August 26, 2014

Twins 4, Indians 1: Bats go silent as sweep chance goes by the board

Corey KluberThis is what is so frustrating about our Indians. Here they are, winners of seven of nine, going for a sweep of the Minnesota Twins with their ace Corey Kluber on the mound and the offense can’t even muster a single scoring chance outside of a solo blast from Zach Walters. Despite the 4-1 loss at Target Field, the Tribe still won another series and that is what is important right now.

You had hoped for better, but for some reason of late, when the offense sees Kluber on the mound, the bats turn into noodles. Over his past three starts while Corey was still in the game, the Wahoo offense has scored four runs. We are so used to Kluber being all but perfect that you feel as though two runs should get it done. Thursday afternoon he was off, which is still better than most other options. Kluber hasn’t walked more more than two batters since June 15 in Boston and hadn’t allowed more than two runs in a start since July 11th. Wednesday afternoon he walked four and gave up three earned runs. He was due for something of a clunker, but really it was just two hits that did him in.  [Read more...]

The Curse of Paul Warfield — A loving look at a 45-year slump: Reliving Yesteryear

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Our gazes remained fixed, for an extra moment. As he began to realize, my trivia question wasn’t merely rhetorical.

“Rocky Colavito to Detroit, for Harvey Kuenn. April 17, 1960.” His countenance had morphed into a half-smile/furrowed brow combo. He was clearly thinking: “You’re really coming at me with the easy, ‘what’s the worst trade in Cleveland history?’”

[Read more...]

Young Jim Harbaugh peed his pants to meet an Indians player

St. Louis Rams v San Francisco 49ers

Picture Jim Harbaugh, the headset-throwing, pleated pants-wearing, Sharpie-toting head coach of the San Francsico 49ers. Now picture him as a five-year-old child, taking in a Cleveland Indians game with his family, including a seven-year-old brother, John. The Harbaughs, Toldeo, Ohio natives, get the fortune of getting in line to meet in Indians player after the game. But Jim had a few too many carbonated beverages during the game and, when the duo was roughly 20 people from their turn to take a picture, was forced to make a decision.

I know we entered the field from the first-base side, just to get a picture with him. Just to get a Polaroid picture.

And I had to go to the bathroom really bad. So I had to make a decision: Me and my brother were like 20 people from actually being able to go on to the field and take a picture with [the player] right by the first-base bag.

And it was either go to the bathroom and not get a picture, or do it right there in my pants. So I chose to go in my pants and my parents have this picture of a big ring right here (points to an obvious place on the front of his pants).

I just want that picture for some reason. I really want that picture.

When Jim was five years old, assuming his math is correct, the Harbaughs were taking in a 1968 season, a roster littered with players like Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant and a 21-year-old Ray Fosse. It’s tough to tell who would’ve been worth the pants peeing—Tony Horton led the team with 14 home runs; the team’s best hitter was s 33-year-old Lee Maye who hit .281. Hopefully Harbaugh can procure that photograph as it would not only end the mystery, but would be one of the most-shared pictures on the Internet.

(h/t SBNation; Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Nick Swisher’s (brutal) season comes to an end

Swisher Best 140711

Is age catching up to Nick Swisher? The Tribe first baseman was evaluated on Tuesday and was found to have medial meniscus wear in both of his knees. Less than 24 hours later, Swisher will undergo arthroscopic debridement surgery to repair the chronic pain. He will subsequently miss eight-to-ten weeks for recovery, effectively ending his 2014 season with the team.

Swisher was placed on the 15-day Disabled List with knee soreness on August 10. He was also on the DL with similar discomfort from May 27-June 11 of this very year.  Prior to today’s season-ending surgery, Nick hit .208 (75-360 in 97 games) in with 20 doubles,  eight home runs and 42 runs batted in. In the field, Swisher was charged with nine errors on the season. According to Baseball-Reference’s calculations on runs saved, he was the second-worst fielding first baseman (to amass at least 50 games played) in all of baseball1.

The 33-year old is due $15 million in 2015 and 2016, respectively, with a $14 million vesting option in 2017.

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Footnotes:

  1. Only Houston’s Jon Singleton has ‘saved’ fewer runs []

Matt Dery talks Cleveland sports vs. Detroit sports – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-19

Matt Dery from 105.1 FM in Detroit jumped on the podcast to discuss lots of Cleveland sports topics.

  • Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer
  • The QB curse and Matt Stafford
  • Does Detroit appreciate Matt Stafford?
  • The Cavaliers getting LeBron James
  • The Dolan “cheapness” bit
  • The Cleveland Indians in 2014
  • Indians trade deadline

Check out this episode!

Indians extend Scott Atchison

Scott AtchisonHe came to camp as a 38-year old non-roster invitee hoping to hang on for one more season in the sun. By May, he was not just a fixture in the pen, but a favorite of manager Terry Francona. Now here we are in August and Scott Atchison, the bullpen’s jack of all trades, has received a contract extension. He will toil in the pen in 2015 with a club option for 2016.

“Old-Man Atch” has enjoyed a renaissance here in Cleveland. He’s made 53 appearances and owns a 2.95 ERA and a sterling WHIP of 0.95, taking over the Matt Albers role from a year ago and making it even more important. In addition, opposing batters have been stifled by his deception to the tune of .218/.251/.342. Atchison had been arbitration eligible for next season and the money he will make is not big deal. According to reports, Scott will make $900,000 in ’15 and the club option for ’16 is at $1 million with a $100,000 buyout. His emergence helped the Indians use bullpen assets Vinnie Pestano and John Axford in trades.

Now I know what you are all thinking. Last year at this time the Indians gave OF Ryan Raburn a two-year, $4.85 million extension. That has turned out to be a complete misjudgment as Raburn has regressed back to the guy who was DFA’d by the Tigers and brought in on a minor league deal. The Atchison situation isn’t in the same ballpark as if is essentially just a one-year deal for less than a million.

(photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

Indians almost acquired Josh Willingham…Again

Those are Josh Willingham's legs as he slowly rounds the bases

Those are Josh Willingham’s legs as he slowly rounds the bases

It wasn’t that long ago that the Cleveland Indians front office would not give Josh Willingham an extra year on his contract, ultimately losing him to a division rival. Earlier this month, the Minnesota Twins waived the right-handed slugger and traded him to the Kansas City Royals—the team that now sits in first place in the AL Central—in exchange for RHP Jason Adam. Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that, once again, the Tribe (a team that can’t seem to find a right-handed power bat) was close to a deal for Willingham, but didn’t quite pull the trigger.

In 2012, the Tribe had a chance to sign Willingham but he wanted three guaranteed years on a $21 million contract. The Indians offered two. Willingham signed that three-year deal with Minnesota, and was outstanding in 2012: .260 (.890 OPS) with 35 homers and 110 RBI. The Tribe feared that Willingham’s body was breaking down, and that seems to be the case. When discussing Willingham (and adding $1.8 million to the payroll), the Indians decided they’d rather look at [Zach] Walters and some of their other prospects.

Walters, acquired in the deal for Asdrubal Cabrera, was the hero earlier this month when he hit placed a walk-off home run into the visitor’s bullpen against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pluto also iterated that the Indians want Walters to play every day, leaving less playing time for a guy like Willingham.

Over the last week of play, Willingham is 6-for-23 with two home runs, three doubles and seven runs batted in. Walters was 2-for-4 with a solo home run Friday in a win over the Orioles. The Tribe is currently six games out of first place and five games out of the second Wild Card slot in the American League.

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Cedar Point, Johnny Manziel, LeBron James, and the Indians playoff chances with TD – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-14

WFNY Podcast LogoI got a chance to talk to TD about all three Cleveland teams. That’s always a blast for me. Today we spent a good amount of time talking about the Tribe and the season they’ve put together.

We also talked about LeBron coming home and what that means for a sports family like TD’s that is baseball, and football first.

Lastly we talked about Johnny Manziel, the Browns and what it must be like for Brian Hoyer to try and win the starting job. We talked about how even as we expected hype around Manziel that it’s surprising just how crazy things are around him.

Oh, and we led off talking about Cedar Point, which rules.

Check out this episode!

The Indians are slipping and sliding (during a rain delay)

The Cleveland Indians got rained out last night, but they looked like they were having about as much fun as they’ve had all season long. Turning the Progressive Field tarp into a giant slip’n’slide is never a bad idea.

Tribe releases Nyjer Morgan, recalls Josh Tomlin

Nyjer Morgan

Could the Tribe be adding a player via trade or waivers in the near future? Nyjer Morgan, one of the Indians’ early-season feel-good stories was released on Tuesday afternoon amidst a series of moves made by the team’s front office.

In addition to activating Morgan from the 60-day disabled list and immediately releasing him, the Indians optioned outfielder Tyler Holt to Columbus and recalled starting pitcher Josh Tomlin. Tomlin begins his second stint with Cleveland for his start tonight against the Cincinnati Reds in Progressive Field.  He was in the rotation from May 6-July 25, going 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 games/14 starts.

Morgan had been sidelined for nearly three months with a sprained PCL in his right knee. The 34-year-old batted .341 (14-for-41) with one home run, six RBI, and three stolen bases over 15 games with the Indians, stepping in for an injured Michael Bourn during the first few weeks of the 2014 season. His release seems to signal that a non-roster player could be added to the team in the not-so-distant future.

At least we’ll always have this.

(Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

The Tribe overcame a 12-run deficit 13 years ago today

Every Indians fan in the world claims they were there. Well before I was a blogger, I was watching this game (wait for it) in my parents’ basement.

It’s incredible to watch still to this day. Omar Vizquel and Kenny Lofton are your heroes. Lofton had four hits and three runs in the game as well as the game-winning run scoring from second on Jolbert Cabrera’s broken-bat single. The rest of the lineup for that game included Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez, Jim Thome, Ellis Burks, Travis Fryman and even a pinch-hitting Russell Branyan. The starter that day was Dave Burba and John Rocker ended up with the win.

Watch the clip for maximum goose-bumps.

Hat is tipped to Tony Mazur

Zach McAllister makes FanGraph’s “Best Wild Pitches” for July

BonusMcAllisterKelly

A pitch? A ball? A balk? Regardless of the ruling, the uncertainty surrounding the pitch depicted above, coming from the hand of Tribe starter Zach McAllister, was enough to garner consideration for one of the worst pitches of July. From FanGraphs:

Pitcher: Zach McAllister
Batter: Don Kelly
Date: July 19
Location: cannot be calculated

I’m glad that people told me about this on Twitter, because the pitch wasn’t captured by PITCHf/x and therefore I never would’ve found it. There’s one clue that a pitch was really terrible: it didn’t even register on the PITCHf/x cameras. But sometimes the PITCHf/x system just has its glitches and a pitch or an at-bat or a whole inning can just go by unrecorded. Immediately after the fact, the broadcast talked about whether the play would be ruled a ball or a balk. The runner on first advanced to second anyway, so it only mattered with regard to the count and the record books. There’s another clue that a pitch was really terrible: people aren’t sure whether it was an actual pitch. This is a pretty strong clue.

McAllister was Designated for Assignment and then passed through to Columbus not long after this fateful day. On the season, McAllister is allowing opposing hitters to put up a .276 average, twenty points higher than 2013, large in part to a .322 BABiP and other items beyond his control (His 5.91 ERA dwarfs his 4.05 FIP). Unfortunately, he has no one else to blame but himself for the “pitch” shown above.

Are there more Cleveland Indians statues in the works?

Jim Thome Statue

Are Bob Feller and Jim Thome about to have some company? It appears that the Cleveland Indians have some plans that may include a few more supersized bronze ghosts throughout the confines of Progressive Field.

Since the plans were put in place in 2011 for the tater-mashing Thome to get a statue beyond center field, many fans have been wondering where the praise is for others to have donned the Tribe jersey. Larry Doby—he of the retired number, the shattering of the color barrier and, you know, an actual championship—tops many lists. Lou Boudreau and others follow closely behind. The debates and discussions have not always to discredit what Thome accomplished, but to also acknowledge the work (on and off of the field) of many before him. Despite the fan fare directed to a certain era, there were in fact players to wear Cleveland jerseys before the mid-90s.

If team president Mark Shapiro’s tweet is any indication, it appears the team is listening.

The whole multiple statues thing is far from trailblazing; the Indians are one of just a few teams to have had (prior to Saturday) just one player commemorated in statue form. Statues of Pirates’ Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski are positioned at various points outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh; Ty Cobb, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, and Ernie Harwell can be found outside of Comerica Park in Detroit. There’s also “Teammates,” the four-man statue outside of Fenway Park that commemorates Ted Williams, Bobby Doer, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio.

What the Indians have planned, remains to be seen, but there may be a lot more bronze in Cleveland within the next few summers. And that won’t necessarily be a bad thing.

[Related: The statue that is and maybe shouldn't be]

(Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

Watch Michael Brantley and David Murphy bring the Tribe within three of the Wild Card

brantley celebration

Despite the fact that the Indians didn’t make any trades that brought Major League starters to the club, they’re firmly in the Wild Card race. Thanks to Michael Brantley’s walk-off home run against the Rangers today, the Tribe are currently three games back.

Of course, the Indians wouldn’t have been in position at all without some heroics by David Murphy against his old club in the ninth inning. With the Tribe trailing by two, Murphy bombed a game-tying shot.

Animated: David Murphy nails Adrian Beltre at the plate

Murphy Rocket Arm 140801

In the second inning of Friday night’s series opener against Texas, former Ranger David Murphy did his old team dirty by gunning down Adrian Beltre with a one-hopper at home plate to end the inning and inherent scoring threat.

Beltre could’ve helped his case by running a bit harder from second base, but then again—it’s not wise to mess with Good Guy David Murphy.

Tribe looking at Lackey?

DSC_3307.JPGWell it has been quite an eventful day in Wahooland. Earlier today, the Indiansdealt starting pitcher Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals for OF prospect James Ramsey. Meeting with the media just after the deal, both GM Chris Antonetti and Manager Terry Francona denied that this trade signaled a sell off for 2015. In fact, they are looking to add pieces in the next 24 hours.

“Anybody who stands next to me in the dugout knows that’s not going to happen,” said Francona when asked if the White Flag was being waved.

So what does this mean exactly? Well according to several media reports, the Indians are taking a long look at Boston starter John Lackey.

Lackey would make a lot of sense for an Indians team in dire need of a veteran rock for the rotation. he’s been solid this season (11-7, 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 109 ERA+, and 3.56 FIP). Masterson should have been that guy, but he essentially pitched his way out of town.

What makes the 35-year old Lackey intriguing to the Indians is his team option for 2015 at $500,000. Yes, you read that correctly. The Red Sox put a clause into his original five-year, $82.5 million deal that if he missed an entire season due to injury, it would kick in a $500,000 club option at the back end. He missed all of 2012 after needing Tommy John surgery, thus the amazingly cheap 2015 salary.

Stay tuned, the Indians are most likely not done. Asdrubal Cabrera could be next or they could add another piece as well.

Report: Justin Masterson traded to St. Louis

Justin Masterson

Oh how the mighty have fallen. A year ago at this time the Indians would have given anything to extend starting pitcher Justin Masterson to a long term deal. 12 months later, the big right-hander, who has become a mental mess, has reportedly been been dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons, now of MLB Network, was the first to break the news.

According to NY Post writer Joel Sherman, the Indians will be getting back AAA outfielder James Ramsey. The 24-year old is a former first round pick in the 2012 draft out of Florida State and was just promoted to the AAA level. For AA Memphis in 67 games this season, Ramsey hit .300/.389/.527 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.

The Masterson era in Cleveland comes to a disappointing end. Coming off of an All-Star season in 2013, Justin’s game fell off the table. He departs Cleveland after six seasons where he was 48-61 with a 4.23 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.76 FIP, and a 92 ERA+

Will have much more of this in a feature as the trade deadline comes to a close.

(Joshua Gunter/ The Plain Dealer)

 

 

Indians implementing analytics to study attendance issues

Indians Opener Baseball

The Cleveland Indians were in the postseason a year ago and are seeing attendance numbers continue to fall on a year-over-year basis. Despite two bouts of October baseball in the last seven seasons, they’re certain to finish outside baseball’s top 20 in attendance for the 12th consecutive year. Alas, the team is taking their use of advanced analytics and implementing a formula-based look into what moves the needle in the way of bodies through the turnstiles and how to best serve those who make it down to Progressive Field.

The formula takes historical data into account and weaves in such critical factors as the weather forecast, opponent, team performance, night of the week and time of year.

It doesn’t get fans through the gates, but it does give the Indians a much better idea of how to best serve their audience. [...] What the Indians are seeking are optimal methods of catering to their fans, whether it’s the 9,029 who showed up for an April 8 matchup against the San Diego Padres or the 40,712 in attendance when Omar Vizquel was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame on June 21.

As we have covered here many times at WFNY, dynamic pricing and the team’s urging to “Buy Early and Save” was born with similar goals in mind. Nevertheless, the majority of tickets continue to be purchased in the 48 hours leading up to games. Per Crain’s Cleveland, thanks to the formulas being utilized, the Indians now have a “much more concrete idea” of which games are most likely to produce last-minute buying sprees, and which ones will be a more intimate gathering in which the staff size should be reduced and less food needs to be ordered. Crain’s also reports that the team’s season-ticket base stands at roughly 8,000, well behind the average base in Major League Baseball. Since their playoff run in 2007 where they averaged over 28,000 fans per night, the team has trended downward to it’s current level of 18,402.

To little surprise, events like “Dollar Dog Night” and the firework displays drive demand—Friday and Saturdays continue to be the nights with the highest average attendance. Of course, plenty of factors impact the team’s ability to take advantage of such, including the schedule: the team will play nine Friday night games on the road this summer, and five of their eight Friday contests since June have been away from Progressive Field.

The team hopes that the use of analytics will better prepare them for 2015 where they continue to strive toward improving the fan experience.

[Related: Why we shouldn't be surprised about the Indians attendance]

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Indians “very willing” to trade Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson

The Cleveland Indians’ season isn’t going according to plan I wouldn’t say. At the same time when they failed to reach a deal with Masterson and pay him as much money as he wanted to be paid, maybe they knew what they were doing. Masterson has struggled mightily this season – his last under contract with the Indians. Masterson was thought to be seeking $17 million per season from the Indians before talks broke off. Now, as Justin Masterson works a rehab assignment in Columbus, the Indians are reportedly “very willing” to trade him.

So maybe the Indians were right not to pay Justin Masterson. Maybe it was part of a self-fulfilling prophecy though. We’ll never know of course. What we do know is that the Indians are looking smart today at the expense of looking good in their quest to make it two years in a row in the playoffs.

Maybe it’s not fair to reduce the Tribe’s situation to that, especially as they’re only 3.5 games out of the wild card. Let’s just say that I find it very difficult to feel confident the way this season has unfolded with the team.

Carlos Santana…surprise, surprise….AL Player of the Week

carlos santana celebrationAfter tearing apart the Kansas City Royals this weekend, it was no shocker that Tribe first baseman/DH Carlos Santana has been named American League Player of the Week. Over his last six games, Carlos has had quite the run. How does 14-23, six homers, three doubles, 10 RBIs, eight runs scored sound to you? Pretty good. With his walking abilities in tow, Santana has reached base 20 of his last 29 times.

Not too shabby.

Think about where Santana has come from to get back to this point. It has been a steady rise since his brutal start. Carlos went .157/.318/.292 in April and followed that up with a .169/.343/.325 May. But with the warm weather came a new Santana. His post-DL hot streak essentially hasn’t stopped. His June was .308/.426/.590 with six homers and 15 RBIs, that spawned an even better month of July where ‘Los has been a stud: .314/.416/.651 with eight homers and 18 RBIs. His OPS has been over 1.000 for two months now. Last seasons 20 home run campaign has already been tied with two months remaining.

Carlos is the second Indian in a row to receive the AL Player of the Week honor, joining second baseman Jason Kipnis.