Either way, school is starting up on Monday so we'll be getting back to normalcy in terms of the blog, especially with baseball approaching. I say approaching because 40 days is close enough for me.. Ha