Every picture tells a story, don't it?

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

Lining the hallway from the Indians’ clubhouse to the field are photos of old Tribe greats and some of the great celebratory moments in team history. One of the more recent shots, for example, is the one of Rafael Betancourt and Victor Martinez embracing after the last out of the division championship clincher in 2007.

Directly outside the clubhouse is a photo from Sept. 16 of last year, when Martinez hit a walkoff homer against the Twins. The shot shows Martinez’s teammates at the plate, ready to pounce on him when he touches home. It’s funny to look at that photo now and know how many of those players are long gone.

Luis Valbuena gave the Tribe a new memory to hang on the wall when he hit that walkoff blast against the Mariners last night, and Katie Brinager of the Indians snapped the excellent photo below to capture the moment just before Valbuena crossed the plate. (The running gag in the clubhouse is that the players don’t care about the win; they just want to get to the plate to be in the picture.)

DANM5864.jpgThis is a great photo for a lot of reasons, and one of them is that it opens the door to the old Sesame Street game of “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” While everybody else in the photo looks excited, Jeremy Sowers looks like he’s upset that Valbuena’s home run pulled him away from whatever book he’s currently reading.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • You should definitely read this column by the Akron Beacon Journal’s Patrick McManamon.
  • Excellent outing from Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K) today, as he earned his first big-league victory since May 14. And the Indians got an RBI each from Valbuena, Matt LaPorta, Wyatt Toregas and Andy Marte in the Nos. 6-9 spots of the order.
  • The ghost of Kenny Lofton was present after the win, as “This Is How We Do It” blared from the clubhouse speakers.
  • Some notes about last night’s hero, Valbuena. The Indians have clearly gotten a lot of things wrong this season, but Eric Wedge’s decision to stick with Valbuena, even as the rookie was laboring at the plate early on after his promotion from Columbus, was a good move. Wedge felt Valbuena was putting up good at-bats and didn’t look overmatched at the plate, and he said that would eventually translate.
  • The early numbers, however, were ugly. After getting called up on May 2, Valbuena entered July with a .195 average and .629 OPS. Interestingly, though, 15 of his 26 hits had gone for extra bases.
  • Valbuena’s approach began to translate into more tangible success in July. From July 1 through Saturday, Valbuena hit .303 with an .851 OPS. And all along the way, he’s been a strong defender. He even looked polished at shortstop when Asdrubal Cabrera was on the DL in June.
  • Valbuena’s blast was the first walkoff homer of the season for the Tribe. Martinez’s aforementioned shot had been the most recent.
  • According to Elias Sports Bureau, Valbuena became the first Indians rookie in more than 41 years to hit a walkoff home run in the 11th inning or later. Jose Vidal did it in the 14th inning on June 3, 1968.
  • Valbuena is the eighth rookie in the Majors to hit a walkoff homer this year, but only the second in the American League. The first was the Orioles’ Nolan Reimold.
  • The Indians are taking the same precautions with Valbuena that they once took with Shin-Soo Choo, in that he’s barely getting a whiff of action against left-handed pitching. He has just 24 plate appearances against them.
  • I guess that’s where Jason Donald, one of the acquisitions in the Cliff Lee trade, comes into the picture next year. The right-handed Donald, who is batting .257 (9-for-35) in 10 games with Columbus, could potentially take over the Jamey Carroll role, spelling Valbuena on days a lefty is on the mound.
  • It still seems rather curious that an infielder putting up less-than-stellar numbers in Triple-A made up 25 percent of the returns in a trade that sent the reigning Cy Young winner to Philadelphia. But you can’t judge a trade like that a month after it takes place.
  • When it comes to trade acquisitions, the hard-throwing Chris Perez looks like a winner. He has not allowed a run over his last 15 appearances, covering 15 1/3 innings in which he’s allowed just five hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts. Batters are hitting just .104 (5-for-48) off him in this stretch. It’s the longest scoreless innings pitched stretch by a Tribe pitcher this year and the most consecutive scoreless appearances by an Indians reliever.
  • The Indians will honor all first responders (police, fire, EMS, physicians, nurses and military) at the Friday, Sept. 11 game against the Royals. All first responders, their friends and family members will receive a special ticket discount in the upper box ($12), bleachers ($10) and upper reserved ($8) sections.
  • Kerry Wood is chartering a private jet to take some of his teammates to tonight’s Pearl Jam concert in Chicago. And why not? He is, after all, buddies with Ed Vedder. Pretty nice life, huh?

~AC

27 Comments

AC, that McManamon article is great. You will no doubt get attacked for it.
That picture is absolutely fantastic and, coupled with today’s game, really gives me hope for the future. I also love it when guys who came up together or are in similar circumstances see something good happen. There’s a decent chunk of new guys/rookies/Clippers in that picture, all of whom are on the same page about the future.
You know what? I think the uncertainty at third base bugs me because I want to start daydreaming about next year’s line-up already!

the sad thing about this photo which also graces the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is that I cannot easily identify ALL of the players. That is the biggest shame.

LACF, what’s your lineup?

I think talking about the roster is more interesting. In no particular order:

SPs: Carmona, Masterson, Laffey, Sowers, Carrasco with Rondon, Huff, S. Lewis and Westbrook on the back burners. Sowers MUST have a short leash IMO.

RPs (in order from the back to the front): Wood, C. Perez, Sipp, Smith, Todd, R. Perez, J. Lewis

C: Marson, Toregas
1B: Marte
2B: Valbuena
3B: Peralta
SS: Cabrera
LF: LaPorta
CF: Sizemore
RF: Choo
DH: Hafner
4th OF: Crowe
UT INF: Donald

that leaves one spot open, perhaps Gimenez but probably only if Wedge is still here. Realistically, even without seeing him yet this year I’d choose Jordan Brown. Whoever it is, with this roster you can put LaPorta at 1B if you desire, put Crowe in LF or give Sizemore a day off. Let Shoppach, Barfield and Carroll walk. AND you can still trade Peralta either at the winter meetings or at the A.S. break, move LaPorta to 1B more often and call up Brantley.

If they KEEP Jhonny? I’d have to consider the batting order, but on the field I’d have Choo, Sizemore, LaPorta, then Peralta, Cabrera, Valbuena, Marte, and Toregas/Marson behind the plate. I’d be fine with Crowe as the 4th outfielder, then ideally a healthy Hafner as DH, with I guess Donald as the utility infielder. That would leave us with one spot open, assuming we go with 12 pitchers. I’m not sure who would take that position, though.
If they MOVE Jhonny, I’m not entirely sure. Marte and LaPorta seem to be feeding each other at the plate, so the idea of them on the corners seems natural to me, but I don’t know who would play LF — I don’t know who’s ready. I don’t think Crowe is, but I guess he could get a shot. I just think we have a lot of potential outfielders who need every day ABs, so I’d hate to see any of them sit.

As you can tell by my reply to your post yesterday, assuming you read it, I am very jealous of Kerry Wood and whoever he is bringing with him. A report from him or any of the other guys would be greatly appreciated.

Ha! We posted nearly identical line-ups at the same time.
This, sadly, assumes Brown will never get a shot, although the idea of having him at first (where he has more time) and leaving LaPorta in LF if Marte moves to third is a nice one.
Depending upon how he does in the spring, maybe you just give Brantley a shot at the every day LF job and keep Crowe as the 4th outfielder.

Why do print journalists believe that a single sentence constitutes a paragraph?And sometimes, partial sentences?Like this one.Don’t they know that it’s hard to read that way?It’s choppy.And annoying.Very.

Rondon went 7 today, gave up 1 ER and 8 hits, with 1 BB and 3 K’s. He’s easily the best starter in Columbus and he’s only been there less than half the year! He looks like the real deal.
As for the rotation, at this point I’d rather see Sowers move to long relief than keep trying to use Jensen Lewis. I like Lewis, but he just keeps letting me down.
Carmona, Masterson, and Laffey appear to be no brainers. I think AC is probably right that Westbrook will be back in time. I feel like Rondon or maybe ever Carrasco could take that last spot, although given that Huff was called up early, he could give it a go, too.

I posted this a couple days ago. I’m pretty sure it’s a championship lineup, and contains the perfect solution to Wood’s lack of work:

1. Cabrera SS
2. Valbuena 2b
3. Choo RF
4. Sizemore CF
5. Laporta 1b
6. Hafner DH
7. Jordan Brown LF
8. Marte 3b
9. Toregas/Marson

My starting pitchers would be
1. Kerry Wood
2. Laffey
3. Masterson
4. Carmona
5. Rondon

Relievers:
Sowers
Todd
J Lewis
R Perez
Sipp
Joe Smith
Closer: C Perez

I don’t mind that, savagetruth, but I think Wood to the rotation is probably unrealistic. I just don’t see anyone in the organization deciding to make that change. I also don’t think it would be contractual possible — all of his incentives are based on being a closer, so I’m sure there would be an issue with that.
I’d also prefer Brown at first, as I think he has less experience in the OF. I think he only just started playing out there this year, and his time has been pretty limited. So stick him at first and LaPorta in LF, and we’re on the same page.
In my roster, going with Wood as closer, from back to front it would be:
Wood, C. Perez, Sipp, R. Perez, Todd, Smith, Sowers, although I know Todd has come closing experience, too.

I believe Brown was actually originally a LF and had been moved to 1B because the Indians, with Guitierez and Francisco, had a crowded OF. But mainly I’m putting Laporta at 1b because he’s going to get bumped out of the outfield eventually by Brantley anyway, so better to keep him at the same position. You’re probably right about the contract preventing them from converting Wood back to a starter, I wonder if it would be something he’d be open to, or if he doesn’t think his arm could take it. If Westbrook returns, it’s a moot point, they’d need Wood more in the bullpen. I do really like the pitching situation, with or without Westbrook. They should have a lot of depth and flexibility, especially if they can acquire another decent pitching prospect by trading Peralta and Marson. Of course, I doubt that they’d use Brown, even though it makes so much sense, to me it’s a can’t lose proposition, i.e. if Brown doesn’t pan out, they lose nothing, but if he does, they gain a lot. I have no idea whether they plan on trading Peralta, again, it makes sense, because he’s potentially replaceable and they’d be saving money. As far as culprits to their slow starts go, Peralta is suspect number 1, his inability to hit in April is a killer. They should also trade Marson, because there’s no reason to have him with Santana on the way, and he seems to be the more highly regarded prospect than Toregas, so should fetch more in return, not sure if that’s in their plans or not.

Really good conversations going on here, I have enjoyed reading these comments. This is a bit more subjective, but I want to throw it out there. This picture that AC posted made me so happy. The team in the picture is drastically different than before the AS break, not just because of the faces, but it sums up the team’s attitude. We have been winning games, and series, and the players look rejuvenated. It is eerily similar to last year, and I wonder what it took for them to reach this point. It has been suggested by some of you that since the pressure is off, this team has nothing to lose, and maybe you’re right. But I feel like it is the manager’s job to create the right atmosphere for players to perform well in. Besides that, in my opinion, managers don’t do a whole lot as opposed to coaches in other major sports (i.e. football, basketball). Maybe Wedgie isn’t the right guy to do this for our group of players. Again, this is all subjective, but I want to get your thoughts. There has to be some explanation for our turn around after we fall out of contention for two straight seasons.

Hey, Pigeon, I think you’re on to something that a lot of us feel, too. These guys are rejuvenated because most of them are youngsters who are competing for jobs for next year (and beyond). They don’t need any other motivation but that.
I think the biggest complaint I’ve had about Wedge is that he doesn’t seem to be able to motivate this team. His “grind it out every day” philosophy is perfectly fine when it comes to teaching young players how to do well, but there comes a time when we need someone to light a fire under the team. I just don’t think Wedge is that guy.
The concern is that, since we’re rebuilding again, Wedge’s management style will actually pay off, and we’ll be in this situation all over again in a couple of years. If we’re to have hope for 2011, then we need to actually compete next year to move to that next level — and I wonder if competing next year will save Wedge’s job.

pigeon, agree on the picture. As far as the reason for their better play, I would say that of the trades that they made, the only one that didn’t make them a better team right now is the Lee trade. They needed Masterson (or any pitching) more than they needed Victor. Derosa for Perez and Todd isn’t even close, they basically added 2 good relievers with no dropoff in offense, Valbuena with his performance over the past two months has completely replaced Derosa. Subtract Lee, but add the somewhat rejuvenated Carmona, and there’s no great dropoff there. Jhonny is his usual July and August self, a completely different player than April Jhonny. Joe Smith has been pitching very well now that he’s recovered from his injury. So, I would say that even without Lee and Martinez, the team they are fielding now is actually a better team than what they fielded on opening day … LACF, I looked it up, Brown played mostly in the outfield and a few games at 1b up until 2007, ’07 and ’08 he mostly played 1b

savagetruth, you raise an interesting idea about Marson. And while I’d be interested to see what we could get for him, I don’t think they’ll deal him for one reason and one reason only: insurance. I think they’re worried about putting all their catching eggs into the Santana basket, and most article I’ve read on Marson indicate that he could step in as a productive starter, if need be. I like Toregas, but I think Marson could come out of spring training with the starting job and it will be up to Santana to take it from him in 2011.

I suppose I have some weird belief that it’s easier to play first at the major league level than OF (possibly because Thome used to do it!). I feel like Brown would be able to acclimated himself to the majors faster at first. Still, I’d be fine with both of them in either combination, even if Brown ends up being a placeholder for a single season.
Again, the main problem I have right now is Peralta. I know they need to play him every day because it increases his trade value — a lot, really, as Peralta always does well in the second half. But I really dislike the idea of Marte not getting any time at third.
I wonder if we’ll see that at all in September.

Marson’s slugging numbers are ugly. Even if he maintained the average he has at Columbus in the majors, offensively at least (not sure how any of t hose guys compare defensively), I don’t really see the point of having him. He might be better suited to a national league lineup. If Santana performs anything like he has at Akron with his promotion to Columbus next year, it’s not even close as far as who the 2011 starter is. They have to trade one of those guys, right? Otherwise, even without Shoppach, that still leaves 4 catchers on the 40 man roster, if Gimenez is on there. Don’t really see how that makes sense, when one of those 4 is the best catching prospect in the league

Yeah, if we still had Lee, a reasonable argument could be made that we could compete next year.
That said, the Lee/Betancourt/Garko deals were all about competing beyond 2010, which I can appreciate. Hagadone has looked good already in A and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him have an impact come 2012. Graham had a great outing the last time out and should also be ready by 2012. That’s not even counting Knapp, who’s ceiling is supposedly really high, but probably won’t hit the majors until 2013.
I think, sadly enough, I’m so used to these roll overs that I understand how this works. On one hand, I’m really sad to see the last generation go, but on the other hand I’m excited to see who pans out going forward. And at least we’ve got Grady and Cabrera to transition things.

I think the point in keeping him is if Santana gets hurt sometime between now and 2011. We’re putting a boat load of expectations on a guy who has yet to play a single game of AAA ball. He’s clearly earned it with his performance, but I don’t think the Tribe wants to count any chickens.
That might be four catchers, but not all of them would be in the majors — heck, like I said, Santana’s not even in AAA yet. I would guess that the loser of the Toregas/Marson battle goes to AAA with Santana, and Gimenez sticks around as back up because, as we all know by heart now, he’s versatile (aka he can not hit at any position).

Nolan Reimold is a Bowling Green man I might add.

I must say that I have never see Lou Marson play, however reading the scouting reports and descriptions about his play he reminds me of a young Jason Kendall. A high average guy that lacks power. We were told by Shapiro that the Indians think he can develop and grow into his power despite now having shown it yet, but once again that reminds me of Kendall. Do I think Marson will develop into a 3-time All Star like Kendall? Probably not, not here in Cleveland anyway. I said it previously and agree with LACF’s most recent statement about Marson as insurance for Santana. Unless a desperate team in need of a catcher overwhelms us (a scary thought considering what Shapiro considered to be overwhelming this year), then Marson will be our starting catcher for 2010.

I tried to do some digging into the special dates about salary arbitration but it gets a little convoluted. Feel free to comment and help me out with my inquiry. http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2003/01/important-transaction-dates_03.html

here’s some food for thought: what IF the Indians offer Shoppach a one year salary arbitration contract (~$3M) AND deal Marson in the Winter Meetings (December 7-10). I was trying to figure out exactly WHEN the arbitration deadline for current players would be for 2010 but that’s where I hit the wall. I get hung up on two specific dates with the rules associated with them.

December 1, 2009
Last date (midnight EST) for former club to offer salary arbitration to ranked XX(B) free agents in order to be eligible for compensation if those free agents sign elsewhere.

December 7, 2009
Last date (midnight EST) for player who declared XX(B) free agency to accept offer of arbitration from his former club.

To my memory Ryan Howard didn’t sign his $10M salary arbitration until well into the new year but he probably was offered and accepted arbitration well before that. My thought was that IF they traded Marson at the Winter Meetings (I still don’t think they will) would it be possible via timeline to offer Shoppach arbitration AFTER the trade or would they have to offer him arbitration prior to that? From my understanding of the dates, they would have to offer him arbitration by December 1 and he’d have until December 7 to accept it with the Winter Meetings to commence from the 7th-10th.

Man, I was all over the “Sell the team, cheap Dolans” bandwagon until now. Hard to argue the facts. I wanted to check to see if I came up with the same analysis, and sure enough:
1. 112,674,561 2001 Dolans
2. 95,681,323 2000 Dolans
3. 95,468,802 1999 Dolans
4. 94,462,501 2002 Dolans
5. 81,579,166 2009 Dolans
6. 78,985,860 2008 Dolans
7. 77,995,059 1998 Jacobs
8. 72,631,945 1997 Jacobs
9. 64,053,855 2007 Dolans
10. 62,198,837 1996 Jacobs
You could say in ’99 that that was the team inherited, but even so, that’s 85% of the highest payroll (2001). Thanks for referencing that article, AC.

AM, I think the first date is the last day for a club to offer arb to a ranked free agent, type A or B, in order to get a compensatory draft pick if he leaves. Shoppach will most likely be a type B. So, I believe you are correct that he’d have until Dec 7 to accept.

la_cleveland_fan:
People can scream sell the team until their vocal chords burst, but the Dolans are not going to take a loss from the Indians purchase, and nobody would pay enough to buy the team to turn the Dolans a profit. Owners never win in the fan’s eyes.

You know what is wrong with Pat’s column? It points out that the Dolans have had 6 of the 7 highests payroll. But what it doesn’t mention is that having those high payrolls only resulted in 3 teams above .500. 01, 05 and 07.

Yes Dolan is spending money (but no mention is made of how much increased revenue dollars he is getting) but his spending per win is far below what Jacobs got.

The FO that Dolan assembled has been very poor at getting wins out of his dollars. That is the problem. It isn’t the Dolans spending. It’s the people they hire and don’t fire.

This line
but his spending per win is far below what Jacobs got

should be,

his wins per dollar spent is far below what Jacobs got.

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