August 15, 2014

The NBA’s marketing machine is fantastic … While We’re Waiting

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“When’s the schedule coming out?” This was a text I received every few days since LeBron’s return to the Cavaliers. For weeks and weeks, many have been on edge. No official announcement came at first – the NBA had been said to want to delay the release to closer to mid-August.

Finally, there was news. The schedule was set to be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13 on NBA TV. The NBA’s marketing was brilliant. They had kept the free agency circuit on edge just enough to then kickstart an entirely new news cycle with the schedule reactions on their own network. [Read more...]

Zach McAllister makes FanGraph’s “Best Wild Pitches” for July

BonusMcAllisterKelly

A pitch? A ball? A balk? Regardless of the ruling, the uncertainty surrounding the pitch depicted above, coming from the hand of Tribe starter Zach McAllister, was enough to garner consideration for one of the worst pitches of July. From FanGraphs:

Pitcher: Zach McAllister
Batter: Don Kelly
Date: July 19
Location: cannot be calculated

I’m glad that people told me about this on Twitter, because the pitch wasn’t captured by PITCHf/x and therefore I never would’ve found it. There’s one clue that a pitch was really terrible: it didn’t even register on the PITCHf/x cameras. But sometimes the PITCHf/x system just has its glitches and a pitch or an at-bat or a whole inning can just go by unrecorded. Immediately after the fact, the broadcast talked about whether the play would be ruled a ball or a balk. The runner on first advanced to second anyway, so it only mattered with regard to the count and the record books. There’s another clue that a pitch was really terrible: people aren’t sure whether it was an actual pitch. This is a pretty strong clue.

McAllister was Designated for Assignment and then passed through to Columbus not long after this fateful day. On the season, McAllister is allowing opposing hitters to put up a .276 average, twenty points higher than 2013, large in part to a .322 BABiP and other items beyond his control (His 5.91 ERA dwarfs his 4.05 FIP). Unfortunately, he has no one else to blame but himself for the “pitch” shown above.

Mariners 6, Indians 5: Comeback thwarted by Shaw’s hanger

Bryan ShawWhen you score five runs, you should win the game. The Indians were on their way to doing so last night, but one of their more reliable and consistent pitchers made two quick mistakes and a comeback victory was snatched away as the Seattle Mariners took the rubber match of the three-game series, 6-5, on the same day the Indians traded their starting shortstop and failed to bring back any starting pitching help.

I stress this last point because after Corey Kluber, the Indians rotation is a mixed bag. Take last night’s starter Zach McAllister for example. The big right-hander has bounced back and forth between Columbus and Cleveland and hasn’t established himself as a guy manager Terry Francona can count on. With Justin Masterson now gone, McAllister, amongst others, will have the chance to get a longer look to see if they fit into the future plans. Unfortunately for Zach, he continues to look like a 4A pitcher.

Heading into last night, McAllister’s spot was already dicey. Then he went out and did himself zero favors. Zach relies heavily and almost exclusively on his fastball. Everyone knows it. And it is not as if he is throwing 97-98 mph—he is more in the 91-92 range. These days he isn’t fooling anyone as even an offensively-starved team like the Mariners can tee off him.

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Tribe Weekend Recap: Santana streaking, rotation turning, and opportunities blown

Carlos Santana

The Indians couldn’t have picked a worse week to wet themselves. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: The only consistent thing about this team is their inconsistency. Just when you want to believe after they take three of four in Detroit, they come out and lose two of three to the Minnesota Twins in front of losing three of four in Kansas City to the Royals. You just had a bad feeling about this series when Corey Kluber’s Thursday gem was wasted in a 14-inning loss. Things just spiraled from there with bad losses both Friday (6-4) and Saturday (7-5). They salvaged the series finale with an offensive explosion in Sunday’s 10-3 win, but it seemed like a hollow victory. The weekend in Kansas City was disastrous.

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Tribe Weekend Recap: Tomlin’s gem, House’s run, and consistently inconsistent play

Josh TOmlinI promised myself I wouldn’t say anything negative about Nick Swisher’s play…….

When I sit down every Sunday to write about the weekend that was with our friends of the feather, the topics seem to be the same: Bad defense, a lack of coming through with the timely big hits, starters not going deep enough into the games, the middle of the order guys not names Michael Brantley not doing their jobs, et cetera. Truth be told, this weekend in Seattle did not provide many great conversation pieces.

Josh Tomlin’s Saturday night gem is the obvious pace to start, but outside of that, it was just more of the same from our Cleveland Indians. The 44-38 Mariners are not a bad team at all, but you are not going to win games when you score seven runs in three games. Seattle took the book ends of this series and left the Indians feeling limp as they hop on a plane for sunny Southern California.

The only true Tribe excitement of the weekend was the performance of The Little Cowboy. It was the finest game an Indians starter has thrown since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981. Of all people, Tomlin was the one you would least expect. [Read more...]

Indians DFA Josh Outman, activate Zach McAllister

Zach McAllister

Josh Outman, the player acquired for outfielder Drew Stubbs just a few months ago ((For those wondering, Stubbs is hitting .303 (.796 OPS) through 55 games on the season, stealing seven bases having yet to be caught. He’s also quadrupled his WAR (1.2) over all of last season (0.3). That thin air, man.)), has been designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians. Outman posted a 3.24 ERA with 24 strikeouts over 24 2/3 innings, but the showed very little control, walking 16. He labored through a 40-pitch outing earlier this week, but has still managed to hold left-handed hitters to a .180 average. He was out of minor league options, so the Indians have 10 days to trade him, release him or try to pass him through waivers—a place the left-hander will likely garner some interest.

Zach McAllister will take Outman’s spot on the 25-man roster, activated from the disabled list after sustaining a lower back strain. Sitting at 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 starts this season, McAllister is expected to take the hill on Thursday when the Indians take on Garrett Richards (with his team-leading 2.87 ERA) and the Los Angeles Angels.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Indians, LeBron James hatred – WFNY Podcast – 2014-06-10

WFNY Podcast LogoI nabbed TD to talk about the Tribe and we ended up talking about a whole lot more.

TD can’t believe how square Craig is with regard to Johnny Manziel’s partying lifestyle.

TD can’t believe how much residual hatred there is for Cleveland fans and LeBron James.

TD talks what he knows best. The Cleveland Indians, where they are today, Lonnie Chisenhall’s monstrous night with nine RBI and the impending return of the Zach Attack.

Check out this episode!

Indians place Zach McAllister on the DL with back strain

Zack McAllister

From shelled to the shelf. The Cleveland Indians placed starting pitcher Zach McAllister on the 15-day disabled list with what’s being called a lower back strain. McAllister (3-4) won three consecutive starts earlier this season but allowed eight runs in a 1 1/3-inning effort against the Oakland Athletics this past weekend. On Wednesday, against the Detroit Tigers, the righty lasted just two innings, allowing five runs on five hits (two home runs) and two walks.

This move leaves Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin as the Tribe’s rotation. The team could either opt to place Carlos Carrasco back in a starting role, or promote the recently optioned Danny Salazar.

Other shuffling within the Tribe’s 40-man roster include the optioning of young left-hander Kyle Crockett to Triple-A Columbus, the transferring of Nyjer Morgan to the 60-day Disabled List, the recalling of left-handed pitcher TJ House and the purchasing of the contract of right-handed pitcher Mark Lowe, both from Columbus.

House, 24, was recently with the club from May 17-19, making his Major League debut in relief against Oakland.  With Columbus, House has gone 1-2 with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts.  His 2.40 ERA currently ranks ninth in the International League.

 Lowe, 30, has spent the entire season to date with the Clippers, going 1-1 with eight saves and a 3.86 ERA in 16 relief appearances. He is currently fourth in the International League in saves (eight) and he has not allowed an earned run over his last seven games.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Indians 11, Tigers 10: The sweep that came via…The Balk-Off?

Asdrubal CabreraJust when you think this team is out…They suck you right back in.

The 2013 Cleveland Indians were dubbed “team streak” at times. Nobody could be colder and then immediately rattle off seven in a row the way they did. Let us not forget that Wahoos had to win 10 straight to close out the season to make the playoffs and actually accomplished the feat. This year’s version is nowhere close, but the last six days have been somethin’ else.

“A few weeks ago, we really didn’t show a whole lot of fight,” David Murphy said. “The type of day that we had, nobody is going to say die. Nobody is going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to throw away at-bats. Everybody is going to go up there and fight until it’s over.” [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.

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Tribe Weekend Recap: Can it get much worse?

Nick SwisherI really don’t even know what to say about this team right now. I have been searching for positives from this horrific weekend series where the Oakland Athletics did their best Harlem Globetrotters impression while the Cleveland Indians donned the uniforms of the Washington Generals. They didn’t hit. They committed more errors (7) than runs scored (6). The pitching was for the most part awful. If it is possible to hit rock bottom in the middle of May, the Tribe certainly was attempting it with this series.

Said manager Terry Francona, who has been as off of his game as his players this season: “What we’re doing, right now is not good enough. We’ve got to play better, and we’ve got to have these guys more prepared.”

The A’s swept the Indians with complete and utter ease, outscoring the Wahoos 30-6. By Sunday, Francona was left searching for answers, so he reluctantly did what he didn’t want to do — moved things around in the batting order. It didn’t work.

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Tribe bats, Axford waste McAllister’s great start

John AxfordIf the Cleveland Indians offense doesn’t figure something out soon, this season will be off the rails before it ever gets started. I know we are just 36 games in, but the team has been in a collective slump since the season began. At certain points, neither the starting pitching nor the hitting performed up to snuff. Now, the starters have come around and solid performances are being wasted left and right because the bats remain asleep.

It was after Friday night’s 12-run explosion that team leader Nick Swisher told the media that his team is aware that “a lot of bad things (have been) written about us in the papers.”  The team had just broken a six-game losing streak in which they scored 13 total runs. In their split of the final two games against the White Sox, the offense produced just five runs. Throw in last night’s extra inning shutout by that fabled ace Minnesota ace Kyle Gibson, and the Indians have those five runs in 28 innings. Two of the five came on a dropped popup and a sacrifice fly.

Are we allowed to criticize now Swish?

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Indians lose again as Kipnis leaves with injury

This road trip just can’t end soon enough for the Tribe. They’ve lost (and lost) on the field and yesterday’s game even included the unwanted bonus of Jason Kipnis going out with an abdominal strain. The irrational, cynical part of me says, “Well, they lost five in a row with him, so what does it matter?” That’s really just mean and probably stupid too, but I’d be lying if I didn’t start to get angry when the Tribe appears to be this listless. Kipnis’ injury might not be all that serious as Terry Francona said after the game, the team hopes it’s more like cramping than anything else. In the end, the Tribe dropped their second game against the Angels 6-4 last night, and they have one more on this road trip before they get to turn the calendar to May. [Read more...]

Indians 4, Royals 3: Deep blasts, solid pitching and a squirrel help Tribe win

Nick Swisher

Last year it was the Rally Chicken. Is 2014 the year of the Squirrel? Twice during last night’s series opener with the Kansas City Royals, a squirrel interrupted play. Players and members of the Indians ground crew tried to corral the little guy who was eventually ushered off the field. “I was like, `C’mon over here and sit in my glove,” Nick Swisher said. “I thought maybe he’d sit on my shoulder like a parrot. I tell you what, that squirrel is eating, bro. That was a big squirrel.”

The squirrel gave some comic relief to a tense, close game that went back and forth, but was eventually won by the Tribe 4-3. It shouldn’t have been that close.

Let’s start with the positives. The offense, which sputtered most of the weekend, clubbed out 11 hits, but needed two long balls to do the damage. Facing ex-Indian first round pick Jeremy Guthrie, Michael Brantley once again provided the dramatics. He broke a scoreless fourth inning tie with a two-run homer to right. It was his second blast in as many days and his fourth on the year. Dr. Smooth has never been a guy known for his power, but he currently sits tied for third in the AL in homers (4) and is second in RBIs (18). [Read more...]

Indians 3, Tigers 2: The Zach Attack delivers again

Zach McAllisterWhen looking at the Detroit Tigers compared to our Cleveland Indians, one distinct advantage sticks out for the Kitties – starting pitching.  The Detroit top three — Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez — would all be the Indians number one if they toiled in Cleveland. Rick Porcello and Drew Smily also dwarf Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco as a tandem. Thanks to Tuesday’s postponement due to freezing temperatures, the Tigers were able to skip Smily over the shortened two game set. Sanchez got the first crack at the Tribe last night with Verlander going Thursday afternoon.

Manager Terry Francona stayed with his normal turns, sending out Zach McAllister on a cold night at Comerica Park. The last time we saw Zach, he was dominant in a win against the San Diego Padres and if the Indians were going to win this one, a similar performance would be helpful.

The first inning had the look of a game that could be high scoring. Sanchez, who normally has impeccable command, walked the newly activated Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Jason Kipnis to start the game. A potential big inning was thwarted by Carlos Santana’s sixth double play ground out of the year. A run did score, but Sanchez got himself right off the hook. Carlos is locked in a 2-24 slump.

[Read more...]

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...]

Rocky start, “Smooth” ending: Tribe splits doubleheader in Oakland

Mike AvilesThere is nothing worse than fans freaking out over one game. But the first of the two in Oakland yesterday was one of those of those examples. I’m going to say this once – it’s ONE GAME.

Scott Kazmir, whom the Indians let walk after resurrecting his career in Cleveland last season, spent his afternoon completely dominating his old club. It was similar to some of the performances we saw from the 30-year old in 2013. He was in complete control, pounding the strike zone all game long. Only twice did Kazmir even get to a three-ball count. Scott worked fast and the Wahoo offense never touched him.

Kazmir, who signed a two-year, $22 million deal with Oakland, departed with one out in the eighth, allowing just three hits without walking a single batter. He struck out five and looked to be worth every penny. [Read more...]

Zach McAllister adds a slide piece to his repertoire

Zack McAllister

While Spring Training just kicked off a few days ago, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that many of the Cleveland Indians players took very little (if any) time off since being bounced out of the 2013 Postseason last October. The latest story comes in the way of Mickey Callaway, the team’s miracle-working pitching coach, and Zach McAllister, who has apperently added a few new arrows to his quiver.

From Indians.com’s Jordan Bastian:

Zach McAllister went home over the winter in search of a strikeout pitch. When the Indians right-hander arrived to Spring Training, he brought a new slider with him.

At the suggestion of Cleveland’s coaching staff, McAllister went to work over the offseason on adding a slider to his repertoire. The goal of the pitch, which essentially replaces the inconsistent cutter he featured last season, is to give the Tribe starter a more reliable weapon for hitters to chase.

McAllister is a lock for the Indians’ starting rotation. Along with Corey Kluber and Ubaldo Jiménez, the 26-year-old was one of the feel-good stories of 2013, providing a  3.75 ERA in 134 1/3 innings. Though hampered by a mid-summer finger injury, his first and second halves were almost identical, allowing opposing batters to produce a .325 wOBA.

If there is much in the way of down side to the towering righty is his penchant for fly balls (41.4 percent, with an incredibly lucky HR/FB ratio of 7.5) coupled with a low swinging strike rate (7.1 percent). If the slider is as good as Callway says it is—”It looks really good.”—then there’s a possibility that these two red flags could be lowered. If these two red flags are indeed lowered, the Indians may have themselves one solid middle-of-the-rotation arm for the upcoming season.

Just another one of the many storylines to watch as the Countdown to Opening Day ticks on.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

While We’re Waiting… College Football Trophies, Recruiting, and Tito’s The Man

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

WWW_Refrigerator_Indians1

Leading off, college football trophies are one of the more consistent traditions around the nation. Many of the trophies have strange origins, and nearly all of them have an interesting story behind them. Johnny Ginter at Eleven Warriors takes a look at some of them, “My favorite thing about Illibuck is that at one point it was a live turtle. Two years later, it was dead. All of the technological prowess of two of the better public university institutions couldn’t keep a turtle alive for two years. There have been ten wooden Illibucks since then, and the sad thing is that with the rearranging of the Big Ten, Ohio State and Illinois will now only play each other once every four years or so. On the plus side, given the state of the Illinois football program, we’ll get to keep the thing for a loooonnggg while.” [Eleven Warriors]

Will Leitch at Sports on Earth talks about recruiting in the Twitter age, which certainly has its drawbacks and ugly moments, “This is all ridiculous, this sad, lonely courting of teenagers over Twitter for a one-year sleepover at a college campus, but this isn’t just the new reality, it’s just the start. Alexander, Okafor and Jones, have enjoyed every aspect of this whole process, and why wouldn’t they? Forget booster alumni and back-room deals: If Cliff Alexander or any future recruit wants any special treatment, it’s just a direct message away.” [Leitch/Sports on Earth] [Read more...]

2013 Indians In Review: The Starting Rotation

Corey Kluber

The 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 will begin with the starting rotation, a group that was a huge surprise in 2013.  [Read more...]