Tribe grabs Grudzielanek with Minor League deal

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

The Indians have signed that “big-name” free agent everybody’s been waiting for.

G-R-U-D-Z-I-E-L-A-N-E-K. That’s 12 letters. Even longer than Castrovince. Huge.

Mark Grudzielanek has signed a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite. This could be the Indians’ answer to their opening in the utility infield spot, as the right-handed-hitting Grudzielanek has vast experience in the bigs at second base (1,108 games) and short (626), and a few games at third (31), just for good measure.

Alas, there’s a catch. Because while the 39-year-old Grudzielanek has experience in the Majors with five teams over 14 seasons, he hasn’t played in the bigs since 2008, and he only appeared in 11 games in the Minors last year. His ’08 season with the Royals was cut short in early August by an ankle injury. The Twins signed him to a Minor League deal midseason last year, only to release him a few weeks later.

In his career, Grudzielanek owns an average of .290 with 391 doubles, 36 triples, 90 homers and 629 RBIs in 1,772 games. He was an NL All-Star with the Expos in 1996 and an AL Gold Glove winner at second base with the Royals in ’06.

29 Comments

Good signing. If he has anything left to contribute on the field. This guy has seen every situation and can help our young infielders. Not every signing can impact the starting lineup- you need that layer of veteran leadership.

I saw a lot of negative comments from Dodger fans on websites on the signing of Jamey Carroll. I know he was also underappreciated here by some (not all), but you need these kind of guys around to pick their brains.

Hopefully Mark G. still can play and can stick around to be that utility guy, and not just end up in C-Bus helping the AAA players.

Being that he is 39, and hardly played at all last year due to injuries, I don’t see him being top-side all too long. If he didn’t have this injury problem late in his career, I think I’d be OK with him filling the utility role for a while. He’s had a decent offensive career, considering his position. But, I consider any prospective utility guy hitting over .250 to be decent. We’ll see what happens…

his lack of exposure to 3B would make me think that Marte or even Buscher have increased value to the 25-man roster given the right circumstances (i.e. LaPorta on DL).

…Should be noted that Gruds ankle injury happened when Ross Gload ran into him,while he (Grud ) was attemptng a catch..I think his veteran statis alone will be a compliment to the Indians organization….

Coming around to AC’s way of thinking, I would expect Gruds to compete for the starting 1B job, not a utility guy, at least not initially. I would rather play it safe with LaPorta and start him in Columbus, if need be.
Honestly, as much as I want to see the 2011 roster take the field in 2010 to get a full year together, I’m beginning to realize that it’s going to take time. Of all the young guys who are going to compete in spring training, I think I’m more focused on getting Valbuena out there from the start than anyone else. Given how much time he got in the majors last year, I think he’s the one who needs to show that he’s ready to go and play to his potential right away. I think LaPorta and Brantley are still deserving of some time in AAA, if need be. While clearly not as exciting, if we get Gruds and, say, Duncan on the starting roster, I’d be fine with it, at least to start the season.

I’m guessing that this means they’re not going to sign anyone else for the infield, which isn’t necessarily a huge deal — Valbuena has a chance to be a very good player. I would have preferred signing Belliard, but it’s possible Belliard either doesn’t want to sign with a non-contending team, wants to sign where he’ll have more of an everyday role, or didn’t get along with Acta. I’m not sure how willing they are to shuffle around their current infielders, but technically they can sub for everyone on the infield with Marte, since Marte can play 1b and 3b, Peralta can play 3b and SS, and Valbuena and Cabrera can play SS and 2b, so if Grudzielanek doesn’t work out, they don’t necessarily have to carry any other infielders on the team

If Grudz couldn’t get a longer look from the Twins when the Twins were playing Casilla (44 OPS+) and Punto (67 OPS+) at 2B, then he should not be considered for a 25 man spot.

He also had 2 errors in 6 games at 2B in AA.

Duane, you know the Twins have been really high on Casilla, who is a very good fielder, and I can argue that Punto (in the dome) was the 3rd most important position player on the Twins (even though his BA was down). Surely, they wouldnt play Grudz over Punto, right?

Would I rather have Jamey Carroll back? Absolutely. But I hardly think that a 14 year pro who did not agree with the path the Twins were taking with him, is not worth giving a shot to crack this team. 2 errors in 6 AA games last year? From a ********** vet who doesn’t want to be there? No big deal. He plays his *** of in ST and makes the club? Great. If not? Oh well.

jeez, i cant get out of my own way.

peeved off vet. plays his butt off.

Yeah, I agree with furrski — nothing about Gruds time with the Twins indicates to me that he’s a problem or can’t play a role for the Tribe.
And, like I said, I’m now working under the impression that LaPorta and Brantley will both start the year in AAA, since there’s no rush on either of them. I can just hear all the kneejerk Tribe fans now, though, when Gruds is at 1B and Duncan is in OF. But I’d hate to see us destroy the confidence of our young guys by throwing them out there too early (and September doesn’t really count).

a message from Captain Obvious about the disturbing-yet-constantly-talked putrid Indians’ draft history

http://www.cleveland.com/ohio-sports-blog/index.ssf/2010/01/respected_minor_league_publica.html

in relation to the above article, it makes you wonder if Mike Sarbaugh has supplanted Travis Fryman as the manager-in-waiting. I say this with the caveat that Sandy Alomar Jr. was clearly born to manage in the major leagues and would look great in Chief Wahoo for the next 10 years.

I would say that I am leaning towards LACF’s thought process. While I would love to see the young kids all get their shot from the onset of the season there is no reason not to be patient with these guys. Making sure that LaPorta, Santana and Hodges are healthy and productive for 2010 is the biggest issue. Getting Brantley acclimated to the majors given his September burst would be nice but as AC has pointed out, a dominant Triple-A season might do him some good. 2010 is not our banner year despite of desires. We’re built for 2011 and beyond. We have so many question marks that can potentially be answered in 2010 that I am willing to “throw away the season” if it means that we have a more cemented roster in 2011.

Subtractions:

Marson, Marte, Gimenez, Peralta, Duncan, Kearns, Westbrook, Talbot, Sowers, Wood and Grilli

Additions:
Sananta, Hodges (stopgap for Chisenhall in 2012), Rondon, Carrasco, Huff, Todd

if Mark Shapiro stays the course then potentially for 2011 he would have his stable of 8 starting pitcher in Carmona, Masterson, Laffey, Huff, Rondon, Carrasco, Gomez, maybe even Pino or a cheap veteran innings eater. Imagine a 2011 starting rotation with 2+ rookies. Yikes! I’m still monitoring the Erik Bedard sweepstakes.

LACF, Grudz didn’t hit or field well in AA. What makes you think he could be any help in the ML? He’ll be 40 in June. He’s finished.

LaPorta’s 25 already. He needs to be in the ML all year.

furrski, you have got to be joking when you say Punto was the 3rd most important player on the Twins. Punto and his 621 OPS was more important than Cuddyear’s 862? Or Kubel’s 907? Or Span’s 807?

The Twins gave Grudz a tryout because they were so desparate to find somebody to replace Casilla and Punto.

We’re going into a rebuilding season and we’re going to start a future star coming off surgery right away because…? There’s no reason to risk it. Give the ABs to Marte, then, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. All the youngsters will be up by mid-season assuming they perform in Columbus, anyway.
I mean, I daydream about the team taking everyone by surprise and just being unbelievable, but there are so many question marks that I don’t see why we should rush it and risk damaging any of these guys, particularly when some of them still haven’t proven themselves on a regular basis even in AAA.

And, as I think AM mentioned, there’s no reason to believe that Brantley’s performance in September is going to repeat come the new season. A few hot weeks against other teams with expanded roster doesn’t make him a starter, so time in AAA could be good for him.

duane, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but there is simply more to a player’s worth than OPS

LACF, if he’s recovered from his injury I don’t think anyone’s talking about Laporta opening the season in AAA, and why would they? Is he somehow more likely to get injured playing in the majors than the minors? He’ll either open the season on the DL if the injury’s still bothering him or he’ll be in the lineup, I don’t think there’s any question about that. I have to think that the outfield job is pretty much Brantley’s to lose. If he has a good showing in the spring then they’ll almost certainly give him the job, unless Brown has a great showing and trumps him. If they don’t go with Brantley it makes a lot more sense to put Brown in there (perhaps in a platoon with Duncan since Brown hasn’t hit lefties well in the minors) so they can see what he can do against major league pitching. So what if he’s below average on defense to start? Going with someone like Kearns would be holding back the development of their players and would just leave them with more questions that need answered for next year, it makes no sense. The third outfield spot should go to Brantley, Brown or Crowe, in that order, they need to get a read on at least a couple of those guys now so they can make informed decisions about the roster moving forward

Punto has been vastly underrated. While his hitting was down last year, he is a master at the short game, with bunting, baserunning, and everything the Twins did on the turf to create runs. And he makes every play defensively look routine. Punto was one with the turf. Yep. Mauer, Morneau, Punto. Ask Gardenhire. Now — in the new ballpalk, maybe not. No turf- whole new ballgame.

But also keep in mind that just because a guy didnt light the world on fire in 8 games in AA doesnt mean he’s finished. He could be, but who knows? We aren’t asking 500 AB’s here. If you can make the team, then keep some guys fresh and act like a pro.

apparently we think more highly of the Indians future compared to ESPN, as per their Insider writer

Tribe punting 2010 and 2011?
4:13PM ET Cleveland Indians
“While it’s unfair to say that Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro is planning on losing in 2010, but after trading CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez over the past two seasons, the club’s fortunes don’t look too promising, considering the organization’s lack of pitching.

After Fausto Carmona, who has to prove he can stay healthy and pitch at the level he did in 2007 for the Indians to have the beginnings of a legitimate rotation.

And sadly, there isn’t a lot in the minors, save for Carlos Carrasco and Nick Hagadone — neither expected to be frontline arms — and high-risk, high-reward right-hander Jason Knapp, who has health concerns. First-round pick Alex White could provide some help if he maxes out as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.”

I find it interesting that ESPN’s Insider writer neglected to consider Hector Rondon or Kelvin de la Cruz in the pitching mix considering Baseball America’s newest rankings. It’s just a simple fact that opinions are like you know what’s, everyone’s got one and they all stink.

I think the issue with Brantley, ST, is that there’s no reason to believe he’s ready for the majors. Like I said, one month after call-ups doesn’t equal success at the top level, particularly since he was still putting together a good season in AAA. Overmatching him for the sake of having him in the line-up as opposed to letting him improve in AAA would be a bad idea, as it would be with any number of our young guys — thus all the signings as of late.
Now, sure, if Brantley comes into spring training like gangbusters, he should get the spot. But there’s no point in forcing the issue with any of these guys, given how far off our pitching staff is on top of everything else.
As for Gruds, AC notes he hasn’t played in the majors since 2008, but look at his numbers from that year. If he’s healthy, there’s no reason he can’t contribute. And while I believe LaPorta when he says he’s healthy, there’s a big difference between being healthy and being up to major league playing speed so, again, why force it if we don’t have to? If LaPorta isn’t ready, they should let him warm up in AAA.

Oh, we DEFINITELY think more highly of our prospects than everyone else, at least as far as how quickly they’ll step in to the regular mix. If you look at it logically,, it’s kind of crazy that we seem to believe that Brantley, Valbuena, LaPorta, Santana, Masterson, Laffey, Huff, Carrasco, Todd, C. Perez, etc. will ALL pan out — because there’s just no way.
But I understand the feeling behind it — I’d love to be able to point to the team and say “this is the Tribe of the future.” I just don’t think it’s going to be that cut and dry.

I’d be curious to see what that ESPN writer said about the Indians last year. Most people picked the Indians to compete for the division in ’09, even without Sabathia. So the pitching staff that last year was Lee, Carmona, Pavano, Reyes, Lewis, with Kobayashi in the bullpen and zero depth beyond Laffey, Sowers and Huff at AAA was perfectly fine, on paper? Now this year we have these replacements:
Lee = WestbrookPavano = MastersonReyes = Huff Scott Lewis = Laffey Betancourt = C Perez Kobayashi = Todd/Sowers/etc
And now they’re doomed for the foreseeable future? That’s ridiculous. Of course I always thought the bullpen in particular was overrated going into last year, but still … I’d rate those replacements as: downgrade, upgrade, even, even, upgrade, upgrade. Sure Lee’s a big loss, but if Westbrook can be healthy and pitch a normal Westbrook year (ERA around 4-4.25), that’s only maybe -3 or -4 wins vs. having Cliff Lee pitching like he pitched last year. Having anyone in place of Kobayashi should be +2 or +3 wins. In no other slot as far as starter or bullpen do we have an on-paper downgrade from where we were going into last year, when the Indians were supposed to compete. At that point it comes down to what it always does, individual performances, if guys play like they’re capable of they can certainly compete for the division, as they could have last year if Perez, Jensen Lewis, Wood and Carmona hadn’t pitched terribly and if Joe Smith and Sizemore hadn’t been injured, and if Victor Martinez hadn’t hit sub .200 for 2 months before he was traded.

Oh, yeah, a healthy Sizemore and Hafner, plus a productive Carmona to go along with Lee would have made a big difference. I could see, on paper, why we were picked by so many last season. Add to that Lewis’ strong end of the year and the idea that we’d get Westbrook back by mid-season, and an upgraded bullpen that included Wood and Smith plus R. Perez and R. Betancourt — that’s not too shabby in a division like ours.
That first series in Texas should have told us everything we needed to know about the ’09 season, though!

And the same can be said for the coming year, healthy and productive Sizemore and Hafner and productive Carmona and bullpen, and sub Westbrook for Lee. Personnel-wise, the 2010 team features only 2 downgrades from ’09, Martinez and Lee being replaced by Marson and (hopefully) Westbrook, and they got a huge influx of young talent, and their top prospects going into ’09, Laporta, Valbuena, Rondon, Santana, are all ready to contribute now or in the near future. Betancourt, Garko, Derosa, Pavano and Reyes have been replaced by younger players with more upside, and if not for Santana’s hand injury we’d have a ready-to-go Martinez replacement right now. I honestly don’t think the personnel moves from ’09 have hurt their long-term chances of competing in the Central at all, and I’m not sure how any knowledgeable sportswriter could make that argument. Even given unlimited funds, do you re-sign Martinez after 2010 anyway? No, not with Santana and Laporta on their way up. Martinez is getting too old to catch and Laporta certainly has the potential to surpass his offensive production at 1b. (last year’s awfulness was a blessing in disguise in regards to Martinez, who otherwise I don’t think they trade, they just let him walk after 2010 … Victor’s career OPS of .837 would’ve been 6th from the bottom in the majors last year for 1st basemen-and he certainly had no future as a catcher in Cleveland) Lee is definitely a big loss, but when you consider the entire staff, they should feature an improved 1-5 in the near future

Yeah, as someone else said earlier, I would expect to see the Twins and White Sox battle for first (go Twins, in that case) and the Tigers and Indians to battle for third, with the Royals coming in last again. While I think the Tigers have the distinct advantage of having an ace, I think the 1-5 of our rotation could end up being better — and I think our bullpen should be better, too.
Barring injuries, I’d take the Twins for the division, all things considered, but if half the things we need to go right DO go right, I’ll pick the Tribe in ’11 hands down. I feel good about the road we’re on.

“G-R-U-D-Z-I-E-L-A-N-E-K. That’s 12 letters. Even longer than Castrovince. Huge.”

Have one longer then both (and he isn’t even near our team)… S-a-l-t-a-l-a-m-a-c-c-h-i-a (14 letters) Talk about a hand cramp. ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers

%d bloggers like this: