August 26, 2014

Lack of offense ruins feeling potential double dip sweep

Zach Walters

See, this is what .500 baseball teams do. Win four. Lose four. Win three, lose a game you shouldn’t lose. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Your Cleveland Indians spent eight hours proving they are what they are yesterday at Progressive Field against one baseball’s worst teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Tribe is like a hack golfer who can hit nice drives, second shots, chips, and putts, but can’t seem to put it all together on the same hole with any sort of consistency. Take the doubleheader for example. They finally put two great starts together coupled with solid bullpen work, yet the offense combined to score three runs in 21 innings as they split two with the NL West’s doormat.

I suppose I am being a little harsh on the team I love the most, considering the bottom of the order now looks like a Columbus Clippers game broke out. Nick Swisher, David Murphy, and Michael Bourn all currently sit on the DL. Asdrubal Cabrera has since been dealt. So we will see the likes of Tyler Holt, Jose Ramirez, Chris Dickerson, and game one hero Zach Walters regularly. It is not such a bad thing for an organization in need of a spark from its upper tier minor league levels. But wasting 11 scoreless frames in game two ruins what should have been a great day to build on. [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.

[Read more...]

MLB News: Charles Nagy returns to Indians in staff position

charles nagyFan favorite and three-time All-Star Charles Nagy has joined the Cleveland Indians organization in a yet-to-be-defined staff position.

The 47-year-old won 129 games in 13 seasons with the Tribe. He last pitched professionally in 2003. The Akron Beacon Journal’s Stephanie Storm first reported the news over at the TribeFest event at Progressive Field today. The role will be precisely defined during spring training in Arizona.

Nagy served as the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching coach from 2011-2013. He was then somewhat surprisingly fired shortly after this past season ended. SB Nation’s Rob Neyer theorized that Nagy and bench coach Steve Sax were fired because Arizona pitchers were not hitting enough opposing batters. Seriously.

Shortly after the firing, some Indians fans started clamoring for Nagy to return to Cleveland. Wahoos on First’s Steve Kinsella wrote such a post the next week. He suggested the Indians make him a roving minor league pitching coach. Reports are circulating Nagy will have some type of coaching/advising role.

Nagy’s post-playing career began with two seasons as a special assistant to then-Tribe general manager Mark Shapiro in 2004-2005. He then was the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A pitching coach from 2006-2007. After three years away from the game with his family, he returned to become the Columbus Clippers’ pitching coach in 2010. Arizona hired him from there.

Amid the excitement of TribeFest, this certainly should be well-received news among Indians fans. Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway had a phenomenal season in 2013. His presence is regarded as a significant reason for the team’s pitching improvement last year and subsequent run to the American League Wild Card game. Nagy’s presence, in whatever role, can only help the organization further.

Specifically,’s Jordan Bastian pointed out that Nagy worked with eccentric Indians pitching prospect Trevor Bauer over in the Diamondbacks organization. That familiarity should help out too.

[Related: Thome statue unveiling among highlights of Indians ’14 promotional calendar]

Photo: Jordan Megenhardt/Arizona Diamondbacks

MLB News: Indians land outfielder Jason Kubel in trade with Arizona

(Update 10 a.m.: While no official announcement has been made, the Indians have reportedly landed Kubel for a Player to be Named Later. The Diamondbacks will help pay for the bulk of the money owed to Kubel.)

It’s no secret that the Indians have struggled offensively over the last month-plus. It looks like, at the very last minute, the front office might be finding a way to address that issue.

According to reports, Cleveland is emerging as a “strong possibility” to land recently waived Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Jason Kubel. MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo first put out the rumor on Twitter about an hour ago, followed by confirmation from the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro. It’s possible such a deal could be a trade for parts from the Tribe.

Kubel, 31, landed out west with a two-year, $16 million deal in the winter of 2011. The lefty batter slugged a career-high 30 home runs last season, finishing the year with a .253/.327/.506 line in 141 games. It’s been an entirely different story in 2013: He’s batting just .220/.288/.324 in 89 games, including a 9-for-75 (.120) mark at the plate since July 3.

Most well known in the AL Central for his solid seven-year career with the Minnesota Twins, Kubel is another left-handed option for the Indians to perhaps try out. He’s certainly better than giving Matt Carson any high-leverage at-bats, as Terry Francona did for some reason on Wednesday night. If injured Ryan Raburn is out any longer, even Kubel in his recent slumping ways could be a net positive.

So stay tuned on Friday morning to see if the Indians and Diamondbacks can work out their second deal in 12 months — including the Shin-Soo Choo, Didi Gregorius, Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs trade with Cincinnati last winter. The key thing to look out for would be the possible return for Arizona, as Kubel isn’t worth much more on his contract this season.

[Related: Braves 3 Indians 2: The little things cost the Tribe big time]

WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2012: #9 The Trade of Shin-Soo Choo

2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. We started earlier today with the Buckeyes Final Four trip . Number nine is something that happened just a short two weeks ago.

#9 The Indians send Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati in a blockbuster three-team deal that netted them the ace of their future, Trevor Bauer.

It literally came out of nowhere. Sure, there was a lot of speculation both at the 2012 trade deadline and all winter long that the Indians would move perhaps their best player, Shin-Soo Choo, but the price was reported to be very steep. No true rumors have been floated or names bandied about. All seemed quiet on the Choo front. After the Winter Meetings ended with Choo’s name never mentioned, I was resigned to the fact that the Tribe would hold Scott Boras’s flavor of the month, hope he had a great year, and then move him to the deadline.

Then it happened. [Read more...]

Trevor Bauer, and the Indians’ starting pitching outlook

Trevor Bauer is a game-changer. Yes, the new Cleveland wunderkind is only 21 (he turns 22 in January) and has just 4 (bad) games of MLB experience under his belt, but his sheer presence drastically changes the starting pitching algorithm for the Cleveland Indians going forward.

Obviously, there’s a certain amount of risk associated with Bauer. I’d be amiss if I didn’t address that. According to all the reports out there, he’s eccentric, stubborn, abnormally intelligent, a bad rapper, practically revolutionary and thus, seemingly was at odds with Arizona’s upper management, which is why the No. 3 overall pick in 2011 was on the trade block at all. He could not become the star many expect him to be. That’s possible, and you always have to address that fact when dealing with a very limited MLB sample size.

But, undoubtedly, the UCLA product has more upside and MLB-readiness by far than any other starter in the entire Indians system. He could immediately slot into the starting rotation from day one — but it’s not exactly certain if that will be the case. Either way, with the Indians owning his rights through 2018 (at least), and the fact he’s dominated AA/AAA batters, he’s the bright future of the Indians pitching outlook for many years to come. [Read more...]

Antonetti pulls off a coup for Choo

To quote the great Nick Gilbert…. “What’s Not To Love?”

I have killed Chris Antonetti time and time again for his head scratching roster decisions, but none of those will be mentioned in this piece. I am here to stand up, clap, and give the much maligned Tribe GM his proper due.

Throughout this offseason, the Indians have been in the center of activity in baseball’s hot stove league. They have a powerful and well respected new manager in Terry Francona, and a roster with a young core group of players, four of whom were prime trading chips. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Indians needed a makeover.

But would they actually have the stones to go through with it? And if so, how would they go about it?

It started with the trade for Mike Aviles. It seemed like a small move, but it was one that would start the facelift. On Sunday, the Indians decided they no longer wanted to wait on Kevin Youkilis and instead signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds for half of the cost (one year, $6 million) of Youk (who signed a one year, $12 million deal tonight with the Yankees).  But as I said on Monday, there was no chance Antonetti was done. [Read more...]

Diamondbacks 6 Indians 4: Arizona Takes Down The Mafia

It was bound to happen at some point. The Tribe relievers, dubbed “The Bullpen Mafia,” have been as close to perfect as you can get this season. The blown games have come few and far between for this group. No matter the situation, they always seem to get the job done.

During last night’s 6-4 loss in Phoenix, the pen was done in late not once, but twice.

This was a close game throughout thanks to solid starting pitching on both sides from Josh Tomlin and Daniel Hudson. But it wasn’t their pitching that everyone wanted to talk about last night; it was their bats.

Tomlin delivered the first two hits of his career in the third and fifth. After Shelley Duncan’s leadoff double, the Tribe starter was asked to drop down a sacrifice bunt. Instead, he put down a beauty to the third base side for a bunt single. Duncan would end up scoring the first run of the game on Michael Brantley’s double play ball. [Read more...]

Cactus League: Indians Lose Big to D-Backs 15-9

Matt LaPorta is With Leather (Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

Matt LaPorta is With Leather (Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

Diamondbacks 15,  Indians 9 (box score)

The good news is that the Indians scored nine runs yesterday.  The bad news?  They gave up 15.  I pay about as much attention to the box scores of spring training as I do to off-season rumors about starting quarterbacks who might be traded.  Still, you can’t ignore all the signs provided by the scores of springtime, can you?

Well, if you are concerned take a look inside the gaudy score.  The biggest damage was done to the Indians in a 6-run inning.  And two pitchers were on the mound while the Diamondbacks scored 10 runs.  Those two pitchers were Jack Cassell and Tomo Ohka.  Are you still concerned?  Also consider that the Indians had four errors.  Said errors were assigned to Jordan Brown (2), Stephen Head, and Aaron Laffey.

On the brighter side of things, Matt LaPorta smacked a home run of off Diamondback stud starter Dan Haren, and later hit a double.  Grady Sizemore had two hits and two RBI.   So, it wasn’t all bad news in Goodyear.  Right now, I am still just glowing from the thought that there is baseball being played.