November 2009

All I hear is the clock on the dash tick-tocking

Reader “amseeley” sent me an e-mail asking about the options status of several Tribe players. I figured I’d just provide you with the status of everybody on the Tribe roster.

Obviously, some of this can be overlooked. For instance, the Indians won’t be optioning Kerry Wood down to Columbus next year. I’m just giving you the all-inclusive list.

Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody!

Three option years left:

Michael Brantley
Jordan Brown
Kelvin De La Cruz
Jason Donald
Jeanmar Gomez
Wes Hodges
David Huff
Chris Perez
Carlos Rivero
Nick Weglarz
Kerry Wood

Two option years left:

Asdrubal Cabrera
Carlos Carrasco
Trevor Crowe
Chris Gimenez
Aaron Laffey
Matt LaPorta
Lou Marson
Justin Masterson
Hector Rondon
Carlos Santana
Grady Sizemore
Joe Smith
Jess Todd
Luis Valbuena

One option year left:
Jensen Lewis
Adam Miller
Jhonny Peralta
Kelly Shoppach
Tony Sipp
Wyatt Toregas
Jake Westbrook

No options left:
Fausto Carmona
Shin-Soo Choo
Travis Hafner
Andy Marte
Rafael Perez
Jeremy Sowers
Jose Veras

~AC

Indians protect seven from Rule 5 Draft

INF/OF Jordan Brown, OF Nick Weglarz, INF Jason Donald, RHP Jeanmar Gomez, LHP Kelvin De La Cruz, 3B Wes Hodges and SS Carlos Rivero have been added to the Indians’ 40-man roster, which is now filled.

More info available in this story.

"There's nothing more satisfying than looking down after lunch and seeing nothing but a table."

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

Manny Acta had lunch with the Indians’ beat reporters this afternoon, and the first piece of news to come out of it is that this guy loves the margherita pizza at Pickwick and Frolic.

“I had an eight-hour interview [for the job with the Tribe],” Acta said, “and the thing I remember most was that pizza.”

He was joking. Kind of. I mean, that pizza is pretty good.

acta1.jpgThe topic of the pizza led to the broader discussion of the psychological stresses of having a job interview that involves pizza. If you go for the last slice, does that preclude you from getting the job? It’s a tough call, but, for the record, Acta didn’t grab the last slice in front of Mark Shapiro, and look where he is today. That’s a lesson for you kids out there.

Anyway, here are the non-pizza notes to come out of the interview session.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Acta voiced the importance of the Indians adding a veteran starter in free agency. But he stressed that is has to be “the right guy” and not just someone who’s going to come in and block the progress of the Indians’ young arms. When I asked Acta if the Indians will still look for a starter if Westbrook proves he’s healthy and ready to come back, he replied, “We might still [get a pitcher], because you have to cover yourself. You can never go into Spring Training short on pitching.”
  • Will the Indians add anyone to the bullpen? “We’re very happy with what we have,” Acta said. “That being said, there’s going to be about 200 players out there.”
  • What else might the Indians look for in free agency? Acta said a utility infielder (as expected) and possibly a right-handed bat who can help out at first base, if Matt LaPorta isn’t completely up to speed by Opening Day. Acta said the Indians have also discussed the possibility of bringing in a veteran catcher to handle their young arms, though they also saw last year that having two veterans in Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach on the staff didn’t exactly cure what was ailing the pitching staff. Acta said that Shoppach is still in the Indians’ plans at this moment. Obviously — and these aren’t Acta’s words — that has the potential to change by the non-tender deadline.
  • I’ll caution you that none of the above translates into the Indians’ suddenly becoming major players in the free agent market. This is merely Acta’s wish list, and he admitted that, if asked, he could come up with a list longer than anything you’d submit to Santa Claus. The Indians won’t have the resources to fulfill every need.
  • Internal candidates Jon Nunnally and Dave Hudgens are the only remaining candidates for the hitting coach position. Acta will visit with them in Venezuela the first week of December and make his decision at that time.
  • The only other two positions on Acta’s staff will be of the bullpen catcher variety. Those will go to in-house candidates as a way for them to get their feet wet for future coaching or managerial assignments. Similar to Dave Wallace’s experience last year.
  • In mid-January, Acta will assemble his complete coaching staff in Goodyear, Ariz., so that they can discuss the players and also get acclimated to each other.
  • Acta has already had some in-depth conversations with several players, including face-to-face meetings here in Cleveland with Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner in the last few days. Acta said he expressed to Peralta how much the Indians will be counting on him next year. “I think, and he admitted, that the switch of positions affected him last year.”
  • Though Fausto Carmona was not on the initial list of players participating in winter ball, he will, in fact, be suiting up in the Dominican in December. Carmona had made it clear to the Indians that he preferred to pitch this winter, and they eventually decided to allow him to do so. “He felt it helped him in the past,” Acta said. Acta also said he doesn’t expect Carmona to long more than 30 innings of work.
  • Jake Westbrook will make his Puerto Rican winter ball debut in about 10 days. For now, he’s still at the Goodyear complex getting stretched out, with pitching coach Tim Belcher on hand to make sure Westbrook’s mechanics are in line before he pitches in games. Westbrook is slated to make five starts in Puerto Rico, and Acta will be on-hand to see him pitch in mid-December.
  • Acta said he will likely play his regulars for the last 10 days to two weeks of Cactus League play. “You can’t lose your last eight or nine games of Spring Training, then show up in Chicago on opening night and just turn on the switch,” he said.
  • Acta said LaPorta, once healthy, is likely to play more at first base than left field, and he implied that Michael Brantley will be on the big-league club. But don’t expect Brantley to bat leadoff right away.
  • Grady Sizemore is progressing well in his rehab from groin and elbow surgery. He is doing running and agility drills at the Goodyear complex.
  • Acta is not opposed to Kerry Wood logging some four-out saves.
  • The bullpen roles, aside from closer, are wide open, in Acta’s mind. “We need to convey the message that roles have to be earned,” he said. “[The 'pen] was not a strength of this ballclub last year, so we can’t go into Spring Training with roles.”
  • Acta knows he’s inherited a challenge, given the Tribe’s payroll constraints. But he seems genuinely excited about this opportunity. “In baseball, you never know,” he said. “On any given day, Aaron Laffey can beat Roy Halladay.”

~AC

Sandy Alomar Jr. joining Acta's staff as 1B coach

That guy directing traffic at first base at Progressive Field next season will be a familiar face to Tribe fans. Sandy Alomar Jr. is coming back to the Indians.

Manager Manny Acta, nearing the completion of his coaching staff, has hired Alomar to be his first base coach. Alomar will also work closely with the Tribe’s catchers.

Alomar had a job as a catching instructor with the Mets, but his acceptance of the position with the Indians makes for a homecoming, of sorts. Alomar spent 11 seasons with the Tribe from 1990 to 2000. While with them, he was a six-time All-Star and a leader on the field on Tribe teams that won five AL Central titles and two AL pennants. The Indians gave Alomar a fitting tribute when was a he was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame this past summer.

More to come on Indians.com.

You keep me in doubt, I can't live without your protection

UPDATE: Here’s a full rundown of the 40-man situation and who might get protected Friday.

Friday is the last day teams can protect eligible players from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster.

The Indians, at the moment, have 33 players on their 40-man. Free agents Jamey Carroll and Tomo Ohka will officially come off that list at week’s end, and Jake Westbrook and Anthony Reyes (both on the 60-day DL) would have to be added, so the number of open spots could remain at seven.

It’s possible the Indians could designate Reyes for assignment, given that his recovery from Tommy John surgery won’t make him a rotation option until midseason, at the earliest, in 2010. If that’s the case, that would free up an eighth spot.

In any event, the following is the list of Rule 5 eligibles who will have to be added to the 40-man or else exposed.

Juan Aponte
Cristo Arnal
Jordan Brown
Alex Castillo
Jose Constanza
Adam Davis
Kelvin De La Cruz
Kelvin Diaz
Kevin Dixon
Jason Donald
John Drennen
Ryan Edell
Damaso Espino
Jose Flores
Jared Goedert
Jeanmar Gomez
Jerad Head
Stephen Head
Frank Herrmann
Wes Hodges
Zach Jackson
Scott Lewis
Chuck Lofgren
Anillins Martinez
Richard Martinez
Matt McBride
Matt Meyer
Lucas Montero
Roman Pena
Vinnie Pestano
Yohan Pino
Carlos Rivero
Josh Rodriguez
Luis Rodriguez
Niuman Romero
Gregario Rosario
Carlton Smith
Erik Stiller
Josh Tomlin
Sung-Wei Tseng
Neil Wagner
Nick Weglarz
Steven Wright

As is the case most years, the Indians are going to have some tough choices in here. Brown, a subject of controversy when he wasn’t promoted in September, figures to be protected. Same with Weglarz (who had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left leg earlier this month but should be ready for Spring Training), Donald and Hodges. McBride was stellar at Kinston and made the transition to Akron in May. He therefore might get protected.

On the pitching side, the left-handed De La Cruz is one of the best arms in the system, but he missed most of the year because of injury. Gomez is a lock. The left-handed Lofgren’s improvement this season gave the Indians something to think about this time of year. Pino was an intriguing addition in the Carl Pavano trade, Edell is left-handed and Wright made the transition to the bullpen at Akron this year.

Those are the names that jump out to me, though one can never be exactly sure what a Major League team (the Indians included) will value in the Rule 5, which, for the record, takes place Dec. 10 in Indianapolis.

Three more named to Acta's staff

Manny Acta has made three more appointments to his coaching staff.

Tim Tolman will be coming aboard as the bench coach, Scott Radinsky has been promoted from Triple-A pitching coach to big league bullpen coach, and Steve Smith is joining the Indians as Acta’s third base and infield coach.

Tolman has previous ties to both Acta and the Indians. He served as Acta’s third base coach with the Nationals in 2007 and 2008. He spent last season as a Minor League instruction coordinator for the Mariners. He was with the Indians as a Minor League field coordinator from 2003-06 and, prior to that, spent 12 years working in the Astros’ player development system.

Radinsky was passed over for this bullpen coach position a year ago, when the Indians hired Chuck Hernandez to replace Luis Isaac. Now, Radinsky, who has 557 Major League relief appearances under his belt, joins the staff after spending three years as pitching coach at the Triple-A level.

Smith is a new face to both Acta and the Indians. He spent a total of 11 seasons serving as the third base and infield coach for the Mariners (1996-99), Rangers (2000-06) and Phillies (2007-08). Charlie Manuel dismissed him after the Phillies won the World Series title in 2008. Smith had been suspended twice for on-field incidents.

With pitching coach Tim Belcher also in tow, there are just two prominent jobs remaining on Acta’s staff — hitting coach and first base coach.

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