It’s Friday morning and I’m sitting at my kitchen table listening to my Internet radio station (Festival Radio), and, in a nice stroke of coincidence, it’s playing Michael Stanley (“Working Again”).Â Alas, however, I am sitting at my kitchen table because I am not really working.Â Three weeks ago, I was cut back at my job, where I’m now working about a day and a half a week, though I’m being paid for 20 hours at a lower rate and allowed to keep my health insurance.Â I tell you all this in order to say that I’ve not been particularly inspired to blog about baseball recently.
However, spring training is coming to an end, the season starts on Monday, and it’s time for some news and observations.
- After winning the last open spot in the Indians rotation, Scott Lewis went out in his next two ST tuneups and got hammered like a drunk on a bender.Â He claims he’s having trouble gripping the ball in the drydesert air, and certainly that would explain why a finesse pitcher is leaving so many meatballs up over the plate.Â However, he wasn’t leaving those meatballs over the plate before he won the starting job.Â Lewis needs to find it again or his stay will be short and we’ll be seeing Laffey up in Cleveland sooner rather than later.
- We don’t have Eddie Moo to kick around any more.Â He’s been traded to the Padres for a PTBNL or cash.
- Based on his ST results, Masa Kobayashi could be the next off the island – he has a spring ERA of 12.27.Â Kobayashi wore out very quickly and is in the last year of his contract.Â He would have to agree to be sent down to the minors, and, really, at his age, what would be the point?Â If he continues to struggle during the first part of the season, the Indians have enough live arms at AAA that it would be pointless to keep him around.
- A big surprise of ST has been the performance of Vince Chulk.Â Chulk has bounced around between the majors and AAA for a couple teams and was signed to provide bullpen depth.Â All he’s done in ST has been to pitch 15.2 innings with an ERA of 1.72.Â Although he’s already been sent to Columbus, he will likely be the first one up if (when?) the Kobayashi experiment fails.
- Josh Barfield has won the 25th spot on the roster, despite pretty much sucking at the plate (.258/.303/.306).Â He appears to have adjusted to his chance to be a true utility player, getting reps at third base and the outfield.Â Congratulations, Josh.Â You are the new dominoes go-to-guy and pinch-runner extraordinaire.
- Trevor Crowe has also won a spot with the big club out of ST as the fourth outfielder,Â while the Indians figure out what to do with David Dellucci, who has been placed on the DL with calf tightness.Â Wedge says that they didn’t award the spot to Crowe for him to sit on the bench.Â You’ll have to forgive me if Wedge’s past tendancies to go with veterans over rookies makes me more than a little skeptical about how much time Crowe will see over the first couple weeks.Â Crowe does provide speed off the bench, and appears to be capable of playing at all three outfield positions.
- Nobody will mistake Ryan Garko for a gold glove outfielder, but he appears to at least not be an overwhelming defensive liability.Â Â Â It is worth noting that Wedge has all but announced that Shoppach and Martinez are in a job share at catcher and that Victor will be playing first base the majority of the time he’s not catching.Â Pronk will be doing the majority of the DHing, leaving few at bats for Garko.Â His ability to play the outfield makes him a viable late-inning bat off the bench.
- Jhonny Peralta has been clubbing the ball this spring (.400/.429/.633).
- The wind appears to be blowing out everywhere in Arizona.Â There have been some wild games with football scores this spring.
- After many weeks of concern, it appears that Pronk is finally putting something together.Â He’s homered twice in the last week and raised his line to .260/.333/.460.Â Â The Indians seem to not be concerned and say the timing will come back as he sees more live pitching.
- Speaking of Pronk, Jay Levin of Let’s Go Tribe has posted a great Q & A he did with Indians Assistant GM Chris Antonetti regarding the Indians’ due diligence (medical and otherwise) on the Pronk contract extension.Â Â It’s definitely a must-read.
- The very last spot in the bullpen was won by Zachson.Â Given how many questions there are about three/fifths of the rotation (i.e., everyone but Lee and Carmona), it is likely the Indians felt they needed someone who could give them some length in the pen in case (when?) Pavano, Reyes and/or Lewis implodes early in a game.Â Â In fact, if Lewis implodes enough to be sent down, Jackson may well be given the fifth starter spot and Chulk brough up to the pen.
Tags: Cleveland Indians
Apparently, the Indians’ management picked the perfect time to slip Andy Marte through waivers and he cleared and he has been outrighted to Columbus.
According to reports, it is likely that Wes Hodges will get the majority of time at third base, while Marte will spend time at third base, first base and DH.Â This will likely create a logjam at first base/designated hitter with Marte, Jordan Brown and Michael Aubrey all likely to be fighting for time there.Â Hodges tore up the Arizona Fall League with his bat (.349/.368./ 587), but is questionable with his glove, so the early indications are that he needs reps at third base.Â Marte’s defense is unquestionably major league already – the question is whether he can regain the power that made him a top prospect.
The fact that he is now on a minor league contract may actually end up making Marte more tradeable – clearly no other team was willling to take him on without options, but they might be willing to stash him at their AAA affiliate as an emergency back up in case of injuries.Â Or, the Indians might hold on to Marte in case Hodges is unable to put his defense together.Â The only career path for Hodges is at third base – his bat is good, but there are too many better prospects at first base (Mills/LaPorta) and in the outfield (LaPorta, Weglarz, Brantley) for him to be viable with a position switch.Â At least they know Marte can come in and provide solid defense.
I still suspect that Shapiro will be working the phones trying to unload Marte before Spring Training ends.Â So, Andy Marte is still not free – he’s just not chained to the big league bench and his days of catching the ceremonial first pitch are behind him for the moment.
No Elvis for Andy right now – he’s going to have to earn it all back.
Major Elvis for “The Pulse”, who cranked the Tribe’s first official Goodyear home run yesterday in a 10-7 loss to the Giants in the Cactus League opener.
Tags: 40-Man Roster · Cleveland Indians · Free Andy Marte
It ought to be a holiday, but it’s not.
The Indians initiate the new park in Goodyear, Arizona today at 3 p.m. Cleveland time against the San Francisco Giants. The game will be televised on STO, MLB-TV, and the MLB Network. For those of you stuck in an office, it’s time to fork over the money for that MLB Gameday Audio subscription. I handed over my $14.95 yesterday.
The Indians have been one of the leading teams in applying advanced statistical analysis to their baseball operations. Now, they are applying advanced statistical analysis to their ticketing operations and marketing, and pricing games based on demand and weather factors.
Just another reason why our best players wear suits
The Cleveland Indians today designated Andy Marte for assignment to pick up right-handed pitcher Juan Salas in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.
As long-time readers of this blog will know (are there any long-time readers of this blog?), Andy Marte has been a cause celebre here, primarily because of the Indians puzzling treatment of him since he was acquired as the third baseman of the future.Â The future, however, never arrived for Andy, who never hit well at the major league level, allegedly reported out of shape to spring training last year, suffered from bad injury timing and spent a lot of time inexplicably riding the pine, allegedly in Eric Wedge’s doghouse.
The question mark is in the headline because a player who is DFA’d is removed from the roster and the team has 10 days to submit the player to waivers, trade him or release him.Â It is possible that he could clear waiviers and be signed to a minor-league contract by the Tribe.Â Stranger things have happened.Â I don’t count it likely.Â I think the Marte era ends with the Indians getting a no-impact minor league filler player from somebody.Â Getting a new start with another organization could be the best thing to happen to Marte.Â Â Some team will likely give him a chance based on his can’t miss AAA numbers from a few years ago,
And, ironically, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” has just come up on my iPod.
Even more ironically, Juan Salas is a converted third baseman.
As for Juan Salas, the Indians gave up Isais Velasquez, a minor-league infielder who was at Mahoning Valley last year.Â Salas has major league bullpen experience and appears to be another arm being thrown at the bullpen wall to see what sticks.Â Â Most likely, he gets stashed in Columbus just in case.
And in another show of irony, “Free At Last” by the Blind Boys of Alabama has just come up on my iPod.Â Seriously.Â I think my iPod is possessed.
Tags: 40-Man Roster · Free Andy Marte · Roster Moves
Spring is here, with much anticipation that a good year will begin in Goodyear.
That is all.
Tags: Cleveland Indians
Every once in a while, it’s nice to use that expensive undergraduate degree in writing from a fine private institution of higher learning for the forces of good instead of what I usually do around these parts, which is to promote the forces of snarkiness.Â I am proud to announce the publication of the Indians Annual 2009 from Maple Street Press and even more proud to announce that I am a contributor to the magazine.
This publication was put together by Jay Levin of the Let’s Go Tribe blog where I often hang out.Â It features serious analysis of not only the big league club, but also key prospects within the Indians system.Â Some of the other features:
- A remembrance of Herb Score by Joe Posnanski
- Player profiles and statistics
- A feature article on Pronk
- An extensive interview with Assistant GM Chris Antonetti
- Other serious articles written by people who actually write about baseball for a living
The magazine ships February 16, and should hit newsstands on March 3.Â So, be the first on your block to order one.Â Or two.Â Or 37.Â Or don’t – I’ve already blown the check I’m going to receive on my Christmas iPod, so I’m good either way.
Tags: Cleveland Indians
He was lost, but now is found! Michael Aubrey has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and has been outrighted to Columbus. He will be invited to the major league camp.
Also, Kelly Shoppach has been signed to a 1-year deal, thus avoiding arbitration. Terms not yet available.
Tags: 40-Man Roster · Cleveland Indians · Roster Moves
Grady Sizemore will be roaming centerfield for Team USA, but Cliff Lee will not be taking the moundÂ for the World Baseball Classic.
Tags: Cleveland Indians
TheÂ Indians ended the year by adding Cubs uber-utility guy Mark DeRosa to the roster for the low, low price of minor league pitchers Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer, and John Gaub.Â Â
DeRosa immediately becomes the starting third baseman, most likelyÂ meaning that Pronk Needs You!’s pet project, Andy Marte, will not likely break camp with the team.Â At any rate, it will likely come down to Marte vs. Barfield for the last roster spot, and my money is on Barfield for two reasons – Barfield can pinch-run andÂ the Tribe will likely want Valbuena to play every day at Columbus.
DeRosa last year put up the best numbers of his career, .285/.376/.481 with 21 home runs.Â The powerÂ may be Wrigley-aided, but that OBP is going to look really good in the two slot in behind Grady and ahead of Victor.Â DeRosa’s ability to also play the outfield gives the Indians some flexibility.
DeRosa is signed for one year at $5.5. million, which gives the Indians some flexibility at the end of the season, given that Wes Hodges may be ready by then (or not).Â At any rate, if DeRosa walks at the end of the year, he will likely be a Class A free agent, netting high draft picks for the Tribe.
As for the players sent away by the Indians, only Stevens was near-ready.Â He would likely have been one of the live arms stashed in Columbus and one of the first in line to get the call to Cleveland to replace someone in the bullpen who was injured or ineffective.Â Â Neither Gaub nor Archer has yet pitched above low Class A Lake County yet, so any impact that either of those pitchers might have had in Cleveland was several years away.Â Stevens immediately becomes a contender for a slot in the Cubs’ bullpen.
But wait, there’s more!Â Now, how much would you pay for oft-injured FEDBU whipping boy Carl Pavano?Â If you’re Mark Shapiro, the answer is somewhere between $1.5 million and $6.8 million.Â Pavano was probably the most attractive of the pitcher reclamation projects available given his past success and age (33).Â Pavano came back from Tommy John surgery last year to pitch respectably for the FEDBU down the stretch, and will likely benefit from a change of scenery.Â Pavano suffered from a series of injuries during his four years with the FEDBU, including a buttocks injury and an automobile accident, neither of which endeared him to FEDBU fans.Â
The good news is that he doesn’t really need the money, since the FEDBU paid him $40 million over the last 4 years.Â He just needs someone to give him a shot to get his career back on track.Â Â This truly is that Kevin Millwood Type Signing (KMTS) that Indians’ fans have been clamoring for.Â If Pavano stays healthy and pitches like a #3 starter, than he’ll get paid.Â If not, the Indians are only out $1.5 million.Â The fact that the FEDBU fans all hate him is just a sweet, sweet bonus, especiallyÂ if he performs well.
Here’s a list for you:
- Pedro Martinez (2)
- Curt Schilling
- Randy Johnson (2)
- Derek Lowe
- Barry Zito
- Roy Halladay (2)
- Tom Glavine
- Esteban Loiaza
- Mark Prior
- Johan Santana (2)
- Carl Pavano
- Roger Clemens
- Dontrelle Willis
- Chris Carpenter
- Jake Peavy
- Cliff Lee
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Tim Lincecum
No, they are not the pitchers who have dated Alyssa Milano.Â Rather,Â they are the pitchers who, since 2000, have put up a season with 18 or more wins and an ERA of 3.00 or below.Â Pavano posted an 18-win, 3.00 ERA season with the Marlins in 2004, setting up his bigÂ payday with the FEDBU.
Word is that he’s lost a couple MPH off his fastball, which is not surprising given his age and his recent TJ surgery.Â We’ll see if he can either gain back his pitch speed or compensate with his other pitches.Â His first comp according to B-ref? Jake Westbrook.
To make room, the Indians DFA’d Michael Aubrey.Â Â Aubrey is another one of those guys who had great potential but was never really healthy enough to put it all together.Â The Indians have a glut of 1b/DH types (Garko, Hafner, LaPorta, Jordan Brown) even before you consider the likelihood that Victor will see time at 1b.
Tags: Cleveland Indians · Hot Stove