May 2010

"I still love you, New York"

By Anthony Castrovince/

nyc.jpgIn an unsurprising development, I have definitely enjoyed spending Memorial Day weekend in the Big Apple.

Oh, sure, maybe I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the Navy servicemen in town for Fleet Week, some of whom have been seen walking the streets with a babe on each arm and a smile as wide as a ship’s hull. They probably have a slight edge on the enjoyment scale. But I’ve enjoyed it all the same.

From here, we regress back to reality. Actually, not even reality. We move on to the near-dystopia that is Detroit.

This is quite the road trip, if you think about it. The Indians go from New York City to Detroit to Chicago. One wise member of the traveling party compared this three-city jaunt to an Oreo cookie. But if you’re like me, and you happen to like the cream of the Oreo cookie, let’s call it an Oreo cookie with anchovies in place of the cream. That paints a picture, doesn’t it?


  • David Huff threw a bullpen session this morning, the first step in determining if he’ll make his start Thursday against the Tigers. The Indians have not made a decision yet and might not until as late as Wednesday. But Huff hasn’t shown signs of a concussion as a result of that A-Rod liner bouncing off his skull, and the chances of him getting the starting nod appear to be in his favor, as of now.
  • Unlike the Navy guys, Tony Sipp hasn’t had the most enjoyable weekend in New York, but he’s handled it well. This is Sipp’s first visit here, and, to his credit, he has nothing but nice things to say about it, regardless of what’s transpired on the mound at Yankee Stadium. Sipp served up the game-winning grand slam to Robinson Cano on Friday and the game-winning, three-run blast to Mark Teixeira on Sunday. This came after Sipp had tossed 15 1/3 scoreless innings over his previous 15 appearances.
  • Manny Acta said he couldn’t be less concerned about Sipp putting the events of the weekend behind him. He’ll continue to lean on the lefty Sipp in late-inning situations. “It was dramatic,” Acta said, “but it wasn’t against Joe Blow. It was against Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano … He has the perfect demeanor for the job. He’s really got some ice-cold veins. He’s a cool cat.”
  • Didn’t get the win, but Justin Masterson, turned in a strong effort against a tough lineup Sunday, amid speculation that his days in the rotation might be numbered. No telling how much of a rope he bought himself with that start, but I know it encouraged and Indians team that desperately wants to believe Masterson can use his strikeout-inducing stuff to have sustained success in a starting role.
  • Aaron Laffey’s rough one against the Yanks in an emergency scenario Saturday didn’t do much to help his cause to replace Masterson. But there’s a difference between jumping into a ballgame when a guy gets hit in the head and having the routine and prep time that comes with being in a rotation. Laffey will have the latter down in Triple-A Columbus, and I’m curious to see how quickly the Indians call on him, if at all.
  • I get asked about Carlos Santana coming up to the bigs on a daily basis, and that interest will only intensify when the calendar flips to June. Worth noting that Santana has thrown out just seven of 28 base-stealers this season, an obvious sign that his development as a catcher is not complete. Also worth noting that Marson leads the AL in that department, having thrown out 10 of 32 would-be base-stealers for a 31.3 percentage.
  • Marson has heated up at the plate this weekend, doubling his season RBI total. He’s hit .278 since April 27. Acta said Marson has been a little  more aggressive against the Yankees, and that’s helped. Marson has shown good plate discipline this season, swinging at just 20.7 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, but the Indians wanted him to be more willing to swing at some borderline pitches so that he doesn’t find himself behind in the count as often.
  • The above stat came from I cite it often in my stories, as it’s a fantastic site for all the statistical minutiae that helps us better understand what we’re watching. And Acta uses it, too. He mentioned Fangraphs when talking about Marson and said the Indians used it to take a look at Grady Sizemore’s numbers when he was struggling earlier this season.
  • Still no word on the exact date of Sizemore’s impending surgery, but it will be sometime in the next week. I’d be extremely surprised if this turns out to simply be a scope and Sizemore is back in action in six to eight weeks.
  • Nick Hagadone is movin’ on up to… Double-A.
  • Joe Gardner, third-round pick in last year’s Draft, is now 3-0 for Class A Kinston after allowing just two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings in a win over Salem on Sunday.
  • Yet another stat about that ridiculous four-hour, 22-minute win over the Yanks on Saturday: 12 of the Indians’ 13 runs came with two out. For the season, 47 percent of the Tribe’s runs have come with two out.
  • The Nos. 7-9 spots were 7-for-21 with seven runs scored and eight RBIs on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Acta viewed this as an important developmental weekend for Trevor Crowe, Marson and Jason Donald, each of whom have had a solid series.
  • Shin-Soo Choo got a needed day off today, his first of the season. Choo was 0-for-the-series (more specifically, 0-for-his-last-17).
  • If you like the white caps with the red, white and blue block “C” that the Indians are wearing for today’s Memorial Day game, you’ll see them again July 4 and Sept. 11. Actually, you’ll see them again July 4 and Sept. 11, whether you like them or not.
  • The New York Post referred to the Indians as a JV team this weekend.
  • A recommendation and a new discovery for yours truly this weekend, thanks to a tip from a trusted source, was Lombardi’s Pizza on Spring and Mott. Worth the hour wait. Those in the line out the door would assumedly agree.


5/31: Indians vs. Yankees

Here’s wishing those who have served and those who continue to serve a happy Memorial Day. Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium is on WTAM and STO.

cle8.gifINDIANS (18-30):
CF Crowe, 2B Grudzielanek, LF Kearns, DH Hafner, 3B Peralta, RF Duncan, 1B LaPorta, C Marson, SS Donald. RHP Mitch Talbot (6-3, 3.73).




nyy4.gifYANKEES (30-20):
SS Jeter, CF Granderson, 1B Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, 2B Cano, RF Swisher, DH Miranda, C Cervelli, LF Gardner. LHP Andy Pettitte (6-1, 2.62).

5/30: Indians at Yankees

The Indians made a roster move before today’s game, promoting right-handed reliever Jensen Lewis from Columbus and sending left-hander Aaron Laffey down. Laffey is expected to get stretched back out as a starter, which would make him an option should the Indians make a change in their rotation.

Speaking of which, Justin Masterson is on the mound today in the Bronx. WTAM and STO will carry the 1:05 p.m. ET game. Mike Snyder is filling in for Tom Hamilton, who is attending his daughter’s graduation party back home.

UPDATE: Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff announced that Grady Sizemore will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in Vail, Colo., this week and will miss at least six to eight weeks. Possibly more, if microfracture surgery is deemed necessary. More to come on

Also, the Indians are still hopeful David Huff will make his next start against the Tigers. He will continue to be evaluated over the next few days but he looks and feels great.

cle3.gifINDIANS (18-29):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, C Marson, SS Donald. RHP Justin Masterson (0-5, 6.13).




nyy3.gifYANKEES (29-20):
SS Jeter, CF Granderson, 1B Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, RF Cano, DH Swisher, LF Miranda, C Gardner, C Moeller. RHP A.J. Burnett (5-2, 3.55).

5/29: Indians at Yankees

Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Yankee Stadium will be bradcast on WTAM and STO.

cle2.gifINDIANS (17-29):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, LF Kearns, 3B Peralta, DH Duncan, 2B Grudzielanek, 1B LaPorta, C Marson, SS Donald. LHP David Huff (2-6, 5.25).




nyy2.gifYANKEES (29-19):
SS Jeter, RF Swisher, 1B Teixeira, 3B Rodriguez, 2B Cano, DH Thames, C Cervelli, LF Russo, CF Gardner. LHP CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.86).

5/28: Indians at Yankees

Tonight’s 7:08 p.m. ET game (the Yankees start their games three minutes late… and they usually end about an hour late) is on WTAM and WKYC Channel 3.

Here’s the link to tonight’s notes.

cle.gifINDIANS (17-28):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, C  Redmond, SS Donald. RHP Fausto Carmona (4-2, 3.45).




nyy.gifYANKEES (28-19):
SS Jeter, CF Granderson, 1B Teixeira, 2B Cano, RF Swisher, DH Miranda, LF Gardner, 3B Pena, C Moeller. RHP Phil Hughes (5-1, 2.72).

5/26: Indians vs. White Sox

Today’s 12:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM. No TV today.


INDIANS (17-27): CF Crowe, RF Choo, LF Kearns, 1B  Branyan, 3B Peralta, DH LaPorta, 2B Valbuena, C Marson, SS Donald. RHP Jake Westbrook (2-2, 4.56).




cws4.gifWHITE SOX (19-26):
LF Pierre, C Pierzynski, CF Rios, 1B Konerko, DH Kotsay, RF Quentin, 3B Teahen, SS Ramirez, 2B Beckham. LHP Mark Buehrle (3-5, 4.55).


"Nothing too very scientific"

By Anthony Castrovince/

bob-dylan-5366.jpgThe Progressive Field scoreboard pointed out last night that it was Bob Dylan’s 69th birthday, and that inspired me to whip up a quick tweet of my Top 5 Dylan tunes.

Of course, the instantaneous world of Twitter does not lend itself to deep thought or consideration before transmission. Here in the slightly-less-instantaneous world of blogging, we have a little more time to think things through. So here I present you with my slightly revised Top 5 Dylan Tunes List.

5. “Not Dark Yet”: The Dylan Renaissance that began in the late ’90s and continues into the present day had to be represented on this list. And while I went with “Mississippi” from “Love and Theft” on the Twitter list, I mistakenly overlooked this heartbreaking and haunting song from “Time Out of Mind.”

4. “Sooner or Later (One of Us Must Know)”: A great song from Dylan’s greatest album. Really, it’s here as representation for its 13 “Blonde on Blonde” peers. Any of them are arguably worthy of a spot on this list.

3. “Tangled Up in Blue”: Epic narrative of love found and lost.

2. “Series of Dreams”: It was not deemed worthy of placement on the “Oh Mercy” album, but it was deemed worthy of “Greatest Hits Volume 3” and the No. 2 position on this list. Go figure.

1. “Like a Rolling Stone”: It’s vindictive, revengeful and inspiring. Simply one of the greatest and most influential rock songs of all time.

Very Honorable Mention: “Jokerman,” “Mississippi,” “If You See Her, Say Hello,” “Positively 4th Street” and “Brownsville Girl.”


  • Justin Masterson remains in the Tribe rotation. He’s penciled in to start Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Certainly a surprising (non-)development, if you ask me. It sure felt like last night’s four-inning outing would be some sort of final straw. Manny Acta has made it clear the Indians are considering their options in this regard right now, and you’d have to imagine Aaron Laffey’s name is prominent in those thoughts. He said Masterson is in the rotation “as of now,” which is hardly a strong vote of confidence.
  • Masterson’s WHIP is creeping up near the 2.00 mark (it’s actually 1.89… the highest in all of baseball among qualified pitchers). His ERA is 6.13. His average against when facing lefties is .386. If he suffers two more losing decisions without a win, he’ll tie a team record. “As of now,” indeed.
  • The May 7 rainout against the Tigers has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader July 17 at Progressive Field.
  • The First-Year Player Draft is fast-approaching, with the first round taking place the night of Monday, June 7 and shown live on and the MLB Network. Rounds 2-30 will take place June 8, and Rounds 31-50 will be held Wednesday.
  • As you know, the Indians have the fifth overall pick this year. They’ll select again at No. 55 in the second round, No. 87 in the third round and in the fifth spot of every round thereafter.
  • Scouting director Brad Grant spoke with reporters today about the Draft preparation and was characteristically (and understandably) vague. Tons of pressure on the Tribe to get that pick at No. 5 right, given the club’s Draft history and the general economic and competitive outlook for the club. But Grant stressed the importance of not focusing solely on No. 5. “Our job is to influx as much talent into the organization as possible,” he said. The Indians have thoroughly scouted about 200 players, Grant said. The Draft is supposedly deep overall, and especially in the department of high school right-handed pitching.
  • Grant said the Indians are considering all positions for the fifth pick. He also made it clear that high school players or guys who are expected to hold up clubs for exorbitant bonus sums are not off the table. The Indians believe they have the financial resources to take the guy they want, not just the guy they think they can sign.
  • The Indians get plenty of flak for their poor drafting record, and deservedly so. But keep in mind the club did change its process in recent years, and you have to like the early returns from the ’09 haul. No. 1 pick Alex White (3-3, 2.82 ERA in nine starts between Kinston and Akron), No. 2 pick Jason Kipnis (.297 average/.805 OPS at Kinston), and No. 3 pick Joe Gardner (3-0, 2.51 ERA in 10 starts between Lake County and Kinston) are all doing well in their first full professional season. “I feel good with where we’re at,” Grant said.
  • My colleague Jonathan Mayo projects that the Indians will take Florida Gulf Coast University left-hander Chris Sale with the fifth overall pick. Another left-hander the Indians have been linked to is Ole Miss’ Drew Pomeranz. If the Indians go the college bat route (it wouldn’t be the first time), then two strong possibilities are UT-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox.
  • Speaking of Mayo and the Draft, in this link he presents a parallel universe, circa 2005, in which the Indians select Alex Gordon at No. 14 instead of Trevor Crowe (who doesn’t finish in the first-round money).
  • Class A Kinston played a 15-inning game against Potomac last night and won, 10-6. Third baseman Kyle Bellows (a fourth-round pick last year) hit a grand slam in the 15th for the win.
  • Speaking of Kinston, right-hander Rob Bryson, a CC trade import, has pitched 6 2/3 consecutive hitless innings for the K-Tribe. He is 5-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 games for the year between Lake County and Kinston.


5/25: Indians vs. White Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO.

cle4.gifINDIANS (16-27):
CF Crowe, RF Choo, DH Hafner, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Valbuena, C Marson, SS Donald. RHP Mitch Talbot (5-3, 3.88).




cws3.gifWHITE SOX (19-25):
LF Pierre, SS Ramirez, CF Rios, RF Jones, 1B Kotsay, DH Quentin, 3B Teahen, C Castro, 2B Beckham. RHP Jake Peavy (3-3, 5.74).

"I almost went to barber school. I always felt I had a talent for it."

By Anthony Castrovince/

barber.jpgSitting next to Indians media relations assistant Matt Whewell in the Progressive Field press box is a daily education. We learned a few weeks back that a human being is capable of consuming upwards of 42,388 calories in a single meal and still keeping an accurate box score after the fact.

Today, we learn what probably should have been a point hammered home to all pubescent males as a forewarning: Never let your girlfriend cut your hair. No matter what. If you’re on a budget and aren’t the salon type, well, by all means, go get a $7 cut on E. 185th Street. Pull the Sawzall out of storage and find a good angle in front of the mirror, if you’re really desperate. Do whatever it takes to avoid asking your girlfriend to bring scissors anywhere near your scalp. Because the only potential outcomes in that scenario are hurt feelings, a lopsided dome or some combination of the two.


  • I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on TV. I am not medically qualified to know about treatment options for a “deep knee bone bruise.” But I do know that Grady Sizemore is seeing not one but two specialists this week (in Vail, Colo., and New York City) for second and third opinions on how to treat his condition. Clearly, this is not your standard bruise. Cartilage damage is a possibility, as is surgery. We should know more later in the week.
  • Trevor Crowe has been impressive filling in for Sizemore thus far. He doesn’t look as uncomfortable at this level as he did in ’09. Manny Acta and the coaching staff liked his energy in Spring Training, and Acta likes having a switch-hitter with speed on the active roster. Many fans would rather see Michael Brantley right now, but Crowe has clicked the nine games since his promotion. Also worth noting that just four of Brantley’s 32 hits with Columbus this season have gone for extra bases — three doubles and a triple. That’s worthy of some concern.
  • Justin Masterson on the hill tonight, and you know the story line there. He’s looking for a win. Hasn’t notched one since last August. His losing streak is at 10 games, covering his last seven starts of ’09 and his first eight of 2010. In Indians history, only four pitchers have had losing streaks of at least 11 games. They are: Guy Morton (13, 1914), Rod Nichols (13, 1989-91), Steve Hargan (11, 1971-72) and Fausto Carmona (11, 2006-07).
  • The good news on Masterson? He’s striking out 9.6 batters per nine innings, the third-best ratio in the AL.
  • Some fans want to see Masterson dropped to the bullpen and Aaron Laffey reinstalled as a starter. Worth noting that Laffey has labored a bit lately. “He hasn’t had his command his last few outings,” Manny Acta said of Laffey, who has allowed four runs on five hits with a walk over his last 2 1/3 innings. .
  • David Huff had just about pitched himself into the Columbus rotation before rebounding a bit with his start in Tampa Bay last week and against the Reds on Sunday. Tim Belcher and Acta were frustrated with Huff shaking off the catcher and going to his breaking and offspeed stuff more frequently than they’d like. They’re much happier with his last two starts. He still got burned on two changeups to Scott Rolen on Sunday, but his job isn’t in as much jeopardy as it was a couple weeks ago. “I was kind of going down the wrong path and getting away from what I do,” Huff said. “Manny and Tim saw that and yelled at me. They lit a fire under my butt.”
  • According to, Huff is actually throwing a similar percentage of fastballs this year as he did last year (62.2 percent this year, 63.6 percent in ’09). He’s throwing more sliders (13.3 percent vs. 10.9 in ’09), less curveballs (4.4 vs. 7.0) and more changeups (20.1 vs. 18.6).
  • The back end of the Indians’ bullpen is set right now with closer Kerry Wood and setup men Chris Perez (zero earned runs allowed over his last 12 1/3 innings) and Tony Sipp (zero earned runs last 15 1/3 innings). Middle relief is a little more murky. If the Indians make a move, you’d have to imagine Jensen Lewis is the first name on the totem pole. He’s posted a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 innings since his demotion to Columbus a few weeks back. Joe Smith is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings since he was sent down.
  • Alex White made his Double-A debut on Sunday and delivered seven strong innings against Harrisburg. He picked up the win by allowing just two runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk. He’s now thrown five consecutive quality starts between Class A Kinston and Akron, allowing just eight earned runs over 32 1/3 innings in that span.
  • Left-hander Scott Barnes, the Ryan Garko trade acquisition, was named Eastern League pitcher of the week after tossing five no-hit innings against Altoona last Tuesday. He’s starting again tonight.
  • Class A Kinston right-hander Joe Gardner was also named his league’s pitcher of the week. He has ye to allow an earned run in 16 2/3 innings since his promotion to Kinston. He’s also on the mound tonight.
  • Garko, by the way, has been employed by four organizations in the last 10 months and is currently playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Ouch.
  • Acta began his pregame presser today by grabbing the STO microphone out of a cameraman’s hands and holding it himself for the length of the interview. “It’s excruciating to see you have to hold this and do the camera, too,” Acta said with a smile. And, as you know, if it’s excruciating, it has to be documented in this space.
  • Got an Inbox coming Thursday. If you’ve got a question, post it in the comments section below, and don’t forget to include your name and hometown.


5/24: Indians vs. White Sox

Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO.

cle3.gifINDIANS (16-26): CF Crowe, RF Choo, LF Kearns, 1B Branyan, 3B Peralta, 2B Grudzielanek, DH LaPorta, C Marson, SS Donald. RHP Justin Masterson (0-4, 5.65).




cws2.gifWHITE SOX (18-25): LF Pierre, C Pierzynski, CF Rios, 1B Konerko, DH Kotsay, RF Jones, 3B Teahen, SS Vizquel, 2B Beckham. LHP John Danks (3-3, 2.26).