April 18, 2014

Paternity leave, Danny Salazar, and an update on The League… While We’re Waiting

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While we’re waiting? I really left you waiting this week. Sorry for the delay. [Read more...]

MLB Free Agency: Indians sign veteran reliever Scott Atchison

atchison metsThe Cleveland Indians have signed a deal with 37-year-old veteran reliever Scott Atchison, the team announced on Monday afternoon. The agreement is a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Atchison appeared in 50 games for the New York Mets in 2013, finishing 3-3 with a 4.37 ERA. He was then non-tendered this offseason and thus, the Indians acquire both of his remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility if he makes the team. He had a very impressive 2012 with the Boston Red Sox, contributing a 1.58 ERA in 42 contests. He pitched under manager Terry Francona for the Sox in 2011.

Since he’s 37, Atchison represents fairly low upside for the Tribe. They obviously needed more warm bodies with MLB relief experience in the wake of losing Rich Hill, Matt Albers, Joe Smith and Chris Perez to free agency. Atchison has a 3.64 ERA in his 205 career big league games and a 3.74 ERA in 238 Triple-A appearances. He’s not flashy by any means with his 5.9 K/9 in the last four years since his return from a two-season stay in Japan.

Previously, Cleveland signed similar zero-guarantee deals with 30-year-old righty Matt Capps and 30-year-old lefty Mike Zagurski. Along with brand new closer John Axford, they all are newcomers for the team’s spring 2014 bullpen. Shaun Marcum, a 32-year-old righty who also signed such a deal, is a former starter but could potentially be a factor in the pen.

Only four relievers are likely to have 100% confirmed MLB jobs: Axford, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Marc Rzepczynski. Others that will compete: newly acquired lefty Josh Outman, Vinnie Pestano, Chen-Chang Lee, Nick Hagadone, Blake Wood, Preston Guilmet, Frank Herrmann, Scott Barnes, etc. The Indians also will have choices to make on the future roles of Carlos Carrasco (expected to be a starter) and Josh Tomlin.

Overall, the Atchison signing puts a nice little cherry on top of a solid-yet-unspectacular reliever offseason for the Indians. The team’s pen had a just slightly above average ERA at 3.62 last season, but then promptly lost a large chunk of its contributors. Hopefully a few of these new veterans can stick and make a difference, along with the up-and-coming youngsters.

[Related: Tribe Makes the Playoffs on a 10-Game Winning Streak — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories: No. 1]

Photo: MLB/Steve Mitchell

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...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Two out of three is good, but…..

Nick Swisher

We have been talking about it for weeks, pointing towards it even. Some would even say counting on it. The soft September schedule arrived just in the nick of time. After taking the final two of the three-game set with Baltimore, the scheduling Gods smiled on your Cleveland Indians as the dead-end New York Mets came to town with their AAA lineup in tow. With 20 games to go and the Indians clinging to Wild Card contention, these are the kind of games they HAVE TO win. Every game matters that much more right now. The Yankees, Orioles, and Rays are all going to be beating each other up over the next three weeks. You can throw the red hot Red Sox into that mix – who should be your second favorite team until October might I add.

The time is now for the Indians. They can’t afford any missteps. They are on the cusp of the playoffs if they can just take care of their own business and beat the teams they are supposed to, they can get there. While they are a horrific 4-15 record against their division foe in Detroit, the Tribe is 21 games over .500 against the rest of the league. They can do this. The arrival of the Mets was the perfect tonic for a team looking to pickup some easy wins. They would end up taking two of three, but they really should have completed the sweep. Regardless, if the Indians win two out of every three the rest of the way, October baseball should be in our midst. [Read more...]

MLB News: Corey Kluber activated from DL for Saturday start

Right-hander Corey Kluber was officially activated from the 15-day disabled list this afternoon, returning to the Cleveland Indians active roster for a start tonight against the New York Mets.

Kluber has been on the disabled list for the past month with right long finger soreness, which was a similar issue that plagued Zach McAllister earlier in the season. Kluber’s reportedly scheduled to be on a 65-pitch limit in tonight’s start, which will test the Indians bullpen.

The 27-year-old former San Diego Padres farmhand is having a career season at the major league level. After being Brett Myers’ replacement in the rotation in late April, he’s starred as one of the team’s most consistent performers. He’s 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA in his 21 outings, made complete by a sensational 4.46 K/BB ratio and 3.16 FIP.

FanGraphs has written dozens of times about Kluber, even going so far as creating the “Corey Kluber Society” in its daily notes category. They tried out the Danny Salazar Society in Kluber’s month-long absence, but anxiously previewed his return to the rotation earlier today.

The Indians roster now stands at 37 players, including 21 pitchers. Kluber will face off against Mets lefty Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66 ERA) tonight, in a very solid pitching matchup.

The team also announced, via Twitter, that outfielder Tim Fedroff and shortstop Juan Diaz had both cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Columbus. Both were designated for assignment in last week’s flurry of roster moves.

[Related: 22 to go: Analyzing the Indians’ still-remaining Wild Card hopes]

WFNY Stats & Info: Scott Kazmir’s stellar comeback season

In terms of Scott Kazmir’s history with the Cleveland Indians, I’ve oddly been the lead historian.

Back on Nov. 23, I shared that the Indians were one of several teams seen scouting the 29-year-old. And on Dec. 21, I reported on his new minor league deal with the Tribe. Then, I was there again with the post on April 20 as he was set to make his Indians debut.

Since then, Kazmir, who pitched in 2012 with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters near his hometown of Houston, has been dynamite. Last season, Cleveland had one of the worst starting pitching rotations in recent history. Kazmir’s been the most surprising reason behind this year’s impressive pitching turnaround.

2004 (TB): 8 games, 2-3 record, 5.67 ERA, 33.1 IP, 33 H, 21 BB, 41 K
2005-2008 (TB): 117 starts, 45-34 record, 3.51 ERA, 689.2 IP, 623 H, 311 BB, 742 K
2009 (TB/LAA): 26 starts, 10-9 record, 4.89 ERA, 147.1 IP, 149 H, 60 BB, 117 K
2010 (LAA): 28 starts, 9-15 record, 5.94 ERA, 150.0 IP, 158 H, 79 BB, 93 K
2011 (LAA): 1 start, 0-0 record, 27.00 ERA, 1.2 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 K
2013 (CLE): 25 starts, 8-7 record, 4.17 ERA, 136.0 IP, 136 H, 43 BB, 131 K

What made this left-hander such a dominant up-and-coming young starter was his electric strikeout ability. He led the AL with 239 strikeouts back in 2007 and tallied 9.7 K/9 in an impressive four-year stretch. His stats then wildly declined over the next three years, with a 5.54 ERA and only a 6.3 K/9 ratio, as he fell out of the majors.

Friday night then showed how dominant he still can be. In his first career start against the New York Mets, the team that drafted him as the No. 15 pick way back in 2002, he struck out a season-high 12 in six shutout innings. It was the most strikeouts he had in a game since 2007.

Of the season, Kazmir now has an 8.7 K/9 ratio. He also has an impressive nine starts of six-plus innings with a maximum of one earned run, which trails Justin Masterson”s 12 for the team lead.

As I remarked on Twitter last night, Kazmir is making himself a prime candidate for a large free agent contract this winter. If the voting works out well too, he also could be a favorite for the AL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

[Related: On Scott Kazmir and My Impending Middle Age]

MLB News: Grady Sizemore resumes baseball activities

Last we heard from former Cleveland Indians All-Star Grady Sizemore, he was eyeing a mid-season return to the game when he was healthy enough to compete again.

Per a Boston Globe report by Nick Cafardo today, it appears that the 30-year-old has indeed resumed activities. Here’s his tidbit when discussing Boston’s plans and other notable acquisitions on the market:

6. Grady Sizemore, OF, free agent — It shouldn’t be long before a long list of teams start to inquire about Sizemore. He’s begun baseball activities after missing all this time with knee surgeries, and so far he’s had no setbacks. Sizemore was once one of the great talents in the game, and it appears he’s working his way back and could help teams needing outfield help (Mets?) for the second half of the season.

The Mets were a team that was previously linked to Sizemore at the 2012 Winter Meetings. Oddly enough, they previously competed against the Indians for the rights to Michael Bourn, but didn’t make as steep an offer because of their No. 11 first-round draft pick.

Sizemore has played in just 104 games since the start of the 2010 season. He was an All-Star for Cleveland from 2006-2008, producing at a clip of .279/.380/.499 with an average of 42 doubles, 28 homers, 81 RBI and 31 steals per season. He even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But then the injury bug began in 2009, and he’s never been the same player ever since.

The Indians gave him a reaffirmation of their belief with a $5 million contract for the 2012 season, but Sizemore never appeared on the field. As of now, it’s certainly unlikely that GM Chris Antonetti and the team would be interested in his services again.

[Related: 2013 MLB Draft: Indians look to buck trend with No. 5 pick]

Scott Raab taking Ann Coulter to a Mets game, quitting nicotine, Josh Hamilton, Kyrie Irving and Tiger Woods – WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-15

WFNY Podcast LogoDon’t worry, we didn’t get overly political even as we talked about Scott’s trip to see the Mets with Ann Coulter in order to do a feature for Esquire. It was all just a ramp to Cleveland sports and some Cavs talk.

  • Ann Coulter at a Mets game

  • Quitting smoking

  • Josh Hamilton and quitting chew

  • Nolan Ryan and his critiques of him quitting mid-season

  • Humans breaking addiction

  • $123 million for Josh Hamilton

  • Cavaliers and trying to compete this year

  • Kyrie Irving and the Uncle Drew campaign

  • Flukey injuries and Kyrie Irving

  • Parsing failure

  • Huge leads and no-shows and blowing games

  • Tiger’s penalty and non disqualification [Read more...]

Sizemore potentially eying mid-season to sign with MLB team

Rather than signing a multi-million deal and hoping to play, veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore will not sign a contract for the 2013 MLB season until he is 100 percent recovered from his recent microfracture surgery.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports, via the player’s representative, that Sizemore may not even consider putting pen to paper until the middle of the upcoming season.

“[Joe] Urbon said that a number of teams have expressed interest in Sizemore, and that some have offered to sign him and allow him to rehabilitate at his own pace,” writes Rosenthal. “Sizemore, however, felt like he tried to rush back last season to fulfill his one-year, $5 million free-agent contract with the Cleveland Indians. As it turned out, he did not play a single game.”

The New York Mets were reportedly “very interested” in the injury-plagued Sizemore as recent as the 2012 Winter Meetings.

[Related: Tribe brass turns scarlet, grey and green into Nick Swisher wearing red, white and blue]

MLB News: Mets “very interested” in Grady Sizemore

The New York Mets are reportedly hot on the trail of former Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore.

Sizemore is coming off a second microfracture knee surgery and is not expected to be healthy  — at the very least –until the middle of the 2013 season.

A three-time All-Star, Sizemore is entering his age-30s season. Sizemore hasn’t appeared in a major league game since September 22, 2011 and has hit .220 in just 104 games since the end of 2009, having his career limited by a bevy of health issues.

The Mets, providing quite the headline fodder this offseason, have spent their resources in locking David Wright up in an eight-year deal and trading away Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

[Related: Acta Goes Down, But Antonetti Should Have Gone With Him]

Indians Roster Moves: Vinny Rottino claimed off waivers, Chris Schwinden DFA’d

We saw some moves coming up soon, but this likely isn’t what we were looking for.

The Indians made a pair of small moves today, as they claimed IF/OF Vinny Rottino off outright waivers from the New York Mets. The versatile 32-year-old journeyman is expected to join the AAA Columbus roster and, of course, will be on the 40-man roster.

In 511 career AAA games, he’s a .294/.360/.436 hitter. He’s notched plenty of time at catcher, right field, left field, third base and first base over the years. A right-handed bat, he’s just at .188/.282/.319 in 44 career MLB games with Milwaukee, Florida and the Mets dating back to 2006.

In a corresponding move, the Indians DFA’d RHP Chris Schwinden, a starter for the Clippers. He actually had been picked up off waivers from the Blue Jays just a few weeks back. In three starts for Columbus, he was 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA, striking out five batters against six walks in 15.1 IP.

[Related: WFNY Wednesday Wahoos: Indians Minor League Weekly Review 6/27]

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...]

MLB Trading Block: Mets Looking to Shop Wright?

Another guest post today, this time from Al DiFranco. It seems the Mets are a mess and are looking to deal Reyes or Wright or both. Al thinks the Indians should take a chance on David Wright.

Earlier today, ESPNNewYork.com cited sources indicating that Mets 3B David Wright may be on the trade block. Wright is under contract for two more years at around $14-$15 million per year (guaranteed deal in 2012, team option in 2013). Why should we care in Cleveland? While many see Wright as more of a candidate to be traded in the off-season, I think it’s time for the Cleveland Indians to make a phone call to the Mets and explore a trade for Wright right now.

Wright is 28 years old. He has spent his entire major league career in a Mets uniform. In his six-plus seasons with the Mets, he has a batting average of .302, with a .382 on-base percentage, 175 homeruns, and 682 runs batted in. He followed up a disappointing 2009 with a solid campaign last season (.283-29-103). Wright is a solid fielder at the hot corner, which is important in this discussion because Jack Hannahan has played a Gold Glove-caliber third base for the Indians.

Wright is currently on the DL with a back injury. According to SI.com’s Will Carroll, Wright’s time on the DL is winding down and he should be back on the active roster in the next week or so. He was struggling when he went on the DL, batting just .226, but he played through the pain for weeks before going on the DL. [Read more...]

Tribe loses 3rd in a row in Talbot’s worst start of the season

The Indians lost their third game in a row in interleague play last night against the New York Mets at Progressive Field, where audible “Let’s Go Mets!” chants could be heard in the sparse crowd of just over fourteen thousand.  Mitch Talbot, who lasted only four innings behind poor fielding in his last outing, struggled again and was bounced from the game in the 6th after giving up 8 earned runs.  The fielding behind him was once again less than stellar although each run on this night was officially earned and was not quite the abomination in the field we witnessed the night before and that Justin Masterson was a victim of.

The game was blown open in the top of the third when the Mets strung together 6 hits in a row against Talbot.  This included an amazing stretch of four doubles in a row as they ran laps around the bases for a 10 minute stretch.  Talbot continually left the ball out over the right half of the plate where it was not getting in on right handed hitters and vulnerable to lefties taking it off the left field wall the other way.

[Read more...]

First On the Block: Mark DeRosa

derosaThat took long. After last night’s debacle in Kansas City, the first sign of surrender has been posted on GM Mark Shapiro’s office door. According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Indians are now fielding offers for the multi-positioned Mark DeRosa.

Heyman says:

The Mets are one possibility for DeRosa, since the versatile 34-year-old could play first base, but it’s believed Nick Johnson tops their wish list, with Aubrey Huff or possibly Russell Branyan likely ahead of DeRosa. The Mets would have greater interest in Indians star Victor Martinez, but there’s no indication Cleveland would consider trading him.

Really Jon? The Mets are more interested in Vic the Stick than DeRosa? In other related news, water is wet, fire is hot, and the Browns are a poorly run organization. [Read more...]

Report: Roberto Alomar Victim of Lawsuit, AIDS

 

Wow.  They talk about falls from grace, but today’s news out of New York may be one of the more shocking stories that I have read in quite some time. 

Former Indians second baseman Roberto Alomar, now 41-years of age, is currently on the unfortunate end of a lawsuit that claims he had sexual intercourse with then girlfriend while knowing he was a victim of the HIV Virus. [Read more...]

Is Rafael Betancourt on the Move?

Joe Nelson Rafael BetancourtAs of right now, the Indians have a handful of guaranteed bullpen slots come opening day.  The recently signed Kerry Wood will immediately assume the role of closer, with Rafael Perez, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi filling in where needed. 

Then we have the deal that sent Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle, ultimately landing 24-year old Joe Smith from the New York Mets.  He will serve predominantly as a right-handed specialist and will have little use anywhere outside of the one-to-two batters a night. 

And now with rumors of Florida Marlins relieer Joe Nelson possibly heading to Cleveland, one has to wonder what exactly the team has in mind.

[Read more...]

Remembering Ryan Church

Ryan ChurchWhile the Indians continue to long for runs scored, I couldn’t help but draw attention to outfielder Ryan Church; now with the New York Mets. 

If you don’t remember, Church was drafted by the Indians back in 2000, and was traded in 2004 with Maicer Izturis (yep, we had him too) to the Expos for pitcher Scott Stewart. 

Stewart was then traded/flipped to the Dodgers, where he would play his final game in 2004.  Needless to say, we didn’t exactly reap the benefits.

[Read more...]

02/02 Minute: Chicks Dig The Long Snap

Ryan Pontbirand, Action Shot!I’m not sure how I missed this earlier in the week, but with big thanks to Mike over at Kid Cleveland I am now privy to the information that Browns long-snapper Ryan Pontbriand is heading to Hawaii with teammates Joe Thomas, Braylon Edwards and Joshua Cribbs. As he mentioned, with the Pontbriand selection back in 2003, Butch Davis and the rest of the Browns organization were thrashed by the media for using a draft selection (5th round, mind you) on a long-snapper.

Four years later, Pontbriand is not only joining the first group of Cleveland players in the Pro Bowl since 2001, but he had also signed a new four-year deal earlier in the season.

Ryan (Pontbriand) has been amazingly consistent with his snapping ability over the years,” General Manager Phil Savage said in the release. “He is considered by many to be the best in the NFL, so it is only fitting that he is receiving the recognition of being a Pro Bowler.”

[Read more...]

Lets See Action

CC and SonNegotiations Likely To Pick Up Soon

Rick mentioned earlier this week some of the ways that the Johan Santana trade will affect the Indians. In the post Rick mentioned that one way it will affect the Indians is by setting the market for Sabathia. Well, Scott picked up on this in his minutes column today by posting a story Hoynesie wrote for the Plain Dealer.

I normally enjoy Paul Hoynes’ articles on the Indians quite a bit. But I found his article today to be completely reactionary and filled with over the top hyperbole. We all knew Johan Santana was going to get traded soon, and we all know he’s going to get paid a ton of money for a big number of years. This isn’t news. Fans knew it, the Tribe’s front office knew it, and Sabathia and his representatives knew it. This trade doesn’t change anything. [Read more...]