Man, this recession is brutal. Hope you enjoyed this year’s budget-conscious installment of the Rock ‘N Blast Fireworks.
I kid, I kid. The real thing takes place postgame. As for pregame, here are your news and notes.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Kelly Shoppach at DH? Believe it. Travis Hafner was in need of one of his routine days off, Shoppach is 13-for-his-last-41 (.317 average) and the Mariners have a left-handed starter on the mound in Luke French. “It was a good opportunity to get [Shoppach's] bat in there,” Eric Wedge said.
- Really impressive bounceback start for Justin Masterson last night after a rough one in Minnesota last week. “He has a nice tempo to him,” Wedge said. “Obviously, he’s big and strong, and he does a good job mixing in his changeup, breaking ball and slider. He’s consistent with his command. There are a lot of good things we saw.”
- I was surprised to see Masterson allotted 110 pitches already. He threw 83 in his previous outing, 61 in his first start and 46 in his last relief appearance.
- Left-hander Scott Lewis made his first start with Triple-A Columbus last night, and it was a brief one. Lewis gave up four runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in two innings. To clear up Lewis’ injury situation, he has calcium deposits on his ligaments in his left elbow, and that’s causing him discomfort that he’s going to have to pitch through. Lewis was activated from the 60-day DL and optioned to Columbus earlier this week. He’s certainly a candidate to come off the 40-man in the coming months.
- Wedge heaped praise on Jamey Carroll today, calling him “invaluable” to this team. “He’s a consummate pro,” Wedge said. “He’s somebody his teammates can look to for guidance. In a season that’s been very hectic, he’s been the one constant.” Wedge compared Carroll to Casey Blake, in terms of clubhouse presence and the willingness to take up any position at any time.
- Wedge said it’s too early to determine which positions are locked up for next year, though obviously Grady Sizemore, Peralta, Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are solidified at their spots. As for the other spots, “We’re going to hold off until we watch these young kids for another five or six weeks,” Wedge said. “I think we have to.”
- It seems fairly obvious that C Lou Marson, one of the acquisitions in the Cliff Lee trade, will be a September callup. “I want to see him myself at some point in time,” Wedge said. “The reports have been consistent on him.” Marson has hit in 11 of 14 games since the trade, batting .360 along the way.
- Speaking of trade acquisitions, right-hander Bryan Price, one of the Victor Martinez acquisitions, had a rough one at Class A Kinston last night. He gave up eight runs on eight hits, including three homers, in two innings. He is now 3-7 with a 6.10 ERA on the season at the Class A level.
- Three other recent acquisitions — Carlos Carrasco (Columbus), Connor Graham (Akron) and Jason Knapp (Lake County) — are all making starts tonight.
- The Indians and Dick’s Sporting Goods helped out 32 members of the Boys and Girls Club’s Lorain and Cleveland branches this morning with the annual “Shop With A Pro” event in Crocker Park. Each kid was given a $100 gift card and was accompanied by a Tribe player. David Huff, Jhonny Peralta, Chris Gimenez, Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey, Trevor Crowe, Tony Sipp and Wyatt Toregas all took part. “They all used their money so wisely,” Gimenez said. “They were so conscious of how much stuff costs. I had a lot of fun with them. I got a kick out of it.”
- In another community endeavor this afternoon, the Tribe gave a $150,270 check to the Cleveland Baseball Federation to honor Cleveland’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) tournament teams. The senior girls team ages 15-19 finished runner-up to Hawaii in the World Series championship game, which will be aired this Sunday at 1 p.m. on MLB Network.
- One last community note: The Tomo Ohka Dream Tour appears to be a success. The four disadvantaged children Ohka invited to the States from Japan have attended Tribe games and visited Berea Children’s Home and Family Services today. Tomorrow, they’ll visit Amish Country, which ought to be a unique experience for them. Smiles abound as they watched BP on field today. Ohka, who came from a single-parent home, has been doing this tour for nine years.
- The best thing about the Dream Tour? The Japanese kids aren’t forced to sleep in somebody’s dresser, hunt for celebrities from the “Super Terrific Happy Hour” or eat nothing but oranges. (And if you don’t get the reference, I don’t know what to tell you.)
- The Tribe’s home and road records are currently identical — 26-34.
- Still waiting for a homer at home. It’s been nine games – the longest such stretch since the end of the 1991 season. The Indians have hit 49 homers in 60 home games this season, while their opponents have hit 50.
- Add Dan Mendlik of the Indians’ information systems department to the growing list of those committed to the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show at the Q in November. The show is just 81 days away, not that I’m counting.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on WTAM and STO.
INDIANS (52-68): CF Grady Sizemore, 2B Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Kelly Shoppach, LF Matt LaPorta, C Wyatt Toregas, 1B Andy Marte. LHP David Huff (7-6, 6.55).
MARINERS (62-59): RF Ichiro Suzuki, CF Franklin Gutierrez, 2B Jose Lopez, DH Mike Sweeney, 1B Russell Branyan, LF Bill Hall, 3B Jack Hannahan, C Rob Johnson, SS Josh Wilson. LHP Luke French (2-3, 3.74).
It’s come to my attention that all of these blog posts are landing on the Indians’ Facebook page.
This is great news, considering my personal Facebook experiences are pretty much limited to getting friend requests from complete strangers, getting asked to participate in surveys that reveal which Star Wars character I have most in common with, and, of course, getting “poked” by my girlfriend (though neither of us have any idea what this means).
Unfortunately, the good people of Facebook reading the Tribe page are given no indication of who these barely readable blog entries are coming from. So from now on, I’m attaching the above byline information to avoid any confusion and maybe even drum up a little more interest in the CastroTurf community (if such a thing even exists).
If you Facebookians like the blog, feel free to visit. I won’t even ask you to poke me.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- In a sign of the times, the Tribe’s Sept. 5 game against the Twins has been dropped from FOX Sports’ broadcast schedule, so it will not be televised in the Cleveland or Minnesota markets. It will still take place at 4:10 p.m. ET.
- Here’s hoping none of you ran out and bought a Matt LaPorta jersey when he was called up in May, because he’s changed his number already. This time around, he’s No. 7, because his old No. 16 is now taken by Tomo Ohka and the No. 13 he wore in college and in the Minors is taken by Asdrubal Cabrera. “Seven’s a lucky number, too,” LaPorta said. “I’ll take it.”
- LaPorta arrived around the fifth inning last night. Naturally, like so many of us, he hit traffic on Interstate 71 between Columbus and Cleveland. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” he said.
- Eric Wedge said he’s still not sure how LaPorta’s starts will be divvied up, in terms of position. He’s in left field tonight, but he did some work at first base in the afternoon.
- I asked LaPorta what advice he’d have for fellow No. 1 Draft pick Alex White, who was here today to officially sign his contract and meet with the media. “You just have to continue to do what got you here,” LaPorta said. “Just because you’re a first-rounder doesn’t mean you stop working. That stuff can disappear really quick. Your ultimate goal is not to be a first-rounder, it’s to be a big leaguer.”
- LaPorta’s negotiations with the Brewers (who took him seventh overall in 2007) went much more quickly than White’s did with the Indians. “When they called to say they’re drafting me,” LaPorta said, “they said, ‘If we take you, will you sign for this much?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t have much [bargaining power], because I was a senior. I couldn’t go back to school.” LaPorta signed for about $2 million.
- As for White negotiations, he told reporters he never seriously considered going back to the University of North Carolina for his senior year. “I felt like I had done everything I could do at the college level,” he said. “I was ready to start my pro career and move on and start taking another path.”
- But White and his agent, Keith Grunewald, did what they had to do, waiting until nearly the last possible minute to agree to terms. Amateur scouting director Brad Grant said Steven Strasburg was not the reason so many players held out so long. They were merely using the system to their advantage. Grant said he expects more players to go that route next year, and the deadline won’t change to a more reasonable hour unless the players’ union agrees to a change in the bargaining agreement.
- White’s father, Bruce, said the negotiations between Alex and the Tribe didn’t really get going until around 10 p.m. Monday night. He also said he’d be shocked if his son spends a penny of his signing bonus right away. Alex drives a 2003 Chevy Tahoe, and he’s apparently pretty happy with it.
- White will report to Double-A Akron to begin a strength and conditioning program that will prep him for the Fall Instructional League. The Indians feel he’ll benefit from being in the playoff atmosphere with the Aeros. Still no decision on where he’ll start next season, but if it’s in Class A Kinston, he’ll only be about a half hour from his Greenville, N.C., roots.
- If you need him, Chris Perez is busy tossing 13 1/3 scoreless innings over his last 13 appearances. He’s walked four, given up three hits and struck out 15 in that span. “He has a great arm,” Wedge said. “He has deception in his delivery. What stands out is he’s doing a better job commanding his fastball and his breaking ball off that.”
- C Lou Marson homered for Columbus last night. He’s batting .360 (18-for-50) with three doubles, one homer and seven RBIs since arriving in the Cliff Lee trade.
- Left-hander Eric Berger tossed six scoreless innings in which he allowed just an infield single in Double-A Akron’s 3-0 win over Bowie last night.
- Congrats to Indians Radio Network pregame show host and in-game producer Jim Rosenhaus for landing tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band at the Q in November. Here’s hoping the Boss plays “Rosalita,” so Rosie and Rosie can be matched in perfect harmony. If you’re not at this show, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on STO and WTAM. And yes, Matt LaPorta is in the lineup.
UPDATE: We’re officially in rain delay mode. Game time TBD.
UPDATE No. 2: It’s now a 7:15 p.m. start. So not much of a delay.
INDIANS (51-68): CF Grady Sizemore, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Kelly Shoppach, LF Matt LaPorta, 1B Andy Marte. RHP Justin Masterson (3-4, 4.70).
ANGELS (73-45): 3B Chone Figgins, 2B Maicer Izturis, RF Bobby Abreu, DH Vladimir Guerrero, LF Juan Rivera, 1B Kendry Morales, SS Erick Aybar, CF Gary Matthews Jr., C Jeff Mathis. RHP John Lackey (8-5, 3.73).
"You've chosen to shave your hair. That's a look you're cultivating in order to look fashionable. We don't consider you part of the bald community."
I have no statistical evidence to back this up (and, in fact, I’m quite certain I don’t want statistical evidence to back this up), but I believe this current crop of Tribe players contains the most shaved heads in club history.
Be it in an effort to be fashionable, an effort to decrease air resistance and increase comfort or an effort to mask oncoming baldness, three guys in this clubhouse — Chris Gimenez, Justin Masterson and Jensen Lewis — are sporting naked noggins.
Toss in clubbie Josh Ball and his depilated dome, and you have a congregation of cue balls, a home for the hairless.
So if you want to show your support for the latest incarnation of the Indians, by all means grab a razor and go crazy, folks, go crazy.
If nothing else, this could open the door to the Tribe getting corporate sponsorship from Bic.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Matt LaPorta will see “regular time” in the outfield and at first base, according to Eric Wedge. Where LaPorta’s future ultimately lies is still a matter of mystery, as both left field and first base appear wide open for the outset of 2010.
- Wedge said the Indians had planned to get LaPorta up here before September, regardless of Crowe’s injury, because pre-September at-bats are considered more meaningful than September at-bats. That’s all well and good, but it’s Aug. 19. I’m not sure when this pre-September promotion was going to take place, but clearly those meaningful at-bats would have been in short supply.
- Why isn’t LaPorta in tonight’s lineup? Because he was en route from Toledo and wasn’t set to arrive until just before gametime.
- As for Crowe, he’ll be out two to four weeks. And this news comes a day after both Wedge and Crowe said they expected Crowe to be back in the lineup tonight. An MRI exam today revealed the strain to be more serious than originally thought.
- Shin-Soo Choo is now the backup center fielder for your Cleveland Indians.
- When’s the last time you felt supremely confident that Travis Hafner would come through with a big hit in the clutch. It’s been at least two and a half seasons, right? While Pronk’s playing time has been affected by his shoulder injury, his overall numbers haven’t been horrible. But his performance in the clutch is another matter, as he’s hitting .209 with runners in scoring position, .129 with RISP and two out, .182 (2-for-11) with the bases loaded and .125 (1-for-8) with the bases loaded and less than two out.
- Asdrubal Cabrera is now ninth in the AL in batting average (.316) after going 4-for-5 on Tuesday night. His .816 OPS is fourth among AL shortstops (and first among AL shortstops who illogically began the season at second base), and he’s hit safely in 12 straight games and 23 of 25.
- The Tribe’s stretch of seven home games without a homer is the longest in the history of Progressive (nee Jacobs) Field. It’s the longest such stretch by a Tribe club since August 1991.
- Incredibly, the Indians hit just 22 homers in 82 home games in that 1991 season at Cleveland Stadium and had a 13-game homerless stretch in June of that year.
- The MLB Network will air the RBI Senior Girls Championship from Aug. 14 this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The Cleveland Baseball Federation team played that game against Hawaii. I won’t spoil the ending for you here.
- All right, fine, they lose 3-0.
- That film crew is still here following Shin-Soo Choo around for a documentary for MBC in South Korea. Today, they interviewed Grady Sizemore and Wedge during batting practice. How do you say “grind it out” in Korean?
- Outfielder Donovan Tate, the No. 3 overall selection in the Draft this year, opted to sign with the Padres (for $6.25 million) the other night and pass up an opportunity to play football for the University of North Carolina (for free). I’m sure money made his choice quite a bit easier, but, nonetheless, he hit that same fork in the road crossed by Sizemore back in 2000. “I was still a kid at the time,” Sizemore said. “You don’t know what’s best for your future, but you just go with your gut. Baseball was kind of what I felt like I had the best chance to succeed with, so I went for it. … But I missed football. I still miss football. I enjoy watching it. You can always look back and wonder, ‘What if?’ But I’m happy with what I’m doing now.”
- The Indians are teaming up with Operation Homefront for a school supply drive on Gateway Plaza tomorrow to benefit military families. Tribe fans can assist in this cause by donating school supplies and backpacks on the plaza and at Gates A, C and D of Progressive Field throughout the 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Angels. Kids participating in the drive with a donation will receive a voucher for a free upper box ticket to any September home game.
- Finally, congratulations to my friend and yours, WTAM’s Tribe beat reporter Mark Schwab, who is getting married in Houston this weekend. Here’s wishing him and his bride Texas-sized happiness.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on STO and WTAM.
INDIANS (51-67): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, C Kelly Shoppach, 2B Luis Valbuena, 1B Chris Gimenez. LHP Jeremy Sowers (4-8, 4.88).
ANGELS (72-45): 3B Chone Figgins, RF Bobby Abreu, LF Juan Rivera, DH Vladimir Guerrero, CF Torii Hunter, C Mike Napoli, 1B Kendry Morales, 2B Howie Kendrick, SS Erick Aybar. RHP Jered Weaver (12-4, 4.12).
The Indians hoped to have Trevor Crowe back in the lineup tonight, but instead he’s making his first trip to the disabled list with a right internal oblique strain.
Top prospect Matt LaPorta is coming back to the big leagues to take Crowe’s roster spot.
More on Indians.com in a bit.
The Draft system might indeed be broken in the wake of Steven Strasburg’s record-setting, $15.6 million signing bonus with the Nationals. The bonuses based on potential and not performance have obviously gotten out of control.
But this doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the midnight deadline. Was this really necessary? If my time at Ohio University (and specifically, Court Street), taught me anything (and it’s debatable that it did), it’s that nobody makes good decisions with their money at that hour.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- The Indians made the decision to give Alex White a $2.25 million signing bonus at about 11:56 p.m. last night. GM Mark Shapiro addressed that signing with reporters. As expected, he announced that the Indians will initially groom White as a starter. It’s still possible the ‘pen is where he’ll end up, but giving him the innings and the opportunity as a starter to begin with makes the most sense.
- It appears scouting director Brad Grant jumped the gun when he announced to reporters on the day of the Draft that the Indians project White as a reliever and plan to transition him to that role in 2010. Shapiro said those plans hadn’t been “collectively” discussed at that point. It’s one of the rare situations in which the higher-ups in this organization weren’t on the same page, with regard to how they handled the media.
- Anyway, White won’t be starting anywhere in the season proper. His next step is to go through a strength and conditioning program in Goodyear, Ariz., where he’ll take part in the Fall Instructional League. The Indians will decide whether or not to have him pitch in the Arizona Fall League. The plans for White for next year, in terms of where he’ll begin the season, are not determined, but White will be in big-league camp, as has been the standard for all the Tribe’s No. 1 Draft picks the last several years.
- Trevor Crowe remained out of the lineup tonight with a strained oblique muscle. But he took four rounds of batting practice and handled it well. If he reports to the park feeling fine Wednesday, he should be back in the lineup, Eric Wedge said.
- Andy Marte still looks like Andy Marte to me. Wedge said he’s seen some improvement in Marte’s approach and balance, but clearly it’s not translating at this level yet.
- Marte’s window of opportunity could be closing come September, when Matt LaPorta joins the club and gets ample time at first base.
- Speaking of September callups, Wedge and the front office have been meeting to discuss the options available. Most would-be callups are already here, of course, but Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon are among the more interesting options. Carrasco figures to join the rotation, and it appears as though he could take the place of David Huff, who might be shutdown before season’s end. The Indians want to be careful with Huff’s innings total, as he missed much of 2007 with elbow trouble and threw 146 1/3 innings in the Minors last year. He’ll probably max out at about 160-170 innings this season, according to Wedge. Huff is currently at 131 1/3 innings this season, between the bigs and Triple-A.
- Shin-Soo Choo enjoyed watching countryman Y.E. Yang topple Tiger Woods on Sunday. “I don’t play golf, and I’m not a golf fan,” Choo said. “But I wanted him to beat Tiger.”
- Choo’s teammates are now joking with him that he’s the second-most famous Korean, behind Yang. But make no mistake, Choo is famous. There’s a camera crew following him around this week for a Choo documentary that will air on South Korea in November.
- Speaking of Choo, he’s been taking reps in center field in case he’s needed there, with Ben Francisco out of the picture and Crowe nursing that sore side.
- The Indians’ 16-12 record in the second half is the best in the AL Central.
- In the last six games at Progressive Field, entering tonight, the Indians have not homered. This ballpark ranks 23rd among the 30 parks in homers per game at 1.72. For comparison’s sake, San Francisco’s AT&T Park (1.41) has been the toughest place to homer, while Yankee Stadium (3.14) has been the easiest. These numbers are courtesy of STATS LLC.
- Massillon’s Austin Patterson was set to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch. He was also on the field for batting practice. Austin was the 2009 Pitch, Hit & Run national champion for the 9- and 10-year-olds group at the All-Star Game in St. Louis, Mo.
- OF Nick Weglarz landed on the Akron disabled list with shin splints. The Futures Game participant was hitting .227 with 16 homers and 65 RBIs.
- The Indians and Columbus Blue Jackets have formed a marketing alliance in which the MLB and NHL teams will share advertising and hospitality elements, provide ticket offers to each other’s fan base and share media exposure across broadcast partner channels. And this comes in the same season in which the Indians began selling ticket packages with the NFL’s Browns. If you’re so inclined, read about the new arrangement with the Blue Jackets here.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game will be broadcast on STO and WTAM.
INDIANS (51-66): CF Grady Sizemore, LF Jamey Carroll, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, 3B Jhonny Peralta, DH Travis Hafner, 2B Luis Valbuena, C Wyatt Toregas, 1B Andy Marte. RHP Fausto Carmona (2-7, 6.37).
ANGELS (71-45): 3B Chone Figgins, RF Bobby Abreu, LF Juan Rivera, DH Vladimir Guerrero, 1B Kendry Morales, CF Torii Hunter, 2B Maicer Izturis, C Mike Napoli, SS Erick Aybar. RHP Trevor Bell (0-0, 6.75).
It took all night, but the Tribe signed top Draft pick Alex White.
White received a $2.25 million signing bonus, well above his recommnded slot value, in a deal announced shortly after the 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday deadline to sign Draft picks.
More info on the Indians.com site in a bit.