June 2009

"It's called playing the percentages. It's what smart managers do to win ballgames."

We’ll begin today with a little Ozzie Guillen for your enjoyment. This was Guillen’s response to the speculation that Eric Wedge is on the hot seat:

“Sometimes you got to look at what the players do. To me, the manager manages the clubhouse, make sure those guys go out there every day and play hard. To me? I’m begging to get fired every month. I’m not afraid of this job, but I don’t think it’s an easy job.

“When a hitter doesn’t hit, it’s the hitting coach’s fault. When a pitcher is pitching well, it’s the pitching coach’s fault. How about what happened to the players? When am I going to hear that? I played the game for a long time, so I can say that. They never blame those guys. When am I going to hear that? Players are out there making $20 million. Why are they going to blame the manager? But it’s always going to be like that. How about performing? Perform on the field. That’s all you have to do.”

Sounds easy enough. Now, let’s get to the news and notes.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said there is a strong chance Grady Sizemore has arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow after the season. For now, Sizemore is playing through elbow symptoms and will do so for the remainder of the year.
  • Scott Lewis will visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., next week. Usually, that’s a sure sign a guy is headed for elbow surgery, but Soloff said the Indians are not recommending surgery for Lewis. He said they want to tap into Andrews’ expertise for input on how to “get Scott over the hump.” Lewis pulled himself from a rehab start at Akron after four innings on June 21 because his left elbow is still bothering him.
  • Jake Westbrook was shut down for two weeks with complications with his right elbow, and he’ll begin a return-to-throw program Thursday. The Indians are targeting a late July/early August return to the bigs for Westbrook, barring any more setbacks.
  • Luis Vizcaino, designated for assignment on June 23, was released today.
  • As discussed in the blog yesterday, Wedge has just three regular outfielders at his disposal at the moment, and one of them, Ben Francisco, is 8-for-his-last-69. So Wedge’s options for left field are to play Francisco or stick one of his infielders, Ryan Garko or Chris Gimenez, out there. Tonight, with ace Cliff Lee on the mound, Wedge is going with his best defensive alignment by starting Francisco.
  • But Wedge hinted that this outfield situation won’t be in effect for long. “We’re still not set in stone here,” Wedge said. “We’re trying to decide what we want to do.”
  • Obviously, Matt LaPorta’s and Michael Brantley’s names have probably come up in those conversations.
  • In this week’s Sports Illustrated, the magazine releases the results of a survey of 380 Major League players that asked, “Which manager do you least want to play for?” Wedge finished in a tie for fourth in the voting by getting 4 percent of the vote, along with Joe Torre (who, by the way, finished second in an SI poll asking players who they most want to play for). Lou Piniella is first on the “least” list, with 26 percent, Guillen is second, with 21 percent, and Tony LaRussa is third, with 10 percent.
  • I’m not sure you could script a worse team debut than the one turned in by Chris Perez last night, especially when you consider that he arrived in a trade that shipped out a popular player in Mark DeRosa. Wedge said that, given the circumstances, you have to give Perez a mulligan. “He was amped up and overthrowing,” Wedge said.
  • Wedge said he’s trying to get Ryan Garko more consistent at-bats. But because of the Lee-Shoppach marriage, Garko is not in tonight’s lineup.
  • Frankly, I was surprised Wedge used Perez in that situation, considering he told reporters he planned to ease Perez into action in low-leverage situations. Though the Indians were trailing, a two-run game in the ninth does not strike me as low-leverage. Had Perez put up a zero there, maybe it’s a different ballgame.
  • Perez was the 25th pitcher and 43rd player used by the Tribe this year. The 25 pitchers leads the Majors. The club and American League record is 32 pitchers, used in 2000.
  • Regarding that Garko tapper down the line last night and the ensuring fair/foul controversy, the big question is why the umpires, after reversing the initial call that the ball was foul, rule the play dead, rather than rule Garko out on a fair grounder? Basically, they were going with the spirit of the play and trying to get the call right. Had Garko stopped running when the ball rolled foul, it’s likely that the play would have been ruled dead upon reversal.
  • Lee has the fifth-lowest home ERA in the AL, with a 2.21 mark. He is 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA at home over the last two years.
  • Friday’s fireworks display will be a tribute to Michael Jackson. It will be an expanded, 15-minute extravaganza. And Saturday’s postgame will include an Independence Day fireworks display.

~AC

UPDATE: Tonight’s game is now scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m. ET.

UPDATE No. 2: Fausto Carmona in Bowie tonight… 7 IP, 1 R/ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K. He gave up a solo home run. Another strong outing for Fausto.

6/30: Indians vs. White Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game, weather-permitting, will be broadcast on WTAM and STO. As of 5:10 p.m. ET, the tarp is on the field, though the Indians did get in their pregame BP beforehand.


cle3.gifINDIANS (31-47):
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, CF Grady Sizemore, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Jamey Carroll, LF Ben Francisco, C Kelly Shoppach. LHP Cliff Lee (4-6, 2.92).

 

 


cws2.gifWHITE SOX (38-38):
LF Jayson Nix, SS Alexei Ramirez, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Paul Konerko, C A.J. Pierzynski, CF Brian Anderson, 3B Gordon Beckham, 2B Chris Getz, 1B Josh Fields. LHP Clayton Richard (2-1, 4.33).

Carmona to Akron tonight

Fausto Carmona will make his second reclamation start tonight, this time getting the ball for Double-A Akron. It’s a 7:05 p.m. ET start at Bowie.

The Indians were pleased with Carmona’s first outing for Class A Lake County last Thursday (6 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 7 K). He stayed in his delivery, and the fact that he even had a solid delivery to stay in was considered progress. Now they want to see him repeat that delivery against stronger competition.

"Wait a minute. Are you Ken Griffey Jr.? Sorry. Didn't mean to get your hopes up."

The only thing that puzzles me about the Mark DeRosa trade is the fact that it didn’t involve the promotion of Matt LaPorta (.302 average and .898 OPS at Triple-A Columbus).

On Sunday, the Indians went with a lineup that included Ryan Garko in left field. This lineup should never, ever happen again.

The Garko-in-the-outfield experiment began as a pre-Spring Training source of amusement that I, for one, never expected to see the light of day (or, more accurately, the regular season). When Garko dropped that ball Sunday, I hope the message got through that first basemen should not be moonlighting as corner outfielders in the Major Leagues.

Ben Francisco isn’t the answer in the corner outfield, either. He’s batting .225 with a .659 OPS this season. He’s batting .133 with three RBIs in his last 22 games and is currently 3-for-35 and 0-for-10. Last season, he hit .251 with a .745 OPS from July 1 on. Francisco is a nice guy and a hard worker, but the results speak for themselves. He should be sued used (no litigation necessary) to spell Grady Sizemore and nothing more.

Tonight, Chris Gimenez gets the start in left. Gimenez is a versatile player who certainly could have a future at this level. But for this team at this juncture, I’m not sure he’s the right fit.

Fans want something to latch onto in a lost season. If it’s my team, I’d give them LaPorta. Or, to bring in another option to back up Sizemore, I’d give them Michael Brantley. But I wouldn’t give them Garko or Francisco in left field any longer.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Aaron Laffey isn’t joining the rotation this week, after all. His rough start for Akron on Sunday (3 1/3 IP, 3 R/ER, 5 H, 6 BB, 1 HBP) sealed the Tribe’s decision to give him another Minor League rehab start, most likely Friday for Columbus. Laffey said he understood. “I can’t do the same thing everybody else is doing,” he said. “They need someone to come in and give them quality starts and not go to the bullpen after five innings.”
  • So it looks like the Tomo Ohka era continues.Actually, I forgot to take the two upcoming off days into consideration. The Indians can get away without using Ohka as their fifth starter the next turn through the rotation. 
  • Chris Perez already gets points from the local media for being a quality sound bite/interview subject. Now, we’ll see how he does on the mound. He said it was tough leaving a first-place team, but he really did seem excited to be joining an Indians team certain to give him plenty of opportunity in the ‘pen. Perez, after all, logged just eight innings of work in the month of June for the Cards. “They were trying to trade me,” he said, “so they didn’t use me.”
  • Rafael Betancourt (strained right groin) threw a simulated session today and is expected to throw another Wednesday. If all goes well, he could be out on a rehab assignment by the end of the weekend.
  • A FOX Sports report indicated the Indians are now taking offers for Cliff Lee. Last I heard, the Indians were still operating under the mindset that they’d have to be completely overwhelmed to deal the reigning Cy Young Award winner for the second year in a row. They have an affordable $9 million option on Lee and no other viable options to lead their rotation in 2010. But you never say never.
  • I know this much: If Lee is traded this year, that would be a tough sell to the fan base.
  • Masa Kobayashi gave up the game-winning run in the 13th inning of Columbus’ 8-7 loss to Durham on Sunday. Kobayashi, still getting paid $3 million for this season, has allowed seven runs on 23 hits with seven walks since his ousting to Triple-A.
  • On the bright side, catcher Wyatt Toregas has hit .327 (16-for-49) with three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs over his last 15 games.
  • Brantley leads the International League with 29 stolen bases.
  • Down at Double-A Akron, 1B Beau Mills has heated up. He’s driven in 10 runs over his last eight games.
  • OF Nick Weglarz was named the Eastern League player of the week. He’s reached base safely in 22 straight games, going 23-for-71 with 19 walks, five homers and 21 RBIs in that span.
  • While the AL as a whole posted a .569 winning percentage against the NL in the last two years of Interleague Play, the Indians were going 11-25.
  • More than 20 former Indians players will take part in the 2010 Fantasy Camp, set to take place Jan. 16-23 in Goodyear, Ariz. Among those scheduled to take part are Bob Feller, Rick Manning, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Carlos Baerga, Scott Bailes, Len Barker, Dave Burba, Brook Jacoby, Mike Hargrove, Charles Nagy and Cory Snyder. Fans can register by calling (216) 420-HITS or visiting the “Fans” section at Indians.com.

~AC

UPDATE: Apparently, an effort is being made to land Shaq to throw out a ceremonial first pitch sometime this week. I’ll let you know if it becomes official.

UPDATE No. 2: Someone commented on Victor Martinez being listed as an infielder on the roster on Indians.com. I pointed this out to the people who control such things, and it’s been changed. He’s once again listed under catchers, so you can get some sleep tonight.

6/29: Indians vs. White Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field will be broadcast by STO and WTAM.

UPDATE: Dye’s absence corrected. As for Cabrera, he played two in a row (Akron on Saturday and here on Sunday) and, as of now, is limited to playing two out of every three games. So he’ll be off tonight and most likely in there Tuesday and Wednesday.


cle.gifINDIANS (31-46):
2B Jamey Carroll, CF Grady Sizemore, C Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 1B Ryan Garko, SS Luis Valbuena, LF Chris Gimenez. RHP Carl Pavano (6-6, 5.80).

 

 


cws.gifWHITE SOX (37-38):
LF Scott Podsednik, SS Alexei Ramirez, RF Jermaine Dye, DH Jim Thome, 1B Paul Konerko, C A.J. Pierzynski, 2B Chris Getz, 3B Gordon Beckham, CF Dewayne Wise. RHP Gavin Floyd (5-5, 4.45).

Perez activated, Barfield sent out

Chris Perez has joined the Indians and will be available out of the bullpen for tonight’s series opener against the White Sox.

Josh Barfield, no stranger to Interstate 71, was sent back to Columbus to make room for Perez.

I got mixed-up confusion

Commenter “iesavage30″ hit the nail on the head. The Mark DeRosa trade was not a very good deal for the Indians.

Not the one that was made last night — the one that sent DeRosa to the Cardinals in exchange for right-handed reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later — but the one that brought him to Cleveland from the Cubs.

derosa.jpgThe trade made last night was a good one for this club, at this juncture. Though it does not signal the white flag being waved, only the most optimistic (maybe even delusional) souls would say this club can mount a comeback in the AL Central standings.

But addressing a glaring, present need by bringing in a young, hard-throwing, big-bodied, potential back-end reliever with viable Major League experience in exchange for a guy who wasn’t going to fit in with long-term plans (and no longer fit the previously prescribed short-term plans) is, in my view, the basis of a good trade. The player to be named will likely determine whether it’s a decent trade or a great one for the Indians.

It’s that New Year’s Eve acquisition of DeRosa that should be more puzzling for Tribe fans.

At the heart of the acquisition was the fear that Asdrubal Cabrera was not ready for everyday action in the big leagues. His poor start to ’08 generated that fear, but his strong finish and his improved conditioning perhaps should have instilled a bit more trust in his ability to become the club’s regular shortstop. When healthy this year, Cabrera has done nothing but hit, and he’s elevated himself from a No. 9 castaway to Grady Sizemore’s successor (temporary or not) in the leadoff spot.

Jhonny Peralta spent all winter playing third base in winter ball, and the Indians jumped at every opportunity to rave about his performance there. But in being sensitive to Peralta’s wishes to remain at short and unsure about Cabrera’s immediate future, the Indians went with what they perceived as the safest course of action by acquiring DeRosa and moving him to third base, regardless of the fact that he played primarily at second base for the Cubs and, by all accounts, played it well.

Watching these first three months of the season unfold made the DeRosa deal look more and more puzzling. Sure, he gave the Indians a productive bat and immediately became a clubhouse asset. But he was shaky in the field at third, went through a baffling period in which he was the Tribe’s regular at first base (a position he had never played with any regularity whatsoever) and eventually became related to corner outfield duties in recent weeks. Simply put, he was not used in the role for which he was acquired, so it was not exactly (the prorated portion of) $5.5 million well-spent.

Meanwhile, the Indians moved Peralta to third after ensuring him he was still their shortstop in Spring Training. All this did was create bad blood with Peralta, and the distraction over moving to third appears to have affected him at the plate this season (though his current upswing in production is a positive step).

And the cost of all this confusion (beyond the prorated portion of the $5.5 million, of course) was young pitching with upside — the very thing this organization is so obviously in need of in the upper levels of the farm system. Only time will tell if Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub, all of whom are having strong seasons in the Cubs’ system, become bona fide Major Leaguers. But given the circumstances that unfolded after DeRosa arrived, one can’t help but believe the Indians would have been better-served to find out if those three become bona fide Major Leaguers in their system.

The good news is that a potential saving grace exists. Perez is not only a highly regarded prospect who has back-end Major League experience under his belt, he’s also under contractual control at least through 2013. He and the player to be named have the potential to make Indians fans look back at the short-lived “DeRosa era” fondly and make them forget all the current confusion.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Just to clear up some confusion I might have created, I had a mistake in my game story from last night. Aaron Laffey is starting for Double-A Akron today, not Triple-A Columbus.
  • DeRosa was beloved by his teammates (and the media) here, pretty much from the second he set foot in Goodyear at the start of Spring Training. So players — especially Kerry Wood, who had been his teammate since 2007 — were a bit bummed out to see him traded. But given the gain of Perez, this trade wasn’t as hard a sell to the Tribe players as some of those that had come before it. “In the past, we’ve traded guys and just gotten prospects,” Kelly Shoppach said. “But it’s not like we’re waving the white flag. We got something back that can help us now, while there’s still a chance. Even though we’re going to miss DeRo and his personality and bat in the lineup, hopefully we can get some consistency out there on the mound in return. So it’s not the same feeling as in the past.”
  • Looks like we’ll continue to see quite a bit of Luis Valbuena, who has been given an enviable amount of playing time to prove himself at this level. I agree with Eric Wedge that Valbuena’s at-bats have been better than the stats would indicate. Of his 26 hits, 15 have gone for extra-base hits, which is encouraging. Still, at some point soon, you’d like to see Valbuena go on a tear that justifies the rope he’s been handed. And perhaps he’ll be more consistent on the defensive end now that he’s going back to his natural position at second base.
  • According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cliff Lee’s streak of 47 consecutive starts of at least five innings pitched, dating back to the beginning of the ’08 season, is the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest stretch by an Indians starter since Gaylord Perry (Aug. 30, 1972-July 27, 1974). Lee and Perry are the only Indians pitchers to have such a stretch since 1954.
  • Right-hander JD Goryl, 23, has been signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Tribe. He made his professional debut for the Tribe’s Arizona Rookie League team in Goodyear on Friday, tossing two hitless innings. Goryl is the son of Indians player development advisor Johnny Goryl, who has been in the organization since 1982.
  • Jose Veras is a big dude.
  • If the Indians win today, then the six-game Ohio Cup will have resulted in an even split. At that point, I believe representatives from the Ohio Lottery arrive with a chainsaw and cut the cup in half. Either that, or the Reds just hold on to it for another year.

~AC

UPDATE: DeRosa is already in the Cards’ lineup, batting cleanup today. What a go-getter.

6/28: Indians vs. Reds

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WKYC Channel 3 and WTAM.


cle2.gifINDIANS (31-45):
SS Asdrubal Cabrera, DH Grady Sizemore, 1B Victor Martinez, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, LF Ryan Garko, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, CF Ben Francisco. LHP David Huff (3-2, 5.71).

 

 


cin.gifREDS (36-37):
CF Willy Taveras, 3B Jerry Hairston Jr., 1B Joey Votto, 2B Brandon Phillips, DH Jonny Gomes, C Ramon Hernandez, RF Jay Bruce, SS Paul Janish, LF Chris Dickerson. RHP Micah Owings (4-8, 4.87).

DeRosa to the Cardinals

That was not a standard day off for Mark DeRosa, after all.

DeRosa, a subject of trade rumors almost from the time he first slipped on an Indians uniform, is on the block no more. The Indians have traded the versatile veteran to the Cardinals for right-hander Chris Perez and a player to be named later.

GM Mark Shapiro said the PTBN component is an important one, akin to the Coco Crisp and Michael Brantley acquisitions in the past.

More info to come on Indians.com.

UPDATE: Just to clear up any confusion out there, Asdrubal Cabrera will be activated tomorrow, but the Indians are not calling up Matt LaPorta immediately.

As for Perez, he’ll likely get here tomorrow and be ready to pitch Monday.

"I've got a magic bat, too. … And I've got an enchanted jock strap!"

Breaking out the "Homer at the Bat" quotes last night opened a floodgate, because now more are coming to me.

 

Anyway, I've got a few things on my plate tonight -- and not one of them is a serving of "media chicken" from the press dining room -- so we'll keep the minutia to a minimum on this lovely Saturday.

 

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY...

 

  • Asdrubal Cabrera will play nine innings for Double-A Akron tonight. Odds are, he'll be activated Sunday, if all goes well this evening.
  • Eric Wedge had hinted all year that Jensen Lewis might be on the verge of a demotion to Triple-A, but Lewis hung around as a result of the ineffectiveness of those surrounding him in the bullpen and the shortage of potential callups at Triple-A. But Wedge said the team discussed demoting Lewis in the days leading up to Jose Veras' addition. "He shows flashes," Wedge said of Lewis, "but he doesn't show the control and consistency he needs to show."
  • Wedge said Lewis is confident to a fault. The phrase "in denial" was used with regard to Lewis, and Wedge did not dispute it. "It works against him a little bit," Wedge said. But Wedge also said that Lewis and pitching coach Carl Willis had a good talk and video session Friday afternoon, and he said Lewis handled the demotion with grace.
  • This is a standard day off for Mark DeRosa. On Sunday, Travis Hafner will sit and Grady Sizemore will DH.
  • Before tonight's game, the players and staff filled out their All-Star Game ballots. No word on whether Wedge voted for Luis Valbuena.
  • The Indians signed Kyle Smith, their 20th round pick out of Kent State. So that's 23 picks signed overall from the Draft, including 18 of the first 20.
  • Right-hander Hector Rondon went 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with two walks and four strikeouts in Akron's win over Birmingham. It was his first win since May 25. His season ERA of 2.59 is the sixth-lowest in the Eastern League.

~AC

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