"I still love you, New York"

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://www.twitter.com/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?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • 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 Fangraphs.com. 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.

~AC

15 Comments

Victor Martinez threw out 14% of runners in AAA Buffalo in 2003 while putting up an .869 OPS, while Santana has thrown out 20% while putting up an 1.013 OPS and stealing 6 bases. Yeah, let’s go with Marson and his .550 OPS, he’s clearly the future of this team. Being a fangraphs junkie myself, I do see that with his doubles from the other day, Marson has moved his WAR into positive territory for the first time this year, to 0.1.

I consider one of the signs of a great pitcher to be how well they compete when they don’t have their best stuff, and Talbot clearly lacks control today, but he’s still managing to do his job. It’s perhaps the biggest difference between Carmona last year and this year, too, and something that Huff and Masterson have real difficulty with.
Soooo…Jamey Wright is obviously on Acta’s bad side after Tampa, yes?
Good news about Hagadone. Honestly, the more info that comes out of the minors, the more clear it becomes that 2012 is a more realistic target date, unless we’ve got boxes of cash sitting around somewhere for signings (assuming Antonetti is better at it than Shapiro).

I think the point, ST, is that, since this team is obviously not competing this year, there’s no reason to rush Santana.
Of course the flip side of that is that, we’ll, we’re not competing this year, so what’s the worst that could possibly happen? I mean, if his bat is ready (and it appears to be), why not let him learn to throw against major leaguers?

Two other things from today:
The R. Perez experiment has GOT to be coming to an end, yes?
Not for nothing, but if Marson ever does start hitting, he’s got some real value. Two more CS today — pretty impressive.

Not only does Santana need to practice throwing out major league players. The Tribe’s pitching staff needs to break him in now…it probably wouldn’t hurt for Santana to work in front of the umpires he will need to know next year too.

Hmmm…this discussion has got me thinking.
Marson clearly has the defensive ability and Santana clearly has the offensive ability. It would seem like they want each guy to make the leap on both sides.
Or do they?
I don’t want to get crazy here, but Santana wasn’t always a catcher, yes? Is there a chance they’re hedging their bets a bit, particularly considering the uncertainty of our future OF and even 1B?
I mean, a carrying a light hitting catcher who catches half the guys who run against him isn’t unheard of if he’s in a line-up of great hitters.
Of course, we’d actually have to get a line-up of great hitters first.

If you’re “rebuilding” you should be developing your actual future players, no? Why would they keep Santana back any longer than they need to for arbitration purposes? He should get experience working with the pitchers who he’s going to work with in the future, and that doesn’t appear to be Pino, Carrasco, Gomez, Tomlin and Germano, and he can’t grow as a hitter getting pitched around and decimating AAA pitching. Marson needs to hit MUCH better than he has to talk about moving Santana to another position, or Marson as a legitimate major league catcher. Obviously doesn’t appear to be something that the Indians are considering anyway. Also, Santana’s supposed to have a better arm and release time to second base than Marson, his issues are more with consistent accuracy, which is something that can and should improve. He did nab 30% of base stealers last year in AA, a similar % to what Marson was doing at the same level (36%) … As far as contending in 2011 or 2012, I honestly think this team is pretty much hopeless if Sizemore does end up having microfracture surgery. At that point it becomes surprising if Sizemore is ever able to duplicate his previous success. With Laporta really seeming like a bust (too early to say for sure I know, but that’s what it seems right now), and basically no halfway decent players other than Choo in the lineup, and an entire pitching staff that needs rebuilt, and an unwillingness to sign any impact free agents, they are hopeless. Not having Sizemore, the ’05 to ’08 potential MVP version, is not something they can recover from

Yeah, but it’s not like Marson has a lot of experience. He never played a full year in AAA and has a whole two months of major league experience. If it’s too early to say LaPorta’s a bust, then it’s too early to say the same of Marson — and at least Marson has SOME benefit on this team. And Marson’s actually younger than Santana. Honestly, Marson’s ceiling could be sky high, but he’s had such an erratic path who would know? I don’t think anyone would deny that he shouldn’t be starting in the majors at this point in his career. It’s strange — he was actually blocked out from where he should be in AAA by Santana, and pushed to the majors too soon — completely backwards to how it normally happens.
All that stuff about the dire straights of this team and, in theory, our future, is why I’m wondering if they might consider playing Santana elsewhere, if need be. This team has a LOT of holes. Given that, if there’s potential in a guy like Marson, they don’t have much of a choice but to consider thinking outside the box — if they can find 9 good hitters they should probably figure out a way to get all 9 of them in the line-up.
Speaking of which, according to a Tweet from TribeInsider, Jordan Brown was named International League Batter of the Week.
Oh, and Jeremy Sowers got shelled in Columbus.

You know, I want to give Lou Marson a ton of credit. The kid has been hearing nothing but Carlos Santana stories ever since ST started, he literally has him overlooking his shoulder with a big smile and a “come here” look yet this kid battles everyday and has done whatever he could to stay. His hitting has actually come along, so has his defense. Much, mcuh better than the first 2 weeks of the season. There is nothing wrong with the idea of keeping Lou here for a few years to back up Carlos. But guys, can we please send Valbuena down? I mean why can’t we call up Anderson Hernandez and send him down for a month? I don’t care how well or how poorly Anderson is playing in Columbus, he still will be a better choice right now than a .134 hitting 2nd baseman who CLEARLY needs to get his head cleared up.

I also want to say I think we should hold David Huff back a bit more, I mean it’s great he is throwing bullpen sessions, but that hit still was not anything to take lightly from. But doesn’t this say something about our starters’ durability? 0 missed starts so far and 23 Quality Starts out of 49 games. Not too bad for an 18 win team.

Lombardi’s is ok, but I find it to be a bit overrated. I only went there once the entire time I lived on Mott St. Check out Patsy’s (the original) up in East Harlem the next time you’re in the city. Closer to the ballpark and no lines!

On a side note, I took my daughter to her first baseball game Monday (I went to all 4 games), and I think it adequately prepared her for what life is like as a Tribe fan.

Or Bixler. Or get someone off waivers. Anyone but poor Valbuena
I just don’t see where there IS that much potential in Marson. A decent defensive catcher (as far as throwing out base stealers)? Sure. But don’t we pretty much know what Marson can give them? Even if he’s hitting well, he’s hitting singles, and maybe a stray double or two. He had a good OBP in the minors, but I just don’t think that will ever translate to the majors, because major league pitchers will attack him in the strike zone. As AC pointed out, he’s only swinging outside the zone 20% of the time. Yet he’s only drawn 8 walks to 33 strikeouts. It’s not like he can be much MORE patient, so I don’t see where he’s going to ever draw walks at a high enough rate to get himself a halfway decent OPS. He might improve a little as far as fouling off tough pitches instead of taking for strike 3, as he’s been prone to do, and working the count a little better, but it’s not like he’s been like Grady was this year, swinging outside the zone at a higher than normal rate. Take May, Marson actually hit .250. I don’t see him going much higher than that for a season BA, but his OPS was still only .614. He only walked 4 times. He could hit .280 and still have an OPS below .650, if he doesn’t improve in other areas. Basically I never bought into the Marson as a legitimate starting catcher candidate, and so far he’s only been worse than I expected … One thing I am still interested in seeing this year is Jordan Brown getting a shot. Once they drop Kearns and Branyan, I’d like to see Brown in there full time. Really he has a lot more offensive potential than Brantley. He has 19 RBIs in 15 games this year in Columbus.

Jordan Brown doesn’t have a future with this team. He has the potential to become the next Brian Giles… quality guy that never gets a realistic shot b/c there are too many people blocking him. Yes, there is a difference between the guys currently blocking Brown and the All Stars that were blocking Giles but their situations are similar. I personally don’t care if we lose him b/c if the organization valued Triple-A awards as trends for the ML then Shelley Duncan would have been on our opening day roster. And suggesting that Brown has “a lot more offensive potential than Brantley” is a statement that I would argue against.

The difference is that Duncan has been given something of a shot in the big leagues. I’m actually a little surprised no one gave him an everyday opportunity this year, being blocked because you’re in the Yankees organization doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough to play somewhere. As far as who the organization values, I’m not sure how you can think this organization has any credibility left in that department. I wish they could just drop Kearns and Branyan right now, so they can start the process of seeing what they have. Crowe, Brown, Brantley need extended looks, and Laporta needs to play 1b every day … I’m a little concerned about Brantley. In 33 games in Columbus, he has 4 steals and was caught twice. In 37 games, Jason Donald had 10 steals and was caught twice. Crowe had 6 in 7 attempts. Santana has 6 in 6 attempts. Is Brantley injured? Is he not the base stealer we thought he was? He seems to have regressed in that department. I can see some of the same thing with Marson too, where Brantley puts up a great OBP in AAA because he draws a lot of walks, but with major league pitchers staying in the zone against him, he’s forced to beat them with his bat and he hasn’t been that successful. Even last year his OBP was only .358 and he had 8 walks to 19 Ks. If he can steal 30+ bases a year with a good success rate, that’s fine, but if he’s only going to steal like 20 while getting caught 10 times, then he’s valueless. It’s got to be a little concerning that in the past 3 months, majors and minors, basically a half year, he only has 8 steals and has been caught 6 times.

I will agree with you that I am surprised that no one else had feelers for Duncan with an invitation for ML camp. I didn’t hear much buzz surrounding the guy after a very good 2009 minor league campaign.

The book is still out on guys like Marson, LaPorta, Crowe, Donald, Brantley, Ambriz, Todd, et. al. I’m not going to get too flustered by the developmental woes b/c as I’ve said before most talent evaluators want to see guys struggle and adapt. But that still doesn’t mean that long term trends should be ignored ala Rafael Perez’s inconsistencies.

It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this put up and if I could I wish to suggest you few fascinating things or suggestions. Maybe you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I want to learn more things about it!

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