July 26, 2014

MLB News: Indians re-align three coaching positions

The Indians season ended last Wednesday with a 4-0 whimper in the AL Wild Card game against Tampa Bay. Five days later, we have our first piece of Cleveland baseball news of the offseason, according to multiple media reports.

Three members of manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff will see their responsibilities change for the 2014 season. Overall, all six of Francona’s coaches will return. But the realignment news today will likely turn a a few heads.

Brad Mills: Old position = third base coach; new position = bench coach
Sandy Alomar Jr: Old position = bench coach; new position = first base coach
Mike Sarbaugh: Old position = first base coach; new position = third base coach

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported (tweet) that the shift was due to a preferred alignment with the three coaches’ skill sets. None of the shifts are considered demotions, despite what one might initially assume about Alomar moving away from the bench coach job.

Notably, Mills (father of former Indians prospect Beau Mills, with whom he owns a young bucking bull) is the only one of the three to have previous long-term MLB managing experience. He coached the Houston Astros from 2010-2012 before being fired last August. Alomar managed the Indians for just six games in interim status last year. Sarbaugh was an up-and-coming managerial prospect after several years in the Indians minor league system.

In other related coaching news, the Chicago Cubs are not currently considering Alomar a candidate for their managerial opening, according to CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan. Former Cleveland skipper Manny Acta is meeting with the team today.

[Related: 2013 Indians In Review: The Starting Rotation]

MLB News: Indians hire Mike Sarbaugh as first base coach

Though the team is reportedly not ready to make a formal announcement regarding the coaching staff of newly hired manager Terry Francona, it appears that long-time Cleveland Indians farm system manager Mike Sarbaugh will be promoted to the big league staff.

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Sarbaugh, spending the last five years in the Indians’ minor league system, will become the team’s first base and infield coach. The 45-year old ended this past season as bench coach to Sandy Alomar Jr., who was named interim manager following the firing of Manny Acta with six games remaining.

For the last three years Sarbaugh has managed the Tribe’s AAA team at Columbus, leading the Clippers to the International League championship and the Class AAA national championship in 2010 and 2011.

[Related: 15 Years Ago: The Team Of (Almost) Destiny]

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...]

Pop the Champagne! Clippers Beat Lehigh Valley 4-1 to Take Second Straight Governor’s Cup

Governor’s Cup Finals – Game 4
Clippers 4, Iron Pigs 1 – (box)
COL wins series, 3-1

The Clippers dropped Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup Finals at home, but true to form they rallied and capped three straight wins with a 4-1 triumph over Lehigh Valley tonight to take their second straight Governor’s Cup. This also means a chance for Columbus to defend their AAA National Championship against the champs of the Pacific Coast League. The game will be played on September 20 in Albuquerque. No word on the hot dogs just yet…

Paolo Espino got the start, and was solid–much like teammates Mitch Talbot and Joe Martinez the prior two games. The Clippers cap a stellar playoff run in which they went 6-1 over Durham and Lehigh Valley to claim another title. Columbus outscored the Iron Pigs 14-4 in the final three games to take the crown.

For manager Mike Sarbaugh, this is now five league championships in his nine years of managing in the Tribe’s system. He’s won at all levels, and has won titles in Akron (1) and Columbus (2) in each of the past three seasons. If I might editorialize, I’d say it’s time Mr. Sarbaugh got a promotion, especially considering that his most recent two titles have come after having the majority of his talent pilfered to Cleveland each of the past two summers.

I’m too many beers in to write a recap of this game, but I’ll have more on Tuesday in my Clippers time slot about this season, and about Sarbaugh. Suffice it to say, the Clippers are Champs once again!

Da Clip Show: Keeping an Eye on the Tribe’s AAA Squad – 8/30/11

Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Check back each Tuesday for team records, roster updates, and performance updates on some of the brightest prospects in the Tribe system.
The Clippers are in the playoffs for the second straight year, and will be looking to defend their IL and AAA Championships. They’ll have to do it with a piece-meal roster, as so many of their core players from earlier in the season are now with Cleveland. The Clippers are heading into the final week of the regular season on a high note, however, winners of three straight. Six games to go, and then the start of the IL playoffs against the IL South winner, who is still yet to be determined.

This Week: 5-2
Season Record: 85-53, clinched International League West

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Da Clip Show: Keeping an Eye on the Tribe’s AAA Squad – 4/13/11 And, We’re Back!

Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Check back each Tuesday afternoon for team records, roster updates, and performance updates on some of the brightest prospects in the Tribe system.

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I know, I know, it’s not really Tuesday. There’s always that one week or so when both the Clippers and Blue Jackets overlap, so today’s first Clip Show of 2011 comes on Wednesday. The season is just getting underway, and so today’s column won’t be so much about individual performances so far as it will be about story lines and players to watch this spring and summer. Last year, it was Santana, Brantley, and LaPorta. This summer brings us a whole new crop of prospects worth following, not to mention what looks to be a very solid AAA team looking to build on a Championship season from 2010. Let’s get it started!

This Week: 4-2

Season Record: 4-2, 2nd place (of four) in ILW (International League West)

Da Clip Show: Keeping an Eye on the Tribe’s AAA Squad – 7/13/10

Clip Show aims to be your weekly update for all things Columbus Clippers. Jacob in control here this week with DP on vacation, but check back each Tuesday afternoon for records, rosters, and performance updates on some of the top prospects in the Tribe system.

Despite a rough week overall, the Clippers head to the All-Star Break this season with a sizable 7.5 game lead in the IL West Division. With only 50 some odd games remaining, that should definitely put the franchise in a position to compete for the championship come later this September. While many players continue to move up I-71 from Columbus to Cleveland, the Clippers roster should include many if not all of the top prospects in the organization by the end of the year. A tough pennant race always attracts the best and it should be even more exciting second half down at Huntington Park.

This Week: 2-4
Current Record: 55-36, 1st place (of four) in ILW (International League West)

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Gomez Shines and Bats Sizzle in 11-0 Clippers Win Over Tides

As we’ve documented repeatedly in Da Clip Show, one of the young pitchers who has definitely struggled for most of the season is Jeanmar Gomez. Prior to Tuesday’s start, Gomez was languishing with a 3-7 record in 12 starts to go with a ballooned ERA of 6.96. He was 1-5 in his last six decisions.

So, color me surprised to read the box score and see that Gomez worked 7.0 strong innings on Tuesday, allowing just three hits, walking none, and striking out six to get the win. It was almost like a switch appeared to have been flipped, and Gomez was a completely different pitcher. “I just know what he can do,” said manager Mike Sarbaugh, who also managed Gomez in AA Akron in 2009. “And I know that he hasn’t been throwing consistently the way that he can. I know that he can do it. But it’s a matter of going out there and not really worrying about throwing seven innings like he did today. It’s important for him to worry about one hitter at a time. If he does that, then good things will happen.” [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Windhorst on ESPN NY, NFL Draft and Efficient NBA Franchises

While We’re Waiting serves up an early morning breakfast buffet of WFNY-esque goodies for your daily viewing pleasure (on weekends too!!) Have something else you think we should see? Send it to our fancy tips email address at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Sportswriter extraordinary Brian Windhorst debuts on ESPN’s New York format with his take on LeBron’s business side: “When trying to understand the psychology of the huge decision LeBron James must make this summer, first you have to meet and understand Cleveland LeBron.

This is perfectly illustrated at just about every Cavaliers home game, where James immerses himself in a level of comfort he’s spent seven years developing.” [ESPNNY.com]

On the same topic, not sure how much this video floated around the other day. Saw it on RealGM and the most fascinating quote is LeBron’s comments about not stopping until he brings a championship to Cleveland. [NBA.com]
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Akron Aeros Named Baseball America’s 2009 Minor League Team of the Year

aeros-championship21In 2009, there was not much success from a big league standpoint when it came to the Cleveland Indians.  Thankfully, as Jacob let us know throughout the entire season, there was a lot of success just a quick trip down Route 77 as the Akron Aeros won the Eastern League at the Double-A level.  And given their triumphs in the playoffs as well as the regular season, the Aeros have been named Baseball America’s Minor League Team of the Year for 2009.

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Tribe News: Sarbaugh Takes Over in C-Bus, Skins To Akron

sarbaughIt’s a slow period in baseball right now, but the Indians organization actually has some news that isn’t Grady Sizemore/stolen photos related. Akron Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh, who has risen in the ranks of the Tribe minor league system, will be promoted to skipper of the AAA Columbus Clippers for the 2010 season.

On the other side of the coin, former Tribe third base coach and resident good soldier, Joel Skinner, has been named the manager of the Aeros, taking the spot left open by Sarbaugh’s promotion.

Sarbaugh is coming off an Eastern League Championship season and at age 42, was voted by Baseball America as the ESL’s “best managerial prospect.” He takes over for Torey Lovullo, who essentially was Sarbaugh before Sarbaugh. Lovullo had been slowly working his way up the ladder and became one of the four finalists for the vacant big league job, eventually losing out to Manny Acta.

There was some thought that with his vast experience with many of the Tribe’s young players, Lovullo would be a shoo-in for Acta’s staff. Instead, he was passed over and moved on. Don’t cry for Torey though, he landed on his feet as the new manager of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.He took the high road on his way out the door. [Read more...]

The Indians Internal Candidates for Manager

large_mark-shapiroWhen the Cleveland Indians relieved Eric Wedge of his future managerial duties back on September 30th, the wheels were set in motion for a new face of the franchise. After seven years of The Grind, many suspected that the Indians would instantly start looking outward for a fresh face to the system and the organization. Chances are however, that this will likely not be the case this coming season. Knowing the financial environment of 2009 and the current order of business under general manager Mark Shapiro, I think the odds are that the Indians will fill their new manager slot from within the organization.

Long ago, the Indians were fresh off a 74-88 record in 2002 and had just suffered through a final season of Charlie Manuel and Joel Skinner. While Mr. Manuel went on to deliver a championship this past season with the Phillies, the Indians went from within with rookie MLB manager Wedge. A successful minor league skipper, he drew immediate praise because of the sound system between him and Shapiro. After the turmoil with Manuel and Shapiro in terms of personnel decisions, a friendliness of the GM and manager roles made the most sense for the team at the time.

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Poppin’ Champagne: Akron Aeros 2009 Championship Season-in-Review (Part 2)

aeros-championship21It is difficult to truly encapsulate all of the accomplishments of the team this season. A smashing 95-54 record between the regular season and playoffs was about as good as it gets in the minors, and this team was dominant throughout the year. Exploding to a 28-8 start, the Aeros led the Eastern League from start to finish and ended their season on Saturday night by sending the Connecticut Defenders all the way to Richmond, VA. Three championships in seven years is quite a success rate for any sports team, regardless of this being the 12-team Eastern League.

The 2009 Akron Aeros, a team that will always be close to me because it was my first full-time professional sports job, finished just T-5th in the league in batting and fifth as well in home runs. The team then was third in the EL in on-base percentage, and thus finished second with 682 runs scored, just behind the Erie SeaWolves.

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Poppin’ Champagne: Akron Aeros 2009 Championship Season-in-Review (Part 1)

aeros-championshipWhat a scene it was. The Akron Aeros capped off their miraculous season with a sensational championship-sealing victory Saturday night against the Connecticut Defenders (San Francisco Giants). In holding on to win 10-6, the Aeros won for the 14th time in 15 games to end the year and capped off the third Eastern League Championship in just seven years for the Indians Double-A affiiliate. In fact, in the past eight years that is now three championships, seven pennants, seven playoff berths and now a record-setting five straight 80-win seasons.

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Aeros Advance to Eastern League Championship Series; Face Connecticut Defenders Tonight

lonnie-chisenhall-john-drennenAs routine as always, the Akron Aeros swept through the mismatched Reading Phillies to make it to the Championship round of the Eastern League for the fifth consecutive season. Highlighted by dominant starting pitching, the Aeros out-scored the Phillies 24-9 in the series and will take on the Connecticut Defenders (Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) starting tonight at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, CT. It was no surprise to see the Defenders take care of the second-place New Britain Rock Cats in their divisional championship as these two teams had been the tops in the league for the past several months.

The Indians season is cruising along agonizingly slowly, but the Aeros are in the thick of playoff baseball yet again. This pennant run in 2009 marks the 9th time in 13 years since the move from Thurman Munson Stadium in Canton that the Indians Double-A affiliate has made the playoffs as well as the 7th time in eight years. Led by many of the featured prospects in the organization (Carlos Santana, Jeanmar Gomez) as well as some recently acquired pitchers (Scott Barnes, Connor Graham), the Aeros cruised through the regular season Eastern League schedule and have now won 11 consecutive games dating back to the regular season.

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Aeros Dominate EL; Aim for Fifth Straight Championship Appearance

akron-aerosAs was mentioned on the site Friday, the Double-A Akron Aeros took home all of the major awards in the Eastern League this season and have also clinched first-place in the Southern Division. With only two contests remaining in the regular season, their playoff schedule is set and the team with the Manager of the Year, Pitcher of the Year and League MVP aims for yet another successful post-season run in 2009. With a current record of 87-53, the Aeros also became the first franchise in the 86-year history of the Eastern League to record 80+ wins in five consecutive seasons.

Last night, Akron defeated the visiting Erie SeaWolves at Canal Park to knock the ‘Wolves out of the playoff race and secure a match-up with the Reading Phillies. A series victory in the Southern Division Championship would then bring the Aeros to their fifth straight Eastern League Championship although the team has only won the title in 2003 and 2005. With all of the top prospects in tow this season however, it certainly appears that great things are still possible for this young and promising team, and baseball at Canal Park should still be exciting over the next two weeks.

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So About That Akron Aeros Bullpen…

aa08-14_038_wrightAs has been discussed briefly in the past, the Akron Aeros bullpen has been just another factor of their incredible play thus far this season. Led by several top draft picks and also a couple of organizational players, the Aeros have relied upon their bullpen heavily en route to a 56-33 record thus far. Of course, if you are interested in seeing this bullpen in action along with projected starter Jeanmar Gomez (6-3, 3.21 ERA) then you can always join us at Canal Park on Thursday.

For the season, the Aeros bullpen was 25-11 with a 3.24 ERA heading into Saturday’s game against Erie, and recently had a ten-game stretch with a 1.08 ERA. Erik Stiller, Steven Wright and Carlton Smith have all had long scoreless streaks of 15+ innings plus, while Vinnie Pestano is breaking saves records left and right. Josh Judy came to Akron after a 12-win season out of the bullpen last year, while Zach Putnam is the hot-shot prospect and Neil Wagner is the intelligent veteran. For more information, here are player profiles of the seven players that currently inhabit the pen for Manager Mike Sarbaugh in Akron as all inhabit top 65 rankings in the Indians Prospect Insider blog.

Steven Wright - Easily the most consistent pitcher in the pen, Wright (pictured above) was named to the Carolina League mid-season All-Star Team with Kinston in 2008, and was the Indians second-round selection in the June 2006 Draft out of the University of Hawaii. [Read more...]

Best Team in NE Ohio? The 2009 Akron Aeros

akron-aerosThe five-time defending Southern Division champions are on pace for greatness again here in 2009 as the Akron Aeros currently stand at 53-28, a mark that is good for the second best record in full-season professional baseball. Led by several marquee prospects, the Aeros look as good as ever this year as they look to win their third Eastern League championship in franchise history (also won in 2003 and 2005). Instead of going with my “Double Dose of Double-A” feature, I decided to simply recap the season as it stands right now, just a handful of games over the halfway mark.

I could go on and on about every single one of the players on our team, but I first want to mention the incredible pitching staff. While the Indians have had their struggles on the mound thus far this season prompting several responses of varying degrees from our very own TD, Akron has just been amazing this season and especially recently. Over the past 28 games, the Aeros pitching staff has a combined 2.02 ERA while holding opponents to one run or less a spectacular 11 times en route to a 19-9 record. On the season, the Aeros now lead the entire 12-team Eastern League with a 3.17 team ERA.

[Read more...]