August 26, 2014

John Axford was tipping pitches in Milwaukee

john axfordJohn Axford, new Cleveland Indians closer, might have to thank the St. Louis Cardinals for potentially reviving his career.hThe National Post, a Toronto publication, had an article on Sunday about the Canadian’s “pivotal, profitable” late-season stint with the Cardinals in 2013. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian retweeted the article on Twitter.

Per the article, after the late August trade, the Cardinals suddenly informed Axford that he had been tipping his pitches to opposing batters in Milwaukee. That had potentially led to the demise of the 30-year-old, who twice lost the Brewers closer role and had a 4.50 ERA in his final 137 games from 2012-onward with the team.

Here’s how the article began:

On John Axford’s first day with the St. Louis Cardinals, his new coaches sat him down for a meeting. We’ve been scouting you for five years, they said. And by the way, you might be interested in one thing we know about you: You’re tipping your pitches.

Thus, Axford made a slight change in his delivery that likely enabled him to have his success down the stretch. In his 19 games with St. Louis, including playoffs, he allowed just three earned runs and 13 hits while striking out 20 in 16.0 innings pitched. That’s a 1.69 ERA, far improved from his final days in Milwaukee and mirroring his 1.95 ERA, 46-save performance in 2011. But St. Louis then did not tender him a contract this offseason.

In the article, Axford shared some of his signature reasons for choosing the Cleveland Indians in free agency: the opportunity to be a closer again, “upfront” manager Terry Francona and the proximity to his home nearby Hamilton, Ontario.

Axford signed a one-year $4.5 million deal with the Indians. The contract also includes performance-based incentives that could make it as much as $6 million in 2014. The team also maintains control of Axford for two additional years of arbitration eligibility.

Lott interviewed Axford before Saturday’s Baseball Canada awards banquet in Toronto. He also wrote about the connection between Axford and Jim Henderson, a fellow tall right-handed Canadian who took his vacated job as Milwaukee’s closer.

[Related: John Axford – A Calculated Risk]

Photo: Cal Sport Media

Indians take a flier on injury-prone starter Shaun Marcum

shaun marcum mets brewersShaun Marcum alone is not a game-changer. But with relatively little possible cost and minimal team risk, the Cleveland Indians just added a bit more upside to their 2014 roster.

Yesterday, the 32-year-old former Milwaukee Brewer and Toronto Blue Jay reached agreement with the Tribe to compete for the open No. 5 rotation spot. Marcum has struggled to stay on the mound for years, but if he can stay healthy, he could beat out some of the other competitors in spring training.

With the move, suddenly, the Indians now have become the posterboys of the offseason minor-league deal. Scott Kazmir’s storybook 2013 season is the ultimate best-case example of a former-ace-turned-reclamation-project. Again, there’s no knowing whether Shaun Marcum could be the next such comeback player. But as a fan, but you’d hate for it to be with a different team and there’s no way to truly find out unless your squad is the one making these low-risk moves.

[Read more...]

MLB News: Kyle Lohse to Milwaukee Brewers

CBS’ Sports Jon Heyman is reporting today that free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse will be signing with the Milwaukee Brewers-

Lohse was the prize of the free agents left, but signing the veteran starter would have cost a team their first round pick. The Brewers will forfeit the #17 selection in the upcoming MLB draft by signing Lohse.

The Indians were believed to be in on Lohse early in free agency, but changed directions presumably after signing Swisher and Bourne. They opted to give Scott Kazmir and Dice-K looks instead. Kazmir appears to have won a spot in the rotation this spring.

[Related: Four stat lines to watch on the 2013 Indians]

The Indians’ offseason hunt for a veteran starting pitcher

The Scott Kazmir signing was nice and all, but it’s not going to be it for the Cleveland Indians in the starting pitching market. All offseason, the Tribe’s front office has expressed its desire to sign one more free agent starter: a veteran that could provide some more depth to the rotation.

Entering 2013, the starters for the Tribe are Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, then likely Zach McAllister and Trevor Bauer. As I broke down last week following the Bauer-Shin Soo Choo trade, there are no other immediate options in Columbus or elsewhere. Indians fans would simply see the usual revolving door at No. 5 should no other pitcher join the fold: a la Jeanmar Gomez, Carlos Carrasco, et al.

So what’s left on the market for the Indians? Reportedly, Cleveland was on the short list of suitors for RHP Edwin Jackson, who signed a 4-year, $52 million deal with the Cubs earlier this week. But with the New Year approaching, the list is shrinking quickly. [Read more...]

Swept Away: Tribe Loses Third Straight To Milwaukee

Brewers Indians BaseballStop me if you have heard this one before:

Tribe starting pitcher gets down early and only goes five innings.

Tribe offense battles back to tie the game.

Tribe bullpen implodes and game seems all but lost.

Last night’s 9-8 loss to Milwaukee did however, feature another stunning late-inning comeback, but thanks to the pen, it was all for naught. The Tribe was trailing 8-4 going into the bottom of the ninth. With one out Jamey Carroll walked and Mark DeRosa doubled, which brought Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman to the mound. Hoffman, who has been spectacular this season, gave up an two-RBI single Victor Martinez to cut the lead to 8-6. Shin-Soo Choo worked a walk to put the tying run on base. Ryan Garko then laced a double to left to tie the game. Unfortunately for the Tribe, Garks twisted his ankle rounding second and was tagged out. [Read more...]

Another Chance Wasted – Tribe Loses 7-5

Brewers Indians BaseballAnother night, another April flashback. Monday night it was the bullpen, last night it was hitting in clutch spots. The Indians certainly had plenty of chances to take control of this game, but literally failed every single time in the 7-5 loss to Milwaukee.

They took Brewers start Yovani Gallardo completely off the hook, despite working him for six walks and 116 pitches in five innings. Other than Mark DeRosa’s one-out first inning solo blast looked like it would be the start of something big. Gallardo walked the next three batters, but the Tribe could only manage to push one more across on a Travis Hafner RBI fielder’s choice. [Read more...]

Unanswered Prayers: Trevor Hoffman to DL?

Padres Mariners BaseballDuring our off-season search for a closer, the name Trevor Hoffman was dangled about as the veteran closer was looking for a new home.  We belabored a bit, but given Hoffman’s age and relocation to a home that was not as pitcher-friendly as he had in San Diego, we were happy to see that the Indians decided on passing on Hells Bells and signing Kerry Wood.

Since then, Sir Hoffman opted to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers in attempt to be their ninth inning stop-gap.  And while we had a bit of a scare with Wood’s back, it appears that Brewers fans will have to wait a little while to see their signing take the field. [Read more...]

The More Things Change…

Man.  It was just days ago that we were discussing what C.C. Sabathia’s arrival in Milwaukee meant for their 2008 season.  After going 6-8 in Cleveland, the hefty lefty was nearly unhittable for the Brewers by going 11-2 with an ERA of 1.65.  But similar to what occurred last season for the Tribe, Sabathia entered the post season, and took the hill as a completely different pitcher.

Last night’s game saw the big man toss less than four innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four bases on balls.  His career post season ERA is just a few ticks under eight, while his regular season numbers are more than half.  Sabathia has only seen four seasons in the majors where his ERA is north of four, the last being in 2005 (4.03).  But once he hits the playoffs, he hasn’t seen an ERA under five, with the last season being 2001 (3.00).  An even uglier number: Sabathia has walked 22 batters in 25 innings of post season baseball.

[Read more...]

Sabathia Carries Brewers in to Playoffs

The Milwaukee Brewers got exactly what they wanted with the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia back in early July.  Needing another arm to compliment Ben Sheets, Sabathia was likely more than the team even anticipated by going 11-2 with an ERA of 1.65 in 17 starts.

[Read more...]

PTBNL Redux

September 28th, 2008.  Exactly 23 days until the final game of the season.  While we have heard rumblings of fans hoping that the Indians can pull off a Colorado-like surge, this is the date by which we have to get that done.  But this date also has another reminder attached to it:

The time which Mark Shapiro and company will decide whom they will add as the Player to be Named Later from the C.C. Sabathia deal that went down nearly two months ago.

[Read more...]

Sutcliffe and Sabathia

With our Tribe (and company) recap coming a bit later today, I found this small blurb by Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus.

On June 13, 1984, the Indians traded Rick Sutcliffe to the Cubs. He made 20 starts, going 16-1 with seven complete games and won the Cy Young in the NL.

On July 7, 2008, the Indians traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers. He’s made 8 starts, going  7-0 with four complete games.

[Read more...]

2009 Spring Training Begins…

sowers2.jpg

Hey Jeremy, don’t be mad at Miguel. You threw that crap ball. 

Tigers 9, Indians 2 (Box)

Jeremy Sowers served up at least four pitches over the heart of the plate, and two of them went for homers as the Tribe got pounded by the Tigers. Literally taking Sabathia’s place in the rotation, Sowers made way too many mistakes in the strike zone. He simply doesn’t have the velocity to make those types of errors. If you are looking for a bright side…well he didn’t walk anyone. Reliever Brian Slocum gave up two solo homers himself in his second appearance of the year.

What was probably most disturbing is that the Indians managed only 2 hits in the game. Both of them came in the first inning when Casey Blake doubled and Peralta followed with a home run. Speaking of Casey Blake, he was at third base for the game. Were you surprised not to see Andy Marte out there again? Many fans and some media have said let Marte play the rest of the year and see if the kid has anything. [Read more...]

More Questions Than Answers…

sabathiacleans3.jpgDriving home last night with the trade announcement buzzing in my mind, I tried to answer the questions that kept popping up in my head. Unfortunately, I had more questions than I could answer… the biggest one being how long are the Indians going to suck? 

I will concede that C.C. Sabathia and the Indians were not going to be able to work out a deal to bring #52 back next year and beyond. I have come to terms with that already-

The Indians are willing to pay Sabathia around that type of money, but do not want to invest it past 4 years. Why not? Well, Barry Zito, (forget the start against the Indians this week) Carl Pavano, Pedro Martinez…or even Travis Hafner. All received the big payday, and all have struggled for one reason or another since getting the deal.

If Sabathia decides that he will not sacrifice the security of those extra 2 years, then he will go elsewhere. If the Indians decide that they can’t tie up that kind of money long-term, then they will trade Sabathia to get something in return.

Right now I have no ill feelings towards Sabathia or the Indians for not agreeing on a contract. I don’t really have a problem with trading Sabathia either. We have already run the white flag up on this season. It makes perfect sense to get the best you can for Sabathia. [Read more...]

Au Revoir, Big Fella…We Will Miss You

Goodbye C.C.We say goodbye to the Ace, the leader, and one of the core guys who makes up the heart and soul of the Cleveland Indians, as C.C. Sabathia has been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

As Scott has already reported, and Rick will be commenting on further later today, the Indians have officially shut the door on the C.C. Sabathia era in Cleveland, trading the Cy Young winner, 3 time All-Star, and Ace of the Staff to the Milwaukee Brewers for Matt LaPorta, 2 prospects, and a player to be named later.

As a Cleveland sports blogger, there were 2 articles I have dreaded the thought of writing. Today, I am forced to write one of the two, and that is my farewell piece to the last remaining bridge between 2 eras of Indians baseball. As a rookie in 2001, this heralded prospect was given a chance to earn a spot in the rotation in Spring Training of that year. Carsten Charles Sabathia did just that, and on April 8, 2001 against the Baltimore Orioles, the Big Fella began an epic career with the team, and by the end of the season, he would find himself with a 17-5 record, a respectable 4.39 ERA, 171 strikeouts, and a key member of a team that would reclaim their rightful spot as AL Central Champions.     [Read more...]

C.C. Sabathia: Traded to Brewers?

Though slated as the starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against the Tigers, Anthony Castrovince’s MLB.com blog reports that an unconfirmed deal has been made.

According to a Major League source, the Indians and Brewers have completed a trade in which Sabathia, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, would be sent to Milwaukee for Double-A outfielder Matt LaPorta and two other prospects. But that rumor could not immediately be confirmed.

So, until this is confirmed by someone in the organization, let’s sit here and hope that “two other prospects” are Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar.  Pipe dream, most likely.  But hey…why not?

C.C to the Brew Crew [CastroTurf]

Oh Look, More Sabathia Trade Rumors!

C.C. SabathiaIt’s been about two or three days since we’ve last touched on the possibilities of C.C. Sabathia being traded out of Cleveland.  Paul Hoynes recently mentioned that the Tribe is in no hurry to find a suitor, which is actually surprising news.  Somehow, I have a feeling that Mark Shapiro is fielding (and making) phone calls every day – after all, it is his job – but to say that the brass is not “seeking” shows that we still have all of the leverage in this deal.

And leverage is good. 

While we’ve already mentioned the possibilities of C.C. heading to the Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees, we are starting to see a few other teams tossing their name in to the crooked hat: Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.

[Read more...]