July 31, 2014

Revisiting Preseason Predictions for the 2013 Indians

Jason Giambi

Before every baseball season I like to make a bunch of predictions and fake prop bets about the upcoming year, and after each year ends, I like to circle back around and check on how I did.

This is a somewhat excruciating exercise for at least two reasons.  First, I’m not very good at gambling, and these follow-up posts serve as evidence to be used against me anytime my wife and I find ourselves in Vegas and I ask for permission to sit at a table for an hour.  Second, I’m reminded of how silly predictions are at all.  Below, you’re going to read about a bunch of things that I  thought would be keys to the 2013 season.  And somehow, you’re not going to read a whole lot about Yan Gomes and Ryan Raburn, two of the team’s four most valuable players.  That’s the nature of prognostication, I suppose.  Not just that we’ll be wrong about the answers, but that we’ll have been so wrong about the questions.

None of this, by the way, will prevent me from doing this all again, ad infinitum, until the warm earth receives me.  Below are the bets and how we did.

[Read more...]

The Diff: Reviewing stats on the surprising 2013 Indians

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote on the varying playoff odds formulations. This week, I’m revisiting many of my stats comments about the Tribe in 2013.

The Diff

Today is Sept. 25 and the Cleveland Indians have over 80 percent odds of making the American League playoffs. Yes, that’s likely as one of two Wild Card teams, but all that matters is just making it into the postseason. Dating back to the advent of the Wild Card system in 1994, home teams are only 316-271 (.538) in the playoffs. That means it’s still very much an incredible toss-up in the probable one-game playoff that would take place one week from today, regardless of location. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Sloppy play somehow produces a key series win

Nick SwisherSloppy baseball doesn’t usually produce a winning weekend. Then again, you also don’t always have the luxury of playing a team devoid of offense who was already without its best player. They say it is better to be lucky than good and your Cleveland Indians most certainly would agree with that statement. They didn’t hit well most of the weekend and played some of the worst defense you will ever want to see at times, yet somehow they scratched and clawed their way to a series win over the Minnesota Twins.

The ragged weekend performance looked like it would come to a head Sunday, when four Tribe errors and a big mental mistake should have cost them the game. However thanks to some stellar pitching and a late inning blast, the Indians pulled out a game they had no business winning. “We know we’ve got to do better,” Terry Francona said. “But I’d rather talk about it after a win.”

Its been said many times late last week, but taking this series was of the utmost importance to the Tribe with what is coming up after Monday’s day off. While the A’s and Orioles were beating each other, the Rays were beating down the Yankees. All the Indians needed to do was take care of their own business against an inferior team. [Read more...]

Update on Raburn, Myers, Kluber Injuries

Several updates on Cleveland Indians that have been out of action for varying periods of time were released this afternoon. First (and of the highest importance), outfielder Ryan Raburn has been out of action since Sunday with a right calf injury. Word came today, however, that he is also battling an Achilles’ issue in his left foot. If it extends past the weekend, he would likely head to the DL.

Starting pitcher Corey Kluber and his right middle finger are back on the mend. The Captain is supposed to throw a bullpen session off the mound on Monday. Kluber last pitched on August 5th, when he did not allow a run in 7 1/3 innings against the Tigers. Getting Kluber back for the final few weeks of the season would be a huge boost for the rotation as he was pitching like the team’s number two starter for most of the summer.

Finally, the forgotten starter, Brett Myers, is back with his second attempt to return from an elbow injury this season. Myers was to be transitioned to a bullpen role, and he will make a start for Akron tonight. It will be his first appearance in nearly two months.

With Josh Tomlin currently rehabbing in the minors as well, Carlos Carrasco working in spot starts and out of the bullpen, and 13 pitchers on staff, the Indians have had some decisions to make for the stretch run of the rotation.

Related: Revisiting Chief Wahoo and The Cleveland Indians Nickname Debate

Tribe’s Myers potentially nearing return

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Brett Myers could be nearing his return after the veteran recently completed a simulated game as a part of his rehabiltation process. Myers had missed the last several months after sustaining a right elbow injury.

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that Myers is “antsy” about a potential activation, but the Tribe manager Terry Francona has indicated that the pitcher needs to log more Minor League innings.

Myers is 0-3 on the season with an ERA of 8.02 in three starts. Tossing 21 1/3 innings, the 33-year old has allowed 19 earned runs, 10 home runs and five walks while striking out 12. Prior to his injury, his 12.2 home runs-per-nine innings was among the league’s worst for qualified pitchers.

Myers was initially placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 20th with right elbow tendonitis, but was moved to the 60-day list upon the signing of infielder John McDonald. Last we heard from Myers, who signed a $7-million deal in the offseason, there were murmurs he could eventually shift to the bullpen once healthy enough to return to the majors. Prior to joining Cleveland, Myers had spent the last two seasons in the bullpen with the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, respectively.

[Related: Cleveland Indians miss big on deals for Myers and Reynolds]

Cleveland Indians miss big on deals for Myers and Reynolds

Terry Francona, Chris AntonettiThe Cleveland Indians front office has to be nearly flawless to compete for the playoffs in any year.

If you don’t believe that proposition, just ask the Moneyball A’s or Wall Street Rays, whose innovation and knack for value propelled them to long playoff runs.

Entering 2013, the Tribe made major long-term investments on Nick Swisher (4 years, $56 million) and Michael Bourn (4 years, $48 million). Those signings alone added significant payroll for this upcoming season.

But the team also inked one-year deals with two veteran free agents expected to provide stability at key positions: right-handed pitcher Brett Myers ($7 million) and free-swinging first baseman Mark Reynolds ($6 million).

With today’s move to designate Reynolds for assignment, it’s likely neither one will play again for the Indians in 2013. They finished the year with a combined -1.7 WAR. [Read more...]

Indians All-Star Break Review: The Starting Rotation

Corey KluberWe have arrived at baseball’s All-Star break. The Cleveland Indians sit at 51-44, a game and a half out of first place in the AL Central. It has been quite a ride since GM Chris Antonetti hired Terry Francona to manage this club. The shot had been fired – a change in culture was about to arrive in Cleveland. We expected some changes, but nobody could have expected that this team would be as good as it has been. Yes, they have been up and down and have the nickname “Team Streak,” but this start has a completely different feel than the last two years. This seems real.

With that said, each of the next three days we will take a look at the three aspects of the club, beginning today with the starting rotation. [Read more...]

The Diff: Building the Cleveland Indians’ 2014 rotation

The Diff is your weekly Wednesday WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, The Diff covered a trio of topics related to Cleveland sports. This week, it’s time to focus on the Tribe’s starters.

The Diff

Entering 2013, the starting rotation was said to be the biggest weakness for the Cleveland Indians. While many still expected the team to at least finish around .500, it was in question whether the starters would possibly improve upon a third-to-last 5.25 ERA in 2012. Now 70 games into the much-hyped season, there have been some more mediocre results with lots of intriguing storylines on the rotation’s future composition. [Read more...]

MLB News: Indians acquire John McDonald; place Brett Myers on 60-day DL

The seemingly unbelievable rumors from earlier today are actually true: The Cleveland Indians have re-acquired former infielder John McDonald from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The team announced the trade in a tweet Monday evening before their 8 p.m. game in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. In exchange for McDonald, who was batting 2-for-31 on the season in 16 games for the Pirates, the Indians will send over a player-to-be-named-later and/or cash considerations.

McDonald, 38, was a fan favorite during his years with the Tribe. Drafted by the team in the 12th round back in 1996, he advanced up the system through Akron and Buffalo, then made his MLB debut with the Indians in 1999. Serving as an occasional defensive backup for Omar Vizquel and others, the slick-fielding shortstop batted .231/.269/.308 in 285 games with Cleveland through 2004.

He has then traveled the league ever since, most notably spending seven years with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was then with the Arizona Diamondbacks the past two seasons before signing a free-agent deal with Pittsburgh. Dating back to 2003, among the 45 shortstops with at least 3,000 innings logged, McDonald ranks eight in UZR/150.

Obviously, Cleveland feels more confident in McDonald’s defensive abilities than 24-year-old Juan Diaz, who has been up with the team ever since Asdrubal Cabrera went down with his injury last week. Diaz is similarly inept offensively and was only batting .211/.275/.316 in 52 games for Triple-A Columbus this season. He has not yet appeared in a game for the Indians in 2003. He’ll likely move back down to the minors shortly.

To create space on the 40-man roster, the Indians transferred right-hander Brett Myers to the 60-day disabled list. Myers was initially placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 20th with right elbow tendonitis, so this likely gives the team at least an extra 10 days to make any further roster decisions. Last we heard from Myers, who signed a $7-million deal in the offseason, there were murmurs he could eventually shift to the bullpen once healthy enough to return to the majors.

[Related: Tribe Weekend Wrapup: Wahoos falling fast…can they get back up?]

MLB News: Indians’ Brett Myers could be converted to relief pitcher

Cleveland Indians pitcher Brett Myers could be converted into a reliever if his right elbow issues persist for much longer, writes Mark Emery at Indians.com.

Myers was diagnosed in late April with tendonitis a mild UCL tear and suffered a setback when he felt renewed soreness last week after going four-plus innings in a rehab start at Double-A Akron.

“We’d like to let him come back as a starter,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters on Wednesday. “Saying that, I guess if it ever got to the point where we thought he could handle being a reliever, maybe that’s something we would look at, just out of common sense.”

In two rehab appearances for Double-A Akron, Myers went 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA. He lasted a combined 7 1/3 innings, while striking out two and walking five. Without Myers in the rotation, Indians starters have gone 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA while averaging slightly more than six innings per outing.

[Related: Indians 5, Reds 2: The Great Giambino to the rescue!]

What will we see next from mercurial Tribe rotation?

Justin Masterson against BostonEntering the 2013 season, the consensus weakness of the Cleveland Indians roster was its starting rotation. While Chris Antonetti had gone out and significantly boosted the offense — throwing out four-year deals and making small moves for new bench guys — the starters remained mostly intact.

And coming off the 2012 season, intact probably wasn’t the best thing to do. Last year, the Tribe rotation ranked 13th in the AL with a 5.25 ERA. It was one of the main reasons for the team’s abysmal collapse from its similar 26-18 start all the way to a 68-94 final record.

Thus far, we’ve seen flashes of greatness from a moderately improved Indians staff. Some internal changes, such as the impact of new pitching coach Mickey Callaway, might be making a difference. But it’s also been a Jekyll and Hyde situation, often changing impressions of the team’s prospects any given day based on the starter’s performance. [Read more...]

Brett Myers not sharp in AA rehab start

Cleveland Indians pitcher Brett Myers (8.02 ERA this season) started for the AA Akron Aeros last night on a rehab assignment. Myers was placed in the 15 day DL back on April 21st with an elbow strain. According to the Aeros’ game report, the start didn’t go as well as they had hoped-

“Myers (0-1) was making his second rehab start for the Indians, tuning up a sore elbow that landed him on the DL on April 20th. Myers worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed just the two first-inning hits. He walked four—possibly the most troubling aspect of his outing—and struck out two. He threw 76 pitches, 41 for strikes.”

Myers allowed 3 earned runs in his 4 innings. In addition, Myers hit a batter and had a wild pitch.

In Myers’ first rehab start he pitched well, going three innings while allowing just one hit and a walk.

[Related: The Diff- Historical finishes for 26-18 teams]

Brett Myers sidelined for at least two weeks with tendonitis and elbow sprain

The Cleveland Indians announced today that SP Brett Myers has elbow tendonitis and a mild UCL sprain-

The best case for the Indians? Myers is down for a couple weeks and returns healthy.

The worst case? Pitchers needing Tommy John surgery are often initially diagnosed with UCL sprains. If the former is true in Myers’ case, his 21 and a third innings of work will have cost the Tribe well over $300,000 an inning, or $109,375 an out. Give or take a grand.

Let’s hope that doesn’t come to pass.

Corey Kluber has moved into Myers’ spot in the rotation. Kluber has pitched in 2 games for the Indians this season and has a 1-0 record and a 1.80 ERA. He has struck out 5 and walked none.

Tribe Weekend Recap: Getting Healthy in Houston

Carlos SantanaThe Indians were a reeling bunch heading to Houston this weekend. They had just been swept by the Boston Red Sox and were essentially dominated for three games on their home field. Thursday night’s loss was a microcosm of the series; it was one missed offensive opportunity after another. Hitting the road sometimes is a good thing, especially for a team like the Indians who are still attempting to find themselves early in the season. Their next opponent, it seemed, was just what the doctor ordered – the sad-sack Houston Astros.

However, despite the optimism, the Tribe started the series without the DL’d Michael Bourn and with their three back-end starters slated to go. Brett Myers, Scott Kazmir, and Ubaldo Jimenez are not exactly Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Halladay. But this is what the Indians rotation is in its current state. Naturally by the end of the weekend, the rotation picture has gotten even more cloudy. The Tribe did end up taking two of three in Houston, which you will take all day. But make no mistake, it was a struggle against an Astros team that resembles a AAA ball club. But hey, a series win is a series win.

So let us dig right in as we do every Monday morning with the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Brett Myers to DL, Kluber to Rotation, Nieve Called Up

It didn’t look good when the Indians sent starting pitcher Brett Myers to Cleveland after Friday night. That concern was confirmed when the Indians placed Myers on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon with a right forearm injury. Corey Kluber, last night’s winning pitcher with four solid innings of relief work to close out the game, will assume Myers’s spot in the rotation on Wednesday against the White Sox. Myers has allowed 10 home runs in 4 games (3 starts) and is 0-3 with a 8.02 ERA.

To fill the roster spot occupied by Myers, the team called up Fernando Nieve from Columbus for long relief help. In 3 games (1 start), Nieve has allowed two earned runs and 10 hits in 13 innings for the Clippers, walking 4 and striking out 17. Last season, the 30-year-old right-hander was 7-9 with a 5.96 ERA at Triple-A Albuquerque in 25 games (24 starts). With Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound this afternoon and given his recent struggles, the Tribe decided to continue carrying 13 pitchers for the time being. With Asdrubal Cabrera day-to-day after falling in the dugout before last night’s game, the team has only 11 available hitters, one of them being Jason Giambi, who would likely only play the field in an emergency.

Related: Sunday Indians Notes: Beau Mills, the rotation, and prospects

MLB News: Brett Myers dealing with flexor tendinitis

Shortly following Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros, the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Sheldon Ocker had the first report on a particular ailment that has been bugging Cleveland Indians starter Brett Myers, but maybe not significantly on the mound.

During the last frame of Myers’ 5-inning start that actually only included 76 pitches, Cleveland manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and trainer Lonnie Soloff went to the mound to chat with the pitcher.

Per Ocker, Francona had noted that Myers’ velocity was way down compared to normal, and he wanted to ensure that nothing was physically amiss with his $7 million starter.

According to Ocker’s reporting and the mouth of Myers after the game, the pitcher has actually been dealing with a flexor (right forearm) tendinitis issue since the spring. But that injury “has no affect on the way he is performing,” Ocker wrote.

“I’ve been feeling some tendinitis in my flexor tendon,” Myers said. “When they came out, they wanted to check, because my velocity was down. But I don’t feel anything, and you still have to go out and compete.”

Myers has been receiving treatment for his condition thus far, according to the report.

Overall, the 32-year-old who pitched for the Astros in 2011 and part of 2012 is now 0-3 with a 8.02 ERA in four games this season. He has allowed 10 home runs in only 21.1 innings pitched, by far the most in the majors, including two in Houston’s three-run second inning on Friday.

[Related: Red Sox 6 Indians 3: Stumbling Offense, Bumbling Defense Lead To Sox Sweep]

Tribe Weekend Recap: The Rotation Situation Helps The Tribe Take Two

Nick SwisherThe weekend brought a fresh series and a fresh start for the Indians. They hadn’t played since Tuesday’s 14-1
debacle against the New York Yankees
 and the back to back rainouts were a welcome sight. Let them wash away the the memories of that brutal two game stretch and get back to baseball. The bats slumbered in two of the three games against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field, but they scratched and clawed their way to a series win, taking the first two of the three-game set.

There has been lots to talk about since we last got together, so let us get right to it.

Nick Swisher’s walkoff single was a thing of beauty on a night of hideous at-bats. Friday night’s series opener had a first pitch temperature of 42 degrees. However, for the brave 11,864 who paid to see this one, it felt more like four degrees. It was cold and rainy, a brisk night that felt more like football weather. For nine innings, the Sox and Tribe pitchers completely shut down the opposing offenses. Chicago lefty Jose Quintana baffled the Tribe over his seven innings of work. The only baserunners he allowed were Michael Brantley, who got on base via a second inning double and Swisher, who he hit with a pitch in the fourth. Other than that, he was perfect. Seven strikeouts, no walks. [Read more...]

Yankees 14, Indians 1: One week in and the rotation is a big problem

Carlos CarrascoI am not one to panic. Especially with 150-plus games left on the schedule. The hot starts for the Tribe the last two years resulted in nothing. But obviously you would like to see the lesser parts of your team do well early to give them confidence as the season starts to build.

It was no secret that the weak link of the 2013 Cleveland Indians would be their starting rotation. All five spots offered question marks. Would Justin Masterson regain his 2011 form? On perhaps his last chance here, would Ubaldo Jimenez ever be the guy he was in Colorado? Would Brett Myers be able to transition back into being a starter after spending 2012 in the bullpen? Was Zach McAllister ready for prime time? Who would emerge from the group of candidates to become the fifth starter?

Well we aren’t even two turns through the rotation and the Indians are already going to be on their seventh different starting pitcher tonight when someone – probably Corey Kluber –  will be called up from Columbus. This doesn’t even include the man who won the fifth starter spot this Spring, Scott Kazmir. His injury set things in motion and they haven’t stopped. [Read more...]

Blue Jays 10, Indians 8: Myers ignites fuse on Jays explosion

Brett MyersYour Wahoo Warriors headed into last night’s tilt against the Toronto Blue Jays looking for a sweep. I am trying to be a glass half-full guy when it comes to the Tribe in the Terry Francona era, so let me start with the positives.

The Indians were facing a familiar foe in former White Sox great Mark Buerhle. It seems as though the Tribe faced him almost every opening day for a decade (exaggeration here, but you get the point). Last season’s group would have cowered when a southpaw stepped to the hill, especially when you consider Manny Acta’s patented “all lefty” lineup. Francona kept his regular lineup intact for the third consecutive game. The only minor tweak was moving Mark Reynolds to first base with Nick Swisher as the DH. [Read more...]

WFNY 2013 Tribe Predictions

WFNY_roundtable

It is Opening Day! Rejoice! Terry Francona! Nick Swisher! Michael Bourn! Do you believe the Dolan Family Ownership ponied up for free agents? Do you believe not one, but TWO big name free agents signed long term deals here in Cleveland? The offseason was as exciting as any we have seen in the long history of the Tribe. The organization wants to get the fans back and they everything they could to do so. So here we are.

As we get set for another season of Cleveland Indians baseball, I got the WFNY group together and asked them some simple questions regarding the 2013 season. What do we expect for this club? Can they contend? Who will step forward? Who will disappoint? Lets take a look and if you would like, answer along with us in the comments section. [Read more...]