"On the streets of Philadelphia"
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
You can’t walk five feet in Philadelphia without running into some historical landmark. As a matter of fact, I’d be curious to see the number of historic landmark signs relative to the number of yield signs in this city.
(Note: I was going to say stop signs, but obviously no sign tally in a given town can compete with the stop sign tally. Yet I think the landmark tally could give the yield tally a run for its money here. And that’s a shame, because I kind of like the yield sign. It’s easily my favorite street sign. Why I have a favorite street sign is beyond me.)
Where was I? Ah, yes. Philadelphia. This morning, I made the very touristy decision to visit Independence Hall, where our Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 2, 1776. The document wasn’t read to the public until July 4. On the off chance you didn’t already know this fun fact, you now have permission to blow stuff up twice next weekend.
Other landmarks visited in Philadelphia today included the Liberty Bell Center and the “Rocky” steps at the Art Museum. I also walked by the U.S. Mint, which was a thrill. Big fan of Ice Breakers.
Anyway, here are tonight’s notes. And here’s the rest of the story from the City of Brotherly Love…
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…
- The Indians entered tonight on pace for 101 losses this season. In a related story, Baseball Prospectus’ latest playoff odds report gives the Tribe a 2.6 percent chance of reaching the postseason. That sound high to you?
- Interleague has been especially harsh on this Tribe team, which has dropped seven of eight against NL opponents. Manny Acta doesn’t believe there’s a correlation there, necessarily. “We just haven’t been playing good defense,” he said. “Right before [this stretch] we split a four-game series against a pretty good Red Sox team, then took two of three [from the Nationals]. It comes and goes. We’ll continue to be patient and teach and hope things will get better. We’re not about to feel sorry for ourselves.”
- Aaron Laffey’s coming back. If, at the start of the season, you didn’t expect to see Laffey in the starting five by the All-Star break, you either overestimated the Tribe rotation, underestimated Laffey or didn’t waste your time thinking about these kinds of things. Laffey did not exactly dominate while being stretched out at Columbus, and he walked seven guys in his last start. He’s getting the nod over Carlos Carrasco because of his experience at this level. Acta says to expect to see Carrasco up here sooner rather than later, but for now they want him to continue to work on controlling the running game and establishing his fastball. All in all, a pretty disappointing depth situation at Columbus.
- There was a report that No. 1 Draft pick Drew Pomeranz (No. 5 overall) is coming to Cleveland next week to take a physical and begin negotiations with the Indians. It’s my understanding that the negotiation process is expected to drag out all summer, but we’ll see. One domino might be close to falling in K.C., where the Royals are getting closer to signing No. 4 overall pick Christian Colon. The Indians have until Aug. 16 to sign Pomeranz.
- If you had Ruben Niebla on your Major League Coaches fantasy squad, now would be the time to drop him. Niebla tore the patella tendon in his right knee when he slipped on the warning track while shagging fly balls during BP on Sunday and will have surgery next week. The Indians will bring in a replacement sometime in the next week. Among other duties, Niebla threw left-handed BP to Tribe hitters.
- Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and catcher Chun Chen were named to the XM All-Star Futures Game rosters. The game will be held Sunday, July 11, at Angel Stadium.
- Farm director Ross Atkins said Chisenhall’s shoulder condition will continue to be monitored, but the soreness that sent him do the DL last month appears to be behind him. Chisenhall continues to live up to the Tribe’s lofty expectations at the plate and in the field. “He’s everything we expect him to be,” Atkins said. “He’s one of the purest swingers we have, outside of Carlos Santana.” Atkins said Chisenhall has to continue to adjust his mental approach to the fact that he is and probably always will be one of the best hitters in the lineup and will therefore be pitched differently. In the field, Chisenhall made a seamless transition to third base from shortstop last year. “He’s as natural as any infielder we have,” Atkins said. “He shows no panic and a lot of ease. He has great hands and good feet.”
- Chen was signed as an 18-year-old out of Taiwan in 2007. Simultaneously adjusting to pro ball and a new culture wasn’t always easy for Chen. Consider that Latin guys who make this move usually have a few teammates in the same boat. Chen wasn’t so fortunate, and nutrition was one area he had to adjust to. Not a lot of Taiwanese options in the clubhouse or in Eastlake, Ohio. But he’s made strides on the acclimation and performance fronts this year. He batted .318 with 30 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in the first half for Lake County.
- Lefty Kelvin De La Cruz, at Double-A Akron, is one of the more prized arms in the system, but he’s had a rough return from last year’s elbow troubles. He gave up four runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings for a loss to Richmond last night. He’s now 1-4 with a 5.61 ERA.
- Richmond, by the way, has one of my all-time favorite nicknames. The Flying Squirrels. Hokey smoke is that good.
- Lake County outfielder Bo Greenwell, son of former Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell, went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base in for the Eastern Division in a 6-2 victory over the West in last night’s Midwest League All-Star Game. Chen went 1-for-2. Greenwell, by the way, is batting .310 with 13 doubles, four homers and 36 RBIs this season.
- Speaking of All-Star Games, there is a brewing debate as to whether Stephen Strasburg (who struck out nine in a 1-0 loss to the Royals today) should be considered for the Midsummer Classic. MLB.com’s Mike Bauman (yes) and Hal Bodley (no) weighed in on this. Asked for how he’d handle the situation, if he were entrusted with selecting the All-Star roster, Acta declined comment. “I hope I get to the point where I’m picking the All-Star team,” he said.
- After his session with reporters today, Acta was approached by a Spanish-language outlet. Acta asked for a few seconds between interviews. “Let me refocus my brain to speak Spanish,” he said.
- In the dugout before today’s game was Gary “Sarge” Matthews, former Major League outfielder who does color commentary for the Phillies broadcasts. Matthews is known for his fedora collection. He and Acta compared notes on this shared area of expertise.
- In case you missed it Monday, here’s the latest Indians Inbox.