August 26, 2014

The Aviles acquisition: Small tinkering or the first sign of major change?

Saturday Afternoons in the fall is reserved for college football. On a day with big games galore, the Indians made news with a very interesting deal. Esmil Rogers, who was somewhat of a pen savior and one of the few bright spots in the horror show that was the 2012 season, was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for veteran infielder Mike Aviles and catcher/1B/3B Yan Gomes. Aviles spent last season as the regular shortstop for the Boston Red Sox while Gomes, 25, was the AAA catcher for Las Vegas, the Blue Jays affiliate. Both are right-handed bats.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction to the deal was that bringing in Aviles signals to me that Asdrubal Cabrera is on the market.

Yes, while Aviles is 31 and probably at his best as a super-utility man, he is a solid defensive shortstop and comes as a nice, inexpensive stop-gap for the Indians top prospect, Francisco Lindor. Asdrubal has two years left on the extension he signed last season, which pays him $6.5 million in 2013, and $10 million in 2014. He turns just 27 next week and is a two-time All-Star. With the Indians having so many holes, Cabrera is their top trading chip, especially considering whoever trades for him gets a a guy with two years left on his deal while in his prime.

However, GM Chris Antonetti refuted my claims.

“Asdrubal Cabrera is our starting shortstop,” said Antonetti. [Read more...]

Indians 10 Rays 6: We Have Ourselves A Carlos Santana Sighting!

First off, let me just say that I thoroughly enjoyed Jon’s recaps the past two days. Dude mixes comedy and his love for the game about as well as anyone can. If I could only be as witty….

So sadly for all of you, I am back in the saddle and like Jon discussed the last two days, watching the Tribe in this series has been about as fun as breaking down Browns OTA’s thus far. I love this team with a passion unlike many of you, yet at times, loving them is a painful experience.

Last night’s affair had Justin Masterson facing off with righty Jeremy Hellickson. This was supposed to be a pitchers duel between two offensively challenged teams. Instead, neither starter made it past the sixth inning. It didn’t look as if it would happen that way early. [Read more...]

Box Score: Blue Jays 11, Indians 9

So, after three innings, did anyone expect this to be a competitive contest? The Indians eventually stranded the tying run on first base in the top of the eighth, as Toronto Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen picked up the final four outs for the save.

This was Ubaldo Jimenez’s worst outing of the season, as he failed to get past a miserable third inning. But Cleveland later rallied back, as led by three-hit-and-a-homer days from Michael Brantley and Shelley Duncan. Reliever Esmil Rogers also deserves some kudos for his final two innings of shutout baseball.

Let’s just hope now that the White Sox and Tigers don’t gain a game tonight. Derek Lowe (8-6, 4.43 ERA) will be on the hill tomorrow afternoon as the Tribe looks for the series victory at the Rogers Centre.

Scoring Summary
Bot 1st: Toronto
- A. Lind doubled to right, C. Rasmus and J. Bautista scored
Top 2nd: Cleveland
- S. Duncan hit by pitch, J. Lopez scored, C. Santana to third, M. Brantley to second
- C. Kotchman grounded into double play shortstop to second to first, C. Santana scored, M. Brantley to third, S. Duncan out at second
Bot 3rd: Toronto
- E. Encarnacion homered to deep left, J. Bautista scored
- Y. Escobar homered to deep left, A. Lind scored
- J.P. Arencibia doubled to deep right center, K. Johnson scored
- B. Lawrie doubled to right, J.P. Arencibia scored
- A. Lind singled to center, B. Lawrie and J. Bautista scored, E. Encarnacion to third
Top 4th: Cleveland
- S. Duncan homered to deep left, M. Brantley scored
Bot 5th: Toronto
- E. Encarnacion homered to deep left center
Top 8th: Cleveland
- M. Brantley homered to deep right, C. Santana scored
- C. Kotchman homered to deep right, S. Duncan scored
- T. Hafner singled to shallow left center, A. Cabrera scored, J. Kipnis to second
S. Choo rf 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .295
A. Cabrera ss 4 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 .279
J. Kipnis 2b 4 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 .275
J. Lopez 3b 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .267
    T. Hafner ph 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .237
    J. Hannahan pr-3b 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .239
C. Santana dh 3 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 3 .221
M. Brantley cf 4 2 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 .299
S. Duncan lf 4 2 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 .235
C. Kotchman 1b 5 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 .241
L. Marson c 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .293
 Totals 37 9 12 8 3 6 5 0 11
2B – S Choo (27, A Laffey).
HR – M Brantley (4, 8th inning off J Chavez 1 on, 0 Out), S Duncan (9, 4th inning off A Laffey 1 on, 1 Out), C Kotchman (9, 8th inning off J Chavez 1 on, 0 Out).
RBI – T Hafner (26), M Brantley 2 (44), S Duncan 3 (24), C Kotchman 2 (36).
2-out RBI – T Hafner.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out – A Cabrera 1, C Santana 1, L Marson 1.
GIDP – C Kotchman.
Team LOB – 8.
B. Lawrie 3b 4 1 2 1 0 1 0 1 1 .290
C. Rasmus cf 4 1 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 .253
J. Bautista rf 3 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 .242
E. Encarnacion 1b 4 2 2 3 2 1 1 0 2 .295
A. Lind dh 5 1 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 .232
Y. Escobar ss 5 1 1 2 1 0 1 0 4 .254
K. Johnson 2b 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 .247
R. Davis lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .243
J.P. Arencibia c 4 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .230
 Totals 37 11 13 11 3 6 5 3 15
2B – B Lawrie (17, S Barnes); J Bautista (13, U Jimenez); A Lind (9, U Jimenez); K Johnson (9, U Jimenez); J Arencibia 2 (13, U Jimenez, S Barnes).
HR – E Encarnacion 2 (25, 3rd inning off U Jimenez 1 on, 0 Out, 5th inning off J Accardo 0 on, 2 Out), Y Escobar (6, 3rd inning off U Jimenez 1 on, 0 Out).
RBI – B Lawrie (34), E Encarnacion 3 (61), A Lind 4 (24), Y Escobar 2 (34), J Arencibia (42).
2-out RBI – E Encarnacion, A Lind 4.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out – B Lawrie 1, C Rasmus 1, Y Escobar 2.
Team LOB – 8.
 Base Running
SB – B Lawrie (12, 3rd base off S Barnes/L Marson), K Johnson 2 (9, 2nd base off U Jimenez/L Marson, 3rd base off U Jimenez/L Marson).
Outfield assists – R Davis.
DP – 1 (Y Escobar-K Johnson-E Encarnacion).
U. Jimenez (L, 8-8) 2.1 7 8 8 4 2 2 1.58 5.09
S. Barnes 1.2 3 2 2 2 2 0 1.85 8.31
J. Accardo 2.0 2 1 1 0 0 1 1.38 3.55
E. Rogers 2.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.59 1.76
A. Laffey (W, 1-1) 5.0 8 4 4 3 4 1 1.16 3.38
A. Loup 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
J. Chavez 0.0 3 4 4 1 0 2 1.57 8.85
A. Carpenter 0.2 0 1 1 2 1 0 2.50 9.00
C. Janssen (S, 13) 1.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.87 2.21

Tribe 1, Jays 0: Masterson, Relievers Dominate to Begin Second Half with a W

It was a familiar setting. A type of opening day. Save situation. Against the Toronto Blue Jays. Chris Perez had been there before in 2012, and fortunately for Indians fans, this save opportunity ended in a Cleveland victory.

On Opening Day, Perez blew the save in allowing three ninth-inning runs to Toronto, eventually leading to a 7-4 loss in 16 innings. On Friday night, however, with the Indians returning from the All-Star Break three games back of the White Sox, he preserved a 1-0 lead for his 25th save out of 27 chances on the year.

Justin Masterson delivered seven spotless innings and Vinnie Pestano got out of the eighth to set the table for the All-Star Perez. All the star pitchers needed in terms of offense was a solo home run by Travis Hafner, who continues to hit the ball well since returning from injury.

[Read more...]

Indians All-Star Break Review: The Bullpen

As we do each summer at WFNY when the Cleveland Indians hit the All-Star break, we take a look back at the four facets of the team on the field – the starting rotation, the bullpen, the infield, and the outfield. There’s been been a lot to talk about with this club. Their 44-41 record is good enough for second in the American League Central, but the team has shown some serious flaws. GM Chris Antonetti continues to tell us that the Indians have not played their best baseball yet. I hope he is right. Additions will need to be made and in-house improvements will be a must if the Tribe plans on playing October baseball.

Yesterday, we looked at the starting rotation. Today we will examine the guys who follow those starters; the bullpen.

This was thought to be the strength of the team coming into the 2012 season. Last year’s crew, The Bullpen Mafia, was essentially the same seven guys the entire season. As the club broke camp, the last two guys – Frank Herrmann and Chad Durbin – were replaced by waiver wire claim Jairo Ascencio and veteran free agent Dan Wheeler. They didn’t seem to matter much as they would be pitching in the mop up roles. Neither made it through May and both were designated for assignment. Wheeler didn’t deserve to make the club in the first place as he was below average during the Spring and then played the roll of gas can while with the Tribe. [Read more...]

Indians 7 Orioles 2: The Zach Attack and the Home Run Ball Get Tribe Back On Track

It was a perfect night to be a Cleveland sports fan. I for one sat in front of my TV, popped on the Ipad, had my Iphone next to me on one side and my five-year old son on the other. I was ready for action. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt always says “the great thing about sports is they always deliver.” Last night was no exception.

While I obviously had my eyes on the NBA Draft, the one night of the year that I actually shed the “NBA Free” tag (because of my passion for the college game), the Tribe needed some love and attention as well. Coming into Baltimore losers of five straight for the first time all year, Manny Acta called for a 4:30 team meeting to clear the decks so to speak.

“It was just basically to talk to the guys,” Acta said, “and make sure they know it’s a very long season, a roller coaster where you go up and down — how just a week ago when we left Cleveland we were sitting pretty in first place and then a week later you go through a struggle and you’re where you’re at. It’s about staying positive, sticking together and just making sure you do what you’re supposed to do and not panic and try to do too much.” [Read more...]

Indians 3 Reds 2: Asdrubal Blasts Tribe Into First Place

He owed us after Sunday’s three-error debacle. He knew it, we all knew it. And with one mighty swing of the bat, Asdrubal Cabrera got his redemption.

A long night of ill-fated run-scoring opportunities looked like a painful loss as the Indians headed to the bottom of the 10th inning. Tribe starter Josh Tomlin was long gone at this point, despite putting together a solid performance for six and two-thirds innings (one run on six hits).  Gone too were the Tribe’s “Big Three” in the bullpen, Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez. All had entered the game and had been replaced. Also missing was the air that had come out of Progressive Field after the Reds scored a run in the top of the 10th thanks to two wild pitches with two outs from left-hander Nick Hagadone (the second of which Carlos Santana has to come up with in that spot. Breaking balls in the dirt happen all the time).

Reds flame-throwing close Aroldis Chapman entered the game with a 1.06 ERA. He had 59 strikeouts in 34 innings and lefties were just 4-41 against him. The odds certainly didn’t seem in the Wahoos favor.  [Read more...]

Indians acquire RHP Esmil Rogers

From the Indians-

“The Indians announced today that the club has acquired RHP ESMIL ROGERS from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for cash considerations. To make room on the club’s 40-man roster, Cleveland has also designated C LUKE CARLIN for assignment.

Rogers, 26, has made 23 relief appearances for the Rockies this season, going 0-2 with an 8.06 ERA (23 ER/25.2 IP). The right-hander is averaging 10.2 strikeouts-per-9.0 innings, fanning 29 batters against 18 walks. He has also held left-handed batters to a .235 (12-51) clip. Rogers, who is out of options after pitching in parts of 4 major league seasons, is scheduled to join the Indians in the coming days. He was originally signed by Colorado in 2003 as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic and has gone 34-30 with a 4.65 ERA (293 ER/567.2 IP), 445 strikeouts and 190 walks in 104 career games/101 starts at the minor league level.

Carlin, 31, has spent the bulk of the 2012 season at Triple-A Columbus, batting .231 (18-78) with 3 doubles, 2 homers and 12 RBI in 23 games. He has registered a .990 (2 ER/193 TC) fielding pct. in 22 games behind the plate, throwing out 8-of-26 (30.8%) attempted base-stealers. Carlin also appeared in 4 games with Cleveland (3-for-14, 2B, RBI, 2 R) after having his contract purchased from Columbus on May 26 (optioned back on June 6). The Indians have 10 days to trade, release or outright Carlin to the minor leagues.”

Shoulder shrugs all around.