May 2009

It's a mad dog's promenade

About that eighth inning today…

First off, for anybody wondering, the Ryan Garko double out was not a reviewable situation. Only disputed home runs can be reviewed. So while the replay clearly showed the ball hit the wall, not Carl Crawford’s glove, once the umpires decided it was an out, that’s it. It was an out. And the Tribe got hosed.

As for the near-melee in the bottom of the inning, I think the Indians were in the wrong there. While Kerry Wood didn’t own up to purposefully pitching inside to B.J. Upton, Victor Martinez’s comments seemed to indicate that that was indeed in the intent.

“You don’t see nobody stealing when it’s 9-0 in the sixth or seventh inning,” Martinez said.

Martinez was referencing Upton’s two swiped bags in the bottom of the sixth on Thursday, when the Tribe was up 9-0. But in my view, he had no right to be upset about that. The Rays were trying to take advantage of their speed to generate some offense, and that’s just what they did. They made it a 9-6 game, and the Indians held on for an 11-7 victory.

This is what Rays manager Joe Maddon had to say:

“It was really obvious that Wood came into the game to try and hit B.J. I know there’s all these unwritten rules in baseball. But to me, when the other team stops trying to score runs, that doesn’t mean you have to stop trying to score runs also. … The book was written when the ball wasn’t as lively. Scores change rather rapidly these days. So there’s a lot of pages from the book that need to be burned, extracted, whatever you want to call it.”

I can’t disagree with that, but Victor sure did.

“[Maddon] needs to worry about teaching his players to play the game the right way,” he said.

OK, then.

Victor’s frustrated. Everybody in that Tribe clubhouse is frustrated. But if the Indians were indeed trying to send a message to Upton, they just added unnecessary silliness to an already ridiculous series.

She ran down to Tampa in an Eldorado Grand

It’s our last day in the Tampa Bay area, and I’ve somehow resisted the urge to drive andysigloo.JPGover to Winter Haven for chicken fajitas at El Norteno and a milkshake at Andy’s Igloo.

Then again, the day is young.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • With the Indians wrapping up a stretch of 17 straight games and Grady Sizemore having played in 16 of them, Eric Wedge is taking advantage of Monday’s off day to give the struggling Sizemore a two-day break to clear his head. “He’s been wearing it, like all our guys,” Wedge said. “He’s a great player, and he puts a lot of responsibility on himself.”
  • Sizemore is batting just .167 (.167) over his last 11 games, and he only has one extra-base hit in that span. He’s batting .232 since April 15. Wedge said he doesn’t see major mechanical flaws in Sizemore’s swing. “You look at now versus before, and there’s not a great deal of difference,” Wedge said. “He’s just going through a tough time.”
  • What’s also troubling is Sizemore’s stolen base tally. Even when he’s getting on base, he’s too often running himself off them. He is just 6-for-12 in attempts after going 38-for-43 last year. “I think he’s forced a couple of them,” Wedge said. “When the team is struggling, everybody tries to do too much. That’s the case with him on the bases.”
  • With David Huff and Greg Aquino now on the club, that’s 20 pitchers employed by the Indians already this season, including eight starters. I might have guessed that eight starters would be used by the end of the season, but not by the end of May. What a year.
  • Wedge said Aquino was a “little erratic” in Spring Training. Aquino is just another example of the Indians’ desperate attempts to find somebody to get outs up here.
  • Aaron Laffey has done that. In four relief appearances, he’s given up just two runs on seven hits over 10 innings. Just as he did with the rotation last month, Laffey has boosted the bullpen. “He’s really been aggressive on the plate, and his stuff has been good,” Wedge said.
  • Laffey won’t be available today after tossing three innings yesterday, and Wedge said he’ll have to see how he feels Tuesday in Kansas City.
  • Laffey is now the only left-hander in the bullpen, and he’s obviously not a matchup guy. So let the Rafael Perez watch begin. Perez, optioned to Columbus on May 6, has worked four scoreless innings for Clippers, giving up four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
  • The Indians’ 4-2 loss to the Rays on Saturday was the 500th loss of Wedge’s managerial career. He picked up his 500th win on April 18 in New York.
  • Victor Martinez’s .409 average, entering today, is historic for this club. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians haven’t had a player with a batting average that high at least 149 at-bats into a season since Tito Francona was batting .410 (96-for-234) in August 1959. Martinez has nine three-hit games this season.
  • Shin-Soo Choo is fifth in the league with a .422 on-base percentage.
  • Hector Rondon gave up another run in relief for Double-A Akron on Friday, but he got the hold.
  • C Carlos Santana was back in the Akron lineup Saturday after missing several games with a forearm issue.
  • The Indians traded Double-A reliever Randy Newsom to the Pirates organization for a player to be named later. Newsom himself was the player to be named later in the 2006 deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston. Newsom went on to become Akron’s all-time saves leader with 48.

~AC

5/17: Indians at Rays

Today’s 1:38 p.m. ET game at Tropicana Field will be broadcast on WKYC Channel 3 and WTAM. Haven’t spoken with the manager yet, so I don’t know if this is a standard day off for Grady Sizemore or something more newsworthy.

UPDATE: Wedge is giving Grady a two-day mental and physical break, coupling today’s break with tomorrow’s off day.

UPDATE No. 2: Well, this is an oddity. For those not tuning in at home, the Rays submitted a lineup card with two 3B on it — Zobrist and Longoria. Zobrist took the position in the first, Wedge pointed it out to the umpires between innings, and, after a 13-minute delay, the umps ruled that Sonnanstine must bat in Longoria’s place. Sonnanstine was actually 12-for-32 in his career at the plate, coming into the game.

UPDATE No. 3: The Indians were on the other side of this type of snafu once. On July 22, 1999, against Toronto, manager Mike Hargrove submitted a lineup with Manny Ramirez at DH and Alex Ramirez in right field. The wrong Ramirez went out to right in the first inning, and Blue Jays manager Jim Fregosi took notice. Because Manny had played the field, the Indians forfeited their DH spot, so Charles Nagy was forced to bat seventh. He went 0-for-2, and the Indians lost, 4-3.


cle.gifINDIANS (14-24):
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B Jamey Carroll, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, LF Ryan Garko, DH David Dellucci, 1B Mark DeRosa, CF Ben Francisco. LHP David Huff (debut).

 

 


tb.gifRAYS (18-20):
CF B.J. Upton, LF Carl Crawford, DH Evan Longoria  Andy Sonnanstine, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Ben Zobrist, SS Jason Bartlett, RF Gabe Kapler, 2B Akinori Iwamura, C Michel Hernandez. RHP Sonnanstine (1-4, 7.27).

Aquino aboard; Sipp, Kobayashi headed to Columbus

In addition to purchasing the contract of Sunday’s starter, David Huff, and outrighting right-hander Masa Kobayashi to Columbus, the Indians have also purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Greg Aquino and optioned left-hander Tony Sipp back to Triple-A Columbus.

Kobayashi has accepted an assignment to Columbus, so he’ll remain in the organization.

Aquino joined the organization as a Minor League signee and invitee to Spring Training camp. He has 135 Major League relief appearances under his belt with the Diamondbacks, Brewers and Orioles, compiling a 2-4 record and 5.40 ERA with 17 saves. He’s struck out 132 and walked 72 in 138 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old Aquino had some shoulder issues at Columbus this year but allowed just one run on one hit in eight innings over eight outings. He saved four games in as many chances. Triple-A batters hit just .042 (1-for24) off him, and left-handers were 0-for-12. He was on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis from April 16 to May 6.

Sipp appeared in nine games for the Tribe since his April 22 callup from Columbus. He provided a boost to the bullpen early in his tenure with the Tribe but has battled control problems in his last three outings. In all, he compiled a 4.26 ERA in 6 1/3 innings of work, striking out nine and walking eight.

UPDATE: To make room for Aquino on the 40-man, Scott Lewis was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

Sayonara, Masa

As expected, Masa Kobayashi will be removed from the active and 40-man rosters tomorrow to make room for David Huff.

What’s not clear is the exact terminology the Indians will use on the press release. Kobayashi can be optioned to Columbus if he consents to the move, and that decision is now in his hands. If he chooses not to go to Columbus, he can become a free agent.

Kobayashi said he does not want to go back to Japan to pitch. He’d rather remain here. He will talk to his agent to see what, if any, opportunities are out there for him.

I just calculated this, and if Kobayashi never makes it back here, the Indians will have paid him $91,837.20 $95,663.75 per out. The dollar might not be all that strong right now, but that’s still pretty good yen if you can get it.

Here’s the full story.

CORRECTION: I forgot about the $250,000 buyout in Kobayashi’s contract, so that dollar-per-out figure is actually higher.

"Swimsuit! Evening wear! Talent! Poise!"

As far as I can tell, the only people staying at my Tampa hotel this weekend are the various contestants of the upcoming Miss Florida pageant, their mothers and me.

The girls are here as part of some orientation weekend. Much to my disappointment, none of them have asked me to be their chaperone and personal consultant. So, unfortunately, I can’t give them Kramer-like advice on waist cinchers and posture, and I can’t grill them on potential pageant questions, such as, “If you were Miss Florida, and the U.S. was on the brink of a nuclear war, and the only way the conflict could be averted was if you agreed to sleep with the enemy’s leader, what would you do?”

Let’s just hope none of them make this mistake.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Eric Wedge was still pretty upset over what transpired last night. He said he spoke with a few players individually in the wake of the loss but admitted there’s only so much he can say. “There’s only so many ways to describe the same thing,” he said. “What you have to do is keep getting up. If you get knocked down, you have to keep getting up off the mat.”
  • Wedge had to watch the last six and a half innings from his office and the tunnel that runs from the clubhouse to the dugout. Watching on TV, he could see where each pitch was going, relative to where Victor Martinez’s glove was set up. “That probably fired me up even more,” he said.
  • Why did Luis Vizcaino pitch the ninth inning last night? Well, there was no way the Indians would go with Kerry Wood in a tie situation on the road, because then he’d have to work the next inning, as well, and they simply don’t view him as a two-inning option, given his health history. Aaron Laffey and Matt Herges were both unavailable after going multiple innings Thursday. The only other guy, then, was Masa Kobayashi. Wedge didn’t even acknowledge Kobayashi’s availability, which shows you how much of an afterthought Masa has become. All the more reason why you have to assume he’s the one getting bounced when David Huff is promoted tomorrow.
  • The broadcasters apparently thought Mark DeRosa should have been able to make the play at first on Jamey Carroll’s errant throw that kicked in the dirt in the sixth inning. That error allowed a run to score to make it 7-5. Wedge, on the other hand, viewed the play as a bad throw and does not think DeRosa was at fault. “If DeRo makes that play, it’s a great play,” Wedge said.
  • Wedge on Martinez, who is batting an even .400. “He’s just been on a mission. Because he takes our wins and losses so personal, it just killed him to not be a part of it last year. He’s always respected the game and been a great teammate and player. But he’s even more appreciative of being healthy and being able to go out and play. Every pitch in every game, he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s all in.”
  • Travis Hafner went 0-for-5 in the first game of his rehab assignment at Columbus.
  • OF Michael Brantley was 2-for-4 with an RBIs and three runs scored. He’s hit in four straight games.
  • Double-A Akron left-hander Chuck Lofgren tossed seven innings in which he allowed two runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts for a 5-3 win over Altoona. Lofgren is now 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in six starts. You have to like the way he’s responded this season after a couple down years.
  • OF Nick Weglarz is on a tear at Akron. He went 2-for-4 with the three-run homer that sealed that win over Altoona. He’s batting .444 with a 1.377 OPS in May.

~AC

5/16: Indians at Rays

Today’s 4:10 p.m. ET game at Tropicana Field will be broadcast on FOX and WTAM.


cle.gifINDIANS (14-23):
CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, LF Matt LaPorta, DH David Dellucci, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Luis Valbuena. RHP Carl Pavano (3-3, 6.45).

 

 


tb.gifRAYS (17-20):
CF B.J. Upton, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Pena, DH Willy Aybar, RF Gabe Gross, 2B Akinori Iwamura, SS Jason Bartlett, C Dioner Navarro. RHP Matt Garza (3-2, 3.56).

Huff gets the call

Surprising nobody, the Indians have decided to give left-hander David Huff the start Sunday here at Tropicana Field.

It will be the MLB debut for Huff, who was 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 39 1/3 innings at Columbus.

Huff will have to be added to the 40-man roster. No word yet on the corresponding roster move, which will officially be made Sunday morning.

"Serenity now!"

Lots of emotion in postgame tonight.

For one, you’ve got Victor Martinez popping off about J.P. Howell’s fastball toward the noggin. You can read about that right here.

But most importantly, you’ve got Eric Wedge giving his harshest critique yet of this pitching staff, and Jensen Lewis, in particular. You can read all about that here.

Those of us on the beat were surprised Wedge singled out Lewis. Not that Lewis has been pitching well or anything, but it’s just not in Wedge’s nature to call out a guy like this:

"I'm tired of watching him throw. He's got to pitch. He's got a lot of moxie, got a lot of guts. He has good stuff. But you've got to pitch. If you're going to make it up here, you can't miss spots by a foot or a foot and a half and expect to have success."

 

Wedge implied that Lewis wouldn't be here if the Indians had other viable options at Triple-A.

 

Anyway, never a dull moment around here these days. We'll meet back here tomorrow... which just so happens to be today. 

Papa go to bed now, it's getting late

Someone in the Rays’ front office had a brilliant idea over the winter.

That’s merely an assumption on my part. You would think someone somewhere in that office must have had a brilliant idea at some point over the winter — even if it was something as simple as ordering pineapple on his pizza.

Unfortunately, someone else entirely — or maybe even the same guy — had an absolutely terrible idea. He (or she) thought, “Hey, you know what would draw more fans to our games? Later start times!”

So here we are with a 7:38 p.m. ET first pitch tonight, and a 1:38 p.m. ET first pitch on Sunday.

If this somehow results in the Rays’ average attendance going up about 10,000, then God bless the genius behind the move.

And pass the pineapple pizza, because I’ve got some extra time to kill.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Still no word on who’s starting Sunday. The smart money remains on David Huff, who is Sunday’s scheduled starter for the Clippers. Zach Jackson is slated to start for Columbus tonight, so he’s out. And Jack Cassel is now on the schedule for tomorrow. “We’ve got it narrowed down to a couple guys,” is all Eric Wedge would say.
  • Huff makes the most sense, even though he’s not on the 40-man. All the Indians would need to do is release somebody from the 40-man. Maybe… oh, I don’t know… a reliever who is hardly ever used and who struggles in clutch situations, to the point where the manager clearly has no confidence in him.
  • Jhonny Peralta handled third base quite well last night, and Asdrubal Cabrera made an incredible play going to his right and back-handing the ball before making a leaping throw to first to nab Willy Aybar. Wedge liked the alignment, went with it again tonight and expects to go with it quite a bit in the future.
  • Peralta said he felt comfortable at third. “[Playing winter ball] helped a lot,” he said. “I played at third every day over there for a month, so I got used to it.”
  • The guy who has gotten the shaft as a result of all this infield tinkering is Ryan Garko, but he was back at DH tonight. Wedge, though, isn’t viewing Mark DeRosa as a second base option right now, so it will continue to be a fight for Garko to get into the starting lineup, particularly when Travis Hafner comes back.
  • Speaking of Pronk, he begins his rehab tonight.
  • The Indians had three different hitters (Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and Victor Martinez) record a four-hit night Thursday. According to Elias, the last time the Indians had three players each with four or more hits in a nine-inning game came on Sept. 5, 1987, when Tommy Hinzo, Joe Carter and Mel Hall did it.
  • Martinez leads the AL in batting at .400. He’s batting .459 with 11 RBIs over his last 10 games.
  • Shoulder tendinitis has limited 3B prospect Wes Hodges to DH duties at Columbus recently, and now he’s landed on the DL with a right wrist sprain suffered Tuesday. Hodges is batting .275 with eight doubles, a homer and 15 RBIs in 27 games.
  • RHP Steven Wright’s Triple-A tenure didn’t last long. He was sent back down to Double-A Akron to make room for Vinnie Chulk.
  • RHP Jeanmar Gomez now has a 0.45 ERA for Akron after tossing eight scoreless innings in which he allowed just four hits with eight strikeouts in a win over Altoona last night. He hasn’t allowed a run in 18 innings.
  • MLB Network aired a special about the 2007 Rockies, and it was playing in the visitors’ clubhouse before the game. Jamey Carroll and Matt Herges, members of that team, were locked in. “All good memories,” Carroll said, despite the loss to the Red Sox. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
  • Wedge took a town car to the ballpark yesterday and left his cell phone in the backseat. The driver brought it to him, and Wedge gave him a $20 tip. And the tip was well worth it. “Not only did he bring it back,” Wedge said, “he charged it for me.” Now that’s service.

~AC

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