- Though seeing him come out of Sunday’s game with an injury to a surgically repaired area raised a red flag, it doesn’t sound like Matt LaPorta’s hip injury is serious. The Indians weren’t even planning to have an MRI taken on the hip. LaPorta is expected back in the lineup Tuesday.
- Manny Ramirez is obviously the story of the day around here, as his first week with the White Sox will feature visits to his old haunts, Progressive Field (where he has a lifetime .312 average, 132 homers and 436 RBIs in 493 games) iand Fenway Park. This is such a momentous acquisition that MLB.com has placed me on White Sox coverage for this series. I’m filling in for the inimitable Scott Merkin, who, quite unfathomably, would rather see the Eagles in concert than Bruce Springsteen (seriously, Merk?). Should be a fun change of pace, aside from the difficult process of trying to transcribe Ozzie Guillen quotes.
- Speaking of Guillen, this is what he had to say about Omar Vizquel, who has been a nice addition for the Sox (yes, the Indians pursued him, to no avail): “Awesome. Oh my God. Omar? You want to talk about somebody’s savior, Omar has been a savior for the White Sox for a long time. We never thought Omar was going to be playing this long, this good, this many days. I’m very proud to be managing this kid. A kid who is three years older than me. He’s unbelievable. I never thought he would be this good for us, and he really, really picked us up.”
- Things have gone so well that Vizquel, who is batting .288 for the season and .333 over his last 40 games, is no longer viewing this as his final season. “The numbers are telling me that maybe there is another good year left,” he said. “I feel good about myself, my body feels good. No adjustments at all. I play the game the same way I was before. I just keep working out, which is the main reason I’m here and am going to be here next year. I keep my body in shape in order to play another year.”
- Though the Indians weren’t able to woo Vizquel last winter, they’d be remiss not to try again this offseason. He’d be a practical addition to this team, particularly now that he’s proven himself to be an asset at third base, too. And not that people come to ballgames to see utility infielders, but at least Vizquel would provide some measure of marketability in what should be another tough year for attendance.
- In the meantime, the 1990s Indians reunion so many fans clamor for is happening in the White Sox locker room this week. “It’s going to be fun to have Manny around again,” Vizquel said. “I haven’t played with Manny for about 12 years, and a lot of things have happened since. But it’s always nice to have a guy who can change the outcome of the game with one swing of the bat.”
- You know who can change a game with one swing of the bat? Andy Marte. Or at least, that’s what Bruce Chen thinks. When asked about serving up that dead-center blast to Jason Donald yesterday, this was what Chen had to say: “I don’t want to say anything [negative], but you imagine that [Donald] would not go to deep center field. If you think of a guy on that team, you think of Hafner, LaPorta and Marte.” Rare love for Marte.
- Still waiting on word on September callups. The Indians are waiting to see how Triple-A Columbus’ season shakes out. Aaron Laffey is not guaranteed to join this team in September, given that he is still not 100 percent in his recovery from left shoulder fatigue. If Laffey does come back, it will be in the bullpen. But he’ll have to show a lot of progress in the next couple days to convince the Indians he’s ready.
- Fausto Carmona has tweaked the grip of his changeup, which has Acta encouraged. In Sunday’s loss to the Royals, Carmona’s changeup was clocking in around 85 mph, giving him a nice separation of speeds from his sinker. The Indians were concerned that his changeup speed was getting too close too consistently to the fastball speed.
- Acta said Carmona has been throwing his changeup more often this season. According to data on Fangraphs.com (one of Acta’s favorite web sites), Carmona is definitely throwing less sinkers (67.8 percent, as opposed to 72.2 percent last year and 80.9 percent in ’08) and more sliders (18.3 percent, way up from 7.6 percent last year and 8.8 percent in ’08). The changeup is at 13.9 percent, according to the site, which is actually down from 20.2 percent last year but way up from 2.6 percent in ’08. Obviously, this data is not guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but Carmona is definitely deviating from the sinker with more regularity.
- Speaking of Acta’s favorite web sites, he told me the other day that he just noticed, for the first time, the tagline at the top of this blog: “Manny Acta’s favorite Indians blog… or if it’s not, it ought to be.” That’s been up there, I believe, since the day Acta was hired. That it’s taken him this long to notice doesn’t bode well for that tag line being accurate.
- Russell Branyan trade acquisition Ezequiel Carrera is batting .375 over his last eight games at Columbus, with five multi-hit games.
- Columbus closer Vinnie Pestano has a 0.81 ERA and eight saves in eight opportunities over his last 21 appearances. He’d be an intriguing September callup option.
- Best of luck to media relations intern Vince Gerbec, who is working his final series before heading back to Athens, Ohio, the Navel of the Universe and the Land of Milk and Honey, for his senior year at Ohio University. See you at my bachelor party, Vince.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO.
- Chris Antonetti has slowly but surely assumed Mark Shapiro’s GM duties over the last few years, and today he assumed the highly coveted duty of meeting with the media in the home dugout to discuss anything and everything while saying virtually nothing.
- Antonetti said he officially becomes GM on Nov. 1. For all intents and purposes, though, the handoff technically took place after the July Trade Deadline (those are my words, not Antonetti’s).
- At this point, Antonetti and the Indians are assessing the team, position by position, to get a feel for what areas will need to be augmented in the offseason. Not sure how much augmenting the team can really afford, particularly considering the Indians are dead last in MLB in average attendance. Then again, with a bare bones payroll, there could be room in the budget for some upgrades.
- The most high-profile September callup, in terms of potential impact, will be Carlos Carrasco, who will, of course, join the rotation. Carrasco allowed four runs on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings against Toledo on Sunday and is 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA over his last three starts. He is 10-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 24 starts this season.
- Zach McAllister, acquired as the player to be named from the Austin Kearns trade, could also get a call. For now, he’s making his organizational debut at Columbus tonight.
- Aaron Laffey’s rehab assignment has been transferred to Columbus. He should be back soon. Not sure if we’re going to see Anthony Reyes, whose rehab has been put on hold because of some mechanical issues in his delivery.
- Antonetti did not confirm a report that Jared Goedert won’t get a September callup, but he didn’t deny it, either. Goedert has cooled off considerably at the plate, and the Indians feel he has a long way to go, defensively. They’re not going to promote guys simply for the sake of promoting them. They’ll only do so if they feel there are real at-bats and innings to be had up here. For now, the Tribe is going to keep running that three-headed, error-prone monster known as “Nimartuena” out there at third base and hope for the best.
- Firmly expecting @Nimartuena to become a Twitter account in 3… 2… 1…
- Yes, fake Tribe Twitter accounts are all the rage in this lost season. They certainly break up some of the monotony of the dog days of August. But there’s a real account to follow, and it belongs to closer Chris Perez (@ChrisPerez54). Perez told me he hopes @PureRage_Perez, the fake Chris Perez, doesn’t go away. “That guy’s funny,” Perez said. “I read him every day. He posts something every five minutes. I only post like one thing a day.”
- Speaking of the Twitter realm, somebody was inspired enough by my last blog post to create my alter ego, @caskranowich. So far, I’m enjoying the… tribute? That is, until @caskranowich has more followers than @castrovince, and my ego is permanently bruised.
- In case you missed the latest Indians Inbox, it’s posted here.
- Before we move on to less-important matters, it bears mentioning that talk about cartoon characters dominated Manny Acta’s pregame interview with the beat guys. Last night, Acta said that, in a perfect world, he would have Superman and Flash on his team to get to every ball hit in their vicinity. Today, that remark prompted discussion of other superheroes, including one of Acta’s personal favorites, Birdman. Now, I’ve heard of the Birdman of Alcatraz and Birdman the rapper, but I’ve never heard of Birdman the cartoon. I promised Manny I would Google it, and sure enough, here’s Birdman.
- Acta did more than just discuss Birdman pregame. He called the Indians together for a team meeting. The adage that good teams win games and bad teams have meetings applies. But while little is expected of these young Indians at this stage, Acta has still been unhappy with the recent results. He called the meeting to get them refocused on the task at hand, which is to show progress at this level before everybody heads home in October. Acta wants to go into the offseason knowing what he can expect from these guys next year. “They need to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said. “We’re not going to be rebuilding forever, and this is not a September callup.”
- Jason Knapp lives. And not only that, but he’s going to pitch in an actual game. Knapp, for the uninitiated, is the guy who was considered the key acquisition in last summer’s Cliff Lee trade. But we’ve seen little of him since. He was injured at the time the Indians acquired him, but because the Indians were not in a position to request an MRI on Knapp from the Phillies at that time, they didn’t know about the loose bodies in his shoulder. He had shoulder surgery last September and has been pitching in Arizona Rookie League games the last few weeks. Now, he’s been deemed ready to join Class A Lake County, and he’ll make his Captains debut Friday night at Classic Park, against Dayton. Knapp posted a 1.46 ERA, 18 strikeouts and four walks in 12 1/3 innings in Arizona. Keep in mind, Knapp is turning 20 on Aug. 31. So while the injury was obviously a setback, he has time to get his career back on track and become the guy the Indians hope they acquired.
- The bolded note announcing the above news on the Indians game notes tonight is titled, “Knapp Time.” Well played, Bart Swain.
- This is as good a time as any to give you an Adam Miller update. He lives, too, and he’s been throwing bullpen sessions at the Arizona complex the last couple weeks. The Indians hope to get him in a game environment before the end of the calendar year. That could be in the Fall Instructional League or in winter ball. Miller has had four surgeries on his right middle finger over the last two and a half years, and his hope of reaching the bigs is a major longshot. But he’s still out there pitching, trying to overcome the odds.
- As Miller proves, not all highly touted Draft picks pan out. Therefore, spending $9.3 million on a bunch of unproven kids won’t silence the critics who consider the Indians to be… shall we say… frugal? But for those paying attention, what the Indians have done the last couple summers is significant. Knowing the Major League free agent market (and, for that matter, the high-end international market) is completely out of control and out of their budget, the Indians have chosen to invest heavily in amateur talent, hoping for a major payoff down the line. The Royals and Pirates are two other small-market teams that have gone this route. “The teams that are ahead of the curve, the teams that have, quite frankly, figured out the inefficiencies in this part of the market, have been super, hyper-aggressive,” said John Mirabelli, the Indians’ vice president of amateur scouting. “There isn’t a slot system in place. There is a talent acquisition system in place, and your job as an organization is to get the best out of it.”
- Some wonder if a hard slotting system might be good for the game. But it would be almost impossible to pull off, because so many different players are coming from so many different situations (be it senior year of high school, junior college, junior year of college, etc.) and, therefore, different amounts of leverage in negotiations. The Indians had a 10th-round selection this year, outfielder Tyler Holt, who was adamant about returning for his senior year at Florida State if he didn’t get half a million (three times more than the slotting recommendation). He got his money.
- Courtesy of Dan Mendlik, here’s a photo of Drew Pomeranz signing his deal with the Indians, with his parents and scouting director Brad Grant looking on. Some serious faces in that room. But at least Chief Wahoo is smiling.
- One of the more entertaining plays of the year happened last night, when Chris Gimenez caught Shin-Soo Choo’s bullet throw from right field up the third-base line, just ahead of the plate, and absorbed a collision with Mitch Maier to complete the back end of a 9-2 double play. That was Choo’s Major League-leading 11th outfield assist this season. “He continues to play hard, regardless of whether his offense is up or down,” Acta said. “It’s been a pleasure to watch him this season.” And give Gimenez credit for holding on.
- Gimenez said he was a little sore from that collision, which caused his catcher’s mask to fly off his head and pushed him into a backward somersault, but he enjoyed watching the highlight. My friends were texting me and calling me and saying stuff like, “That’s what happens when you stand on the tracks.” Maier apologized after the play, but it was a solid, clean baseball play and fun to watch.
- When Buck Showalter was announced as Orioles manager earlier this month, he said part of the rebuilding process is finding g
uys who are “pile-jumpers” – i.e. guys who will jump on the pile on the mound after winning Game 7. Gimenez is far from the most talented player on this rebuilding Indians team, but he’s definitely a pile-jumper.
- See if you can point out the non-pile-jumper in this 2009 photo.
- Acta said he views Joe Smith and Rafael Perez as his primary setup men to Chris Perez these days, but he’s still relying heavily on specific matchups.
- Speaking of Chris Perez, he’s been keeping tabs on his alias, @PureRage_Perez, on Twitter. He’s impressed that the fake Chris Perez has nearly 400 followers. “I had a Twitter last year and never used it,” Perez said. “I didn’t even have that many followers.”
- Some of you have asked and, as much as I would like to take credit, no, I am not @PureRage_Perez. I am also not @Caskranowich.
- The Indians are trying to decide when to place Carlos Carrasco into the rotation. Acta said he is not ruling out a six-man rotation in September.
- This Indians team hasn’t been all that great, well, anywhere, but the struggles on the road are particularly profound. The Tribe is 23-38 (.377) on the road this year, thanks in large part to a team ERA of 5.00 away from home, versus a 3.99 ERA at Progressive Field.
- Connor Graham, the guy the Indians got for Rafael Betancourt last year, converted to relief work at Double-A Akron, as anticipated, and has a 2.10 ERA in 32 games in that role. He has a 0.93 ERA in 12 games since the All-Star break.
- One thing I’ve learned this week, other than the existence of Birdman? Typing Kila Ka’aihue on deadline is not fun. I’d much rather type Castrovince.
Tonight’s 8:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium is on WTAM and STO.
Tonight’s 8:10 p.m. ET game at Kauffman Stadium is on STO and WTAM.
It’s the big battle for fourth tonight at Kauffman Stadium. The action will be on STO and WTAM.
Today’s 1:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and WKYC Channel 3.
Tonight’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Progressive Field is on WTAM and STO.