July 24, 2014

MLB News: Indians to promote C.C. Lee, demote Danny Salazar

The Cleveland Indians are set to option Danny Salazar today back to Columbus and recall right-handed reliever Chen-Chang Lee. The team just announced the move on Twitter this afternoon. Tony Lastoria at Indians Baseball Insider broke the news last night.

It’s certainly sad to see Salazar go after his sensational debut yesterday afternoon, but it makes sense. The Indians won’t have a need for a No. 5 starter for another 11 days because of the upcoming All-Star break. By that time, Zach McAllister may be ready to be activated from the disabled list.

Salazar, 23, had one of the best debuts for a Cleveland Indians starter ever. He struck out seven Toronto Blue Jays in six dominant innings, carrying a no-hitter into his final frame. He’ll return to the Clippers where he’s only made 10 Triple-A starts (and 13 in Double-A) in his minor league career.

In return, the Indians are promoting the 26-year-old nicknamed C.C. Lee. A high-profile Taiwanese minor league free agent in September 2008, he’s one of the most touted reliever prospects in the system. He’s been on the mend thus far in 2013 from Tommy John surgery last year, thus he only has limited outings back in Triple-A. He’s old for his level now and will be getting his first opportunity in the big leagues.

Overall, in his 107 career games between the Double-A Akron Aeros and Clippers, Lee has a 2.83 ERA with 210 strikeouts and 53 walks in 165.1 innings pitched. A pint-sized 5-foot-10, he generates tremendous velocity and deception with his delivery. The Indians announced on Twitter that Lee will provide additional bullpen help for the next week or so.

Lee will be the 23rd pitcher to appear in a game for the Indians already in 2013. The team has had try-outs for a variety of other prospects such as Trevor Bauer, Matt Langwell, Preston Guilmet and, most recently, Salazar. They’ve also given opportunities to non-prospects like Joe Martinez and David Huff, while former prospects Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes messed up their chances to stick with the team too.

[Related: Indians 4 Blue Jays 2: Salazar dazzles in Tribe debut]

Indians Roster Moves: Matt LaPorta outrighted to Columbus

It appears we missed the memo on Tuesday, but we wanted to be sure to cover it today on Thanksgiving.

Earlier in the week, the Cleveland Indians announced a flurry of roster moves pertaining to the official 40-man as the Rule 5 Draft approaches on Dec. 6. Most notably, first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus, ending his reign as an official member of the Indians roster. He cannot refuse the assignment and must report to Columbus, as the Indians still retain control over his MLB status. Utility man Brent Lillibridge also was outrighted to Columbus, but can opt out for free agency if he so chooses.

In the corresponding additions, the Indians added relievers Chen-Chang Lee and Trey Haley, outfielder Tim Fedroff and lefty starter T.J. House to the 40-man roster. Lee, likely the highest-touted prospect of the bunch, missed almost the entire 2012 season after Tommy John surgery in May. But Fedroff is likely the closest to the pros, as he’s hit .301/.383/.446 in 131 games with the Clippers over the past two years. Haley and House were both 2008 draft picks who pitched primarily with Akron in 2012.

[Related: Prospect ranking turnover shows that Indians might still be bad at drafting]

Cleveland Sports Quick Hitters

What do you do with those little pieces of news and information that really don’t warrant a full blown post? You bundle ‘em. I give you my Cleveland Sports Quick Hitters for the week-

- Josh Cribbs is in the local news again, for comments about being sick of losing after the Cincinnati game. This is of course the second time this season he’s made comments like this. Despite the coach saying yesterday he has no beef with Josh, sports radio types want to hang Cribbs out to dry for causing chaos in the locker room.

My take: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want a guy to be honest and feel the same as the fans do, and then call him out for expressing that same opinion. Cribbs has built up a tremendous amount of respect around here for being a guy willing to do whatever it takes to win games. He gets the benefit of the doubt here.

- Scott Fujita needs surgery on his hand, and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said Maiava will likely start, and that he believes Maiava has a chance to be a starter down the road in this defense.

My take: Of course he said Maiava has a chance to start down the road. He has to show confidence in the player. If Maiava is your starter going into next season, then we haven’t solved the LB issues. [Read more...]

Tribe Talk: Changes Coming in the Pen?

Ah The Bullpen Mafia…..Such a cute and fun-loving group (accept for Mr. Personality Rafael Perez of course). They were the talk of the town while the Indians were in first place for a good two-thirds of the season. This group performed on and off the field, entertaining us all the way through.

As we have seen so many times over the past decade, a bad bullpen can kill a season. It can also be a revolving door of guys who don’t settle into roles. Who can forget the likes of Luis Vizcaino and Matt Herges pitching the 8th in 2009? When they failed, the next batch of scrubs included Greg Aquino and Jose Veres. That’s what one injury to a key setup man (Rafael Betancourt) and a bad year from your top lefty reliever (Perez) can do to you.

The Bullpen Mafia was the opposite. Almost from opening day, these guys knew what they were out there to do and the faces never really changed. Until the rosters were expanded at the beginning of the month, other than the move from Justin Germano to Frank Herrmann on May 20th, the guys have the pen have stayed completely the same. [Read more...]

Clippers Shut Down Bulls 3-0 Behind Solid Pitching from McAllister, Bullpen

IL Playoffs Round 1 – Game 1
Clippers 3, Bulls 0 (box)
COL leads series 1-0

Often in a baseball playoff series, Game 1 is all about “strength versus strength” – the teams usually each send their best pitchers to the mound, and the offenses are feeling each other out. Bulls’ starter Matt Moore hadn’t lost a start since being promoted from AA in July, so it looked like the Clippers–even with their best starter in Zach McAllister toeing the rubber–would have their work cut out for them.

Well, Moore was good; the difference is that McAllister was great, at least for six innings. And, the Clippers’ bullpen was exceptional. Columbus got enough offense from the middle of the order, and pushed past the Bulls for a 1-0 series lead. OF Chad Huffman led the bats with a home run, a double, and two of the three RBI on the night. Beau Mills drove in the third run, and that was more than enough for the Columbus pitchers. [Read more...]

About Those Indians Pitching Prospects: Ranking the Relievers

My series on the top pitchers in the Cleveland Indians minor league system continues today with a look at the best prospects out of the pen heading into the future.

Relievers are a tricky pick in the prospect world, because very rarely – especially in the Cleveland Indians development system – are pitchers developed to come out of the bullpen.

Generally, after being drafted or signed, young arms remain as starters in order for minor league coaches to fix all their little kinks and test out their abilities in that role. Then in this usual mold, if a pitcher is not deemed as a “can’t miss” starter, then he is relegated to the future career path as a relief pitcher.

That’s why it is often incredibly much more difficult to rank minor league relievers in a baseball organization, mostly because there are hardly ever any prospects in this realm. But that’s definitely not the case for the Indians heading into the 2011 season. [Read more...]

Tribe Continues Shopping at Pacific Rim

A little less than a year ago, the Indians turned a few heads when they agreed to terms with relief pitcher Masa Kobayashi.  At 34 years of age, Kobayashi has had an up and down season that has become a little more volatile with each marginal inning pitched. 

In 42 games prior to the All-Star break, Masa had an ERA of 3.05 – not too bad – while saving five games and allowing only five home runs.  Since the break, Kobayashi’s ERA has ballooned to 10.32 and he has already allowed nearly as many long balls, giving up three in only 15 games. 

But this hasn’t turned Mark Shaprio’s team off in terms of overseas prospects.  But this time, thankfully, they went a bit younger

[Read more...]