August 26, 2014

Carlos Santana…surprise, surprise….AL Player of the Week

carlos santana celebrationAfter tearing apart the Kansas City Royals this weekend, it was no shocker that Tribe first baseman/DH Carlos Santana has been named American League Player of the Week. Over his last six games, Carlos has had quite the run. How does 14-23, six homers, three doubles, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored sound to you? Pretty good. With his walking abilities in tow, Santana has reached base 20 of his last 29 times.

Not too shabby.

Think about where Santana has come from to get back to this point. It has been a steady rise since his brutal start. Carlos went .157/.318/.292 in April and followed that up with a .169/.343/.325 May. But with the warm weather came a new Santana. His post-DL hot streak essentially hasn’t stopped. His June was .308/.426/.590 with six homers and 15 RBIs, that spawned an even better month of July where ‘Los has been a stud: .314/.416/.651 with eight homers and 18 RBIs. His OPS has been over 1.000 for two months now. Last seasons 20 home run campaign has already been tied with two months remaining.

Carlos is the second Indian in a row to receive the AL Player of the Week honor, joining second baseman Jason Kipnis.

Tribe Weekend Recap: Santana streaking, rotation turning, and opportunities blown

Carlos Santana

The Indians couldn’t have picked a worse week to wet themselves. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: The only consistent thing about this team is their inconsistency. Just when you want to believe after they take three of four in Detroit, they come out and lose two of three to the Minnesota Twins in front of losing three of four in Kansas City to the Royals. You just had a bad feeling about this series when Corey Kluber’s Thursday gem was wasted in a 14-inning loss. Things just spiraled from there with bad losses both Friday (6-4) and Saturday (7-5). They salvaged the series finale with an offensive explosion in Sunday’s 10-3 win, but it seemed like a hollow victory. The weekend in Kansas City was disastrous.

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Royals 2, Indians 1: Kluber near perfect, yet nothing to show for it

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Games like Thursday night are why I love baseball and I why baseball frustrates the heck out of me at the exact same time. I mean what other game can one player completely shut down an entire team for the duration of regulation, only to be on the hook for a loss because of one of the worst and strangest defensive plays you will ever see? The highs were so high last night, and the lows were excruciatingly low—Cleveland-esque, dare I say.

It ended after 12:30 eastern time and went 14 innings. Starters Corey Kluber and Danny Duffy were long gone by then. I tweeted the following in the fourth inning: [Read more...]

Tribe weekend recap: Kipnis…back? King Kluber, The Carrasco effect, and rotation rotation

Jason Kipnis

If your Cleveland Indians were going to get back in the thick of the AL Central and Wild Card races, coming out of the blocks strongly is of the utmost importance. An 11-game, three-city road trip against three divisional foes was on the schedule. Things got started in Detroit with four games in three days. I wouldn’t say this was a make-or-break weekend for the Tribe, but how they played would go a long way into deciding whether the front office would be buyers/holders, or sellers with the trade deadline looking at the end of the month.

Getting swept by the first-place Tigers would be a killer, but a series win could put the Tribe back on the map. We all know their faults, but we also know that when they do put it all together, they are tough to beat. Friday and Saturday, the Tribe looked like a team that has to be taken seriously. The Wahoo Express steamrolled through Detroit, taking three of four to move to within five and a half of the Tigers and two of the second Wild Card spot. They looked primed for a strong second half push.

The train is coming, people. This weekend in Detroit was a great start. So what did we see?

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The Indians at the break: The Bad

Justin Masterson

47-47. .500. The middle. Average. Not great, but not bad. This is what our Cleveland Indians are as we sit here at the All-Star break.

Heading into the season, Terry Francona’s group had to deal with something that was not on the docket a year before; heightened expectations. Coming off of a 92-win, Wild Card season and bringing back essentially the same core group, the Tribe now wore a bulls-eye. They were not going to sneak up on anyone. And they haven’t.

The first half has brought moments of greatness and despair, moments of disappointment and exuberance. Certain guys have broken out, while others have taken huge steps backwards. We’ve seen regression to the mean from a few Indians as well. Hall of Fame Football coach Bill Parcells famously said “you are what you record says you are,” and the Indians are 47-47. All of this has added up to what they are: An average baseball team.

On Tuesday, we looked at “The Good” things the Tribe has done. In part two of our Tribe at the All-Star break series, we will examine what hasn’t exactly gone well for the Red, White, and Blue. [Read more...]

The Indians at the break: The Good

Tribe celebration47-47. .500. The middle. Average. Not great, but not bad. This is what our Cleveland Indians are as we sit here at the All-Star break.

Heading into the season, Terry Francona’s group had to deal with something that was not on the docket a year before; heightened expectations. Coming off of a 92-win, Wild Card season and bringing back essentially the same core group, the Tribe now wore a bulls-eye. They were not going to sneak up on anyone. And they haven’t.

Many expected the front office to build on the playoff experience and add some more veteran talent via the free agent market, but with big raises due to likes of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Asdrubal Cabrera, the financial wiggle room just wasn’t there. Instead, they tinkered, adding outfielder David Murphy to platoon in right field with Ryan Raburn. Twice deposed closer John Axford was brought on with hopes of a resurrection at the back end of the pen. Big years were expected from that core group of young position players moving towards their prime years. Starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir walked into free agency and found greener pastures in Baltimore and Oakland respectively. The Indians counted on youngsters Danny Salazar and either Carlos Carrasco or Josh Tomlin would replace them.

The first half has brought moments of greatness and despair, moments of disappointment and exuberance. Certain guys have broken out, while others have taken huge steps backwards. We’ve seen regression to the mean from a few Indians as well. Hall of Fame Football coach Bill Parcells famously said “you are what you record says you are,” and the Indians are 47-47. All of this has added up to what they are; an average baseball team. [Read more...]

Indians 3, White Sox 2: Yanimal and Bauer send Tribe into break on a high

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is a beast. I know the stats might not say so, but my man is one heck of a pitcher. We may look back at the trade of Shin-Soo Choo for Bauer and reliever Bryan Shaw (among others) in the same vain as Bartolo Colon trade. I know that is crazy talk, but at age 23, you can see Bauer getting better and better each start while Shaw is a rock as the set up man in the pen.

One had a great day on Sunday, the other, not so much. But the two more Indians who came over in a trade together, Catcher Yan Gomes and super utility man Mike Aviles, played a major hand in the Tribe’s 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. [Read more...]

Indians 9, Yankees 3: Two games in one, Perez has the most fun

Roberto Perez

I was all set to have this one written. My main topics were going to be how the Indians defense, easily the worst in baseball, just continues to let the team down and cost them runs the offense usually cannot get back. I was also going to go in on the bats who once again turned a below average starter into Cy Freaking Young. Then came the seventh inning, or should I say the start of the game for the Tribe.

The New York Yankees and their legion of annoying bandwagon fans came out one more time to salute shortstop Derek Jeter in Cleveland for the last time. The Tribe cheesed it up by having former teammates Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher present Jeter with a pinstripe guitar with “The Captain, 2″ on it. Then these folks got the pleasure of watching Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall kick the ball around on their way to a 3-0 lead. Noted superstar David Phelps completely stymied the Indians offense, holding them scoreless on five hits through the first six innings. But things started to change thanks to two unlikely sources. [Read more...]

Yankees 5, Indians 4: Homers and blown chances cost Tribe a W

Jacoby Ellsbury

When you jump out ahead with three first inning runs in your home park, you are supposed to win. When your bullpen delivers seven straight scoreless innings, you are supposed to win. When you load the bases on three straight one out walks in the 10th inning, you are supposed to win. Well, that’s why you play out the full game….

The Indians had several opportunities to put away the New York Yankees Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, but could never seal the deal. The Bronx Bombers could do nothing once Josh Tomlin was lifted after seven innings, but then again neither could the Tribe. Something was going to eventually have to give. It did, but unfortunately it was the Wahoos that blinked first. [Read more...]

Indians 5, Yankees 3: Bauer and the long ball do in Bombers

Nick Swisher

So let me get this straight. The Indians can get completely shut down by rookie Shane Greene one night, then beat down arguably the best pitcher in the American League this season in Masahiro Tanaka the next? Sounds about right. These, ladies and gentlemen, are your 2014 Cleveland Indians in a nutshell.

I mean seriously, how does this happen? Monday night, Greene took a no hitter into the fifth inning and left after six with a 5-2 lead en route to his first Major League win. Yet last night, All-Star Tanaka departed after the Tribe knocked him around for five runs on 10 hits in six plus innings. This is why anyone who gambles on baseball is crazy. [Read more...]

Indians News: Masterson to the DL, Hagadone, Perez Up, Holt down

Justin MastersonWell, we finally have our answer.

Justin Masterson, who has struggled terribly all season long, has been placed on the 15-day DL with right knee inflammation. The knee may be bothering him, but it is clearly a mental issue. In his last 11 starts, the Indians’ Opening Day starter has turned into one of the worst in baseball, posting a 7.16 ERA in 49 innings, giving up 60 hits and 36 walks.

Last night’s two inning debacle was clearly the last straw with Masterson, whom the Indians just couldn’t afford to trot out again in five days. The 15 days hopefully will give him a nice mental break. As for now, it is hard to see how Justin can get be trusted.

As I said earlier today, this complete collapse of his game couldn’t have come at a worse time for the big right-hander who is in his contract year and has been losing millions by the start.

Replacing Masterson on the roster will be an extra bullpen arm in Nick Hagadone, who is making his fourth appearance in Cleveland. His stay will be short with a starter needed for Saturday, which is expected to be Zach McAllister.

In addition to these two moves, the Indians have sent OF Tyler Holt back to AAA Columbus after his two-day stint and have purchased the contract of catcher Roberto Perez. Reliever Mark Lowe was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Perez.

The 25-year old catcher is having a banner year in Columbus, hitting .305/.405/.571 with eight homers and 43 RBIs. Perez is also considered a plus defender. He is a legitimate Major League backstop who should be in Cleveland for years to come.

The call up of Perez also signals once again that Carlos Santana’s future is as a first baseman and DH.

Yankees 5, Indians 3: The Justin Masterson Conundrum

Justin MastersonJustin Masterson is an absolute mess. The Indians can tell us all they want that nothing is wrong with him physically, but something is clearly off. Mentally, we know he is in a bad place. His command is not just bad, its brutal. Even pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the genius who turned Ubaldo Jimenez from a DFA candidate to a $50 million man, has no answers.

“You’re always frustrated when you don’t do well,” said Masterson after his team’s 5-3 loss. “When you’re not doing a good job at your job it’s always a tough thing. But a bigger disappointment is that the 24 other guys are coming out to fight for me. Even though I’m putting out as much effort as I can, I feel like I’m letting down the guys.” [Read more...]

Dr. Smooth: All Star; #VoteKluber, and gauging the trade values of Masterson and Cabrera

Corey KluberThese are interesting times for our Wahoos. While most of you were on LeBron and Dan Gilbert Plane Watch or worrying about Johnny Manziel’s July 4th in Las Vegas, your local nine was taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Big crowds came out Friday and Saturday as the Tribe split the first two. They recovered nicely to take Sunday’s rubber match 4-1.

The team is kind of in limbo right now. Where are they? Who are they? Is this a contender or a team that should start selling off veteran pieces? 2013 proved you shouldn’t count a Terry Francona managed team out, but the defensive issues and the sluggish bats make you think this isn’t “the year.”

Nevertheless, there is a lot of baseball to be played and the Indians just won a big series against a team they are chasing in Kansas City. There was plenty more going on not just on the field, but off of it as well this weekend. So as we do every Monday morning, let us dive into the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Indians 5, Dodgers 4: Tribe doesn’t “fear the beard,” takes series in L.A.

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No matter how much I watch this Indians team, I will never be able to figure them out.

I was in the building Monday night when the Wahoos were one-hit by Dan Haren. That was a night after Seattle’s Felix Hernandez one-hit gem. The offense went from ice cold to smokin’ hot last night as they exploded for 10 runs while beating up LA’s Josh Beckett. This outburst came after a 3-66 team skid! So Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match with the Dodgers, you had to think that had probably had blown their wad the night before. We’ve seen this too many times this season. The offense shakes out of their doldrums for a 10 or 12 spot, and then revert back to normal. It sure looked like we were headed in that direction against LA lefty Hyun-Jin Riu.

The only two runs the bats could muster came in the fourth when Ryan Raburn blasted his second homer of the season, this of the two-run variety. He exited the game after seven innings, scattering seven hits while striking out eight. Ryu didn’t walk a single Indian. The Dodgers nursed a 3-2 lead as Ryu had outdueled Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer. The former UCLA star fought his way through five and two thirds, and only had one bad inning; the fifth. [Read more...]

WFNY on location: The Dodger Stadium experience

Dodger StadiumLOS ANGELES — If you have not been to a game at Dodger Stadium, make sure you get their at some point. It is an absolute picturesque setting. On the drive up you cannot even seen the park itself. It is set beautifully in Chavez Ravine and once you go up the hill and into the parking lot, it appears. All you can say to yourself is “wow.” Some say the stadium itself is old and not a great place to watch baseball, but judging by my experience last  night, I would completely disagree.

My previous trip to this venerable place was in 1998, or as my friends like to refer to it as “The Summer of Todd.” My friend Sean and I had just graduated from The University of Kansas (well, he had graduated, I still had one semester left) and as a present to ourselves, we took a trip out West and hit all of the California ballparks while driving from San Diego to San Francisco, hitting all points in between. We were 22 without a care in the world (well, Sean did, he needed to find a job). Ballparks were crossed off the list, alcohol and greasy food were consumed. Lots of both. We crashed on friends couches in every city, including Los Angeles where we saw the Dodgers take on Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the trip of a lifetime.

One of those friends I crashed with, Billy, is still out here in LA. He and I had a mini-twin thing going on in high school. Billy was a grade ahead of me in high school and we were doubles partners on the OHS Tennis team. We wore all white with Black shoes and did the Slaughter/Langhorne high five on the court after big points that we won. Then there is Todd, one of my oldest and dearest friends and former pre-school carpool-mate, whom I shared amazing countless times with visiting his alma mater the University of Wisconsin. We used to refer to him as the Mayor of Madison.

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Tribe Weekend Recap: Tomlin’s gem, House’s run, and consistently inconsistent play

Josh TOmlinI promised myself I wouldn’t say anything negative about Nick Swisher’s play…….

When I sit down every Sunday to write about the weekend that was with our friends of the feather, the topics seem to be the same: Bad defense, a lack of coming through with the timely big hits, starters not going deep enough into the games, the middle of the order guys not names Michael Brantley not doing their jobs, et cetera. Truth be told, this weekend in Seattle did not provide many great conversation pieces.

Josh Tomlin’s Saturday night gem is the obvious pace to start, but outside of that, it was just more of the same from our Cleveland Indians. The 44-38 Mariners are not a bad team at all, but you are not going to win games when you score seven runs in three games. Seattle took the book ends of this series and left the Indians feeling limp as they hop on a plane for sunny Southern California.

The only true Tribe excitement of the weekend was the performance of The Little Cowboy. It was the finest game an Indians starter has thrown since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. Of all people, Tomlin was the one you would least expect. [Read more...]

Indians 6, Diamondbacks 1: Kluber shuts down snakes

Corey KluberThe worst bit going in Tribe circles heading into last night was the “what’s wrong with Corey Kluber” question. The answer: absolutely nothing. So he hadn’t won a game in the month of June. So what? By now you should all know how meaningless the win statistic is. Sure, Kluber was absolutely dominant in May, when his team won five of his six starts (2.09 ERA, 60 K’s in 43 IP) and in the Tribe’s only loss, he gave eight innings of one run ball. But it’s not like his June was, say, Masterson-2014-esque.

“I don’t think there’s been much of a difference in the way I’ve pitched [from month to month],” said Kluber. “It’s been a pitch here or there, but it’s about being consistent.”

Kluber had two off starts to start the month, but followed that with back to back two run outings which included a seven inning, six K, one walk performance against the Tigers where he got by solely on guts. Last night in Phoenix, the dominant one returned.

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Diamondbacks 9, Indians 8: Five games within a game

Indians vs Diamondbacks

In case you missed it—judging by the time of night the game had finish you probably had—the Cleveland Indians, once again, played a game in which they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory not once, not twice, but three times. The game 9-8, 14-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was marred by bad defense by both teams and some horrific managerial decisions by a guy who has been off his game all year. Oh and if you watched this game start to finish, one thing was abundantly clear: These were not exactly two World Series caliber teams at play here.

“Both teams stranded runners, both teams got to the starters early,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said. “The game mirrored each other a lot.”

I really could write an epic about this game. [Read more...]

The weekend that wasn’t: Tigers sweep the Tribe

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It is such a shame. How many times do the Indians draw over 100,000 fans in a weekend? I’ll tell you how many: Zero in the past three seasons. Its the first time this has happened since August of 2011. I don’t know what it is about the Indians and big crowds at Progressive Field, but it seems as though they are allergic to winning in these situations.

I know, I know, that might be overstating it a bit, but again, it is such a shame. How many more chances do you get to capture the live attention of over 100,000 people? I wish that Indians fans weren’t this fickle, but they are what they are and it is what it is. The Tribe HAD to come up with a better performance this weekend that the egg that they laid in a place they have been great all year long.

I’ve say this almost every Opening Day and I said it last season when the Tigers came to town July 4 weekend and smoked the Indians in front of a sell out crowd: When you get this opportunity, one that doesn’t come nearly enough at Progressive Field, you must take advantage of it. Winning at least one of these games would have been good enough. Instead, the Tigers came into Cleveland with thousands of their fans and swept the Tribe in their own house.

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Angels 9, Indians 3: Trout turns Tribe into dogs at Puppypalooza

Josh Tomlin Mike Trout Home Run

This just in: Mike Trout is good at baseball.

“There’s a lot to like about Trout,” said manager Terry Francona said with a smile. “I actually think for his sake they should rest him on Wednesday. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good player. You don’t want to tire him out.”

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the one of the in the game and in this one, the Indians just couldn’t stop the Angels phenom in the 9-3 loss. It was Puppypalooza at Progressive Field on Tuesday night, but it was the Tribe who wound up playing like dogs.

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