As we come to the end of the year, we also close out the preview of possible Clippers for next season. It is fitting then, that the last installment is the bullpen, the group tasked with finishing out the game on the mound.
Last season the clippers bullpen had a roller coaster season, being at times phenomenal, shaky, solid, bad and very good. Mike Sarbaugh used 12 different pitchers in save opportunities in 2011. Jensen Lewis got the 1st shot at closing and induced heart attacks, but saved the 1st two games of the year. He blew his other two chances and struggled with his velocity being down and not having the same stuff we’d grown accustomed to seeing. Lewis was released in June.
Josh Judy was on the I-71 shuttle much of the year, but still logged more saves than any Clipper. The Indians seemed to really like Judy in 2010, talking about him as a future closer in the bigs, but with Chris Perez manning that wheel and Vinnie Pestano bursting on the scene last year, Judy may have been deemed expendable. He was recently take off of the 40-man roster and may not make it through waivers. He could also be used as a trade chip.
Zach Putnam is a late-inning arm who had a great 2010 as the 7th inning guy setting up Judy and Pestano, but at times in 2011, he had issues with command. Putnam is a bulldog and has the stuff and temperament to be a closer. If Judy is not in the organization, expect Putnam to get the 1st shot at being the closer in 2012. He is on the 40-man and saw time in Cleveland in September. I would not be surprised to see him on the shuttle in 2012 or even win a job on the Indians staff outright out of Spring Training.
Another likely candidate for the back of the pen is Chen-Chang Lee. Lee has one of the nastiest fastball/slider combos you are going to see. He was as dominating as any pitcher in the IL last year, with 12.4 K/9. He had one bad outing where he allowed 1/2 of all his earned runs and 1/3 of his total walks. The issue with Lee is not his stuff, but his make-up. There is a question of his ability to handle high leverage situations and his willingness to pitch inside. With Judy and Putnam in the Majors, Lee closed out the Clippers Governor’s Cup win, and threw the final 2 innings of the Triple-A Championship game, Maybe his late season work can be a springboard to success as a stopper.
Nick Hagadone is a guy who has had big expectations attached to his big left arm since being acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade. He reached the majors last season and has a real shot to win a job the start the season. Working against him are the facts that he still has 2 options left and that as of now, the Tribe has 2 established lefties in the pen already in Tony Sipp and Raffy Perez. Hagadone had a somewhat slow adjustment to the Triple-A level, but flourished as the season went along. He is very tall and possesses long arms. Like most pitchers of similar build, his mechanics can get out of whack, but when he is right, he can really do a number on hitters, particularly left-handers, who he held to a .127 BA in ’11.
It is very possible that the Clippers will once again see Paolo Espino misassigned to a bullpen roll. Espino has been the winning pitcher in the deciding game of 3 of the last 4 post season series for Columbus. Let’s look at Paolo’s Start/relief splits from 2011. As a starter for Columbus he was 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA, 10 K/9 and a 0.69 WHIP. Out of the pen: 0-1 6.75 ERA, a WHIP of 1.81 and a .345 BA. Espino doesn’t have alarming stuff, but he seems to come through in big situations. He is not going to be in the Clippers rotation to start the year barring injury, but he is probably the swing-man. playing the role Justin Germano and Joe Martinez (both gone from the organization) did last year.
Ruben Niebla, the Clippers pitching coach prefers a 7-man bullpen, and that’s what Columbus had typically had all things being equal. That being the case, if four of the above five guys are on the staff, there will be likely 3 others to fill out the bullpen. Kelvin De La Cruz seems like a good possibility. He finished the year with Columbus and it looks like the Indians have committed to converting him to a reliever. He was left on the 40-man when a move had to be made to add Aaron Cunningham, so Cleveland obviously values him. Really, what’s not to like about a 6’5 23 year-old lefty with a mid-90′s fastball?
The remaining spots are up for grabs. Tyler Sturdevant, Matt Lagwell, Eric Berger and Rob Bryson could be in contention. A wild card is Bryce Stowell. Stowell flashed a 100-MPH fastball for the Clippers in 2011 upon his promotion form Double-A, but suffered finger injuries that ended his season early. He spent the entire 2012 season in the lower levels of the minors working through control and other issues as well as a dip in velocity. I’d personally like to see Steven Wright pitch well enough to make the team because there is just something fun about a knuckle-ball pitcher (provided it’s not your job to try and catch him). One player who will not be in the mix is Cory Burns, whom the Indians traded for OF Aaron Cunningham. Burns was Akron’s closer last year, setting a single-season franchise record for saves.
As expected, since this prognostication process started, there have been signings that could have trickle-down effects on the Clippers roster. If Cunningham makes the Indians roster, Zeke Carrera is likely down to Columbus, which pushes someone to Akron. Matt LaPorta seems less and less likely to break camp with Cleveland, which would affect Beau Mills. Andy LaRoche throws another possibility out there as he’s mainly been a 3rd baseman in his career and GM Chris Antonetti says LaRoche is in camp to compete for a big league job, as is Jose Lopez. What happens to Lonnie Chisenhall if LaRoche and Jack Hannahan are both on the team? These questions and more will be answered in Goodyear, AZ come March of 2012. Until then, it’s fun to pass the winter months with this type of discussion.
Cherish the upcoming season, because if the Mayan calendar is right, it will be the last one ever. The countdown to 12/21/12 is on!
Sticking with the holiday theme, here are some of the latest happenings to report:
* The Indians have signed infielder Andy LaRoche to a minor league contract with an invite to major league camp. LaRoche, 28, has played parts of five big league seasons with the Dodgers, Pirates, and Athletics. He was Pittsburgh’s everyday third baseman in 2009, batting .258 in 150 games. He carries a .228 career average in the majors.
He will be vying for an infield utility position with the Tribe.
LaRoche is the younger brother of Adam (with the Nationals) and son of Dave, who pitched for Cleveland (’75-’77) as part of a 14-year MLB career.
* The following players are the non 40-man roster invitees to spring training: INF Andy LaRoche, INF Jose Lopez, OF Felix Pie, CA Luke Carlin, CA Matt Pagnozzi, CA Michel Hernandez. There will be more added so stay tuned!
* Former Clippers/Indians utility player Chris Gimenez has re-signed with Seattle. This is not a surprise considering how well he is liked by skipper Eric Wedge, Gimenez first made it to the bigs when Wedge was in Cleveland.
* Former highly touted prospect Adam Miller has signed a minor league deal with the Yankees. Miller was the 31st overall pick in the 2003 draft, but suffered a finger ligament injury that forced four surgeries in 2009 and 2010.
He returned to the field last season, pitching in High-A and Double-A.
* Former Indians Ben Francisco (traded from Phillies to Blue Jays) and Jason Michaels (minor league contract with the Nationals) have both found new homes.
Francisco, 30, played parts of three seasons in Cleveland (’07-’09) and was traded at the ’09 deadline to the Phillies as part of the Cliff Lee deal that landed Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, and Jason Donald.
Michaels, 35, has spent the last three years with Houston. He was with the Tribe from ’06 to’08, acquired from Philadelphia for LHP Arthur Rhodes. He played 249 games in the Cleveland outfield and was designated for assignment during the 2008 season.
* Former Clippers pitchers Ryan Edell (Orioles), Shane Lindsay (Dodgers), and Zach Jackson (Rangers) have inked minor league contracts for next season.
Edell and Jackson are both lefties. Edell pitched for Lehigh Valley last season and lost to the Clippers in the clinching fourth game of the Governors’ Cup Finals.
* Pitchers and Catchers are scheduled to report to Goodyear on February 20th, that’s 60 days from Thursday.
Here are the tentative early camp dates:
Feb. 20 – Pitchers/Catchers report
Feb. 21 – Pitchers/Catchers physicals
Feb. 22 – First workout
Feb. 23 – Position players report
Feb. 24 – Position player physicals
Feb. 25 – First full-squad workout
* Major League Baseball seems to be getting closer to an international draft. The new CBA includes the formation of the International Talent Committee, a group that will discuss a draft, examine changes to the ages international amateur players are eligible to be signed, regulations for international amateurs’ agents and how Cuban players should be treated due to their political realities.
I’ll be back after taking a holiday break!
The holiday season is in full force, but the Cleveland Indians and Columbus Clippers front offices are not ready to start vacation just yet.
The Tribe has been busy over the last week or so, hiring a couple of baseball operations directors, signing free agents, making a trade, setting it’s broadcast team, and finalizing the spring broadcast schedule.
The Clippers front office has been extremely busy as well, adding new items in the Cargo Shop and introducing some season ticket mini-plans.
Here is the skinny…
- Derek Falvey and David Stearns have been appointed to the position of Director of Baseball Operations.
Falvey is in his fifth season with the Cleveland Indians and has been a member of the Cleveland Indians Baseball Operations Department since joining the club in November 2007. He spent the 2011 season as Assistant Director of Baseball Operations. In his role as Director, his focus will be primarily on player personnel and acquisitions.
Stearns joins the Indians after spending the last three years since working for the MLB Commissioner’s Office in New York City. Most recently he held the position of Manager, Labor Relations; assisting club’s in the salary arbitration process, handling uniform player contracts and was a member of MLB’s negotiating team for the recently completed Collective Bargaining Agreement. In his new position with the Indians, Stearns will focus primarily on player contracts, strategy and analysis.
- The Indians have agreed to a contract extension with Tom Hamilton to continue as the radio “Voice of the Indians”.
Hamilton was promoted to the top position on the Indians broadcast team in 1998 following the retirement of the legendary Herb Score. He will enter his 23rd season with the Tribe, following a three-year stint as a broadcaster for the Clippers (1987-89).
Jim Rosenhaus will partner will Hamilton full-time in 2012. Rosenhaus, the former voice of the Buffalo Bisons, has spent the past five years as the producer/engineer for the Indians Radio Network and host of Indians Warm Up. In addition, Jim has had the opportunity to call play-by-play on a part-time basis when needed and last year partnered with Tom on the majority of the road broadcasts. Congrats to Rosey, a friend an excellent broadcaster!
- The Indians announced the spring training broadcast schedule on Friday. SportsTime Ohio will broadcast six Cactus League games (3/10 vs. Padres, 3/12 vs. Diamondbacks, 3/13 vs. Rangers 3/15 vs. White Sox, 3/21 vs. Giants), the Indians Radio Network will also carry twenty games and nine will be made available exclusively on Indians.com
- The Indians have come to terms with free agents INF Jose Lopez and OF Felix Pie (pronounced pee-ay). Neither is added to the 40-man roster, but both will be invited to major league spring training.
Lopez, 28, carries a career Major League batting average of .263 (947-3605) with 201 doubles, 11 triples, 88 home runs and 452 RBI in 955 games with Seattle, Colorado and Florida. He was Seattle’s everyday second baseman from 2006-10, appearing in at least 149 games in each of those five seasons and was a 2006 American League All-Star. Lopez finished 3rd in the AL in hits in 2008 (191) and in 2009 he was tied for 11th in the league in doubles (42, with Asdrubal Cabrera) and tied for 16th in RBI (96).
Pie, 26, has a five-year career Major League batting average of .249 (240-964) with 44 doubles, 13 triples, 17 homers and 97 RBI in 398 games with the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs since 2007. His best season came in 2009 with Baltimore after being acquired from the Cubs that off-season, hitting .266 (67-252) with 10 2B, 3 3B, 9HR & 29RBI in 101 games (.763OPS). He spent most of the 2011 season in the Major Leagues with 85 games played for the Orioles before concluding the season in Triple-A Norfolk.
- The Indians and Padres completed a trade on Friday, with Cleveland acquiring OF Aaron Cunningham for RHP Cory Burns.
Cunningham, 25, split the 2011 season between Triple-A Tucson and San Diego. At Tucson, he hit .329 (112-340) with 34 doubles, 4 triples, 9 home runs and 63 RBI in 87 games (.398OBP/.532SLG/.930OPS). With the Padres he hit .178 (16-90) with 6 2B, 3HR & 9RBI in 52 games. He hit .227 (10-44) w/2HR & 4RBI in 23 games away from Petco Park.
Burns was Cleveland’s 8th round draft pick in 2009 and set the Akron Aeros franchise record for saves in 2011 before joining the Clippers in the post-season.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Indians designated RHP Josh Judy for assignment. Judy must clear waivers to remain in the organization.
I’ll have more on this trade and Josh Judy soon.
- The Clippers ticket office has unveiled six-game mini plans! Choose one of these options for just $50 for adults, $35 youth/seniors (reserve seating only):
(run the bases after each game!)
Call the office at 614-462-5250 to order (this offer is only valid by phone)
Check out the Huntington Park seating chart.
- Finish your holiday shopping at the Clippers Cargo Shop!
Clippers Gift Certificates are also available in $5 and $10 increments.
Have a great weekend!
The Indians tendered contracts to all the unsigned members of the 40-man roster before the deadline on Monday, meaning that none of the players became free agents. There are seven players that are arbitration eligible, which is unfamiliar territory for the Tribe. Cleveland has often locked up young players to multi-year deals before they reach arbitration eligibility.
A player is eligible after three years of major league service time or is a “Super Two” (two years of service, in the top 17% of total playing time among peers).
The Indians that are arbitration eligible (2011 salary):
Shin-Soo Choo ($4 million)
Chris Perez ($2.3 million)
Asdrubal Cabrera ($2 million)
Rafael Perez ($1.3 million)
Joe Smith ($850, 000)
Jack Hannahan ($500,000)
Justin Masterson ($470, 000)
It’s very likely that the Indians will come to terms on contracts with each of these players before arbitration hearings begin in February. The clubs and agents must exchange figures on January 18. Cleveland has not gone to arbitration since 1991.
Every other player on the 40-man roster is in a slotted, non-arbitration, contract with the exception of Fausto Carmona (signed for ’12, club options for ’13 and ’14), Ubaldo Jimenez (signed for ’12, club option for ’13), Derek Lowe (signed for ’12), Travis Hafner (signed for ’12, club option for ’13), and Grady Sizemore (signed for ’12).
* Among those players that were not tendered contracts on Monday, former Clippers/Indians left-hander Aaron Laffey was pushed into free agency by the Kansas City Royals.
* Krash and Lou Seal are under contract for next season and they’re celebrating the holidays with Clippers gifts!
* My favorite quote of the week was this one from relief pitcher Craig Breslow after he was dealt from Oakland to Arizona. ” I can no longer denounce the relevance of Twitter. It broke the story of my trade…to me.”
This teaches us that if you’re not on Twitter, the world is passing you by. Follow me on Twitter (@Scott_Leo) and make sure you haven’t been traded!
Ring Your Bell!
So the baseball world has dispersed from Dallas and the Indians did not have any roster shifts. The Indians look to have a pitching staff that will look a lot like the one they had in 2011. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin, Fausto Carmona and the newly acquired Derek Lowe will be the rotation. Although Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister and David Huff will have a chance to win a job, it would seem that barring injury, it would have to be in the bullpen. David Huff has one option remaining as does Jeanmar Gomez. Neither of them have been relievers, but for Huff in particular, maybe this is the year for a switch. He’s in his 6th full season and it appears that others in the organization are beginning to pass him by.
As for the Columbus rotation, assuming no shifts are made to the bullpen and no more veteran depth signings are made, The Clippers look like that have a spectacular Triple-A starting staff.
Jeanmar Gomez, last year’s league ERA leader, should be at the top of the rotation. Gomez never allowed more than 4 earned runs in a start and never went less than 5 innings. he finished 10-7, but with a little run support, he could have had a much better mark. Gomez had an 8-3 record with 4 no-decisions in games where he allowed 2 or fewer earned runs. His WHIP was quite high last year and the Tribe would love to see him trust his stuff and challenge hitters to cut down on his walks.
David Huff has had very good success with the Clippers. He parlayed a strong start in 2009 to an 11-win Major League rookie campaign. The next season, after struggling in the Majors and being optioned down, he was a very vocal leader in the 2010 play-off run. Huff started a little slowly in 2011, but had a magnificent June and July to earn his way back to the bigs. He went 2-6 with the Tribe, but seemingly pitched better than the results. It is concerning is that his ground ball rate has declined the last few years. David is a lefty who can throw 92-93. Those don’t grow on trees. He is still a valuable commodity, though he will have to assert himself to stay near the front of the line when an arm is needed in Cleveland.
Zach McAllister put himself right into the mix for a Major League job last year with a tremendous bounce-back season. Pitching mainly for Scranton in 2010, McAllister had a 5.09 ERA and gave up 20 home runs, taking some of the shine off of his rising star, but he pitched well for the Clippers in the ’10 play-offs and it carried over into 2011. Pitching in cozy Huntington Park, you’d think he’s give up more homers, but he cut his HR rate in half, while increasing his K/9 rate from 5.9 to 7.5 with a fastball that ramped up in velocity considerably due to a heavy program of off-season conditioning work. McAllister pitched well in three of his four big league starts last season and he is in the Indians future plans.
The Clippers 4th starter will likely be Scott Barnes. Barnes had a wild start to the season in 2011. He walked 10 batters in his first two starts for Columbus, but he also struck out 11. His control improved and he went on a roll. June was a breakout month for Barnes as he went 4-1 in six starts, with a 1.66 ERA, a 9.2 K/9 and a 1.00 WHIP. After pitching more than 5 innings only once prior to June, he went into the 6th in every start thereafter. Barnes season was cut short due to a knee injury suffered while fielding a ball against Toledo on July 10th. Hopefully he is fully recovered and picks up right where he left off. If so, expect him to get his first look in the bigs this year as the Indians put him on the 40-man before the Rule V draft.
Rounding out the rotation will likely be right-hander Corey Kluber. He has the tools to be very very good, but Kluber’s issue in 2011 was the big inning. He would cruise through the opposition for several innings and then come out and seemingly lose his feel for the baseball. he made strides throughout the season in being able to bounce back from a bad frame to recover and pitch well the rest of his outing. Kluber is a big guy at 6’4 215 and has a good arsenal and a strong work ethic. The Indians gave him a look out of the bullpen last season and he remains on the 40-man roster. There is a lot to like about Kluber and if he continues his development and can limit those occasions where an inning gets away from him, he can be a player the Indians will look at.
Next time, we will look at the bullpen.
Notes of interest:
The Big Swede becomes the Big Swing- Former Indians southpaw prospect Chuck Lofgren has resigned with the SF Giants organization, but his days as a pitcher appear to be over. The Giants want to convert him to an OF/1B because they liked his swing enough to see some value in it. Hey, it worked for Rick Ankiel. Lofgren was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2009 Rule V draft and signed with SF as a free agent in 2010.
MVP goes West- Joe Martinez who won the Triple-A National Championship game MVP award has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Martinez bounced between the rotation and the bullpen for the Clippers and was a true professional. Joe is a heck of a nice guy and will be missed. Broadcast team fav Jensen Lewis also signed with the Diamondbacks this off season. Jensen and Kirk Gibson, that’s an interesting pair.
No Rhymes or Reasons- Will Rhymes will be non-tendered by the Tigers. Rhymes was an IL All Star for Toledo, has a +.300 career average in the minors, hit .283 in the bigs a very solid OBP, the Tigers have a platoon at 2B and not a ton of middle infielders in the system. Rhymes was not the future at 2B in Detroit, but he was a nice depth player who was not arbitration eligible. Why is he let go then? I don’t know the answer, but it IS interesting that he blasted Tigers manager Jim Leyland on Twitter during the 2011 play-offs. Coincidence? You decide.
Who Wants some Pie- The Indians have signed former Oriole OF Felix Pie to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, according to the Baltimore Sun. At this time the Indians have not confirmed the report. If Pie is signed and makes the Indians roster, it will obviously have an impact on the breakdown of outfielders. The Sun reports that Pie would have an out clause if he doesn’t make the club out of spring.
The 2011 Winter Meetings are now in the rear view mirror and the next phase of the hot stove season is underway. The Cleveland Indians didn’t make any moves during the week in Dallas, but may have laid the foundation for some roster tweaking in the coming weeks.
The Tribe did lose two players in the Rule 5 Draft, both in the Triple-A phase, which means they don’t have to make the major league roster of their new club. Right-hander Marty Popham was selected by the Minnesota Twins and outfielder Donnie Webb was scooped up by the Miami Marlins.
Popham, 24, stands 6 foot, 6 inches. He made a spot start for the Clippers in his hometown of Louisville in 2010 and had one relief appearance with Columbus in 2011. Popham was 20-11 with a 3.72 ERA over 82 games (51 starters) in minor league four seasons. He was selected by Cleveland in the 20th round of the 2008 draft out of Union College (Ky.).
Webb, 25, is a blue-collar, hard-nosed outfielder that some Clippers fans may remember from his brief Huntington Park stint at the end of the 2009 season. He was a rare bright spot during a terrible season for the Clippers, batting .367 (11-for-30) in seven games and crashing into the outfield wall a few times, to make great catches. Webb also appeared in eleven Clippers games in 2011. He is a .254 hitter over four minor league seasons. Webb was a 10th round pick in 2008 out of Oklahoma State University.
In other news…
* Hector Rondon was the odd man out with the re-addition of Grady Sizemore to the 40-man roster. Rondon will be out for about six months because of a recent setback in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery. He went under Dr. James Andrews’ knife on November 15th in Gulf Breeze, Florida to repair a fracture.
* Michael Brantley played a little bit of first base in the minors and now he may do the same in the bigs. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com has this story about the Indians weighing their options.
OK, so last time we took a look at the likely infield alignment for the 2012 Columbus Clippers with most likely Jared Goedert or Lonnie Chisenhall at 3B, Juan Diaz at SS Cord Phelps 2B and Beau Mills or possibly Matt Laporta at 1B. The Indians just signed veteran catcher Matt Pagnozzi which puts him in the catcher mix at Triple-A with Luke Carlin, Chun Chen and seemingly less likely, Michel Hernandez.
Who will roam the outfield in Columbus? With Grady Sizemore returning to Cleveland and reportedly told he’ll be the center fielder, Michael Brantley will be in left and Shin-Soo Choo will be in right. Shelley Duncan seems very likely to make the club assuming a solid camp and with Sizemore’s injury history, a 5th outfielder to start the season seems like a necessity. Ezequiel Carrera is the most likely candidate for that spot as he’s the only remaining option currently on the 40-man roster with MajorLeague experience. With those five in Cleveland, the outfield in Columbus will likely look quite different than the one we saw most of 2011.
Gone is Jerad Head, signing a minor-league deal with Detroit. We may see a lot of him at Huntington Park, but it would be in a MudHens uniform. In his usual left field, is likely Thomas Neal. Neal joined the Clippers after being acquired from San Franscico in a trade last season. Neal is a physical specimen, but he was hampered by injury most of the time he was in Columbus, so I have no good idea as of yet what sort of player he is. It should be noted that he put up impressive stats in the Giants system and is a multi-time All-Star.
In center, the Clippers may have the services of Trevor Corwe for much of the season. Crowe was taken off of the Indians 40-man roster after the season, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Columbus. Trevor has a very good Triple-A resume. a .276 average with 55 SB in 113 games. He has a very good outfield arm and can really run the ball down as well. He has the ability to play all 3 outfield positions, so he will provide Mike Sarbaugh with flexibility on his lineup card. If he’s healthy, the only real concern about Crowe is his state of mind entering the season. Being outrighted from the Big League team can have a dramatic affect on a player’s attitude and outlook, but Crowe seems like the type who has strong character and a positive outlook. I’m sure he will take this season as on opportunity to work his way back to where he wants to be, whether in Cleveland or elsewhere.
Right Field is something of a question mark. Maybe Thomas Neal plays here. In his very brief time, he flashed a cannon of an arm, but it wasn’t very accurate (again, with his injuries, I don’t put much stock in the snippets we saw). Chad Huffman is still in the fold and mainly played in right, but also played left field and 1B. The Indians picked Huffman up off of the waiver wire from the Yankees and had him batting cleanup much of last season. Chad struggled badly at times last year, but also had some incredibly hot streaks. Defensively, Huffman is not a speedster, but he gets good jumps, takes good routes to the ball and has a very solid arm. He also played the right field wall at Huntington Park better than any outfielder in the 3 years the park has been open. I think the Indians may view him as an option, but he must find consistency at the plate.
If Neal is in right most days, expect to see a healthy does of Tim Fedroff in left field for the Clippers. Tim became the center fielder by default in Columbus after Ezequiel Carrera was promoted for good to Cleveland. Fedroff is a bit miscast in center, as he doesn’t have outstanding speed, nor does he get particularly good jumps off the bat. Looking at his season stats, they seem to also say he doesn’t perform as well at the plate when asked to play center. At the time of his promotion to Columbus in late June, Fedroff was leading the EL in hitting, playing mostly left field (58g-LF 2g-CF 4g-RF). While with the Clippers, Fedroff played over two thirds of his games in center. In CF, Fedroff’s slash line was .248/.351/.327. As a left fielder for the Clippers Tim hit .377/.459/.509. Those are pretty significant splits and they were similar in 2010 at Akron. Fedroff really came on strong down the stretch when the Clippers needed offense. He is a slasher who can set the table, might fit a #2 hitter roll.
The Indians have already resigned Ben Copeland, who finished with the Clippers, but who saw very little playing time. Copeland is a minor league veteran with lots of Triple-A time, mostly in the PCL. He has a little pop and brings some speed. He seems like a depth player who can fill situational needs. He spend most of last year in Akron and may wind up there again to start the season.
The great mystery continues to be Nick Weglarz, The herculean outfielder from the great white north. The Indians have been waiting for Weglarz to be their heir to the slugger throne in the bigs for a while now, but Weglarz has not been able to stay healthy long enough to develop. Injuries have derailed many promising careers, but Nick has so much raw power and such good plate discipline, that he can really make a manager drool. Weglarz’ future, if he has one, is likely at first base or DH as he is not a very good outfielder. Of concern to the Indians is that Nick struck out in a third of his at bats last season, far above his career average. The walks were still there in abundance, so it would appear his eye is still good. Hopefully this is the year Nick stays healthy. He was slated to start the year in Columbus before the injury last year I would guess this season would be the same. If that happens, expect to see Weglarz at DH, some 1B and a bit in the corner outfield spots as well.
The Tribe has Weglarz and Neal on the 40-man roster, so expect them to get consistent playing time to develop. Crowe is going to play because the Indians know what they have in him and need to keep him involved in case his services as a 4th outfielder are needed. Fedroff is going to be 25, so he needs to make a strong showing to put himself on the radar before he becomes an “organizational player.” Huffman got a big push last year but didn’t take advantage. He will need to reestablish himself in spring training, where he was a beast in 2011.
With these five and Copeland in the wings, Mike Sarbaugh will have a happy problem of having more quality players than spots on the field, much as he had with the infield last year. I’m confident that he will handle this as well as he handled last year’s juggling act. With the Winter Meetings in full swing in Dallas, also keep in mind that there is always the possibility that the Tribe makes a move of an outfielder that causes a domino effect and throws this whole thing out of wack.
A belated Happy Birthday to my friend & broadcast partner Scott Leo. The Clippers are one of the few teams to employ and travel 2 full-time broadcasters, and during the season, we spend far more time together than with our families. I’m lucky to work with someone with whom I get along so well. I’ve never known someone who eats so many hamburgers and still weighs less than his shadow.
Baseball’s Winter Meetings are officially under way in Dallas and there will be plenty of speculation about potential trades and free agent signings. The Cleveland Indians will be looking to upgrade the offense with a right-handed bat and add some pitching depth. There is also a need for a first baseman, if the opportunity should arise.
The Indians off-season moves, so far, have been highlighted by the re-signing of Grady Sizemore and the acquisition of Derek Lowe from Atlanta.
The Rule 5 Draft will take place on Thursday at 10:00am and the Tribe may look to steal a prospect there. They also run the risk of losing an unprotected player like Trevor Crowe, Chad Huffman, Tim Fedroff, Bryce Stowell, or Jared Goedert. Monday is the last day a team can outright a player before the Rule 5 Draft.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com has more on the Indians outlook heading into the meetings.
- The Indians added some catching depth with the signing of Matt Pagnozzi on Friday. Pagnozzi, 29, spent 2011 with the Rockies Triple-A club in Colorado Springs. He hit .275 (49-178) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 3 HR and 29 RBI in 54 games. Pagnozzi was in the bigs from June 17-July 15, appearing in seven games and was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 14, appearing in five games with the Pirates.
He spent eight years in the Cardinals organization from 2003-10 after being selected in the 8th round of the 2003 draft. Pagnozzi made his Major League debut in 200 and in 2010 he hit .359 (14-39) with 2 2B, 1 HR & 10 RBI in 15 September games with the Cardinals. He is the nephew of NL All Star catcher Tom Pagnozzi.
Pagnozzi will be invited to major league along with Carlos Santana, Lou Marson, Luke Carlin, Michel Hernandez, and probably Chun Chen. Santana and Marson are set to comprise the major league duo, but the others will provide depth and battle for the Columbus catching spots.
- Mitch Talbot has signed a contract with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Professional Baseball League. The contract is reportedly worth $300,000 for one year. Talbot, 28, was 2-6 with a 6.64 ERA in 12 big league games in 2011. He was hampered by a lower back injury, but posted a 4-2 record and a 4.26 ERA with the Clippers. Talbot was excellent in the post-season, winning games in both playoff rounds, including a memorable a complete game performance in Game #2 of the Governors’ Cup Championship Series. The Clippers evened the series that night with a 4-1 win, scoring four times in bottom of the eighth.
- Tony Beasley has been named the new Syracuse manager, replacing Randy Knorr, who was hired as the National bench coach. Beasley was previously Washington’s Double-A Harrisburg skipper, guiding them to an Eastern League playoff appearance in 2011. He returned to the Nationals organization last year, his second stint, after serving as the Nats third base coach in 2006. Beasley has spent several years with Pittsburgh, including three seasons on the major league coaching staff.
There are now six new managers in the International League for 2012 as Syracuse joins Louisville, Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Norfolk, and Charlotte as clubs making a transition with a new skipper.
That’s all for now. Have a great week!
The Cleveland Indians announced the minor league staff for the 2012 season and there are plenty of familiar faces:
Edwin Rodriguez, 51, joins the Indians organization and will manage Class-A Advanced Carolina. Rodriguez played in Columbus during the 1983 season as a Yankees farm hand. He batted .249 with 2 HR and 54 RBI over 112 games. Rodriguez is best known for his tenure as the Florida Marlins manager from June 23, 2010 to June 18, 2011. He compiled a 78-85 record. He’s no stranger to the Carolina Mudcats, serving as their hitting coach in 2004 while an affiliate of Florida.
David Wallace will manage Class-A Lake County after serving as the skipper for Mahoning Valley last year. Wallace finished his seven year minor league career with the Clippers in 2008. Columbus was the Washington Nationals Triple-A club and Wallace appeared in 43 games. Despite busting my laptop with a foul ball into the broadcast booth, I consider Wallace one of my favorite Clippers. He’s smart, personable, and I believe has a bright coaching career ahead. Obviously, the Indians front office agrees.
Scott Erickson begins his coaching career in the Indians organization as the pitching coach at Carolina. Erickson was 142-136 in the majors with a 4.59 ERA in 389 games (15 seasons). He pitched for six teams from 1990-2006. He pitching in Columbus during his final season, posting a 1-2 record with a 4.24 ERA in 12 games in the Yankees system. He was an American League All-Star and World Champion with the Minnesota Twins in 1991. Erickson led the league in wins (20) and finished second to Roger Clemens in the AL Cy Young voting that year.
Travis Fryman remains in the role of minor league Infield Coordinator, so expect to see him at Huntington Park several times during the 2012 campaign. Fyrman, a five-time all-star during his playing career, served as the Mahoning Valley manager from 2008 to 2010, but transitioned into the hitting coordinator role before last season.
Rob Leary will be the minor league field coordinator, joining the organization after spending the last two seasons as a Major League Staff Assistant for the Boston Red Sox. He was Boston’s Field Coordinator from 2003 to 2009 and worked in the Florida Marlins player development system from 1995 to 2001.
Mickey Callaway wil be the new pitching coordinator after coaching with Lake County (2010) and Kinston (2011). He pitched parts of five seasons in the bigs with the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels from 1999 to 2004.
Alan Zinter takes over the role of hitting coordinator. He was a hitting coach at various levels in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization over the last four seasons, last year with Double-A Mobile in the Southern League.
Here is the complete listing of Indians 2012 minor league staff:
Field Coordinator: Rob Leary*
Pitching Coordinator: Mickey Callaway*
Hitting Coordinator: Alan Zinter*
Infield Coordinator: Travis Fryman
Rehab Coordinator: James Quinlan
Strength & Conditioning: Jake Beiting
Latin America Strength & Conditioning: Nelson Perez
Mental Skills Coordinator: Julio Rangel
Cultural Development Coordinator: Lino Diaz
Advisor: Johnny Goryl
Advisor: Minnie Mendoza
Advisor: Ken Rowe
Triple-A — Columbus (Clippers)
Manager: Mike Sarbaugh
Hitting Coach: Phil Clark*
Pitching Coach: Ruben Niebla
Athletic Trainer: Michael Salazar
Double-A — Akron (Aeros)
Manager: Chris Tremie
Hitting Coach: Rouglas Odor
Pitching Coach: Tony Arnold
Athletic Trainer: Chad Wolfe
Advanced-A — Carolina (Mudcats)
Manager: Edwin Rodriguez
Hitting Coach: TBD
Pitching Coach: Scott Erickson*
Athletic Trainer: Jeremy Heller
Class-A — Lake County (Captains)
Manager: David Wallace*
Hitting Coach: Jim Rickon
Pitching Coach: Jeff Harris
Athletic Trainer: Bobby Ruiz
Short Season Class-A — Mahoning Valley (Scrappers)
Manager: Ted Kubiak*
Hitting Coach: Tony Mansolino
Pitching Coach: Greg Hibbard
Athletic Trainer: Matt Beauregard
Rookie Level – Arizona (Indians)
Manager: Anthony Medrano
Hitting Coach: Junior Betances*
Pitching Coach: Steve Karsay*
Coach: Dennis Malave
Athletic Trainer: Ted Blackwell
Rookie Level — Dominican Summer League (Indians)
Manager: Max Diaz
Hitting Coach: Francisco Cabrera*
Pitching Coach: Mario Brito
Coach: Carlos Fermin
Athletic Trainer: Miguel Ledesma
* New to the position
The Clippers coaching staff was announced this week and everything was, as expected, status quo with the exception of the hitting coach position. Lee May Jr. exited the organization last month leaving a vacancy that the Indians filled with an internal option.
Phil Clark, 43, joins the Clippers after serving as the Kinston Indians hitting coach last year. Clark will enter his sixth season in the Indians minor league system with stints at rookie-level and class-A.
Clark was a first round selection, 18th overall, by the Detroit Tigers in the 1986 draft. He played parts of five Major League Seasons with Detroit, San Diego and Boston. Clark appeared in 264 big league games, batting .276 with 17 HR and 65 RBI. He finished his playing career in Japan where he was named league MVP in 1998.
Clark’s Kinston lineup batted just .234 last season in the Carolina League, but his 2010 Lake County squad claimed the Midwest League Championship.
In other news…
The Indians announced Jason Kipnis and Chen-Chang Lee as the organization’s 2011 minor leaguers of the year.
Kipnis won the Lou Boudreau Award (Player of the Year) for the second consecutive season, joining Jim Thome (’90 & ’93) and Victor Martinez (’01 & ’02) as the only two-time winners in franchise history. Kipnis, 24, played 92 games for the Clippers, batting .280 with 16 doubles, 9 triples, and 55 RBI. He homered in the Triple-A All-Star Game and the MLB Futures Game in July. Kipnis led the International league in triples and ranked second in runs scored (55) at the time of his July 22nd promotion to Cleveland. He was named to the post-season IL All-Star squad and the Baseball America Triple-A All-Star Team. He is slated to be the Indians everyday second baseman going forward.
Lou Boudreau Award Winners
1990 – Jim Thome
1991 – Manny Ramirez
1992 – Ken Ramos
1993 – Jim Thome
1994 – David Bell
1995 – Richie Sexson
1996 – Russell Branyan
1997 – Sean Casey
1998 – Alex Ramirez
1999 – Scott Morgan
2000 – Billy Munoz
2001 – Victor Martinez
2002 – Victor Martinez
2003 – Grady Sizemore
2004 – Ryan Garko
2005 – Ryan Mulhern
2006 – Kevin Kouzmanoff
2007 – Asdrubal Cabrera
2008 – Beau Mills
2009 – Carlos Santana
2010 – Jason Kipnis
2011 – Jason Kipnis
Lee won the Bob Feller Award (Pitcher of the Year) after posted at 6-1 record with a 2.40 ERA in 44 relief appearances between Akron and Columbus. He recorded 99 K and just 23 BB in 71.1 IP. He was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 21 games pitching for the Clippers after his June 22 promotion and recorded 1.29 ERA in four playoff appearances. Lee was signed in September of 2008 out of Taiwan. He’ll likely get an invitation to major league spring training, but Clippers fans could again see Lee pitching out of the Columbus bullpen come April.
Bob Feller Award Winners
1990 – Charles Nagy
1991 – Mike Soper
1992 – Chad Ogea
1993 – John Carter
1994 – Steve Kline
1995 – Danny Graves
1996 – Danny Graves
1997 – Marc Deschenes
1998 – David Riske
1999 – Robert Pugmire
2000 – Jason Stanford
2001 – Mike Bacsik
2002 – Billy Traber
2003 – Fausto Carmona
2004 – Adam Miller
2005 – Jeremy Sowers
2006 – Adam Miller
2007 – Aaron Laffey
2008 – David Huff
2009 – Hector Rondon
2010 – Alex White
2011 – Chen-Chang Lee