April 24, 2014

Booooo-baldo – It is time to cut the cord

Ubaldo JimenezThe Indians series with the Boston Red Sox certainly didn’t lack for storylines. First and foremost, you had the Boston Marathon bombings, which took place just after the Red Sox Patriots day game with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox came to Cleveland with heavy hearts to face their old manager Terry Francona. Tito did put it out there right away – this series isn’t about him. But he has to want this one just a little bit more than the others. Then there is Ubaldo….

All spring long, the Indians brass would tell you how well Ubaldo Jimenez was throwing. Few believed it. Then in his first start of the season Jimenez bobbed and weaved his way through six innings for a win. He got the ball from Francona on Opening Day in Cleveland and reverted back into the Ubaldo we all know and…well I won’t say love. He couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning, giving up seven earned runs in front of 40,000 plus at Progressive Field. With the back to back rainouts last week, the Indians smartly moved Ubaldo back in the rotation, giving him a couple of extra days to work out the kinks with pitching coach Mickey Callaway. Again, we were told by the Indians that Jimenez had a “great side session” and would be ready for his next start. [Read more...]

WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2011: #4 The Ubaldo Jimenez Trade

As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last three 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 with #10 - The Colt Concussion, next was #9 -Key Cavalier Wins. We broke down the Baron Davis Trade and talked some Tribe at #7. Kirk was on the Pat Shurmur hire for #6. Yesterday, we stuck with that Browns theme and discussed the big draft day deal involving Julio Jones and Phil Taylor (#5). Today we will go back into the Red, White, and Blue.

#4 – Ubaldo Jimenez Comes to Cleveland, Signaling the Indians Want to Win Now

Right around the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the Indians were locked in a battle for the AL Central lead with the Detroit Tigers. They were so banged up offensively and really needed a big bat, preferably from the right side, for the middle of the order. What nobody knew at the time was that the Indians had a different plan. Yes, they needed a bat, but an opportunity came open that they felt they had to make. [Read more...]

Kipnis Or The Chiz…Which One Would You Part With?

With the Indians having already addressed their fifth starter spot in a quick, smart trade for veteran Derek Lowe, the focus will now shift to the badly needed right-handed bat. Letting CF Grady Sizemore walk into free agency frees up a $9 million hole in the payroll if you believe the Indians will indeed spend that. I do.

GM Chris Antonetti has already added $5 million extra that wasn’t expected with the acquisition of Lowe. He also knows that this division is still very winnable. All he has to do is look at how his completely banged up Indians team lead the Central into August, despite the fact that they spent huge chunks of time without three of their best players, then watched as one of their key kids missed most of the stretch run.

Antonetti showed last year that he knows he is in the middle of a window with his core players where he can compete for a playoff spot and go deeper. Therefore, he has been aggressive in taking steps to improve his team for the now, and not just for the future.  [Read more...]

Cleveland Indians Announce Coaching Staff Changes and Drew Pomeranz Arrested

From the team’s official release-

The Cleveland Indians and Manager MANNY ACTA today finalized the Major League Coaching Staff heading into the 2012 season. Today, the Indians promoted SCOTT RADINSKY to Pitching Coach and named DAVE MILLER Bullpen Coach and TOM WIEDENBAUER First Base Coach.

Radinsky, 43, recently completed his second season as Cleveland’s Major League Bullpen Coach. The Tribe’s 11-game improvement in terms of wins from 2010 to 2011 was largely attributed to its improved pitching staff and strong bullpen. In 2011 the Indians bullpen compiled an ERA of 3.71 (492.0IP, 457H, 203ER, .246AVG), the 5th lowest relief ERA among the fourteen American League teams. The Indians team ERA of 4.23 was also an improvement over 2010’s total of 4.30. Scott has been a member of the Indians organization since 2004 and appeared in 557 Major League games over an 11-year career from 1990-2001.

Miller, 45, recently concluded his tenth season as the Indians Pitching Coordinator in the Player Development System. He has been a member of the Indians organization for the last 19 seasons since 1993. The 2011 season ended with ten (10) homegrown pitchers on the Major League pitching staff that were developed in the Indians minor league system during Miller’s tenure as Pitching Coordinator. The Wilmington, NC native played professionally for seven (7) seasons in the Baltimore organization after being selected by the O’s in the 1st round of the January 1986 draft. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Yes, They Are Still Playing

I know they have fallen off of radar screens all over Northeast Ohio after being swept by the Detroit Tigers Monday through Wednesday of last week, but believe it or not folks, the Indians still have some games left to play. After losing their fourth straight Thursday, an 8-1 laugher at the hands of the Chicago White Sox, the Tribe headed into the weekend in third place, but are  now playing for second. The team is still banged up, still young, and look like a tired bunch. But again,  the hope is that they can close strong and finish over .500 for the first time since 2007. Perhaps these last three weeks are going to be Manny Acta’s most difficult. It is worth seeing how these kids will respond.

This weekend in Chicago, the Tribe battled their tales off. Despite some sloppy baseball, lots of strikeouts from the batters, and lots of walks from the pitchers, the Wahoos took two of three against the White Sox. So since you were getting all lathered up in Browns butter, I will come strong with some Tribe knowledge from the weekend that was.

Who needs Alex White and Drew Pomeranz when you have Jeanmar Gomez? I am obviously kidding. But in all seriousness, Gomez has been rock solid in his three starts since taking over for the injured Josh Tomlin. Friday night was no exception. Taking the ball and trying to end a four-game skid, the young Venezuelan was in command.

For six innings, Gomez minimized damage and kept the Sox hitters at bay. He allowed two runs on six hits and didn’t walk a batter, striking out three. The Tribe made him a winner with a five-run sixth. “We have struggled as of late,” Acta said. “Gomez today stepped up and stopped our four-game losing streak. He threw the ball very well, with movement, good sink on his fastball.”  [Read more...]

Carlos Carrasco to Have Tommy John Surgery – Out for 2012 Season

Rumors began to swirl last week that Carlos Carrasco would need Tommy John surgery – ending not only his 2011 season but almost certainly wiping out all of his 2012 season. Those rumors were confirmed this afternoon, with the AP’s Tom Withers, among others,  reporting that he will indeed undergo TJ surgery and have the 2012 season wiped out. Carrasco was 8-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 21 games this season.  He was the club’s best and most reliable starter through this season’s rough June stretch.  Carrasco went to the DL on August 8th, in the middle of serving a suspension for throwing at the Royals’ Billy Butler.  He experienced elbow inflammation – a symptom which often portends Tommy John and missed seasons.  The surgery will take place next Wednesday in New York City.  Paul Hoynes reminds us that the only healthy and contributing (use that term loosely) bodies left from the Cliff Lee deal are Lou Marson and Jason Donald.

MLB.com and Tribe beat reporter Jordan Bastian tweets that Tribe trainer Lonnie Soloff has said that Carrasco likely suffered a traumatic elbow injury as a teenager as the MRI revealed damage consistent with an old injury.

To add a little extra spice to the Tuesday afternoon pitching news, Tracy Ringolsby is reporting that Drew Pomeranz will make his Major League debut for the Rockies this Sunday.  As the Lee deal reminds us, though, TINSTAAPP!

Coming to Terms with the Ubaldo Jimenez Trade

Editor’s note: By now, you’ve seen Kirk’s thoughts on the trade. As promised, here’s Part II from Jon Steiner

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Indians find themselves in an odd position.  After ten years of trading current talent for future hopes, the front office did an about-face, and traded away four minor leaguers, two of whom have significant potential, for Ubaldo Jimenez, a front-end starting pitcher to slot at the top of the rotation for the next two and half years.

Make no mistake: this trade is about making the current team better, which has come as such a shock to the system that no one quite knows what to make of it just yet.  We aren’t used to these types of moves in Cleveland, and I’ve seen fan emotions run the gamut from elation to downright despair.  I should be upfront: when the trade was first announced, I was closer to despair than elation for many of the reasons I’ll discuss below.

But like my front office counter-parts, I think I may have done a bit of a 180 over the last two days as I’ve had some time to digest this trade.  Let me explain. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Strange Days in Wahooland

Did anything special go on this weekend in Wahooland? Nah, nothing really. Just your basic blowout loss, followed by a walk-off win, a blockbuster trade, and another bad loss to the last-place Kansas City Royals. Other than that, nothing really exciting happened at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

If we learned anything this weekend, its that the much maligned Dolan Family ownership and their trusty GM Chris Antonetti want to win now. There is lots to discuss so lets jump right in.

For all of you Dolan bashers who complain that they are cheap, what can you say now? You’ve begged them to go after big names, spend money, and have their team contending. The $49 million payroll, weak AL Central division, and higher than projected attendance figures have put them in a position to add players and money. Antonetti and his staff did everything they could over the past few weeks leading up to the trade deadline to do so. [Read more...]

MLB Trade Rumors: Indians on Verge of Trading Drew Pomeranz, Alex White for Ubaldo Jimenez

Denver Post Colorado Rockies beat reporter Troy Renck is reporting that the Indians are near completing a trade of highly-touted pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White for Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies.

Renck went so far as to tweet that the deal was done.  Both Pomeranz and White were scratched from their scheduled work in Akron this evening.  The original rumor also included Jason Kipnis in the deal for Jimenez.  That has now been altered to remove Kipnis and include Matt McBride, who was also scratched in Akron this evening.  The deal is not official and has not been announced but twitter went wild this evening as it came together.  Jimenez was originally reported as a scratch for the Rockies but is now warming up – as the particulars of the deal are worked out (Pomeranz will have to be the PTBNL in the trade because you cannot trade a player less than a year after he has been signed).

All indications are that the Indians will also be acquiring Ryan Ludwick from the Padres before the weekend is over.  It’s been a wild day in Wahoo World but as of now, it appears the Indians are going all in for the 2011 campaign.

MLB Trade Rumors: Indians Still in on Ubaldo Jimenez; Willing to Part with Pomeranz?

The Denver Post’s Troy Renck wrote last night that, despite their equivocations, the Colorado Rockies are definitely sellers as the trade deadline rapidly approaches.  The big prize of this trade deadline season is Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez.  In a late evening supplement piece, he reported that the Indians were discussing Drew Pomeranz with the Rockies – certainly a game-changer.

On Thursday, Scott wrote about the Tribe’s interest in Ubaldo and quoted a report that they were “strongly in the mix.”  [Read more...]

Why The Indians Shouldn’t Trade For Jose Reyes

Before we even get started, let’s not pretend like the Indians were ever truly in the market to trade prospects for a guy on a contract year making $11 million with the prospect of making Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford type money.  The Indians have made it clear that this couldn’t be further removed from their business plan.

Just to remind you, Carl Crawford is making $14 million this season, almost $20 million next year and will make $21 million in 2017 as a 35 year-old.  That should be just in time to come off the bench as an underachieving pinch-hitter to hit a grand slam against a young “up and coming” Indians team in the ALCS, but I might just be bitter.  Let’s go through the exercise anyway just for kicks.

Jose Reyes is having a phenomenal year batting 0.349 with an OBP approaching 0.400 with 30 stolen bases.  He is a player who relies on speed.  And wouldn’t you know it?  He is having his best year as a pro when he is playing for the biggest contract of his career.  That just never happens, does it?  So, what would it take to get a player like Jose Reyes from the New York Mets? [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cavs Draft Strategies, Indians Draft Prospects, Actaball

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

More on the Cavs draft: “If the [trade exception] is going to be used, I continue to think that will happen on Draft Night.  So what does all this trade talk mean at this point for the Cavaliers? To me it’s exactly what I thought the night Nick won the lottery.  The Cavaliers are good with Irving at 1, as they should be.  Beyond that, they are exploring every - and I mean each and every single - trade opportunity out there with respect to both the TE as well as that 4th pick overall.  I continue to think they will not pick 4th on Draft Night.  All the smoke that appears to be coming off the keyboard of Chris Grant’s blackberry seems to support this too.  Cavs don’t look too content at that position.”  [Bowers/Stepien Rules]

[Read more...]

Cleveland’s Rotation: Deep Enough to Dream

I really don’t have anything against ESPN writer Keith Law. His article the other day really bothered me though. Particularly his comments about the Tribe’s young pitching staff.

Where I doubt Cleveland most is on the run-prevention side of the ledger. The two fluky starts by Mitch Talbot weren’t signs of things to come anyway, and now his injury exposes Cleveland’s lack of pitching depth in the upper levels. Josh Tomlin’s 2.75 ERA and three wins mask fringy stuff, including a below-average fastball and no real out pitch to miss bats; he’s likely to be homer-prone in addition to just generally hit-prone. Carlos Carrasco at least has two above-average pitches in his fastball and changeup, but he has never really had an average breaking ball and his command remains a stubborn problem. Even erstwhile ace Justin Masterson has weaknesses, including a career-long platoon split borne of his low arm slot, and while I expect him to dominate right-handed hitters I doubt he’ll sustain his current .103/.212/.103 line against them.

Grrrr. First, these are young pitching prospects we are talking about. Guys that will continue to develop. Nobody, no matter how long they have been around baseball, can say with any great certainty who will and who will not end up with a successful career in the Major Leagues. There are the occasional guys that seem to be can’t miss. (Even though some of them do miss.) But as for the rest, staying away from major injury and learning the art of pitching on the fly seem to be the major differences between perpetual prospects and legit MLB starters. [Read more...]

About Those Indians Pitching Prospects: Ranking the Starters

We’ve already covered all the usual storylines for the Cleveland Indians before the start of the 2011 season. From projections to five main topics, to Travis Hafner, Matt LaPorta, the fifth starter and the second base conundrum, it seems that we have covered everything possible about the MLB squad.

But one item lurking on the horizon for new general manager Chris Antoinetti, manager Manny Acta and the Tribe is a plethora of minor league pitching options. The relieving corps is filled with dozens of players on the cusp of competing for a roster spot in Cleveland soon, while the a mixed crew of starters also provides plenty of hope for the future.

Today’s first part ranks the top 10 starting pitching prospects in the Indians organization, and lists another dozen players to watch. Stay tuned for contributions from all of these players this season, as they could make a huge impact on the Tribe’s success. [Read more...]

Grading the Indians Prospects, For Serious

I really wish I could properly evaluate prospects.  It would be so great to have well-informed and cogent opinions on all the players coming up through the Indians’ farm system.  I would be able to provide insight and opinion, critical evaluation, and future projections.  But I can’t.  I don’t have the time to do all the work it requires, and I probably don’t have the expertise either.  Sure, I get to a few Lake County and Akron games each year, and when I wasn’t teaching high school math, I was a pretty good baseball coach.  But it’s hardly the sort of skill-set needed to evaluate players across a wide variety of ages and levels, much less to be able to project the sort of impact that they might eventually have in the majors.

Anyway, there are so many good people already doing prospect-evaluation that I wouldn’t likely be able to offer anything of value even if I possessed the requisite skills and energy.  We already have the guys from Baseball America and Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus to keep us informed nationally.  On top of that, Tony Lastoria does a great job covering the Indians minor league system, with more access and thought than I could ever muster. [Read more...]

The Boots: Crucial 2011 Season for Top Cleveland Indians Prospects

The Boots are my form of reporting current information from around the sports world. Boot Ups and Boot Downs are assigned to various events, people or stories as I now use for the University of Dayton’s Flyer News. For possible topics in future articles, e-mail us at Tips@WaitingForNextYear.com.

Boot Up: Reflective Rankings – Three baseball publications (Baseball America, Minor League Ball and Hardball Times) recently released end-of-season updated top 10 rankings for each of the MLB systems. These new lists included 2010 draft picks and highlighted the continued development of prospects throughout the past minor league season. It’s always nice to see yet another opinion on each of these top players before the calendar year even begins, so here are some of the highlights from those updates:

- Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and right-handed pitcher Alex White were the consensus top two for all three rankings. White surpassed Chisenhall in the Hardball Times, but the other two selected the third baseman over the right-handed pitcher for the start of their lists. [Read more...]

Your Top 10 Indians Prospects for the 2011 MLB Season

Every year, Baseball America provides us with the list of players who – if all goes as planned – will be the future of the Cleveland Indians franchise.  Or, as the cynics like to call, “the list of future New York Yankees!!”  Get it?  Because they have higher annual payrolls!

Well, thankfully, this year is no different. As the rest of baseball is chatting about winter meetings, Rule 5 and the upcoming free agency period, and since we have already been told that the Indians will not be participating much in either free agency or (subsequently) winter meetings, we can take a looksee as to what players Baseball America considers to be the foundation for the future at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie.

[Read more...]

What the 2010 Indians’ Draft Signings Mean

TD gave us all the details this morning, but I wanted to throw my two cents in on the draft signings from yesterday, and what they tell me about the organization moving forward.

The Tribe spent close to $10 million to sign 27 of their 50 draft picks.  That doesn’t sound like a lot of money for a MLB team (or a huge signing rate), but consider a few things: (1) I’m pretty sure that’s more money than the Indians have ever spent on signing draft picks; (2) they signed their first four picks; (3) they consistently went “over slot” to sign talent; and (4) on a related note, they drafted and signed guys with “signability concerns” meaning that they drafted for talent rather than price.

What does all of this mean?  Probably a few things.  Let’s discuss. [Read more...]

2010 MLB Draft: Indians Await Signing of Drew Pomeranz and Others

With roughly two days left until the deadline, the Cleveland Indians have agreed to terms with two of their first eight selections in the most recent MLB draft.  Chief among the unsigned players is first-rounder Drew Pommeranz, the 6-foot-5-inch left-hander out of Ole Miss.

With Pomeranz being drafted out of high school and opting for college as the Texas Rangers could not match his compensation demands, it is understandable that fans may be a bit concerned.  In fact, Pomeranz’s introductory conference call with the media featured the first-rounder stating that the desired compensation has “grown a little bit” since.

Jim Callis and John Manuel recently whipped up a 97-minute podcast over at Baseball America, discussing all 32 MLB teams – many of which have not signed their top players.  The Indians, however, have been deemed a team with “the most work to do.” [Read more...]

SABR-Toothed Triber: Vetting the Top Draft Picks—Stats & Scouts

It’s old news by now, but the MLB draft is now complete, and the Indians walked away with a boatload of (read: 50)  new, young players.  Between now and August 16th, the job is to sign as many of the picks as possible and assign them to the minor league system to continue their development.

Today I thought we’d take a close look at two of the early round picks.  I’ll certainly include some traditional scouting for each player profiled, but since I haven’t seen them in person, I’ll try to keep most of my opinions to what the numbers can tell us.

Let’s start with our first round pick, Drew Pomeranz.  [Read more...]