April 16, 2014

2013 Indians in Review: The Bullpen

ChickenThe Indians wild ride has come to an end. The 2013 season was one that nobody expected. A 96 loss team turned into a 92 win club that advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. GM Chris Antonetti and Manager Terry Francona helped changed the culture of the organization and has our baseball team on the rise. There is a buzz in the city about the Indians again. It was a season to remember with so many great moments and the arrival of some new fan favorites.  

Each day this week, we will look back at a different portion of the club and see where we are today, a plan for 2014, and so on. We began with the starting rotation, and now we move onto the relievers. [Read more...]

MLB News: Ubaldo Jimenez named AL Pitcher of the Month, Bryan Shaw also considered

What a difference a year makes. Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenz was named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for September on Monday.

“Jimenez compiled a perfect 4-0 record in six starts in September with a 1.09 ERA, seven walks and 51 strikeouts over 41.1 innings pitched to claim his third career monthly award, previously winning for April and May 2010 while he was with the Colorado Rockies. He is the first Indians hurler to win Pitcher of the Month honors since Cliff Lee in August 2008.

Among A.L. leaders for September, Ubaldo finished first in innings pitched and strikeouts, was second in ERA, was tied for second in wins and was fourth in the league with 11.1 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. Opponents managed just a .230 batting average against him. In a September 3rd matchup against the Baltimore Orioles, the 29-year-old Jimenez scattered four hits over 6.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts as the Tribe edged the O’s, 4-3, at Progressive Field. The victory snapped a personal two-game losing streak. In his next start on September 9th, the eight-year veteran allowed one unearned run on seven hits in 7.0 innings pitched to lead the Indians past the Kansas City Royals, 4-3, in Cleveland. Ubaldo struck out 10 batters for the third time in four outings, also striking out 10 in each of his starts on August 23rd (vs. Minnesota) and August 29th (at Atlanta).

His next trip to the bump proved just as commanding as the Dominican Republic native permitted one run on eight hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in a season-high 8.1 innings to help the Indians top the Chicago White Sox, 8-1, on September 14th at U.S. Cellular Field. Ubaldo’s third straight win marked his longest outing since registering a complete-game effort on June 1, 2011 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Facing the Houston Astros on September 19th, the 2010 National League All-Star allowed one run on six hits with nine strikeouts in a no-decision as Cleveland prevailed, 2-1, at Progressive Field. Jimenez followed that outing with a 6.1-inning effort against the White Sox on September 24th in which the right-hander allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and did not factor in the decision as Cleveland triumphed, 5-4. On the season’s final day and with a Postseason berth on the line, Jimenez shut down the Minnesota Twins offense over 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on five hits and registering a season-best 13 strikeouts as Cleveland won, 5-1, at Target Field to ensure a spot in Wednesday’s A.L. Wild Card Game Presented by Budweiser.

Others receiving votes included Jimenez’s Indians teammate Bryan Shaw (5-0, 0.00 ERA, 13 G, 15.1 IP, 15 SO); Bartolo Colon (4-1, 1.16 ERA, 31.0 IP, 33 SO) of the Oakland Athletics; Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 0.76 ERA, 35.2 IP, 28 SO) of the Seattle Mariners; Greg Holland (0-0, 0.64 ERA, 10 SV, 18 SO) of the Kansas City Royals; and Alex Cobb (3-0, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 35 SO) of the Tampa Bay Rays.”

 [Related: When a win is more than a win]

 

 

The American League Pitcher of the Month, Ubaldo Jimenez, will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his

 

accomplishment.

Closer Jeopardy: Who’s the man for the Indians now?

Josmil Pinto, Chris PerezIt’s not like many fans didn’t see this coming, right? Perhaps not the 89-70 record, but maybe the Chris Perez demise?

Here we are. Three games left in the regular season. The Cleveland Indians are on the verge of the playoffs and, it appears that with last night’s performance, Perez might be out of a closer’s job. Heck, he nearly volunteered it up with an “I don’t want to cost us games” statement, per Terry Francona in his post-game press conference.

So what’s next? Playoffs are on the horizon and it’s fairly unprecedented for a contending team to drop their allegiance to their designated **ninth-inning win-or-die guy** suddenly after game 159. Let’s review all of the options available for Francona and the Tribe as we head into this incredibly dramatic final weekend.

The Hot One: Bryan Shaw
Season stats: 7-3 record, 3.24 ERA, 70 games, 75.0 IP, 60 H, 28 BB, 73 K [Read more...]

Debating Chris Perez’s closer role – Cleveland Indians Roundtable

Shortly after last night’s incredible ninth-inning comeback, former WFNY weekend man Brendan Porath nudged the WFNY staff: Let’s do a roundtable about Chris Perez. So here we are, again, talking about the controversial closer’s role for the rest of 2013. Share your takes in the comments.

WFNY_roundtable

Brendan: So, Jason Giambi delivered one of the most dramatic and enjoyable wins in Indians franchise history. But it promptly overshadowed the continuing troubles with Chris Perez — the Tribe’s shaky (is what we’ll call it) closer. Next time, the stakes may be higher and we can’t repeatedly count on old Jacobs Field magic when there may be other options. [Read more...]

Tigers 6 Indians 5: Demoralizing doesn’t even describe this one

Yan GomesIt was Lou Brown who said it best:  ”One day we are gonna figure out how to beat those guys.”

The last three games against the first place Detroit Tigers have been absolutely demoralizing to say the least. I don’t know what it is, but every time they have seen the Indians this season, the Motor City Kitties just seem to come through when they need to, breaking the hearts of the Indians at seemingly the worst possible time.

If this were “Major League” the movie, the Tigers are the pre-final-scene New York Yankees and Miguel Cabrera is a real life Clew Haywood.

Rookie Danny Salazar was making just his second Major League start in a move the Indians brass would usually opt against. They said inning-limit be dammed, we are going to let the kid go the rest of the way. 89 pitches were the most he has thrown in any start and he has mostly been a five-inning pitcher. With the injury to Corey Kluber, Salazar had been told the spot is his the rest of the way. Reportedly the original plan was to bring Salazar up for not just this start, but to be a part of a six-man rotation through the end of the season. That has obviously gone by the wayside now that Kluber will miss the next 4-6 weeks. [Read more...]

Indians All-Star Break Review: The Bullpen

Chris PerezWe 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, this week  we will take a look at the three aspects of the club. Yesterday we examined the starting rotation. Today we will go deep with the bullpen.  [Read more...]

Indians 5, Orioles 2: So Smooth…..

Michael BrantleyLast night in Baltimore the Indians played a game that made you proud to root for this team. Watching them battle, execute, and eventually win this one was another example of why this particular group can be easy to love.

Sure, for the first five innings you probably didn’t feel this way and I can certainly understand why. Baltimore’s Zach Britton shut the Tribe down completely on just two singles. They looked baffled as the left-handed mowed them down with relative ease. But baseball is not a five inning game. The third time through the order can be a dicey proposition at times. Just ask the great Jeremy Sowers about that.

Trailing 2-0, things got started with the smokin’ hot Jason Kipnis, who opened the sixth with a leadoff double. It seemed innocuous at the time, given Britton’s dominance, but the Tribe train was about to run over the Orioles starter. Nick Swisher, who has been struggling so mightily in June, came through with a big RBI single to cut the Baltimore lead in half. Carlos Santana followed by lacing a double to left. Now the Indians were really in business with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. After falling behind Mark Reynolds 3-0, the O’s dugout called for the intentional pass to load the bases for a Michael Brantley. Manager Buck Showalter figured he would take his chances left on left. Except he didn’t realize who he was dealing with. [Read more...]

Bullpen spoiling wins, Francona’s decisions come into question

Nick HagadoneWhile it was a long weekend for all of us, it was a looooong weekend for the suddenly embattled Cleveland Indians. I’ve said it so many times, but baseball is such a crazy game and the season is a marathon, not a sprint. I come back to that often because it is important as a fan to not get too high or too low, especially in May.

This month has seen the best and the worst of the Tribe. It wasn’t more than a week ago that the Wahoos were pulling rabbits out of their hats in a four-game sweep of the Mariners. Now here we sit in crisis mode, losers of six of seven.

The sudden fall off of the Tribe shouldn’t freak everyone out the way it is. This is water returning to its level. The Indians were not as good as that 18-4 run and they are not as bad is the current 1-6 mark would indicate. [Read more...]

Tribe Pen Living Up To Billing

Chris PerezAs much as we all worried about the Indians starting rotation heading into the 2013 campaign, I think we can all agree that the bullpen was the one spot where we felt the most confident. During the Spring, there were several candidates for only a few spots. A month into the season, Tribe manager Terry Francona has an embarrassment of riches and literally doesn’t have enough room for everyone.

Look at how things are breaking down starting from the back end down.

Chris Perez is the unquestioned closer. While “Pure Rage” has not had as many save opportunities as he would like, the man with the golden arm and mouth to boot has allowed just one earned run in his eight appearances. He is 3-4 in save chances and carries a WHIP of 0.88 with nine strikeouts. Vinnie Pestano mans the eighth inning and like Perez, has made eight appearances totaling eight innings of work. He has given up just two runs, has eight strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.13. His four walks aren’t great, but so far, Vinnie has been Vinnie. The triumverate of late inning guys begins with Joe Smith. Smitty is once again performing like a champion. He hasn’t allowed a single run in his 10 outings, has 11 K’s in eight and a third innings of work, and hasn’t walked a single batter.  [Read more...]

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

Ryan RaburnIt doesn’t get much worse than yesterday in the wacked out world that is Cleveland Sports. Late morning brought us the news that the Cavaliers had relieved Byron Scott of his duties leaving Terry Francona, on the job all of 13 games and all of six and a half months as the longest tenured manager/coach of our three major sports franchises. Then we all learned that the man who was as popular as The Beatles in this town, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, had his company and “first love” Pilot/Flying J under FBI investigation for the past two years on charges of alleged rebate fraud. According to a 120-page affidavit, Haslam had direct knowledge of the wrongdoings. Meanwhile, the Indians were trying to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, who have done just about everything right in the first two games of the series.

Well this is Cleveland, and sometimes when it rains, it doesn’t just pour, it monsoons on us.

This is supposed to be a time of excitement and hope. The NFL Draft is a week away. The NBA Playoffs are starting this weekend. The baseball season is just getting off the ground. The Indians are fresh with new players and a manager that is about as respected as they come. But yesterday the sports world was the dog, and our three teams were the tree.  [Read more...]

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Ubaldo’s alive, Reynolds shows why he’s here

Mark ReynoldsSometimes when you go into something with low expectations, things work out in your favor. For the second consecutive season, arguably the most important pitcher on the Indians is right-handed starter Ubaldo Jimenez. His success or lack there of is a gigantic key in the success of this team in 2013. If we get the 9-17, above five-ERA guy we saw in 2012, the odds that the Tribe will be contending for a playoff spot are just about slim to none. So it was with a huge grain of salt that I took the reports of how “well he threw” this Spring in Goodyear. Last night in Toronto, Jimenez got his first chance to translate this into real game action that counted.

For six innings, Manager Terry Francona got the kind of start he would love to see on a regular basis from Ubaldo. Sure, he got himself in a couple of jams, but for the most part, Jimenez was in control. His six innings of one run, three hit, ball was a far cry from his last start in Toronto last July where he couldn’t get out of the third inning.

“I remember the last time I was here,” he said. “I want to forget about it, but tonight was a really good game.” [Read more...]

Roster Is Set, Any Concerns?

Scott KazmirWe are a week away from Opening Day! Your 2013 Cleveland Indians have finally come to complete form. Manager Terry Francona and GM Chris Antonetti had a vision on how they wanted their roster to come together. Throughout the spring, things seemed to break exactly how they wanted them to.

Heading into Goodyear. there were two bench spots, one rotation slot, and four bullpen openings to be won. The signings of DH Jason Giambi and utility man Ryan Raburn were both talked up big time by Francona.

”The day I got the job, Chris and I were talking,” said Francona in late February. “I said if this guy [Raburn] ever comes off the Tigers’ roster, he’s a guy I like. Chris said he liked him, too. So we targeted him early.”

From the jump, Raburn made himself noticed with an 11-23 start (.478). His ability to play second, third, and corner outfield, plus the pop he has shown with hit bat made it an easy decision for Francona and Antonetti to keep him. [Read more...]

MLB News: Kazmir, Giambi, Raburn make Indians roster

As expected, the Indians made some decisions and announcements this afternoon as it pertains to their Opening Day 25-man roster. The team’s official Twitter account broke some of the nuances, none of which were all that surprising based on existing predictions.

Notably: LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Carlos Carrasco, LHP Nick Hagadone, RHP Bryan Shaw, 1B/DH Jason Giambi and IF/OF Ryan Raburn all officially will be on the team’s roster. Technically, Carrasco will be serving a six-game suspension at the start of the year, so the Tribe will be down to 24 men.

The fact that Kazmir and Carrasco might both make the team was not news today. Because of Carrasco’s suspension, and the fact the Indians start the season with 13 straight gamedays, it was thought that the front office might decide to roster 6 starters. This also delays the eventuality of deciding who might be the No. 5 starter long-term, as Kazmir had the better spring, but both haven’t pitched much since 2011.

On the position player side of things, both Giambi and Raburn were expected to land near-final 25-man nods. Along with C Lou Marson, these three beat out IF Cord Phelps and C Yan Gomes, who both were sent down to Triple-A Columbus.

The last decision remaining is for one final reliever on the roster. The two most likely candidates are RHP Matt Albers and LHP David Huff.

Finally, the @Indians added one vital caveat to these tweets today: “barring injury.” That’s almost the entire for now and we’ll see for certain if anything changes between now and next Tuesday, when the Tribe open the season in Toronto against the Blue Jays.

[Related: Four Stat-Lines to Watch on the 2013 Indians]

Pestano and Perez to the WBC gives others their shot

Nick HagadoneChris Perez and Vinnie Pestano are the backbone of the Tribe bullpen. Joe Smith is right there with them. There is no denying that the success of these three relievers will have a huge impact on which was the 2013 season will go for the Cleveland Indians. Each is at the top of their game and have the personalities to match. They are the core of the “Bullpen Mafia.”

Today, CP and Vinnie leave Goodyear to join the Team USA squad in the World Baseball Classic. Smith is still nursing an oblique injury and is about two weeks behind the rest of the pitchers. There is an opportunity that has arisen. The question is, who will step up and make manager Terry Francona take notice?

Tito was quoted as saying that CP, Vinnie, And Smith are the only locks at this point for the pen. That leaves four spots open with a lot of arms in the mix. Depending on how Francona and pitching coach Mickey Calloway want to go, there could be one or two lefties in that opening day mix. [Read more...]

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...]

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...]