July 30, 2014

Bauer, Swisher, and a theory on baseball aesthetics

Jon is in a bit of a writing rut, so he’s asking the WFNY gang to help him get out of it. After circulating some juicy topics around WFNY Headquarters, Craig said he was interested in talking Trevor Bauer, Nick Swisher, Travis Hafner, and what it means to like some players more than others.  So we did that. We’ve got some more of these in the hopper and we’ll try to keep the discussion going in the comments as well.

WFNY_roundtable

Craig - I obviously root for anyone wearing an Indians uniform, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Even as a young, impressionable baseball fan, I knew the dangers of standing up for Albert Belle. I cut my teeth as a co-dependent sports fan when I tried to defend Belle’s plastering of Fernando Vina.

[Read more...]

Indians 3, White Sox 2: Yanimal and Bauer send Tribe into break on a high

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer is a beast. I know the stats might not say so, but my man is one heck of a pitcher. We may look back at the trade of Shin-Soo Choo for Bauer and reliever Bryan Shaw (among others) in the same vain as Bartolo Colon trade. I know that is crazy talk, but at age 23, you can see Bauer getting better and better each start while Shaw is a rock as the set up man in the pen.

One had a great day on Sunday, the other, not so much. But the two more Indians who came over in a trade together, Catcher Yan Gomes and super utility man Mike Aviles, played a major hand in the Tribe’s 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. [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...]

Indians 4, Angels 3: The Bauer & Carrasco show

Trevor BauerTrevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco deserve equal billing at the top. What they did last night on a hazy summer evening at Progressive Field can be described in one word: gritty. Two of the four guys who battled for the fifth starter job in Goodyear in March combined to shutdown the dangerous Los Angeles Angels in June to move the Tribe to within two and a half games of first place in the AL Central. The 4-3 win was all about these two power arms.

Lets start with Bauer. The 23-year old started the game with a scoreless frame, striking out two, but the next few innings were a struggle. He was staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera’s first inning two-run blast off of Jered Weaver, but the old response runs reared their ugly head. In the top of the second David Freese and Howie Kendrick greeted Bauer with back to back singles. Chris Ianetta’s one out double skipped all the way to the wall past Michael Bourn to tie the game at two. But as he would do all night, Bauer got the biggest outs he needed. He retired John McDonald and Kole Calhoun to end the inning. [Read more...]

Royals 4, Indians 1: Bats go silent as Ventura bests Bauer

Mike AvilesWhen the Indians look back on their first two and a half months of the 2014 season, they are going to lament the amount of games that they both failed to come through in ample opportunities at the plate and made defensive blunders that cost them runs.

Wednesday afternoon’s loss in Kansas City was the latest example. A night prior, Asdrubal Cabrera’s dropped throw on a double play ball and Carlos Santana’s bobble of a second double play grounder in the same inning opened the flood gates to a four run KC inning. Wednesday afternoon, the little things killed them again. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Bauer & Tomlin as saviors, Carlos’ triumphant return, and a major roster decision looming

Josh TOmlin

If the last three weeks taught you anything, it is that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. In this space a short three weeks ago, I wrote that as Yogi Berra once said “its getting late, early” and that the Indians season was spiraling downward in an out of control manner. The starting pitching wasn’t cutting it, the offense couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a fist-full of $20′s, and defensively, the Tribe resembled the Bad News Bears. They sat 10.5 games out of first place in the AL Central behind the smokin’ hot Tigers who could do no wrong.

So now, here we are 21 days later and the Indians have crept over .500 for the first time since April 9 when they were 5-4. [Read more...]

‘Bauer Outage’ could spark subpar Tribe starters

bauer acab

Trevor Bauer finally looks like he’s getting his pro career on track and living up to the expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall draft pick. Ranked as the ninth best prospect by Baseball America after the 2011 season, Bauer sank to 83rd after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which the re-tooling of his windup made many scratch their heads over the acquisition of the former UCLA phenom from the Arizona Diamondbacks two winters earlier.

[Read more...]

Indians 6, Tigers 2: Bauer outshines Verlander as offense delivers

Trevor BauerOn paper, this one seemed like a mismatch. But as a wise man once said “that’s why they play the games.”

Coming off the series opening win a night earlier, the Indians turned to rookie Trevor Bauer to take his first trek through the rotation as a regular. On the other side was Detroit’s Justin Verlander. While the two-time CY Young award winner is still one of the best pitcher’s in the game, the Tribe has had decent success against him in his career. But nothing in the past would come even close to what the Wahoos did to JV in the first two innings in the 6-2 win.

Trailing 1-0, Asdrubal Cabrera – the hottest Indian not named Michael Brantley – got things started with a one out single. Brantley kept things moving with a single of his own. Next up was the new cleanup man against right-handed pitching (at least on this night), Lonnie Chisenhall. I have been banging the drum for the #FreeLonnie movement for weeks and with the offense struggling the way it has been, Chiz has rightfully been moved up in the batting order. Lonnie came through with the third straight single, this one driving in Cabrera to tie the game. David Murphy grounded into an inning-ending double play, but the Tigers and Verlander were on notice. They weren’t messing around. [Read more...]

Indians activate Giambi from DL, call up Bauer and Sellers

What goes up must come down. Or more specifically, in baseball terms when someone comes up, someone else must go down.

On Tuesday, the Indians activated Jason Giambi from the 15-day disabled list and brought up pitcher Trevor Bauer and infielder Justin Sellers. To make room, the team optioned Jesus Aguilar, T.J. House and Jose Ramirez to Columbus.

Giambi went on the DL back on May 4th after a calf strain. He is 0-10 so far on the season, having started the year on the DL as well.

Bauer will get the start for the Indians against the Tigers and Justin Verlander Tuesday night. Bauer was 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in seven starts for the Clippers.

Jesus Aguilar got his first major league hit and RBIs last night in the Tribe’s extra innings win over the Tigers. Sellers was hitting just .227 in Clolumbus.

[Related: Dr. Smooth to the rescue again]

Danny Salazar gets lit up in Columbus

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While Trevor Bauer will attempt to keep things rolling against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, recently demoted starting pitcher Danny Salazar did himself no favors this afternoon when he was tagged for five runs on six hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings for the Columbus Clippers.

Salazar threw 42 out of 70 pitches for strikes and struck out just one batter.

At the big league level, the 24-year old had a 5.53 ERA (with FIP of 4.65) over eight starts prior to being demoted to the minors last week as the Indians attempt to keep ahold of the reigns before things really spiral out of control. Salazar has had trouble making it past the fifth inning due to high pitch totals. He has the ability to miss bats at an incredible rate (he’s struck out 47 batters in just 40 innings of work), but he has also seen plenty of pitches fouled off which have only served to extend at-bats and add more chalk lines to his in-game pitch count. In eight games, Salazar has already allowed more hits in 2014 (49) than he did through 10 games in his coming out party a season earlier (44). 

Year over year, Salazar’s strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up, his home run rate is up, and—while he’s been very unlucky with a .369 BABiP—his fly ball (and home run-per-fly ball) rate has increased.

It’s safe to assume that Salazar will have to work out whatever issues he has—mechanical, mental—before the Indians will give him another shot. Until then, we have to hope that Bauer and Josh Tomlin can keep the rotation afloat.

Unsolicited observations: Cleaning up Santana’s swoon, Jesus is here, Bourn problems and more

Carlos Santana - Dejak AP

These observations may be unsolicited, but it probably doesn’t take much to get an opinion from Tribe fans on the play of Carlos Santana. The Indians’ unexpected third baseman managed to get his OPS back over .600. In the stat world, we call that trending upward! One can hope, anyway.

Watching Santana at the plate has been frustrating on all fronts. That’s why it was refreshing to see him unleash a two-run homer against Toronto Wednesday night. Santana has now collected five hits in his last four games, enough to bring his average to .154 with five homers and 13 RBIs. He’s a switch hitter who’s not getting it done from either side of the plate (.149 as a lefty, and .163 from the right side). He’s also making weak contact, as pointed out in this WFNY feature. [Read more...]

Francona gives opinions of Kluber, Carlos Santana and Trevor Bauer on MLB Network Radio

Terry Francona

I didn’t hear Terry Francona talking to MLB Network Radio, but thanks to the modern world of Twitter, we know everything he said anyway. And for Tribe fans, he was giving some nuggets.

First up, on Trevor Bauer…

On Carlos Santana’s early season struggles…

And some encouraging words about Corey Kluber…

It’s nice to have Francona even as his team struggles early on this season. He continues to bring a level of calmness to the team, at least from this outsider perspective. His lack of panic is refreshing. Well, at least for now. His presence was calming and refreshing in Boston once upon a time too.

I don’t say that as some sort of pot shot at Francona, but merely as a generic statement of fact. I’m still firmly on board with the Tribe’s second-year manager.

Nyjer Morgan called up, Trevor Bauer throws another gem

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As injuries amount and the rotation is being molded, the Cleveland Indians made another move on Sunday, recalling outfielder Nyjer Morgan from Columbus while optioning reliever Nick Hagadone down Interstate 71.

Prior to being sent down to make room for Jason Giambi, Morgan was on fire at the top of the Indians’ lineup, hitting .348 with three stolen bases and four runs scored. In Columbus, though hitting safely in his last four games, Morgan has hit .200 (12-60) with four runs, four doubles, one home run and seven runs batted in.

Earlier this season, WFNY discussed Morgan’s early-season successes, but did not account for the poor defense that was amongst the worst in the league (in DRS) prior to his demotion.

On the bump, Clippers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer tossed another masterpiece on Saturday, throwing seven shutout innings. Bauer has a 1.10 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, and a 8.5 K/9 for the season, holding opposing batters to a ridiculous slash line of .203/.267/.261. In 32 2/3 innings or work, Bauer has fanned 31 while walking just nine.

As reported earlier this week, Josh Tomlin will draw the start on Tuesday—one he has more than earned. If he—or anyone else—were to struggle, it shouldn’t be too long before Bauer draws another shot.

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Carrasco to bullpen, starter to be added per report

Carrasco 9.22Paul Hoynes reported late Monday/early Tuesday that Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco will not make his next scheduled start. He will be moved to the bullpen and another starter will be added in the future.

Alright, technically he reported a starter will be added “meat future”.

Carrasco has made four starts this season. He has an 0-3 record with a 6.95 ERA. His last outing on Sunday was his best of the season, going six innings and giving up four runs while striking out six.

The most likely candidate to replace him is Trevor Bauer, who pitched very well for the Indians in his spot start earlier this month. At AAA Columbus, Bauer is 3-0 in four starts with a 1.40 ERA.

[Related: Tribe weekend wrap- swept away in San Francisco]

Donald Sterling Fallout, and GQ’s 15 Funniest People: While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

Terry Pluto skewered WKYC station manager Brooke Spectorsky in his Sunday column, and it was beautiful if not deserved. The debate of Bernie Kosar and his absurd ousting from the preseason broadcast booth has likely drawn more attention than anyone would prefer, but this entire situation falls squarely in the lap of the man who is attempting to play Cleveland Browns fans for fools. 

Spectorsky, in his infinite wisdom, claims that the station has other plans for Kosar, yet has not claimed what those plans are despite days of discussion surrounding the ver topic. Instead, he decided to use the fact that the Browns are “rebuilding” (which is news to me), thus the broadcast booth should do the same. One could argue that the team has been “rebuilding” for a few years now, yet Kosar has remained, dropping detailed knowledge of Xs and Os mixed with some mispronounced names and non-filtered commentary about both teams. 

Let me be clear: No decisions of this magnitude get made without the Browns rubber stamping that bad boy. Regardless, Spetorsky, in his attempt to treat the fans like incompetent fools, comes off looking like the biggest one of them all.

***

There is nothing I could say in this spot that would do justice to the Donald Sterling story that has permeated the news all weekend. I wanted to give you all a place to discuss the fallout in the comments (kudos to the Clippers for their logo-free warm-ups), but am like many of you who are waiting to see what—if anything—the NBA does. It was no secret that Sterling is one of the scummiest owners in all of professional sports. This weekend may only serve to transcend those boundaries.

***

Good to see Jermichael Finley working his way back from the brutal spinal injury he sustained against the Browns last season. While it can be debated as to whether or not someone who suffered the type injury he did should even consider jumping back into the same gig that put him where he is, but being “on track” is undoubtedly better than the alternative. Even if Finley doesn’t return, I hope it’s by choice and not by chance. The fact that several teams are interested in his potential return speaks volumes to his talent.

***

Danny Salazar may have bought himself some time this weekend, but if I’m Carlos Carrasco, I’m testing the slack on my leash because Trevor Bauer continues to be straight filthy. On Sunday afternoon, Bauer went seven innings and allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. On April 17, Bauer threw six shutout innings, striking out nine and walking one, touching 96 miles-per-hour with his fastball. Last Tuesday, Bauer notched his second win of the year, allowing six hits while striking out three and walking three in 6 2/3 innings. In four starts (25 2/3 innings) with Columbus, Bauer’s 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA. A bit erratic last season, he has 28 strikeouts with just seven walks. It’s exciting to think that this is all (finally) coming together for the 23 year old. It’s even more exciting to think of what it could mean for the Tribe if he can carry it to the big leagues.

***

I don’t have a link for this one as I’m pretty sure it’s embargoed for a bit, but the new issue of GQ focuses on a huge interest of mine in discussing the 15 funniest people (mostly stand-up comics) in show business today. And yes, while lists like this can be debated forever, the one comic that GQ (and anyone really) refuses to debate is Louis C.K.  Louie is on the cover and is, as intimated by said cover, the subject of a lengthy profile which is both informative and hysterical. As someone who enjoys profiling athletes, I’m not sure I could cover someone like Louie without falling into a trap of admiration.

But while everyone would expect Louis CK to be featured, the other names were very interesting—starting with Amy Schumer. Like many comedy fans, I first saw Schumer on Comedy Central when she was roasting Charlie Sheen. While Anthony Jeselnik stole the show, it was Schumer who impressed me the most. Her show (“Inside Amy Schumer”) is a huge hit and is littered with laughs that range between uncomfortable all the way to pause-and-restart-you’re-finished.

Others on the list include Key & Peele, SNL’s Kate McKinnon and John Oliver. I won’t spoil the entire thing, but will recommend any fan of comedy pick this issue up. You could spend $6 in worse ways.

 ***

And just because: PEGGYFACE

Luck and Suck: FanGraphs digs in on two Tribe pitchers

Corey Kluber

Small sample sizes rarely stop the crew over at FanGraphs—if anything, they thrive on them, helping hardcore fans understand why a player hasn’t exactly done what has been expected of him, either for the better or worse. Given the small sample size discussion from our own Jon earlier this week, the latest from FanGraphs falls right in line, discussing the merits (or lackthereof) of the struggles being exhibited by two of Cleveland’s own: Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

In a post titled “Buy Low on Corey Kluber,” Scott Spratt echoes much of what Steiner said, focusing solely on the stoic one and his 5.50 ERA.

Kluber’s 8.64 strikeouts and 1.62 walks per nine innings are in line with his 8.31 and 2.02 rates from last year when he carried a 3.85 ERA for the season. In fact, Kluber’s 3.31 FIP is almost identical to his 3.30 FIP from 2013. It stands to reason that his ERA will fall in line if he continues to pitch this way.

Kluber is not unusual as a victim of the small-sample madness of the first few weeks of the new season. However, I do think circumstances have conspired to make him particularly vulnerable, and those circumstances have just improved.

To date, only the Minnesota Twins have been worse defensively in the outfield than the Indians based on the combined Defensive Runs Saved totals of the three outfield positions. The Indians have lost eight runs in the outfield, and almost all of it has been the result of Nyjer Morgan and Michael Brantley in center field.

Spratt, in addition to luck and a .411 BABiP, believes that the addition of Michael Bourn alone should allow for the fly-ball happy Kluber to regain his relative success. While it seemed crazy a few days ago, the fact that Morgan has been tagged with a league-worst five runs to this point speaks volumes to his demotion. While the article doesn’t mention the loss of Drew Stubbs as well, it does appear that if Bourn can provide at least baseline levels of defense, the team will be that much more better off—regardless of what he does at the plate.

Regarding Carrasco, things appear to be a bit less luck-based and more, well, Carrasco-based.

It’s easy to point to his 3.51 SIERA, ridiculous .400 BABIP and 53.8% LOB% and claim he’ll enjoy better luck moving forward. Similarly, it’s also simple to call him a head case, perform no analysis whatsoever, and move on. But of course, I’m not going to do either of these things. With a repertoire that seemingly appears fantastic, why isn’t Carrasco the best pitcher in baseball?

The odd thing about the inflated BABIP is that he has a allowed an LD% of just 12.9%. Given that line drives go for hits most frequently of all the batted ball types, it’s a surprise that he has allowed so many hits when the majority of his balls in play are ground balls. [...]

Although Carrasco’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched as high as 96.7 mph this year and 98.1 mph historically, the pitch has been clobbered. He throws both a four-seamer and a two-seamer and both have been absolutely wretched. This year, the four-seamer, which he throws most often, has been hit to the tune of a .381 wOBA. While that’s terrible, that’s nothing compared to what hitters have done to his poor two-seamer.

Batters have quite enjoyed Carrasco’s two-seam fastball. How much you ask? Oh, just a delightful .761 wOBA. That’s not OPS, that’s wOBA. In OPS terms, it’s 1.811, including a .444 ISO and .667 batting average. Yeeesh. When you’re fastballs are that bad and you throw them a combined 60% of the time, no wonder why you’re getting blasted.

Fans have always loved Carrasco’s live arm—players who can get the ball up in the 90s are just fun to watch. That said, it’s intriguing that the best pitch for guy who can nearly hit triple-digits is actually his change-up. Carrasco simply can’t locate his heat. He touches 95 on the regular, but any major league baseball player can hit that when it’s served up over the middle of the plate, as Carlos has been thus far. Whether or not Mickey Callaway can coach Carrasco—and whether or not the pitcher can be coached—will be one huge storyline heading into May, especially with Trevor Bauer tossing yet another gem on Wednesday night1.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Footnotes:

  1. Six innings, no runs on five hits, striking out nine batters with just one walk. []

Starting pitching excels in double dip split with Padres

Trevor BauerWhomever in the MLB scheduling department that decided having the San Diego Padres come to Cleveland for their one appearance in early April is a genius. Now seriously, who thought this was a good idea? Naturally bad weather postponed Monday night’s game, causing a traditional doubleheader to be played on Wednesday, which was supposed to be the Padres getaway day. It is the second time the Tribe has played a doubleheader this season, which is just a week and a half old.

The Indians sent Zach McAllister to the hill for game one. The last time we saw Zach, his command was a mess. He only could muster four innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks. After the first time through the rotation, I will admit McAllister was the guy I worried about the most. For the Indians to reach their goal of returning to the postseason, McAllister has to be very good.

Yesterday afternoon, he wasn’t just good….he was GREAT. [Read more...]

Indians option Vinnie Pestano to Columbus, recall C.C. Lee

Vinne Pestano

Fresh off of a ninth inning that left a lot to be desired, the Cleveland Indians have optioned relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano to Columbus and recalled C.C. Lee.

Pestano, who had (by all accounts) regained the velocity which had escaped him a year prior, will leave the big league club with a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances. With a fastball that has been clocked in the high-80s, Pestano has allowed eight hits and six runs (four earned) after opening the season on the Major League roster.

Lee, 27, will be making his second stint at the Major League level in 2014, spending one day with the club on April 2 as the “26th man”.  He has made two relief appearances for Columbus, going 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA and four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.

The team has also formally announced the recalling of Trevor Bauer who will start the second game of Wednesday’s traditional doubleheader. He’s coming off of a six-inning start with the Clippers wherein he allowed just two hits and struck out nine.

Trevor Bauer could be in line for first start of 2014

bauer acab

With Monday’s game against the San Diego Padres washed out by Mother Nature, Tribe pitching prospect Trevor Bauer could be in line for his first start of 2014 when the two teams lock up in a traditional double-header on Wednesday. Zach McAllister (who wound up with a no-decision last week) is scheduled to start one of the games of the doubleheader, with the Indians expected to promote a pitcher from Columbus to start the other. Bauer, who fresh off of a two-hit gem late last week, would be in line to take the bump.

In his debut for the Clippers, the heady Bauer frequently saw his fastball settle in around 95 miles-per-hour, fanning nine and walking just two in six innings of work. The kid’s struggles are well-documented, but at just 23 years old, things may finally be clicking for the former highly touted prospect.

The Indians could certainly use some clarity at the bottom of the rotation as Carlos Carrasco was anything but solid in his 2014 debut this past weekend. Similarly, Josh Tomlin had a debut to forget, allowing five hits and four earned runs (walking three) in just six innings in a loss to Indianapolis.

Raburn Rocking, Bauer Rocked: Tuesday Tribe Notes

Josh TomlinWe are now two weeks into the game portion of Spring Training, so it is time to take stock of what we have learned thus far. There are plenty of intriguing battles going on. Some players have made statements, while others are still trying to make up ground. I have kept my ear to the ground and as always, I’ve tried to stay on top of all the goings-on in Goodyear. With just 20 days until the opener in Oakland, I file this report….

While Raburn sizzles, Murphy isn’t ready. Of all of the pleasant surprises of the 2013 playoff season, perhaps none was bigger than the renaissance of Ryan Raburn. A big reason that the former Tiger was so good was the genius of manager Terry Francona. Tito played Raburn perfectly; he didn’t overuse him, picking and choosing his spots, yet he knew when to ride him when he was sizzling. Midway through the season, Raburn smartly signed a two-year extension with the Tribe for $4.75 million. Knowing Ryan is at his best in the role he played last season, GM Chris Antonetti signed David Murphy from Texas to a two-year deal. The rightfield platoon was all set. [Read more...]