April 16, 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

Casual Friday with Denny and Jon talking Ohio State fans, St. Louis Cardinals fans, longreads and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-10-18

WFNY Podcast LogoJon and Denny and Craig do Casual Friday podcast
Denny’s cancelled soccer game
Civic responsibility and drinking
Playoff major league baseball and the Detroit Tigers
The similarities between St. Louis Cardinals hatred and the Ohio State Buckeyes hatred
The national hatred for St. Louis Cardinals fans right now
The Eye of Sauron reference by Denny
How insufferable are Cleveland fans going to be when the Browns win a couple playoff games
Millhouse Manning as future quarterback for the Cleveland Browns
Hector Marinaro, Otto Orf, Kai Haaskavi and why their championships don’t count
Willis McGahee busting up his knee and Miami losing the championship
The Boston University championship over Miami of Ohio
Denny’s longform piece on StrideNation
Jon doing grading vs. editing
Long reads, writing with quality and trying to figure its worth in the blogging universe
Comment sections and their worth
Writing letters to friends
Thank you notes and whether or not you should ever bother writing them or not [Read more...]

Will Leitch talks Trent Richardson, Cleveland sports and an Indians Cardinals World Series – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-23

WFNY Podcast LogoWe showed Will Leitch around when he was in Cleveland and now I got him to come talk on the podcast. This was scheduled for a while, and it was just dumb luck that there was something big like the Trent Richardson trade to talk about.

The USMNT and the hipster patriotism
Lee Greenwood and how that song sucks
The Trent Richardson trade after Will Leitch visited
The value of the trade and making that choice
The tone deafness of Trent Richardson trade
“It’s a business” for everyone but sports fans
The tone deafness of the Indians and the Thome statue
Rebranding the championship the Super Bowl
The dead jersey graveyard in Cleveland vs. the dead jersey graveyard in Indianapolis
The accountability punted down the road for Joe Banner
The parity of the NFL and how everyone gets a turn [Read more...]

MLB Trade News: Indians acquire Marc Rzepczynski from Cardinals

“zep-CHIN-skee” is the phonetic way to pronounce the last name of the Indians’ latest acquisition, Marc Rzepczynski from the St. Louis Cardinals. He was brought to Cleveland in exchange for Minor League infielder Juan Herrera.the trade was first reported by Tony Lastoria of Indians Baseball Insider.

Rzepczynski, 27, has compiled a Major League record of 9-17 with a 4.20 ERA in 177 games/23 starts between the Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals since debuting with the Jays in 2009. In his big league career lefties have hit .224 (73-326, .607OPS) off him. His best season came in 2011 between Toronto and STL, posting a combined ERA of 3.34 (62.0IP, 50H, 23ER, 61K) in 71 games while tossing 2.2 scoreless innings (4K) in the 2011 World Series for the eventual champs.

The Anaheim, CA native has split 2013 between St. Louis and Triple-A Memphis. In two stints with the Cardinals he has posted a 7.84 ERA in 11 games (10.1IP, 16H, 9R/ER) and at AAA Memphis he has posted an ERA of 3.07 (44.0IP, 44H, 15ER, 31K), limiting lefties to a .185 (12-65) average against for the Redbirds.

So, if nothing else, the Indians have made a run at a left-handed reliever in order to try and bolster the bullpen. As has been noted at WFNY and other places continually, the Indians have even used right handed Joe Smith against lefties out of the bullpen, accentuating their need to address the lefty situation.

No word yet on when Rzepczynzki will be available to the Tribe.

[Related: Indians 3, White Sox 2: Giambi finishes Sox off with one swing]

The Indians and the 2013 Trade Deadline: Decisions Abound

Asdrubal CabreraThe end of July is fast approaching, which means the Indians and Chris Antonetti are once again embroiled in boatloads of trade speculation.  We’ve gone through years where we were clearly “sellers” (2008 and 2009) and years in which we ostensibly found ourselves “buying” (2011).  There’ve been relative hits and misses along the way, but regardless of the strategy that a given season has dictated, it’s become fairly clear that our front office views the July 31st trade deadline as a prime opportunity to impart its vision and direction on the franchise.

Perhaps more than any team in baseball, ours has been shaped by trades.  Consider this: Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Chris Perez, Joe Smith, Asdrubal Cabera, Mike Aviles, Michael Brantley, Drew Stubbs, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes were all acquired on the trade market. That’s five competent-ish starting pitchers, a closer, a setup man, two above average catchers, an All-Star shortstop, two serviceable everyday corner outfielders and a quality utility guy.  I’m not going to check this, but I’d be surprised if you could find another Big League roster so littered with trade acquisitions. 1 [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Of course, let’s pause to remember why the Indians have had to rely so heavily on the trade market: their drafting and (to a lesser extent) their international scouting have produced sub-par results.  You might suggest that this problem has been solved, and we’re on the right track with Brad Grant’s regime. Forgive my skepticism: in his five or so years at the helm, armed with copious high draft picks, he’s produced exactly one good player (Kipnis) and one legitimate prospect (Lindor).  I understand these things take time, but I’m going to withhold the beatification for another few years if that’s ok with you. []

MLB Rumors: Cardinals, Indians talking Adrubal Cabrera deal

In his latest column today, ESPN.com’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]

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...]

Box Score: Indians 4, Cardinals 1

Kip. Kip. Boom.

That’s the story of this one as Cardinals closer Jason Motte challenged Jason Kipnis with a 98 mph fastball that he deposited into the right field seats for a three-run homer that gave the Tribe a 4-1 victory. That Kipnis blast came after a dramatic bottom of the eighth where Vinnie Pestano walked the bases loaded with one out and then struck out Yadier Molina and Allen Craig. Chris Perez came on for the save (and the vomit). Pestano came away with the win, but Ubaldo Jimenez had perhaps his best outing of the season with seven strong innings, zero walks, and one mistake, a first-inning homer allowed to Carlos Beltran. The Tribe, now one-half game behind Chicago once again, is off tomorrow and opens a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Scoring Summary
Bot 1st: St. Louis
- C. Beltran homered to deep right center
Top 3rd: Cleveland
- C. Santana hit sacrifice fly to left, S. Choo scored
Top 9th: Cleveland
- J. Kipnis homered to deep right, J. Damon and A. Cabrera scored
 Cleveland
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
S. Choo rf 5 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .272
A. Cabrera ss 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 .296
J. Kipnis 2b 4 1 3 3 1 1 0 1 1 .285
C. Santana 1b-c 3 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 3 .225
M. Brantley cf 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 5 .286
J. Lopez 3b-1b-3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .263
S. Duncan lf 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .208
    A. Cunningham lf 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
L. Marson c 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 .208
    L. Chisenhall ph-3b 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .206
    C. Kotchman 1b 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .219
U. Jimenez p 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 4 .000
    V. Pestano p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    J. Damon ph 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .190
    C. Perez p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 36 4 10 4 1 4 9 1 18
 Batting
2B - S Choo (16, J Kelly); J Kipnis (6, J Kelly).
HR - J Kipnis (10, 9th inning off J Motte 2 on, 1 Out).
SF - C Santana.
RBI - J Kipnis 3 (39), C Santana (27).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - C Santana 1, M Brantley 2, U Jimenez 2.
Team LOB - 10.
 Base Running
SB - J Kipnis (15, 2nd base off M Rzepczynski/Y Molina).
 Fielding
DP - 1 (J Kipnis-A Cabrera-C Santana).
 St. Louis
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
R. Furcal ss 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 .304
C. Beltran rf 3 1 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 .290
Y. Molina c 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 .330
A. Craig lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 .345
    J. Motte p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
M. Adams 1b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .254
D. Freese 3b 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .266
D. Descalso 2b 4 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 .230
A. Chambers cf 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .214
J. Kelly p 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000
    V. Marte p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    S. Robinson ph 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .284
    M. Rzepczynski p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    M. Boggs p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    T. Greene ph-lf 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 .208
 Totals 32 1 6 1 1 3 10 1 12
 Batting
HR - C Beltran (18, 1st inning off U Jimenez 0 on, 1 Out).
RBI - C Beltran (46).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - Y Molina 1, A Craig 2.
GIDP - R Furcal.
Team LOB - 7.
 Base Running
SB - T Greene (7, 2nd base off V Pestano/C Santana).
 Cleveland
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
U. Jimenez 7.0 5 1 1 0 7 1 1.59 4.91
V. Pestano (W, 3-0) 1.0 0 0 0 3 2 0 1.09 2.19
C. Perez (S, 20) 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.03 2.59
 St. Louis
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
J. Kelly 5.0 7 1 1 1 4 0 1.60 1.80
V. Marte 1.0 0 0 0 1 2 0 1.21 3.95
M. Rzepczynski 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1.24 4.76
M. Boggs 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.12 2.02
J. Motte (L, 3-3) 1.0 2 3 3 1 2 1 1.01 3.71
WP - U Jimenez, J Kelly.
Pitches-strikes - U Jimenez 102-67; V Pestano 32-17; C Perez 15-11; J Motte 29-16; J Kelly 79-51; V Marte 18-9; M Rzepczynski 20-10; M Boggs 9-7.
Ground balls-fly balls - U Jimenez 7-7; V Pestano 1-0; C Perez 1-2; J Motte 2-1; J Kelly 6-8; V Marte 0-1; M Rzepczynski 2-1; M Boggs 2-1.
Batters faced - U Jimenez 25; V Pestano 6; C Perez 4; J Motte 6; J Kelly 23; V Marte 4; M Rzepczynski 5; M Boggs 3.
Game Details
Umpires: HP–Wally Bell. 1B–Brian Knight. 2B–Mike Winters. 3B–Mark Wegner.
Weather: 87 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 14 mph, right to left.

Box Score: Cardinals 2, Indians 0

The Indians suffered their first shutout of the season at the hands of Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon. In notching his sixth win of the season, Lohse pitched 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out four. Justin Masterson pitched well for the Tribe, but was the hard luck loser due to the solo homer in the third inning by Carlos Beltran that was all the Cards needed, adding an insurance run in the eighth off Jeremy Accardo. The Tribe sends Ubaldo Jimenez to the bump tomorrow afternoon against right-hander Joe Kelly.

Scoring Summary
Bot 3rd: St. Louis
- C. Beltran homered to deep center
Bot 8th: St. Louis
- R. Furcal hit sacrifice fly to center, S. Robinson scored
 Cleveland
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
S. Choo rf 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .269
A. Cabrera ss 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .297
J. Kipnis 2b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .277
C. Santana c 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 .229
M. Brantley cf 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .288
J. Damon lf 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .182
C. Kotchman 1b 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 .219
L. Chisenhall 3b 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .212
J. Masterson p 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000
    S. Duncan ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .198
    J. Accardo p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 30 0 3 0 0 2 4 0 9
 Batting
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - C Kotchman 1, L Chisenhall 1.
Team LOB - 5.
 Base Running
CS - A Cabrera (3, 2nd base by M Rzepczynski/Y Molina).
 St. Louis
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
R. Furcal ss 3 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 .308
C. Beltran rf 4 1 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 .284
Y. Molina c 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 .337
A. Craig lf 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 .361
M. Adams 1b 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .271
D. Freese 3b 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .261
D. Descalso 2b 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .229
S. Robinson cf 3 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .277
K. Lohse p 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .083
    M. Rzepczynski p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    A. Chambers ph 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250
    J. Motte p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 28 2 7 2 1 1 6 0 6
 Batting
2B - C Beltran (7, J Accardo); D Descalso (3, J Masterson); S Robinson (5, J Accardo).
HR - C Beltran (17, 3rd inning off J Masterson 0 on, 2 Out).
S - A Chambers.
SF - R Furcal.
RBI - R Furcal (29), C Beltran (45).
2-out RBI - C Beltran.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - A Craig 2, S Robinson 1.
Team LOB - 5.
 Base Running
CS - Y Molina (1, 2nd base by J Masterson/C Santana).
 Fielding
E - D Freese (4, field).
 Cleveland
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
J. Masterson (L, 2-6) 7.0 5 1 1 0 6 1 1.44 4.76
J. Accardo 1.0 2 1 1 1 0 0 1.11 2.13
 St. Louis
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
K. Lohse (W, 6-1) 7.2 3 0 0 2 4 0 1.09 2.90
M. Rzepczynski (H, 7) 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.20 4.98
J. Motte (S, 11) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.94 2.81
IBB - Y Molina (by J Accardo).
Pitches-strikes - J Masterson 89-64; J Accardo 15-9; K Lohse 105-66; M Rzepczynski 1-1; J Motte 18-12.
Ground balls-fly balls - J Masterson 9-5; J Accardo 0-1; K Lohse 13-6; M Rzepczynski 0-0; J Motte 1-2.
Batters faced - J Masterson 25; J Accardo 6; K Lohse 29; J Motte 3.
Game Details
Umpires: HP–Mark Wegner. 1B–Wally Bell. 2B–Brian Knight. 3B–Mike Winters.
Weather: 89 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 12 mph, out to left.

 

Box Score: Indians 6, Cardinals 2

You can’t grab a much more all-around solid win than the Cleveland Indians did tonight. Josh Tomlin dominated the Cardinals lineup for seven strong innings, and the Tribe bats nickel and dimed Jake Westbrook via small ball on their way to a 6-2 victory at Busch Stadium. Tomlin needed just 76 pitches and allowed only two seventh inning runs, adding a base hit of his own. The Tribe scored in three different innings against Westbrook in six innings, two of which came through RBI groundouts. Johnny Damon gave the Indians a larger cushion in the seventh when he hit a two-run homer. Cleveland sends Justin Masterson to the mound on Saturday against Kyle Lohse for St. Louis.

Scoring Summary
Top 1st: Cleveland
- C. Santana doubled to deep left, A. Cabrera scored, J. Kipnis to third
- M. Brantley grounded out to second, J. Kipnis scored, C. Santana to third
Top 4th: Cleveland
- C. Kotchman grounded out to second, C. Santana scored, J. Damon to second
Top 5th: Cleveland
- J. Kipnis singled to shallow right, S. Choo scored, A. Cabrera to second
Top 7th: Cleveland
- J. Damon homered to deep right, M. Brantley scored
Bot 7th: St. Louis
- M. Adams singled to shallow center, Y. Molina and D. Descalso scored
 Cleveland
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
S. Choo rf 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .274
A. Cabrera ss 5 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .298
J. Kipnis 2b 5 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .281
C. Santana c 4 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 .233
M. Brantley cf 5 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 2 .284
J. Damon lf 4 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 4 .188
    A. Cunningham lf 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
C. Kotchman 1b 4 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 .222
L. Chisenhall 3b 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .233
J. Tomlin p 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 .333
    S. Duncan ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200
    J. Smith p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    N. Hagadone p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
 Totals 40 6 11 6 1 1 8 0 16
 Batting
2B - C Santana (8, J Westbrook).
HR - J Damon (2, 7th inning off M Cleto 1 on, 2 Out).
RBI - J Kipnis (36), C Santana (26), M Brantley (29), J Damon 2 (9), C Kotchman (20).
2-out RBI - J Damon 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - A Cabrera 1, J Damon 2, J Tomlin 1.
GIDP - A Cabrera.
Team LOB - 8.
 Fielding
DP - 1 (A Cabrera-J Kipnis-C Kotchman).
 St. Louis
AB R H RBI HR BB K SB LOB Season Avg
R. Furcal ss 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .312
C. Beltran rf 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .275
M. Holliday lf 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .276
A. Craig 1b 3 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .380
D. Freese 3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 .265
Y. Molina c 4 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .337
D. Descalso 2b 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 .226
S. Robinson cf 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .275
J. Westbrook p 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .174
    M. Cleto p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    M. Adams ph 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 .286
    F. Salas p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    S. Freeman p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
    T. Greene ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .208
 Totals 36 2 10 2 0 1 5 0 12
 Batting
2B - Y Molina (14, J Tomlin).
RBI - M Adams 2 (10).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out - R Furcal 1, D Freese 1, D Descalso 1, S Robinson 1.
GIDP - M Holliday.
Team LOB - 8.
 Fielding
E - R Furcal (7, field); A Craig (2, field); D Descalso (3, field).
DP - 1 (D Descalso-R Furcal-A Craig).
 Cleveland
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
J. Tomlin (W, 3-3) 7.0 8 2 2 1 1 0 1.31 4.96
J. Smith 1.0 2 0 0 0 3 0 1.28 3.24
N. Hagadone 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.97 2.75
 St. Louis
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA
J. Westbrook (L, 4-6) 6.0 8 4 3 1 7 0 1.44 4.25
M. Cleto 1.0 3 2 2 0 0 1 2.00 5.40
F. Salas 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.87 5.60
S. Freeman 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.15 4.15
WP - J Tomlin.
Pitches-strikes - J Tomlin 76-52; J Smith 21-14; N Hagadone 16-13; J Westbrook 97-67; M Cleto 21-13; F Salas 17-12; S Freeman 8-5.
Ground balls-fly balls - J Tomlin 11-9; J Smith 2-0; N Hagadone 1-1; J Westbrook 15-1; M Cleto 2-2; F Salas 2-1; S Freeman 1-0.
Batters faced - J Tomlin 29; J Smith 5; N Hagadone 3; J Westbrook 29; M Cleto 6; F Salas 3; S Freeman 3.
Game Details
Umpires: HP–Mike Winters. 1B–Mark Wegner. 2B–Wally Bell. 3B–Brian Knight.
Weather: 87 degrees, clear.
Wind: 5 mph, no wind direction.

In An Ideal World Sizemore’s Option Wouldn’t Be a Question

First of all, please don’t accuse me of bashing the Dolan family.  That isn’t what this post is about.  They deserve some of the blame for their spending habits, but ultimately they are playing in an environment that has all sorts of factors working outside of their control as well.  Over poker last night I was talking to my friends about what this team would be like if Dick Jacobs had never sold it.  The payrolls might not really be that different.  It is something worth thinking about.  The point of all this is that the Indians and Indians fans shouldn’t really have to think twice about picking up a $9 million option on a player like Grady Sizemore in a year where the team is clearly hoping to challenge for the division.

Obviously there are caveats as Jon pointed out yesterday.  There are just some things we can’t know.  For example, if Indians team doctors are absolutely convinced that the Indians will not be able to get a healthy performance from Sizemore, that should supersede my argument.  You and I can’t possibly know that kind of information well enough to make an educated guess.  Instead, let’s try to put the $9 million in perspective.

I decided to look at the top 35 position players in baseball in terms of their WAR (Wins Above Replacement.)  We can probably argue all day and night whether this is the right metric, but it is the one I decided to use.  I took these top 35 players and I looked at what they made in 2011 and then what they are expected to make in 2012.  That gave me an average salary in the top 35 of $5.4 million.  That number didn’t seem very accurate for comparing to Grady Sizemore because it includes players who are arbitration eligible.  These guys aren’t very comparable to Grady Sizemore because they aren’t available on the free agent market, so they wouldn’t really be eligible “replacements” for a guy like Sizemore without a trade of some kind. [Read more...]

What the Indians Can Learn from the World Series

This has been, for me, one of the more exciting playoffs in memory.  The games have been tight.  There’s been a nice mix of offense and pitching.  Managerial decisions have played a huge role.  In other words, I’m enjoying these games about as much as I’m able, considering the Indians aren’t participating.

And while I wouldn’t put too much stock in the crapshoot that is the MLB playoffs, I find it interesting that the two teams that have made the World Series happen to be teams that don’t spend gobs and gobs of money—at least not relatively speaking.

The St. Louis Cardinals opening day payroll this year was about $110 million, up from $94 million in 2010 and $88 million in 2009.  The Rangers were at $92 million on opening day 2011, up considerably from 2010 and 2009 where their figures were at $64 million and $68 million respectively.

In other words, these two teams have averaged about $86 million in payroll over the last three years. [Read more...]

Do the Indians Have a Shot at Signing Jake Westbrook?

When the Indians traded Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals this summer, there was a near-universal suggestion that the Tribe could sign him this off-season, since 2010 was the final year of his three-year contract extension.

Now that he’s played a few months with the Cardinals, the notion that we have a shot to bring Jake back into the fold is looking to be less than a sure thing.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Jake is already thinking about a potential deal with the Cardinals:

“I’m definitely going to be open-minded about pretty much everything.  If [the Cardinals] had interest, I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here. I’ve gotten to know the guys well. The organization is definitely one that everybody knows about, that I’ve certainly heard a lot about, and now, firsthand, I’ve gotten to see that everybody was right.” [Read more...]

MLB Trade Rumors: Jake Westbrook Traded to St. Louis Cardinals

Jake Westbrook, reliable Indians starter for the past decade, has been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.  Westbrook was scheduled to start in Toronto this afternoon but as talks intensified over the past few days, it became apparent this morning that only a few minor details needed to be ironed out and he would be scratched.  Tony Lastoria first reported that Josh Tomlin would make the start for the Tribe today on three days rest.

The rumored deal involves three teams as reported by Tom Krasovic out of San Diego.  At this point, Westbrook is definitely going to the Cardinals according to Jon Heyman on MLB Network.  If the 3 team deal is how it works out, the Cardinals will get Westbrook and a prospect from the San Diego Padres.  The Padres will get outfield bat and former Indian Ryan Ludwick from the Cards.  And  for our Tribe, well, we get “prospects.”   UPDATE – It is being reported that the Tribe will receive Padres AA pitcher and 24 year old Corey Kluber.  Kluber’s stats with San Antonio this season – 136 K only 40 BB in 122 2/3 IP. Has a 3.45 ERA.  The Indians have called Jordan Brown up to Cleveland to take the Westbrook’s spot.

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Trade Analysis: Indians Acquire Young Arms in Chris Perez, Connor Graham and Jess Todd

(Editor’s Note: This analysis was written before the Indians traded IF/OF Ryan Garko to the San Francisco Giants for LHP Scott Barnes late Monday night.  Feel free to add his power arm to the mix and we’ll have more on his acquisition later this afternoon.)

shapiro-wedgeThese were trades that were not supposed to happen. The Indians were not supposed to be sitting at 42-58 on July 28th, way behind possible playoff contention in 2009. The pitching has been ugly , and people were starting to notice the lack of quality pitching depth overall in the organization. While some fans were counting on production from former prospects like Adam Miller, Randy Newsom, Edward Mujica, Jeff Stevens and Jon Meloan this season, all are injured or not with Cleveland anymore as the Indians remain dead-last 30th in baseball with a 5.21 ERA overall.

What could the organization do at all to solve this problem? Step One: draft Alex White in the first round. The hard-throwing right-hander out of North Carolina, along with 2008 5th-round draft pick Zach Putnam, has back-end bullpen potential and is extremely athletic. The makeup of these two prospects are incredible, but everyone knew that this would not just be enough in itself. Enter Step Two: trade for young relievers in other organizations. And trade they did, as GM Mark Shapiro has worked a pair of spectacular deals just over the past month in hauling away IF/OF Mark DeRosa and long-time setup man RHP Rafael Betancourt.

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About the DeRosa Trade PTBNL

jess-todd-cardinalsWhen CC Sabathia was dealt last year, a lot of us could not wait for the “PTNBL” to actually be, well, named.  Sometimes the player is named shortly after a deal.  However, as we saw last season, it could go well in to September.

In the deal with Milwaukee, who that player was seemed to be the deciding factor in determining who got the better end of the deal.  And as if Mark Shapiro would have it any other way, it appears that the deal he constructed with the St. Louis Cardinals was very similar to that of last season.

Allegedly, there is a list of players that the teams will agree on by September 1st.  But not similar to last season – where the list was littered with position players – this list is rumored to be comprised of pitchers.  And rightfully so.

Last year, the PTBNL netted the Tribe one Michael Brantley.  The outfielder still looks primed to be the leadoff hitter of the future thanks to his patience at the plate.  But now what about the Mark DeRosa deal?  Well, Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that two names that are apparently on the list are Jess Todd and Francisco Samuel.   

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Andy Marte Mashes, Continues to Tease

andy-marte-clippersMondays are awards days in the International League, and one of our very own took home the award for offensive player of the week in third baseman Andy Marte.

Over the past week, Marte hit .458 (good for third in all of the International League) with two home runs, eight doubles, a .567 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .958.

Even better (or worse, depending on how you look at it), Marte is the first player since May of 2006 to win the award in back-to-back years.  The most recent player was Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels who – at the time – was a “can’t miss” prospect.  That’s right: the 2008 World Series MVP and our own Andy Marte.

As things stand today, the 25-year old Andy Marte is second in the International League in batting average (.322) and slugging percentage (.544).  He has clubbed 46 RBI as well as 11 home runs. 

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Breaking News: Mark DeRosa Traded to St. Louis

If you were one that stuck around for the Indians post-game following the four-run loss to the Reds, you’re likely now aware that the Indians have sent Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for right-handed reliever Chris Perez and the infamous Player to be Named Later.

DeRosa has done everything that the Indians have asked of him since he was acquired this past winter. Position player de jour, DeRosa has hit .270 with 13 home runs, 50 RBI and 47 runs scored.  Keep in mind that if DeRosa continues to perform for St. Louis, he may very well be a Type-A Free Agent this off-season.

Perez was thought of to be St. Louis’ closer of the future, and at 23-years of age, he still has the potential. While the team definitely needs a left hand in the ‘pen, Perez is someone that can contribute right away as well as years down the road. He should be active with the club on Monday.

Remembering Ryan Ludwick

Ryan LudwickNot all that long ago, we did a post on the Mets’ Ryan Church who is currently mashing with the best of them.  Not many remembered Church even being a part of the Tribe, and when you consider the .236 team batting average – tied for second-worst in all of baseball – it stings a bit to see former outfielders of ours doing so well. 

Enter Ryan Ludwick. 

Ludwick was brought to Cleveland back in 2002 in a trade for Shane Spencer.  He played for the Tribe between the years of 2003 and 2005, maxing out at 39 games played in a season.  Ludwick was granted free agency in 2005 where he had a brief stint with the Tigers.  He then floated about Triple-A, and now plays for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that he is currently hitting at a clip of .350/.427/.772 through 123 at-bats.  Yep, that’s an OPS of 1.199…

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