August 26, 2014

Tribe Weekend Recap: Consistently Inconsistent play, King Kluber and the rebirth of Carrasco

Jason Kipnis

Win four straight. Lose four straight. Get everyone thinking that, once again, you are sunk. Lose two more veterans to the disabled list. Go to New York and visit Yankee Stadium, your personal house of horrors, and take the series for the first time since 2008 while throwing 20 straight scoreless innings. Yep, just your ordinary average week with your Cleveland Indians, where inconsistency is the one constant.

[Read more...]

Indians 9, Yankees 3: Two games in one, Perez has the most fun

Roberto Perez

I was all set to have this one written. My main topics were going to be how the Indians defense, easily the worst in baseball, just continues to let the team down and cost them runs the offense usually cannot get back. I was also going to go in on the bats who once again turned a below average starter into Cy Freaking Young. Then came the seventh inning, or should I say the start of the game for the Tribe.

The New York Yankees and their legion of annoying bandwagon fans came out one more time to salute shortstop Derek Jeter in Cleveland for the last time. The Tribe cheesed it up by having former teammates Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher present Jeter with a pinstripe guitar with “The Captain, 2″ on it. Then these folks got the pleasure of watching Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall kick the ball around on their way to a 3-0 lead. Noted superstar David Phelps completely stymied the Indians offense, holding them scoreless on five hits through the first six innings. But things started to change thanks to two unlikely sources. [Read more...]

Indians 5, Yankees 3: Bauer and the long ball do in Bombers

Nick Swisher

So let me get this straight. The Indians can get completely shut down by rookie Shane Greene one night, then beat down arguably the best pitcher in the American League this season in Masahiro Tanaka the next? Sounds about right. These, ladies and gentlemen, are your 2014 Cleveland Indians in a nutshell.

I mean seriously, how does this happen? Monday night, Greene took a no hitter into the fifth inning and left after six with a 5-2 lead en route to his first Major League win. Yet last night, All-Star Tanaka departed after the Tribe knocked him around for five runs on 10 hits in six plus innings. This is why anyone who gambles on baseball is crazy. [Read more...]

Yankees 5, Indians 3: The Justin Masterson Conundrum

Justin MastersonJustin Masterson is an absolute mess. The Indians can tell us all they want that nothing is wrong with him physically, but something is clearly off. Mentally, we know he is in a bad place. His command is not just bad, its brutal. Even pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the genius who turned Ubaldo Jimenez from a DFA candidate to a $50 million man, has no answers.

“You’re always frustrated when you don’t do well,” said Masterson after his team’s 5-3 loss. “When you’re not doing a good job at your job it’s always a tough thing. But a bigger disappointment is that the 24 other guys are coming out to fight for me. Even though I’m putting out as much effort as I can, I feel like I’m letting down the guys.” [Read more...]

Notre Dame College adds Travis Hafner to baseball staff

Travis HafnerFormer Cleveland Indians slugger Travis Hafner will be joining the Notre Dame College baseball staff this coming season.

Hafner, 36, had been rumored to take the assistant coaching position under head coach Len Barker if he was unable to find an MLB job for the 2014 season. His wife, Amy, is a cheerleading coach at Notre Dame College. On Wednesday, the school confirmed the move in a press release.

Last season, the aptly nicknamed Pronk batted just .202/.301/.378 in 299 plate appearances on a one-year deal with the New York Yankees. While he hit 12 home runs, the defensively limited hitter seemed to be out of luck for his playing future.

Acquired in a minor trade with the Texas Rangers in December 2002, he had his best seasons in 2005-2006. Those two years, he averaged 36 doubles, 38 homers and 112 RBI with a .306/.423/.626 hitting line. Somewhat surprisingly, despite two top-8 MVP voting finishes in those seasons, Hafner never was an American League All-Star.

The Indians signed Hafner to a four-year $57 million extension halfway through the 2007 season. In his final five years with the team, from 2008-2012, he averaged only 86 games played and a .259/.353/.436 line. The contract is regarded as the worst in franchise history.

Barker also is a famous former Indian, most well known for his May 15, 1981 perfect game, the last Cleveland Indians individual no-hitter. The two certainly could be recruiting powerhouses in the region for the new Division II school known as the Falcons.

[Related from April 2012: The Final Year of the Travis Hafner Era]

Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer

MLB News: Shin-Soo Choo turns down $140 million from Yankees

The Cleveland Indians’ track record is far from perfect, but it appears they were right on the mark with regard to Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was an absolute steal when the Indians traded Ben Broussard for him before the 2006 MLB season. The team also sold pretty high on him when they traded him to the Reds for Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer. Even as WFNY has debated what Choo would garner on the open market, I really had no idea that it would come to this. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that Choo turned down $140 million from the New York Yankees.

In the aftermath of Robinson Cano’s defection to Seattle, New York presented Choo a seven-year, $140 million deal, three sources outside the Yankees’ organization told Yahoo Sports. When Boras countered asking for more money – one source indicated he wanted “Ellsbury money,” or $153 million over seven years – the Yankees pulled the offer and signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal.

That’s right. The Yankees preferred to sign a three-year deal with a guy who is going to be 37 years-old near the end of April than offer any more than the $140 million they offered to Choo.

None of this is to mock out Choo, who I loved as a Cleveland Indians regular. The point is just how crazy the market has become for even somewhat flawed players. I loved Choo’s bat and loved watching him throw the ball in from the outfield, but to call him an All-Star level player is likely only occasionally true when he’s having a particularly good season.

Or maybe the market’s not as crazy as I thought. The Yankees walked away.

[Related: MLB Trade News: Indians reportedly trade Drew Stubbs to Rockies]

The requisite Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Bourn contract comparison

bourn ellsbury

The Internet was buzzing yesterday with news of the latest baseball mega-deal: Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to a seven-year $153 million deal with the New York Yankees.

The numbers are staggering. The contract is among the largest of all time. Ellsbury, who just completed his age-30 season, bears some resemblance to a speedy outfielder that the Indians signed last offseason: Michael Bourn. Yet the two contracts couldn’t be any more different. [Read more...]

The Boots: Expressing hope for the Indians’ playoff chase

tribe15cut-02In my usual half-rapid fire, half-prose form, I’m back with another edition of The Boots. For those unfamiliar with this feature, I assign loosely defined “Boot Up” or “Boot Down” votes to trending sports topics. Today, I’m all about Indians optimism.

Boot Up: Wild Card odds – With a record 11th straight win over the White Sox on Saturday night, the Indians have catapulted into tremendous playoff position. They now have an 80-68 record with 14 games to go and trail by 1.5 games for both AL Wild Card spots, while leading by at least 1.5 games over the next teams.

Although the Indians have taken advantage of their easy schedule with an 8-3 run, they’ve also received some help from unexpected places. Texas is 2-10 in September, Tampa Bay is 7-13 in their last 20 and Baltimore is six games under .500 over the last seven weeks.

Add it all up and the Indians now have 37.7% playoff odds according to Baseball Prospectus. Those are their best odds since the infamous Detroit sweep in early August. Suddenly, these final two weeks of the season will be very interesting. [Read more...]

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

swisher ohio“Team Streak”, the apropos nickname for the 2013 Cleveland Indians, has managed to keep staying alive in the playoff race, somehow and someway.

After a third straight victory, this time an 8-1 win over the New York Mets, the 75-65 Tribe is now only two games out of an AL Wild Card spot. Their playoff odds are again inching upwards, to their highest point in the last 10 days.

Looking at these current playoff odds, the schedules remaining and the breakdown of all of these numbers, one can see what Cleveland needs to accomplish in the final 22 games of the regular season. It’s amazing enough that they’ve somehow battled back to relevance yet again, but there’s certainly some reason for optimism going forward.

Baseball Prospectus is the site for the playoff odds below, and kudos to’s excellent postseason probabilities tracker for its complete season data. [Read more...]

MLB News: Mark Reynolds signs with the New York Yankees

Former Cleveland Indians first baseman/third baseman Mark Reynolds has reportedly signed with the New York Yankees.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Reynolds chose the pinstripes over three other teams. Reynolds has hit 14 home runs against the Yankeees in 165 at-bats, the most vs any American League team. His 10 home runs against the Red Sox are his second best total against an AL club.

Reynolds provided a sub-par slash line of .215/.307/.373 with the Indians but had clubbed a team-leading 15 home runs. H e is expected to see regular time at first base for the injury-plagued Yankees while also filling in at third and in the designated hitter slot. Heyman also classifies Reynolds and “insurance” in the event that New York is forced to play without Alex Rodriguez who continues to be a lightning rod for performance-enhancing substance speculation.

The Indians designated Reynolds for assignment on August 8.

[Related: Indians 9, Twins 8: Monster comeback saves the series]

Andrew Ginsburg talks PEDs, Comedy, SNL and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-07-25

WFNY Podcast LogoOne of my buddies from college is a comedian, actor and personal trainer in New York City. He’s headlined Caroline’s Comedy club a number of times, been in Saturday Night Live sketches and has also been one of a minuscule number of clean bodybuilders in the world. I’ve been looking for a reason to talk to him, and I figured talking about Ryan Braun was as good a reason as any.

You can get his most recent comedy special on iTunes called “Pumping Irony.”

  • Natural bodybuilding is an oxymoron
  • PEDs and whether it is really clear to steroids
  • The Red Sox vs. the Indians
  • Black ballplayers and having the “O’Leary” name
  • Giambi getting forgiven
  • Alex Rodriguez and how much everyone hates him
  • Alex Rodriguez has no home fans anywhere in the world
  • Rafael Palmeiro and his lies in front of congress
  • Creatine and other GNC supplements
  • Whey protein shakes
  • Gay Spartan warrior in a Gerard Butler sketch
  • Carolines on September 17th
  • Making fun of Yoga

Check out this episode

MLB Rumors: Cardinals, Indians talking Adrubal Cabrera deal

In his latest column today,’s Buster Olney begins with a trade idea that might not be too heart-warming for Cleveland Indians fans. According to his report, the St. Louis Cardinals have continued discussions with the Tribe in regards to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

The article states that the two teams discussed such a deal during the offseason, when usually it’s easier to get such a major trade completed. St. Louis has continued to lack production at the shortstop position in 2013. Thus, talks have continued between the two clubs.

Obviously, with the Indians at 48-44 and only 2.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, it likely wouldn’t be a popular deal in Cleveland. Olney mentioned that the Cardinals have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball, as led by a number of MLB-ready arms such as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha.

Another interested team in Cabrera is the New York Yankees, who are looking for more future infield production because of injuries (Derek Jeter), a possible suspension (Alex Rodriguez) and the likelihood of an offseason departure (Robinson Cano). They’ve asked about Cabrera repeatedly, per Olney, and feel that he could be a versatile player capable of filling in at multiple positions.

Mike Aviles would be the likely short-term Indians answer at shortstop with High-A Carolina star prospect Francisco Lindor to follow in the long-term, per Olney’s analysis of such a deal. Although the Indians believe No. 2 prospect Trevor Bauer will eventually work out his struggles, the team still is looking for pitching help.

Previously, we’ve seen MLB Cleveland trade rumors related to Matt Garza and the other top pitching prospects on the market. This is the first one in July 2013 that relates to the Indians perhaps selling off one of their better players, albeit one oft-rumored in deals last offseason and only under contract through 2014.

[Related: Indians can’t afford to wait until deadline to make a deal]

Yankees 6 Indians 4: Pronk and CC help sweep Tribe out of the Bronx

Mike AvilesSeth Greenberg, former head basketball coach at Virginia Tech, now an analyst on ESPN once said after a blowout loss “sometimes you’re the dog….sometimes you’re the tree.” Well your Cleveland Indians were the tree all week as the Yankees took turns battering the Wahoos into submission.

The Indians had hoped to stop their 4-11 skid on a sunny afternoon in the Bronx, but things just got way out of hand far too quickly. Corey Kluber entered the game pitching as well as any Indians starter. In the first inning, the Yankees hit a couple of rocket shots. One of them was a fly ball towards the gap in right center off the bat of Robinson Cano. Center fielder Michael Bourn ran a long way to get the ball and did everything put make the catch. The ball bounced off his glove for an error, giving the Yankees an extra out. Of course, they would capitalize.

“He chased it down and just didn’t catch it,” Manager Terry Francona said. “He went a long way and he got to it, but it didn’t stay in his glove.” [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: Indians’ struggles against Yankees

As today’s game looks woeful at the start, I felt it was appropriate to look into the Cleveland Indians’ recent record against the New York Yankees. Heck, TD practically begged me to do this research with his recap this morning.

So here are the results over the last 20 regular seasons since 1994, the opening of Jacobs Field, through yesterday:

57-111 (.329) record for Cleveland
4.67-5.90 (-1.23) average margin of victory

Notably, the pitching has been the main culprit, posting a 5.68 ERA in these 168 matchups. C.C. Sabathia was 1-8 with a 6.16 ERA with the Indians against the Yanks; but now is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA (entering today) against his former team. With the Indians against New York, Dennis Martinez had a 6.11 ERA, Roberto Hernandez (nee Fausto Carmona) had a 7.02 ERA and Jaret Wright was at 6.18.

On the offensive side, Cleveland shortstops have oddly seemed to struggle against New York pitching. Omar Vizquel posted a .665 OPS (compared to .688 for his career) in his 402 PAs with Cleveland against the Yankees. Asdrubal Cabrera’s split of .684 OPS (vs. .756 career) isn’t that attractive either. Albert Belle was the noted Yankee-killer, with 11 doubles, 11 homers and a 1.186 in 31 games with the Tribe against the team.

Here is the record by season:
1994: 0-9 (.000)
1995: 6-6 (.500)
1996: 3-9 (.250)
1997: 5-6 (.454)
1998: 4-7 (.364)
1999: 3-7 (.300)
2000: 5-5 (.500)
2001: 4-5 (.444)
2002: 3-6 (.333)
2003: 2-5 (.286)
2004: 2-4 (.333)
2005: 3-4 (.429)
2006: 3-4 (.429)
2007: 0-6 (.000)
2008: 4-3 (.571)
2009: 3-5 (.375)
2010: 2-6 (.250)
2011: 3-4 (.429)
2012: 1-5 (.167)
2013: 1-5 (.167)

[Related: The Diff: Update on top Cleveland Indians prospects]

Yankees 4 Indians 3: “One day we will figure out how to beat those guys”

Mike AvilesI don’t know what it is. The mystique of the pinstripes. The overwhelming feeling of playing in the Bronx. The 26 World Series flags that fly. Whatever the case may be, the Indians have always seemed to struggle against the New York Yankees. Last night was no different. I think Lou Brown put it best in Major League after a loss to Clew Haywood and his crew: ” One day we will figure out how to beat those guys.”

The Indians are reeling. They entered this game losers of 10 of their last 14, their bullpen has become a bit of a mess, everyone seems to be slumping at the plate at the same time, and now they lose All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a strained quad muscle. They need a victory some way, some how.

So back to the Bronx they went for game two of this brutal nine-game to New York, Detroit, and Texas looking for an edge of some sort. David Phelps took the ball for the Yanks and the last time we saw him, he was locked in a pitcher’s duel with Justin Masterson where he would end up a hard-luck 1-0 loser. On that day, only a first inning Jason Kipnis beat him. After that he pitched six and a third more scoreless innings, striking out seven. His last start, he couldn’t make it out of the first against the Mets. So naturally Phelps would get his groove back and dominate. [Read more...]

Asdrubal injured; Masterson roughed up in 7-4 loss in New York

asdrubal injury

This one wasn’t pretty.

There are really two stories coming out of Cleveland’s 7-4 loss against the Yankees. The biggest will likely be the sprained quad suffered by Asdrubal Cabrera running to first in the fifth inning.

Asdrubal has been nursing a sore right quad for weeks, choosing to try and play through the discomfort. Half-way down the line in the fifth, Cabrera stumbled and winced as he re-injured that quad. He nearly plowed into the first baseman Mark Teixeira going past the bag. He was helped off the field by manager Terry Francona and Lonnie Soloff. He was not able to put weight on the right leg walking back to the dugout.

The initial diagnosis is a sprained quad, but of course they will do tests to see if there is further damage. I think the consensus of everyone watching was that the injury will likely be more severe.

[Read more...]

Tribe splits with Yanks in front of larger-than-expected crowd

Justin MastersonI attended last Thursday afternoon’s 9-2 Indians win over Oakland at Progressive Field. It was an absolutely perfect day; mid-70′s and sunny. We are talking shorts and t-shirt weather. Fast forward four days and I was breaking out the winter coat and gloves that I had put away about three weeks ago as the Indians and the New York Yankees played a traditional doubleheader.

There is certainly a buzz in the city about our Tribe. They entered this double dip winners of 12 of 14 and tied for first place in the AL Central. While the vibe was palpable, it had yet to translate into any real attendance spike.

Talking about attendance at Progressive Field is my least favorite topic. The Indians have been bad for five straight years. There hasn’t been a lot of trust between the fans, ownership, and the front office. The season ticket base had dwindled down to historic Progressive/Jacobs Field lows (though the Indians never speak on the subject, it is believed that the base is about 6,500). It takes years to build that trust back up. With Terry Francona and his shiny new toys on board, the Wahoos want to be more than just relevant in Cleveland again. They want to be the top dogs. [Read more...]

Justin Masterson shuts out the Yankees in game one of Tribe double-header

How do you save a pitching staff from getting overworked? Throwing a complete game shutout in game one of a double-header sure helps.

That’s exactly what Justin Masterson (6-2) did this afternoon. The Indians right-hander made a Jason Kipnis solo home run stand up for his second one to nothing shutout of the season.

The only hint of trouble Masterson had all game came in the second inning. After getting the first two batters out, Chris Nelson got an infield hit. Masterson then walked Joseph, and gave up another infield single to Chris Stewart to load the bases. Masterson ended the threat with a punchout of Alberto Gonzalez.

Justin Masterson had great control of his slider, using it as his strikeout pitch for most of his nine strikeouts. He allowed four hits and walked three, but was dominant all afternoon.

With the win Cleveland moves .5 game ahead of the Tigers for sole possession of first place in the Central Division. The Tigers play Houston tonight while the Indians finish the double-header against the Yankees. Trevor Bauer pitches for the Indians.

[Related: Indians promote David Huff, demote Lonnie Chisenhall]

MLB News: Indians will call up Bauer to start Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader

According to Jordan Bastian of Terry Francona has confirmed Trevor Bauer will be making his return to the big leagues on Monday. Bauer is set to start the second half of Monday’s doubleheader against the Yankees.

This will be the third time Bauer has been called up already this year, and once again it appears to be a quick trip for a spot start. In his last outing against Philladelphia, Bauer went five scoreless innings, walked six, and only gave up one hit. Only 98 times in MLB history has a pitcher had such a stat line, the last Indian being Justin Masterson back in 2010.

While Bauer’s six walks against Philly didn’t get him in too much trouble, his seven walks in his first start against Tampa Bay did. Bauer gave up three runs to the Rays in five innings, and became only the 51st pitcher in MLB history to start a season walking at least six batters in each of his first two starts.

Despite showing command issues, Bauer has also showcased his exceptional talents. While he hasn’t clicked on all cylinders for a whole start, the rookie has made big pitches in big spots.

“When he got into some traffic out there, he made unbelievable pitches. He attacked hitters when he had to with really good stuff,” said Francona following his start against Philly.

Bauer will get another opportunity on Monday to show why he’s regarded as such an exciting prospect for the Tribe, but then will most likely head back down to Columbus on Tuesday. The Indians will continue to be cautious with Bauer, holding him to a pitch count and restraining from throwing the 22 year old into the big league rotation just yet.

[Related: How good of a starting prospect is Danny Salazar?]

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...]