1.30.2011

The Acta Outlook - Starting Pitching is Key

Make sure you follow the twitter today. I'll be at the Tribe on Tour event at Summit Mall today and I'll try to tweet and post pictures.

The Tribe on Tour event has received a lot of praise and has seen a lot of attendees the past two days.

I have a quick update really, nothing too major, but I wanted to get this all out of the way because I'll probably too busy the next few days to update.

We talked a lot earlier this week about the whole prospect thing and we'll definitely revisit it when both the BA Handbook and Tony's Prospect Guide both come out and I get my hands on them. But to gain a good perspective on the whole prospect situation, as always check out the latest Lazy Sunday over at Paulie C's site. It should be no surprise he goes into great detail about past rankings and players and things you probably should just read in entirety.

Manny Acta has had a busy winter, traveling all over the place, coming to Cleveland and going back to Arizona and his home in Orlando. But now he is in full baseball mode and he is genuinely convinced this year is going to be better than the last, and he has points to back it up.

Bastian has something up on Acta, as does Terry Pluto, who is giving us the treat of more than just his usual Sunday morning thoughts with a full piece on Manny.

First from Bastian, which spends most of the article talking about the work he's doing down in his native Dominican. The construction of a multi-use facility that includes three baseball fields is close to being completed. Acta is happy to report they are about a year-out from completing the third field. He'll be going down to the Dominican to open up the facility after today's event in Akron.

And I wanna tell this guy how I admire his fedora? Yeah, a lot more to admire about him.

You also have to admire his optimism about this season. Acta says that this season will be better because of the starting pitching and the lack of uncertainties that surround the staff, at least in compared to last season.

"Go back to a year ago at this time," he said. "I was sitting here wondering if Jake Westbrook can come back from his elbow injury. I was wondering what we'd get out of Fausto Carmona [6.32 ERA in 2009]. And Mitch Talbot? I had no idea what we'd get from him. We had no idea if [Justin] Masterson could start, or if we could even find some other starters." 

Acta goes case-by-case with the starters, citing Fausto and Masterson and Talbot and Carrasco. He also mentions the bullpen (which Pluto, as well as myself will refrain from jinxing the look of the bullpen) and suggests the fact the Indians won one more game than they did in the second half, while playing less games, is a reason to be hopeful.

In Pluto's usual talking column,  he notes that Acta, despite not knowing Mike Hargrove (who I'm probably the most excited about seeing today, just saying) has the assignment of working with LaPorta and Santana at first this spring. Hey, you got a defensively talented third baseman at your disposal this spring, might as well let him do what he does best.

Pluto has Acta saying that Matt LaPorta is in shape and healthy this year, compared to last year and Castrovince adds that he's looking more lean and muscular. Pluto says Acta will split Hafner's weekly off-days at DH between Santana and LaPorta, one playing DH, the other at first, which basically means Lou Marson is platooning with Hafner. Let that sink in for a minute.

Two more notes from the past two Tribe on Tour events... Shin-Soo Choo first... He says he really trusts his agent and... here is an extremely scary quote.

"I really trust my agent, Scott Boras," Choo said. "My arbitration year, I didn't call him at all. I just trust him, and he takes care of me."

He didn't talk to him once? Oh man, Scott Boras wields more power than we originally thought. If we even thought that was possible. The good news is, Choo is holding himself accountable for his play and doesn't want to get complacent.

"Some players, when they make a lot of money, get lazy," he said. "They change. My thing is, however much money you make, you play with the same personality. If I change, you tell me."

That of course gives Boras more ammo, but hey whatevers.

As we wrap it up here, Castro notes something very important from the first Tour event. Mark Shapiro, who was in attendance, said that SNOW DAYS WILL BE BACK!

Woooooooo!

In all seriousness, if must be something that he and his team feel strong about moving forward. Hopefully with some tweaks (like maybe shifting the date of the event, like a little bit later into Janurary after the holidays and implementing other feedback that they think would enhance it) the event could be profitable for the club and be a small source of revenue. The word is they lost on it this year, but that is the case in business more times than not. You usually lose some money the first time around or initially.

Remember, follow the Twitter and hopefully I'll do my best to get some pics and updates out today from 12-4. Although, I do not plan on being at the actual event til four (I'd probably throw my shoulder out at the derby anyway).

1.28.2011

Rumors and Prospects...Yep, almost Baseball Season

Oh February, how close you are to us.

Next week, I'll share the Spring Training Primer schedule, because the week after, it begins.. That is how close we are to spring training. I'd give anything to have the season of spring come at that time, but I'll settle for what we can get. This snow... This snow I do not mind. The snow is whatever...

But when we get these below 10 degree weather... That is when I want to just... I don't know what I want to do, but I just don't like it.

We've got some prospecting to do, so let's get to it.


[PROSPECTIVE OUTLOOK]

This is the season for prospect talk. Considering that it bridges us nicely from having nothing to talk about, to spring, I'm all for it.

MLB.com/MLB Network/Jonathan Mayo sort of kicked things off this week with the release of their top 50 prospects. The Indians claimed just one player on that list.

Lonnie Chisenhall was ranked 36th overall and second amongst third base prospects (Mike Moustakas, Royals was 7th overall and is widely considered the best third base prospect in the game). Now the Bastian twitter poll revealed that some fans are angered.

Fear not kiddies.. That is what I say. For one, this just the top 50... As Bastian astutely points out, if this was top 100, the Indians would probably have a good number. What really does this mean? I think it means and confirms the belief that the "experts" don't evaluate the Indians to have many high-end prospects. Does that mean their system isn't that good?

Well that is where we bring in the snarky Keith Law.

I don't dislike Law. I think he's a jerk, but I think Law would be the first one to tell you that he isn't in the business of making friends and he can come off like that. Does he have a vendetta against Cleveland? No, that is just a silly argument.

For all you insiders, if you'd like to read Law's 2011 Organizational Rankings, you can click this link right here to see Law rank the Indians 17th in the MLB.

Depending on how you'd ask Law why he ranked the Indians so low, he might bite your head off. But there have been some people that have been able to get something out of Law. Quite frankly I don't need Law to explain his ranking to know why.

Well.. I should say, I know why Law isn't high on the Indians. They lack the type of "high-impact" prospects that Law wants in a team to rank them high But what I don't understand is why so low? 17? So many other experts and publications have the Indians in the top ten, heck top five...And Law throws them all the way down to 17th?

What I'm ultimately dissatisfied with is the lack of reasoning. So Carlos Santana graduates as a prospect, fine. But Law seems to have a big problem with Alex White, saying he's nothing more than a back-end reliever (based off his fantastic year as a starter? That makes sense!) and completely ignoring the progress players like Jason Kipnis made last season.

Again, for ESPN Insiders, Keith Law released his top 100 prospects and top ten prospects by organization. Law does have three in the top 100 (and one in the top 50, mirroring Mayo). He also has Alex White as a prospect who just missed.

Let's start with White... Law says he isn't certain that White will develop a third pitch breaking ball and that the fact he only has two pitches will put him in the bullpen. I guess that is a valid reason, but right now, he's a starter and he's done pretty well as a starter.

From the bottom down, Law has Drew Pomeranz ranked 60th after not even throwing a single pitch professionally. He says Pomeranz has the look of an ace, but command and arm action push him right outside that designation.

Jason Kipnis checks in at 56, a few spots ahead of Pomeranz. He says Kipnis has All-Star potential but at worst, he's an everyday second baseman.

At 39, Law has Chisenhall checking in as the highest Indian. He says what everyone else says about Chiz, that he has a pretty swing and adds that he'll have an average glove at third base.

Rounding out the Indians top ten is White, Jason Knapp, Nick Weglarz, Bryce Stowell, Joe Gardner, Cord Phelps, and LeVon Washington.

So what do we think? I'm more partial to the BA rankings, not sure why. But their book comes out in a few weeks. We'll see what they say...

To wrap up our little look at prospects, the Top 50 Indians Prospect Countdown is well underway. Today is Cole Cook, who checks in at 44. This week, Bo Greenwell and Jared Goedert have gone up, so go ahead and catch up if you haven't.

[RUMORS RUMORS RUMORS]

I've been over the types of fans we have in this fan base before. I won't go over it again.

The one I hate more than any other is the one that reads everything they see and misinterprets it.. Usually that is "BLAME SHAPIRO, DOLAN IS CHEAP" fan. They take every single piece of information they read and they misinterpret it and twist it to their own harsh agenda.

I think that is what a lot of people did with that Rotoworld rumor about Fausto Carmona and Grady Sizemore.

And because of that, Chris Antonetti had to come out and give us the song and dance about rumors and how they have no intentions of trading either.

I could have told you that.

Oh but, Dolan is Cheap fan will come out and say that it is just lip service and that "they have no intention" to do so, but that doesn't mean they won't.

Shut up... Just do us a favor and shut up... Okay?

Here's what happened. I don't have any facts, but this is the rumor game and I'm just speculating. Hurts doesn't it?

Nationals call Indians... Ask about Sizemore and Carmona.. Indians say, whatever... Clearly these are two players, other than Choo, that the Indians will not give up unless a team really really really overwhelms them. But that isn't going to happen. So that song and dance happens, the Nationals get off the phone knowing that they cant' swindle the Tribe.

Someone picks up the story, probably leaked by Washington to make it appear to their fans that they've made inquires into two decent players that they have no chance what so ever to acquire.

Rotoworld runs with the rumor that the Nationals, read, have interest in Carmona and Sizemore. MASNsports.com or whatever the hell that is says that the Indians have had "conversations" making it seem like there is genuine interest from the Indians side.

I say read, because THAT IS WHAT IT SAID initially. This has everything to do with the Nationals having interest. This has nothing to do with the Indians. But of course media types and the fans who want to kill Dolan for "being cheap" are going to spin it towards the Indians. The story also mentions how the Indians "may be looking to dump salary."

Based off.... the fact that they dumped salary two years ago? Right...

So there's that... This is normal run of the mill stuff, look.

"I normally don't get into individual rumors," Antonetti said. "This one time, I will comment on it. We have not had a single discussion about potentially trading Grady Sizemore. Now, there are teams that call us all the time to ask about our players -- that's just the nature of the business."

So why in the hell has this become more of a big deal?

Because sometimes, as great as the internet and the media is for us.. It also sucks...


[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

The Indians filmed a town hall meeting last night and it will air next Friday on STO. Bastian has a piece up on the goings down at the meeting. This sort of kicked off the whole Winter Press Tour deal as tonight the Tribe makes their first of four mall stops.

Bastian has part two of six up on his "Around the Horn" series on Indians.com This part is about the bullpen.

"In 2010, the Indians bullpen finished with a 3.83 ERA overall -- down from 4.63 a year earlier. That 0.80 improvement was the best among AL teams and the third-best upgrade in relief performance in the Majors. In the second half, Cleveland's relievers posted a 2.95 ERA, which ranked second to only the Yankees.
-
"There's no reason," Belcher said, "for any of our starters to think they couldn't get to the sixth inning with a lead and feel pretty comfortable heading into the clubhouse that it's going to hold on. It did the last 2 1/2 months, three months. We held on to just about all those leads late in the game. That's huge." 

Speaking of starters... I actually do link to Ohio.com/ABJ stuff, when it is not only relevant but different and not produced by Sheldon Ocker. Whoops, I didn't say that.

Steph Storm has a small piece on Alex White up.

Me? I have nothing new up.. I'm hard at work on the spring training primer and making fun of Bartolo Colon on twitter.

Read every single one of those... Jon Heyman even took note.

1.25.2011

I wanna tell you about that fedora

This weekend, the Cleveland Indians will hit the road for their revamped version of their winter press tour. This Sunday, they come to my area in Akron and I'm locking it down right now.

My ultimate hope is that Manny Acta is wearing a fedora, just so I can tell him that I admire the hat he is wearing.

Yes, I'm a strange person.

[STILL STUCK IN THIRD]

This third base thing just seems to be changing on a weekly basis. Last week it was Jason Donald looking like the front-runner over Jayson Nix, which would just simply switch them in terms of defensive positions. Now Terry Pluto says that Jared Goedert has a legit chance if he comes into spring and competes.

Which certainly is fine. Remember what Goedert did last spring? Okay, no?

Goedert was pretty much on the bubble of making the organizational roster. He was close to being cut. Then he went all super-human on the minor leaguers and made it impossible to let go. The rest, as they say, is history. Now he's on the 40-man roster and that certainly gives him even more of an opportunity to claim a job on the 25 man roster.

I don't see anything wrong if Goedert comes into spring and not only puts up good offensive numbers, but plays decent defense. That is after all what the Indians are looking for at third. They want a solid glove over there, someone who won't be botching plays every game.

Goedert is a botcher, so... That's the main concern.

Of course, we'll continue this discussion at more length in a few weeks when I start to unroll the annual Spring Training Primer. But for now, just more food for thought when considering who the man is going to be at third.

Jordan Bastian had a link that had free agent Jorge Cantu saying the Indians among other teams showed interest in him. Cantu signed with the Padres last night. Not sure if he's that defensive stalwart at third you are looking for. He's been mainly playing first base the past few years.

[THE UNTRADEABLES?]

Sounds like a good idea for a movie poster on Photoshop Off-Day. The Untradeables, staring 12-thousand over-paid aging stars, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, Carlos Beltran... Hey Travis could be Stone Cold.

The big news this past weekend was the move that the Blue Jays pulled off to send one of the worst contracts in the game off their team. Everyone loves Vernon Wells, he's a great guy, when he's healthy he's a good player. But that contract wasn't equal to what Wells was doing on the field due to injuries. He had a decent year last year, but clearly Toronto would have done anything to get out from under that deal with Wells.

So everyone is shocked that the Angels not only took on that contract with out an ounce of help from Toronto, but also gave catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Jays in return for Wells' services.

This now broaches the subject for Indians fans and followers. If such an unmovable contract like the one the Jays had with Wells can be moved, why can't Hafner's deal be moved to another team?

Let me just start by saying, that even if the Indians could find a taker for Hafner, they wouldn't be as lucky in terms of not having to eat up any part of his contract. Also, Hafner doesn't have as long to go on this deal, so really, it isn't THAT bad.

But as Bastian had quoted from one general manager in his blog entry. The DH position makes things very different. Hafner can't play the field, so you've already cut your suitors in half.

Boston: Ortiz
New York: Posada
Tampa: Damon/Ramirez
Toronto: Rivera/Lind/Bautista Combo
Baltimore: Scott
Chicago: Konerko/Dunn
Detroit: Vic/Cabrera
Kansas City: Butler
Minnesota: Kubel/Thome
Seattle: Cust
Oakland: Matsui
Los Angeles: Abreu

Are you going to tell me right now that any of those teams would be willing to replace Hafner with the options they have now? They're all either cheaper or more stable, or have no interest in adding payroll.

All of that aside with feasibility in finding a match, it's just a different situation. It just fit for the Angels, as crazy as they are to take that long contract on, they can mix and match with Wells now in the lineup. Not only is a team handcuffed to Hafner at one position, he can probably only play four-five times a week, as he will do with the Indians.

Just get it out of your heads.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

In the latest Bastian Inbox linked right above, Ross Atkins has an update on Adam Miller.

"That's a great story," Atkins said. "He's better and better. Every time he touches a baseball, it's a little more comfortable. Every bullpen [session] he throws is a little bit better. We're exceptionally glad to still have him here. I think he's been committed to us as much as we've been committed to him. He pitched the last day of instructional league, and he was throwing 94 [mph]. He had a feel for his slider. And he wasn't trying to make a team then. We're excited." 

We just continue to cross our fingers, definitely with no pun intended. That is a very bad pun, bad pun, bad pun.... BAD pun!

Tony Lastoria has started his Top 50 Prospect countdown over at Indians Prospect Insider. He's only four in with Jorge Martinez, the latest checking in at 47.

The latest fake conversations has been posted. I enjoy doing this series, but mostly enjoy doing it because I can't harp on the third base thing in an actual piece five times during the offseason. While making up what Chris Antonetti is saying to Chris Perez and Rafael Perez in regards to arbitration, I really really really can't wait for spring to get here.

The broadcast schedule is out for 2011... Here is your breakdown.

Spring Training: 6 Games
- March 8th Vs Arizona
- March 9th Vs San Diego
- March 12th Vs LA Angeles
- March 14th Vs Oakland
- March 16th Vs Milwaukee

And then the final spring exhibition from Columbus when the "Indians" take on the "Clippers" on March 30th.

Bastian notes that 20 games will be broadcast on radio, with 11 of them being live.

As for the regular season, STO and Channel 3 will have 135 games broadcast. Thanks FOX, you crafty bastions.

This week ends, February will be here, and then it is all up hill from here... Right? Right! I'll have a schedule for the primer up soon, I've already started on the prep-work for that.

While you are reading, if you are Facebook compatible, go like this shindig. Right now, 11 people is kind of sad. I know there are more than 11 people that read this side that are on Facebook. Then again, that might be a bad estimation.

1.19.2011

Payroll Numbers and Grover's Return!

How about that flurry of stuff yesterday?

If you followed the action on twitter, you would have seen the initial shock and horror of Rafael Perez's near $4 million salary figure. I went to class thinking Choo was going to pull in $300 million and still not understanding that number.

When I returned, I saw the Choo salary figure hadn't even hit $4 million and there was a mistake on Perez's number.

And order has been restored to the universe. Not only do we have salary numbers to discuss, but there is some extra news that has trickled in.

[TRIBE AVOIDS ARBITRATION, AGAIN!]

Another year, another arbitration process avoided. This time it was more of a challenge with not just six players up for the status, but one being a pretty darn good player with a pretty darn stingy agent.

Coming into Tuesday the Indians had just three players left with uncertain contract statuses. The first domino to fall was Chris Perez, who indeed pulled in more than Asdrubal Cabrera. Perez is a closer, so he'll probably make more than most relievers, even in his first year of arbitration. But Perez is an interesting case because he doesn't have a long history as a closer or many numbers previous to the second half of 2010.

You can compare him to other closers who have gone through the process, as it was brought up to me on Twitter yesterday. But comps have had more than a year closing. In the end I think the Perez tag is justified and fair. He'll make more than Rafael Perez who was getting his second arbitration deal, more than a position player in Cabrera, but not more than the team MVP in Choo.

I pegged Raffy's number after CFNP got his $2.225M deal. I figured anywhere between $1M and $1.75M and Rafael Perez got dead in the middle of that with $1.33M. Raffy got $795K last year which increases his salary a little less than double what he earned last year. It just shows you that one good season doesn't make your arbitration number. He had a good year last year, but it wasn't nearly enough to bump his salary up any higher.

Then it was Shin-Soo Choo's turn and I figured anywhere from $4 million up, depending on how combative Scott Boras was. Turns out he wasn't real combative and settled for just under that price tag at $3.975M. I think that is very fair for the Indians, especially when you compare guys like Ryan Ludwick and what he got in his first crack at the system. I'm sort of surprised it was that painless.

With the contracts of Carmona, Hafner, Sizemore, Kearns, and previously signed deals from Joe Smith and Jensen Lewis, the Indians current payroll stands just under $40 Million. Visit the 40-man salary chart for the exact numbers, you won't find anything more accurate right now.

The remaining roster will get their deals and of course we have to wait and see if players like Adam Everett make the roster, which will change things considering those NRI's have specific numbers that they'll earn if they make the major league roster.

For those of you that care, Travis Hafner makes up 34% of the current committed monies. Hafner and Sizemore together make up more than half. Let's hope they don't hit the DL at the same time.

[LONG TERM CHOOOOOOO?]

Chris Antonetti says the window the discuss a long term deal for Shin-Soo Choo has not closed, despite the fact he's officially signed for 2011.

"We're still in the midst of discussions," said Antonetti. "I don't view it as the negotiations being closed." 

Of course that window will always remain open as long as Chooras (Choo + Boras, yes?) keeps it open and Choo is an Indian. But is it likely at this stage of the game? Who knows. Are they really in the middle of discussions? Maybe now that the hard part is over with Choo and all the other arbitration eligible players, they can spend time and discuss if Boras isn't too busy with his other arbitration cases (considering he's got Prince Fielder already signed, I don't think he'll have as busy as a February as usual).

I don't think it is likely, this year at least. Maybe next year, maybe never. I think we're pretty much done with this discussion this season though.


[HARGROVE IS BACK]

Little bit of unexpected news yesterday in the fact that the Indians have hired Mike Hargrove as a special advisor. We knew Grover was going to be on the Press Tour next weekend, so maybe that was a little bit of a clue that his return was coming, but I don't think anyone saw this coming clearly.

Grover will be active in the spring helping out Acta on the coaching stuff, but when the season hits, he'll be more of a business guy, helping out with the "broadcast and business side" of the club. You'll see him on STO, which rocks and probably do more of the stuff like the Press Tour in-season.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to once again be a Cleveland Indian," Hargrove said in a statement, "and am very much looking forward to helping any way that I can. Even when I was away and managing other teams, I always had an interest in what was happening with the Indians. All I can really say is that it is good to be home." 

This city loves Grover, just like they love the glory days of this franchise during the 90's. He was a HUGE part of it. There is a reason some fans still wanted him to be manager when we hired Acta. He's loved and the Indians are wise to take advantage of that with Grover coming in to this role.

I think Mike is done managing and doing the whole "full-time" deal in the game of baseball. I think he's settled on this part of his life and just being a part-timer is what he wants. He still gets to be around the game, but he isn't going through that daily grind.

And for those of you dinkuses in the MLB.com comments that think Grover will take over by the All-Star Break... Get over yourselves and that idea. Not that you read this or any other intelligent Indians blog out there.. But yeah.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

A few more former Indians have latched on with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They must really like playing for the Indians, so instead of playing for the Cleveland Indians, they will play for the Indianapolis Indians.

In addition to Andy Marte and that fatass Jorge Julio, the Pirates have added Jose Veras (good god....) and favorite Wyatt Toregas. Good for Wyatt first off.. He's one signing the Pirates made that might have a shot. The Pirates are screwed up in many ways and I don't think they really know who they want to be their catcher or their backup, so Toregas has a shot there.

Julio, Veras, Vizcaino... They're all the same to me.. Why do you need two of them?

Anyway...

Lonnie Chisenhall is second on MLB.com's top-ten 3rd base prospect list.

"Chisenhall has long had a reputation of being one of the best pure hitters around. As he's close to being big league ready, that hasn't changed a bit, especially after he shook off a shoulder strain to hit .294/.364/.505 in the second half of 2010. The Futures Gamer should be able to hit for average and pretty good power, using all fields well. There's not a whole lot blocking his path in Cleveland."

So there's that at least.

1.18.2011

Cabrera inks 2011 contract, Choo, Perezes Next

You do all realize we are less than a month away from that glorious day in baseball?

Pitchers and Catchers... I'm just going to get into it. Why waste time?

Because I certainly don't have anything else to say.

[CABRERA SIGNS DEAL]

One of four Indians eligible for arbitration that has yet to sign a deal has now signed a deal. Asdrubal Cabrera will play for $2.025 million next season as he and the Indians agree to terms without the need for arbitration. It now leaves three players, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, and of course Shin-Soo Choo as arbitration eligible players without deals.

Today is the day that teams must exchange salary figures, so there will be no wheeling and dealing with Cabrera or his agent. Jordan Bastian also suggests that there probably won't be much of it anyway when it comes to the other three. We could get deals with the other three players shortly, provided that Shin-Soo Choo's Super Agent doesn't pull the club around.

As for the other two, it will be interesting to see where they both fall. Joe Smith got $870K in a year in which he wasn't that amazing and you've got Cabrera only taking home $2 million. What is Chris Perez worth? How much will Rafael Perez take home given that he only made less than $800K last year? Will both fall in that $1 million range? Is Chris Perez worth more than what Cabrera got?

Should be interesting to see what's up there. I doubt Perez gets more than a position player, especially when you would figure Choo will probably only get no more than double what Cabrera got. And if it wasn't clear before, it is clear now, Choo and the Indians are likely to just handle this on a year-by-year basis. As Paulie C points out, why would the Reds sign Joey Votto to that kind of extension? They are essentially buying out his arbitration years and getting none of his free agent years in return. Boras would love to do that with Choo, but the Indians are not stupid enough to fall for that ploy.

Choo's price tag is the main topic of discussion in the latest Hey Hoynsie... Oh brother.

Chris Perez did an interview with the blog Bleacher GM. He tackled everything from favorite road city to how much influence does he have in contract negotiations. This question was extremely important considering he's up for arbitration.

"I think I have as much influence as I can in my current situation; I'm not a free agent. When I become a free agent I will 100% say in everything. Right now I have to go through the system, but me and my agent are on the same page, that's why I chose him."

Not extremely telling, but he says "when I become a free agent," which sounds like he has ever intention of testing the market. Interesting.

[DONALD TO THIRD?]

It is looking ever-so-likely that Jason Donald will be this team's third baseman to start 2011. Terry Pluto led off with it and Jordan Bastian has mentioned it.

It looks like the Indians are over the Jayson Nix experiment after less-than-stellar results in the Winter League season and with no other real candidate brought in through free agency (unless you think Jack Hannahan is worth starting?) then Donald may just work.

Sure he hasn't played third all that much, but Nix is way better at second than he is at third and if Donald can at least be more serviceable there than the other options were, then it isn't a bad idea. So when spring training roles around here in a few weeks, you'll probably see Jason playing and taking reps at third to begin with.

What about that infield trio? Jason Kipnis, Cord Phelps and Lonnie Chisenhall? None of them are ready to man third base or push someone else there? Don't expect anything there until about mid-season. They'll get some time in Columbus this year.

On the subject of our awesome prospects, check out this fantastic piece of work by Jon Steiner of WFNY. He put numbers to the prospect ratings by John Sickels, who puts an actual grade to his prospect ratings. He configured a GPA for all the teams and their prospects and then an adjusted GPA that shows the Indians do indeed have one of the top rated farm systems in all of the game.

Tony has a new piece on IPI about fourth overall pick Drew Pomeranz.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

If you are an ESPN Insider you can read Buster Olney's entire piece on comeback players in his blog entry. But even if you aren't you can read everything he had to say about Grady Sizemore and the work he's doing right now as a part of his rehab.

"You're so used to playing every day. Having to watch the guys play, it's just miserable. ... I've been wanting to play since October. I just want to get on the field, and I just want to play."

The whole "Cleveland Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" has been a theme this past week. It started with that Jerry Crasnick piece and then continued on with everyone chiming in, including myself. A great perspective from Castrovince as he thinks the Indians can "take back" Cleveland. With LeBron out of mind but not sight, the Cavaliers are no longer a threat to be a hot ticket past this season.

He makes a good point. The Indians might be able to bring back some late-spring, early-summer crowds that they might have lost to LeBron's bunch the past few seasons.

Jordan Brown has officially cleared waivers and has been sent to Triple-A. It will be interesting to see how he fits into the Columbus picture, especially with Goedert not likely to make the major league roster. You'd assume he'd do a lot of DHing because Chisenhall will play a lot of third. Phelps will play a lot of outfield as well as backup the infield positions and even DH. Could Brown play some first base?

Further more, Tony says there was no interest in Brown on the trade market and the defense likely limited the teams that were interested in him through waivers. And the full-rosters likely limited him even more. You have to feel for Brown not getting an opportunity elsewhere because he's certainly deserving of it, but I'm glad he's still around. That isn't to say his career in Cleveland is done either. Injuries happen, as he knows last year during spring. He may get called-upon and that may be his opportunity to stick.

1.14.2011

That freakin' snow better melt, I wanna play some baseball!

Friday, the most productive day of my weeks during the semester. You might ask why, considering I have no classes, but that question is the answer.

I have no classes, so I use it as my To-Do-List day. Unfortunately there is an aspect on my To-Do-List that I would have rather not had to do. I meant to sell back this book I didn't need yesterday, because you are allowed to sell back a book to the book store for full price during the first week of classes.

I meant to do it yesterday because I have no reason to visit campus today.

So, yeah, while I'm looking forward to completing my tasks for today, sweeping the inside of my car, visiting the store, completing this blog entry, among others, that is one task I would rather not have to do.

It just involves more than it should. If I was on campus for a reason, I'd look forward to doing it, but because that is the only reason I have to go down there, which involves parking and walking to the Student Union, I'd rather not do it.

Anyway, I'd rather talk more about the Indians though, so let's do that before I drive you away.


[COACH 'EM UP]

Mark Shapiro initiated the Winter Development Program way back when before he was even the General Manager. Ross Atkins now heads the program, but just another great idea that Shapiro instituted.

This year there will be 14 players reporting to Cleveland next week. Then on January 23rd, the action heads to Arizona where the players will get to work out on the field. In Cleveland there will be more of a school-like feel with guest speakers like Eduardo Perez and "The Mayor" Sean Casey and classroom type sessions.

Here are the 14 participants:

Outfielders: Ezequiel Carrera, Chad Huffman
Infielders: Lonnie Chisenhall, Jared Goedert, Jason Kipnis, Cord Phelps
Starters: Nick Hagadone, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Matt Packer, Alex White
Relievers: CC Lee, Vinnie Pestano, Bryce Stowell

Along with that, the Indians also extended invitations to 10 more players for major league spring training.

They include: Kipnis, White, Chisenhall, Stowell, Phelps, Huffman, Drew Pomeranz, Yohan Pino, Zach Putnam, and Juan Apodaca.

They will of course join the veteran minor league free agents with spring invites: Justin Germano, Doug Mathis, Anthony Reyes, Paul Phillips, Jack Hannahan, Adam Everett, and Travis Buck.

That means there will be 58 players in big league camp, so far.

[STARTING NOTES]

Hoynes put out a piece on some free agent starters and the interest the Indians had on them. Kevin Millwood and Bruce Chen were named specifically. Hoynes said the Indians talked to Scott Boras about both as MLBTR explains though, Chen is seeking a major league deal and if he were to accept a minor league deal, the Indians would probably get outbid for his services as his value likely goes up.

Kevin Millwood on the other hand is more realistic as he is just searching for a shot and Cleveland is one place that will probably give him that shot to at least pitch as a starter.

That being said, I don't see either being signed at this point. I don't see anyone being signed at this point.

Not even Bartolo Colon, who Hoynes says the Indians have "cooled considerably" on.

They also made an inquiry into the Brad Penny market. Penny signed a one year deal for $3 million. That is a nice signing there if Penny can stay healthy (and that is a big if) and I have no doubts that the Indians probably made an offer to Penny in some way.

On a side note, three unknown teams are in interested in Bobby Crosby according to MLBTR. Two of them are AL teams and two of them are interested in him as a utility player. If that would be on a minor league deal, then I could see the Indians having some interest, considering the talk about Nick Punto has died out.


[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

Who's ready to go on tour? The Indians have announced "Tribe on Tour" in place of the Winter Caravan Press Tour that they did last year. This condensed tour to four stops around the Cleveland area will feature many of the same names, with Manny Acta heading up three of the four stops.

They'll be going to four team shops around the area in four straight days and the event is free, unlike the past few years. January 28th they'll be in Beachwood, January 29th they go to North Olmstead, the 30th they visit Akron and on the 31st they wrap up things in Strongsville.

I'm making preliminary plans to be at the one at Summit Mall. I'm not conflicted this year considering the 29th is a Saturday and I in effect won't do anything.

Acta will be at the first rhee stops and Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, and Tony Sipp will all be at all four stops. Mike Hargrove will also be at all four stops while Lenny Barker will be at the lat three, and Aaron Laffey will be at Strongsville.

For more info, you can visit this page.

The Indians made that addition to the front office/coaching staff that we thought they would make. It wasn't quite what we thought, but they went out of organization to bring in a player development field coordinator. Tom Widenbauer of the Astros will replace Dave Hudgens, who moved on to a big league hitting coach job with the Mets.

Widenbauer was a jack of all trades for Houston, the organization he was drafted to back in 1976 as a player.

Yesterday Jordan Bastian put some stuff up on the blog about Fantasy Camp.. This is obviously one of the things that will remind us of Bob Feller as he was a yearly participant. Fantasy Camp kicks off Saturday and although Feller won't be there in person, I'm sure he'll be watching somewhere and enjoying the action. Rick Manning, Barker, Joe Charboneau, Max Alvis, Brian Anderson, Greg Swindell, and Pat Tabler are just a few of the many former Indians taking part.

On that subject of former Indian greats. Best wishes to Frank Robinson, baseball Hall of Famer might I add, as he was hospitalized. Speedy recovery to him, a real legend of the game.

For your reading pleasure, check out this article on the Indians by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. I thought the article has its low points, but also has some highs. Paul Cousineau put up a piece on TCF that mentioned it and I had actually started on something earlier in the week when I initially read it. I incorporated another piece I read in the New York Times into my piece that should be running on TCF sometime today or tomorrow. Check the twitter for that link.

Constrasting, Bastian put up a piece on Antonetti and the Indians. It pretty much covers what Antonetti has learned and what is ahead for the young GM.

And finally Bastian has some updates on Grady Sizemore in the latest Inbox.

He was also asked about Carlos Santana, but really, his injury wasn't as delicate as Sizemore's and the expectation is he'll be fine and ready for Spring. Sizemore however has just begun modified baseball activities. Buster Olney took to Twitter to say that Sizemore is hitting off a tee and "very very excited to get going." Olney then said that he'll have more on Sizemore in his column but he couldn't emphasize enough how much Sizemore is looking forward to playing again.

Well then... I'd be really looking forward to playing too if I've spent the better part of the past two years banged up and not contributing because of it.

Make sure you follow Chris Perez on Twitter. He's been more active, interacting with fans and answering questions. Perez says they call Frank Herrmann, Herrmann Munson. He also has the best bio of anyone on twitter, in my opinion.

Chris Perez. Relief pitcher for the Cleveland Indians..Former UM Hurrican..Just a normal guy with an arm like a fu***** cannon.

Straight out of the Pure Rage/Kenny Powers handbook. He also sort of stirred the ire of Cleveland fans when he made a tweet about LeBron. So, get on it and follow Perez. Follow me while your at it. That 400th follower getting a signed picture of Andy Marte may still be in play if you follow soon.

1.09.2011

Random Note Rundown: Snow Days, Prospect Roundup and Shapiro's Future

There are some other random scattered notes and thoughts that I didn't get to yesterday that I wanted to cover today. So here is a bit of a random rundown.

Joe Martinez does in fact have two options left, so there is room there for the Indians to send him down, which wasn't really there with Justin Germano. He's been added to our 40-man roster and I'll update the rest of his salary info soon. Germano by the by cleared waivers like we thought he would and accepted his assignment to Columbus and will be in big league camp this spring.

Speaking of updated rosters. Adam Everett's incentives have been added. He can earn up to a $1 million in total salary if he makes the major leagues and gains 300 plate appearances. He'll make a base salary of 700k if he makes the major league roster.

Let's talk about money and Snow Days. The winter wonderland has come to an end and as expected, the Indians lost money on the venture. You might as yourself, if the point was to make money, what was the point of even doing Snow Days?

I don't think the initial point was to make money. I think the initial point was to create something that the Indians could do during the offseason to utilize this facility that they pay for. The hope was that eventually it could be a viable revenue stream.

The question now begs. Did they loose too much on the venture to even make it worth doing again next year?

I guess we'll find out at some point, but one thing is for sure. I never got to visit and go down the batterhorn and for that, I'm mightily disappointed.

The whole Snow Days thing wasn't so much the direct brainchild of Mark Shapiro, but he certainly initiated the thought of using the facility and was instrumental in implementing the plan to launch Snow Days. Which is the kind of drive and innovation that could land him in discussion for the upcoming post atop Major League Baseball.

Asked about who replaces Bud Selig as commissioner when that time comes, Buster Olney of ESPN said, because he believes Bud still has years left, that Mark Shapiro could be a name to think of.

I could certainly see that. You would like to see a guy who isn't an owner get in there and someone who has experienced the market in Cleveland to go in and push for some things that we all know he believes would be good for the betterment of baseball.

Unfortunately I think the Players Union is just way too strong and it will take a big time effort to take them down.

Non-Tribe related move with Matt Garza going from Tampa Bay to Chicago, but look who was the centerpiece of the deal for Tampa Bay. One Chris Archer, who was traded to the Cubs with Jeff Stevens and John Gaub in the Mark DeRosa deal.

We traded Archer so young, he's still only 22 and he was 15-3 last year splitting time in Double-A and High-A. He was the minor league pitcher of the year for them and has pretty much become the Cubs best prospect. Now he goes into a Rays system that is always loaded.

You can just never tell with those young pitchers. That's why someone like Gio Sotto could turn out to be a bigger add than originally believed, or could just turn out to be a disaster. Or he could turn out to be exactly what he thought. You just never know how someone is going to develop.

Garza is the latest arm to get dealt and it comes after the Greinke deal to Milwaukee. Perhaps the Cubs pulled the trigger on Garza in response to the Brew Crew's nabbing of Greinke.

But word is that the Indians had interest in Greinke and at least made an inquiry to the Royals. However as the Twins found out, Kansas City wasn't really willing to keep Greinke around in the AL Central. It makes you wonder though, what kind of package would the Indians have offered to get Greinke? If we are talking young middle infielder, Jason Kipnis is certainly in the deal and if they are talking young center fielder, I'd think someone like a Jordan Henry would be there as well. That's just a starting point. They also wanted pitching.

Speaking of Jordan Henry, Tony Lastoria has a nice offseason piece up on IPI about Henry and how quickly he's moved up the system. He also has one on Chase Burnette and the challenge of moving to first base. The Indians really need someone with pop in the system at first base and Burnette fits that bill, so the move from the outfield works.

Lucas Montero has signed on with Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent. He spent a little time in Akron last year but spent a majority of his career with the Indians at Kinston.

1.08.2011

We did some rearranging while you were gone

Wow, it has been some time. A few weeks to be exact.

Fact of the matter is, when I was on break enjoying the holidays, I was bored as all get out.

But there was nothing to talk about.

Of course the minute I return to work, some stuff goes down!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and I welcome you officially to 2011. Because eight days after the new year is officially the time to welcome you to the new year.

Only eight days of the new year?

Only...37 days until Pitchers and Catchers Report?!

PEOPLE WE NEED TO GET GOING HERE! Can you believe next month we can really start talking about baseball? You know when you can say "next month" then it is getting really close.

So since it is getting really close and we have a lot to cover, we might as well jump into it.

[ADDING ARMS]

Start the commotion with this. The Indians added two arms while I was undergoing a busy week of work. Both Joe Martinez and Doug Mathis have been added to the fray this spring, but Martinez, more definitively.

It turns out that the Justin Germano move was a precursor to the acquisition of Joe Martinez from Pittsburgh as the Austin Kearns deal had not yet been made official. More on that in a second.

The removal of Germano allowed the Indians to go off and trade for Martinez from Pittsburgh, who had designated him for assignment last month. He spent last year with Pittsburgh and San Francisco, being dealt at the trading deadline.

He spent time in both Fresno and Indy, the Triple-A affiliates and only pitched in nine major league games.

The Indians will send a player to be named later (after all these years, they might finally trade that PTBNL guy) or cash in exchange for Martinez.

Martinez will probably figure into the bullpen mix rather the starting rotation, but either way, he could be a nice depth option standing around in Columbus that can start or relieve. I'm going to venture to guess he has options left, but was dumped due to a 40-man crunch. We'll need to verify that though.

You might remember that Martinez was the pitcher that got clonked on the head in 2009 when Mike Cameron cracked one off his noggin. Martinez started bleeding and fell to the ground after getting up after being hit.

Later this week, the Indians added Doug Mathis to the same mix Martinez is in by signing the right-handed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Mathis has spent his career with Texas, pretty much as a starter. He pitched in 13 games for the Rangers this year, and spent most of his time with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

He had some success as a reliever in 2009 when he was coming out of the bullpen. He made over 20 relief appearances and carried a 2.14 ERA with 21 strikeouts. So maybe the Indians have something there with grabbing him as a reliever.

[THE SHELL MAN SURVIVES]

With the Germano move accounting for the addition of Martinez, that meant Austin Kearns still needed a roster spot. Shelley Duncan has been on the bubble all offseason and has survived numerous potential cuts, but it seemed, at least to me, that after Germano got the axe and Kearns still needed a spot, Duncan was probably gone.



That's my "wrong buzzer" sound. Aaaaaank.

The club designated Jordan Brown on Thursday. Because it his first designation, if he clears waivers he has to accept a minor league assignment to Columbus. Tis' the season for a trade, considering the Indians made a minor deal for Martinez. Some other club could have interest in Brown and the Indians could pull off the same type of deal as they did for Martinez with another club.

But this club must really love Shelley Duncan. Brown makes sense because for years they couldn't find him a position and with designated hitter clogged up by Hafner and Brown's perceived lack of serious power, he isn't really a priority keep.

Duncan can actually be serviceable in left field, where as Brown is almost a liability to the Indians. Duncan can also play a decent first base and is an expert pinch hitter.

Duncan could also scoot if they designated him for assignment, where as they are likely to hold onto Brown if they so wish if he clears waivers.

I've always been a Jordan Brown fan, but I think there are far more talented players on this club than him. I love the fact that he's a batting champ and can be someone who hits for average, but Ben Francisco did the same thing and he was a way better defender.

What makes me take Browns side is the lack of opportunity he got early on in the game, not getting rostered until this past offseason and then the bad luck of an injury this past spring. It probably just is not meant to be for Jordan, at least not in Cleveland.

You can make the argument that we have yet to truly see what Brown brings to the table at the major league level and is thus unproven, but that just happens with players sometimes. Hopefully it just is one of those cases that doesn't come back to bite the Indians.

That all being said... I have a hard time doubting Jordan Brown, because he's a guy who just doesn't quit and if he gets claimed by someone and gets a shot, I have a feeling it will leave the Tribe with some egg on their face. The kid can hit and if he can really hit and translate that to the majors, someone will find a spot for him, somewhere.


[FORMER INDIANS TO THE HALL]

By now, all baseball fans know that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven have been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Both Robbie and Bert spent some time in Cleveland and actually the Indians are the only team both have in common.

Fans in this day, especially one's that are my age, probably don't remember Blyleven as a player, much less an Indian. They probably know Blyleven as the Twins color-guy. But Blyleven spent more time with Cleveland than any other club outside 11 masterful years with the Twins.

With Cleveland, Blyleven was 48-37 with a 3.23 ERA and 548 strikeouts. Blyleven spent the later part of his career with Cleveland before going back to Minnesota for the later part of the 80's.

Fans these days do remember Roberto Alomar though and they remember him as an Indian. It was only three years but Robbie was a popular player for three years and him being one of the first players traded off when the Indians started to rebuild made him a little bit more beloved than usual. It also helps that it was rather recent that he played.

With Cleveland he collected 564 of his 2724 hits. He hit 210 home runs and won 10 gold gloves, three of them with the Indians. He also made the the All-Star game all three years in Cleveland and won the second baseman's silver slugger award twice with the Indians.

Robbie made his career in Toronto though. So while Blyleven will wear a Twins cap (as he should), Robbie will wear a Blue Jays hat, as he should too. He had some of his best years in Cleveland, but he also spent the most time in Toronto, put up a majority of his numbers in Toronto and also won a few World Series titles in Toronto.

It will also be nice to see Toronto have someone representing them in the Hall, which they have no had up until this point. Still, both guys are also in a way representing Cleveland because both had great years here.

[RANDOM RUNDOWN]

I've been keeping the boards up-to-date, mainly the extra salary page. Check that out at the bottom of the Additional Salary Information board as a link. It has all the roster kickers and what not that I've found up to this point. Things like Adam Everett's wonderful incentives are listed there.

As we talk about money, the Indians have reworked season ticket prices, which is awesome.

You can get two bleacher seats for 81 games a year for just under $1,500. That's nine bucks per ticket, which was the price of reserved seating at Canal Park last year.

Let's keep the money theme and talk about a piece Bastian put up earlier this week about arbitration. Wednesday was the start of players filing for arbitration. They now have exactly a week from now to do so. Clearly since Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael and Chris Perez haven't come to an agreement, they will file for arbitration. Tuesday the 18th is the date that sides exchange numbers. Just because a player files doesn't mean the two sides will go to arbitration, provided they come to some sort of agreement before hand.

For what it is worth, Bastian expects all four to reach deals without the need for arbitration and pegs Choo's number anywhere from $3 to $4 millionish.

Your Grady Sizemore update. He has begun hitting and throwing (also known as baseball activities, but these are modified) and next week he'll do some light running. Chris Antonetti says that he has passed every test thus far. Bastian says that it is unlikely that Sizemore is cleared for the opening schedule of Spring Training.

Mr. Big Columnist Guy Anthony Castrovince is columnizing (not a word) about the Indians. Yesterday he put up a piece about the Indians seeing a return from their trades of CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Sparked by the trade of another Cy Young pitcher from the AL Central, Castrovince notes that it was two years after the Colon trade that a product of it, Cliff Lee, started to show returns. It was then a year after that both Lee and Sizemore started to really pay off.

We are now going into our second full season since the Cliff Lee trade and the third full season of the Sabathia deal. So it's nearing that time that we need to start seeing things, cough Matt LaPorta cough.

Bastian answers some questions in the Inbox. Yes the Indians kicked the tires on Brandon Webb (and kicked them until the incentive money got too high) and Davis Huff has a "strong shot" due to the fact that he's a left-handed pitcher. Not just a left-handed pitcher, but the only left-handed pitcher the Indians have for miles.

We might make it a double-post weekend. I have some additional stuff that I'd like to go over tomorrow, so, see you then.