July 26, 2014

Tribe News: Hagadone down, Crockett back up

Nick HagadoneAfter coming up and pitching well in his first two appearances, left-handed reliever Nick Hagadone looked like he had finally turned the corner on his up and down career as an Indian. Instead, three straight outings where he recorded just one out while giving up three hits and two walks.

Last night’s appearance was the final straw for Hagadone as he came on to face two left-handed batters in a one run game. A walk and a double later, it was 5-2 Red Sox and Hagadone was pulled. This afternoon, he was sent back down to AAA Columbus. In his place is the return of rookie lefty Kyle Crockett, who made three appearances with the Tribe earlier this season.

Crockett was the Indians third round pick out of Virginia in 2013 and the first player in his draft class to make it to the major leagues. With fellow lefty Josh Outman struggling of late, Crockett has a real chance to pitch in some key spots for Francona.

Hagadone had teased us long enough, it was time for him to be replaced.

Red Sox 5, Indians 2: Papi & Lester stymie Wahoos for third straight loss

MIchael Brantley

This wasn’t another one that got away, but the Indians once again shot themselves in the foot defensively which directly affected the 5-2 loss in Boston on Thursday night. During their 9-1 hot streak, the gloves weren’t a hot topic of conversation, despite the fact that they led the league in errors and unearned runs. But during this three-game losing skid, they have committed four errors and botched several other key plays that could have changed the games.

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Indians News: Nick Swisher activated, Jason Giambi hits the DL

Nick SwisherLast night in the second of his two-game rehab stint  in Akron, first baseman Nick Swisher had two doubles and had no issues running on his sore knees. He has been deemed ready to go by the Tribe medical staff, so the Indians have officially activated him from the 15-day DL.

There has been much speculation about which way the Indians would go once Swisher returned from the disabled list. Would they DFA “The Summer of” George Kottaras and risk losing him on the waiver wire? Would they send down a reliever such as Nick Hagadone and go with a seven man pen? Or would they finally cut the cord on the 43-year old part-time DH Jason Giambi?

The good news for manager Terry Francona was that Giambi’s knee has magically flared up and he has been placed on the DL with what has been described as “left knee inflammation.” Papa G will be on the shelf for a few weeks or longer. There is no doubt Giambi is an important part of the clubhouse, but on the field, keeping Kottaras on the roster is the correct play. Carlos Santana’s days as a catcher this season should be limited to nothing unless an emergency situation comes up.

As for Swisher, he is in the lineup tonight as the DH, hitting seventh, as the Indians start a four-game series in Boston. Swish is looking to improve on his slow start, where he is hitting just .211/.312/.319 with thee homers and 19 RBIs.

Royals 4, Indians 1: Bats go silent as Ventura bests Bauer

Mike AvilesWhen the Indians look back on their first two and a half months of the 2014 season, they are going to lament the amount of games that they both failed to come through in ample opportunities at the plate and made defensive blunders that cost them runs.

Wednesday afternoon’s loss in Kansas City was the latest example. A night prior, Asdrubal Cabrera’s dropped throw on a double play ball and Carlos Santana’s bobble of a second double play grounder in the same inning opened the flood gates to a four run KC inning. Wednesday afternoon, the little things killed them again. [Read more...]

Royals 9, Indians 5: Poor defense returns as Tribe drops opener in KC

Corey KluberDuring the Cleveland Indians’ previous 10 games—where they won nine of them—one usual complaint when quiet: The poor defense. They floundered to start the season, while averaging an error per game and leading the American League in unearned runs. But in the midst of the recent hot streak, the defense tightened up. It reminded me of a football offensive line. You only really hear about them when they aren’t doing their jobs.

Last night in Kansas City, the iron gloves returned in what would be a 9-5 loss.

Tribe ace Corey Kluber was on the mound and even he could not stem the tide for the ill-timed defensive mistakes. With two on and one out in the third, Jarrod Dyson sent a sharp ground ball right at second baseman Jason Kipnis. It was a tailor-made double play ball even with the speedy Dyson running. Kipnis fired a strike to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera who flat out dropped the ball. Not in the transfer—he just dropped it. It was Cabrera’s 11th error on the season.

Asdrubal’s drop caused the flood gates to open. The Indians should have been out of the inning, instead, the bases were loaded. Kluber still had a chance to wiggle out of it and looked like he might. Omar Infante blooped a single to center putting the Royals on top 1-0. He was followed by Eric Hosmer, who sent a one hopper to Carlos Santana at first. If he fields it cleanly, he can start a 3-6-1 double play with ease, or fire home for the second out. Instead, Santana bobbled the ball before recovering and stepping on first for the second out. You can never assume the double play, but this was the another that should have been turned to end the inning. Billy Butler’s two-out single to right scored two more runs and the Royals had a 4-0 lead. [Read more...]

Indians 17, Rangers 7: Chisenhall delivers a performance for the ages

Lonnie ChisenhallLast April, after a third consecutive awful start, I famously called for the Indians to cut the cord on the Ubaldo Jimenez experience. Pretty much from that point forward, Ubaldo turned back into the pitcher the Indians had hoped they traded for at the deadline in 2011. On April 2nd of this year, I wondered aloud if we had seen the end of Lonnie Chisenhall in Cleveland. The reverse jinx king may have struck again!

The Indians have given up too soon on prospects before, only to see them flourish elsewhere (Brandon Phillips and Jeremy Guthrie to a lesser extent). They have also stuck with prospects at times for too long after being burned by the Phillips situation (Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte). In additon, their first round drafting has left a lot to be desired since CC Sabathia was taken in 1998. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Bauer & Tomlin as saviors, Carlos’ triumphant return, and a major roster decision looming

Josh TOmlin

If the last three weeks taught you anything, it is that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. In this space a short three weeks ago, I wrote that as Yogi Berra once said “its getting late, early” and that the Indians season was spiraling downward in an out of control manner. The starting pitching wasn’t cutting it, the offense couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a fist-full of $20′s, and defensively, the Tribe resembled the Bad News Bears. They sat 10.5 games out of first place in the AL Central behind the smokin’ hot Tigers who could do no wrong.

So now, here we are 21 days later and the Indians have crept over .500 for the first time since April 9 when they were 5-4. [Read more...]

The 2013 free agent closer class and why you “don’t pay for saves”

photo1I am a Fantasy Baseball player. I love the game. Have been playing for 25 years. I am in two leagues (one being a daily lineup change league), read all of the articles, am dialed into all of the prospects. The more information you can consume, the better the chances you have to succeed. Heck I even listen Fantasy Baseball podcasts (yes, I have issues).

Though he isn’t a part of it anymore, ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast used to be hosted by “The Talented Mr. Roto” himself, Matthew Berry. You know him as a Football guy, but he has plenty of Baseball opinions as well. For years on the podcast, Berry lived by one adage – “don’t pay for saves.” His view was that wasting high draft picks/big auction money on a closer is a gigantic waste. “You can always find guys who save games later” he would say. And you know something, he was NEVER wrong. [Read more...]

Indians 7, Red Sox 4: Breaking out the brooms at 2 AM

Asdrubal Cabrera

$1 hot dogs. Michael Bourn Bobbleheads. Johnny Freaking Manziel (and Justin Gilbert too!). Two hour and 28 minute rain delay. Bunting. Strikeouts. Leads. Preening Papi. Comebacks. Replays. Carlos Freaking Carrasco. More bunting. Edward Freaking Mujica. Walk off homer at 2:02 AM.

What did I miss? The details, my friends….the details.

How about your Cleveland Indians, ladies and gentlemen? Left for dead by so many after being swept by the Oakland A’s to the tune of 30-7 two and a half weeks ago, the Tribe has managed to not just gain their mojo back, but a whopping seven games in the standings. After last night’s 7-4, 12-inning win to sweep the Boston Red Sox, the Indians have raced back to within three and a half games of the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, who are suddenly reeling, losing four straight and seven of 10. [Read more...]

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Lack of “O,” poor “D,” ruin House’s “A” performance

TJ House

I have seen this game way too many times before. The Cleveland Indians get great starting pitching from an unlikely source, can’t get anything going with the bats, make an ill-timed error, and lose a winnable game. It is getting to become a real tired act.

Poor T.J. House pitched as well as anyone could have possibly hoped for. Coming up from Columbus to replace the injured and ineffective Zach McAllister, the left-hander was borderline dominant. Heading into the seventh, House was working on a three-hit shutout. There was a lot to like from the Southpaw. He was mixing and matching his breaking stuff with his fastball. The command was impeccable. The White Sox had little answer for him.

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White Sox 6, Indians 2: Another costly error direct cause of Wahoo loss

MIchael BrantleyThe Indians may have turned a corner with their play in a home sweep of the Detroit Tigers. They followed that up with a split of the series in Baltimore, which you will take all day. Next up was the Chicago White Sox, who the Tribe has already seen several times this year. Though they have played some of their better baseball of late, one thing has not changed; their horrific defense.

No matter the day you can count one three things in life right now: Death, Taxes, and bad Tribe defense costing them at least one run. They have lost three of their last four after the 6-2 Memorial Day defeat on the South Side of Chicago. In those three losses, three errors (one in each game), directly accounted for six unearned runs. This isn’t a recent trend either, it is a season long reality. The Indians are the worst defensive team in the league. There are no two ways around it.

Monday afternoon was just another prime example. [Read more...]

Indians 8, Orioles 7: Wahoos win another marathon

Lonnie ChisenhallThese last two games may have taken two years off of my life.

The Cleveland Indians, who can resemble the Bad News Bears at times, have come back from the dead with a vengeance. They improbable sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field may have kicked started their season, which looked all but dead on Sunday night. The series finale was a 13-inning stunner that had everything. The bullpen was so completely fried thanks to a two-inning start from the since-DL’d Zach McAllister that reinforcements were needed. But it wasn’t just as simple as recalling a guy or two.

They had no starting pitcher for last night’s game in Baltimore. Justin Masterson had to be called upon on short rest because the Columbus pipeline didn’t offer an immediate solution. Veteran journeyman Mark Lowe was summoned as well and would no doubt be the first guy out of the pen no matter the situation. The obvious call up – C.C. Lee – was sent down within the last 10 days and could not come back up. Rookie leftyKyle Crockett, whom the Indians wanted to have stay up for the long haul, was the only real option to send down, had to go as well. A starter would be needed for Friday night’s game and that would be T.J. House. Who knew that House almost would have to come on in relief Thursday.

It was a gigantic mess. The Indians desperately needed a strong and potentially deep start from Masterson on three days rest. Early on it looked as though they may have gotten it. But by the end of another 13-inning marathon, Justin’s efforts would be long forgotten as the Tribe pulled out another crazy extra inning win 8-7. [Read more...]

Indians 11, Tigers 10: The sweep that came via…The Balk-Off?

Asdrubal CabreraJust when you think this team is out…They suck you right back in.

The 2013 Cleveland Indians were dubbed “team streak” at times. Nobody could be colder and then immediately rattle off seven in a row the way they did. Let us not forget that Wahoos had to win 10 straight to close out the season to make the playoffs and actually accomplished the feat. This year’s version is nowhere close, but the last six days have been somethin’ else.

“A few weeks ago, we really didn’t show a whole lot of fight,” David Murphy said. “The type of day that we had, nobody is going to say die. Nobody is going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to throw away at-bats. Everybody is going to go up there and fight until it’s over.” [Read more...]

Indians 6, Tigers 2: Bauer outshines Verlander as offense delivers

Trevor BauerOn paper, this one seemed like a mismatch. But as a wise man once said “that’s why they play the games.”

Coming off the series opening win a night earlier, the Indians turned to rookie Trevor Bauer to take his first trek through the rotation as a regular. On the other side was Detroit’s Justin Verlander. While the two-time CY Young award winner is still one of the best pitcher’s in the game, the Tribe has had decent success against him in his career. But nothing in the past would come even close to what the Wahoos did to JV in the first two innings in the 6-2 win.

Trailing 1-0, Asdrubal Cabrera – the hottest Indian not named Michael Brantley – got things started with a one out single. Brantley kept things moving with a single of his own. Next up was the new cleanup man against right-handed pitching (at least on this night), Lonnie Chisenhall. I have been banging the drum for the #FreeLonnie movement for weeks and with the offense struggling the way it has been, Chiz has rightfully been moved up in the batting order. Lonnie came through with the third straight single, this one driving in Cabrera to tie the game. David Murphy grounded into an inning-ending double play, but the Tigers and Verlander were on notice. They weren’t messing around. [Read more...]

Indians 5, Tigers 4: Dr. Smooth to the rescue….again

Tribe celebration

Dr. Bleeping Smooth, if you need him, folks. Where would this Indians team be without him?  In a season of struggle, Michael Brantley has been the one shining star, literally carrying the offense. On a night where the Indians blew three different leads, it was Brantley who saved them once again with a 10-inning walkoff solo blast off of Detroit reliever Al Albuquerque to end the Tribe’s four-game losing streak.

“For us to come back and beat these guys,” Nick Swisher said, “it’s a huge step in the right direction for us. We’re still in this thing. We’re only 45 games in and we know what we can do. We have a lot of guys, myself included, who aren’t playing as well as [we'd] like to be, but I think tonight was a good starting point to turn things around a little bit.” [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Can it get much worse?

Nick SwisherI really don’t even know what to say about this team right now. I have been searching for positives from this horrific weekend series where the Oakland Athletics did their best Harlem Globetrotters impression while the Cleveland Indians donned the uniforms of the Washington Generals. They didn’t hit. They committed more errors (7) than runs scored (6). The pitching was for the most part awful. If it is possible to hit rock bottom in the middle of May, the Tribe certainly was attempting it with this series.

Said manager Terry Francona, who has been as off of his game as his players this season: “What we’re doing, right now is not good enough. We’ve got to play better, and we’ve got to have these guys more prepared.”

The A’s swept the Indians with complete and utter ease, outscoring the Wahoos 30-6. By Sunday, Francona was left searching for answers, so he reluctantly did what he didn’t want to do — moved things around in the batting order. It didn’t work.

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Blue Jays 4, Indians 2: Happ-less against another lefty

Jesus Aguilar

Stop me if you heard this one before. A soft tossing lefty who hasn’t been great, sees the Indians and turns himself into the second coming of Sandy Koufax. Toronto’s JA Happ made his third start of the year. The last time out, he didn’t make it out of the third inning, giving up four runs on seven hits, including two homers in a 5-3 loss to the Angels. Naturally a night after destroying Jays pitching for 15 runs on 22 hits, Happ held the Indians down to one run on six hits in six innings in a 4-2 Blue Jays win. Only a homer by David Murphy staved off the lefty holding the Tribe scoreless.

Baseball is such a crazy game. The last time the Indians scored double figures was two weeks ago at home against the Chicago White Sox. The 12-run outburst was followed by five runs in three games. The soft tossing lefty Happ started yet another offensive skid. The big difference between the 2013 92-win club and this year’s version of the Tribe is the way they handle left-handed pitching. The magic of guys like Ryan Raburn, Nick Swisher, Yan Gomes, and Carlos Santana in their handling of southpaws has all but disappeared. It is not a good sign when your three (Raburn – who should never be hitting third) and four (Santana) hitters are hitting .181 and .158 respectively. The Indians have now been worked over by Erik Bedard and Happ in the same week. Ouch. [Read more...]

Indians 15, Blue Jays 4 : It’s alive…ALIVE!

Carlos Santana

Every once and a while, the scuffling Cleveland Indians offense awakens with a big game as they did two Friday’s ago when the battered the White Sox around in a 12-5 win at Progressive Field. Then they came crashing back to earth with five runs in the next three games. But on that night, it was a badly needed and welcomed sight. Last night in Toronto gave off that same kind of vibe.

The bats rose to the occasion with season highs in runs (15) and hits (22) — five each from David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall —  in the blowout win inside of Rogers Center. You know what is crazy? The 15-4 final shouldn’t even have been that close. [Read more...]

Johnny Manziel: SI Cover Boy

Here’s Johnny….. The first of (hopefully) many magazine covers as a pro. And it is a biggie. Sports Illustrated. Let us hope that the “SI Jinx” doesn’t apply to our new Quarterback.

 

Johnny Manziel SI cover

Blue Jays 5, Indians 4: Masterson’s hole too deep for offense to dig out

Carlos Santana

Justin Masterson is a nice guy. By all accounts he is a great teammate and rarely in a bad mood. But you know what I want to see from him? More nastiness. More intensity. More domination. But here is the thing: I expect too much out of Masterson. Justin is what he is—a nice middle-of-the-rotation starter. At his best, he is a No. 2. And therein lies the problem. I want him to be something that he isn’t.

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