September 2008

Suspended in their masquerade

Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations, came down hard on the Tribe in his rulings on Friday night's fracas between the Indians and Tigers. While Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield, the instigator of the brawl, received a four-game suspension, Fausto Carmona received a six-game suspension. Victor Martinez and Asdrubal Cabrera were suspended three games each and received an undisclosed fine.

 

Carmona and Martinez have opted to appeal their suspensions, which would have begun Monday night if unchallenged. Cabrera, who is in tonight’s lineup, was undecided as to whether or not he’d appeal, as his suspension isn’t slated to begin until Thursday.

 

More on the Indians.com site in a bit.

 

UPDATE: I wouldn’t be surprised if Carmona makes his final start of the season here in Boston on Wednesday, then drops his appeal and serves the first four games of his suspension in ’08 and pitches the third game of ’09.

 

Of course, that’s dependent on MLB not hearing Carmona’s appeal before Wednesday.

 

UPDATE No. 2: Figured you’d enjoy more of Sheffield’s words of wisdom. Sheffield is still vowing retribution on the Indians. Not sure what he’s planning, but perhaps Asdrubal Cabrera will wake up in the middle of night at some point this offseason and find a dead horse’s head laying beside him.

 

Anyway, here are the latest quotes from Sheffield, courtest of one of MLB.com’s finest, Jason Beck:

 

When the topic of the Indians players punished was brought up:
 

“Yeah, but they’re going to be penalized by me, too. That’s just the way it goes.”

 

When asked how he might do that:

 

Don’t worry about how. You’ll see. I’m not going to sit here and talk about it.”

 

Asked why he has been so public about retribution, Sheffield said, “When I challenge a man, I challenge him to his face. I’m not going to surprise you with anything. You’re going to know I’m coming. That way, you’re ready. I want you ready, just like I’m going to be ready. That’s what kind of man I am.”

 

Any reaction from MLB on that matter will not concern him.

 

“I don’t care about any league thing, what they do,” he said. “I’ve got enough money to cover any fine they’ve got. Trust me.”

 

Capital gains

We’ve known all year that the Indians would be moving their Triple-A team to Columbus next season. The move should finally be made official any time now, perhaps as early as this afternoon.

The Associated Press is reporting that a four-year deal, through 2012, has been reached between the Tribe and the Columbus Clippers, but the Indians are not yet confirming this. Thursday was the first day the two sides could officially negotiate.

The Indians’ front office was happy with its relationship with Buffalo, which was a well-run organization. But this move to Columbus simply makes too much sense to pass up. The Indians will be able to tap into the hearts of baseball fans in the state capital, and they’ll have a beautiful new facility, Huntington Park, to call home.

We'll sleep by the rivers, and in the morning we'll make a plan

I love the day MLB schedules are released. It’s a glimpse into the future and, therefore, an excellent way to emotionally prepare for certain experiences — such as the April 7, 2009, off day in Arlington, which, I’m sure, will be an existential experience.

The big news is the Indians opening up the new ballpark in the Bronx. We’ll see what kind of facility $1.3 billion can buy. They better have two-ply toilet paper.

The Indians’ home opener will come during Easter weekend. And for the 109th consecutive year, they’ll be off on Christmas.

But the 2009 schedule will have to wait. We’ve still got 11 games left in 2008. So here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (74-77): CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Jamey Carroll, LF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, C Kelly Shoppach, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Cliff Lee (22-2, 2.36).

TWINS (82-69): RF Denard Span, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, DH Justin Morneau, LF Delmon Young, 3B Brendan Harris, 1B Brian Buscher, SS Matt Tolbert, CF Carlos Gomez. RHP Scott Baker (9-4, 3.57).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Anthony Reyes told me yesterday that he had an MRI. Eric Wedge said today that Reyes did not yet have an MRI. All this confusion aside, the Indians, at this point, do not believe Reyes’ elbow soreness will require surgery. It’s being treated simply as inflammation. They’ll let him cool off for a while, then evaluate him.
  • Obviously, the Indians are going to be in the market for an infielder this offseason. Does Wedge have a preference which position that infielder plays? “We have a lot of flexibility with that,” he said. “I don’t dig deep into the lists [of available players] until after the season is over. But the versatility of some of our ballplayers allows us to be more liberal with who we look at.”
  • Cliff Lee’s last loss was against the Twins on July 6. That was 72 days ago.
  • The Indians have scored 314 runs in the second half. That’s the second-most in the Majors, behind the Twins (315).
  • The Tribe’s 36-24 record since July 10 is the fourth-best record in the AL in that span.
  • So, are the Indians “spoilers”? Not in Wedge’s mind. “That’s a word that has teeth for people who aren’t in it,” he said. “We’re out here playing to win the ballgame. We’re trying to win for ourselves, no to spoil it for somebody else.” The Twins, now 2 1/2 games back in the AL Central chase, might beg to differ.

~AC

Funny how time slips away

Am I the only one who, upon seeing Craig Breslow come out to pitch for the Twins last night, could barely believe it was this year that he was a member of the Tribe?

It’s been a long season.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (73-77): CF Grady Sizemore, RF Franklin Gutierrez, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, C Victor Martinez, DH Kelly Shoppach, 1B Ryan Garko, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Zach Jackson (0-3, 5.70).

TWINS (82-68): RF Denard Span, 2B Matt Tolbert, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, DH Michael Cuddyer, LF Delmon Young, 3B Brian Buscher, SS Nick Punto, CF Carlos Gomez. LHP Francisco Liriano (5-3, 3.19).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • You probably saw this one coming, but Anthony Reyes has been shut down for what’s left of the season. Reyes’ elbow is still bothering him, and he took an MRI revealing inflammation. Scott Lewis is making Sunday’s start against the Tigers. Reyes’ injury is not considered serious and he’ll compete for a rotation job next spring. More info on the Indians.com site in a bit.
  • According to Elias, Lewis is the first pitcher to not allow a run in his first 14 innings pitched as a starter was Dennis Eckersley in May 1975. Lewis’ 14 scoreless innings to begin his career is the most by an Indians pitcher since at least 1969.
  • The 2009 schedule will be released Wednesday.
  • Grady Sizemore hasn’t hit a homer in 19 games. But he’s 11-for-21 with four doubles and two RBIs on this homestand.
  • The Indians’ Fall Instructional League will begin Wednesday, and the month-long camp will be the first utilizing the new facility in Goodyear, Ariz. A total of 58 players will report to the camp in the coming days and weeks. The list includes: RHPs Adam Miller, Kelvin De La Cruz, Hector Rondon, LHPs Scott Lewis (busy guy) and Tony Sipp, Cs Carlos Santana and Matt McBride, INFs Lonnie Chisenhall and Beau Mills, and OF Tim Fedroff and Nick Weglarz.  
  • It appears the new tenant at Triple-A Buffalo will be the Mets, not the Blue Jays, as previous speculated. The Buffalo News reported today that the Mets, who are leaving their Triple-A digs in New Orleans, are Buffalo-bound, with an agreement expected to be announced Thursday.
  • Ten players whose careers began in 1943 or later will be considered by the Veteran’s Committee for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Luis Tiant, who played for the Tribe from 1964-69, and Vada Pinson, who was with the Indians in 1970 and ’71, is on the ballot that also includes Dick Allen, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Ron Santo, Joe Torre and Maury Wills. Results of the voting will be announced Dec. 8 at the Winter Meetings.
  • The Cleveland Indians Wives Association and Cleveland Indians Charities, through their “Mystery Ball” and “Shirt Off Their Backs” auctions, raised $50,000 for Providence House and $20,000 for the Domestic Violence Center. Providence House will use the money to build a new T-ball field.

~AC

Indians sign Lee (no, not that one)

The Indians once again dipped into the international waters and signed Taiwanese right-hander Chen-Chang Lee to a Minor League deal Tuesday.

 

Lee, 21, was a member of Taiwan's national team that participated in the Beijing Olympic Games, going 0-1 with 2.00 ERA and 11 strikeouts in nine innings.

 

The 5-foot-7, 176-pound Lee made a name for himself in his native land when he held Cuba to a run on two hits over eight innings in a victory at the 2006 World University Baseball Championships. He also pitched in the Alaska Baseball League, which includes college players from around the world, in 2007.

 

With his sidearm delivery, Lee reportedly throws a sinker, slider and split-finger. His fastball is said to max out at 94 mph.

 

Terms of the deal were not immediately available.

"Looks like somebody's got a case of the Mondays."

It was a rough weekend for Northeast Ohio sports fans. The OSU-USC game was over by halftime, and the Browns-Steelers game was over on Feb. 8, 2005, when Romeo Crennel was hired.

The Brewers had a pretty rough weekend, too. So much so that they fired manager Ned Yost on Monday.

Yes, the Brew Crew is tanking again, but no one saw this one coming. Milwaukee is tied for a spot in the playoffs and only two weeks remain in the regular season. Not a traditional time to shake everything up.

As you might expect, that’s the talk of the clubhouse today.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that,” Eric Wedge said. “Unless you’re privy to everything, it’s hard to comment on it. But that’s unusual, to say the least.”

If Yost was canned after going for a field goal on fourth-and-7 on his opponents’ 20 when down seven with three minutes left, it would be a little more understandable.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (72-77): CF Grady Sizemore, LF David Dellucci, RF Shin-Soo Choo, SS Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Michael Aubrey, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Scott Lewis (1-0, 0.00).

TWINS (82-67): RF Denard Span, 2B Alexi Casilla, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau, DH Michael Cuddyer, LF Delmon Young, 3B Brendan Harris, SS Nick Punto, CF Carlos Gomez. RHP Kevin Slowey (12-9, 3.63).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Asdrubal Cabrera is the AL’s Co-Player of the Week. He batted .455 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs last week.
  • Scott Lewis is making his second start as a fill-in for Anthony Reyes tonight. As for Reyes, he’ll throw a bullpen session Tuesday and the Indians will use how he feels after that to determine if he’ll be ready to rejoin the rotation this weekend. There remains a possibility that he’ll be shut down for what little remains of the season.
  • Aubrey is getting his fourth start in the past week, which is a little surprising. Then again, the Indians are going to to have to decide what to do with Aubrey this winter, and it’s possible they’re giving other clubs a chance to scout him. He is 3-for-13 since his September callup. “Like any young player, he’s getting his feet wet,” Wedge said. “Like a lot of young players, he tries to do too much at times. This is a chance for him to get some experience and for us to get a look at him, albeit short.”
  • The Indians will surpass the 2,000,000 attendance mark tonight. It’s the 11th time in the last 14 seasons that they’ve passed that mark.
  • Carlos Zambrano made his first start in about two weeks and ended up throwing a no-hitter on 110 pitches. Obviously, the Cubs had planned to be conservative with Zambrano, but Lou Piniella wasn’t going to pull him in the midst of a no-no. Wedge said he would have handled it the same way. Just for the sake of discussion, I asked Wedge if he would have let Lewis, who is on a strict pitch count, pitch into the ninth if he had a no-no (and not just a shutout) going in his big-league debut last week, and Wedge said he would have. But Wedge joked that some higher-ups might not be happy with that decision.

~AC

Downtown there's something that I want to hear

I get a lot of e-mails asking what a certain player’s at-bat music is. Unfortunately, I usually can’t answer these e-mails, because from my perch in the Progressive Field press box, it all sounds like a muddled mess to me.

Fortunately, in-game entertainment manager Annie Merovich was able to help me out on this one. This is not a complete list, but hopefully some of you will find it helpful. If you download all these tunes and make a mix CD, you will have an ecclectic mix of musical experiences. And you’ll be a total nerd, too.

Enjoy…

  • Grady Sizemore: “The Trance is the Motion” by Static X
  • Travis Hafner: “Du Hast” by Rammstein
  • Jhonny Peralta: A song by Wisin & Yandel (I asked, and Peralta didn’t know the title)
  • Ryan Garko: “No Matter What” by T.I.
  • Ben Francisco: “Rock Boyz” by Jay-Z and “Made You Look” by Nas
  • David Dellucci: “Symphony of Destruction” by Megadeth, “Devil’s Dance” by Metallica and “The Godfather” theme song
  • Jamey Carroll: “Jump” by Van Halen, “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp, “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews Band
  • Kelly Shoppach: “Come With Me” by Puff Daddy and Jimmy Page
  • Franklin Gutierrez: “Love is Gone” by David Guetta
  • Michael Aubrey: “Dig” and “Pardon Me” by Incubus
  • Shin-Soo Choo: “Shoulder Lean” by Young Dro
  • Andy Marte: “Cortane las Venas,” “Resistire,” and “Su Unico Amore” by Tony Rosario
  • Josh Barfield: “Go Getta” by Young Jeezy and “Like Father, Like Son” by Lil Wayne

As for the pitchers, here’s what’s playing when they take the mound…

  • Anthony Reyes: “Afterlife” by Avenged Sevenfold
  • Fausto Carmona: “Stronger” by Kanye West
  • Jake Westbrook: “Small Town” by John Mellencamp
  • Jeremy Sowers: “Clothes Off” by Jermaine Stewart
  • Cliff Lee: “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” and “Rocket” by The Smashing Pumpkins
  • Rafael Perez: “Lo Que Paso Paso” by Daddy Yankee
  • Jensen Lewis: The theme from “The Dark Knight”

So, what would your at-bat music be? I’d go with “Born to Run,” but that’s obvious.

The blog will take a backseat to the likes of OSU-USC and Browns-Steelers this weekend. We’ll be back up and running Monday.

~AC

Sky of memory and shadow, your burning wind fills my arms tonight

It would be silly to post anything silly on an anniversary like this. So let’s get right to tonight’s lineups, shall we?

INDIANS (71-73): CF Grady Sizemore, LF David Dellucci, RF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, C Victor Martinez, 1B Michael Aubrey, 3B Andy Marte, 2B Josh Barfield, SS Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Zach Jackson (0-2, 5.64).

ORIOLES (64-80): LF Lou Montanez, RF Nick Markakis, DH Melvin Mora, 3B Aubrey Huff, C Ramon Hernandez, 1B Kevin Millar, CF Jay Payton, SS Juan Castro, 2B Brandon Fahey. RHP Brian Bass (3-4, 5.01).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Cabrera is a little bit hot. He’s hit .536 (15-for-28) with 10 RBIs over his last nine games. Hitting coach Derek Shelton said Cabrera is staying more balanced in the box. He used to lunge at pitches and chase pitches out of his zone. He’s been more selective since his return from Buffalo. He’s also benefitted from working with Martinez on the fine art of switch-hitting. Martinez was something of a mentor to Cabrera while he was on the DL.
  • Speaking of Martinez, this is the first time Vic, Sizemore and Hafner have been in the same lineup since May 25.
  • Speaking of Sizemore, he’s having a rough trip, going 1-for-22 with one RBI and two runs scored. And this has been a trend this season. Sizemore’s batting .306 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs at home and .224 with 12 homers and 29 RBIs on the road. Eric Wedge said he’d be concerned if it was a trend over several years. But for now he shrugs it off as “one of those things.”
  • Barfield in the starting lineup for the first time since June 9. He said he has not yet decided if he’s going to play in winter ball.
  • Interesting that Aubrey’s in there for the second time this series. Ryan Garko once again on the bench. 
  • If the Indians get plunked by one more pitch this season, they’ll set a new American League record. They are currently tied with the 1996 Blue Jays for the record of 92. The Major League record is 100 by the 1997 Astros.
  • Kelly Shoppach’s 19 homers are the third-most among MLB catchers. Not bad for a guy who’s been in less than 100 games.
  • Joe Tait and Bruce Drennan will be in the STO booth for the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Royals. It will be the first time they’ve worked together since 1982. I think this would be a slightly more significant arrangement if they had worked more than three years together on WUAB back in the day.

~AC

UPDATE (6:57 p.m. ET): Just heard an O’s radio announcer say, “We need to discombooble Asdrubal.” Genius.

UPDATE No. 2 (7:45 p.m.): All right, I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan. You know this. As such, it is my duty to defend the man’s work when necessary. Just now, at Camden Yards, they played “Born in the U.S.A.” while showing patriotic fans in the stands holding American flags. Has nobody listened to the lyrics of “Born in the U.S.A.”? This drives me absolutely crazy. It’s not a patriotic song. It’s an angry song whose narrator is a Vietnam veteran treated like dirt upon his return from the war. Is anybody else eternally bothered by the misuse of this song? Am I alone here? I am discomboobled by this.

UPDATE No. 3 (8:33 p.m.): I mean, I’ve seen some guys overmanage before. But Dave Trembley… you’ve really shown me something this week, my friend. Uncle.

Another look at Lewis; Reyes skipped

Eric Wedge — somewhat controversially — didn’t bring Scott Lewis out for the ninth inning Wednesday night, but he is bringing the young lefty out for another start.

The Indians are going to skip Anthony Reyes again on Monday. He felt fine after his bullpen session yesterday, but the Tribe is going to err on the side of caution here and give the ball to Lewis against the Twins.

Wedge said he expects Reyes to be ready to rejoin the rotation Sept. 20, but that’s not set in stone. He’ll throw another bullpen early next week.

As for Lewis, only four other Indians pitchers have tossed more innings in their big-league debut. They were Ron Taylor (11 innings, 1962), Jim Kern (nine innings, 1974), Luis Tiant (nine innings, 1964) and Mudcat Grant (nine innings, 1958).

Lewis’ outing was the second-longest debut start since 1956 without giving up a run. The longest was Tiant’s, as he turned in a complete-game shutout in his debut. 

Come on now get up, try and understand, just raise your hand

For my money (or, in this case, my press pass), it doesn’t get much better than Camden Yards. It’s a great ballpark, and my opinion is certainly biased by the fact that this is the only place I ever (and probably will ever) caught a home run ball.

It was 2002, and Gary Matthews Jr. went deep off Roger Clemens. The ball sailed onto the right-field home run porch that borders Eutaw Street and bounced off a couple hands before I swiped it in mid-air.

I still have that ball. And come to think of it, it’s a miracle it wasn’t confiscated as part of the Mitchell investigation.

Here are tonight’s lineups…

INDIANS (70-73): CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, SS Jhonny Peralta, 1B Victor Martinez, C Kelly Shoppach, DH Ryan Garko, RF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera. LHP Scott Lewis (Major League debut).

ORIOLES (64-79): 2B Brian Roberts, RF Jay Payton, 3B Aubrey Huff, C Ramon Hernandez, CF Adam Jones, 1B Oscar Salazar, DH Luke Scott, LF Lou Montanez, SS Alex Cintron. LHP Chris Waters (2-2, 5.40).

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Travis Hafner is basically going to be playing every other day, at this point. Victor Martinez is scheduled to catch Thursday, so that would mark his first batch of back-to-back duty in the field since his activation off the DL. He played back to back Sunday and Monday, but one of those games was at DH.
  • It’s well-established that Josh Barfield won’t be seeing much action up here this month, and we could probably spend an entire blog posting debating the merits of that dispersal of playing time (and we probably will, in fact). But in case you’re curious, the Indians have asked Barfield to play winter ball this offseason, and he hasn’t decided yet. “That’s something for him to decide,” Eric Wedge said. “It’s good to get at-bats and reps at second, and Josh has an opportunity to get better.”
  • Wedge also wouldn’t mind seeing Barfield get some time at third base at some point, because, if you haven’t noticed, the Indians are going to have a gaping hole there. “The more versatile young players are, the better their opportunities,” Wedge said.
  • Regarding Andy Marte, he’s batting .272 over his last 25 games, but he hasn’t hit any home runs and he’s driven in just seven runs in that span. This from a guy who was once considered a prime power-hitting prospect. In talking about Marte at the plate, Wedge couldn’t sound much less impressed. “He’s struggled to put it together offensively,” Wedge said. “He’s shown signs with at-bats here and there, but he’s struggled with consistency.”
  • The Indians are giving the O’s a double-dose of the SLL (skinny little lefty) treatment in starting Sowers and Lewis back-to-back. Hey, it worked for Sowers last night. If Lewis wins tonight, he’d be the first Tribe pitcher to win his Major League debut since Fausto Carmona in 2006.
  • The increasingly heated presidential campaign has led to some entertaining back-and-forth between Tribe players. I won’t reveal certain players’ political affiliations, but it was interesting to see one member of the club immersed in Jerome R. Corsi’s new book, “The Obama Nation,” this afternoon, while his teammates were glued to the Brewers-Reds game. 

~AC 

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