Whatever it takes to make the dirt stick

 By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com


CI_022301-199.jpgNothing like watching a morning round of PFPs. That is, after all, why I went to J-school.


But there is, of course, more going on at Indians' camp than just the tedious drill of fielding slow-rolling grounders and the signing of Russell the Muscle. Allow me to lay it all out for you.




  • Fausto Carmona threw a bullpen session this morning, and Manny Acta and pitching coach Tim Belcher both seemed impressed with the results. They're also happy with Carmona's conditioning. You might remember that Carmona came to camp last year with a spare tire, but he looks better this time around. "He's been working hard with a personal trainer he has in the Dominican," Acta said.
  • Assuming he stays healthy, right-hander Mitch Talbot, the guy acquired in the December trade that sent Kelly Shoppach to the Rays, will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity, most likely in the rotation. He is, after all, out of Minor League options, and the Indians didn't acquire him just to discard him.
  • Talbot, who threw his first bullpen session this morning, said he's excited to be in the rotation mix here. "I knew Tampa wasn't sure what to do with me," he said. "To come over here, where they seem to have a plan for me, is encouraging. With [David] Price and [Wade] Davis, [the Rays'] golden boys, I knew it wasn't looking too good for me, as far as being a starter, and that's what I want to be. I was not really looking forward to being a long reliever and pitching once every two weeks or so. I'm really happy to be here where I can actually compete for a starting spot."
  • I mentioned Tuesday that Alex White, last year's No. 1 Draft pick, looked poised in his first bullpen session for the Major League coaching staff. White, predictably, said he's enjoying big-league camp. "I'm just trying not to stand out, except when I'm on the mound," he said. "You just mimic the veterans and do what they do." White will begin this season as a starter - most likely at Class A Lake County or Kinston - but he knows a bullpen move is a possibility. "It could change any day," he said of his role. "Right now, I'm going to build up to get a bunch of innings in and be ready as a starter. But if need be, I'd go to the bullpen without any questions."
  • The Indians have five players on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list. They are: C Carlos Santana (10), 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (31), LHP Nick Hagadone (44), RHP Jason Knapp (64) and White (65). The Rays led all clubs with seven representatives on the list, while the Indians and Cubs tied for second place.
  • If you're wondering, the early report date for Minor Leaguers is March 2. They'll all be here by March 8.
  • Trevor Crowe was kind enough to point out to me that I was mistaken when I recently wrote that Mike Redmond is the only member of the Tribe's roster who possesses a World Series ring. I had forgotten that Lou Marson, by virtue of his four plate appearances with the '08 Phillies, also has one. Isn't it a bit strange that the catching spot -- probably the flimsiest non-pitching position on this club -- is the only spot where the Indians have World Series winners?
  • Daniel Fields, the son of Minor League hitting coordinator Bruce Fields, has been soaking up big-league camp and taking some BP here the last few days. Daniel was a Michigan prep star who was taken by the Tigers (for whom Bruce served as an outfielder in the 1980s and a hitting coach from 2003-05) in the sixth round of last year's Draft. He's a highly touted shortstop who signed for $1.6 million, and he'll report to Tigers' camp in Lakeland, Fla., in early March. Seems like a nice kid, too.



UPDATE: Here's the link to today's photo gallery, courtesy of team photographer Dan Mendlik (who, by the way, is responsible for all the Spring Training pics posted on this blog).


Assuming AC’s on the money with this, I think most of us would expect to see a rotation of Westbrook, Carmona, Masterson, Laffey, and Talbot, unless Laffey does soemthing horrible in spring training. I’d be happy with that. I know there are Huff lovers out there, but I’ve got no problems with him starting the year in AAA.
This is what I love about baseball: even though I don’t think we’ll compete, I can’t wait to see who steps up over the season to form the new core of this team.

thanks for the notes AC. any updates of laporta’s actions during the early part of spring training. also, ill be heading that way for a long weekend come march 12th. all the way from birmingham alabama. anything i need to check out while in the phoenix area?

Does that mean that Trevor Crowe reads this blog? Please give us a list of the players who read this blog on a somewhat frequent basis so we can know who to steer our criticism and praise towards.

LACF, I really hope that is our rotation for the start of the year. Count me in with the “Huff lovers” but I wouldn’t be opposed to him starting the year at AAA either. Carmona, Westbrook, and even Laffey I consider virtual locks. And am still in awe of the movement on Masterson’s pitches, any one else agree? Maybe I am wrong, but you have to make someone like him work as a starter if possible. Sowers is probably done with this team, unless he really impresses. Even then, it may be bullpen or bust for him.

And perhaps amseeley is actually Trevor Crowe in disguise. Think about it… he always mentions how he was “at work all day,” and he can only post at night when he is done with all of his work. Sounds like he is off playing baseball for the Tribe in reality. That may not be a whole lot to go on, but it is good enough for me. Then again, he may just hold a standard job like most sensible people.

For some reason I get the impression that AM works late, which is why he ends up posting in the wee hours of the morning — but I’d buy that he’s Trevor Crowe in disguise.
Yeah, I think Sowers is close to done. There’s a LOT of competition for the bullpen and even he has conceded that his stuff doesn’t exactly lend itself to mowing down batters out of the ‘pen. Given his injury and his lack of options, this could be the last we see of Sowers — because I honestly believe he’ll get snatched up by another team.
In fact, it’s kind of interesting to see two blogs by AC in the same day, one suggesting that Talbot is the favorite for the final rotation spot (and I say final knowing that AC has yet to hand the 4th spot to Laffey like the rest of us have), which would seem to doom Sowers, and one discussing the Tribe moving Reyes to the 60 day DL. I realize the timing of those two things in coincidental, but it’s almost as if we got news that we’re most likely going to lose a pitcher (Sowers), but there’s a good chance we’ll get another one back come mid-season (Reyes).
And, of course, the mystery that is Scott Lewis is still out there somewhere.

wow, what fun did I miss today. Not only did I miss an epic verbal confrontation between LACF and shizzo, but pigeon correctly ascertained my true identity: the flowing sideburns, the double ear flap batting helmet, the baby boy smile and the .271 batting average post All Star break after a wretched first half of the season (.169). It is I, sir Trevor Crowe.

As for my work schedule (as I often say that I am lucky enough to even be employed given our current economic troubles) I work at the in department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic (shameless plug), or as my previous discussion with another commenter (duane_kiper I believe it was), I work where Staph infections are born… but not really. That’s an old reference and if you happened to miss that post, you didn’t miss much.

Hypothetically speaking of course, working in PLMI I am aware of certain (ahem) injuries that affect individuals of a sporting nature to these Cleveland-based area professionals. For fear of losing my job I am unable to divulge such information. No seriously, that’s true. If I were a multi-millionaire then I would be a perfect source of information for AC.

Yes, I work second shift from 3:30 pm to midnight but that supposes the idea that I actually get off at midnight. I am actually depressed that I missed all the action from Wednesday but I was supporting a good friend today. Please, give them all your blessing. Check it out. http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/shocking_shooting_has_mothers.html

double-ear should have been hyphenated…

I think Laffey should definetely be in the rotation. I like how he attacks the hitters even though his fastball is only about 90 MPH. He throws strikes, and can get batters out. I think every year he keeps going along, he’ll keep improving. I hope Jake stays heatlhy,…. we’re gonna need him to hold down the rotation.


Love the Chris Whitley reference, AC.

pigeon, honestly I would let him walk if it came to that. We can obviously hope that in a dream scenario he replicates his 2004 numbers from the first half of the season (17 G, 14 GS, 6-4, 106 IP, 3.21 ERA) and therefore get a better player in return b/c he’s hot at the time of the deal. Same goes for Wood, Peralta and Branyan.

AM, I remember hearing about those shootings when they happened. I couldn’t help but feel nauseous at how brutal and heartless they were. Sorry to hear you were friends with them. And no need to divulge all of your secrets regarding the athletes and their injuries. We wouldn’t want you losing your job for violating HIPAA.

As for the lighter subject of baseball, I have a hypothetical question for everyone. Let’s say Westbrook comes back, and he is ok. Just plain ol’ average. He has a few good games, some bad games, an ERA around 4, etc. When the trade deadline comes around, the Indians get some offers, but nothing like we would have hoped for. Do you consider keeping him, and maybe try and sign him to an extension at a discounted price? Or do you have to get some kind of return on the guy?

does anyone else think that Manny Acta’s continual mentioning that Kerry Wood might get some 4-out save opportunities is aimed at limiting his games finished?

Regarding Westbrook, if he’s pitching well, the Indians aren’t contending and if by trading him they won’t put too much of a strain on their other pitchers, then by all means they should, even if it’s just to save half of his salary. After this season they could always make an attempt at signing him back, really Westbrook should feel obligated to give the Indians a discount, since to date they’ve paid him a ridiculous amount of money for not pitching. But if the Indians are serious about contending next year, they’ll almost certainly need to pick up another quality starter, someone with a salary that’s likely above $10 million. With the money they’re saving this year, and with Wood and Westbrook coming off the books, they should be in a position to make a move like that. Saving another $5 or 6 million this year on Westbrook would help a lot there, or could be used to re-sign Westbrook after the season’s over. If you figure $21 million is disappearing from the payroll next year, plus an additional $6 million in savings by trading Westbrook this year, you could re-sign Westbrook for something like a 2-year $12 million contract, and still have enough money to offer someone else a contract in the neighborhood of 2 years $30 million without significantly increasing the overall payroll from where it stands now.

furthermore, wouldn’t signing Branyan to get regular playing time (or Duncan, Kearns, Brown or Marte for that fact) be more of a move to keep Brantley in Columbus for the required 6 weeks or whatever it is so as to control his arbitration eligibility another year? They did the same thing last year with LaPorta. AC has mentioned this before but we all keep glossing over this fact.

You can say it was a waste of $2M given the aforementioned options above but not a bad decision in terms of the future. I personally wanted Brantley in LF (and LaPorta at 1B) rather than gaining one more year of arbitration control. That’s where I think it’s a bad signing.

AM, that’s horrible. I’m so sorry for you and for all the families and friends.

And now to change gears completely…
I have no problems with the idea of Brantley starting the year in AAA. I think I actually suggested as much during the off season, simply because he has no track record — his performance in Columbus last year would suggest that his hot start in the majors was something of a fluke, and let’s face it: he was facing other September call-ups in a lot of games that didn’t matter. Add to that the arbitration factor and I’m completely fine with it.
My problem with the Branyan signing is that it moves LaPorta to the outfield instead of getting him time at his ACTUAL position. What happens if Brantley flops in Columbus? Does LaPorta stay in the outfield all year? And if that’s the case, how can we call him the 1B of the future? Maybe we’d be better off just admitting that we have an opening in the outfield and at 1B and we’re not sure who’s going to fill each spot.

AC: caught your brief cameo last night during STO’s Spring Training Daily. Will you be making multiple walk-by appearances?

Some of us are jealous: I’d love to sit and just watch PFPs for an hour or so🙂 I went to J-school and all I got was the chance to put things in colored file folders…

Folks: nothing ever goes according to plan, so just sit tight and see how it all falls into place. I’m approaching the 2010 season trying to avoid the spin cycle from upper management. It might be the only way I can get through this season, god willing!

I actually think Shapiro would have GAINED fans had he sent Brantley down to AAA, but given Brown a shot in the outfield while playing LaPorta at 1B. I think he might have an easier time explaining sending Brantley down than he has explaining why Brown has never gotten a shot — not to mention saving the team $2M.

LACF, don’t forget Brown. The only way they don’t have a prospect to plug into the outfield is if both Brantley and Brown flop in Columbus. Which would seem unlikely. Otherwise it would be idiotic not to give one of them a shot for at least the 2nd half of the year–they need to find out what they have with these guys

LACF, my sentiments exactly. If LaPorta is geared to be our first baseman of the future then that’s where he should play this year… everyday. If the Indians want Brantley to start in Columbus for certain reasons then Brown, Kearns, or Duncan can hold down the fort in the meantime. I just get the feeling that Shapiro needed a reason to justify sending Brantley down and by signing a semi-proven veteran like Branyan (and I used proven lightly) and moving LaPorta to LF (healthy or not) that he found his reason. It doesn’t seem like he was comfortable with justifying demoting Brantley in lieu of Kearns, Duncan or Brown.

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