June 2008

"Canceled? Do I still get credit for the pick-up? I was here!"

Between a cancelled morning flight home, a four-hour wait at Detroit Metro Airport, a 30-minute hover over the city of Cleveland because of rain and an odorous neighbor seated next to me on the plane, I’d say today’s travel went pretty well.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s triumphant return of Craig Breslow…

INDIANS (29-35): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 3B Casey Blake, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 2B Josh Barfield. LHP C.C. Sabathia (3-8, 4.81 ERA).

TWINS (31-33): CF Carlos Gomez, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, RF Michael Cuddyer, DH Mike Redmond, LF Delmon Young, SS Brendan Harris, 3B Matt Macri. RHP Scott Baker (2-0, 4.03).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Doesn’t look like Travis Hafner will go out on a rehab assignment for at least another week. He’s still building up strength in that injured right shoulder.
  • Fausto Carmona, on the DL with a left hip strain, will throw his first bullpen session Thursday.
  • Cliff Lee earned his 10th win in the Indians’ 64th game last night. That makes him the earliest Tribe pitcher to 10 wins since Charles Nagy did it in 61 games in 1996 — the year he started the All-Star Game for the AL. Lee was the fastest Tribe left-hander to reach 10 wins since Greg Swindell did it in the team’s 49th game in 1988, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
  • Sabathia, for the record, won No. 10 in the Tribe’s 71st game last year, en route to the Cy Young.
  • Two members of Class A Kinston have been selected for the Carolina League All-Star team. RHP Luis Perdomo (3-1 with 13 saves and a 1.05 ERA in 25 games) and RHP Steven Wright (2-3 with a 2.24 ERA in 13 starts) will represent the K-Tribe.
  • Here’s your daily reminder about the American Red Cross blood drive taking place on Gateway Plaza from noon to 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.
  • The Twins haven’t had a starting pitcher record a victory since May 29.
  • But look out for Casilla. He’s batting .324 (12-for-37) with four doubles in 11 games against the Indians and .889 (8-for-9) with two doubles lifetime against Sabathia.

~AC

UPDATE: How about the D-Train heading to A ball? Seems about right.

Don't forget the Motor City

Yesterday I ripped Detroit for its casino-driven crime and grime. Today, partly inspired by the scorching performance of Jack White and his fellow Raconteurs that I caught at the Fillmore Theater last night, I’d like to praise it for its music scene.

I grew up in Cleveland, the supposed birth place of rock and roll. It’s where Alan Freed allegedly coined the phrase “rock and roll,” and now we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to show for it. (Of course, the fact that the city put up about $60 million to fund the construction of the building is the real reason it’s in Cleveland).

Detroit, I must say, has Cleveland beat in the rock department. I would go so far as to say Detroit is more deserving of the Rock Hall. It’s the birthplace of Bill Haley, it’s the birthplace of Mitch Ryder, the birthplace of Bob Seger, and, above all else, the birthplace of Motown. And recent exports like Eminem, Kid Rock and the White Stripes may or may not pique your particular interest, but you can’t argue their impact or, at the least, their Billboard presence.

So kudos, Detroit. Musically, you are well ahead of Cleveland, birthplace of, um, Michael Stanley.

This is the last in what has felt like a 19-game series at Comerica Park. Grady Sizemore is out of the lineup, getting a rare day off. Josh Barfield, fresh off his promotion from Buffalo, is in the lineup.

INDIANS (28-35): CF Franklin Gutierrez, LF Ben Francisco, 1B Victor Martinez, DH Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Josh Barfield. LHP Cliff Lee (9-1, 2.45 ERA).

TIGERS (26-36): SS Edgar Renteria, 2B Placido Polanco, DH Marcus Thames, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Carlos Guillen, C Brandon Inge, LF Brent Clevlen, CF Curtis Granderson. LHP Dontrelle Willis (0-0, 4.50).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Paul Byrd’s book, “Free Byrd,” will be released July 1. It is expected to include a chapter about his HGH use and the controversy that erupted before Game 7 of last fall’s ALCS.  
  • The six grand slams allowed by Indians pitchers this year are tied for second-most allowed in a season in club history since 1951. The 1963 team gave up eight, and the 1978 and 1980 teams gave up six each.
  • Lee is 33-18 in his career on the road.
  • Francisco is 1-for-his-last-15.
  • Blake is batting .319 (15-for-47) wiht three homers and 12 RBIs over his last 12 games.
  • Shoppach has just five hits in his last 37 at-bats.
  • Don’t forget about that American Red Cross blood drive taking place on the Gateway Place from noon to 8 p.m. ET Wednesday. You might get a free cookie. 

~AC

UPDATE: In case you’re planning out your week and need to mark this on your calendar, Jake Westbrook’s season-ending Tommy John surgery will take place Thursday in Los Angeles.

It's been a long time coming…

INDIANS PROMOTE INF JOSH BARFIELD

FROM AAA BUFFALO

 

INF ASDRUBAL CABRERA Optioned to AAA Buffalo

 

CLEVELAND, OH — The Cleveland Indians today announced the club has recalled INF JOSH BARFIELD from AAA Buffalo.  To make room on the Major League roster, the Indians optioned INF ASDRUBAL CABRERA to AAA Buffalo.

 

Barfield has spent the entire year to date at AAA Buffalo where he was batting .255 (66-259) with 26 runs scored, 16 doubles, a triple, 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 62 games for the Herd.  He has hit safely in 9 of his last 12 games at Buffalo batting .288 (15-52) with 6 runs scored, 2 doubles, a home run and 5RBI.  He wears #29 and will be in uniform tonight as the Indians take on the Detroit Tigers in Comerica Park at 7:05PM ET.

 

Cabrera hit .184 (29-158) with 16 runs scored, 7 doubles, a home run and 14RBI in 52 games for the Indians.

 

"The mail never stops!"

Thought I’d take some bonus mailbag questions today. Please keep your questions coming for the next edition of the mailbag on the site, which runs a week from today. Send the questions to tribemailbag@yahoo.com, and don’t forget to include your first name, last initial and hometown…

Do you think if the Tribe doesn’t turn it around quickly and in a hurry the front office will start taking offers to trade C.C.? — Kenny K., Elyria, Ohio

The Indians, according to reports, have already begun getting a sense of what other clubs might have to offer for Sabathia.

But as I wrote in last week’s mailbag, don’t expect much of a return for him, unless it’s a rare “sign and trade” situation. Sabathia would be a two- or three-month rental for a contending club. If you think the Indians can turn this current season around by trading Sabathia for a bat, you’re dreaming. Every club is hurting for offense, and there will be few, if any, big bats available in the trade market.

Now that Jake Westbrook’s done for the season and Adam Miller is on the shelf at Buffalo, the Indians’ rotation depth has taken a tremendous blow (making people like me, who suggested they explore the market for Aaron Laffey to find some offensive help, look dumb in the process). Trading C.C., then, would be an obvious white flag for ’08. And given that the White Sox are getting hot and the Indians continue to do little more than tread water in a sea of mediocrity, that white flag might be approaching.

The Indians could hold onto Sabathia and hope for the best and get two Draft picks if they lose him to free agency, but — go figure — the draftniks are already saying next year’s amateur class is looking pretty thin.

The Indians already passed up their best chance to trade Sabathia for a big package (though, if you compare it to the Johan Santana situation, that package probably wouldn’t have included much in the way of proven big-league talent), and I still think their thought process was reasonable. They knew they couldn’t contend without Sabathia in ’08, and they were probably right. But it’s becoming pretty clear that contending with him might not be in the cards, either. This road trip is further, and perhaps definitive, proof of that.

It’s time for the Indians to get off the Jhonny Peralta bandwagon. Do they really see talent in this guy? — Bruce F., Solon, Ohio

The Indians have tried to mold Peralta into a consistent hitter for several years now, but his stretches in which he seems to lose concentration always seem to catch up with him.

Peralta was probably the most impactful member of the lineup in the playoffs last year, but, given his track record, I can’t help but think he’ll always be a guy that struggles in cold weather in April and May and turns it on in the summer. His numbers with RISP this season (.161 overall, .111 with RISP and two outs and .207 with RISP and less than two outs) are especially discouraging, as is his limited range.

Fans have been clamoring for the Indians to move Peralta to third base, though there’s no evidence to suggest he’d be any better at that position than he is at short, and his overall offensive numbers are even less impressive if he’s suddenly one of your corner infield bats (not that their current corner infield production is anything to get too excited about).

Anyway, Asdrubal Cabrera is the more likely shortstop of the future, but he has to get his bat in check. The Indians did the right thing sending him down to Buffalo today. It’s the right move for their future, regardless of how many runs he was saving with his glove in the present.

As someone who lives just about a mile away from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ home, let’s hope the only thing Lonnie Chisenhall steals is bases. But seriously, all I have read is that he was charged. Was he convicted? — Dan J., Niles, Ohio

Chisenhall pleaded guilty to the charges of burglary and grand larceny and received six months’ probation.

"1985? … It can't be…"

Remember that part of “Back to the Future II,” when Marty and Doc return to Hill Valley and discover that it is now run by Biff, who had become a billionaire by making winning sports bets and had turned the town’s courthouse into a casino surrounded by drugs, crime and grime?

Yeah, that’s downtown Detroit.

I’ve always thought Cleveland — and Ohio, in general — is really behind the eight-ball with its staunch stance against bringing in legalized gambling. Michigan did it, and visitors from Ohio and other areas flock to Detroit to spend their hard-earned cash.

But all you have to do is take one walk through the Greektown area on a Saturday night to see the downside of a downtown casino. When you’re not dodging your way through drunks and prostitutes, you’re bracing yourself for potential gunshots. Good times. Then again, it does spur the economy.

Here are today’s lineups on a scorching Sunday at Comerica Park…

INDIANS (28-34): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Franklin Gutierrez, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 3B Casey Blake, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Jeremy Sowers (0-0, 5.23) makes his return to the rotation.

TIGERS (25-36): SS Edgar Renteria, 2B Placido Polanco, LF Marcus Thames, DH Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Carlos Guillen, C Ivan Rodriguez, RF Brent Clevlen, CF Curtis Granderson. RHP Armando Galarraga (4-2, 3.76) on the mound, in place of Jeremy Bonderman.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Indians pitchers have allowed six grand slams this year, the most in the Majors.
  • The Indians are 10-14 against the AL Central this season. They were 48-24 in the division last year.
  • Peralta has hit safely in 13 or 14 games, batting .290 with three homers and four RBIs.
  • Five members of the Class A Lake County Captains will be on the North squad for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 17 in Greensboro, N.C. LHPs Ryan Miller, Kelvin De La Cruz and Ryan Morris, RHP Vinne Pestano and OF Roman Pena will all be there.
  • The bullpen is 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) in save situations this year.

~AC

Westbrook done for the year

Don’t have any details right now regarding surgery or anything of that nature. We’re going to speak with head trainer Lonnie Soloff in about 20 minutes. But for now I can tell you that Jake Westbrook’s season is over with that right elbow injury.

I’ll have more up on the site in the next hour or so.

UPDATE (2:46 p.m.): Soloff confirms that Westbrook will have Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles in the next seven to 14 days. The optimistic hope is that he’ll be pitching in the big leagues again in the next 10-14 months. For more info, check out the site in a little bit.

"So, that's one tuck and one no-tuck. Got that?"

Traveling isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. For instance, my trip from Texas to Detroit yesterday involved a 6:45 a.m. flight to Cleveland, a two-hour layover at Hopkins, and then a flight to Motown in which we were all asked to sit in the last four rows, so as to balance the weight of the plane. That really makes you feel safe.

Last night I slept in my third hotel in as many days. This was only a problem because I could not, for the life of me, remember which room I was in when I returned from last night’s game. Actually, this isn’t such a rare occurrence. And I was somehow able to find my room by “feel,” as they say. Fortunately, my “feel” did not involve a trial and error period of inserting my key card into about eight different doors.

At least I have a key card. One member of our traveling beat writer crew is staying at the luxurious Hotel Milner, which is in sight of Comerica Park. The Milner was recently renovated — and by “recently,” I mean… in 1962. They don’t use key cards at the Milner. They use actual keys. If you are ever handed an actual key to your hotel room, you know you’re at a bad hotel.

And it gets hot in the Milner, as this writer (whose identity I’m protecting for no specific reason) found out. The writer called the front desk to inquire about the status of the hotel’s air conditioning. A little while later, while the writer was laying down for a nap, a maintenance guy waltzed right into his room with an AC wall unit in hand.

Hey, what do you want for $79 a night?

Here are today’s lineups. Wedge is giving Victor Martinez another day of rest with that sore left hamstring. Get used to that. “We’ll have to give him periodic days,” Wedge said. But Wedge said the injury is still not drastic enough to land Vic on the DL…

INDIANS (28-33): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, DH Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, C Kelly Shoppach, 3B Andy Marte. LHP Aaron Laffey (3-3, 3.02).

TIGERS (24-36): SS Edgar Renteria, 2B Placido Polanco, LF Marcus Thames, DH Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Carlos Guillen, CF Brent Clevlen, C Brandon Inge, RF Ryan Raburn. LHP Kenny Rogers (4-4, 5.54).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Last night’s win was the Tribe’s 1,000 all-time against the Tigers.
  • According to Elias, Paul Byrd is the first pitcher in MLB history to reach his 100th win without having earned as many as 30 wins with any single team.
  • Last night’s save was Joe Borowski’s 50th as an Indian.
  • Victor Martinez ranks second in the AL in throwing out would-be basestealers with a 34.5 percentage (10-of-29).
  • Since joining the Tigers in 2004, Carlos Guillen has hit .348 (77-for-221) wiht 15 doubles, two triples, eight homers and 31 RBIs in 57 games against the Indians, who, of course, nearly acquired him from the Mariners in a trade involving Omar Vizquel in ’04.
  • LHP Dave Huff made his Buffalo debut last night and allowed a run on three hits wiht a walk and five strikeouts over six innings in a no-decision. The Bisons blew a two-run lead in the ninth. Keep your eye on Huff. If the Indians’ starters keep dropping (or if one of them, in particular, gets traded, he could be an option later this year, given the way he’s pitching).
  • The Indians are holding an American Red Cross blood drive in the Gateway Plaza area on June 11 from noon to 8 p.m. ET. The drive is open to the public. If you go to www.givelife.org and enter the sponsor code “clevelandindians” you can schedule a donation time, though walk-ups are also welcome. 

~AC

The Westbrook watch continues

I’ve really got nothing for you on Jake Westbrook, other than to restate what you already know — he visited specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in California today to get his sore right elbow looked at.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff joined Westbrook on the visit and is expected to be back with the team either tonight or tomorrow morning in Detroit. Soloff will update the media on Westbrook’s condition either Saturday or Sunday, depending on when the results of the tests administered on Westbrook today come back.

I’m not going out on a limb to suggest Westbrook could be out for a while. It was rare for the Indians to not only place him on the DL but to also line up an MRI and a second opinion from a specialist like Yocum, all in the same day. I think that speaks to how serious an injury this might be. But we’ll have more concrete information in the next couple days.

"Gotta support the team."

Greetings from Hockeytown. Unless you live under a rock (or don’t subscribe to the enormously popular “Versus” network), you know the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup the other night. The victory parade took place today, right about the time my cab pulled into the city. Men, women, boys, girls and other various life forms flooded the streets in red garb. I saw surprisingly few mullets.

Seeing a major hockey celebration is strange for a native Clevelander. We don’t have hockey in Cleveland. We used to have the Barons and the Lumberjacks. We currently have the Monsters. A handful of people care. This is not intended to disrespect Cleveland hockey fans. I know you’re out there, people, and I wish you and your sport nothing but the best. But you know you’re in the minority on this one.

In Detroit, however, they’re passionate about their hockey. But not as passionate as I was led to believe. They call it “Hockeytown,” but that nickname was borne out of a Red Wings marketing campaign. I was disappointed when Jason Beck, my Detroit counterpart for MLB.com, informed me that no cars were turned over or set on fire after the Red Wings won it all. “The economy is down,” Beck explained, “and with gas prices being what they are, they didn’t want to burn up any fuel.” A sound and rational point.

I guess there’s really no point to this hockey discussion, other than to congratulate the Red Wings. And I know there’s a Cleveland contingent that, by default, roots for the Penguins, so … my condolences.

Turning back to baseball, here’s what we’ve got, lineup-wise, for the opener of this four-game set between the Indians and Tigers. This is hardly the scintillating rivalry we expected it to be this season, but I still think this will be a very telltale series for both of these clubs. If the Indians drop this series, I’d say things have gotten pretty grim and it might be time to put the coroner on speed dial.

INDIANS (27-33): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Ben Francisco, C Victor Martinez, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH David Dellucci, 3B Casey Blake, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. RHP Paul Byrd (2-5, 4.66) on the mound, making his fourth attempt at 100 career wins. 

TIGERS (24-35): CF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, LF Carlos Guillen, RF Magglio Ordonez, 1B Miguel Cabrera, DH Jeff Larish, SS Edgar Renteria, C Ivan Rodriguez, 3B Brandon Inge. RHP Justin Verlander (2-8, 5.16) gets the start. 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians have 999 all-time wins against the Tigers. By my calculations, their next will be their 1,000th.
  • The Indians batted .352 (57-for-162) with 39 runs scored (9.75 runs per game), 13 doubles, seven homers and 17 walks in the four games against Texas.
  • The Rangers also scored 39 runs in the series. So that was the first time since 1937 that two clubs averaged more than nine runs apiece in a four-game set. The Cubs and Reds did so in 1937, when the Cubs outscored the Reds, 41-38.
  • And now for the bad news… Indians starters went a combined 1-1 with an 11.94 ERA in the series. The pitching staff as a unit had a 9.79 ERA.
  • Indians pitchers have allowed 10 or more hits in each of the last five games.
  • The Indians have scored three runs or less in exactly half of their 60 games this year. Last season, the Tribe scored three or less in 56 games, or 35 percent of their season.
  • Franklin Gutierrez is batting .346 with a homer and four RBIs over his last eight games.
  • Ryan Garko is batting .522 (12-for-23) with seven RBIs over his last five games.
  • If you’re gonna watch the Indians from the bleachers because you don’t have to worry ’bout teachers (thanks for the inspiration, Gary U.S. Bonds), you might be interested in the Tribe’s new “School’s Out Summer Celebration” promotion. All kids 14 and under can get a free ticket to the June 12 game against the Twins if they show up at the Progressive Field ticket office, starting at 4 p.m. ET on the day of the game. Tickets and location are subject to availability, and the child must be present at the time of purchase. High school and college students with a valid student ID can also take advantage of the promotion and receive a half-priced ticket. School is out. Jump and shout.

~AC

Second and third-round picks…

Figured I’d pass along these notes on the Indians’ second and third-round picks, courtesy of Tribe PR man Bart Swain. (As an aside, here’s hoping the Indians someday sign Cord Phelps to an extension, because that would make for the world’s easiest headline)…

The Indians selected RHP TREY HALEY from Central Heights High School in Nacogdoches, Texas with their 2nd round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft (76th pick overall).  Haley, 18, went 8-2 w/a 1.55 ERA in 13 games (50IP, 23H, 34BB, 98K) during his spring season this year at Central Heights.  He is 6-4, 190 lbs.

With their 3rd round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft the Indians selected INF CORD PHELPS  with the 107th overall pick in this year’s draft. The junior second baseman hit .352 (83-236) this season for Stanford University with 14 2B, 13HR and 53RBI in 58 games for the Cardinal (70RS, 38BB, 35K).  The Santa Barbara, CA native led the team in walks and on-base % (.447). He is a switch-hitter and is 6-2, 200lb.

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