1.31.2010

Talking about talking... Odds and Ends on Sunday Morning

I've started work on what I'm dubbing as my 2010 MLB Season Manifesto.

What?

You see, I'm more than just an Indians fan. I'm a baseball fan. I've got many thoughts rolling around in my head that don't pertain to the Tribe and I always feel the need to get them down on paper.

This thing is going to be incredibly lengthy and perhaps terrifying for people who don't like to read. But I get enjoyment out of it. I figure I will supplement that to my season previews for each team and just make the previews condensed. Last year I undertook the daunting task of previewing each MLB team and I went a little overboard.

Anyway, I tell you this because I don't have any other way to start this off, which as you should know by now, is common practice here.

I do have some links to go over this Sunday morning however. So I'll stop wasting your time with my escapades.

Terry Pluto graces our presence with the idea of bringing back Russell Branyan on a one year deal if no one else will have him. The guy had a career year hitting the long ball, yet he can't find work. Given this economy and the situation many teams are in, I can buy it. A few years ago, he might have gotten a deal, a guaranteed spot, in December.

Now a days, it's tough sledding for a guy like Branyan. Teams don't want to take the chance. Imagine a guy coming off a year like the one he did having to sign a minor league deal. That's the only terms I'd bring him in on if I were the Indians. I don't know if Branyan would settle for that though.

If Russ is forced to take a minor league deal, I'd think it would be with a team that had more of an opening at 1B or DH. The Indians don't, unless Mr. LaPorta isn't healthy.

Pluto does say that the Indians are "talking about Branyan" which is odd to me. But hey.. At least it isn't some odd rumor about Orlando Hudson.

We finally got someone in a major Cleveland media position to address this. Along with the findings of Tony at IPI, the fact that no one said anything in Cleveland, led me to believe that Ken Rosenthal made the whole thing up.

Maybe he didn't make it up. But maybe someone told him there was a mystery team involved in the Hudson race and Rosenthal seeing the Indians gap at second, figured, WHY NOT THEM! Then to cover his ass about the salary thing, he said they were considering the trade of a player that would free up salary room.

I consider Rosenthal to be a decent reporter, in terms of breaking news. But this just baffles my mind. When the Indians say there were no discussions, who creates that rumor?

I know that sometimes a team will leak something and then deny it. That's just a game teams play all the time for one reason or another. But the Indians are in no position to be doing this. Perhaps it was another team that leaked the rumor, or it was Hudson's agent looking to drive the price of his client up.

Either way.. It sucks for Fausto Carmona, because that's the last thing he needed. Day one when he walks into the door, I tell Carmona that the entire thing was bogus and they never considered trading him. Anything that doesn't put confidence into the mind of Fausto Carmona is bad business.

The late Herb Score is a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award, which is awarded annually as a high-baseball broadcasting honor. Many have called for Herb to go into Cooperstown as a broadcaster into their wing of baseball's historic hall.

The outpouring of emotion over Herb when he died says enough for me. The guy made a difference for a lot of Indians' fans and the way they followed the team and the game.

Baseball Prospectus' projections always interest me. Last year I bought the Baseball-Prospectus book and I decided that it was way too "staty" for me. I'll come out and admit I didn't understand half the stats that were being presented to me. I don't know how they projected the amazing rookie season Evan Longoria had.

But their projections are still interesting. They've got the Indians finishing fourth in the AL Central with 77 wins. That's nothing when you look at the fact that they have the Twins winning the division with just 83 wins. Guys, this division is very much winnable. We might not have a team to compete for what we wish, but this season may be a little more competitive than some are expecting.

Finally, I must extend my thumbs up to Paul Cousineau of TheDiaTribe for his excellent fill-in on Thursday's episode of ABAO on STO. For it being his first time doing something like that, he did a bang-up job. You could tell when it came down to actually talking about the Tribe, he was in his element. If you want to see part of the show, specifically the hour he had Tony Lastoria on from IPI, you can view the six videos Tony posted on his site, here.

If Paul's weekly Sunday musings isn't in your reading, maybe read it this week. He astutely points out more Paul Hoynes shenanigans as the CPD beat writer continues to bellyache over the Indians inactivity this offseason, for the second time in two weeks.

1.29.2010

Carmona Trade; Press Tour Wrap-Up; Lofton to Tribe HOF and More

I've awaken this Friday morning to read the ridiculousness that is the rumors about trading Fausto Carmona to make salary room to sign second baseman Orlando Hudson.

Yeah if that statement doesn't make much sense to you, it's because it doesn't make much sense to me either.

This would be a mistake of epic proportions and I don't think I'm exaggerating here.

Now let's clear this up and go with the wording here from the Rosenthal post.

He starts out with the headline "Indians trying to make room for Hudson signing."

Yet if you read the first words of the first paragraph, it reads...
The Indians have explored the idea of trading right-hander Fausto Carmona to clear money for free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, but the possibility is unlikely to come to fruition, according to major-league sources.
"HAVE explored the idea" and "possibility is UNLIKELY"

Let me list the reasons this makes no sense.

  • This doesn't remotely fall in line with the Indians offseason or their recent game plan. If they traded Fausto Carmona, it would be to dump salary and not add anyone. They wouldn't dump salary to add salary.
  • The Indians put enormous time and effort into Fausto Carmona in the past six to seven months. Throwing that all away before you see the results of that time and effort would be foolish on their part.
  • If Carmona does turn it around in a big way, his salary and contract go from bad to an extremely smart and team friendly deal for a good pitcher.
  • The value you will get in return for Fausto Carmona will not be very good. Teams will not trade you what you perceive to be equal value. If this possibility was explored, I bet this was what killed it. After what Shapiro and everyone saw Carmona do, they'll want more than teams will give them. Teams won't give them much because of the recent numbers and that is their right.
  • Carmona is going to make just short of $5 Million next year. He isn't exactly a burden.
  • Orlando Hudson would play second base, taking time away from Luis Valbuena, who we need to see if he can be the guy at second. Second base is a weak spot in the upper levels of the system, but they are hardly in a position to need an answer THIS YEAR, especially a veteran option like Hudson.
  • If the Indians added Orlando Hudson to their squad, it would be a sign that they intend on competing. If they wanted to compete, they stood a better chance at keeping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez for this season.
  • From my calculations, the Indians payroll isn't scheduled to be much more than $60 million, if it even reaches that. By the end of the year, the salaries of Kerry Wood and Jake Westbrook will or already will have come off the books. This team doesn't need to dump any more salary.
  • This whole idea just grew even more dumber by the time I finished this list.
So... Is there anyone convinced this is a good idea?

Is there anyone convinced there is some truth to this rumor?

I'm still skeptical myself. I don't take things really seriously until I start seeing one our guys close to the situation talking about it. Ken Rosenthal and guys like Buster Olney are insiders and good reporters, but I get leery when they report things about the Tribe, just because it's usually something ridiculous like this.

It's the type of thing MLB Trade Rumors will pick up on, because it's the type of thing that usually is a big sort of thing.

I just don't think I can buy this right now.

We'll monitor this throughout the day if it because more than just a flat-lined rumor. But just call me skeptical right now, because of the circumstances and all those reasons I listed above.

We've got other news to tackle this morning and if my computer would cooperate and stop being stupid, we'll get to them. The winter press tour wrapped up yesterday and we've got lots to go over from the results of that.

I mentioned the lack of star power on this year's trip, which seems to be planned considering a lot of the stars have been traded and the team probably figures with sour opinions floating around, maybe they shouldn't pump the "hype machine" as much as they have in the past, which makes sense in a way. A theme also seems to be the parading of the young talent, the players the Indians are moving forward with as a young club. Guys like Perez, Sipp and Brantley.

The lack of star power does let us peak into those names like Chris Perez and Tony Sipp though.

Perez was the subject of a Plain Dealer video, that you can watch here. He talks about his transition to the AL, the way he finished last season, his amazing stretch near the end of the year, and how he's feeling going into 2010 with his role and injury status. One of the many odds and ends from Castrovince's latest blog entry is the plan for the closers role if something were to happen to Kerry Wood. The question was posed to Assistant GM Chris Antonetti and all he did was point to Perez.

The feature is also about Tony Sipp, Perez's left handed mate in the pen. Sipp is coming off a good rookie debut and will look to be competing along side Perez in the setup role as the lefty.

"They put me in a lot of situations where even I didn't know how it would work out," Sipp said. "That one stuck out above everything because it was so early in my career."

"With our team being so young, you never know if they're going to start over from square one," Sipp said. "Ultimately, I'd love to be that late-inning, go-to guy."

Tony Sipp, Trevor Crowe, and pitching coach Tim Belcher got a tour of the historic Ohio State Reformatory during their press stop in Mansfield. Anthony Castrovince tagged along for the ride.

The building known as the "bullpen" oddly enough, was the site for filming of movies such as "Air Force One." The article isn't really about that though. It's mostly about Tony Sipp and you can read more quotes from him there.

Another young pitcher getting some talk is David Huff. I watched his interview on STO the other day and he talked about a variety of things. Things like Jake Westbrook's health, Carmona's progress, Manny Acta and more. But Terry Pluto takes a look into Huff's chances this year and Huff talks about what he learned from 2009.
"I was behind in the count and walking guys," Huff said. "What I learned is that I have to be more aggressive."

"I thought I pitched decently, but I know I'm better than what I showed last year," he said. "I just want a chance to prove it."
I don't want to jinx him, but David Huff is a guy I'm feeling really confident about this year. He's gone under the radar and I think he's going to take a positive step this season. He went through those growing pains that I think every player who reaches the major leagues should go through. He didn't have immediate success. If he did, I'd expect some drop off. But he had some struggles and then he showed flashes.

I think those flashes are going to turn consistent sometime this year and Huff is going to be a nice surprise.

Another young player that's been on this press tour is Michael Brantley and we need to talk about him. According to Mike himself, he put on ten pounds of "good weight" in the offseason. Good weight meaning, muscle.

"I just want to be more physically and mentally ready, each and every day," he said. "Sometimes last year I did have some injuries with my right ankle. Now that I'm 100 percent healthy, I want to stay that way the entire season."

"I put on some weight, but it's all good weight," he said. "I'm the strongest I've ever been in my life. ... I've been running each and every day, so I'm still light on my legs. I couldn't be happier with my weight and conditioning."

Oooh.. The one problem that everyone seems to have with Mike Brantley is his power. I could care less, but if the extra poundage helps him hit a few more home runs without compromising his game. I'm alllll for it.

What I love more than that is, despite Acta saying Brantley has a leg up on his competition for the left field job, Mike is staying humble.
"I don't think I earned anything," Brantley said. "I think I earned a chance to win a job out of spring, and that's all I can ask for. I just want to go out each and every day and show them what I can do. Whatever's best for the team, that's what I'm going to do."
Acta did remain firm that they aren't handing out jobs though. Another tidbit from the CastroTurf entry was that Acta said they are still exploring the possibility of making another addition or two before camp opens. Unsure if that was the Hudson thing they were talking about or if it was simply an idea of adding a few more guys on minor league deals, but he said it.

Let's wrap up this press tour stuff with one last note. Remember Luke Holko? One of the good stories coming out of the tour was the visit Chris Perez, Aaron Laffey, David Huff and Chris Antonetti paid to little Luke, who keeps improving day by day.
"Just seeing him smile means so much," Perez said. "He's only four years old, and he's already gone through a lifetime of surgery and rehab and doctors. He hasn't had a chance to be a kid. What I do for a living is very insignificant compared to what's important in life, and that's family. So bringing a smile to his face means a lot to me."
Luke is making progress walking with a walker and soon may be able to do so without the aid of one. The three players autographed a ball for Luke and Slider even made an appearance. Good to see he's progressing.

The Indians Community Outreach Department now has a blog. You can track the latest happenings within the community and the Indians by visiting it here.

'Tis the season for prospect talk. Books will start coming out rather soon and experts are publishing their top lists. One well respected name that has put out his list is Keith Law of ESPN.

It's very good for us Indians fans. With the infusion of talent, the Indians are expected to be topping a lot of these lists in the next few months. Law is a well respected name in the prospect scene and he has good things to say.

It's all Insider content which you need to pay for if you want to read the in-depth reports he put together. But here are the basic numbers.

Carlos Santana - 3rd

Lonnie Chisenhall - 26th

Hector Rondon - 51st

Michael Brantley - 71st

Nick Hagaonde - 100th

That's five names in the top-100 and third to I believe only Boston and Tampa Bay, who had six names in the top 100 each. Both were ahead of Cleveland in the top organizational rankings Law put out, as well as Texas, who came in at number one.

Law said that the Indians continue to build without a ton of impact prospects (aside from Chisenhall and Santana) but don't misunderstand him. There are a ton of guys in that Single-A level that he believes could break away from the pack and make this organization stronger and guys like Tony Lastoria have echoed those thoughts. Looking at Law's top ten, some of those names include guys like Abner Abreu, TJ House, Alex White, Jason Knapp and even Kelvin De La Cruz, who all have tremendous upside.

Law also ranks the top ten by organization. And you know the top five given the Top 100 rankings. The other five are as follows: Abner Abreu, Alex White, Nick Weglarz, Jason Knapp, TJ House.

Along with some others, Law is a name I respect within the prospect game. But he isn't he only one putting out lists.

MLB.com put out their own lately and when I say MLB.com, I obviously mean Jonathan Mayo.

May put out his Top 50 prospect list and it's not as friendly to the Indians as Law's was. Santana checks in at 11, a number a lot of people seem to think is low for him and Mike Brantley checks in at 46, a number that seems a little high for him. No Chisenhall at all?

Mayo has 4 Royals, Rays and Rangers in his top 50 and 3 Red Sox. For comparison, Law has three Royals in his top 100 and just one int he top 50.

Speaking of prospects... Jordan Brown has a video out talking about numerous things, including his September call up snub.

Finally... one last note from Castro in the blog entry. Sandy Alomar speaks on the Roberto Alomar snub.
"We are so competitive and so emotionally involved in the game. Even at 6 or 7 years old, we want to win. It's not just about having fun. So when we come here, we are exposed to many things that people don't understand from us. Sometimes we don't run because we're frustrated. It's not because we don't want to hustle. Sometimes we throw our glove. ... And sometimes we snap. So people don't understand the way we play. I'm not calling anybody a bigot or anything. They just don't understand."
Alomar also spoke about Kenny Lofton's induction to the Indians Hall of Fame and said Kenny should also receive consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He's happy for Kenny and said he was the "igniter" for the Indians organization for many years. Lofton is unsure of his potential to get in to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he wanted to let everyone know he played the game the right way.
"It's hard for me to say," said the Indians' franchise leader in steals. "I don't know how they judge players to get into the Hall of Fame."

"I was a guy who never did it," said Lofton. "Never tried to do it. Never wanted to do it.

"But again, I played against guys who were obviously doing it, so my competition level had to be at a certain level to be able to compete with those guys who were, what you call, cheating.

"I was not a cheater. I hope they take a look at that and see what I did during that period and take it into account."

So what's K doing now a days and is he officially retired?
"I'm in shape like I'm not [retired]," said Lofton, who busies himself by running a production company in Los Angeles. "People think I should be playing, but it wasn't up to me. I'm just trying to get my golf handicap score down and that's about it right now."
Lofton will be entering the Indians Hall of Fame this summer with the late Cy Slapnicka, a Vice President and General Manager of the Indians back in the late '30s. He will go in as a Distinguished Member, joining last year's inductees Bill Veeck and Dick Jacobs. Lofton told reporters he was ecstatic about the honor and that he become overwhelmed with the news.

That's about all I got today. It was a jam-packed morning, that's for sure.

1.28.2010

Watch All Bets Are Off on STO Today

For those of you who are interested...

Today is a must watch if you are a viewer of STO programming or the All Bets Are Off program with Bruce Drennan. Bruce has been out on vacation and they've been bringing in guest hosts the past two weeks. I've only been able to stomach a few of them (Greg Brinda, Arggghhh annoying). But today one of our (Indian's fans) own takes over hosting duties.

The DiaTribe's own Paul Cousineau will be hosting from 3 to 6 today. Good luck to Paul with his hosting duties, I'm sure he'll do a great job.

But Paul isn't the only reason to tune in. For one, with him hosting it will be an Indians centered show, but he'll be joined by his radio partner and prospect guru Tony Lastoria of Indians Prospect Insider for about an hour at 4:30. So plenty of prospect talk.

But that isn't all.. Anthony Castrovince is slated towards the end of the program. So we get to check in with the man with the plan.. Or at least an idea of that plan.

It will be a very Indian friendly program today and on top of that, two of our own in the whole "blogosphere" are taking over television for three hours. Tune in and give them your support. You will see guys like Paul and Tony know just as much, if not more, about the Indians than any of the other "experts" or so that they could bring in.

Indians Twidder: @Hoynsie 1/28

Remember my little rant earlier this week?

Well I figured it was only right if I unleashed my Paul Hoynes Twidder on the world.

We all know him as the lovable big guy who covers the Tribe on a day to day basis for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. We love to believe he likes food and more food, sarcasm, humor about the Indians... uh, downness.. I think his likes are clearly demonstrated with his background, fried chicken, and his main followings. Not many people follow him as you can tell, so he'd appreciate it if you'd give him some love.



Followers

Mark Shapiro
Grady Sizemore
Travis Hafner
Casey Blake
Eric Wedge
Shin-Soo Boo
Sheldon Ocker
Anthony Castrovince
Indians Insider
Cleveland Indians
The Tribe Daily
Buster Olney
Slider
The Phillie Phanatic
The San Diego Chicken
Pee Wee Herman
Prince Fielder
The Cookie Monster
Cheeseburgers
Chocolate Frosting
Chickens
Cupcakes
Pizza
Albert Belle
Popeyes Chicken
Sobo Chocolate
McDonalds
Jack in the Box
Burger King
Wendy's
Hardees
KFC
Pizza Hut
Arby's
Taco Bell
Man Vs Food

Hoynsie is pretty much a serial twidderer. He likes bugging Shapiro for scoops, but he won't get them. As you can see, creepy Sheldon Ocker has even bugged him as well. Hoynes follows a lot of food and food places, it takes up the majority of his followings. He is following a few Indians players and people and some people within the industry of media, but he's more concerned with the updates from Jack in the Box and chasing after the chickens than he is the Indians.

I kid.

I can't explain Pee Wee Herman though. I guess that's an acquired taste.

Seriously though, make sure you follow the site on twitter and if you want a feed of the latest Indians news, follow this list. Also give @FakeShap some more love, he's really getting lonely and he may be talking to himself most of the summer if no one adds him.

1.27.2010

Choo Military Service, Sandy the Coach, and Acta Speak in Full Force

I think the offseason is unofficially over for the Cleveland Indians.

You see we don't have much money in the first place. So I've officially ended the offseason free agent chart. If you click on the side for the Offseason Outlook, all the free agents that were potential signings are either signed or blah. So we're going to move on. I'm trying to catch up on some of the other things. Some of the minor league free agents may be signing or re-signing soon.

The most interesting of those minor league free agents is Josh Barfield. But we'll visit that when we know more.

Let's get into the links floating around.

Yesterday was the start of the Winter Press Tour and today is Day 2. The Caravan stopped in Akron, Youngstown, and Erie, PA and today will visit Toledo, Sandusky, and Mansfield. Brian Bixler may be in attendance at Sandusky's stop, but he could be there as a citizen. I'm kidding, please, there's no budget for that. Tomorrow, the tour wraps up with Columbus, Lima, Elyria and Wooster.

The talk of the town was from Monday though. One Manny Acta did a town hall Q&A type deal that has become a tradition every offseason with season ticket holders. It's a chance for them to not only talk to the manager, but even people like Mark Shapiro and Paul Dolan and other front office dudes about stuff.

This was solely Acta though as far as I can tell and the man is a hit. One season ticket holder started an ovation for Acta before the questioning even got underway. Always humble, Acta of course said that we'll see about that in September.

Let's pull some quotes from what went on. Acta did the 30 minute special for STO and apparently was so willing to continue, answered questions for an extra 40 minutes after the taping. No wonder people love him.
"Fans don't know about these guys because they haven't been interviewed for the job here," Acta joked. "I did my homework. When I meet these guys, I tell them, 'I made my decision [to come to Cleveland] based on you guys.' We have a chance to put a good club together like we had in the '90s."

"We have to make sure our guys are aware of what's going on," Acta said. "Even in Spring Training, we need to stress that winning is important. I feel better going to the showers after we win, even if it's an exhibition."

"It's a totally different culture," he said. "I know that. I'm not going to take it personally, because that's the way we were taught. But we have to keep encouraging these guys to adjust to our culture. That's the role we play."

Those all stood out. Castrovince added an entry to his blog with some extra notes and quotes.

The biggest thing we take out of this? Among all the nice quotes and stuff about what kind of team he's going to run, we've got some minor clarification on Shin-Soo Choo's situation.

The military obligation has sort of gone to the side. It was never really something that seemed to bother Mark Shapiro and we now know why.

Acta was wrong in the instance that Choo is in the process of becoming an American citizen, but Antonetti and Shapiro have been pretty adamant that this issue will not present any problems. Either way, Choo probably will begin the process in becoming an American citizen, because if he's flat out skipping his military obligation, he's going to need to be a citizen of this country.

Rafael Perez's start/relieve debate continues to grow legs. Obviously he's not going to start the year as a starter and he'll definitely need to be eased into the process. But the more that it comes up, the more it seems like the Indians are willing to explore this option depending on the situation and even regardless of the situation.

Perez's performance during the year will definitely dictate a lot of things before we can even think of that possibility though.

I think Acta did sum up the Mike Redmond addition better in a few words than I think I did in many more.
"He's going to be great for this ballclub. I don't look at his age. He's coming in fresh. Not too many backup guys hit at the clip he's hit at. When you're backing up Joe Mauer, you don't get to play that much."
Point blank. That's it. Believe it.

Acta confirmed the Indians offered Jamey Carroll a contract. I'm skeptical as to if it was even legit though. As if they only did it to say they did it. I couldn't have seen them seriously consider bringing back Carroll like that, unless it was at a really cheap price.

Read more of the quotes in CastroTurf's entry, but let's transition to Sandy Alomar. Acta said this about Sandy.
"You guys know him as a great player, but let me tell you something. This guy's going to be a tremendous coach, too."
We dig deeper into Sandy the Coach. Sandy was on hand for the first day of the press tour and he sort of explained the catching program that he's devised and will be implementing for Lou Marson, Wyatt Toregas, Carlos Santana and to a less extent, Mike Redmond.

"I don't want our catchers to be surprised by a play in the game," said Alomar. "You have to have game-speed practices. You have to re-evaluate every day.

"We basically want our guys to be prepared in the first inning. You don't want the first inning to come by and the catcher can't throw the ball to second base because he wasn't loose."

"Everything I was taught about catching was based on repetition," he said. "My question is 'when do you do you repeat stuff in a game?' ... Once you made an error, that play isn't going to come back. You have to do different things. Not just repeat, repeat, repeat.

"You need to repeat to get the foundation of the play, but after that, you start switching back and forth. You have to make your body aware of different situations. That's what I came up with. Making catchers aware of different situations in practice ... not just one."

The guy knows what he's doing. I think it's clear. We know Sandy so much as a player, but I can't wait to get to know what he's like as a coach. He has a plan, he seems to know what he wants out of his players and everyone has said good things about him from this position.

It's going to be fun to see him not just help develop prized jewel Carlos Santana, but if he can also have a big impact on Lou Marson.

So, looking forward to seeing more of Sandy the Coach.

Finally, a new edition of the Indians Inbox is up. Issues tackled: The future of Third Base, Brian Bixler, Aaron Laffey and Jordan Brown. One thing I do want to point out.

I believe I was under the impression that Bixler didn't have options or he'd be thrown away if he doesn't make the club. That isn't the case as Castrovince points out the possibility Bixler can be optioned to the Minors if he doesn't make the club. So I think I was wrong, depending on what I said in terms of Bixler's future with the club beyond spring. He has options left or option, unknown.

I'm cutting it short today, because I'm rather busy and lunch is calling me. Back tomorrow for sure with some awesomeness.

1.25.2010

Anger, Stupid, Buzzword...

So... I think I've about stomached all I can when it comes to one Paul Hoynes.
Hey, Hoynsie: Is there any reason to have hope this season or are we in for a very long season? -- Angelo Costanzo, Cleveland.

Hey, Angelo: This season is going to be longer than the ice age.

The one area that I'll always credit him with is antagonizing readers who send in stupid questions, or repeat questions that don't need repeating. He will take them to task, just as he did the stupid guy who asked about THE OWNERS OF THE TEAM and if they would TAKE A PAY CUT.

Hey, Hoynsie: Can you find out if Larry and Paul Dolan and the front office took pay cuts this year since money is supposedly so tight? -- Pierce Allen, Columbus

Hey, Pierce: Not only did they take pay cuts, but they took furlough days as well. From April 5 (opening day) through the end of the season, they are all taking an unpaid leave of absence. Manny Ramirez is going to retire from the Dodgers' outfield and return to Cleveland to run the team.

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.

Now, we've seen how I react to people who suck. Facebook reactions didn't come out of bordem. Okay, maybe it did. But it also came out of frustration from reading stupid things. Well there is only one more thing that angers me more than stupid things from fans.

And that's stupid things from people paid to do this job.

Feel free to get out a stupid-count meter for how many times I say the word stupid in this entry.

It's time to take stupid to task.

Paul Hoynes, I don't think your stupid. You may enjoy the occasional chicken wing and miss out on something, like scooping Castrovince, which is fine.

But some of the stuff that is the result of pen hitting pad is downright stupid.

I appreciate the objectivity. Contrary to what many believe, the idea of a beat-writer or someone following the home team isn't to be a hometown writer. I get it.

But the season is going to be longer than the ice age?

You are taking people to task with comedy so much, I have no clue if you are joking. If you realistically believe that we suck and that there is no hope.

Because I believe there is hope. Hope sucks and it's very small, granted, but in the AL Central, in baseball in general, anything is possible.

If a question is silly, be silly in return. If a question has merit or the person is genuinely looking for an opinion, answer the damn question. If you don't want to do that, don't answer it. It's simple as that. It is the reason that I'm now banning the discussion of Hey, Hoynsie for the foreseeable future from this blog.

This has become a joke to Hoynes. It really has. As evidenced by this comment.
Hey, Jim: In good times and bad, I've always found that gallows humor goes a long way when covering the Indians.
We do humor here.. But we are a blog and we are not to be taken seriously all the time.

I don't see it often from Castrovince in his mailbag. I really don't. Sure he has his way of spinning his little quips of humor to make you laugh in his stories, that's what a good writer can choose to do.

See if I was answering a mailbag. I'd just berate the questioner, because I can be a mean son of a bitch.

But the constant humorous (or at least in Hoynes' mind, because they aren't that funny) responses lead me to wonder what is humor and what is not.

Now look, I'm not trying to tell Paul Hoynes to do his job or how to write. God knows he has a job you could pay me in cheeseburgers to work (could, doesn't mean I would notice) and I respect the work he put in to getting to that spot. But enough is enough with the cynicism. It reverberates down to the fan base because as you can plainly see, many people read the Plain Dealer, many people go to it for a source of news. And Paul Hoynes is the man that is connected to the Cleveland Indians.

His random spouts of cynical humor impact this club's followers and gives them these stupid ideas.

Like HEY LARRY DOLAN, TAKE A PAY CUT YOU JERK!

HEY FAN! LARRY DOLAN IS THE OWNER, HE MAKES WHAT THE TEAM MAKES!

So when it's announced that our new third base coach is competing in the Amazing Race with his daughter, people go absolutely ape-shad over that for no stupid reason.

Again, I'm not telling Hoynes how to do his job. I'm also not bashing him. I'm just sick of seeing someone with the biggest voice on the Tribe fall in line with the rest of the stupid schmo's who have a problem with Steve Smith competing in a reality show.

As long as Michael Brantley isn't going to be one of the seven strangers picked to live in a house or Matt LaPorta isn't living in New Jersey with Snookie, why would this concern anyone. Especially a coach? IT'S THE AMAZING RACE PEOPLE! IT'S STEVE SMITH!

THE SERIES IS GOING TO AIR IN A FEW WEEKS, MEANING THEY PRETTY MUCH ALREADY FINISHED IT!

They don't do these reality things live you numskulls. He's going to coach this year and be there for spring training.

Sometimes I just don't understand.

It goes back to our voice.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- If the Indians upcoming season is going to be as bad as many predict, at least the team will be able to offer some off-the-field entertainment during the course of the year.
If the season is going to be bad as many predict? What the hell kind of start to an article about Steve Smith being on a reality show is that? Off-the-field entertainment? Is this club that much of a laughing stock?

Am I just angry today or something? Maybe... Perhaps I'm just letting off some steam onto a figurehead that has poked small subtle annoyances at me in the past and I'm just now deciding to absolutely unload a wrath of fury onto him. Or perhaps I'm right.

Either way I respect the job he holds and the position of power he is in. I just would llike to see him be a little more responsible with it.

So why is it that I say whatever I want and don't hold myself to those same restrictions? Well because people aren't exactly paying for what I have to say. They are accessing it on their own free will. There's ninety-thousand other blogs out there that someone can read if they think I'm a jackass. There is only one Cleveland Plain Dealer beat-writer.

So that's my completely messed-up array of principles on this whole stupid dynamic. I'm an idiot? Sure I am. But if I ever get a job like that, I would never be that cynical, becuase I realize the audience.

That's the main point today.

Stop being jerks about this team. It could absolutely suck.. No doubt... But this is January 25th people. Maybe it's the weather and maybe it's the gloom talking. But wait until this team at least loses their first spring training game before you go all rotten.

Baseball is the greatest sport in the world, at least according to us fans of the game. Don't ruin it with this garbage before things even start.

With that rant out of the way... Perhaps lets actually talk about this team a bit.

There are a few more links I need to share before I depart.

The Around the Horn series of Indians positions has continued with Castrovince breaking down the Catching position.

We've discussed Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas and the impact Redmond signing has on that situation and no doubt we'll do it some more. But I think the thing to take away from this one here is this.

People emphasize the Sandy Alomar addition to the staff when they discuss the reasoning behind signing Redmond. But I think you need to realize that there is only so much Sandy Alomar can do as a coach. That on the field presence, that guy in the trenches there with you... That's valuable. Sandy Alomar isn't going to be working with the pitching staff during the games and before the games on game plans and what not.

Mike Redmond is.

So take that and chew on it... Or just complain more about the signing...

Sparse notes on the Tribe during these times from Terry Pluto. But he does chime in on the Bixler deal, Michael Brantley and reminds us that Grady Sizemore was hurt last year. If he's healthy this year, different team. Another reason this year may not be as long as Hoynes thinks.

I incidentally skipped the mention about the Tribe's television and radio schedule. My bad.

We are perhaps, I should be cautious when I say this, but we are guaranteed 148 games televised on STO/WKYC3.

ESPN and FOX will have another 3. The two ESPN games are Monday night affairs, which means they SHOULD be on (If they get blacked out, I do believe they will be on STO.. If not, we riot) and the other one on FOX is slated for April 17th, a Saturday.

What about the other 11 games? That damn FOX window I would presume. Like the April 24th affair with Oakland that starts at 4..

Either way, every single game will be on the good old fashioned radio. Tom Hamilton and Mike Heagen return, with the addition of pregame host, sometimes fill-in, and sometimes spring training play-by-play man Jim Rosenhaus doing an inning of every game. Which will be interesting.

Rosy does a good job though and maybe this will reduce the chances of Hammy having a heart attack on air. Let's be honest, he isn't s

The prospect countdown continues at IPI. Number 47 is Bo Greenwell..

Sometime this week... Sparked by my anger with Hoynes, is a fake Hoynes twidder... I was going to go in a different direction, until the spark. So expect that as I already have the tweets, I just need to find what he will follow.

Remember the winter press tour kicks off tomorrow...

1.21.2010

A Pitching Filled Afternoon Jaunt

Well hello there...

Let's dust things off and get to chatting.

Aside from the awesome Brian Bixler acquisition, the news of the week surrounds the signing of Rafael Perez to his contract to avoid arbitration.

We were just talking about this and it happened rather quickly after. It really didn't take long for them to get something done and that was expected.

Perez will make $795,000 next year. If he reverts to 2007/2008 form and produces, that's a bargain. It is a raise from last year, but when you become arbitration eligible and have the success Perez has had in the past, you have to give him that bump. Tim Belcher spoke on Perez's season, the success in winter ball and the idea of putting him in the rotation.

"I'd like to think that last year was just a hiccup from a guy that was used and used heavily for the previous two or three years," pitching coach Tim Belcher said. "[Perez] had success in winter ball, and we look for him to be in a position to rebound and be a solid contributor in our bullpen."

"He did well enough to get everybody's attention and say [starting is] a potential option," Belcher said. "But here's a guy who, for a number of years now, has been a bullpen guy. To all of a sudden change gears and put him in the rotation and expect a guy to go 180 or 200 innings is not something we want to do at this point. But it certainly presents an option, should unforeseen injuries happen with the starters we have currently."

I think that options is very realistic if other options don't pan out. We've seen guys make the transition before. Perez has a rubber arm, so it's not like durability or length would be an issue. Plus he's been a starter before. However Belcher is right, for now, he's a pen guy and until we are in dire need for him to move into the rotation and have people to replace him, then he's going to stay there.

Belcher did some more speaking on the pitching staff, specifically the rotation. What I think is key though is Tim Belcher. We need to know more about him. So what's he like, how's he going to do things?
"Different coaches have different experiences throughout their playing and coaching careers that allow them to be effective in motivating their players to get better and improve," Belcher said. "I've really done a little bit of everything, including filling in as a pitching coach. There's probably not going to be a day that goes by where I won't have a conversation with one of those pitchers where, in some way, shape or form, I'm communicating something I experienced myself."
Lots of quotes from Belcher in that piece. He covers Jake, Fausto and Masterson, the three guaranteed starters and seemed to have a lot to say about Jeremy Sowers.
"[Sowers] went right up the ladder really quickly after being drafted, and he's had success in the Major Leagues," Belcher said. "It's been a little difficult for him the last couple years. But that's not uncommon. We saw that with Jeremy Guthrie, when we just ran out of time with him. With [Sowers], it's different in that he doesn't have the stuff of somebody like a Guthrie. He relies on putting the ball where he needs it to be. If he doesn't have his secondary stuff, it's pretty difficult for him to have success. He's definitely still in the mix. But with him being out of options, you get to that point where you have to get it done on a more consistent basis."
I'm excited to see what the new coaches can do with this team, but the guy I'm most interested in is Tim Belcher. He's got, by far, the stiffest test as the pitching coach. He'll have three guys that are guaranteed spots if they are ready, but they are by far from locks in terms of expectations. Then he's got tons of other arms to sort through.

So he's got a tough challenge and it will be interesting to see.

Last pitching note is on Hector Ambriz, the Rule V pick up from Arizona. Clearly there is one thing on his mind as he enters Spring Training with a new team.
"It's my goal to make the team and keep playing baseball," Ambriz said. "It's no different than making the varsity team in high school. You've got to go out there, work your butt off and do everything you can to make that team."
What's different here is that this guy was brought in with the expectation that he could make the team. So that's something that should be on his mind. This isn't some one just in the race because he's close, he's in the race because the team believes he can take that next step. So hopefully that's some motivation for him to do well and make the team.

What I love reading this one is to see Ambriz's comment how he was excited he got picked. The Rule V is an opportunity for players. If you don't get selected, there could be some doubt that teams like you or maybe you don't have a future. For the ones who are selected though, it's a sign that there are teams out there taking note and think you can do something.
"I knew [the possibility of being selected] was out there," he said, "but I tried not to get my hopes up too much. My agent called me and gave me the news at 6 a.m. my time, and I was up ever since then. I couldn't get back to sleep."
Ross Atkins spoke on Ambriz as well.
"For Hector, the most important thing is his comfort level with us and us getting to know him," Atkins said. "Those are things that are ingrained in this program. But for him, it's even more powerful, because he only knew one player in our organization, David Huff. So us getting to know him and determining his goals, mutually, and understanding the goals and expectations for him is important."
I like the prospect of Ambriz. He's going to be a guy to keep an eye on for sure with the bullpen mix. His versatility as a starter is going to be something that I think plays in his favor, but it could work against him if he can't get over the move to the pen.

Seems to be the time where we are getting a lot of thoughts from players, especially the newer ones to the organization. Mike Redmond is one of the latest and on Wednesday we got to see a little more about him and how he's feeling about being a Cleveland Indian and...well being 38.
"At 38," he said Wednesday, "people talk about you like you're a dinosaur, like you're done, like it's amazing you're even walking. But to be honest, I still feel pretty good. I mean, I legged out a triple last year."
This guy is a workman. He talked about guiding Joe Mauer in Minnesota and the importance of a guy like him on a young pitching staff like the one the Indians have and the opportunity he has to help them grow. He's been through it before, so I think there is no one really better to have brought in for this situation.

I think we can also expect him to put it out there for the team.
"I pulled my groin on Opening Day and wasn't about to go on the DL, leaving our team with two young catchers," Redmond said. "So I sucked it up and played. It probably wasn't the best situation for me, but I played, and it kept us around .500."
That's pretty awesome. Redmond also talked about catching Fausto Carmona and how he was looking forward to it, rather than trying to hit against him. We all know the Twins don't particularly enjoy facing Fausto.

I don't have much else. Just a quick catch up on the latest links around the web. There is this one small matter though. Jim Thome is a free agent and CPD's Starting Blocks brings up the question of bringing him back.

Foolish.

FOOLISH!

We know by now I was in favor of bringing back Omar Vizquel. It made sense both on the field and the bonus of him being a former Indian great was there.

Bringing back Jim Thome makes no sense what so ever. Sell some tickets? That's something you get in addition to, not as your primary reason.

Travis Hafner is the DH of this team and they are paying him enough money.

Thome cannot play first base and even if he did, it's LaPorta's show if he's healthy. If not, plug in Shelley Duncan for the few weeks or month that it will take to get LaPorta ready.

There is no absolutely no reason what so ever to bring in Jim Thome. Starting Blocks bringing it up is nonsense and they should know better. Horrible.

Tomorrow is Friday... Nothing expected tomorrow unless news comes up. Maybe an update this weekend, if not, I will see you next week. I have some stuff I want to roll out before training camp nears. So we might get to that next week.

Make sure you keep up with the Prospect Countdown going on over at Indians Prospect Insider. Tony has started his top 50 countdown today and Donnie Webb clocks in at #50.

1.18.2010

Tribe Acquires Brian Bixler from Pirates

Brian Bixler.

There's something about the name.

Cleveland has acquired him from the Pittsburgh Piartes, as you probably should know by now.

He'll go right into the mix for the utility spot and given that he's on the 40 man roster already, you have to figure he's a favorite.

Mark Shapiro struck the deal with friend Neal Huntington. He sent Jesus Brito to the Pirates in return for Bixler.

JESUS BRITO!!?

NO!

The guy was born on Christmas!

Jimminy Christmas!

A Jesus born on Christmas? Thems a rare breed. You hold onto those guys. You don't trade them for some generic Brian with a weird last name like Bixler.

He sounds like a runt.

In all seriousness... I'm half and half. Bixler is defensive minded infielder that will potentially fill the utility role if you give him a chance. He's also an Ohio kid (Sandusky, Yay Amusement Parks) and he's 27.

This will surely weaken Lake County's offensive punch even more. Which I guess is minute... But blah.

The part I don't like about this is that Bixler is on the 40 man. If he doesn't make the team, you send him down by having to put him through waivers. He gets claimed, you've essentially lost out on Jesus Brito. Upside or none, I don't like that. I'd have rather kept the 40-man spot open and went with a veteran until Jason Donald was ready.

More on this tomorrow or Wednesday.

Catch me if you can Wyatt

Yeah I'll be honest.

There isn't much today and I probably should catch up on work for my classes tomorrow.

I'm sort of delaying the inevitable though. I don't like this semester. There is too much work. I took a freshman level course for my sports management major thinking it wouldn't put much on the plate, because of the senior level comm course I'm taking.

Someone should really tell the teacher it's freshman level and that all this reading isn't required.

It just goes to show you that you can plan all you want, but that never works.

So this is where I spin my situation into the Indians news.

The Indians can plan to not go to arbitration with Rafael Perez, doesn't mean they won't.

But they haven't been to the dreaded mediation since 1991, so don't count on them going with Rafael Perez.

Perez filed for arbitration last week. With Jose Veras pretty much being let go, Anthony Reyes being out-righted and signed to a minor league deal and Shoppach being traded, Perez is the lone guy with a contract to discuss.

They've got about a month to take care of things and knowing the Indians, they'll get something done as they always do. Rafael Perez has no leverage based on the past season. It's his first time that he's eligible for arbitration.

He's a relief pitcher. It will get done.

While we are on the topic of arbitration and the name Kelly Shoppach. Might as well inform you of the deal he reached with the Rays, avoiding arbitration.

He didn't sign a one year deal, no Shoppach inked a two-year contract with his new club. It's believed to be worth $5.5 million which averages out to $2.75 each year. That's $1.9 million more than the Indians are going to pay Mike Redmond to be their backup catcher this year.

Alright so the argument is in full-force as sit always is when the Indians make a move. Because that's how we do it in Cleveland.

Let me first say..

This is a minor move, so again, let's not go ape-crazy on Mark Shapiro if you disagree. It's the same as Mitch Talbot. Settle down now.

That being said.. When Shapiro traded Shoppach to Tampa Bay, he said it was to open up more opportunities for the young guys, Lou Marson, Wyatt Toregas and Carlos Santana.

So why sign Mike Redmond after you do that?

Let me try and rationalize this, because I did come down on the positive side of signing Redmond.

If you keep Kelly Shoppach, you are paying him a substantial salary, as we see with his deal with the Rays. If you pay him 2 million dollars, you damn well better use him more than once a week.

That's taking time away from the guys.

Redmond was signed to be the backup and the backup only. He'll play once a week, maybe sometimes twice a week. He knows he's a backup, he knows his job and you get the additional veteran presence.

That's why you switch out Shoppach and bring in Redmond. And you are paying Redmond backup catcher money. You get equal value. You don't get equal value if Shoppach is your backup.

Now the one area that I think this sucks in, is the Wyatt Toregas situation.

Yes I said Wyatt Toregas.

According to Castrovince, Toregas will battle Marson in spring training for the starting spot. He'll ultimately lose, because we like to assume things.

Toregas will lose and go back to Triple-A, where he will not start, but back-up Carlos Santana.

So Wyatt Toregas is either going to start at the major leagues or backup in the minors. There is no in-between for him. That sucks, but it is baseball. I say this. Is Wyatt Toregas going to be the next Victor Martinez?

No, he's not. He's a good kid and deserves a shot, but Carlos Santana is the future here. It sucks for him, but the Indians have to do what's best for them.

I can't imagine the Indians acquired Lou Marson to be their future backup catcher, but you never know. If Marson does enough to up his value (and his value is still up there for other teams), then Toregas is still around for the future.

So while it sucks right now for Toregas, if he continues to work hard and keep at it, and he deserves it, that chance will come to him.

So yes, I'm on the Redmond signing bandwagon. I feel for Toregas if he doesn't win the job, but that's baseball.

But really, this all goes back to the age-old debate we always seem to have with this team.

Is this team too scared to put it's faith into young guys, even in a season they aren't expected to heavily contend?

Signing guys like Austin Kearns, brings up the idea that maybe they don't want to rush Michael Brantley into things.

And it sort of makes me believe those things.

So what do you do?

Well find out in the spring I guess.. But yeah I'm partially concerned about that. Always Am. I'm in love with signing some veterans and trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Carl Pavano. But I also want to give the young guys a chance when we can.

So that's that... And if we can go back to Rafael Perez for a minute, let's wrap up this Monday discussion with the bullpen.

AC's around the horn look at the Indians continues with the bullpen. And I love the quote and I'll keep posting it every single time I remember to.
"I feel as good as you can feel about the bullpen," general manager Mark Shapiro said, "in light of the progress our guys made in the second half."
Tweak it to the current situation, but that first part is always the truth when you are dealing with the bullpen. I feel as good as you can feel about a bullpen. I've learned after last year and in 2007 you can never feel good about a bullpen. It's an eternal crap-shoot.

You can never feel awesome, you just have to feel as good as your current situation allows.

So why even discuss it anymore today? There's going to be fifteen million names in the mix and who really knows if any of them are sure things. Sure Kerry Wood, Rafael and Chris Perez, all might be a sure thing as far as being on the roster to start the year, but we can't trust anyone.

We'll save that for our spring training preview.

Which is less than a month away, because according to the clock up there ^^^, we've got 31 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Get excited..

I think I keep saying that.

Try to keep getting excited.

I've got some daunting reading to catch up on. Someone should help me.

Oh and if you haven't already, follow Fake Mark Shapiro on twitter. Because it will be fun. Fake Mark told me so.

1.15.2010

Tribe Signs Catcher Mike Redmond

The Twins ship has been dealt another blow!

Not really.

But Cleveland has taken a Minnesota Twin and added him to their squad.

This time we've got our first Major League deal.

Catcher Mike Redmond has agreed to become the Indians backup catcher to Lou Marson with a one year deal.

This is a surprise as it was expected to be Wyatt Toregas and Chris Gimenez sharing backup duties, with Toregas getting the majority. Cleveland must feel like they need a stable veteran backup though.

Which I don't disagree with.

And Redmond is a great clubhouse presence in addition to that.

Redmond is now on the 40 man roster, which means there is one more slot open. He'll be on the club when they break camp. That's a no doubter (baring injury of course). Others like Grudz will have to fight for their roster spot.

You are looking at one of the better veteran backup backstops in the game right here. He's a career .289 hitter and he knows how to handle a pitching staff. He'll bring a lot of needed experience and leadership to a young team.

This is a good signing in my book. I can't imagine he'll be making much and it also tells me that maybe, just maybe we could see Carlos Santana sooner rather than later, depending on how well Marson plays and Santana develops.

Indians Twidder: @TheReal Pronk 1/15

Well I think it's time to get one of these older Twidder's I completed out the way. They need to be burned off before the season starts so we can start doing some current ones.

As I mentioned here, some of these were completed months ago. So you'll see dates from last year. This one is the first one I actually did and I'm real proud of it.

Travis is a rugged individual who now has both a wife and a kid. When he arrived in Cleveland, he was a big lug that played video games and watched wrestling. Now he's the same guy with a family. He's also a big player of fantasy football and his best friend is in Los Angeles. Without further explanation, here is Hafner's Twidder Page.. What he would really say if he was on Twitter.



Followers

Casey Blake
Amy Hafner
Cliff Lee
Grady Sizemore
Kelly Shoppach
Manny Acta
XBox 360
Rammstein
WWE
Tom Selleck
WWEShop
Javier Bardem
Affliction T-Shirts
Shaq
Jerry "The King" Lawler
CC Sabathia
Amy Nelson
Steve Smith the Coach
Indians Insider
IGN.com
Bill Selby
Ryan Ludwick
T-Shirt Hell
Ken Rosenthal
The Fink
Raw/Smackdown Video Game
Ryan Garko
David Dellucci
ESPN Fantasy Football
Jensen Lewis
Malley's Chocolate
Kenny FN Powers
PS3
Cleveland Indians
Matthew Berry
CJ Wilson

As you can tell, Hafner is very active on the tweet scene. Following his wrestling friends, fantasy football news, video game stuff and his best friends and worst enemies (CJ Wilson). He tweets to Lawler about hosting RAW (I'd watch if he was on), his fantasy team and at this particular time, about his new baby boy.

As always, make sure you follow the site on twitter and if you want a feed of the latest Indians news, follow this list. Also give @FakeShap some more love.

1.14.2010

Tribe Invite 7 Minor Leaguers to Big League Camp

The Cleveland Indians have extended seven invites to players currently in the organization to their big league camp.

It will be another go around for first round pick Beau Mills, while Lonnie Chisenhall and last year's first round pick Alex White make their first appearances.

White was drafted last year and hasn't pitched an inning for the Indians organization. However he's expected to start the 2010 season in Single-A Kinston (skipping Rookie League, Short Season and Low-A) and be on the fast-track to the majors if he progresses.

Chisenhall was the Indians first round pick in 2008 and he's bolted up the system, finishing 2009 in Akron, the same place he's expected to start in 2010. If his progression continues, he could be in Cleveland before you know it.

Beau Mills has been progressing rather slowly. He had a rougher start to his 2009 after dominating in every other level. He could start 2010 in Double-A or Triple-A, but has been in big league camp before.

They will be joined by other non-roster invites: Damaso Espino, Niuman Romero, Yohan Pino and Frank Herrmann.

Espino was a non-roster invite last year and Niuman Romero finished the season on the Indians active roster. Pino was acquired from Minnesota last year and Frank Herrmann has been teetering on the edge of minor league and major league.

That makes 16 non-roster invites in addition to the 38 players on the 40-man roster.

You know we'll address the battles as it gets closer to spring training, plus I'm sure there could be some additions.

Couple of injury updates on players that hope to be ready to go for Spring Training.

Jake Westbrook needed that winter experience in a big way and he's thankful for it.
"Puerto Rico was awesome," he said. "It was a great experience. I'm really glad I went. It was one of those things I was hesitant to do, because I've never done it before, but it was great. ... My elbow felt great, and the most encouraging thing was to be able to meet all my pitch requirements. That was very encouraging for me going into Spring Training."
Jake really needed to go through that. He didn't pitch in a meaningful game in 2009 and while he made starts in the minors, he didn't really get anything out of it. Nothing will be the same until he's on the mound at Progressive Field pitching in a live game, but the fact that he got a head start on getting his pitch count up prior to Spring Training is huge.

Jake also knows the added responsibility that he now has with Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia long gone.
"Time just absolutely flies," Westbrook said on a call with reporters Wednesday. "I used to be the guy trying to establish himself in the big leagues. Next thing I know, I'm one of the veteran guys trying to lead by example and by my routine. ... We're going to have a very young staff and also a sinkerball-heavy staff with myself, Fausto [Carmona], Justin Masterson and Aaron Laffey in the mix. I'm going to try to do everything I can to get myself ready and lend any hand I can with anybody who has any questions."
Guy is ready for it if you ask me. He's always been a pro. He was a veteran while he was a young guy. He's perfect for being the leader of this rotation personality wise.

Matt LaPorta is progressing well. He is expecting to participate in baseball activities sometime next week with doctor's clearance. He will have a checkup with doctors before Spring Training and he is hoping to be ready to go with everyone else at 100%.

If you didn't get a chance to watch All Bets are Off yesterday, I've got you covered.

ABAO conducted a remote from a mall in Strongsville. They were filled with Cleveland Indian coaches, players and management. Here are some thoughts on things said from the different guests.

Aaron Laffey has been one of the Indians that has stayed in Cleveland during the offseason. He's been working out in Cleveland he'll be in Goodyear, Arizona a few days earlier than the report date. I don't think he was even positive about the actual report date to be honest. He sounded focused for this season and I tell you what.

Last year I remember him talking about working on preventing injuries. This year I think it's about him growing. We've seen him prove he can pitch at this level. But he needs to build off that and put it all together. He also has to stay healthy as well.

I was distracted with Jensen Lewis being on, but the one thing I did catch was the mention of Scott Radinsky. Not only have a lot of these pitchers come through the system and spent time under Radinsky, but guys like Lewis have been down to Columbus/Buffalo to get fixed. And guys like Lewis have come back better pitchers.

So that's good to have guys like Sipp and Lewis with the rapport with Radinsky.

I was really impressed with Jason Donald. This was the first chance I really got to see him talk so it was his first chance for me to get an impression on him. He seems like a fun guy and a good clubhouse presence for a young kid. He was very talkative and seemed to be on the ball. He told a good story about when he got traded in the Lee deal. As we've pointed out, he played at the University of Arizona with Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe (who were both with Columbus at the time of the trade). Well it just so happened that the Iron Pigs were playing the Clippers during the trade and he had no clue.

Brown and Crowe were making all sorts of hand signals as if they were third base coaches towards Donald and after told him to come on over because he was on their team now.

Donald said he prefers shortstop but is willing to play anywhere to make the big league roster. He was joined at the same time by Nick Weglarz. He said he prefers the outfield, which is impressive for a guy that size. He WANTS to be there.

Both Donald and Weglarz will be in Arizona in a few days for the last portion of winter training. So they'll be there really early.

Finally, Joel Skinner, the new manager of the Akron Aeros was on the show and I came away with a better appreciation for him. He was the one who talked to Mark Shapiro about the possibility of returning to the club in the minor league system after they got everything ironed out.

Obviously, both were comfortable with the decision to Akron and Joel cemented himself as a company guy. He is an Indian, period. Loves the organization, would rather take on a role (because I have no doubt he could have gotten a job elsewhere) in the minor leagues (at Double-A no less) and be happy than go somewhere else.

Oh and he's had success in this job before. He said he's looking forward to working with the young players again.

Skinner talked about Acta a bit. He said he knew Manny from their days in the minor leagues. Both managed against each other in the lower levels of the minors.

So that was that. It was insightful to hear a few guys. Jason Donald was probably the most eye-opening as we got to learn about a guy who just joined the organization.

On the Joel Skinner-lines of managers.

I just found out the other day about Sal Fasano signing with the Toronto organization. He'll be managing the Lansing Lugnuts, who are a part of the Midwest League, and the Eastern division, the same one the Lake County Captains are joining. So we'll see plenty of Sal Fasanoness with those matchups.

Numbers Update: Remember how Jason Grilli wanted 49 because that was his father's number? Well Tony Sipp has evidently not given it up. Grilli is listed as number 35 on the Indians roster right now. Unless he makes the squad and Sipp doesn't, he probably won't get it unless he can talk young Tony out of it.

Finally..

If you haven't seen this yet.. Check it out. I tweeted the link the other day. Chuck Lofgren got to sing on stage with Garth Brooks. Good work Chuckster! Lofgren isn't in the Indians organization as of right now as we know, but he's still the man.

1.12.2010

Mark Grudz..yayouknow.. Signs with Cleveland

As AC astutely pointed out in his blog.. Cleveland has signed that big name.

No really.. Big name.

When will the Indians sign a big-name free agent?
-- Justin V., somewhere in Ohio

Maybe when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits free agency. He has a pretty big name.

Mark Grudzielanek was inked to a minor league deal today.

We will from now on refer to him as Grudz.

Grudz has experience at shortstop.. 626 games to be exact. So he can play the utility role that the Indians need.. The problem is he didn't play much last year coming off an injury. And he's old.

And... he's old.

The positives for me are that he's a veteran presence. You know if you've read before that I'm big on vet presences and that's exactly what Grudz would bring to the table.

So as we look at it now, the utility spot is coming down to three names so far. Jason Donald (Which is expected to be a name just thrown in, stuff would have to go wrong for that to happen), Grudz, and Luis Rodriguez.

Do not forget about Rodriguez. He can play everywhere and he's done it at the major league level before.

So we've got that now...

Non Roster Invites: Mike Gosling, Jason Grilli, Anthony Reyes, Saul Rivera, Brian Buscher, Mark Grudzielanek, Luis Rodriguez, Shelley Duncan, Austin Kearns

Speaking of.. We've got the latest inbox that addresses the chances of Duncan and Kearns, the two signed last week.

AC can see both breaking camp on the 25 man roster, which isn't out of the realm of possibilities in any way. We don't really know right now because we just don't know about LaPorta. Matt's progress with rehab will tell us a lot when it comes to these two and Marte. Brantley is probably more connected to Brantley's status as member of the roster.

Franklin Gutierrez is still a touchy subject with me and it's brought up to AC in the mailbag. Did the Tribe jump the gun? Just go back to my post a little over a year ago to know my opinion. Short Answer: yes.

I don't have much more for you today... Simply put there is nothing much.

I do have the information about the Annual Press Tour though.

I need to be critical of the team here this year.

In year's past, there were names on these team's that were damn good. You had guys like Hafner and Sizemore making the trips. This year.

I'm just not impressed. Sizemore and Hafner don't have to be there, but man they went weak. But the group of players lack pizazz. Jensen LEwis is probably the one guy that I'd legitimately be intrigued in listening to and seeing.

Doby Team will be in Akron, Toledo and Columbus and that consists mainly of Manager Manny Acta, Bob DiBiasio, Tom Hamilton, Michael Brantley and Jensen Lewis. Mark Shapiro will be in Columbus on the 28th.

Boudreau Team wil be in Youngstown, Sandusky, Lima (Afternoon) and Wooster (Evening) and that consists mainly of Jim Rosenhaus (Indians play by play for Radio/MLB TV), Aaron Laffey, David Huff, Chris Perez. Sandy Alomar will be in Sandusky on the 27th.

Harder Team will be in Ashtabula (Afternoon), Erie (Evening), Mansfield, and Elyria and consists mainly of Matt Underwood, Sandy Alomar and Tony Sipp.

I can't do any of the nearby locations this year, but it's always a treat for the fans. I'm just a little skeptical as to why there aren't some more of the core players on this tour. I know we have to account for a lot of our stars not exactly being American (Choo, Cabrera, Etc.), but not one sniff of Hafner or Sizemore. Where the hell is Justin Masterson? the quote machine that he is would be a great addition.

Laffey is a colorful personality as well as Jensen.. I'm sure guys like Kerry Wood are busy at this point, both he and Grady (and I'm sure there are additional reasons as to why Grady isn't on this tour) are probably held up in Arizona.

Hafner lives in Cleveland though.

It's just lacking some flare. Maybe it's because guys like Kelly Shoppach, Ryan Garko and Cliff Lee have been traded.

Who knows.

Finally a non-Indians note. I got in a wreck yesterday. Not fun. Ruined my whole day and hell it got the semester off to a bad start. Mostly because it was my fault and I got cited. It blows. Be careful out there, not just with the bad weather if you are in Northeast Ohio but just in general. Pay attention. Be aware of things.

If you see the curveball coming at you and it's going in the dirt.. Don't swing.. Seriously, learn from my accident and Jhonny Peralta.

1.09.2010

A week's worth of news, in a morning: Jackson Traded

Breaking Neeeeeeeews: It just came across as I was typing this post out.. Zach Jackson has been traded to Toronto for a player to be named later... More later in the post.

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