Thursday, October 4, 2012

Indians Tryouts: Update

Over the last couple weeks I've detailed what the Indians players have to gain/lose individually going into next season.

Now that the year has come to a close with a resounding thud, here's an update on who changed their "stock" with the Tribe.

Stock up:

Lonnie Chisenhall ended 10 for his last 34 with 3 doubles and 4 RBI. He should be the starting 3B next year.

Jason Donald showed some promise at the plate closing the season 3-9, 4 runs, 2 RBI and a walk-off hit against the White Sox on Oct. 2. He'll have a shot to make next year's team.

Cord Phelps was 5 for his last 14 with a three-hit game in a start at 2B. He increased his trade potential.

Travis Hafner might not have done a whole lot in his return from the DL (2-12) but one of his two hits was a game-tying blast in the bottom of the 9th that led to Donald's walk-off hit against the Sox. The homer was hsi 200th as an Indian, leaving the fans with a last memory if he does not return.

Frank Herrmann pitched 8 straight scoreless appearances to close the season (9.2 innings), helping his chances as a bullpen prospect for 2013.

Chris Seddon threw 5.2 scoreless to end 2012, including a 3-inning appearance against KC with just 1 hit, 1 K and 0 BBs. He'll be in the mix for 2013's bullpen.

Zach McAllister closed a strong rookie season with two quality starts (12 IP, 5 ER).

David Huff proved me wrong by tossing 16.1 innings in three starts with 7 ER. He did enough to earn a trip to Spring Training. 

Stock down:

Chris Perez almost blew the Oct. 2 White Sox game and then ripped former manager Manny Acta to pieces after it. DUDE. SHUT UP.

Vinnie Pestano got knocked around to end the year with 5 runs allowed in 4.2 innings. He should be fine for next season, but it wasn't a great finish to 2011.

Scott Maine got crushed to end the season. 2 innings, 5 runs, 3 appearances. I'm not interested in seeing more of him in the Spring.

Jeanmar Gomez did himself no favors with 6 ER in 3 IP in his final start of the year.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Evaluating Holmgren/Heckert- One Year In

The Browns' first season under H&H (5-11) showed the team needed help at the WR, LB and DB positions. 

GM Tom Heckert proceeded to address these needs in the offseason with the free agent signings of... RB Brandon Jackson and S Usama Young?? Jackson was hurt his first season and is currently the #3 RB behind Chris Ogbonnaya (and ahead of Montario Hardesty, ironically enough). Not a ton of value for a guy making over $2 mil. Young has been an abject failure. A poor season in his first year with the Browns (worse than the departed S Abe Elam) led to his benching in 2012 for untested former 7th-rounder Usama Young. But the worst part about this free agent period wasn't the busting of two low-risk, low-reward players. It was the fact that the WR and LB positions weren't addressed and no big signings were made or even attempted! I understand Heckert's philosophy of building through the draft, but do you have to sacrifice making ANY notable free agent pickups? D

The 2011 Draft was arguably no better than the year before. 

First Heckert traded the #6 overall pick for #21, #59 and a 2012 1st rounder. That's great in theory, picking up added picks, but the players those picks yielded haven't shown much thru 20 games. And the fact the Browns gave up a shot at Julio Jones (BPA at the team's #1 need position) for what amounted to be Phil Taylor, Greg Little and Brandon Weeden, this trade receives a C- right now, a C+ if Little becomes a #2 NFL WR and an A-/B+ if Weeden becomes a franchise QB (I'm not betting on either, let alone both).

DT Phil Taylor at #21 overall. Taylor seemed like a good pick at the time, and he very well still may be. The big man from Baylor made 37 solo stops and 4 sacks in 16 games his rookie season. He was quiet at times and dominant at others. It may be because of stamina, a questionable motor or just the rookie learning curve. Despite the reason, Taylor has missed all of 2012 with a pec injury sustained from lifting waits in the offseason. Doh! Other solid options at 21 would have been CB Jimmy Smith or QB Andy Dalton, but at the time, Taylor was a nice choice. His size, potential and fill of a need area give this pick a B.

Hopefully the staple of the 2011 Draft.
DE Jabaal Sheard at #37 overall. This is one of the best picks of the Heckert era. An area of need and a productive 20 games with the team thus-far (50 solo tackles, 9.5 sacks, 5 fumbles forced) make the team's 2nd round pick a good one. Sheard should lock-down a DE spot for a decade. A-.

WR Greg Little at #59 overall. Draft experts say WRs peak in their 3rd seasons. I look at AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson and disagree, but I'm willing to give Little another 28 games to develop. He better start fast. With 860 yards (43 ypg) and 3 TDs in 20 games, Little has hardly looked like the #1 receiver he was made out to be. The slow start to his career wouldn't be as bad if not for leading the league in dropped passes in 2011 (and on his way towards a repeat) and ridiculous antics after each made catch. Again, I'll give Little time, but with Randall Cobb and John Moffitt on the board (among others), this pick is thus far a C.

The team's 3rd round pick was traded to KC to move up and select Taylor. The Chiefs used it to select Georgia DE Justin Houston (9.5 sacks), who has been just as productive if not more so than Jabaal Sheard. Insult to injury, but no grade for this missed opportunity. 

TE Jordan Cameron at #102. At this part of the draft, projects become more acceptable and Cameron is just that. But with Alex Smith, Ben Watson and Evan Moore already on the roster, was the pass-catching Cameron worth the selection? LB Sam Acho (10 sacks), and RB Kendall Hunter probably would have been more useful to this point than Cameron's 12 career receptions for 93 yards. I'll give him a year or two more to show something, but right now, this reach pick in an area that wasn't a need earns a C- only because of Cameron's potential.

FB Owen Marecic at #124. Worst pick of the Heckert era by far. I won't need to use any retrospective logic on this one, the pick stunk at the time and stinks worse now. The Browns had a great blocking FB with average hands in Lawrence Vickers yet cut him loose to pick up an intelligent and versatile Stanford product... with no business being in the NFL. Marecic has shown stone hands and putrid blocking ability. I doubt he finishes his second season on the Browns roster. This pick stunk of H&H's need for "West Coast change." The right move would have been to keep Vickers, draft Cortez Allen (Steelers CB). F

CB Buster Skrine at #137. I liked this pick and still don't mind it. You can't expect starters this late in the draft and Skrine hasn't looked like one in his brief NFL career yet (not his fault he has been pushed into a role he is not ready for), but he is very fast with good work ethic. It met an area of need and added depth and special teams ability. Yes, Denarius Moore or Jaquizz Rogers would have been a better pick, but we had already committed to Little and Hardesty so the Skrine pick gets a fair (in my opinion) B.

OL Jason Pinkston at #150. This pick is similar in my mind to 137. Pinkston is a solid depth guy who can play 3-4 OL positions, but he isn't a starter. Like Skrine, it's not his fault Heckert didn't sign a free agent OG and he has been pushed (literally) as a starter. I don't mind the pick at the time or now, but Pinkston should be a backup. B+

SS Eric Hagg at #248 was the Browns' final selection in 2011. Like 137 and 150, this pick was solid, but not for a starter! And that's what the Browns tried to make Hagg at the beginning of 2012 (due to Heckert FA signing Usama Young being... not... good...). It didn't work out, he's back to "swing safety" off the bench role where he belongs. But for a 7th round pick, making the team in Year 2 warrants a passing grade on it's own. B+

Final Grade: This draft doesn't look too bad on the report card with an A, 3 Bs, 2 Cs and 1 F, but most of those passing grades were at the bottom of the draft (and are thus weighted less than 1st or 2nd rounders). This draft will be known as either: A. a wasted opportunity to nab Julio Jones and still get Sheard or B. a useful filling multiple holes at DT, WR and DE. As of now, I'll give it a C based on Sheard's good production, Taylor's natural ability, Little's poor play, Marecic's utter bust and solid depth in the later rounds.

Pat's reacting to his coaching ability.
Mike Holmgren's major task after Mangini was fired was hiring a new coach. Apparently 10 days of searching were enough for Holmgren to make a very puzzling hire of Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The Rams' O scored just 289 points (18 ppg, 26th in the league) and came up small in a division-losing Game #16 vs. Seattle. Shumur had no real pedigree other than an uncle close to Holmgren and a shared agent in Bob Lamonte. I  hated this hire at the time. It made no sense other than Shurmur's connections to Holmgren and his "knowledge" (?) of the West Coast Offense. This looked like a Michael Jordan coaching hire. 4 wins in 20 games later, with an offense puttering around worse than the Maurice Carthon days gives this coaching hire an F!

Sigh... I'm depressed after writing this, but I don't think you can spin it a whole lot more positive without lying to yourself. Next time, we'll take a look at the 2012 Offseason from Heckert's point of view and the "best of the rest" from Mike Holmgren. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Evaluating Holmgren/Heckert - First Major Moves

Some will argue it is too early in the "5-year plan" to fairly evaluate the Holmgren/Heckert regime, but I don't think new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will agree. I expect Haslam to look at each and every move H&H have made with the scrutiny of someone who wants to win now.

First we'll take a look at the initial test each man faced. For Heckert, it was the 2010 draft. For Holmgren, it was deciding who would coach the team in 2010-11.

Let's start with the draft:

CB Joe Haden at #7 overall. Haden had a fantastic rookie year with a bit of a drop in play last season. His future is still very bright... drug suspension non-withstanding. I like this pick a lot. Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, Giants) turned out to be the best player drafted after Haden, but he was considered a reach by the G-Men at 15. B+/A-

SS T.J. Ward at #38 overall. Ward's first two season mirror Haden's: great rookie season, sophomore slump. But for Ward, the majority of the problem last year was that injuries kept him out of 8 of the team's 16 games. It's hard to fully evaluate Ward with the lack of talent he is currently playing with this season, but I expect him to continue to show his hard-hitting ability moving forward. The big miss here was Rob Gronkowski, taken four picks after Ward by the Pats. A tight end upgrade over Ben Watson would have been nice, but safety was an area of need and I don't fault the miss very much. B-

This sight sums up the 59th pick in 2010.
RB Montario Hardesty at #59 overall. I'll tell you right now, this one's gonna get a failing grade. Injured his whole career (10 out of a possible 35 games played) and worthless when he has been out there (career 3.0 ypc, 0 TDs, numerous dropped passes), Hardesty has not worked out to say the least. The parts of this selection that baffle me the most are that he was a one-year wonder at Tennessee and had health issues coming out of the draft. To add insult to injury, Heckert traded up to get him!! This pick should not have been made. Golden Tate (taken immediately after Hardesty by Seattle, made famous by last night's MNF game) should have been the pick. F

QB Colt McCoy at #85. I hated this pick at the time and have warmed slightly to it since. I'm not sure if this was Heckert's call or Holmgren's, but whoever it was swung and missed. Colt never had a smidgeon franchise QB in him (closer to Charlie Frye than Matthew Stafford), yet a team in desperate need of a QB reached for one who was never even given a full chance to succeed. Now he is a 3rd round backup at a position that only plays one man at a time. After passing three different times on a receiver, Eric Decker was on the board but Heckert passed him up. Apparently Massaquoi, Robiskie, Stuckey and Cribbs were enough to satisfy that position. D+

OG Shaun Lauvao at #89. This selection illed a position of need at the time but Lauvao has turned out to be an average pass-blocking guard and a poor run-blocking one. He hasn't developed much in 2+ years and isn't looking like a long-term starter. Jimmy Graham or Aaron Hernandez would have worked out well, but I don't blame any GM for missing on these two draft sleepers. Not a terrible 3rd rounder, but you need starters in the first three. C

SS Larry Asante at #160. Asante was put on the Browns practice squad out of training camp and logged two games at the end of his rookie season as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a pick of Drew Brees. Out of the NFL two years later. Also, we had just drafted Ward. Not good. This pick isn't weighted as high as Hardesty (2nd rounder vs. 5th), but a fail is a fail. If OT Marshall Newhouse was good enough to protect Aaron Rodgers' blindside during the Pack's 15-1 season, he would have been better than Tony Pashos at RT. F

WR Carlton Mitchell at #177. I liked this pick a lot at the time. Carlton had size and upside but never developed to be a complete NFL WR. He caught 3 balls for 31 yards for his career and is now out of football. ILB Arthur Moats would have been a great depth and special teams player. I at least give him a small bump for making the team 2 years. D-

DE Clifton Geathers at #186. Who? Geathers has been on four NFL teams in 3 years and has never recorded a stat. This was another major whiff. If draft picks don't make a squad that goes on to be 5-11, they weren't good picks. In typical Browns fashion, the Steelers outsmarted us with Jonathan Dwyer and Antonio Brown. Sigh... F

Final Rating: I'm not going to punish Heckert totally for what happened in retrospect, that would be unfair. The only pick that probably shouldn't have happened at the time was Hardesty over Tate (2 TDs in 3 games this season). We also could have done without another safety in Asante and gotten some OL or DL depth. I credit Heckert on the Haden selection and the Ward selection and give him a passing grade on Lauvao, who would be a good 3rd/4th OG for us. I also spare him somewhat on the McCoy pick since I believe Holmgren was the deciding voice behind it. Hardesty was a major bust, however and you can't afford that in the first two rounds. He also got a big fat NOTHING from rounds 4-7. Nothing. Asante and Geathers never stepped on the field for us and Carlton Mitchell caught three passes. Overall, picking up the two solid DBs is the only thing saving this draft from a big fat D-. Instead, I'll give it a C-

There was no reason to keep Mangini.
Holmgren's first major personnel decision was keeping head coach Eric Mangini for what turned out to be one, lame duck year. This decision probably set the Browns back at least a year in franchise development. The players put up a 5-11 record under a lame duck coach. It was another wasted year in the 3-4 defense and basic pro-style offense when I believe Holmgren's plan all along was to go back to a 4-3 and West Coast Offense. I don't think even a playoff appearance could have saved Mangini's job, Holmgren was basically taking a mulligan on the crop of available coaches in 2010 and waiting a year to pick "his guy" who ran "his system" (more on this alleged guy in future posts). This never appeared to be a good move, a contract extension for Mangini or firing him outright would have each been better options. At least we got two exciting wins over the Pats and Saints out of Mangini's last hurrah. Grade: D-

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2013 Indians Tryouts: Part 3

Position Players

Carlos Santana: Improve standing with club. 'Los has actually had a stronger season than most fans realize. Since he broke out of his slump (inconveniently around the time the Tribe plummeted out of contention), he has brought his season totals up to 17 HRs and 70 RBI. His power is down from last year, but his strikeouts are down and his average is up. His defense has also improved. However, he has been criticized for a laisse faire approach behind the dish and it is rumored the Tribe tried to trade him for Rays SP James Shields straight-up at the deadline. A strong finish with a stronger attitude will do a lot of Carlos' confidence and development as well as his standing with the big wigs.

Lou Marson: Solidify backup position. Lou-Mar has proven to be a barely-above average catcher, which is fine for a backup. He'll probably be the backup again next season, but hopefully some improvements to his hitting approach over the last 1.5 weeks of the season will carry over to the winter/spring.

Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley: Stay Healthy. At this point, these four cornerstones of the 2013 Tribe just need to stay healthy. All four had solid seasons, (breakout years for Kipnis and Brantley) and will be counted on in the same roles next year. At worst, Choo will be traded. Either way, we need all four to finish the season healthy.

Lonnie Chisenhall: Starter or backup? Lonnie's only logged 337 plate appearances in the Bigs and can use as many as he can get towards the end of the season. Anything else he can pick up from different pitchers around the league, his veteran teammates like Jack Hannahan, or his coaching staff should be stored in his mental notebook. Lonnie has the edge for the 2013 starting 3B job.

Jason Donald: Future with organization. It's tough to call Donald a "bust" since he wasn't exactly hyped up to be a star, but it suffices to say that he has been a subpar player with a .256 average with no power and average defense at best. Donald has to show something in the last couple weeks and/or in the Spring to make the club as a utility man next year. At 28 years old, he doesn't qualify as a "prospect" anymore.

Jack Hannahan: Indians or elsewhere. It's hard to argue with Jack Hannahan's professional approach on and off the field. He's supplied solid defense at 3rd and (before his injuries) a solid stick and knack for clutch hitting. He'll never be a star but a 2.5 WAR last season (-0.1 this year) shows he can be a solid starter. Whether it will be here or not is most likely not up to him, it's up to Lonnie Chisenhall's development. Either way, a MLB team will find a spot for this quality person and player in 2013.

Casey Kotchman: Hit the help wanted ads. No offense, but Kotchman has been awful at the plate in 2012. His defense hasn't been good enough to help him from a -0.9 WAR (meaning he has been 1 team loss worse than an average AAA player). He won't be back for the Tribe next year and needs to trick another MLB front office into signing him like he did Shapiro/Antonetti last offseason. The .306 season he had in 2011 with Tampa has shown itself as a fluke (career .263).

We wish it wasn't so but Matt LaPorta has been a bust.
Matt LaPorta: Last chance with Tribe. LaPorta's struggles have been well-chronicled by Tribe pensmen. The boneheaded play at 1st costing the Tribe a win last week against the Twins may have been the final straw (his second such play of 2012 in limited PT). He can't hit, can't field and is an AAA player. Unless he busts out in a big way in the last 9 games, he will be lingering in another club's farm system.

Cord Phelps: Future here or elsewhere. Phelps has to see that 2B is roadblocked by Kipnis for the forseeable future. Therefore, he needs to make the most of his ML at-bats (which he did with a HR on Sept. 22) and showcase himself, possible for other teams in a future trade. I like Phelps' bat and think he is one of our more-attractive IF prospects at the high-minor league level.

Russ Canzler: 1B contender for next year. Canzler came up like a man on fire, with 8 hits in his first 20 ABs. He is just 6 for his last 25, however and his average is down to .270. A strong finish will help his already rising chance to make the 2013 Indians as a 1B either starting or coming off the pine.

Ezequiel Carrera: 4th OF contender for next year. Zeke has been a curious case in his 110 career games with the Tribe. He gets hot for spells, but then cools way off. Is he more than the .242 hitter he has shown to be? With solid defense at all three outfield positions, the still-developing 25-year old has potential to make the Tribe as a 4th OF next season. If he shows his stick will show up with his glove.

Brent Lillibridge: Moot point. Lillibridge was acquired by the Tribe when they were still in contention to be a super-utility guy. He's not really needed at this point and has barely played (25 at-bats in team's last 22 games). He's 29 with no bat, no power and a glove that is rated average-to-below average sabermetrically. He has value in that he can play 7 positions on the field, but with guys like Donald to develop, probably won't be back in 2013.

Thomas Neal: Place in organization. Neal is trying to earn a full season in AAA (or better) for 2013 after spending most of this year in AA Akron. He's still young at 25 and has shown average and power in the minors. He probably won't make the Indians out of the Spring next year, but the more he shows in limited at-bats with the big club, the higher his rank among outfielders in the organization.

Vinny Rottino: Future in the game. Vinny is close to the end of his baseball career barring a Dickey-like revelation. He's a 32-year old journeyman with only 56 career ML games. He has shown good defensive versatility in the OF with the Tribe, but not much with the bat (a horrendously unlucky .158 BABIP) hasn't helped him in the AVG department. If the team invites him to Spring Training next year, he likely will be back in the minor leagues. Vinny either has to show enough in these last 9 games to increase his stock or take a look at his career and decide if he wants to spend his 30s in Minor League Baseball.

Travis Hafner: One more year? Pronk's contract has been an albatross on the Tribe's payroll, no doubt. But he hasn't been able to help his injuries and has shown power in his healthy opportunities. 24 homers in his last 156 games would be a great full season. Unfortunately for Pronk, that's been his last two seasons. If the Tribe bring him back it will be on a one-year team-friendly deal with a shot to stay healthy and man the DH position like he hasn't done since 2007. Antonetti (if he is still here!) has hinted he may do just that.

Others: Juan Diaz showed some good D with the Tribe earlier in the year but will remain in AA/AAA next season, developing his bat ... Lars Anderson was acquired from the Red Sox in a low-key deadline deal, he will probably take LaPorta's spot at 1B at AAA Columbus next year ... Grady Sizemore has not proven he can stay healthy enough for the Tribe to stick with him in 2013. Au revoir.

My guess: Marson, Santana, Asdrubal, Chisenhall, Kipnis, Brantley, Canzler, Choo make team; Hafner re-signed for 1-year; Hannahan, Kotchman, LaPorta, Lillibridge, Rottino removed from 40-man roster; upgrades sought at 1B, LF.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2013 Indians Tryouts: Part 2


Chris Perez: Future with Indians. Perez has appeared to be intentionally trying to talk his way out of Cleveland this year. First he criticized the fans, then he fought with an Oakland A's fan, then he called out management and ownership. Those distractions alone may have already sealed his ticket out of town. His on the field play has been very strong, with an ERA of 3.42, FIP of 2.53 and a brilliant 10 K/2 BB per 9 innings. Another problem for Perez's Indians tenure is the emergence of Vinnie Pestano as the team's best pitcher. Pestano has proven he can be a closer equal to or greater than the caliber of Perez. I don't think Chris can play his way on or off the team at this point, but if he wants a trade, spouting off a few more times can help him in that regard. 

Vinnie Pestano: Closer or setup man. As with Perez, Pestano has sealed a spot on the 2013 Tribe with his on-field play. Whether it will be as a closer or setup man will depend on Chris Perez's status on the team. He can't help or hurt his standing at this point, even if he pulled a "CP" in the press.

Joe Smith: Future with Indians. Smitty has had another strong season, but regressed from a 2.01 ERA to a 3.26 ERA. Smitty's play has earned him a raise from $1.75 mil but will the Indians pick it up? Right-handed specialists aren't hard to find and the bullpen is deep. A few more strong performances will only help Smitty's case. 

Tony Sipp: Future with Indians. If I was the GM of the Tribe, Sipp would be jettisoned after this year. He doesn't command a ton of money, probably under $1 mil, but at age 29, with a career 4.76 FIP, he just isn't that good. He walks too many guys, gives up too many home runs, and a career .239 BABIP signals a season or two of pure implosion in his future. I know he's a lefty, but we have others in the system. Sipp can help his case with some strong work down the stretch.

Esmil Rogers has earned a late-inning role for 2013.
Esmil Rogers: 2013 Role. Rogers has proven his worth to the Tribe. Whatever his problems were in Colorado don't matter, I think we have found a gem. With a .343 BABIP this season, Rogers numbers could have been even better than the 2.47 ERA he has posted with the Tribe. Rogers will be in the mix for 2013, with a chance at a 7th inning role. The better he finishes the season, the better his chances for a late-inning job will be.

Chris Seddon: Future with Indians. Seddon was an old 29-year old in AAA Columbus but he earned his promotion late in the year. The Tribe seem to be looking at him as a long reliever and that is probably his best bet to make the big league club in 2013. How he adjusts to that role this September will say a lot about his chances.

Frank Herrmann: Future with Indians. I thought Herrmann was done-zo in August. He had a mediocre year in Columbus and had proved to be average in 89 games with the Tribe. However, his strikeouts are up and his walks and HRs are down in his stint with the Indians this fall. If Herrmann continues to pitch well (another scoreless inning tonight), he may just stick around with the organization with another year. Hopefully the front office don't hold his .222 BABIP too highly, because it shows he has been lucky on balls hit in play.

Cody Allen: 2013 Role. No Indians reliever helped his case in 2012 than Cody Allen. The youngster came up and dominated his competition with 12 straight scoreless appearances. He has cooled off a bit since, but has shown fantastic stuff. His ceiling might be as high as a guy like Vinnie Pestano if he can cut down on the walks. If Allen finishes the season without any major setbacks, he will be a candidate to make the club right out of Spring Training. 

Scott Barnes: Indians or Clippers. It was an up-and-down year for Barnes. He made his big league debut with the Indians May 30 after being converted from a starter to a reliever in AAA Columbus. His ERA ballooned to as high as 10.38 after his fifth appearance but he has settled down nicely in September and posted six-straight scoreless appearances. Lefty relievers are valuable and Barnes has a chance to take Tony Sipp's spot in the 2013 pen.

Scott Maine: Future with Team. Scott Maine was an interesting waiver-wire pickup from the Cubs in September. He's 27 with good stuff and some minor control issues. The Tribe likely will bring him to Spring Training on a minor league deal. He can certainly help his case with some scoreless frames to end the year because we've only seen him a few times this year.

Others: Raffy Perez was shut down this week after trying to come back from an extended injury. He'll be due for a contract in the $2 mil range and the Tribe might replace him from within ... Nick Hagadone will be one of the lefty candidates to replace Perez, if he can prevent himself from breaking his hand in a fit of rage. He needs to work on his control (sound familiar?) to be in the 2013 Tribe pen at the start of the year ... Fabio Martinez was a late addition to the 40-man roster off waivers from the Angels. He is 22 with a live arm, but needs to start getting it done on the field. He'll be in Akron next year at some point. 

My Guess: Chris Perez will be traded, Smith-Rogers-Pestano will cover the 7th thru 9th innings, either Jeanmar Gomez or Chris Seddon will make the team as a long reliever, Barnes, Allen, Hagadone and Herrmann will round out the rest of the pen. The team will let Raffy Perez and Tony Sipp go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2013 Indians Tryouts Begin Now

The 2011-12 Indians' season has long been lost. All that is left to play for is a spot out of the AL cellar. But there are a number of Tribesmen who still have a ton to play for in the final dozen or so games of a miserable year. 

Here's the first of a three-part series looking at exactly who and what is at stake:  

Starting Rotation 

Justin Masterson: Money. Masterson's spot in the 2013 rotation is secure. The big righty made just under $4 mil in arbitration last season and that number doesn't figure to go up much. A few more strong starts could help earn him a little more dough but he can't change his situation much at this point. 

Ubaldo Jimenez: Pride. Other than lowering that dreadful 5+ ERA, there isn't much Ubaldo can do to salvage a lost season. The Tribe will probably exercise his $5.75 mil option regardless of how he finishes because his talent is worth the risk. Although the W/L record and ERA don't show it, Ubaldo has pitched better lately, with more command and stronger overall stuff. A BABIP and HR/FB above his career mean hasn't helped him in the luck department, and a 5.00 FIP and 0.1 WAR show an average-to-below average-pitched season, not a terrible one. Tribe fans can only hope for improvement next season. 

Zach McAllister: Spot in 2013 rotation. In a lot of ways, Z-Mac was the Tribe's most consistently good starter this season. He'll probably be back in the 2013 rotation but a couple more solid starts can only help his already strong case. 

Corey Kluber is hoping to earn a spot in the 2013 rotation.
Corey Kluber: Cleveland or Columbus. Kluber certainly will be in the conversation for the 2013 starting rotation. He is young, with good stuff and has suffered a quite unlucky 2012 (BABIP near .400, HR/FB 12%). His FIP of 4.18 is closer to his overall performance than his 1-4 record or 5+ ERA. A couple more strong starts can help Kluber's case to begin the season in the Indians' or Clippers' starting five. 

Jeanmar Gomez: 2013 Role. It remains to be seen how many more starts the 24-year old Gomez will get this season. Gomez is looking like either a long reliever for the Tribe or a starter for the Columbus Clippers next year. A 4.8/3.0 K/BB per 9 innings line just won't get it done in the big leagues as a starter. 

Roberto Carmona Fausto Hernandez Heredia: Future in the game. The Tribe had a $9 mil club option for 2013 on RCFHH but it has been restructured due to his less-than-honest approach to U.S. work visa laws. Hernandez only started 3 games this season and they didn't show much other than rusty stuff but decent control (considering his career BB issues). Hernandez may get another start or two after a sprained right ankle but his fate is most likely sealed one way or another. If the Tribe decides to bring him back, it will be on a very small 1-year control or even a minor league deal. Most likely, his days are numbered in Cleveland.

David Huff: Future in organization. Huff's gotten his shot with the Tribe and hasn't been very effective at all. He may or may not get another start or two before this season ends, but anything less than two gems will probably see him out of the Indians organization entirely next season. 

Others: Carlos Carrasco pitched some healthy innings for Akron down the stretch, he'll enter Spring Training as a starting rotation favorite ... Josh Tomlin will miss all of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery ... Danny Salazar has progressed enough to warrant a full season in AA Akron and may factor into the Indians' 2014 plans ... Kevin Slowey was hurt almost all year in AAA Columbus and wasn't very effective when healthy, he won't be in Cleveland next season, if even the team's organization ... Scott Barnes, Scott Maine and Chris Seddon will most likely remain in the bullpen for next season's plans.  

My guess: Masterson, Jimenez, McAllister, Carrasco, Kluber/Free Agent ; Huff removed from 40-man

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rivalry Building Between Browns, Jets

The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have had an interesting history. Cleveland topped New York in the first Monday Night Football game ever and in double overtime in the 1986 playoffs. However, since that exciting Bernie Kosar-led victory, the franchises have gone in different directions. While the Jets haven't been the model of an NFL franchise, they have reached the NFL playoffs a number of times in the last decade and have been far from the disaster our Browns were.

Now it seems, the two franchises are linked once more. First, Cleveland hired Empire State-hated Eric Mangini from the Jets. Then, they traded mercurial wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the Big Apple. And now, the teams find themselves opposite one another on the 2010 schedule. A fact not lost on Edwards (see below). Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York. If the Browns win only five games this season, those are the ones I want.


Braylon Edwards can't wait to play the Lions, Browns (from
Posted by Mike Florio on June 24, 2010 9:52 AM ET

Braylon Edwards is launching his first full season as a member of the New York Jets. And he has circled on the calendar games against teams that reside in much smaller cities.

The Lions and the Browns.

Per Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, Edwards looks forward to his November 7 return to Michigan. "I'm excited to play back home," Edwards recently said. "It'll be fun because I have so much family here that supports me. So I can't wait for them to get a chance to come to the game."

The next week, he returns to his adopted home.

"Seven days later is the game I'm worried about," Edwards said. "We go to Cleveland. You know I've got a little chip on my shoulder the size of the golden nugget. So I can't wait to go out there."

Edwards may want to think twice about that one. We hear that the 130-pound guy he beat up last year on his way out of Ohio has been working out. Word is that he's already up to 140.

Five more and he can definitely take Braylon.