Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cleveland Indians 2010 Outlook

Best case scenario: Fausto Carmona, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore all revert back to their strong form of years past, Jake Westbrook is fully recovered, Justin Masterson and David Huff/Aaron Laffey have career years and Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and the other youngsters continue to improve. New manager Manny Acta better reaches Latin holdovers Jhonny Peralta and Rafael Perez than Eric Wedge did and the bullpen comes together. 83-88 wins, contend for division

Wost case scenario: Carmona and Perez become lost causes, Sizemore and Westbrook have lingering effects from injuries and the young starters don't step up to the challenge. Chris Perez can't handle the role of closer and Acta has little change on the club. With the team out of it in June, Peralta, Westbrook and other veterans with lengthy contracts are shopped. 65-70 wins, bottom feeders in division.

Realistic scenario: the team makes strides under Acta and several of the young players come into their own. While the future looks bright, the present will have to settle for mediocre: 75 wins, middle of the pack in division.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Indians Brass Choose All-2000s Team

Great article and I honestly agree with almost every choice. I would have given the 5th starter spot to Paul Byrd over Carmona.



2000s a 'decade of extremes' for Indians
Club wins two division titles, finishes below .500 five times

By Anthony Castrovince /

03/17/10 11:00 AM ET

CLEVELAND -- The 2000s were a drastic decade for the Indians.

The Tribe entered the decade riding the last wave of its 1990s renaissance period, when division titles became par for the course and record numbers of fans came through the turnstiles at Jacobs Field.

By the end of the decade, it was Progressive Field, and the selling of the naming rights was just one of many changes. The team had undergone an overhaul, on the field and off. The Dolan family bought the organization from Dick Jacobs, Mark Shapiro took the general manager's reins from John Hart, and a total rebuild reinvented the way business was done at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

When all was said and done, the Tribe teams of the 2000s won 90 games or more four times and captured the American League Central crown in 2001 and '07. But they also fell below .500 five times.

"It was," team radio voice Tom Hamilton said, "a decade of extremes."

The decade was the topic of discussion during a bus trip to Columbus on the Tribe's winter Press Tour in January. Aboard the bus were Hamilton, vice president of public relations Bob DiBiasio and director of media relations Bart Swain, and asked the three men to pore over a list of players at each position from 2000-09 and select the Indians' All-Decade Team.

Two other men who watched this club, night in and night out, for the duration of the decade -- Shapiro and Plain Dealer beat reporter Paul Hoynes -- weren't on the bus but were surveyed separately.

The goal was to come to a consensus. Which players' contributions within that 10-season period ranked above the rest at their position? We wanted to pick five starters, one setup man, one closer, three outfielders and one player at every other position, including DH.

While the answers were fairly obvious at most spots, there were a few head-scratchers in the mix. Here's a full rundown, and keep in mind that only the 2000-09 seasons were taken into consideration:

Indians All-Decade team
POS Player
C Victor Martinez
1B Jim Thome
2B Roberto Alomar
SS Omar Vizquel
3B Casey Blake
OF Grady Sizemore
OF Kenny Lofton
OF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Travis Hafner
SP CC Sabathia
SP Cliff Lee
SP Bartolo Colon
SP Jake Westbrook
SP Fausto Carmona
SU Rafael Betancourt
CL Bob Wickman
MGR Eric Wedge


We began with the starting pitching, where left-handers CC Sabathia (106-71 with a 3.83 ERA in 237 starts) and Cliff Lee (83-48, 4.01 ERA in 178 starts) -- the Tribe's first Cy Young Award winners since Gaylord Perry in 1972 -- were no-brainers.

But the panel was asked to select a full, five-man rotation, and it wasn't easy.

Hamilton looked at the list of candidates -- including Paul Byrd, Fausto Carmona, Bartolo Colon, Chuck Finley, Kevin Millwood and Jake Westbrook -- and asked, "Can we maybe go with a four-man rotation?"

In the end, Colon (39-24, 3.67 ERA in 80 starts) and Westbrook (63-62, 4.25 ERA in 158 starts) received votes from all five panel members. But there was dissension about that fifth spot. The majority went with Carmona (33-37, 4.69 ERA in 85 starts), by virtue of his 19-win season in 2007.

"You can make the argument that he should have been the Cy Young winner [over Sabathia] that year," Hamilton said.

Swain added: "His start against the Yankees [in Game 2 of the '07 AL Division Series] was as good as you'll see."

Hoynes, however, went with Byrd (32-27, 4.68 ERA in 84 starts).

"I just think he was an underrated guy," Hoynes said. "I looked at his stats, and I liked the way he pitched in the '07 postseason. He was a gritty guy, and he was exactly what they needed -- a veteran guy in the middle of the rotation to pull it together."

Shapiro, meanwhile, went with Millwood, by virtue of his 2005 season in which he went 9-11 with a league-leading 2.86 ERA in 30 starts, and the way he became a mentor to a young pitching staff.

"He had a dominant year," Shapiro said, "and he made a lasting impact on CC at a pivotal point for our team."

Setup man

The panel had no problem coming to a consensus on this one. Right-hander Rafael Betancourt (23-22, 3.25 ERA in 371 games) was a unanimous choice over the likes of Danys Baez, Bob Howry, Steve Karsay, David Riske and Paul Shuey.

"People didn't appreciate how good he was," Hamilton said of Betancourt.


This was another easy call. The group unanimously chose Bob Wickman (8-16, 3.23 ERA, 139 saves in 255 games) over Joe Borowski (5-8, 5.57 ERA, 51 saves in 87 games). Borowski led the league in saves and helped guide the Tribe to the division title in '07, but Wickman established himself as the club's all-time saves leader.

"It wasn't always pretty," Hoynes said, "but he always seemed to get the job done."


Absolute no-brainer here. Victor Martinez first came up to the big leagues in 2002, became a regular in '03 and eventually grew to become the face of the franchise before he was traded to the Red Sox last season. V-Mart hit .297 with an .832 OPS, 103 homers and 518 RBIs in 821 games with the Tribe.

First base

Jim Thome didn't get much competition in this department. While his great seasons in the 1990s were tossed out of the running, his 2000-02 campaigns (combined .287 average, 1.026 OPS, 138 homers, 348 RBIs in 461 games) were more than enough to make him a unanimous choice over Ben Broussard and Ryan Garko.

Second base

Roberto Alomar was a unanimous choice here, though the group did have to acknowledge the accomplishments of Ronnie Belliard, who filled the position from 2004-06 and compiled a .285 average and .770 OPS.

"I really liked Belliard," Hoynes said. "He came in with a bad reputation, but he played his butt off. Those were the best three years of his career."

Still, nobody was going to top Alomar, who was arguably the greatest free-agent acquisition the organization has ever had. Alomar's transcendent 1999 season wasn't considered, but he batted a combined .322 with a .903 OPS in 2000-01, earning two All-Star invitations, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award.

"And I know it's not in the decade," DiBiasio said, "but his '99 season still counts for something."


Omar Vizquel, who won two Gold Gloves in the 2000s with the Tribe, was a unanimous choice over Jhonny Peralta, who took over the position when Vizquel left as a free agent after the '04 season.

"He was a blast to watch," Hoynes said of "Little O."

Third base

The most interesting position battle might have been at third base, where Travis Fryman and Casey Blake both embodied the "high character" qualities the Indians value.

Fryman batted a combined .274 with a .765 OPS, 36 homers and 199 RBIs in 371 games from 2000-02, earning All-Star and Gold Glove honors in '00.

But he was beaten out, through a unanimous vote, by Blake, who batted .266 with a .787 OPS, 116 homers and 417 RBIs in 810 games from 2003-08. Blake played any position the Indians asked him to play, but his most consistent home was third.

"Casey has to be on our all-clubhouse team, too," Swain said.

The group agreed that Fryman in his prime would have taken this honor, but he was at the end of his career in the early 2000s.


Asked to select three outfielders, regardless of their spot, the group had some dissension here. Grady Sizemore, a three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove Award and one-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and Kenny Lofton were unanimous choices.

Lofton's 2000-01 seasons and his brief stint with the Tribe at the end of '07 were taken into consideration.

"Nobody wanted to win more than Kenny Lofton," Hamilton said.

The dissension came with the third spot. Hamilton, DiBiasio and Swain gave the nod to Shin-Soo Choo, who has batted a combined .302 with an .893 OPS since the Indians acquired him in 2006.

"He's improved every year to become one of the better right fielders in the league," DiBiasio said of Choo.

But the group also had to take into account Manny Ramirez's 2000 season, in which he batted .351 with a 1.154 OPS, 38 homers and 122 RBIs in just 118 games. And don't forget Juan Gonzalez's '01 season, in which he batted .325 with a .960 OPS. Ramirez and Gonzalez each won a Silver Slugger Award in those respective seasons.

Hoynes and Shapiro went with Ramirez for the third outfield spot.

"Look at what he did in 118 games," Shapiro said. "It's ridiculous."

Said Hoynes: "He homered in his last at-bat, like Ted Williams. That sticks with me. That was his free-agent year, and he was unconscious. He was showing you what you were gonna miss. Everybody knew he was going to be gone, and he rubbed salt in the wound."

Designated hitter

Travis Hafner (.282 average, .917 OPS, 162 homers, 547 RBIs in 800 games) was a unanimous choice over Ellis Burks (.287 average, .885 OPS, 66 homers, 193 RBIs in 317 games).

"But Ellis was another underrated guy," Hoynes said. "I would have liked to see him play with good knees."

Pronk's numbers have taken a nosedive the last three years, but there was no discounting what he did from 2004-06.

"He was arguably one of the best hitters in the game at that time," Swain said.


The only candidates here were Charlie Manuel (2000-02) and Eric Wedge (2003-09). Wedge oversaw the Indians' rebuild and won AL Manager of the Year honors in '07, when the Indians won the Central and finished a win shy of the World Series. He was the unanimous call.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Take on the Whirwind of Moves

Browns Prez Mike Holmgren started the 2010 offseason making some quiet, but shrew moves. Among them, potential starters were signed in free agency in the form of TE Benjamin Watson (Patriots), RT Tony Pashos (Niners), and LB Scott Fujita (Saints). Holmgren sent his old team, Seattle, a 2011 7th round pick for his old back quarterback, Seneca Wallace and restricted free agent linebacker Jason Trusnik was re-signed to his 2nd round tender.

While these moves were noteworthy, a franchise-changing set of events beginning at the end of last week with the release of cancerous QB Derek Anderson and signing of long-time Panthers vet Jake Delhomme culminated in a pair of Sunday trades: former first round picks Kamerion Wimbley and Brady Quinn were jettisoned to Oakland and Denver for a grand total of a 3rd round pick, a 6th round pick, Broncos running back Peyton Hillis and a conditional late round 2011 pick. Not exactly a return for the investment of two 1st round picks (and in Quinn's case, a slew of other picks as well).

As much as I had invested in Brady Quinn over the last five years (I began a personal campaign for us to draft him back while he was still tearing up defenses at Notre Dame), the writing was on the wall when Delhomme was signed. Holmgren evidently wanted to erase all memories of last season's joke of a passing offense, and dumping Anderson and Quinn appeared to be the easiest answer. I still have cautious optimism that Quinn can succeed under Josh McDaniels in Denver but Derek Anderson's words of vile against Browns fans (see, a whole nother discussion) will fall on deaf ears. Wherever the emotionless, inaccurate quarterback signs, it likely won't be as a starter. Not like he ever had the tools to be a starter. Signs pointed to Anderson being a flash in the pan at the end of 2007 where he single-handedly destroyed our season vs. Cincinnati. When rumors abounded of teams interested in trading a first round pick for Anderson, I begged for then GM Phil Savage to pull the trigger and hand the reigns to Quinn. He didn't, and the rest is history.

Wimbley's trade was a bit more surprising. Since his 11 sack rookie campaign, Wimbley has just 15 quarterback take-downs in three seasons despite not missing a single game. He showed signs of returning to his old form this past season under Rob Ryan, but apparently Holmgren didn't want to keep him onboard. I definitely see the Browns picking up another pass rusher either in a trade or in the draft, but apparently Holmgren and Coach Mangini like what players such as Marcus Benard and Jason Trusnik bring to the table. I'm hoping that fan-favorite Alex Hall will step up to the plate and make an impact in 2011.

With Jake Delhomme at the plate, its possible that this Browns season could be offensively worse than the last one. Delhomme tossed 8 touchdowns to 18 interceptions last season in one of the worst years in NFL history. I'm hoping he'll play more like the man who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl and be a calming veteran influence on this team. Either way, the future holds many question marks but one that is answered is what I will be doing with my Kam Wimbley and Brady Quinn jersies: eBay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Latest Update! Indians Offseason Moves

It's been a long time since I've updated the blog but I have added a few new features including a Twitter page (see top of blog)!

Let's take a look at what has been a quiet offseason for the Cleveland Indians:

I'm a fan of the Russell Branyan move. There is no sense in rushing LaPorta's progress and him learning from a veteran power hitter like Branyan is a major plus.

The Shoppach trade was necessary to pave the way for more talented youngsters Lou Marson and (later down the road) Carlos Santana. Unless Andy Marte pans out (don't hurt yourselves laughing), the Coco Crisp trade officially becomes a bust for both teams.

And last, but far from least, is the Manny Acta hire. I think this was a great move! I'll admit I was asking myself "who is this washout from the Nationals" but Manny has grown on me to the point where I have actually become quite excited about the 2010 season. Acta's youth, energy and ability to relate with our Latin players will all be plusses. It's too early to tell what his assistants will do for the club, but any fresh faces are a relief from Carl Willis and Derek Shelton.

Cleveland Indians 2009 Offseason


Re-Signed Free Agents/Arbitration:

P Rafael Perez, re-signed

Minor League Free Agents:

P Adam Miller, re-signed
P Anthony Reyes, re-signed, placed on DL

Added to 40-Man Roster

IF Jordan Brown
P Kelvin De La Cruz
P Jeanmar Gomez
IF Carlos Rivero
IF Jason Donald
IF Wes Hodges
OF Nick Weglarz

Non-Roster/Minor League Invitees

P Jason Grilli
P Mike Gosling
IF Brian Buscher
IF Luis Rodriguez
P Saul Rivera
OF Shelley Duncan, Yankees
IF/OF Austin Kearns, Nationals
IF Mark Grudzielanek, Royals
P Tom Mastny, Japan
P Josh Judy
P Zach Putnam
P Alex White
P Yohan Pino
P Frank Herrmann
IF Lonnie Chisenhall
IF Beau Mills
IF Niuman Romero
C Damaso Espino

Rule 5 Draft – Major League

P Hector Ambriz, Diamondbacks

Rule 5 Draft – Minor League

IF Brian Horwitz, Giants


P Mitch Talbot (for Kelly Shoppach)
IF Brian Bixler (for Jesus Brito)

Free Agents

C Mike Redmond, 1 year, $850 K
IF Russell Branyan, 1 year, $2 mil
RP Jamey Wright


Free Agents:

P Tomo Ohka, free agent
IF Jamey Carroll, signed with LAD, 2 years

Minor League Free Agents:

P Juan Veras, Florida minor league
P Vinnie Chulk, Pittsburgh minor league
P Greg Aquino, Chicago White Sox minor league
IF Tony Graffanino, free agent

Outrighted to AAA

P Scott Lewis
P Mike Gosling
IF Niuman Romero

Rule 5 Draft – Major League

P Chuck Lofgren, Brewers

Rule 5 Draft – Minor League

P Anillins Martinez, Marlins
P Matt Meyer, Cardinals


C Kelly Shoppach, Rays (for Mitch Talbot)
IF Jesus Brito, Pirates (for Brian Bixler)
P Zach Jackson, Blue Jays (for PTBNL)

Reassigned to Minor League Camp:

40 Man Roster


Hector Ambriz
Fausto Carmona
Carlos Carrasco
Kelvin De La Cruz
Jeanmar Gomez
David Huff
Aaron Laffey
Jensen Lewis
Justin Masterson
Chris Perez
Rafael Perez
Anthony Reyes
Hector Rondon
Tony Sipp
Joe Smith
Jeremy Sowers
Mitch Talbot
Jess Todd
Jake Westbrook
Kerry Wood


Lou Marson
Mike Redmond
Carlos Santana
Wyatt Toregas


Brian Bixler
Russell Branyan
Asdrubal Cabrera
Jason Donald
Wes Hodges
Andy Marte
Jhonny Peralta
Carlos Rivero
Luis Valbuena


Michael Brantley
Jordan Brown
Shin-Soo Choo
Trevor Crowe
Matt LaPorta
Grady Sizemore
Nick Weglarz

Designated Hitter

Travis Hafner

Coaching Staff/Front Office


Eric Wedge- Manager
Carl Willis- Pitching Coach, minor league pitching coordinator Seattle
Derek Shelton- Hitting Coach, same position Tampa Bay
Jeff Datz- Bench Coach, same position Baltimore
Luis Rivera- First Base/Infield Coach
Joel Skinner- Third Base Coach, manager AA Akron
Chuck Hernandez- Bullpen Coach
Tim Maxey- Strength and Conditioning Coach, MLB

Lino Diaz- Director of Latin American Operations, re-assigned by Cleveland


Manny Acta- Manager
Tim Belcher- Pitching Coach
Jon Nunnally- Hitting Coach
Tim Tolman- Bench Coach
Steve Smith- Infield/Third Base Coach
Sandy Alomar Jr- First Base/Catching Coach
Scott Radinsky- Bullpen Coach
Joe Kessler- Strength and Conditioning Coach

Ramon Pena- Director of Latin American Operations