November 2008

There's new grass on the field

Two major developments to report today. The first is that I’ve discovered how to put pictures in these blog entries (it took me about 10 minutes, though, so don’t get used to it).

The second is that the grass is being applied to the field at the new Goodyear Ballpark. Pitchers and catchers report in 83 days. My thanks to PR guru Bart Swain for providing the pic.
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I will sing, sing a new song

Yes, the above lyric is from U2′s “40,” because today is the day the Indians had to set their 40-man roster in advance of the upcoming Rule 5 Draft — and they certainly took their sweet time doing so. (Why is that song named “40″ anyway? I’ve never really understood it or looked into it, though I’m sure there has to be some reason that I’m missing. Anybody know?)

Actually, it’s a 39-man roster. One spot was left open for an offseason acquisition between now and the Draft, which takes place Dec. 11 at the Winter Meetings. Or, of course, the Indians could use that spot to claim an unprotected player from another organization, though that’s hardly been their history.

In any event, five guys were protected from the Rule 5 today: C Carlos Santana, OF Trevor Crowe, C Chris Gimenez and RHPs Jeff Stevens and Hector Rondon.

No surprises there. As far as those left unprotected, 1B Jordan Brown, the former Carolina Leauge and Eastern League MVP, is there for the taking, as is LHP Chuck Lofgren and RHPs T.J. Burton, Randy Newsom and Frank Herrmann. Those are the names that jumped out to me, at least. 

Brown has the potential to be a tough loss to swallow. On the whole, though, I’d say the Indians made the right choices with this tight roster.

Also today, as reported on the Indians.com site, David Huff was named the Bob Feller Award winner as the organization’s top Minor League pitcher in ’08, and Beau Mills was named the Lou Boudreau Award winner as the Minors’ top position player.

UPDATE: In the comments below and in my e-mail inbox, people are concerned about Kelvin De La Cruz being swiped by another club. According to the list given to me by the Indians’ player development staff, De La Cruz is not Rule 5 eligible. And even if he were, it’s hard to imagine him sticking in the Majors, considering he’s only had very limited exposure to any level about low-A ball.

As for U2, this former Catholic school boy should have known the “40″ connection. Thanks for the help with that.

Both U2 and Springsteen are releasing new albums and touring next year, so 2009 has De La Cruz-like potential.

"They named names."

For what it’s worth, Baseball America released its list of the Indians’ top 10 prospects today. For the first time in five years, Adam Miller is not the No. 1 prospect on this list. And three of the top 10 — Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley — joined the Tribe in midseason trades.

The list reads as follows:

1. Carlos Santana, c
2. Matt LaPorta, of
3. Nick Weglarz, of
4. Adam Miller, rhp
5. Beau Mills, 1b
6. Lonnie Chisenhall, ss
7. Kelvin de la Cruz, lhp
8. David Huff, lhp
9. Michael Brantley, of/1b
10. Carlos Rivero, ss

Speaking of prospects, the Indians will make their 40-man roster adds on Thursday. As has been mentioned in this space and elsewhere, it’s a tight squeeze this year, so it will be interesting to see who gets exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Santana and Trevor Crowe are locks to be added, but the Indians only have six spots available. Stay tuned.

Wedge wants a closer

There had been some speculation, fueled primarily by Eric Wedge’s end-of-season comments, that the Indians might be willing to leave Jensen Lewis in the closer’s role and focus on bringing in a setup guy, if a more experienced closing candidate is not brought in through free agency or trade.

But in discussing the hiring of Chuck Hernandez as bullpen coach today, Wedge gave his strongest remarks yet about the need to find a closer.

"You hate to put all your eggs in one basket," Wedge said. "Jensen did a great job at the end, but he's still unproven. Until you've done it a whole year, or really even beyond that, you can't look at someone as a proven closer. There are too many X factors involved there."

 

Trevor Hoffman, who was nearly signed by the Indians in the winter before the '06 season, remains high on the club's radar.

 

I talked to Lewis, who saved 13 straight opportunities after taking over the Tribe's closing duties on Aug. 8, this afternoon, and he said he would welcome the arrival of the game's all-time saves leader.

 

"As a young kid, if you sign a guy like Trevor Hoffman, you're talking about the all-time saves leader," Lewis said. "He's been in every possible situation. It's one of those things, as a young player and a young closer trying to make yourself better, why wouldn't you welcome the chance to learn from a guy like that? To have a chance to learn from a guy like that would be priceless."

 

The division-rival Tigers might also be making a run at Hoffman, who could potentially land a two-year deal.

 

I'll have more on the Indians.com site in a little bit.

Hernandez hired as bullpen coach

Former Tigers pitching coach Chuck Hernandez will be the Indians’ new bullpen coach, replacing Luis Isaac.

Hernandez was with the Tigers for the last three seasons. Prior to that, he was the Rays’ pitching coach from 2004-05, and he was the Angels’ pitching coach from 1992-96.

Isaac was dismissed at season’s end after 44 years in the Indians’ organization. Hernandez was relieved of his duties in Detroit after a brutal year for the Tigers’ pitching staff.

Hernandez is already at work for the Tribe. He’s in the Dominican Republic, getting a look at Fausto Carmona’s start for Aguilas tonight. He’ll also see Adam Miller, who is making the transition to relief work.

Lee on deck

The Giants’ Tim Lincecum won the NL Cy Young Award today, beating out the D-Backs’ Brandon Webb and the Mets’ Johan Santana.

In case you’ve lost track, the AL Cy Young winner will be announced Thursday, and Cliff Lee might as well not make any plans that afternoon. Look for the announcement around 2 p.m. ET.

That announcement won’t come in this space. The blog will be on hiatus for a little while, as I’m headed out on vacation in London and Paris (assuming I make it through customs). You’ll have to read about the big Mark Teahen trade elsewhere.

Herb Score dies at 75

Sad to report that former Indians pitcher and radio voice Herb Score passed away at his home in Rocky River this morning after a lengthy illness. He was 75.

Like many of you, I grew up listening to score call the Tribe’s games. He had that soothing New York accent, and, in his later years, his mistakes were what made him so endearing. There was the famous call of, “Is it fair? Is it foul? It is!” And of course after Tony Fernandez hit the go-ahead homer in the top of the 11th inning of Game 6 of the ALCS in Baltimore in ’97, Score yelped, “And the Indians are going to the World Series! … Maybe.”

We’ll have a tribute to Score up on the site soon. In the meantime, here was the statement released by club president Paul Dolan this morning:

“Today is a sad day for the Cleveland Indians family and for Cleveland Indians fans everywhere,” team president Paul Dolan said in a written statement. “We have lost one of the greatest men in the history of our franchise. Generations of Indians fans owe their love of the Tribe to Herb Score, who was a powerful pitcher and legendary broadcaster. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and the family.”

Watched the ring on the stove turn red

With the World Series in the books and the free-agent filing period well underway, it’s the time of year where the names and the dollars fly.

Hopefully, MLB.com can satisfy your need for all the news, rumors and gossip that’s fit to print (or post) with the just-launched Hot Stove Blog.

MLB.com’s beat writers will be updating the blog constantly throughout the winter, and you can parse the entries by looking for information about a certain team or a certain player, if you so choose. The blog should be a good source for the most up-to-date Hot Stove chatter out there, so let the bookmarking begin.

UPDATE: If you’re just interested in entries related to the Indians, you can use this link.

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