June 2008

"Oh, in about five, 10 minutes."

After multiple pleas of “Uncle!” from sportswriters on deadline, the four-game series with the Rangers wraps up tonight.

The average time of game for the first three was three hours, 42 minutes. Tonight, however, two aces are on the mound in the form of C.C. Sabathia and Kevin Millwood. So, the time should be more reasonable… like 3:36.

Few things in life should last 3:42. One of them is a Bruce Springsteen concert. I’ll let you come up with some others, as my brain is a bit discombobulated by the baseball marathons.

Here are tonight’s lineups. Note that Asdrubal Cabrera is absent for the Indians. Wedge has opted to give him an extra day after Cabrera strained his hip last night. But we just talked to Cabrera, he’s feeling fine, and he expects to be back in there tomorrow in Detroit.

INDIANS (27-32): 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 Jamey Carroll. LHP Sabathia on the mound. His 2.01 ERA since April 22 is the best in the AL.

RANGERS (30-31): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Michael Young, RF Josh Hamilton, DH Milton Bradley, LF David Murphy, CF Marlon Byrd, C Gerald Laird, 1B Chris Shelton, 3B Ramon Vazquez. RHP Millwood hurling.


  • LHP Jeremy Sowers was to have started for Buffalo on Friday. Instead, he’ll get an extended break before joining the Indians’ rotation Sunday in Detroit. Sowers’ promotion leads to a promotion for LHP David Huff (the Tribe’s first overall pick in ’06), who will be called up from Double-A Akron to start Friday’s game for the Bisons. Huff was an impressive 5-1 with a 1.92 ERA in 11 games, including 10 starts, at Akron. He led the Eastern League in ERA and was fourth in strikeouts (62).
  • Interesting, in light of Asdrubal Cabrera’s injury last night, that 2B Josh Barfield didn’t start at Buffalo today for just the second time this season. But Buffalo manager Torey Lovullo told reporters there’s nothing going on there. Barfield has hit safely in eight of nine games (.359 in that span). But he’s struck out 47 times this season, against just 13 walks, so that’s obviously a big concern.
  • The Bisons, by the way, had a crazy comeback against Rochester last night. They were down 6-0 in the ninth and rallied to tie (with the tying runs coming on Barfield’s two-out, two-run single) and 7-6 in the 10th but pulled out a pair in the bottom of the inning to win it on Brad Snyder’s RBI single.
  • LHP John Halama was signed to a Minor League contract and will report to Buffalo. Halama was 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in eight starts for Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League. Halama last appeared in the Majors in 2006 with Baltimore. He was 56-48 with a 4.65 ERA in 262 big-league appearances with a host of teams.
  • According to Elias, Ben Francisco, who had five hits last night, became just the fourth Indians rookie since 1948 to notch five or more hits in a game. Tommy Hinzo was the last to have five, on Sept. 5, 1987. Jack Heidemann had six on June 28, 1970, and Jim Fridley had six on April 29, 1952.
  • More on Francisco… he leads all AL rookies in average (.343), is tied for sixth in homers (3) and tied for seventh in RBIs (17), even though he’s only played in 29 games. He has hit safely in 12 of 14 games.
  • The Indians have three straight 15-hit games for the first time since April 9-11, 1999, at Minnesota.
  • The Indians have already used 35 players thi syear. Last year, they used 41 in the entire season.


Indians choose Chisenhall

Very interesting pick at 29th overall in INF Lonnie Chisenhall. The Indians, as you no doubt know, place a high value on “character guys,” and Chisenhall was kicked off the South Carolina team after an arrest for burglary and grand larceny. He was charged with stealing $2,000 worth of materials — a flat-screen TV, DVDs and a PlayStation — from a dorm room. The Indians do their due diligence on potential draft picks, so you’d have to assume that they assume Chisenhall’s transgressions are behind him.

This was our Draft guru Jonathan Mayo’s report on Chisenhall…

Hitting Ability: Chisenhall has a good-looking bat with a very good approach at the plate. He’s got good rhythm and balance with plus bat speed. He hits the ball hard and centers it more often than not.
Power: He’s got line-drive power now. His game power is a little below-average, but he has the chance to be a little plus in the power department in the future.
Running Speed: Chisenhall is a below-average runner.
Base Running: He has average instincts on the basepaths, though he had stolen a couple of bases early on in the season.
Arm Strength: Chisenhall has a solid average arm that is fairly accurate. He’s doubling as Pitt’s closer.
Fielding: He’s a little below-average defensively, playing one game at shortstop and one at third in this doubleheader.
Range: With slightly below-average range, he’ll have to be a third baseman or corner outfielder at the next level.
Physical Description: Chisenhall has a very athletic body with a medium-large frame and good legs. He’s got some room to get bigger.
Medical Update: Healthy.
Strengths: His bat is by far his biggest strength. He has the chance to hit for average and some power.
Weaknesses: His foot speed is a minus and his defense is just OK. He doesn’t jump out at you when he plays. An off-the-field incident last year caused his dismissal from University of South Carolina, so makeup will be an issue.
Summary: A 12th-round Draft pick out of high school in 2006, he chose USC over the Pirates. His Gamecock career ended abruptly after he was arrested on burglary and grand larceny charges. If teams can be convinced he’s gotten past it and his makeup is OK, he still has the tool that had everyone interested in the first place: a plus bat.


We’ll have a story up on the site shortly on this pick, as well as a roundup of Day 1 at the end of today’s first five rounds. In the meantime, here’s the release from the Tribe…


CLEVELAND, OH — The Cleveland Indians today announced the club has selected INF LONNIE CHISENHALL with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

 Chisenhall, 19, spent the 2008 school year at Pitt Junior College in Greenville, NC where he hit  .410 (68-166) with 27 doubles, 8 homers and 66 RBI for the Bulldogs, who went 41-15 on the season and finished one win shy of qualifying for the NJCAA World Series. The Newport, NC native drew 38 walks and struck out just 8 times all season.  Following the season the left-handed hitting infielder was a NJCAA All-District and First Team All-Region X All-Conference selection. 

Chisenhall was the 11th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 out of West Carteret High School (NC) after batting .574 as a senior and earning Baseball America second team High School All-American honors.  He played his freshman season for the University of South Carolina in 2007 (20 games, .313, 1HR, 13RBI) before enrolling at Pitt J.C. for the 2008 season.


Paging Josh Barfield?

Not that the Indians are dealing with a lot of injuries or anything, but…

Asdrubal Cabrera left tonight’s game in the middle of the fourth inning with what is being called a mild hip strain. He was replaced at second base by Jamey Carroll.

UPDATE: Looks like we can forget about that above page. Cabrera was feeling better after getting treatment on his hip, and Wedge expects him to be available Thursday.

"There had to have been a second spitter… behind the bushes on the gravely road."

I'm not really much of a conspiracy theorist. As far as I'm concerned, the Apollo Moon Landing was not a NASA hoax, Paul is not dead and John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.


But in the interest of testing out that latter premise, I made my first pilgrimage to Dallas' Dealey Plaza today to see where, as Billy Joel would say, JFK was blown away. Texas native and blog favorite Jason Stein (better known as the "Master of Self-Promotion") was my tour guide.


Stein has sat through Oliver Stone's three-hour "JFK" movie, so he's considered an expert on this historical incident. (I, on the other hand, was somehow coaxed into sitting through the two and a half hour "Sex and the City" movie over the weekend, so I'm an unwilling expert on shoes and cosmopolitans).


Anyway, Stein insists Oswald was framed and government officials were behind the killing. I insist that no movie should last three hours and the JFK assassination museum shouldn't charge $13.50 for admission.


I guess we'll never know the real answer. Let's just blame it on John Wilkes Booth.


Here are tonight's lineups. Victor's back in there against the right-hander...


INDIANS (26-32): 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 Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee on the mound.


RANGERS (30-30): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, RF Milton Bradley, LF Marlon Byrd, C Gerald Laird, DH Brandon Boggs, 1B Chris Shelton, 3B Ramon Vazquez. RHP Sidney Ponson pitching. He is 0-7 lifetime against the Tribe. 




  • The Indians aren't yet telling us what Jake Westbrook's MRI revealed. Westbrook will see elbow specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum in L.A. on Friday, and the Tribe will have an update on Saturday. The club doesn't seem very optimistic that Westbrook's time on the DL will be brief. Surgery is a possibility.
  • Milton Bradley is not a very popular guy in the Indians' clubhouse. He stared down Victor Martinez in the dugout after drawing a walk last night and again when he came around to score. And when he hit a homer off Rafael Perez, he made a yawning gesture while crossing the plate. 
  • Brian Slocum's move to the bullpen at Buffalo might seem performance-related, especially considering he gave up eight runs in his last start for the Bisons. But Slocum said he was told at the beginning of Spring Training that he would spend two months in the Buffalo rotation before moving to the 'pen. Injuries limited Slocum to just 26 innings for the Bisons last year, so the Tribe wants to be careful with his workload this year. he's been brought up to the bigs to provide length out of the 'pen.
  • The Indians renewed their player development contract with Class A Kinston. It now runs through 2010. The Tribe has had a farm team in Kinston since 1987. The contract with Buffalo runs out this year and hasn't been renewed, and that's viewed as a sure sign the club is moving its Triple-A operation to Columbus next season. 
  • Today marks the 34th anniversay of the famous "Ten Cent Beer Night." Ironically, the Indians played the Rangers that ill-fated night.
  • The Indians collected 10 or more hits in consecutive games for just the second time this season. If they get 10 hits tonight, it will be the first time all year they've done so in three straight.
  • Don't forget about tomorrow's First-Year Player Draft. MLB.com will have the pick-by-pick coverage. The Indians select 29th in the first round.
  • If you're interested in voting for Aaron Laffey as the AL Rookie of the Month for May, you can do so here.
  • Also, be sure to check out the latest edition of Game Face Magazine, which went live today.


Bauer purchased, and Slocum if you got 'em

As expected, Tom Mastny and Jensen Lewis were optioned to Triple-A Buffalo today.

The Indians have called up RHP Brian Slocum and purchased the contract of RHP Rick Bauer from Buffalo to fill out the bullpen.

The moves weren’t announced until about an hour before the team went out to stretch. Lewis was still in the clubhouse because the Indians had to decide whether or not to place Rafael Betancourt on the disabled list. Betancourt has been bothered by tightness in his back since Monday, which is why he hasn’t pitched since Saturday. I’ll have more on the site about this later.

Slocum has been in the Bisons’ rotation all season but was about to transition to a bullpen role. He was 3-4 with a 5.66 ERA in 11 starts.

Bauer was the Bisons’ closer, notching a 1.54 ERA and 15 saves in 22 appearances. He has 183 big-league games under his belt with the Orioles and Rangers, last reaching the Majors with Texas in ’06.

Bauer inherits the 40-man spot vacated when Jorge Julio was DFA’d.

Another move is coming in a few days, as the Indians will have to make a roster swap to bring Jeremy Sowers up for Sunday’s start.

Mastny headed out, Lewis in limbo

Tom Mastny was informed after tonight’s game that he is headed back to Buffalo. Thrust into a spot start, he gave up five runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Jensen Lewis is expected to head back to Buffalo, as well, but he told me the club hasn’t told him anything yet.

Not sure who the Indians are calling up. We’ll know more tomorrow, as Eric Wedge was planning to have a talk with Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti after his postgame interview with reporters. Wedge said the moves made will be “potentially plural.”

"On Earth as it is in Texas"

Texans love Texas. If you don’t believe me, just check out the discography of pretty much every band and/or singer-songwriter from the Lone Star State.

George Strait said he wouldn’t be an American “If It Wasn’t for Texas,” Bob Wills “Can’t Get Enough of Texas,” Lyle Lovett tells us “You’re Not From Texas” but Texas wants us anyway, Nanci Griffith has a “Lone Star State of Mind,” Alan Jackson gets down on his knees and proclaims “God Bless Texas,” Mark Chesnut told us we can “Blame it on Texas,” and Kinky Friedman is “Proud to Be an A$$hole from El Paso.” Pat Green took the easy route and simply wrote the catch-all “Songs About Texas.”

But my favorite of the bunch is the Deryl Dodd tune referenced in the above headline. It’s wonderfully sacriligeous.

I haven’t done the research just yet, but I think it’s reasonably safe to assume there are more songs written about Texas than there are about, say, Rhode Island.

I’ve been getting my fill of Texas tunes the last couple days, as my rental car is disappointingly devoid of XM or Sirius satellite radio. Meanwhile, today’s lineup is devoid of Victor Martinez. Eric Wedge said Martinez’s hamstring soreness bothers him more against left-handed pitchers, so he opted to sit him against A.J. Murray tonight. 

INDIANS (26-31): 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. RHP Tom Mastny makes his first big-league start. Mastny made 56 starts in the Minors before converting to relief work in ’06.

RANGERS (29-30): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Michael Young, CF Josh Hamilton, RF Milton Bradley, DH David Murphy, LF Brandon Boggs, 1B Frank Catalanotto, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Ramon Vazquez. LHP A.J. Murray.


  • Wedge is hoping to get five innings out the combination of Mastny and Jensen Lewis tonight. That would allow him to manage the rest of the game as if it was a somewhat normal night. Expect Lewis to get sent right back down after the game so he can go back to refining his mechanics at Buffalo.
  • The Indians’ RBI leaders are Casey Blake (36) and Grady Sizemore (30). Combined, they have just one more RBI than the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton (65).
  • Going into last night’s game, Aaron Laffey had allowed just three hits to left-handed batters over six starts. He gave up two hits to lefties on the Rangers.
  • Blake is the only AL player with a seven-RBIs game this season. He is now batting .375 with three homers and nine RBIs over his last six games.
  • According to Elias, Blake has as many (2) or more seven-RBIs games as Hank Aaron (0), Barry Bonds (1), Stan Musial (2), Willie Mays (1), Mel Ott (1) and Carl Yastriemski (0), all of whom are on the top 10 of the all-time RBI list.
  • Jhonny Peralta is taking a nine-game hitting streak into tonight’s game. He’s batted .359 with three homers and four RBIs during the streak.
  • Jeremy Sowers was named the International League pitcher of the week after going 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two starts. He is 4-3 with a 2.08 ERA on the year at Buffalo. Expect to see him in the Tribe rotation in the next week.


Mastny starts tonight

The Indians have announced that RHP Tom Mastny will get tonight’s start against the Rangers.

Mastny is a starter-turned-reliever who will get his first starting nod at the big-league level. He’s making an emergency start in place of the injured Jake Westbrook, who is headed to the 15-day disabled list. The Indians called Mastny up on Monday to round out their bullpen. He had given up just one earned run over his last nine innings of work at Buffalo.

So, obviously, the Indians are going with the option of tossing a bunch of relievers out there tonight and hoping for the best. And I’m sure they’ll get Jeremy Sowers lined up at Buffalo to come up and rejoin the rotation, with Westbrook out.

UPDATE: RHP Jensen Lewis is getting the call from Buffalo, as Westbrook is officially moved to the DL. Lewis was sent down a couple weeks back to get his velocity and command back in order. The Indians needed an extra bullpen arm for this week, as they’ll have to burn through several guys to get through tonight’s game. Lewis gave up two runs in four innings of work at Buffalo. He had a 3.58 ERA in 20 appearances up here before his May 24 demotion. 

Westbrook headed back to DL

Jake Westbrook will not make tomorrow night’s start, as scheduled. He will instead be placed on the disabled list for the second time this season — this time with right elbow inflammation. According to Jeff Sibel of the Indians’ media relations department, Westbrook felt soreness in his elbow after his first start back from the DL last Wednesday, he tried to play catch the last few days and the elbow hasn’t responded well.

The Indians will make a corresponding roster move to bring up somebody to make Tuesday night’s start. It definitely won’t be Jeremy Sowers, who just started last night for Triple-A Buffalo, so this one’s a total toss-up. Josh Tomlin is the Bisons’ currently scheduled starter for Tuesday. He was just recently promoted from Class A Kinston because of the rash of injuries in the Triple-A rotation. Frank Herrmann is next up in the Double-A Akron rotation. The Indians might have to go with a host of relievers tomorrow, given their options down on the farm.

Obviously, this development comes as a surprise, and it will be interesting to see who gets tomorrow’s call.

Everything's bigger in Texas

Actually, let me restate that… EVERYTHING’S BIGGER IN TEXAS … especially the new, $1.1 billion football stadium they’re constructing for the Dallas Cowboys next door to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It almost looks like a spaceship. Although, the government has asked me not to spread the word that I know what a spaceship looks like, so disregard that comparison.

The threat of heat stroke is also bigger in Texas. It’s 93 degrees right now (though, according to weather.com, it “feels like” 95, and that makes a huge difference).

Victor Martinez is back in the Indians’ ever-evolving lineup for today’s opener of a four-game set at Rangers Ballpark, and the wrinkle is that he’s batting third for just the third time this season…

INDIANS (25-31): 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 Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Aaron Laffey (3-3, 1.59 ERA) on the mound.

RANGERS (29-29): 2B Ian Kinsler, SS Michael Young, RF Josh Hamilton, DH Milton Bradley, LF David Murphy, CF Marlon Byrd, 1B Chris Shelton, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 3B Travis Metcalf. RHP Doug Mathis (1-1, 5.56).


  • Couple medical updates for you… Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Travis Hafner, if all goes to plan, will pick up a bat this coming weekend. Pronk’s currently doing strengthening activities on his rotator cuff and shoulder blade.
  • RHP Fausto Carmona, meanwhile, is scheduled to play catch for the first time Tuesday, throwing out to 60 feet. Carmona, as you know, has been on the DL since May 24 with a left hip strain.
  • Eric Wedge has tried just about everything he can think of with the lineup this season. But one thing he won’t try, he said, is moving Sizemore down from the leadoff spot. “We tried it last year and I didn’t feel it worked,” Wedge said. “Grady’s one of the best at the top of the lineup. I think it’s [up to] other people to step up in other areas.”
  • Akron LHP Randy Newsom has been named the Eastern League player of the week after going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and three saves in five innings of work last week. For the season, Newsom has a 3-0 record and 1.09 ERA, saving 16 of 18 opportunities.
  • Newsom is one of three relievers in the Indians’ system who rank among their respective league leaders in saves. RHP Rich Bauer is second in the International League with 15 saves at Buffalo, and Kinston’s RHP Luis Perdomo has the most saves in the Eastern and Carolina Leagues, with 12.
  • The Indians are 19-7 when they score four or more runs. Unfortuantely, they’ve scored three or less in 30 of their 56 games.
  • The Tribe has lost three of its last four series.