10.31.2010

Cut Bait and Bait Already Cut

I'm tired, I'm lazy, I have homework to complete this morning.

Yet we must not fall behind in the latest happenings in this land of the Tribe.

The main to-dos have a lot to do with the cuts the Indians made and the cuts that are likely to be made in the coming weeks. This is probably as active as the Indians will be this offseason, we might as handle it. 


[THREE DOWN, HOW MORE TO GO?]

The Rule V Draft is an interesting part of the offseason, especially with the Indians because of all the players that we all think could get swiped. The reality is, there ends up not being a whole lot to swipe every year. Last year we lost Chuck Lofgren, gained Hector Ambriz. This year, we first look at what spaces we can clear up before we even look what we have to protect.

The Indians got themselves a head start when they outrighted Hector Ambriz and Chris Gimenez off the roster. They also outrighted Anthony Reyes and he now becomes a free agent if he clears waivers, free to sign with any team. He would have been arbitration eligible if he remained, but let's be real, he hasn't pitched in two years.

Also because Gimenez has been outrighted for the second time in his career, he can actually elect free agency if he clears waivers. Hector Ambriz remains the one guy definitely in the Indians control if he clears waivers.

Now the Indians kept Ambriz on their roster all year just so they could keep control of him, so why you ask would they do this after all that? Well the injury is going to keep him out all season, so it becomes pointless to clog your 40-man up with someone who isn't going to contribute to any team, let alone the major league team. Who is going to claim him? They have to go through the same thing you will, so this is really an extremely low-risk, like .001% risk move.

Gimenez is a gamer and I'm sure the Indians would love to keep him around because of his versatility and the depth he provides. But it no longer becomes up to them if he stays or not. If he isn't claimed, and he won't be, he can opt to go elsewhere.

Reyes on the other hand may owe it to the Indians to re-sign. After all the work they've put into him getting back, I would think Reyes, if unclaimed, and he likely will not be, would be inclined to re-sign with the Indians on a minor league deal.

So that clears up three spots, for now. Remember that Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore are 60-Day DL guys that need their 40-man spots back, so in a way it only clears up one spot (and they're still over the limit since two of the guys they outrighted were on the 60-day DL). Where will the Indians clear up more space?

On Thursday, Tony at IPI put up a nice piece about all the potential cuts.

Basically, this is who is left in terms of that bubble.

C Luke Carlin, 1B Wes Hodges, 2B Luis Valbuena, 2B Drew Sutton, SS Carlos Rivero 3B Andy Marte, OF Shelley Duncan, OF Chad Huffman, RP Justin Germano, RP Jess Todd.

I'll go right ahead and say right now that Luke Carlin and Justin Germano are slam-dunk removals. That's two more spots. It would appear that Wes Hodges is as close to a slam dunk as you can get without being a slam dunk considering they already removed him once only to reacquired him after he was claimed by Colorado and they attempted to do what the Indians trying to do. I would also think that Carlos Rivero is just as close as gone as anyone who is a prospect who hasn't exactly produced.

So figure those two are gone too. Remarkably Drew Sutton seems to have some hope, like an Andy Marte, but I would think the Indians have enough utility garb flowing around to bother with that. The major questions surround Valbuena, Marte, Duncan, Huffman, and Todd.

Those are five names right there. Say you get rid of the five previously mentioned, you have only opened up four spots on the 40-man roster. Now I doubt the Indians add a free-agent, so it is likely that every space they clear up will be used to protect prospects. Are there really only four people you need to protect?

Probably not. But mainly you don't need all five of those guys on the roster. Chad Huffman is such an interesting twist because he was added so late. A team doesn't add someone like Huffman that late just for giggles. He was basically added when the Clippers won the championship, so there really was no point in bringing him in at that point. So he must be serving a greater purpose. Let's assume the Indians have a purpose and assume he's save.

I think Todd is someone they'll keep around and Valbuena sadly still has some sort of weird value to the front office, or at least it is thought he does. In a way, hope hasn't been given up.

That squarely for me leaves Shelley Duncan and Andy Marte. With all the third base problems, it would seem like Marte has some hope, even if the Indians are trying Nix at third this offseason. Sure the Indians could sign a million third baseman to minor league deals, but they could also sign a million Shelley Duncans. Hell Chad Huffman might be a Shelley Duncan.

So when it comes down to it, of those ten remaining names, I think you see five definitely axed where as with the other five, there are some questions and circumstances that are just not determinable because you don't know what the Indians are thinking.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Last week, we mulled over the sudden poaching of Charlie Nagy and Joel Skinner. This week, we look back at what they did and look forward to what to do. Considering it looks like that is all we'll lose this offseason in terms of coaches, those are two major spots that the Indians need to fill in their organization.

Atkins said Nagy had an impactful year as the C-Bus pitching coach and Castrovince goes on to say that internal candidates are the pitching coaches at Akron and Kinston, Greg Hibbard and Tony Arnold. IPI mentions Hibbard, assistant Jason Bere (think Tim Belcher pre-coaching job role), or Ruben Niebla. The later is currently on the big league staff as an assistant, but remember missed a portion of the season after hurting himself in the outfield.

As for the spot in Akron, we talked about it last week when discussing the idea that Sandy may leave, it looks like he's staying, so in turn Sarbaugh likely stays in Columbus, meaning there is just one spot to fill. Again it would seem like Fryman would be the first option if he wants it. After that, it is anyone's guess.

Last week the question in the Indians Inbox seemed to be who would play third base. This week it was second base. It's interesting because it seems like more of a question that I didn't think was under consideration. What if Nix doesn't work out at third? What if Jason Kipnis or Cord Phelps make it impossible in spring training to keep them off the roster?

Would the Indians even let that happen?

Or is it wrong for us to assume that this job is for Jason Donald and no one else?

Small notes... Cool thing happening in Columbus next spring. One of the Indians final exhibition games before the season next year will be against themselves, sort of. In what will likely be a fantastic treat for those in Columbus, the Indians will play the Clippers, or at least that is what we think we will be seeing, at Huntington Park. If anything it is nice for the Clippers fans to see some of the bigger names that the Indians have all at once.

Gregorio Rosario is gone. I know your hearts are broken over that news.

I do know that Jhonny Peralta expected to ink a two year deal also warms your heart. Instead of picking up that option for one year, the Tigers a ready to sign up for two years of the Jhonny Peralta experience. God bless their little hearts.

A few profiles worth reading. The first is on second round draft pick LeVon Washington. Castrovince catches up with Washington and he explains what it was going to take to get him to sign and a quote from Atkins on what the Indians like from instructional leagues.

The other is a long put-together piece by PD's Bill Lubinger on General Manager Chris Antonetti.

We learn that his favorite ballpark food is chicken fingers, get quotes from former GM's John Hart and Shapiro, legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson, Neal Huntington, and a elementary school friend.

Okay so that was all sidebar information that I read.. But the article goes into him almost taking an enticing offer from St. Louis after the 2007 season,  how he met his wife through current farm guy Ross Atkins, his childhood as a Yankee fan (and most interestingly, a huge Don Mattingly fan), and his time as a student assistant to the Georgetown basketball team. It is a very long piece that goes into stuff beyond that, but ultimately not much is really discussed about this upcoming season. Give it a read if you want to learn more about the guy that is leading the charge into the future.

What can you expect this week on the site? I'm not sure, maybe a few updates. I'm working on the offseason board and as you can see the payroll chart is in the process of being updated. Maybe a few posts. I'm aiming to have an offseason plan article ready for TCF by the end of the week and will certainly lay out a plan for the blog within the next week or so. This stands to be a busy week for me class-wise though.

Hope you enjoyed all the recaps, the feathers, the all-daily team and all that. Furthermore, I promised to update on the BBA awards handed out. Josh Hamilton, Felix Hernandez, Rafael Soriano, Neftali Feliz, and Ron Washington won the AL Awards. Those were all the picks the Cleveland chapter made, outside of the Ron Washington pick, who we had second to Gardy in Minnesota.

10.29.2010

Season Wrap-Up 2010: 2nd Annual All-Daily Team

What is the All-Daily Team exactly? Well if you don't remember from last year, or just didn't know about this site last year, or if you just forgot (which I wouldn't blame you if you did) it quite frankly is a team made up of people I like.

Mostly, I've tried to make this site a daily or close to daily effort. The past two summers have been rough with work, so that hasn't lived up to its name, but for the most part, I think we keep things rather updated around these parts.

This team represents that idea. The idea of coming to work every day and doing a good job. The All-Daily team is made up of players that you know you can count on a daily basis to come in and work hard and try to produce.

The All-Daily Team uses nicknames as well, because that's just how we do it.

FIRST TEAM
Catcher - Chun Chen
Guys like him have their own built in nick names. Like Choo always said, "Just call me Chun." How bout we get him up to the majors and call them Shin-Chun Choo-Chen. Chen had quite the year

First Base -Jeremie Tice
I love Jeremie Tice. After a rough year of injuries, Tice came back to just be awesome with both Lake County and Kinston. A second-teamer last year even with the injuries, Tice is still one of my favorites.

Second Base - Jason Donald
This kid took a beating if you ask me. Everyone got on him for his defense at short, when quite frankly he was only there because the club needed him. I think The Donald has a future on this club in some capacity. He's a dirt guy, all out type of a player that just simply plays hard.

Third Base - Kyle Bellows
The workhorse third baseman for Kinston is my first-team third baseman because he flat out rocks the leather.

Shortstop - Josh Rodriguez
J-Rod fought hard this season and you have to admire the way he's re-established himself after injuries. Here's a story for you. Opening day at Canal Park, Josh Rodriguez was coaching first base.Well, not coaching first base, but he was out there.

Left Field - Bo Greenwell
Honestly, I just like saying Bo Knows Baseball. But really, this guy is the son of a major leaguer, how could he not be a hard worker that has the game in his blood?

Center Field - Jordan Henry
The Mascot always has a place on this team and in center is where I want him to be. Hejo will probably be on this team as long as he is in this organization. Last year he was second team left fielder. I almost might make a permanent spot for him.

Right Field - Shin-Soo Choo
He played pretty much everyday. You can be a superstar and be on this team in my eyes, as long as you meet the criteria, and no one meets it more than Choo.

Designated Hitter - Travis Hafner
It's my team and I can do what I want to, including putting a guy who can't play a lick of defense on it, even though I really like defense. I also really like Project Donkeys.

Left Handed SP - Matt Packer
The Pack Man went from Lake County to Akron and didn't skip a beat. He went from bullpen to rotation and didn't skip a beat. He went from being awesome to being even more awesome and again, he didn't skip a beat.

Right Handed SP - Paolo Espino
I don't think enough respect goes to pitchers like Paolo Espino who doesn't just bounce from bullpen to rotation like nobodies business, but does it successfully. Pal did it once again this year and he doesn't get due credit for it.

Set-Up Man - Zach Putnam
Last year's mascot was last year's second team set-up guy. Now he's the first team guy. Here's to hoping that he's the following guy's set-up guy sooner rather than later.

Closer - Chris Perez
Is it cheap to pick C FN P as the All-Daily Team's closer? No it isn't, because this team was made for badasses like Chris Perez. CFP CFP! What badass has a Facebook Fan page for his hair?

SECOND TEAM
Catcher - Roberto Perez
Probably the best defensive catcher this organization has right now. Perez is sound in that aspect of the game. He doesn't have the greatest bat, but he doesn't have to in making this team.

First Base - Shelley Duncan
When you see this nut-job with a team like the Yankees, you can't help but hate him. But when he's on your team, he's the greatest player in the world. FOREARM SMASH! How can you not love crazy Shelley Duncan when he's playing for your team? You automatically have someone who will run out onto the field and clothesline everyone Stone Cold Steve Austin style.

Second Base - Cord Phelps
If Cord Phelps adds outfield and third base to his arsenal, you might as well carve a spot onto this team for him as well. The man's name is Cord first and foremost. With a nickname like that, you have built-in awesomeness.

Third Base - Lonnie Chisenhall
Someone give Lonnie Chisenhall an ice-pack. The Chiz played this season beat up and injured for the most part and he still put up decent numbers.

Shortstop - Casey Frawley
Quite frankly, its hard to find shortstops in this system. Asdrubal Cabrera's down year doesn't satisfy me, so I went with a guy that everyone just overlooks. Plus we traded the guy named Jesus that was born on Christmas. Frawley played more games than anyone in Lake County outside of Delvi Cid.

Left Field - Delvi Cid
Speak of the Devil, ha see what I did there, I used a common phrase and, yeah you saw it. Delvi, Devil, switching two letters, hehaw. Anyway Delvi Cid steals more bases than anyone else in the entire universe, so why wouldn't I put him here?

Center Field - Jose Constanza
How cool would his parents have been if they named him Jorge instead of Jose. Yeah I know Jorge isn't pronounced "George" but it would be the Spanish version of George Costanza.

Right Field - Johnnie Drennen
Johnnie no longer lives off the fact that he hit a home run off Roger Clemens. Well  maybe he does (considering I mention it every chance I get), but he's back to prospect status, or at least close to it. Either way he's a tough guy and a hard worker, so he has a place on my team.

Designated Hitter - Greg Folgia
Greg Folgia made the team last year. What's funny is that he probably would be better off in right field, but I ran out of outfield spots once again and wanted to find him a spot. Do you think someone who probably won't make many more All-Star teams minds? NO.

Left Handed SP - T.J. House
Take it to the House, I'd go by T.J. if my first name was Glenn too. I would be excited about a young arm like T.J. who can lead a team in innings pitched.

Right Handed SP - Josh Tomlin
When you look at it, outside of Alex White and Joe Gardner, no one might have had a better season in the minor leagues than Josh Tomlin. He didn't have a complete season because he got the call-up, but Tomlin rolled in Columbus. This guy just pitches and I mentioned that in the feathers. He just gets the job done. That is the type of pitcher that I love.

Set-Up Man - Vinnie Pestano
I can rest my case by saying this and this alone. Vinnie The Gangster.

Closer - Cory Burns
Don't be bummed by missing out on the first team Burner, you are the second team to the most badass guy on the planet. Did I mention Chris Perez is a badass? Cory Burns isn't so bad himself.

10.26.2010

Season Wrap-Up 2010: End of the Year Feathers

In case you need a reminder to what this entire process is all about. Let me briefly explain it.

This is almost the year ending process we take to say goodbye to the season, vent frustrations, celebrate the good times and hope some of that good stuff we saw is reason to believe in the future. 

This is also my time to thank the readership of the site. I'm convinced more than ever that this venture has been one worth taking, this year especially. I know there are people that are out there reading the blog and I thank each and everyone of you for that. More than ever this year with being asked to join The Cleveland Fan, I know I'm doing something right.

Hopefully there is more to come and that we can take this place to the next level. I'm planning on initiating a podcast here in the next month or so (which will be done only a few times in the offseason, but more frequent as the season begins) but I'm also looking for more ways to promote the site. If you have any ideas or would like to know what you can do to help me do such, please contact me


This is the point though that the offseason officially gets underway. As I've mentioned this will probably be a timid offseason, but we will do what we always do here, over-analyze it. Once I give out these feathers though, we put this year to bed and officially look towards 2011.


The End of the Year Feathers if you need a reminder is like a 5-star rating for each player or person involved with this team. If you get five feathers, especially this year, you did something right. As you could sum up from that idea, one feather is the worst, three is average and four and two are above (or exceptional) and below average.


It's all topped off at the end with two special feathers, the Gold Feather for Team MVP and the Silver Feather for the Unsung Hero of the team.


As you need to know, here are the requirements for being considered for and statistics used and the brilliance that is our end of the year feathers. Traded players don't qualify as usual.
  • 150 ABs (Or Half a Season) to be considered for Feathers
  • 30 IP (Or Half a Season) to be considered for Feathers
  • Hitters: AVG/OBP, R, HR, RBI, SB
  • Pitchers: Record, IP, SV/SVO or Holds, ERA/WHIP, K

Shin-Soo Choo - .300/.401, 81 R, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 22 SB
Last Year: 5
It was last year that I gave two Indians the honor of receiving five feathers. This year, I've done the same and for the second straight year, Shin-Soo Choo is a five feather player.

As if there was any doubt. Choo missed a small portion of the season due to an injury to his thumb that was originally expected to claim a good portion of his season. However Choo managed to make his stint on the disabled list a short one and came back to have a season for the record books offensively. His line is one that no other Indians player has ever put up.

Only seven players put up a .400 on-base percentage in the entire game and Choo was one of them. Only five players also hit .300 and Choo was again, one of them. Those numbers show Choo's value to an Indians lineup that didn't have much to support him.

Meanwhile there was only one other player in the American League that was able to steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs, that player would be Bobby Abreu. Several players did in the NL, but you could probably that Choo is one of the most versatile players in the American League.

Not only did he show that all-around ability at the plate and on the base paths, Choo led all outfielders in the majors in assists with 14. His aggressiveness sometimes led to issues, but you save runs when you take runners off the bases in that manner.

We know Choo is the all-around player that any team would love to have. It's just good that he put up All-MLB caliber numbers to prove it to the rest of the game.

Chris Perez - 2-2, 63 IP, 23/27 SV, 9 HLD, 1.71/1.08, 61 K
Last Year: 3
Have the Indians found themselves one of those closers capable of going out there and shutting the opposition down a good percentage of the times he walks out to the mound? It sure does look like it. Chris Perez started the season as the closer because of an injury to Kerry Wood but he finished the season as closer because he simply knows how to get the job done.

After the All-Star break, which is around the starting point where Perez was the guy, very few closers had better numbers. Perez was 16-for-17 in save opportunities with a 0.63 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. He was bested by Rafael Soriano and Neftali Feliz in the WHIP department but no one who had 15 saves in the second half had better numbers than that.

In the brief period he wasn't the closer in the first half of the season, Perez settled into the set-up role. His first stint as closer was a feeling out process that was marked with inconsistent opportunities and some struggles. You almost got the feeling that he could get the job done, but with sporadic chances and the bottom line fact that he wasn't the "true" closer, things just weren't right.

When Wood was dealt, things were right and Perez showed it. The Indians should feel really good about the back end of their bullpen going forward with Perez as the closer.


Travis Hafner - .278/.374, 46 R, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB
Last Year: 4
I know I'll catch flack for this and I probably should have caught flack for putting him in the four-feather category last year. But the fact of the matter is Travis Hafner produced. A lot of the feathers are based off expectations and I'm telling you right now, if you are expecting 30 home runs and 120 RBI from this guy, you are expecting too much.

Hafner hit fewer home runs and knocked in fewer runs than I expected him to, but he got something back that I took me by surprise. His batting eye has returned and with it the avoidance that some pitchers have when pitching to Pronk. His high OBP is good news for the hitters around him because it not only gives them more RBI opportunities, it means Hafner is getting walked and pitchers are deciding not to pitch to him.

Not only that, Hafner seems to be adjusting his game. I think he knows he can't hit 30 home runs again and he's stopped trying to. Hafner compromised a lot of the success with getting on base and hitting for three more home runs last year. Granted he had more at-bats, I don't think he played as consistently as he did this year.

I think we've seen a pattern or at least a routine in terms of Pronk's playing time. Set your expectations lower for what he gives and while I know that is hard with the money he is getting paid, it is the only way you are going to be positive about what are actually decent numbers that he puts up. Are they MVP numbers worth of a guy who is just paid to basically hit? No, but they contribute and that type of production is valuable to the team and the hitters around him.


Carlos Santana - .260/.401, 23 R, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 3 SB
Last Year: NF
It may be crazy and almost too hopeful to be giving four feathers to a guy who had just 150 at-bats this season. But those 150 at-bats were incredible. Look at what he did in those 46 games he played in. Throw in what he did at Columbus (and it was overly dominant) and there is reason to believe this guy is as-advertised.

Four feathers to Santana because he lived up to the hype, albeit briefly, Santana not only produced, he brought a swagger to this team. Look beyond what he did at the plate and look at what he did behind it. His first two games were probably two of the better pitched games of the season for Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona. His first opportunity to gun down a runner was successful and he threw out 35% of would-be base stealers.

If anything, let me give one number: 37. That is the number of walks that Santana had in his 150 at-bat. Of the 12 players who had more at-bats than Santana, he had more walks than nine of them. Only Choo, Hafner, and LaPorta had more walks than Santana on this team and he played considerably less than a lot of them. That is how good this kid is.

Fausto Carmona - 13-14, 210 IP, 3.77/1.31, 124 K
Last Year: 1
Fausto Carmona is Exhibit-A when it comes to proving a turnaround is possible. This is what I said about Carmona last year when I gave him one feather.

"What has happened here is an absolute train wreck. He's gone from deer in the headlights closer crawled up in the fetal position of the clubhouse after being exposed to the Boston Red Sox, to Cy Young contending tamer of the bugs and the New York Yankees in the ALDS, to awful starting pitching exiled to Arizona."

And if that run on sentence didn't sum things up, I don't know what would. Let me continue.

"Carmona was awful and at one point it felt like the Indians had no clue what to do with him. I think it was at that point they threw their hands up and said, 'alright let's just start over.'"

That is exactly what happened and by golly it worked, at least it worked better than I think we all hoped it would. Carmona has come back to more than a semblance of a decent starter. Did he show that he could be a lock down number one ace of a starting rotation? No, but he's pretty damn close, if not a great number two.

It now remains to be seen if the adjustments that he made in the second half of the season (he's trying to develop a changeup) will take him to yet another level.

Remember that I also said the Indians were transitioning him into an actual pitcher. Carmona looked like an actual pitcher this past season and with that skill-set, he's less-likely to implode. Carmona only had five starts out of 33 in which he gave up five or more earned runs. Two of those games marked the only two times he wasn't able to go at least five innings in a start this season. He failed to go five innings five times last year and only twice did he go at least seven innings in a game and both times he only went seven.

He's going deeper into games and we all know a lot of that has to do with the fact that he isn't walking hitters like crazy. Carmona didn't go a start last year and not walk someone. Did it four times this year and only walked more than four hitters on four occasions. Only did it 3 times last year but he had nine less starts in 2009 and only two less walks than he did this season.

The point of the matter is that he is become much more efficient and much more controlled. His WHIP lowered from 1.76 to 1.31, back closer to what he was doing in 2007. He also led the AL in ground ball double plays, which signifies more than anything that he's closer to 2007 than he is to 2009. Carmona had an incredible turnaround and let's hope that it isn't quite finished yet.

Mark Shapiro - Signed OF Austin Kearns, OF Shelley Duncan, 2B Mark Grudzielanek, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Saul Rivera to Minor League Deals, Signed C Mike Redmond, and 1B Russell Branyan Traded for RHP Mitch Talbot, Traded OF Austin Kearns, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 1B Russell Branyan RHP Kerry Wood, RHP Jake Westbrook, Claimed 2B Jayson Nix off Waivers
Last Year: 2
Like with Hafner, people will probably groan seeing Mark Shapiro's name under the four feather grouping, but if you look at last year, you will see that I'm capable of giving Shapiro low-marks.

Next year Chris Antonetti gets feathered as he takes over General Manager, but for this season, we still hold Mark Shapiro largely responsible for what went down. As you can see, Shapiro signed a few minor league free agents that contributed and even netted the Indians a prospect in Zach McAllister, as well as traded enigmas such as Jhonny Peralta and Russell Branyan.

After he signed Russell Branyan of course.

I give Shapiro high marks for what he did this season and past offseason. He traded Kelly Shoppach, something the club didn't need for a pitcher that played a part in their rotation. The Kearns signing was brilliant not just because he got something in return for a minor league signing, but Kearns was one of the two players offensively contributing at one point.

Like last year, it is hard to judge him on deals like Peralta and Westbrook because we not yet know what we have in those players. But like we do with all the feathers, we judge based on expectations and perception and I think Shapiro did good in this little window.

Last year, I really knocked Shapiro down for trading Franklin Gutierrez for Joe Smith and Luis Valbuena. That was after he signed Carl Pavano. This year he made not just one brilliant minor league addition in Kearns, he picked up a guy like Shelley Duncan who contributed and made a great low-risk trade for Mitch Talbot. Not to mention he claimed Jayson Nix off the trash heap and he traded someone he foolishly signed for not one, but two prospects.

I also liked the short-term signing of Mike Redmond as the backup. An above-average year for Mark Shapiro in his final run as GM of the Indians.

Tim Belcher - 4.30 ERA (25th), 1.43 WHIP (27th), 967 K (30th)
Last Year: NF
I think if I just put up Tim Belcher's name and didn't attach those statistics, you'd agree with me. But even I doubted myself when I attached those stats. But let's take a step back and remember what this is about. This is about expectations and I think everyone and their mother expected the Indians pitching staff to be abysmal. They weren't stellar by any means and collectively the numbers are near the bottom where they were expected to be.

But there are some real positive individual cases and if you look at how well they progressed in the second half (3.89 ERA, 13th in the majors and 1.34 WHIP, 19th) then I'm really pleased with the job Tim Belcher did.

More than anything, I love the philosophy that both he and manager Manny Acta have not only preached, but have strictly enforced. Throw strikes and throw them early. It clearly started to take with this club as over time, they started doing so and started getting results.

You look at Carmona and Talbot, some of the progressions Justin Masterson made. You look at young guys like Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin, and Carlos Carrasco, guys who are green and more easily to influence early on and the job Belcher has done with them.

Let's also consider this. 110 errors and a .982 fielding percentage (20th in the MLB). I think the defense might have actually been worse than those numbers indicate, which would probably mean the pitching was better than the numbers indicate.


Asdrubal Cabrera - .276/.326, 39 R, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 6 SB
Last Year: 5
Does everyone realize that he hit .308 last year and that was a big reason that I gave him five feathers? Look, I'm not going to complain if he ultimate hits upwards of .280 because I had the original opinion that if he just hits a little and ultimately plays amazing defense, that would be good enough for me.

Yet I go back to the recurring them of expectations and the expectations for Cabrera were a little higher both offensively and defensively. Now he broke his arm, or I should say, Jhonny Peralta broke his arm, so he gets a little slack. But he got injured last year and still put up 52 extra-base hits.

I think his offense will come back around. Not sure if he really is a .300 hitter, but again, he doesn't have to be. If he's getting on base (or better yet, if the Indians play him up there and expect him to do so) then he doesn't have to be a .308 hitter. But he needs to play better defense. If this guy is going to be the man in the middle that controls the infield, he has to set the example. I just brought up defense and how the pitching may have suffered because of it.

Well Cabrera's fielding percentage last year was .972. That's below even the Indians team average and stellar defenders like Jhonny Peralta and Luis Valbuena. I'm not going to bother digging or flashing the sambermetric fielding stats because I quite frankly don't understand them. I watched just about every game and I know that Cabrera didn't look like the same shortstop he has in the past.

His range wasn't as good, he made some flashy plays, but also made some head-scratchers.

The overall package just wasn't what we thought it would be. He maintains an average rating because he still contributed and I'm taking the injury heavily into consideration.

Jayson Nix - .234/.283, 29 R, 13 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB
Last Year: NF
Nix had just one home run with the Chicago White Sox. What ever got into him when he arrived in Cleveland was probably an effort you won't see from him on a consistent basis, but I think there is a happy medium in there somewhere.

Ultimately when this guy arrived, I think people were puzzled. This isn't a contending team, why not get a guy like Josh Rodriguez up here if there a need in the infield while Cabrera is out? Shapiro and company saw something though and made the claim and I think they deserve some credit for it. Now obviously, if he continued to clunk around and not be of any contribution, Shapiro would have continued to get blasted, rightfully so.

But Nix did more than we thought and I think for that, you have to tip your hat on the pick-up. Now the plan seems to be for Nix to be a potential answer at third base. The club has multiple second base options in Jason Donald and Luis Valbuena, as well as a duo in Columbus that both seem to have some high upside. Nix was part of the three-headed monster (and it was a monster) that took over in place of Peralta and none of them were good defensively.

But Nix was the best offensively and probably the fact that he is above average or at least average at second in terms of defense gives the club hope he can adapt. He'll be in Puerto Rico playing third and if things go well, the Indians might have themselves an internal option.

Ultimately I don't think anyone could have asked for more than what Nix did when he came over. I don't many people actually wanted Nix to do what he did when he came over truthfully, but the fact is he did.

Shelley Duncan - .231/.317, 29 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 1 SB
Last Year: NF
I think the original thought here was that the Indians were signing a former Columbus Clipper who has had incredible success at the Triple-A level to compliment a bunch of young options and help guide a club to a successful season.

Well the Clippers had a successful season long after Duncan was called up and Duncan had some success as well. Like it it with most players in Duncan's position, I think the expectations for Duncan in Cleveland was that of a short stay. That short stay turned into a call-up that lasted all season.

Not only was Duncan a nice source of power and the go-to-guy for pinch hitting, he was a great veteran presence down the stretch after the club had traded their veteran players. Duncan is a guy who's had to work hard to get to the major league level and he's also had the rare experience of being around success in addition to that with his time in New York.

If the Indians want to keep Duncan around for next season as a bench option, under the right circumstances, I wouldn't put up a fight. He was a good piece of this team.

Jason Donald - .253/.312, 39 R, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 5 SB
Last Year: NF
I had this kid pegged from the start of spring training. He was diving all over the place in the spring making all sorts of good defensively plays. The thing about Jason Donald is that he's one of those guys that makes up for whatever he lacks in hard work. The thing is I don't think he has to make up for a lot of things. I said that the Indians would be starting Jason Donald at second base sooner rather than later and I'm proud to say the fall of Luis Valbuena is one of the things I nailed.

Thank god Jason Donald was there. Yeah he hit .253 and made some mistakes at shortstop. But he's a second baseman and he was a rookie. Remember how he lit it up in Columbus? Now that he's healthy, I think full-speed ahead for Donald.

19 doubles, only three players had more than that on this team and they all had more at-bats. Donald is not a power hitter, but love the way he hits those gaps. I love his defense at second and if this is his ceiling (which I don't think it is) I think its more than good enough as a utility player. Let's be honest, if Jason Kipnis is the answer (and I think we all hope he is), Donald is probably the odd man out. But for now, I'll ride the train.


Justin Masterson - 6-13, 180 IP, 2 HLD, 4.70/1.50, 140 K
Last Year: 3
I might be as shocked as you are that I was able to give Justin Masterson an average grade. Perhaps a full-season with a few weeks to digest the entire season has done Masterson some good though.

Let me start with the good. The 140 strikeouts. This team lacked a dominant starter in terms of being able to strike someone other than Masterson. Yes as they say, strikeouts are sexy but as long as you are getting outs, does it really matter?

I'll get to the rest of the good in a second, but might as well touch up on the bad. His 1.50 WHIP was sixth highest in the majors among qualified starting pitchers. His percentage of quality starts was the lowest in the majors at 41%, tied with Jeremy Bonderman and Scott Baker. His pitchers per inning was at 17.2, second most int he major leagues.

What do all these numbers equal? The strikeouts are awesome, but when you have a guy who strikes out a lot of hitters, but is throwing 17 pitches per inning because he's walking a lot of people in addition to, he isn't going to get deep into games.

And that was the overall problem. He wasn't going deep into games. A big reason for that was his tendency to walk left-handed hitters. Versus the lefties (in which he had 79 more at-bats against), he walked 46 hitters. Compared to 27 walks against the righties, is a big difference, even with the small gap of at-bats. TO further that point he only struck out 58 left-handed hitters to 82 right-handed ones.

I could go on all day about Masterson. It seems him more than anyone was someone I kept up with in terms of the numbers because they were that eye-opening. The fact of the matter is he has an issue getting out the lefties and that leads to him having to use more pitches and not go deep into games. There was a point early in the season that you could tell Oakland caught on because they stacked their lineup with left-handed and switch hitters.

If you look at his pitch selection thanks to FanGraphs, he threw his changeup just 3.5 percent of the time. His changeup, or at least a changeup from him, is what is going to get the left-handers out and it is either something he doesn't feel comfortable throwing, or simply is something he hasn't developed enough.

Back to the good, because it is ultimately why he gets an average feather count. His August and September months.

August: 6 GS: 35 IP, 3.28 ERA, .235 AVG Against
September: 2 GS, 6 G, 20 IP, 2.25 ERA, .236 AVG Against

His last eight starts of the season were very encouraging and very productive compared to the rest of his season. It was almost as if things started to click a little bit. In fact, in his last eight starts (counting the Twins game as a start and discounting the Royals game because of the rain), he went at least five innings in all of them, in his last six he went at least six innings.

I see some sort of progress there, where as after July I was ready to move him to the bullpen for good.

Mitch Talbot - 10-13, 159 IP, 4.41/1.49, 88 K
Last Year: NF
In a way, Mitch Talbot is a big reason for Masterson getting an average feather count, because Talbot was just as cringe-wroth in the peripheral department as Masterson was.

He doesn't qualify for leaders because of his missed time and ultimately he only threw 159 innings. But his 1.49 WHIP was just as bad as Masterson's. The problem there is that Talbot can't strike anyone out at will like Masterson can.

His first half was great. I don't think anyone could have asked for a better surprise than Talbot fighting his way through a good first half. Things looked horrible in that first outing early on, but it was almost as if when he turned around that start against Detroit, he set the tone for what kind of pitcher he was. He doesn't have the best stuff (but he, unlike Masterson does have a great changeup) but he battles and he makes you earn what you get.

I think the common argument for Talbot going forward is that he had a good first half (17 GS - 3.99 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) but an injury in addition to fatigue got to him in the second part of the season. I think that is a sound argument considering he was coming off an injury last season (and just 68 innings pitched). You throw in the adjustments that the league surely made and I think that is a reason for the leveling off.

And that's why I level off his performance. Throw in the low expectations I personally had for him, I think the three feathers is justified.

Josh Tomlin - 6-4, 73 IP, 4.56/1.25, 43 K
Last Year: NF
The thing I'm working with in terms of the two rookie pitchers in Tomlin and Gomez is the fact that I expected neither to contribute a single inning this season.

If I had to pick one to be more impressed with, it would probably be Josh Tomlin. Not just because of what he did at the big league level, but the way he really took a huge step in Columbus. Here's the thing. You can only find so many flashy studs like CC Sabathia and hopefully we've found one that can lead the rotation in Pomeranz or White.

But a rotation needs a guy like Josh Tomlin. What I mean by that is that every rotation needs someone who just gets the job done and Tomlin is that type of pitcher. He is the guy that I'd place money on in terms of winning the fifth rotation spot next year because he does EXACTLY what Tim Belcher wants and he gets results.

He throws strikes. His WHIP is far better than Gomez's and while you are researching, do me a favor and check out Tomlin's game log. In his 12 starts with Cleveland he went five innings in all of them. That is including a game in which he went off three days rest.

That game was his first road start in addition to it being his second game.

That's some tough stuff right there.

Jeanmar Gomez - 4-5, 57 IP, 4.68/1.65, 34 K
Last Year: NF
I think ultimately, Jeanmar Gomez has a little more upside because he has a little more talent, but he has things to work on.

The defining moment for Gomez though is the fact that he ultimately used the call-up he wasn't supposed to get to turn his season around. He was having a tough time adjusting to the Triple-A level, but after he made that start at the big leagues, thing sort of turned around and he used that as a confidence builder.

I like the mental part of that. I like the fact that he can use such a thing to build off of.

Again though, I didn't expect either Gomez or Tomlin to be here. So when you boil everything down, the fact that they both came in and did just remotely well is enough for three feathers.

Carlos Carrasco - 2-2, 44 IP, 3.83/1.37, 38 K
Last Year: NF
Carlos Carrasco only pitched in September, but he reaches my requirements and I think a lot of people were tuned out by the time he did what he did.

Carrasco made five starts last year and he was absolutely blasted. Again, I don't think people realize how bad he was. He gave up 22 earned runs in 22 innings. Who is that bad?!

This year, so much better. He made seven starts, went 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 44 innings. I think the expectations for him coming up this September were ones of cautious optimism. He did well in Columbus and seemed to take to the changes that Charlie Nagy made to his mechanics.

It would have been kind of hard to not improve from last year's stint, but not only did Carrasco look better, he looked like a different more confident thrower. Carrasco looks to have all but cemented himself into the rotation next year and he can do what he did, if not better, over the course of more than seven games.

Rafael Perez - 6-1, 61 IP, 13 HLD, 3.25/1.59, 36 K
Last Year: 1
Exhibit-B in amazing turnarounds, Rafael Perez was horrendous last season. Downright awful. So much so that some had wondered if the ship had sailed on the slender left-hander and if we should just cut ties all together.

The start to his season only amplified the chatter of releasing Perez or even trying to sneak him through waivers and send him to Columbus. Remember how I asked, "Who does that?" in regards to Carrasco giving up as many runs as innings pitched. Well Perez almost did it in 2009, giving up 39 runs in 48 innings.

This year, not only was he able to return to work-horse form in tossing 61 innings, Perez seemed to get his groove back. Here is one underlying concern.

The WHIP is a little inflated compared to where he was in '07 and '08. That has to do with him giving up a few more hits and walks and less innings. But that isn't my primary concern.

What happened to the strikeout artist that we've become accustomed to? He struck out 86 hitters in 2008 and 62 in 2007. The past two years he's in the 30's. He can live off those walks he gives up, but he has to strike hitters out. The only thing I can think of is hitters laying off his incredible slider.

That's his money maker, the way he gets so many hitters to look foolish. In his good years, '07 and '08, he was throwing his fastball nearly or just about half the time. The slider was making up for just under half or even half his pitches.

The past two years there's been a perplexing swing. Last year he threw his fastball way too much and I think that goes hand in hand with his struggles. You can only throw your fastball so many times before hitters get the picture and catch on.

This year his fastball not only dove way below what he did last year, it dove way below what hes done every other year. Perez threw his fastball 33% of the time and his slider only gained a little more favor. What he started incorporating this season was a changeup, which he threw almost 21% of the time.

I'm not sure if this is helping him (it has about the same speed as his slider, probably with less break, which if hitters are laying off, could be a good thing to utilize.) but I'd venture to say it may be his answer in terms of making adjustments.

What ever he did, I'd venture to say he should continue down the path considering he managed to turn his season around and put himself back into the set-up equation.

Tony Sipp - 2-2, 63 IP, 15 HLD, 4.14/1.38, 69 K
Last Year: 4
The reason that so many players fall in this average middle ground can probably be best explained by the fact that Tony Sipp and Joe Smith drive me crazy. I fully expected more from Tony Sipp and way less from Joe Smith. Yet how can I in good faith give Joe Smith more feathers? In that turn, Joe Smith wasn't horrible, so how can I in good faith give Tony Sipp more feathers?

That's why they are earning the same amount. Let me talk about Sipp though. He struck out more hitters on this team than any other reliever, including Chris Perez. He clearly has the ability and from the left-side is a valuable piece to the bullpen.

Early he was as good as you could have asked for. Then he hit a wall in New York and his season sort of took a turn. The good news is that Sipp bounced back. Now it would seem that all that is left for him to do is put it together for consistency's sake.

Joe Smith - 2-2, 40 IP, 16 HLD, 3.83/1.35, 32 K
Last Year: 3
Joe Smith made me want to pull my hair out. Then the Indians optioned him to Columbus and I pretty much threw a party. Smith pitched well enough to earn a return trip and I can't take credit away from a guy who earned it. Smith was significantly better in his second go-around.

Pre All-Star in just 15 innings, he was 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA and a .237 average against. Post All-Star and in his return his ERA drifted down to 2.96 with a .188 average against. A big part of that probably had to do with the fact the Indians pretty much gave up letting him face left-handed hitters. Let's face it, they crush him. In 38 at-bats, lefties had 13 hits and he walked nine hitters. Against right-handers in 106 at-bats he gave up 17 hits and walked 15. The averaged drops from .342 to .160 and the OBP drops from .479 to .264.

Let's not fool ourselves. Joe Smith is what he is, a right-handed specialist. If the Indians use him in that role, their odds of him being successful go way up.

Frank Herrmann - 0-1, 44 IP, 7 HLD, 4.03/1.28, 24 K
Last Year: NF
I was campaigning for Frank Herrmann last year towards the end of the season. After the ridiculous start he got off to in Columbus this year, there was no reason to hold him back any longer and the Indians called him up.

Herrmann made his debut in June against Chicago and he came out of the gates with his hair on fire. In his first two months he was a big help to the bullpen, picking up a save in 22 innings and surrendering just seven runs. He struck out 13 hitters and walked five and recorded four holds.

Herrmann's stuff really plays up in the bullpen and he can really put some heat on his fastball, some heat he probably can't put on as a starter. I don't think people realize he can bring the power and he's often overlooked in terms of the whole bullpen mix.

His last two months were a little rough and really his numbers are probably inflated by a five run bashing at the hands of Baltimore. But he did have some issues and perhaps had some adjustment problems.

I'd put Herrmann in the mix net season for a bullpen spot and see how he can do from the get-go. He's done it at the Double-A and Triple-A levels as a reliever and I think there is every reason to believe he can do it at the major leagues.

Jensen Lewis - 4-2, 36 IP, 1 HLD, 2.97/1.29, 29 K
Last Year: 3
I'm not sure what Jensen Lewis is doing wrong to make the entire world hate him. His final numbers don't look that bad, in fact they make you wonder why exactly he was making the constant Columbus-Cleveland road trip. Here are his four different stints.

April 5th to May 4th: 11 G, 11.1 IP, 3.97 ERA, 9/8 BB/K

May 30th to June 24th: 10 G, 10.2 IP, 5.06 ERA, 4/5 BB/K

July 17th to August 4th: 5 G, 4.2 IP, 3.86 ERA, 3/4 BB/K

September 1st to October 1st: 12 G, 10.2 IP, 0.84 ERA, 2/11 B/K

Now his best stint was obviously his last one when he was called up when rosters expanded. While his first stint, in which he won the final bullpen spot out of spring training, wasn't bad, it wasn't good enough to keep him around. Point blank he wasn't throwing as many strikes and was having an issue with the walks.

Second time around, he just didn't have the results. By the time he got his third shot, he was the designated "warm body" in case the bullpen was overworked or the Indians were making a move and were positioning themselves to carry an extra reliever for a few days.

Jensen was fantastic in Columbus and in his final stint he was clearly in command. He's out of options and quite frankly, I'm not sure the organization is all that high on him anymore. He voiced frustration about being in Columbus over twitter during the course of the season and has been very open about how happy he was that the season ended. It wasn't so much voicing frustration with the Indians, but perhaps the situation he's been in this year.

I respect what Lewis had to go through though and I think he's worth keeping around for a spring training battle.

Manny Acta - 69-93 (4th Place, 26 GB)
Last Year: NF
I have a tough time summarizing the season for Manny Acta because I know if I start getting into details, I run the risk of talking too much.

Rather than get into the good and the bad that I saw from Acta, I think I'll sort of sum up the reason I gave him three feathers.

Injuries, his positive attitude, and the way he actually made the young talent at the end of the season watchable. There was times last year that this club was unwatchable and a lot of it had to do with the sloppiness of youngsters getting their first opportunity at the big leagues and the lack of discipline.

The defense was a disappointment and throughout the year, there were some things that made you shake your head. But I think for the most part, this team played with some sound discipline more times than not. I was really impressed with the way that Acta was able to get this young team to buy into his vision and his words. We know the guy is an expert communicator and it seems as if he has a head start in molding this team in his likeness because of it.

There is a lot to be hopeful of in terms of talent in this organization, but there is even more reason to be hopeful with this guy leading that talent in my opinion.


Matt LaPorta - .221/.306, 41 R, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 0 SB
Last Year: 3
It was last year that Matt LaPorta got a break for how he was, in a way misused in terms of playing time. When he played, he looked good and showed promise.

I think in addition to the injuries though, we forget that LaPorta was really in his first full-time starting gig at the major league level, and even that was unsteady.

Yet we are still at a point where we are "hopeful" with LaPorta and despite hitting 12 home runs and showing some of that flash, he needs to be knocked down a peg. This next season we are going to be hopeful that he needed an offseason to get in shape and recover from his numerous injuries.

His swing looks out of whack at times and you can't help but think that part of the reason is the aftermath from his injuries. Has it made him adjust his swing to the point he's getting into bad habits? A confidence boost in Columbus was nice and he came back up and continued to carry that hot play at the major league level, which was refreshing.

But he sort of did hit a wall at one point. Let's go back to the hope factor and hope for him to finally go upwards and show that promise we all have in him.


Michael Brantley - .246/.296, 38 R, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 10 SB
Last Year: NF
Brantley didn't get feathered last year, but he gave us some high hopes after what he did in September. Here is the problem.

I sort of expected him to struggle, even more so when the Indians toyed around with his role and were not committed to him from the get-go. It wasn't until they were committed to him that he was able to relax and play his game. I've toiled over this fact time and time again, before, during, and after what he did when he replaced Austin Kearns.

He became too concerned with hitting for power and pulling the ball early on. He got away from what makes him a unique weapon and I think that is the main reason that I'm going below average. I love what he did post-return (for the final time), but the early season struggles were kind of souring.

Trevor Crowe - .251/.302, 48 R, 2 HR, 36 RBI, 20 SB
Last Year: 3
If I could give Trevor Crowe negative feathers I would. But I can't bash Trevor, because he didn't put himself in the lineup as much as Manny Acta did.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Acta played Crowe as much as he did, because that is what this season was about. The Indians needed a definitive answer as to what Trevor Crowe is and I think they go one. Unfortunately I think they liked what they saw and are fully prepared to move forward with him as a bench player.

Now I agree, Crowe is a bench player, but the thing is I knew this a long time ago. His numbers are that worthy of a bench player and there is nothing wrong with that. We need players like that. The problem is I think we can do a whole lot better in terms of a reserve outfielder. For one, I think a reserve outfielder should at least be above average defensively and Crowe is not that.

I've complained about his defense before, but really, he takes horrible routes and sometimes looks like a confused squirrel in the middle of four lane highway.

Offensively, he's probably below average there as well. Here's the thing though. Half his RBI came with runners in scoring position and two outs. For awhile he was a bit of a clutch hitter. Ultimately I think that statement can be equated to me saying that was a flash in the pan, but it is interesting.

I'm not the biggest Crowe fan. Manny Acta is and that makes me scared, but there could be worse things in the world, I guess.

Aaron Laffey - 2-3, 55 IP, 5 HLD, 4.53/1.62, 28 K
Last Year: 3
Have we seen the end of Aaron Laffey? Like Jensen Lewis, Laffey seems to be one of those players that the Indians have had around for awhile now that they just use and abuse. Laffey has been moved between the bullpen and the rotation in the past few years more times than I can really recall.

This year alone he was moved from rotation to bullpen back to starter and eventually back to bullpen. I think we can easily underestimate how difficult that can be for a pitcher, especially one who's spent his career in one role.

I give credit to Laffey for being a good organizational soldier and rolling with the punches, but ultimately he struggled and I think it would also be reasonable to believe the constant switching helped bring on his arm fatigue.

I feel like I've said some of this before and I did, last year. The bottom line is Aaron may be damaged goods. All of it through no fault of his own, part of it through injuries and another part through the Indians own doing. For one, the Indians need to decide what role they want Aaron to have and stick with it. If they want him to be a swing-man, they should prepare him as one.

Jon Nunnally - .248 AVG (23rd), .322 OBP (18th), 646 Runs (26th)
Last Year: NF
A lot of the two feather hand outs are one of sympathy. It seems like a majority of things that happen to the players and people I give two feathers are out of their control or they just stumbled into some rough luck.

Jon Nunnally is tough for me. Last year I gave Derek Shelton one measly feather. His reward after getting fired was getting hired by the team that would go on to win the AL East. The proof is in the pudding though, the Rays were horrible offensively. They got worse in on-base percentage and how many playoff teams do you know score 800 runs despite hitting for a mediocre average? Two, Tampa and Philadelphia and the Phillies do it because they have guys like Ryan Howard.

It looks as if to me that some of the same principles that Derek Shelton instilled in some of the players that were here are fading away, but I have yet to pinpoint what kind of hitting instructor Jon Nunnally is. Look Cleveland obviously fell in all the categories I listed next to Nunnally's name.

But I attribute that to the lame talent the guy was handed. When you get to some of the disappointments in the next section, add in injuries to the likes of Cabrera and Sizemore, and the overall disappointment of guys like Matt LaPorta. I can only discredit Nunnally so much.

More than anything, the approach looks to be improving. I think the overall problem is the youth and that is extremely hard to deal with, especially for someone in his first stint at the major league level. Sure, he's dealing with youth at the minor league level and that's what he's been accustomed to, but you are walking into unknown territory with guys getting their first taste of major league pitching.

It will take time. I give Nunnally time and for the most part, a pass for this season. But I still can only give him two feathers.


Lou Marson - .195/.274, 29 R, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 8 SB
Last Year: NF
I feel legitimate... what's the word I'm looking for here? I guess I feel legitimately bad for having to give Lou Marson just one feather.

Yeah it wasn't until May 9th, yes MAY 9TH, that Lou Marson finally knocked in a run, but the guy was defensively good. The sad thing is that you'd expect that from a backup catcher, but Marson wasn't a backup. Mike Redmond was and not only did he knock in his first run a month early, he had THREE before Marson even had one.

That just tells you what kind of Marson got off to at the plate. His defense behind it was rough early too and he was held largely responsible for the wildness of both Jake Westbrook and even Rafael Perez.

But here is what impressed me about Marson back there. Aside from the fact he threw out the second most runners caught stealing in the AL (31) and did it with 30-40+ games less than most of the other catchers.

He adapted. The second time around when he caught Rafael Perez, he realized how he had to catch him and started setting up where he knew the ball was going to go. He was on the ground before the ball was and he showed the ability to adapt and anticipate.

That was impressive.

But perhaps it is the only reason he even gets one feather. His hitting was that bad. I really wish I could give him more.

Luis Valbuena - .193/.273, 22 R, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 1 SB
Last Year: 3
I sort of had this feeling that Luis Valbuena was hardly capable of what he did last year.

But this is ridiculous. Luis Valbuena was awful not just with the stick but with the glove. He made it clear he couldn't play shortstop a lick and that really hurts your value to a team when that's something they thought you could do, at least capably.

Not even that Valbuena was fifth on the team in errors with 10.The problem is that two of the people ahead of him in errors played more innings than he did.

It's almost an injustice that he and Lou Marson get the same amount of feathers considering Lou Marson was at least good in one aspect of the game.

Luis Valbuena was bad in all aspects of the game. The defense was less than stellar and if its possible, his offense was far worse.

Andy Marte - .229/.298, 18 R, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB | 0-0, 1 IP, 0.00/0.00, 1 K
Last Year: 3
I know, I can't believe Andy Marte got three feathers last year as well. But Marte produced off the bench and set a standard. The problem is he can't sit the bench and come off it cold and perform. He just isn't that type of hitter.

That's ultimately is a failing combo. A guy only capable of bench numbers who can't come off the bench and produce those numbers. I feel bad for Andy because I think he's got a good glove when he has consistent time and is at his sharpest.

Sadly, the party may be over. But at least we have that pitching performance to forever remember him by.

David Huff - 2-11, 79 IP, 6.21/1.69, 37 K
Last Year: 3
I might be able to right half a book on the season of David Huff. I'll skip detailing it all and just mention the essentially insanely weird things he was involved in.

He was hit in the head by a line drive, only to return for his next start. He was going to get called-up, but when his twitter account announced the news that the Indians specifically told him not to announce, his start was taken away. He lost 11 games after winning that amount as the team leader last year. It took Manny Acta saying Carlos Carrasco was in the rotation competition with Huff to actually light a fire under him. He won a bunch of games at Columbus, despite being pretty average.

The end result of all of that and what he did on the mound though is a nice stay in Acta's dog house.

Huff doesn't do what Acta and Belcher want on a consistent basis and he more than anyone has suffered the consequences. Does he do it on purpose? I doubt it, but some people are stuck in their ways and Huff is almost defiant in the way he pitches. It's almost as if he doesn't care about pitching bad, as long as he isn't doing what he's told.

Whatever he's doing, his results justify this position. Hopefully Huff comes back next season with a new perspective, because his talent would be an unfortunate thing two waste.

Hector Ambriz - 0-2, 48 IP, 13 HLD, 5.59/1.76, 37 K
Last Year: NF
How bad was Hector Ambriz this season? So bad he had a perfect fielding percentage. Why is that an indicator of how bad he's been? Simple, he had eight total chances because everything was hit over his head.

Alright that was a lame joke and plenty of relievers had less chances at fielding balls than Ambriz (Chris Perez just struck everyone out there) but the point is that Ambriz was very bad.

Acquired from Arizona in the Rule V draft, Ambriz was converted from starter to reliever just this season to fit into the Tribe's bullpen. He started the year on the disabled list "with an injury" and pretty much made an immediate rehab assignment in Columbus.

In the end, he stayed on the roster all season and therefore is now property of the Indians and can be optioned down to the minor leagues. But guess what. Ambriz ended the season with an elbow injury and he'll probably miss next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

In a way it is disappointing because it would seem as if maybe the elbow issues helped contribute to his struggles and it was his first full year not only as a reliever, but in the majors. Bottom line though, Manny Acta couldn't use him on a regular basis because of his constant struggles.


Shin-Soo Choo
Previous winners of the Golden Feather for Team MVP include Cliff Lee in 2008 and Asdrubal Cabrera in 2009. Is there any more obvious choice than to give it to Shin-Soo Choo this year? Really, this was a no-brainer for me, so I don't have much to say. Who is going to argue anyway? This guy was the lineup and he put up all-world numbers despite the thumb injury. Without Choo, this club would be doomed.


Tim Belcher
Previous winners of the Silver Feather for Unsung Hero include Jamey Carroll in 2008 and Travis Hafner in 2009. Like last year, this was a tough decision because of the team's struggles, there wasn't anyone that really stood out. Ultimately this goes to someone on the team that had an unheralded type of impact on the team and I decided to go outside the box with Tim Belcher. Remember I gave him four feathers for his work with the pitching staff and at the end of this season, it was the starting pitching that was better than we expected. I think the credit should go to Belcher for that and the overall outlook of the Indians pitching staff.

10.24.2010

Kerry Wood Trade Completion, Payroll, and Keeping Sandy

Any time is a good time to watch the New York Yankees fail.

Not only because it isn't the Yankees in the World Series, I'm glad to see the Rangers make the World Series. They've never been there, let alone win one. Yet they're existence was still after the Indians last won a World Series, so in a way, we've still suffered longer.

Oh and let's not forget the Giants who are right below us in terms of waiting for a World Series. The only thing is that one came before they moved to San Francisco, so in a way, they too have been suffering with nothing to show.

Let's put it this way, only the Cubs fans can cry more than we can at this point and they could probably cry ten times harder considering they have ten more rotten memories than we do.

Let's get to the latest. Feathers go up Tuesday (baring I don't get overcome with exhaustion, then at which point it will be Wednesday).

[DAMN YOU KERRY WOOD]

That sucker went over to New York and pitched lights out in a set-up role. Of course he faltered a bit in game six, but the guy gave up just two earned runs in 26 innings. What the hell damn guy?!

Anyway, I guess we shouldn't complain as that performance by Kerry Wood probably netted the Indians more than they would have originally thought.

On a quick aside before we get into what the Indians got... I will point to the latest Hey Hoynsie for one reason and one reason only.

"I talked to Wood about that in the early part of the ALCS. He said he was being used more consistently as a set-up man with the Yankees than he was as a closer with the Indians."

Yep... This is a point I think I was screaming about for the past two season. And not just with Kerry Wood, but with most relievers, but especially with Wood and the closers spot because of how sporadically our closer gets work.

With Wood though, you were in a tough spot because he isn't a young guy like Chris Perez that you don't have to worry about. You can throw Chris Perez in there during a tie game and not have to worry about him coming back tomorrow if he has to save a game.

There was that concern with Wood though. Anyway, moving on.

The Indians received two throw-ins, and really they are throw-ins, to complete the Kerry Wood trade. Andrew Shive a 24-year-old right handed reliever in Low-A and Matt Cusick, a 24-year-old infielder who split time between Trenton and Scranton last season.

Neither of any value really, especially Shive who, as Tony Lastoria makes us aware of, has already had Tommy John surgery. I'm not even going to bother, these guys are just filler. Innings eaters and warm bodies.

What really matters is the dollar amount. As it turns out the Indians received over $3 million in monies. This begs the question, what was the bottom line in the Wood deal in terms of dollar amounts?

The bottom line is that the Indians came ahead on this one. It was first noted that the Yankees were going to pay a million and a half for the remaining $3.6 on Wood's contract. Since he didn't go on the DL, they got an extra half a million. Looks like there was at least another million in escalators in his performance as the Indians pretty much ended up with the Yankees paying most of that $3.6 million.

Go ahead, do a little jig in your living room. Wood might have flamed out with the Indians and found his revival in New York, but the Indians pretty much dumped his entire remaining salary and used it all to do this.

[KIPNIS AND WHITE HONORED]

Speaking of awesome draft classes...

The Indians named Jason Kipnis the winner of the 2010 Lou Boudreau Award and Alex White the winner of the 2010 Bob Feller Award. These honors are for the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the year in the Indians organization. If you'll remember, I gave Kipnis and White Akron's feathers and that was just for their work in Akron. Add in their Kinston numbers and performance and I think it is pretty clear why these two won. Not bad for a first-second round punch in 2009.


[WINTER LEAGUE UPDATE]

Tony has final (somewhat) stats from the Parallel League on IPI.

Here is a bit of an Arizona Fall League update. Start off by reading Tony's notebook as he was in Arizona to take in some of the action.

Jason Kipnis: He's hitting just .161 in eight games for the Peoria squad. He has hit a pair of home runs and knocked in nine RBI, so at least his five hits have been productive.

Cord Phelps: He's arrived and he's collected the same number of hits in half the games Kipnis has. He's trying his hand at third to build up his versatility.

Scott Barnes: He's the Indians designated starter, so he gets the ball to start and will probably log the most innings. So far he's given up six earned in 10.2 innings of work in three starts.

Eric Berger: Pitching in relief he's made three appearances and hasn't given up an earned run.

CC Lee and Bryan Price: They two have made three appearances and they too have been struggling. All pitchers pretty much struggle though, so it shouldn't be much of a shock to anyone.

The AFL isn't the only thing going on, there are other Indians in action around the Latin countries.

In the Dominican Republic, Matt McBride went 1-4 with a double in his first game with Gigantes.

In Venezuela, Rare Breed is knocking the ball around. He's got nine hits in nine games and has knocked in three runs. In addition tot hat, he's walked eight times! Well I'll be.

Luis Valbuena has been busy in ten games, but he hasn't really hit the ball. He has one less walk (7) than hits (8) and he's only knocked in a run for Cardenales de Lara.

You can keep up with Indians in the Winter Leagues here.

[HOLD ON SANDY!]

Downright shocked when I saw that Sandy Alomar Jr. was a finalist for the Toronto job.

The good news is that it appears as if the Blue Jays are going with John Farrell, if he wants it.

If you'll remember back to last year, I think myself and a lot of Indians fans were campaigning for Farrell, former member of the Tribe front office, to get the Indians job. But Farrell wanted nothing to do with the Indians and wouldn't even interview. In fact he didn't really want anything to do with a managerial job.

Now it appears as if he's at least considering it in Toronto. It feels kind of cruddy that he didn't want anything to do with the Indians, but maybe he just wasn't ready to leave his post in Boston.

The one stumbling block is him accepting the offer the Blue Jays have made for his services. So in a way we aren't out of the woods with Alomar leaving, but it appeared as if DeMarlo Hale (also of Boston) were the two finalists in addition to Alomar.

In other sort of personel news, Josh Byrnes is a finalist for the Mets GM job. It appears as if Sandy Alderson is the favorite, which would continue to make Byrnes a free agent and likely without a GM post in 2011.

It still isn't out of the realm of possibilities that Antonetti brings Brynes into the fold if he doesn't get the job in New York. I'm sure he'll want to be in the game and he has familiarity with this organization.

In other news... Akron will be getting a new manager next season. Joel Skinner has moved on to Oakland where he'll be the bench coach.

If Sandy were to move on, which I don't think he would. I believe that the first base job would pretty much be Mike Sarbaugh's. The guy is a stud and he'll be on the big league staff sooner rather than later and I don't think the Indians would object to having him there next season if they had to.

That would create several openings in the minor league system with Skinner's departure. As for who will certainly fill the Akron space as that is officially open. I'd have to think that the Indians will ask their rising star of Travis Fryman if he wants a full-season gig. The only reason he is at Mahoning Valley is because he doesn't want to work a full-time.

I think it is quite obvious though that he has a future as a manager on a big league staff and Akron would be a nice starting point for him to go through with that. If Fryman isn't the guy, I think you see them go outside the organization in some way.. Either to fill a Kinston or Lake County void (That would inevitably be created by Holbert or Kubiak getting a promotion(s)) or to fill the Akron space.

Edit: And just as I posted this. John Farrell the guy in Toronto. YAY!

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Interesting post up at MLB Trade Rumors. The Indians have the seventh lowest amount of committed salary next season. The Athletics, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Pirates, Rays, and Padres have less. How in the world do the Padres only have $1.1 million in committed salary? The Indians have $27 million in Hafner, Sizemore, and Carmona. I'll be updating the salary chart rather soon.

Brought up the Adam Miller comeback last week and now Tony has a fantastic in-depth piece on it all. Give it a read.

I think sometimes we take for granted how grueling an offseason can be for a player when they have to spend it rehabbing. It is almost as if they don't have an offseason. Luckily for Matt LaPorta, he actually gets one this year and he can use it to not only recharge his batteries from a whirlwind of action that probably hasn't stopped since he arrived in the organization, but strengthen them for this upcoming season.

How about our guy Castrovince covering the NLCS? Even as he moves up in the world, he still had time to complete the latest Indians Inbox.

I think the only thing relevant that we haven't already covered that is mentioned in the Inbox is the fact that the Tribe uniforms will received "subtle" changes in 2011. The Indians will be unveiling them in November. I'm always excited for uniform tweaks. I'm a geek like that.

10.22.2010

Season Wrap-Up 2010: Columbus Clippers

COLUMBUS CLIPPERS
Level: Class AAA
League: International League (West)
Finish: 79-65 (Wild Card)
Playoffs: Won International League, AAA National Championship

POTY Feathers: OF Jose Constanza and RP Vinnie Pestano


Constanza: .319/.373 AVG/OBP, 1 HR, 32 RBI, 69 RS, 54/35 SO/BB, 34/40 SB
Pestano: 1-2, 14 SV, 43 G, 46 IP, 1.55 ERA, 59/14 SO/BB, 1.06 WHIP

I don't know two guys who consistently get the job done like Vinnie Pestano and Jose Constanza and don't get nearly enough credit for what they do. This year they were integral parts of this Columbus team and I think it is about time to start recognizing what these two are doing.

Are they the highest prospects on the pecking order? No and some might not even give Constanza prospect status, but they continue to produce. Look at what Vinnie Pestano did this year and it is right in line what you've come to expect from him.

Last year he was set to smash all sorts of records as the Akron closer until injury came upon him. He ended up saving 24 games in 34 innings. This season he started in Akron, pitched in 14 games, saved three and Cleveland did him right and moved him to Columbus.

Vinnie was downright dominant and that was rewarded with a September call up in which he saved his first major league game and looked decent in is first action at the majors. Where Vinnie was really impressive was in the playoffs. He and Zach Putnam were lock down as a combo in the back end. Vinnie gave up a run in his four innings, but he struck out eight hitters and walked just one.

Pestano finished games while Constanza started them. Jose was this club's catalyst all year, in and out early due to the log jam, but soon enough he couldn't be denied playing time. He made the IL All-Star team and was named an end of the season All-Star.

What more can you ask from in your leadoff hitter than a good average, a high OBP and 34 steals? Constanza was second in the IL in average and what did he do in the playoffs? He was six-for-six in steals and he scored six runs.

So here is to a pair of underrated and under appreciated players who were huge parts of this team and their run to the Governor's Cup.

OVERVIEW

What a season, what a season, what a season! This club, a good portion of them made-up of Aeros from last year's Eastern League Championship team, had one of those magical years, like the Aeros had last season.

Baseball America named the Clippers their 2010 Triple-A team of the year, just like the Aeros were named the 2009 Double-A team of the year. Last year it was all about new Huntington Park and the whole honeymoon phase of the Clippers being an Indians affiliate, so this year with the Aeros success especially, it had to be about winning.

And man did they win. Not only did the Clippers stake claim to the Governor's Cup, the International League's championship, they defeated Tacoma in the Triple-A National Championship game to be crowned the overall champions of the Triple-A level.

Now the Clippers didn't just have a dominant team from start to finish, they more than any other minor league affiliate lost some incredible talent to the major league level. Players like Jordan Brown, Jason Donald, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Jeanmar Gomez got plucked from this team and guys like Carrasco, Brown, Tomlin, and Gomez, all missed out on a playoff run.

Still with Akron's best reinforcements, this club was able to mesh on the fly and take it all home in the playoffs. At the center of it all is Mike Sarbaugh, who has continuously now guided Tribe minor league affiliates to success. He is widely viewed as a gem in this organization and a guy that players gravitate to just because of the respect he commands and how much his players love him.

This was a huge year for the Clippers and the Indians. To cash in on the championship prize and bring a title at the Triple-A level in the second year of this partnership is fantastic for the organization and the city of Columbus. Let's take a look at the players that made it possible.

PITCHING


This rotation was supposed to be loaded, because they were the guys on stand-by, waiting should the need arise in Cleveland and there wasn't expected to be just one easy option. One name that isn't noted here that needs to be mentioned is Hector Rondon. The former Future's Game participant made just seven starts this season, seven rough starts, before being shutdown. He eventually underwent Tommy John surgery (although not immediately) and he'll likely miss 2011 in addition to this lost season of 2010. Still the Clippers found plenty of arms in the rotation and their bullpen clicked with particular call-ups that made them very tough to deal with.

Carlos Carrasco

The ace of the Clippers staff kept waiting for his opportunity. When it looked as if it was going to come, Carrasco battled an injury stretch that made the Indians take caution and hold Carrasco's opportunity back until September.

But from April to the end of August, Carrasco really took to the advice of pitching coach Charlie Nagy and implemented some changes mechanics wise that helped him have a great season. Overall he led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts. Overall he was 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a very respectable 1.23 WHIP in 25 starts.

Carrasco got a September call-up, like he did last season, and with it he showed those improvements. He won a pair of games and in seven starts, struck out 38 hitters in 44 innings and carried a 3.83 ERA, a radical movement from last year's disaster of a debut.

He's now established himself as a potential rotation candidate in Cleveland and he definitely helped anchor the Clippers rotation in 2010.

Zach McAllister

McAllister was probably thinking he wouldn't be a Columbus Clipper once the Yankees ended their relationship with the organization. That wasn't the case as the Indians acquired the Zach attack from New York to complete a trade of Austin Kearns. McAllister was struggling with Scranton after a stellar year in Double-A Trenton (7-5, 2.23 ERA in 22 starts), and some of his struggles continued in Columbus.

McAllister only made three regular season starts with the Clippers, but he had a good run in the postseason. In two starts he was 1-0, giving up just an earned run in 12.2 innings pitched. He did however surrender three home runs and four runs total and he struck out nine compared to just one walk.

McAllister only really struggled with Stanton Island in 2007, having much success in every other year of his professional career. We'll see if he can bounce back in 2011 as a member of the Clippers rotation.

Yohan Pino

Speaking of playoffs, the hero of this squad's pitching staff, or at least one of them, in the postseason was Yohan Pino. In two starts he gave up just two runs in a IL high 15 innings pitched. Pino came up big against Scranton in Game three of the five game set, holding the Yankees to just a hit in seven innings of work, out-pacing Kei Igawa, and leading the Clippers to a 2-1 series advantage.

It was certainly something the former Twins farmhand needed after a season of unusual struggles. Last year Pino rolled through the Double-A and Triple-A levels with the Twins, and did even better when he arrived in Columbus in exchange for Carl Pavano. Last year he was a combined 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 127 innings pitched.

This season, he struggled a little more, but he did win 10 games. In 26 starts he did throw a complete game and he struck out 114 hitters, but carried a WHIP of 1.54. Pino was viewed as a possible depth option and perhaps more of a long-relief candidate, as soon as this past season, but his struggles and the effectiveness of a Josh Tomlin put him lower in the pecking order. Had he put together the season Tomlin did, perhaps it might have been him that got a call to the major leagues.

He'll likely return to Columbus next season and attempt to jostle for positioning once again.

Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin

The tandem of Gomez and Tomlin had very different experiences in Columbus this year, but both played a big part in going to Cleveland and proving their capabilities.

Gomez is viewed as more of a prospect where Tomlin was a little bit on the fence and more of a swing guy between the bullpen and the rotation. However Tomlin's performance as a starter eventually couldn't be denied. In 17 starts with the Clippers he was 7-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 100 innings pitched. That downright dominance was more than enough for the Indians to give him a shot and that pretty much became permanent after Jake Westbrook was dealt.

He had some ups and downs, some of the ups being a fabulous debut against CC Sabathia of all people in which he out-dueled the hefty ace. But overall he showed a lot of promise in both his dominant season as a starter in Columbus, and some of the efforts he put forth in the majors.

Jeanmar Gomez on the other hand had a bit of a rough adjustment period to the Triple-A level. Last year Gomez tossed a perfect game for the Aeros and was named Eastern League pitcher of the year. Turning just 22, Gomez reached the Triple-A level this year and with 40-man status, he had put himself on the brink of a call-up. He just needed to produce and learn.

Well he learned but he didn't really produce from the get-go. His first three months were filled with some issues, going 5-7 in April through June. But then seemingly after a call-up in which he wasn't supposed to get, things started to click. Perhaps it was the confidence of going up and winning his first major league start, but Gomez came back to Columbus and was like a new pitcher.

That wouldn't last long as the need had come up for another starter and most likely based off the fact that he (despite pitching on short rest) he was probably the best option to get the call after the Westbrook trade. The staff was short-handed and the opportunity was there for Gomez and he took advantage. Gomez had some success with Cleveland, experiencing the same sort of ups and downs Tomlin did, but the fact of the matter is that one start that he wasn't supposed to get in place of David Huff, sort of turned around his season for the better.

David Huff

Speaking of the devil, if David Huff needs to be poked with the devil's pitch fork every time he is lacking motivation, there may be an issue. Huff battled hard for a shot at the rotation in spring and it wasn't until Manny Acta said that it would be Carlos Carrasco and David Huff for the final rotation spot that things started to really click and Huff took control of the position battle.

However after a great start, Huff faltered and struggled. He ended up losing 11 games, a complete reversal of the team-leading win total he had last season, in 15 starts with the Tribe and being put into Acta's dog house. Huff did do very well with Columbus though, but a big reason for the 8-2 record is the great offensive support he got. Huff didn't show much radical change as the record would suggest as he still carried a subtle 4.36 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.

Huff seemed to be the Clippers front man when it came to the playoffs, making a pair of starts, in addition to starting the National Title game and putting out great results. In two IL playoff games he was 1-0 with three earned runs surrendered and 10 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched.

Who knows what is in store for Huff and the Indians in the future. He'd make a great trade chip with all the options the Indians have, but he has lost a lot of value and maybe the best is still yet to come from him. The motivation is certainly a concern as he only seems to turn it on when he gets criticized. That can only work for so long.

Jess Todd

I don't know if it is still Todd Time in Cleveland anymore. Jess Todd didn't have a bad season, but he was pretty much not discussed or talked about at all. He had a very... uneventful year. I think the club would have expected him to come in, polish off his need for Triple-A seasoning and then be a call-up, much in the way Frank Herrmann was, that impacted the major league bullpen.

Todd was more or less a Eddie Mujica at times. Overall he did go 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 49 innings. His WHIP and average against are a little high for a reliever, especially one of his talents at the Triple-A level, so you have to wonder where he's at in terms of his standing.

He did strike out 53 batters and save four games, but again, it was just an uneventful year for Jess. He pitched in a few games at the major league level, but the club didn't even bother to call-him up once the Triple-A playoffs ended, even though he's on the 40-man.

That status as a 40-man player could be in jeopardy, but you'd hate to think the club would give up on a trade piece they've not been able to really test.

Carlton Smith and Justin Germano

I will not be giving Justin Germano any feathers, so I'll talk about him here. With Carlton Smith, because well. Carlton Smith is Carlton Smith.

Germano was actually good for like, everyone. The dude was over in Japan or somewhere after San Diego didn't want him. This year he pretty much had to work his ass off just to get that major league shot. He was swinging around in Akron and when he got the call to Columbus, it was thought to be temporary but he actually was used for depth.

He ended up throwing 53 innings and carrying a 3.38 ERA. Then he got the call to Cleveland, once again with the thought it would be a rather quick stay. Yeah right. He ended up sticking around everywhere for a lot longer than we thought.

Carlton Smith was quite simply a stud for Akron last year in that bullpen. For awhile he was studly again due to a clog in the Clippers bullpen. But then the opportunity opened up and Smith got the call. Unfortunately it looks as if Smith has hit that point. Smith was downright bad in 48 innings. He gave up 34 earned runs, let up a .325 average against and a 6.38 ERA.

Bad.

Josh Judy and Bryce Stowell

I would like to call this pair, Punch and Judy. Mainly because Bryce packs a punch with his fastball and well, Josh's last name is Judy and it is a clever pun. Okay it isn't that clever or cool, but both had good years all around.

Stowell kind of hit a bit of a wall when he reached Columbus, but his overall numbers still look spectacular after the way he dominated at Kinston and Akron.

Stowell had an amazing streak of scoreless frames that started in Kinston, was flawless in Akron, and ended in Columbus. Overall he went 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 67 innings pitched. he struck out 102 hitters, yes 102 hitters in those 67 innings.

Strikeout...Dominance.

Judy started his season in Akron, sort of out of necessity to the fact that he was coming off an injury. He made two appearances, gave up two runs in two innings and then was let loose in Columbus. He put together 47 innings in which he carried a 2.68 ERA and struck out 55 hitters He had some issues with the fact that the average against was a little inflated, but overall, Judy continued to show he is a legit bullpen option at the major leagues.

These two strikeout guys might eye a bullpen spot out of spring training, but I think it is likely you see them start in Columbus to sort of finish things off. Eventually though, I think you see them pairing up and joining Zach Putnam in the major league bullpen by the end of 2011.

Jeremy Sowers

Good bye Jeremy! GOOOOOOOOOD BYE JEREMY! SEEEEE YA! SEEEE YA! PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTY PARTTTTYYYY!!!!

I don't really like Jeremy Sowers, in case you couldn't tell, so I'm not even going to waste my time on the fact that he was relegated to the bullpen, went 2-6 and struck out just 29 hitters. PEACES!

POSITION PLAYERS


Who led the IL in collective average and OBP? Columbus.

Who led the IL in collective runs scored? Columbus

Who led the team in RBI? Jordan Brown with 67.

67? That tells you all you need to know. This was a collective effort from many many players, some of which we won't talk much about and that was mainly those call-ups that are getting feathers. In the Governor's Cup series it was Jason Kipnis who came up big and he wasn't even on the roster in the regular season. It was basically a next-man-up situation with this lineup and that's always good to see.

Wes Hodges

Poor Wes Hodges. He was the third baseman of the future. Then he couldn't figure out how to play third base and the Indians drafted someone named Lonnie Chisenhall. Oh and he got hurt last year.

Hodges came into spring, on the 40-man and at first base. He was actually hitting in big league camp, which was something that shouldn't have shocked anyone considering we all knew he could hit and that his injuries from 2009 didn't take that ability away.

This year he got designated for assignment, claimed by Colorado, but it was short lived as the Rockies pretty much re-designated him almost immediately. The Indians re-claimed him in an odd turn of events and he was back on the 40-man roster and back in Columbus.

Overall Wes hit 15 home runs and knocked in 60 runs. He hit .270 and had an OBP of .308. We know Wes is a power guy, he added 28 doubles, and not much for the glove (11 errors at first). The Indians are really at a point with Hodges where it doesn't look as if he'll make it to spring as an Indian. They need 40-man spots and Hodges really doesn't provide much promise to play in the field and they probably could get more production from people other than Hodges at the DH spot if they didn't have Hafner.

At least he had a healthy season and was able to sort of re-establish himself in some way. Considering they designated him once though, I doubt they could trade him. You have to like the fact that he led the IL in home runs with three in the playoffs and knocked in 10 runs though.

Jordan Brown

If he didn't go down in spring training with a knee injury, Jordan Brown may have made the roster out of spring as the left fielder. We all know the Indians preferred to not start Michael Brantley in left to start the season, which is why they signed Russell Branyan. But Branyan had start the year on the DL and Brown very well could have been the guy they used to prevent Brantley from starting.

After he recovered, Brown returned to Columbus and the reigning IL batting champ had some issues to work out. Eventually it clicked and Brown ended up hitting .298 in 83 games and like I mentioned earlier, leading the team in RBI. He doubled 28 times and hit 8 home runs, which is pretty good for just 236 at-bats.

Brown got his opportunity in the majors, finally, and he hit .230 with a pair of RBI in 87 at-bats. Not exactly what one would hope for. I say this though. Given time to step back and realize it was his first chance, don't doom Brown. I think he deserves a second shot now that he's gotten his feet wet and had a look at what it is like to be a major leaguer. I know he's older and isn't very good defensively, but he didn't win the IL batting crown out of luck.

Cord Phelps

CORD!

With Akron, Cord hit .296 and knocked in 23 runs. yeah big deal whatever. He was probably one of the only one hitting for the Aeros early on and after just 199 at-bats, the Indians decided to test him and Jason Kipnis by moving them up.

Phelps lit it up in Columbus. He hit .317 in 243 at-bats and his OBP was spectacular at .386. He hit six home runs and scored 41 runs. In the playoffs he hit .313 with five runs scored and five runs batted in. The guy gets on-base and that's what you have to love about him.

Phelps just returned from the Pan Am games and he'll be playing some third base and outfielder for the Peoria team in Arizona. The Indians want him to get some versatility so they can move him around with both him and Kipnis likely starting 2011 in Columbus.

Defensively, we know he's a stud, so if there is anyone who can move around, it would probably be Cord.

Jared Goedert and Josh Rodriguez

We affectionately call him the "Rare Breed" because of his rare ability to hit a million home runs in a few games. Godert was on the bubble in the spring, but then he sort of went off and just made it impossible for the Indians to cut him. So they sent him to Akron and he ended up playing a little backup third base to Chisenhall and moving around the diamond and the lineup.

Josh Rodriguez was sort of the same way. Rodriguez played in the outfield and anywhere the Aeros could fit him in. I saw him coaching first base one time even and that isn't a fib. Well both got hold of opportunities in Akron and took full advantage of them. Goedert hit 7 home runs and 14 doubles in 44 games, hit .325 and collected a .382 OBP. Rodriguez ended up hitting .317 with a .405 OBP in 63 games. It looked for awhile like he was getting demoted for no good reason until the Indians called him back up a few days later for good.

Overall, I'd say Rodriguez had the more complete season with the bat. He isn't a power hitter by any means, but he ended up hitting 13 home runs and 30 doubles in 380 at-bats. His .378 OBP is what you look for in a middle infielder who could hit at the bottom or the top of the lineup.

And then you add in the fact that he's played all around the diamond, Rodriguez has almost sort of a re-birth. He was knocked from the rank of "second baseman of the future" quite like in the way Hodges was knocked from his perch. Injuries and new options has made Rodriguez an afterthought, but with his performance and new found versatility, he may be putting himself into legit utility player position.

Goedert meanwhile may have played himself out of utility player position, not because of his offense, but because of his defense. With the desperate need for a third baseman and his production, you would have thought Goedert would have earned an opportunity. As bad as Nimartuena was at third, the Indians didn't think it was bad enough to let Goedert have a shot, so that tells you all you need to know about his defense.

Rare Breed though hit a lot of home runs, 27 to be exact, this season. The problem was he really did it all in one streak early in the season. He really started to fizzle as the year went on with the power and even the average. He did carry a respectable .345 OBP with Columbus, but he ended up hitting just .261, which is way below what he was doing in Akron, even if it was in half the amount of games.

Who knows what is in store for Goedert. His season is normally one that would put someone on the map. Everyone knew Goedert could hit if he was fully healthy, and he finally was this season, but where do you draw the line in terms of him being a fluke and being for real? Not to mention, his glove is worrisome.

Chris Gimenez, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Santana

I put these three in here for the simple fact that they were important to the season but ultimately, they spent just as much time in the major leagues as they did with the Clippers.

Gimenez really re-established himself in the outfield when the need came up. In 55 games he hit 9 home runs and knocked in 32 runs with a .267 average and a .341 OBP.

Brantley used Columbus to re-adjust himself, but it really was the trade and the guaranteed starting spot that was able to relax him. If anything he needed to see he could dominate Triple-A for his confidence. In 67 games with the Clippers he hit .319 with a .395 OBP. He even hit four home runs.

Santana spent a little less time with the club than Gimenez but he had the most impact. He hit 13 home runs, 13 home runs repeated, in just 197 at-bats. He came in, made an impact and left. It was clear this bat was way to advanced for this level and that he was just around for defensive purposes. A .447 OBP? .597 slugging percentage? Give me a break, that is just crazy stuff.

Nick Weglarz

Nick Weglarz was starting out at Akron, but even knew it would only be a matter of time before he was in Columbus. With the injury last year, he kind of just had to finish of his business in Akron before he moved on. He hit 7 home runs, 10 doubles in 37 games and that was enough for the Indians to move him along.

Unfortunately after just 50 games with the Clippers, Weglarz had to be shut down with more problems. He did end up hitting 13 home runs on the season (struggling slightly with his power stroke, although he made up for it with more doubles), but it was not a full season that the Indians were hoping to get out of him.

The good news is Weglarz will be making up for lost time in Venezuela's winter league and could follow a similar path to Clevleand as he did to Columbus in 2010. If the need arises for some pop in Cleveland at mid-season and Weglarz is proving he's ready, we could see him there.

Ezequiel Carrera

We call him Zeke around these parts because Ezequiel is just too hard to type out on a regular basis. Carrera came over in the Russell Branyan deal and he was hurt originally. When he finally made his debut, he looked like a cousin to Jose Constanza. He looks like a better Trevor Crowe really.

Carrera was hitting .268 with a .339 OBP with Tacoma in 213 at-bats. He ended up hitting .286 with a similar OBP in 161 at-bats with the Clippers. His real damage came in the playoffs where he he had 9 hits and 6 walks in 31 at-bats. He hit a home run and was 3-for-3 in stolen bases.

Healthy, I think we're looking at a decent fourth outfield prospect and between him and Constanza, there should be someone who can contribute there.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ultimately it isn't worth covering the Luke Carlins and Brian Bixler's of the world, but those guys did help contribute. Carlin was great in the playoffs for this team with no other catchers around.

But the core of this team was the pitching and the prospects like Cord Phelps and Jordan Brown and players like that.

Mike Sarbaugh has put himself on the radar in a big way with back to back Championship seasons and while he may return to Columbus next year, he won't be around for long, especially if he keeps winning with whatever he's handed.