July 2008

The other pieces…

Milwaukee's WSSP radio reported that Triple-A Nashville left-hander Zach Jackson would come to the Indians along with LaPorta, and the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Class A West Virginia right-hander Rob Bryson and one other player would also be included.

 

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel speculated that the other player could be Class A third baseman Taylor Green and that the Indians might have designs on moving him to second base.

 

Jackson is 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA at Triple-A Nashville in 22 appearances, including six starts. He was with the Brewers briefly this year.

 

Bryson is 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 appearances, including five starts, at Class A West Virginia.

Green is batting .298 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs at Class A Brevard County.

Expect the trade to be announced Monday around noon ET.

All about LaPorta…

While we’re waiting for what seems like the inevitable announcement that C.C. is Brewer-bound, I figured we’d get to know a little bit more about Matt LaPorta, who figures to be the key acquisition in the deal.

  • LaPorta is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and a native of Port Charlotte, Fla. He turned 23 in January.
  • He was the seventh overall pick in last year’s First Year Player Draft. The Buckeye-boosting contingent will groan to hear this, but he’s a Florida alum.
  • He hit a home run in his first professional at-bat with the Brewers’ rookie-ball club in Helena.
  • This season, at Double-A Huntsville, he was batting .291 with 20 homers, 23 doubles and 66 RBIs. He struck out 62 times in 296 at-bats and drew 44 walks.
  • He’s played 70 games in right field, seven in left, three at DH and two at first base this season. Interestingly, he’s expected to play first base for the U.S. team in next week’s Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. He played first base in college, as well.
  • He was originally drafted by the Cubs as a catcher in 2003 but opted to go to Florida instead.
  • Quick and dirty scouting report: Advanced bat, above-average arm, not much speed.
  • He’s been compared to Lance Berkman.
  • Most impressive of all, he won a BMX championship at age 7. 

And if you’d like to hear from the man himself, he’s been doing periodic journal entries for MiLB.com this season. You can find his latest one here.

Adam McCalvy, MLB.com’s Brewers beat writer, told me LaPorta, Milwaukee’s top prospect, was once considered “untouchable” in trade talks. I’ve heard the same about shortstop Alicedes Escobar. If Escobar is involved in this trade (and I can’t help but doubt he is), consider it a major steal for the Indians, considering Sabathia is just a three-month rental for the Brew Crew.  

Now, back to the waiting. If I hear anything more tonight, I’ll post it. Otherwise, it appears this deal could be finalized Monday, with Sabathia making his first start for the Brewers on Tuesday against the Rockies and the Indians bringing Jeff Weaver aboard to round out their big-league rotation.

~AC 

C.C. to the Brew Crew?

GM Mark Shapiro said the Indians are still working on a deal involving C.C. Sabathia, but there is "definitively not a done deal" in place.

 

Earlier today, a Major League source said the Indians and Brewers had completed a trade in which Sabathia, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, would be sent to Milwaukee for Double-A outfielder Matt LaPorta and two other prospects. Shapiro shot that rumor down but said, "Obviously, we've made some progress."

 

Shapiro would not say if the Brewers are the only team involved in the talks.

 

UPDATE (8:00 p.m. ET): As reported on the site, LaPorta was out of Huntsville's lineup today. All indications are that a deal is nearly complete.

No mo' Joe Bo?

Before tonight’s game, Eric Wedge was asked, essentially, if Borowski is still the closer.

This was his cryptic response:

"I had a feeling that question would come up," Wedge said. "We've got an off day [Thursday]. We're going to be meeting, we're going to be talking, we've got a lot of things that we've got to work through right now. We'll be working on the off day to try to solidify some things, make some decisions and go from there."

 

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, so it will be interesting to see what Wedge has to say Friday in Minneapolis. For now, Wedge said he won't be using Borowski in tonight's game, because Borowski worked each of the last two days.

 

If a move is made at closer, it's pretty obvious Masa Kobayashi would make the most sense to inherit the job. Then again, the Indians must be careful with how they use Kobayashi going forward, as he only pitched 47 1/3 innings in Japan last year and he's already pitched 40 this season.

We'll sing the ol' alma mater and think of things that used to be

Of the 59 outs recorded in the Indians’ 3-2 loss to the White Sox last night, the biggest was turned in by right-handed reliever Adam Russell, who was brought in to strike out Franklin Gutierrez with two on and two out and the Indians up, 2-1, in the top of the 10th. As you know the Sox rallied to win it in the bottom of the inning, so Russell’s ability to get the Sox out of that jam loomed large.

Far be it from me to rub a loss into the faces of my loyal reading public (you’ve both been very kind to me), but I was pretty pleased to see Russell come through there. I could never root against a fellow Ohio University Bobcat. After all, only 19 of us Court Street alums have played in the big leagues over the years. Come to think of it, there might be a correlation between Court Street’s 20-some bars and its inhabitants’ general inability to advance in professional athletics.

Russell’s coach at OU was the immortal Joe Carbone. This guy is the Yogi Berra of the Mid-American Conference. I remember standing with Carbone in the press box at Bob Wren Stadium one day in, I believe, 2001. The baseball game was in a long rain delay, but, looking out the back window, we could see a women’s lacrosse game taking place. “Coach,” I said, “why are they playing and you guys aren’t?” His terse reply: “They’re tougher than us.”

There have been plenty such Carbonisms over the years. He was once disappointed with his club making excuses for itself. “You guys have got more excuses than a Christmas tree!” he told them. Still not sure what that means.

Carbone was also once disappointed to see his players incorrectly laying out the tarp on the field. All the guys were grouped to one side. “What are you guys doing?” he said. “We can’t have half the guys on half the tarp.” In reality, of course, this would be an ideal arrangement.

Anyway, here’s to Joe Carbone, here’s to Adam Russell, and here’s to the drunks on Court Street. Wish I could be with you. Instead, I’ll be here taking in the grand finale of this “nail in the coffin” Chicago series. Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (37-47): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Casey Blake, DH David Dellucci, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP C.C. Sabathia (6-8, 3.78).

WHITE SOX (48-35): SS Orlando Cabrera, C A.J. Pierzynski, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 3B Pablo Ozuna, 1B Nick Swisher, 2B Alexei Ramirez, CF Brian Anderson. RHP Jose Contreras (7-6, 3.99).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Double-A Akron had four players named to the Southern Division team for the Eastern League All-Star Game — RHPs J.D. Martin (7-3, 3.26 ERA in 21 games) and Randy Newsom (5-0, 1.75 and 24 saves in 36 games), 3B Wes Hodges (.307, 15 doubles, nine homers), and SS Josh Rodriguez (.269, 13 doubles, five triples, four homers, 37 RBIs).
  • But Newsom is on to greener pastures. He was called up to Triple-A Buffalo today. It’s a well-deserved promotion. His 24 saves were tops in the Eastern League. You might remember Newsom was the player to be named in the Coco Crisp trade. He’s also the guy trying to start a company that allows you to buy stock in Minor League players.  
  • Buffalo LHP Dave Huff allowed just two runs on three hits with nine strikeouts and a walk in six innings last night in a no-decision at Scranton. Between Akron and Buffalo this year, Huff is 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 16 starts.
  • Grady Sizemore has grounded into a double play once every 107.3 at-bats, while Casey Blake has GIDP once every 88.3 at-bats. They rank fifth and eighth, respectively, in the AL in terms of players toughest to double-up.
  • On the flip side, Jhonny Peralta ranks third in the AL with 13 GIDPs.
  • The Indians have dropped 13 games in the standings since May 16.
  • Be sure to check out the latest edition of Game Face Magazine online, which went live today.

Barring major breaking news (and these days, that could drop at any moment), the blog will be shut down over the next few days. Here’s hoping everybody has a fine Fourth of July and we all return to CastroTurf with our fingers intact.

~AC

"Duty is nothing. It's like sales tax."

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an Indians fan and probably feeling a little down in the dumps these days. Your team is woefully out of first place, the season is looking irreparable, and C.C. Sabathia could be donning a Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, Rays (or insert some other contender here) jersey in a matter of days, if not weeks.

You’re probably a little jealous of Chicagoans, who have not one but two teams in first. You can’t even bring yourself to watch a John Cusack movie.

Well, know this: Sales tax in Chicago just jumped up to 10.25 percent today. Quick rule of thumb here: If the sales tax percentage rivals the Indians’ divisional deficit, you know it’s out of control.

So, are you feeling better about your situation? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Anyway, here are the lineups for Day 2 of the “make or break” roadie… 

INDIANS (37-46): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, 3B Casey Blake, DH Shin-Soo Choo, 1B Ryan Garko, C Kelly Shoppach, RF Franklin Gutierrez. LHP Cliff Lee (11-1, 2.34).

WHITE SOX (47-35): SS Orlando Cabrera, C A.J. Pierzynski, LF Carlos Quentin, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 3B Joe Crede, 1B Nick Swisher, 2B Alexei Ramirez, CF Brian Anderson. LHP John Danks (5-4, 2.62).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Eric Wedge said he had a “heart to heart” with Ben Francisco about his baserunning blunder last night. Francisco overran first base after hitting a single to left and ended up getting caught of the bag on a 7-4-3 relay. While Francisco has hit well and shown improvement defensively, this wasn’t the first time he’s had trouble on the basepaths. Wedge said it’s all part of a young player developing.
  • Wedge also stated the obvious about Shin-Soo Choo’s third-inning error: Choo had no business sliding for that ball on the line. “He shouldn’t have left his feet,” Wedge said. “We’ve seen a couple guys leave their feet when they don’t have to.”
  • The good folks at Baseball Prospectus give the Indians a 0.6 percent chance of winning the AL Central and a 0.07 percent chance of winning the Wild Card. Tee times, anyone?
  • I assume you’re still interested in the division race, regardless of the Indians’ standing. The White Sox are given a 79.6 percent chance of winning the Central, with the second-place Twins at 6.7 percent and the surging Tigers at 12.3 percent.
  • Speaking of the division, the AL Central posted a combined record of 81-56 (.591) in June.
  • The Indians have allowed eight grand slams this year, the most in the Majors. It’s the second-most allowed by a Tribe team since 1951. The most was the nine served up by the 1963 club. By the way, there are still have 78 games to go.
  • The Tribe has lost seven of eight to the White Sox.
  • Peralta has hits in each of his last seven plate appearances. He had four extra-base hits last night. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, he is the 13th Indians player since 1956 to collect four extra-base hits in a game. The last was Jody Gerut on April 16, 2004. Peralta is just the 12th shortstop to achieve the feat. The last was Miguel Tejada on June 1, 2005.
  •  RHP Jensen Lewis has allowed just one hit with four strikeouts, no walks and no earned runs allowed over his last three appearances, covering five innings.

~AC

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