July 24, 2014

MLB: Shin-Soo Choo and his agent eye Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford deals

People in Cleveland loved Shin-Soo Choo, yet had very little issue with him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds during last off-season. Most of the reason that Indians fans were alright with the deal is due to Choo’s free agency which is happening right now.

According to Jon Heyman, Choo’s expectations for his next contract are all of what Scott Boras can dream up and then some in terms of dollar signs.

That person didn’t specify which rumors he was referring to, but word is out Choo and agent Scott Boras have previous deals for Jayson Werth ($126 million, seven years) and Carl Crawford ($142 million, seven years) in mind while gauging teams’ interest in Choo and Ellsbury.

Whether or not those gaudy numbers ever come to pass remains to be seen, but Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk astutely points out that “we live in a world where Hunter Pence just got $90 million.”

You will remember that by the time the dust settled on the Choo trade, the Indians got Drew Stubbs, Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw in exchange for Choo, Jason Donald, $3.5 million, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson.

As you watch the ping pong balls flutter about on Shin-Soo Choo’s lottery ticket chances, keep in mind that we also live in a world where Drew Stubbs has some trade value, so the Indians might not be close to done reaping rewards from that deal. And no, I’m not even counting Trevor Bauer’s rap career.

I’ll be sitting hoping that Choo doesn’t score anywhere near Werth money not because I have any ill will for Shin-Soo Choo, but because I hope to point at Jon and tell him just how wrong he was.

[Related: MLB Rumors: Stubbs Draws Trade Interest]

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...]

Perez Speaks, Perez Implodes, Pronk Slams, Donald Wins It In The 12th

The Indians had just two games left entering last night’s tilt. You know how on those day games before a team hits the road for a long trip, they usually swing the bats as if they can’t wait to get out of town? Well both the Indians and the White Sox spent last night playing like it was one of those times. “Getaway Day At-bats” littered this game.

The Sox starter Jake Peavy dominated an Indians lineup that looked like they didn’t want any part of playing in this one. Other than Shin-Soo Choo’s solo homer in the fourth and a Jason Kipnis seventh inning walk, Peavy was perfect. The former NL Cy Young winner knifed through the Tribe with ease. On the other side was Justin Masterson, who was making the last start of his worst season as a pro. He avoided his 16th loss by matching Peavy pitch for pitch. He went six, giving up just one run on four hits. The outing saved him from an ERA above five. In fact, the game was tied at one heading into the ninth inning. [Read more...]

Rangers 6 Indians 4: At Least They Kept It Close, Right?

When you are a bad team like the Indians are, you have no margin for error. When your four through nine in your lineup reads Russ Canzler, Matt LaPorta, Brent Lillibridge, Jason Donald, Thomas Neal, Ezequiel Carrera and you are playing the Texas Rangers, you are going to need not to play perfect baseball, but you need a little luck as well.

So the Indians took that lineup to the field in Arlington, Texas against a first place club that features five All-Stars. Ubaldo Jimenez was on the mound and by the second inning, he was up to his old tricks, with a little help from his defense.

Donald, playing third base, took a grounder from Adrian Beltre and threw it across the diamond to Canzler. The throw was a tad up the line and Canzler dropped it. It was the first three brutal errors on Tribe infielders. Good teams like the Rangers know how to take advantage of extra outs. [Read more...]

Tribe Wins Second Straight Behind Ubaldo

With so much harsh Tribe baseball for our viewing displeasure recently, last night was a refreshingly positive game. The Indians got good pitching and hit enough to take the series opener against the Red Sox 5-3. Ubaldo Jimenez stacked up the strikeouts against the BoSox to collect his ninth win of the season, Chris Perez got back on the right track, and the offense put a crooked number up on the board as the Indians won their second straight after dropping the previous eleven.

There was enough negative news prior to the game with Travis Hafner heading back to the DL and pitching coach Scott Radinsky being relieved of his duties. Jason Donald was called up to take Hafner’s spot on the 25-man, and he made his impact felt immediately. With Jason Kipnis being a late scratch from the lineup due to a stiff neck, it was Donald who started at second and batted first. Donald took a Felix Doubront fastball and sliced it just inside the right field foul pole to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead. [Read more...]

Indians Weekend Wrapup: Defying The Odds

I swear I will never be able to figure out this particular Indians club. They entered Baltimore on a five-game losing streak, looking as bad as they have all season. The offense couldn’t score in Amsterdam’s Red Light District with a fist full of hundreds, and the pitching had become extremely suspect. It was (and still is) danger time for our Wahoos. Scheduled to face three lefties in four days, things seemed really bleak. The White Sox were streaking. The Tigers were charging. It seemed like the Tribe was starting their fade.

A team meeting was held before Thursday night’s game where Manny Acta cleared the air, got everyone to re-focus, and told his team to just relax and get back to having fun.

Again, I know I felt extremely concerned that this series could be a make or break situation for them. I thought the Tribe had to come away with three of four at a minimum to keep pace in the AL Central and to weather the storm of this brutal portion of the schedule. After this ten-game trip, The Angels and Rays come to Cleveland. So doing well in Baltimore was a must. [Read more...]

Indians recall Jason Donald, Lonnie Chisenhall to DL

The Tribe officially placed third baseman Lonnie Chisenall on the DL with a fractured wrist and recalled infielder Jason Donald. WTAM’s Nick Camino tweets:

The 27-year old Donald, a career .264 hitter, is batting a scant .178 for the Tribe in 2012 (8 hits in 45 ABs with 16Ks and 1BB) and is not expected to be in the lineup for Saturday’s game in Baltimore. Chisenall, who returned to Cleveland for surgery, was placed on the 15-day DL and is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

[Related: Memo to Chris Antonetti: Go Get Carlos Lee]

WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 5/30

Every Wednesday, I bring you all the highlights from the week that was for the Cleveland Indians organization, along with some added insight on what it means for the major league squad.

The biggest call of the week seems to be the complex decision to promote 3B Lonnie Chisenhall back up from AAA Columbus. As has been reported several times, 3B Jack Hannahan missed about 10 games with a sore back, returned for one game Saturday, then re-injured a calf that’s been bugging him in years past. This is his first DL stint in the pros. [Read more...]

McAllister, Lopez Recalled From Columbus, Tomlin To DL, Donald Optioned

The Indians made two roster moves before tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox. First, they recalled Zach McAllister from Columbus to make the start in place of Josh Tomlin. Tomlin, who injured his right wrist reportedly gripping the ball too hard in his last start on Monday, was placed on the 15-day DL.

In an additional move, the team also optioned Jason Donald to Triple-A Columbus and recalled Jose Lopez. Donald has struggled defensively at both third base and shortstop and is hitting just .178/.188/.178 with 4 RBI in 45 at-bats this season. Lopez was designated for assignment when the Tribe activated Johnny Damon, and he was hitting .190/.190/.381 with 1 homer and 3 RBI in 21 at-bats. He cleared waivers and ended up in Columbus, where he is red hot, hitting .522/.542/.696 with 4 RBI in 6 games (23 at-bats).

The one drawback is the Donald move leaves the team with a backup shortstop of either Lopez (57 career games at short, all in his 2004 rookie season) or Jack Hannahan (2 career games in 2009).

To open up the 40-man roster spot for Lopez once again, the Indians designated OF Nick Weglarz for assignment. Weglarz, 24, is hitting just .202/.295/.333 with 3 HR and 12 RBI at Double-A Akron. The third round pick of the 2005 draft has battled injuries and fallen out of the team’s future plans.

Tribe Weekend Wrapup: Progressive Field Magic, Starting Pitching, and The Sun

It was another odd weekend of baseball down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. In case you hadn’t heard (and judging by the attendance, you haven’t – ha ha) the Indians offense has just a tad bit of trouble scoring these days. This weekend was no exception. It certainly didn’t help matters when the Los Angeles Angels sent Jeff Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana out to the mound.

It is no secret how the Indians win games; good pitching and timely hitting. Well, the first part of that equation showed up and the Indians used a little help from the elements in taking two of three from the reeling Angels. This was a good time to catch them. They have a loaded rotation and a great lineup, but they happen to be struggling mightily. When they return again in July, I can guarantee they will be a much improved club.

So how exactly did the Indians take this series? What all went right? What are we going to do about this stagnant offense? As we do every Monday morning during the season, let us take a look back at the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Up is Down. Left is Right. Jack Hannahan is…Good?

It’s easy to forget that Jack Hannahan is still a Major League Baseball player—at least in part—because of Gavin Floyd.

Because until Floyd broke Jason Donald’s left hand with a high-and-tight fastball on March 6 of last year, Donald was slated to be the Indians’ bridge to Lonnie Chisenhall.  The best laid plans of Mark and Chris…

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Ubaldo’s disposition, Jason Donald and Hannahan!

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.

Interesting piece from this weekend on Ubaldo Jimenez- “Nearly eight months after being dumped by the Rockies, Jimenez still struggles to gain command of his fastball and make sense of the trade. Divorce can be messy. But I’m not sure the breakup angst that Frank and Jamie McCourt inflicted on the Los Angeles Dodgers can match the emotional scars left on Jimenez. Long before Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd traded Jimenez to the Indians last summer, the trust was broken between the most talented pitcher in franchise history and management. Truth be known, Jimenez wanted out of Colorado.” [Kiszla/Denver Post] [Read more...]

Only Losers Live Here: Re-imagining What Might Have Been In The Cliff Lee Trade

It is a sore subject for Tribe fans as it should be.

Back on July 29th of 2009, the Indians sent Cy Young award winning starting pitcher Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. At the time, the Phillies were streaking towards the postseason while the Indians were in full regression mode. It was the second consecutive year in which the Tribe dealt their best assests to reload with prospects. Lee was their biggest chip and it was of the utmost importance that they cashed in on him big time.

The Phillies were flush with top tier prospects. In 2009, everyone knew their best guy was AA starting pitcher Kyle Drabek. Next on the list were a pair of outfielders, Domonic Brown and Michael Taylor. The Indians tried everything they could to hold out for Drabek, but the Phillies refused to include him. Brown and Taylor were intriguing, but at the time, the Tribe thought they were set long-term with Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, and a soon to be ready Michael Brantley in the outfield. They wanted arms. So they settled for the next best options.  [Read more...]

Significant Nothings: Thoughts on The Indians & Spring Training

As I continue to battle my annual case of Spring Training writer’s block,* I thought I’d just ramble a bit about some of the Tribe issues on my mind.

Left Field – I keep wondering: how was this team so ill-equipped to handle the inevitability of an injured Grady Sizemore? Had no one in the front office considered the possibility that Grady would miss part of this season? We’re currently left with no palatable options to fill our third outfield spot. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, I guess—we do have some upside offensive capability at positions that most teams employ glove-only specialists (catcher, second base, short stop). But I can’t help but think that the two easiest positions to find a bat—left field and first base—have been black holes for the team for as long as I can remember. When you pine for the days of Ryan Garko and Javid Delichaels, something is amiss. [Read more...]

Grady Injury Leaves the Tribe Behind the Eight Ball

I said it last week. I said it three months ago. I said it when the season ended. The Indians needed to cut ties with the Grady Sizemore era.  The reasons were simple: The guy has a broken down body, his skills are eroding, and the Indians cannot afford to bank on a guy that simply cannot be counted on. They had no financial reason to keep him on the roster, yet they decided to give him the one year, $5 million base plus incentives much to my chagrin.

Last Friday afternoon, the Indians let it out that Sizemore had suffered a back injury that would shut him down for the next few weeks. This injury occurred during his knee rehabilitation and before he even stepped foot on the field in Goodyear, Arizona. It was not a good sign. At the time, we were told that he wouldn’t be ready by opening day, something I found curious considering we were still six weeks before the start of the season and Sizemore’s latest ailment was called a “back strain.” Like last year, Grady would start on the DL and hopefully come back a couple of weeks into the season. [Read more...]

Tribe On Tour: A Success For the Kids

The Indians do as much as they can from a PR standpoint to reach out to the community and engage with their fans. Its something they obviously must do, considering the economics of our market. The Tribe was dealt a significant blow this past week when the rival Detroit Tigers decided to replace the injured Victor Martinez with the biggest fish in the free agent pond, Prince Fielder. Nine years and $214 million later, Tribe fans coast to coast felt as though we had been kicked in the stomach. In the meantime, a couple of days later, Manager Manny Acta and some of his players hit the road on a four mall PR run called “Tribe on Tour” and undoubtably be asked about it, and the opening at first base.

Things wrapped up Sunday at Beachwood Place mall. Acta, Josh Tomlin, Jason Donald, Jason Kipnis, Vinnie Pestano, Jack Hannahan, and Shelley Duncan all met the fans for an hour of Q & A followed by an autograph session. [Read more...]

Jason Donald: Trade Bait or Center Fielder?

Most of this off-season, I’ve been hoping the Indians trade Jason Donald.

This stance developed for two main reasons, neither of which had anything to do with a lack of confidence in Jason Donald.

First, I really do think Donald has some legitimate value, which might at first seem an odd reason to want to trade him.  As I’ve written before, his minor league numbers look pretty darn good (.805 career OPS).  He hits LHP fairly well.  He has significant versatility, able to play three infield positions and rumors that he’s adding the outfield to his repertoire as well.  On top of that, he has accrued only 1.057 years of ML service, meaning that he’ll be cost-controlled for up to five more seasons.  I can see how an acquiring team would much rather hand an everyday job to Donald rather than Ryan Theriot or (gulp) Orlando Cabrera.

Second, the Indians don’t really seem to have an everyday spot for Donald, which makes moving him that much easier.  [Read more...]

Assessing the Indians Offseason Options: A Look at our Trade Chips

There arises a certain degree of skepticism among Indians fans when the subject of signing free agents is mentioned.  This feeling is not without cause, nor is it worth going into any great detail searching for an explanation.  We know that whatever free agents we add are likely to be of the complementary nature—a utility player here or a bullpen arm there.  We’ve been conditioned to believe that we play in the shallow end of the pool when it comes to free agency due to circumstances that are, by and large, beyond our control.

On the other hand, there is some reason to believe that the Indians might be willing to add some talent and (yes!) even some payroll this off-season.  For one thing, Chris Antonetti said so himself.  For another, the 2012 season looks like that “contending” year that we’ve been waiting for.  Did it make sense to sign a big name before the 2010 season?  Not really, we were at our nadir as a team.  But now?  One or two pieces could make a big difference to a club that is otherwise ready to start competing.

The problem, of course, is that the free agent pool isn’t looking all that advantageous for us.  [Read more...]

Jason Kipnis Is Out Today, But Joe Haden Appears Available

First the bad news.  Jason Kipnis, who has been lighting the baseball world on fire lately, is out of the starting lineup again today for the second straight game.  This from Dennis Manoloff of the PD earlier this morning:

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis will not start for a second straight game because of an injury to his right side.  Kipnis is hitting .279 with six homers and 11 RBI since being recalled from Class AAA Columbus.  At his locker this morning, Kipnis declined to say what is injured.

“I don’t know the extent yet, either,” he said. “I don’t think it’s serious. If it is anything serious, it will be out in public in due time.”

Then he reiterated: He does not think it is serious.  Later in the morning, Kipnis got more specific. He told mlb.com’s Jordan Bastian that his right side is stiff and sore. Kipnis said he is available off the bench today when the Indians are scheduled to face the Twins at Progressive Field.”

Good news is that Joe Haden appears ready to get his Deion Sanders on if needed.  I’m not sure Deion would’ve worn those socks though, or a helmet in the field, but maybe Haden’s looking to mix-in a little John Olerud out there at second base if Cleveland needs him today.  That defensive stance looks pretty good from Joe in the picture above; assuming he wears a glove on that left hand instead of the Wahoo foam finger. [Read more...]

Jason Donald Called Up

With fan favorite Orlando Cabrera shipped to San Francisco, the Indians filled his roster spot this morning by calling up Jason Donald from AAA Columbus.  In 88 games last year, Donald had a .253 batting average (.690 OPS) with 75 hits and 24 RBIs in 296 at-bats.  He is best remembered for legging out an infield single to break up Armando Galarraga’s perfect game last year.  Due to injury and an infield crowded with veterans like Cabrera and Jack Hannahan, Donald has yet to play with the big league club this season.

But that changes today as he will immediately get the call this afternoon against the Royals.  Donald is slated to start at third and hit 8th in the lineup.  Lots of changes this weekend with your Wahoos – Donald will be a refreshing face to have up here, especially in lieu of Cabrera.  At least Orlando got to lead the club in one final walk-off home plate mugging last night before being sent off to the Bay.