July 28, 2014

Yankees 5, Indians 4: Homers and blown chances cost Tribe a W

Jacoby Ellsbury

When you jump out ahead with three first inning runs in your home park, you are supposed to win. When your bullpen delivers seven straight scoreless innings, you are supposed to win. When you load the bases on three straight one out walks in the 10th inning, you are supposed to win. Well, that’s why you play out the full game….

The Indians had several opportunities to put away the New York Yankees Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, but could never seal the deal. The Bronx Bombers could do nothing once Josh Tomlin was lifted after seven innings, but then again neither could the Tribe. Something was going to eventually have to give. It did, but unfortunately it was the Wahoos that blinked first. [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.

Indians 8, Padres 6: The Murph and Plush Show overshadowed by Pestano’s struggles

David Murphy

Raise your hand if you had David Murphy and Nyjer Morgan as Cleveland’s the two hottest hitters?

(crickets)

I will be the first to step forward and say that I wasn’t enamored by the signing of Murphy to a two-year deal this winter, especially coming off of his worst season as a regular.  He started the season 2-for-12 and looked bad doing so. But this early in the season, it only takes a game or two to get things right, and that is exactly what the 32-year-old right fielder has done. Murphy’s 4-for-5 Sunday got him going, and that carried right over into Tuesday night where he was the star of the Tribe’s 8-3 win over the San Diego Padres. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Opening day fun, starting pitching concerns, Vinnie’s future, and Wahoo

Jason Kipnis

If I told you the Tribe would lose two of three in Oakland to start the year and then come home to take two of three from Minnesota, I am sure many of you would have taken it. Though the opposite actually happened, the record is still the same: 3-3. The weekend series with the Twins should have turned out differently, but we witnessed lots of sloppy play and even sloppier pitching, particular from the starters. Opening Day was a success on the field once the bad weather passed. Saturday and Sunday, however, left a lot to be desired.

It is easy to jump to early conclusions. That would be irresponsible as an Indians fan. Do not forget that this was just one week; six games to be exact. There are 156 games left to be played. Things will get better, things will get worse, but one thing is for certain: A season is not shaped by April 6.

As we have done for WFNY each of the past four seasons, Monday mornings at 10 a.m. will be a look back at the good and the bad of the Tribe’s weekend series. This particular one had plenty to discuss. [Read more...]

Compare and contrast: Tribe today and 365 days ago

Nick SwisherWe are getting close! I don’t know about you, but I am beyond excited for Indians baseball to begin. The pieces are starting to come together. On Wednesday, the final 25-man roster was revealed. There weren’t many surprises, but there has been some small but important tinkering. When you compare this club to the one which left Goodyear for Cleveland a year ago, you can see that top to bottom, Terry Francona’s bunch looks better.

I thought a good way to view this was to lay it all out for you by groupings.  I love the Indians depth and ability to move guys all over the diamond. The bullpen looks solid. Yet, there are still concerns. But on paper, the 2014 club looks improved from this time last year.  [Read more...]

Vinnie Pestano and Elliot Johnson make Tribe’s 25-man roster

Vinne Pestano

Vinnie Pestano may have spent last fall as an outsider looking in, but he will get a chance at redemption this summer as the right-handed reliever has officially made the Cleveland Indians’ 25-man roster. Pestano was told this weekend that he will be one of the arms in the Tribe’s bullpen on Opening Day—a spot that was all but certain heading into Spring Training.

Last season, the fan favorite was on the disabled list with arm issues and spent a good portion of the season in Columbus with the team’s Triple-A affiliate. When the Indians won 10 straight games and made the postseason, he was not on the team’s roster. Coming off what was easily the worst year in his career, Pestano has a 1.50 ERA in six appearances this spring. (He’s allowed just one run in six innings with five strikeouts and two walks, holding opposing hitters to a .100 average.)

“I worked hard in the offseason and I’ve work hard this spring to get back to get back on the right track to where I was,” Pestano said to the local media. “But there is still work to be done. Just because I’m on the Opening Day roster doesn’t mean you’re going to be there down the stretch. I found that out last year.”

It is assumed that Cody Allen will receive eighth inning duties to start the season, a role once held by Pestano. Losing Joe Smith via free agency, Pestano’s resurgence will be integral in the team’s late-inning success.

Also given a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster is utility man Elliot Johnson. Johnson, who came to camp on a minor-league deal, is hitting .350 (14-for-40) this spring. He’s hit two doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBI, flashing considerable power that may have him admitted to the Goon Squad if he can show it’s sustainable. Indians manager Terry Francona has used him all over the infield and outfield, providing more flexibility in the way of Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles in 2013.

Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Paul Hoynes reports that Tribe GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona also talked to several other players, telling them where they stood and that a final decision on their status with the big league club had not been made. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall were reportedly among them.

The Tribe starts their season in Oakland one week from Monday.

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...]

The Top Five Tribe Bullpens of the Last 20 Years

Bullpen-Mafia

Which, if any, late-inning units topped the Bullpen Mafia?

No portion of a Major League Baseball team’s roster experiences more in the way of volatility than a bullpen. One year you think you have it perfect, the next, the same guys look like they don’t belong in the same roles. Sometimes its injury; sometimes its just plain ineffectiveness. But year to year, the ultimate success rate of a bullpen is close to impossible to predict.

[Read more...]

Indians win arbitration case with reliever Vinnie Pestano

20130118-121651.jpgThe Cleveland Indians have won their arbitration case with relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano, reports CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Indians’ filing of $975,000 won out over Pestano’s offer of $1.45 million for the 2014 season. The two sides met in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Friday morning.

The setup man, who turns 29 in a couple weeks, is in his first season of arbitration eligibility. He’s eligible to be a free agent after the 2017 season. He owns a career 2.82 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 172.1 innings over 179 MLB relief appearances.

Most memorably, Pestano was demoted to Triple-A Columbus on July 31 this past season. He had a 3.29 ERA in 14 games for the Clippers last year, his first stint back in the minors since 2010. He pitched in three September games for the Tribe. He’s one of the favorites for the final bullpen roles this season.

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian shared some insights on the case on Thursday. It was the Indians’ first arbitration hearing since 1991 with Greg Swindell and Jerry Browne. The team also is likely headed to arbitration in the next two weeks with Josh Tomlin, Michael Brantley and Justin Masterson.

Masterson, who turns 29 in March, had the largest arbitration filing gap in baseball this offseason. The team filed for $8.05 million and the player’s camp filed for $11.8 million. This is his final season of arbitration eligibility and the team’s ace is scheduled to be a free agent after this year. Recently, extension talks were put on hold in order to focus on a one-year deal.

Why are so many arbitration cases happening for the Indians? Why would they even both going to a hearing over such relatively small gaps for Pestano and Tomlin?

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Reiter had a very detailed article on Friday about the “file-to-go” or “file and trial” strategy that many more teams are adopting. The team strategy declares that “once they have officially exchanged arbitration figures with a player, they will no longer negotiate with him. His salary will be decided in a hearing.”

The specifics of why such a strategy can be beneficial to teams are a bit complex. Essentially, it is designed to avoid going to hearings and force agents to file actually realistic numbers for their players. Certainly, rightfully or not, Cleveland’s arbitration cases this season – their first in over 20 years – won’t help the fan narrative about the team’s willingness to spend competitively.

[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

Indians, Justin Masterson pause extension talks, focus on one-year deal

mastersonstWith their scheduled arbitration hearing approaching, the Indians and ace Justin Masterson have shelved discussions of a long-term deal and are focusing on a one-year solution.

The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reported the update on Monday evening. Discussions are continuing between the team and Masterson’s agent Randy Rowley.

The filing difference between the two parties — $11.8 million from Masterson, $8.05 million from the Indians — was the largest in baseball this offseason. That’s what has led the Indians to say it’s “very likely” their 23-year run of avoiding arbitration will soon end. Masterson’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

MLB Trade Rumors expected Masterson to receive $9.7 million for 2014. There had been previous speculation of a five-year $75 million extension, including his final arbitration-eligible season of 2014. That would then equate to a four-year deal of about $65 million.

Surprisingly, the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto also shared the Indians may be headed to arbitration with starter/reliever Josh Tomlin. He filed for $975,000, but the team filed for $800,000. It seems peculiar, considering the team’s long-time aversion to hearings. This one is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Eventually, Cleveland’s front office is expected to reach one-year deals with outfielder Michael Brantley and reliever Vinnie Pestano. Both are a couple years away from free agency and the filing differences — Brantley: $3.8 million v. $2.7 million; Pestano: $1.145 million v. $975,000 — weren’t that significant.

[Related: The Diff: What’s up with Justin Masterson’s Indians future?]

Photo: Chuck Crow/Plain Dealer

Vinnie Pestano live-tweeted the purchase of a standing horse toilet paper holder and it was amazing

Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano was picking up a few items at his neighborhood Wal Mart and stumbled upon what would ultimately be the newest addition to his home. The bonus: He took all of his Twitter followers along for the ride.

pestano tweet1

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Scott Raab on the Browns beating the Ravens, Chris Perez and Chris Grant’s future – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-04

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab ended this week’s podcast telling everyone to go to the dentist, don’t do drugs and stay in school. You should listen all the way to the end to see how we got there. As per usual, here’s the email I sent Scott last night.

—————

They beat the Ravens. It was a “proof of parity” game for the Browns. The Cleveland Browns with Jason Campbell are no longer defying the rules of parity in the NFL! There’s nothing like going into a bye week with a win. Love it. Love being consistently mediocre with a chance to win. I hate myself for loving it as much as I do.

Farewell Chris Perez. There was a lot of talk about Chris Perez’ legacy this week in Cleveland and it seems like a waste of breath. I supported Chris Perez talking when he was in Cleveland because I kind of like it when athletes don’t shy away from saying something real as opposed to a cookie-cutter phrase. [Read more...]

2013 Indians in Review: The Bullpen

ChickenThe Indians wild ride has come to an end. The 2013 season was one that nobody expected. A 96 loss team turned into a 92 win club that advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. GM Chris Antonetti and Manager Terry Francona helped changed the culture of the organization and has our baseball team on the rise. There is a buzz in the city about the Indians again. It was a season to remember with so many great moments and the arrival of some new fan favorites.  

Each day this week, we will look back at a different portion of the club and see where we are today, a plan for 2014, and so on. We began with the starting rotation, and now we move onto the relievers. [Read more...]

All of the Indians tweets after the AL Wild Card loss

Sometimes, sports are tough. A perfect example would be Wednesday’s gut-wrenching 4-0 loss by the Cleveland Indians at home in a one-game do-or-die playoff game. As we wind down the team’s incredible run to a 92-70 record, I felt it was appropriate to recap some of the team’s best tweets over the past few days since that loss. Hope you enjoy and that this makes you even more pumped for 2014.

The Tribe’s pitching coach got it all started shortly after the game ended with this quick post. [Read more...]

Closer Jeopardy: Who’s the man for the Indians now?

Josmil Pinto, Chris PerezIt’s not like many fans didn’t see this coming, right? Perhaps not the 89-70 record, but maybe the Chris Perez demise?

Here we are. Three games left in the regular season. The Cleveland Indians are on the verge of the playoffs and, it appears that with last night’s performance, Perez might be out of a closer’s job. Heck, he nearly volunteered it up with an “I don’t want to cost us games” statement, per Terry Francona in his post-game press conference.

So what’s next? Playoffs are on the horizon and it’s fairly unprecedented for a contending team to drop their allegiance to their designated **ninth-inning win-or-die guy** suddenly after game 159. Let’s review all of the options available for Francona and the Tribe as we head into this incredibly dramatic final weekend.

The Hot One: Bryan Shaw
Season stats: 7-3 record, 3.24 ERA, 70 games, 75.0 IP, 60 H, 28 BB, 73 K [Read more...]

Debating Chris Perez’s closer role – Cleveland Indians Roundtable

Shortly after last night’s incredible ninth-inning comeback, former WFNY weekend man Brendan Porath nudged the WFNY staff: Let’s do a roundtable about Chris Perez. So here we are, again, talking about the controversial closer’s role for the rest of 2013. Share your takes in the comments.

WFNY_roundtable

Brendan: So, Jason Giambi delivered one of the most dramatic and enjoyable wins in Indians franchise history. But it promptly overshadowed the continuing troubles with Chris Perez — the Tribe’s shaky (is what we’ll call it) closer. Next time, the stakes may be higher and we can’t repeatedly count on old Jacobs Field magic when there may be other options. [Read more...]

MLB News: Indians recall four more players for stretch run

The Indians today have recalled four players with familiar names to Tribe fans.

Cleveland: Recalled RHP CARLOS CARRASCO (#59), RHP C.C. LEE (#20), RHP VINNIE PESTANO (#52) and RHP JOSH TOMLIN (#43) from AAA Columbus.

Carrasco, 26, begins his sixth stint in Cleveland after being optioned on Saturday, August 31st when OF Jason Kubel was added to the roster. He posted 10.1 scoreless innings of relief during his latest tenure with Cleveland from August 9-30.

Lee, 26, spent the first two months of the season on the Minor League DL rehabbing from June 2012 right elbow reconstruction before being activated at Triple-A Columbus on June 26. With the Clippers he has gone 1-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 relief outings (19.0IP, 14H, 5ER, 5BB, 24K, .212AVG) and limited left-handed hitters to a .111 (2-18) average against and did not allow a run over his last 8 outings (7.1IP). This is his second stint with Cleveland (July 12-23), making his Major League debut on July 14 vs. Kansas City and recorded 3 scoreless outings (2.0IP, 0H, 0R, 3BB, 1K).

Pestano, 28, spent the first four months of the season in the Cleveland bullpen, going 1-2 with 6 saves and a 4.05 ERA in 45 games (33.1IP, 32H, 15ER, 19BB, 34K, .254AVG) before being optioned to AAA Columbus on July 30. He was also on the 15-day DL from May 1-16 with right elbow tendinitis. With the Clippers he posted an ERA of 3.29 (13.2IP, 13H, 5ER, 4BB, 13K, .265AVG), limited right-handed hitters to a .188 (6-32) average against and posted scoreless outings in 12 of 14 games.

Tomlin, 28, spent the first four months of the 2013 season rehabbing from August 2012 right elbow reconstruction before making rehab appearances for the Rookie Arizona club, Class-A Lake County, AA Akron and most recently at AAA Columbus prior to his August 24 activation and option to Columbus. Combined this year at the Minor League level Josh is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 10 games/8 starts (27.1IP, 17H, 5ER, 0BB, 21K) and at Triple A posted an ERA of 2.40 in 3 starts (15.0IP, 12H, 4ER, 0BB, 11K, .222AVG).

The Indians continue their three game series with the Orioles tonight. Ubaldo Jimenez pitches for the Indians. The New York Mets come to town on Friday for three games.

[Related: Among the ruins, the Indians' collapse and looking forward]

Tribe to add 10 players in upcoming days; Designate 2 for assignment

With the September 1st roster expansion tomorrow, the Indians will use that opportunity to add a significant number of pitchers to their staff. Manager Terry Francona announced the schedule of player additions this afternoon, per Paul Hoynes.

From the left side, they’ll add Nick Hagadone and Clay Rapada. From the right side, Vinnie Pestano, Preston Guilmet, C.C. Lee, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Blake Wood. Newly-signed catcher Kelly Shoppach and infield prospect Jose Ramirez will be added to get the team up to 15 hitters following the additions of Jason Kubel and Matt Carson this week.

Guilmet, Hagadone, Wood, Shoppach and Ramirez will arrive Sunday. Rapada will arrive Monday with Pestano, Lee, Tomlin and Carrasco arriving Tuesday.

The pitching staff will be 20 strong, which is needed given the short pitch counts for both starter Danny Salazar and the soon-to-be-returning Corey Kluber, who could pitch as soon as Friday. Ramirez is the only one of the group without prior major league experience, and Pestano, Lee, Hagadone, Guilmet, and Carrasco have all been with the team at some point this season while Tomlin was on the major league 60-day disabled list.

To make room for Shoppach and Ramirez, the team designated outfielder Tim Fedroff and infielder Juan Diaz for assignment. Both spent the year at Triple-A Columbus. Diaz played in five games with Cleveland last season, but he was hitting just .242/.317/.348 this year with 45 RBI. Fedroff was also hitting .242 with 48 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

Related: Kubel deal is low risk, but likely low in reward

Indians’ Pestano sends signed shoes, baseballs to three-year-old fan

What started out as a mere sign of appreciation ended up being one of the best feel-good stories of the 2013 Cleveland Indians season. As documented by Courtney Shilling at Tribe Vibe, Cleveland Indians set-up man Vinnie Pestano made fans for life after replying to a letter that was sent to him earlier this month.

After receiving a picture from a three-year-old fan named William, Pestano posted a “thank you” message on Twitter. What Pestano didn’t know was that William’s mom would see the message and added that the child, despite living in Detroit, wears Indians uniforms religiously. Pestano replied that William could expect a package in the mail.

What William would find after a few days of waiting anxiously would be a pair of personalized, signed cleats as well as a pair of autographed baseballs for him and his sister Elise.

Check out the entire dialogue over at Tribe Vibe. It’s safe to say that Pestano, despite having his struggles this season, continues to show why he has the support of Indians fans everywhere.

[Related: In defense of the under-appreciated Carlos Santana]

Vinnie Pestano optioned to make room for Rzepczynski

In a shocking move, following Tuesday night’s win against the White Sox, the Indians optioned former setup man Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A Columbus in order to make room on the 25-man roster for newly acquired left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski.

Pestano has been the team’s primary eighth inning setup guy for the past three seasons. However, this season, elbow soreness landed him on the disabled list, and he hasn’t returned to his previous form.

In 34 appearances this year, Pestano is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA and 6 saves while filling in for the injured Chris Perez. However, his walk numbers are way up and his strikeout numbers and velocity are down. Pestano has already walked 19 batters and struck out only 34 after walking just 24 in each of the previous two seasons. Vinnie has pitched just three times in the last 17 days, with two of those appearances coming in blowouts. Therefore, the move is likely made with the idea to get him more work at Triple-A Columbus in higher leverage situations without it affecting the streaking ballclub.

Bryan Shaw in the bullpen had options as well, but he is pitching much better recently overall than Pestano. Rzepczynski gives the Tribe a second left-handed bullpen option in addition to Rich Hill.

Related: Carlos Moncrief, Cleveland Most’s Surprising 2013 Prospect