While my kids are unhappy with the lack of snow we’ve received this winter, I couldn’t be happier. No salt in the driveway, no shoveling my walkway, and no scraping my car windshield until my arms hurt.
The local news stations seem to be dying for some snow. They built the first couple “dustings” of the year up to be actual snow storms. Not the case. I actually saw a woman “stocking up” at the grocery for a snowfall that failed to cover my street!
Having said all this, I figure we will soon get something significant weather-wise. It’s probably time for a trip to the home improvement store to get some snow-fighting supplies because like a hitter in an 0-for-18 slump… we’re due.
* The Indians signed OF Fred Lewis and RHP Jeremy Accardo to minor league contracts with invitations to big league spring training.
Lewis, 31, is a .267 hitter with 91 doubles, 21 triples, 27 home runs and 136 RBI in 517 games with San Francisco, Toronto, and Cincinnati. He hit .230 (42-183) with 7 2B, 3HR & 19RBI in 81 games with the Reds last year.
Accardo, 30, has made 235 major league relief appearances with the Baltimore, Toronto, and San Francisco dating back to 2005. He was the Blue Jays closer in 2007, earning 30 saves. Last season, he split time between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk.
The Indians list of non 40-man roster spring invitations now consists of 17 players:
ACCARDO, Jeremy RHP
ADAMS, Austin, RHP
AMBRIZ, Hector, RHP
LEE, Chen-Chang, RHP
RAY, Chris, RHP
SEDDON, Chris, LHP
STURDEVANT, Tyler, RHP
TEJEDA, Robinson, RHP
CARLIN, Luke, CA
CHEN, Chun, CA
HERNANDEZ, Michel, CA
PAGNOZZI, Matt, CA
LaROCHE, Andy, INF
LOPEZ, Jose, INF
HUFFMAN, Chad, OF
LEWIS, Fred OF
PIE, Felix, OF
* The Indians have come to terms with five of seven arbitration eligible players. Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Joe Smith, Chris Perez, and Jack Hannahan all signed one year contracts. Only Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez remain un-signed and Cleveland has not gone to arbitration with any players since 1991. Arbitration hearings begin in February.
* Paul Phillips has signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Phillips, 34, played 78 games with the Clippers last season and batted .237. He split time with Luke Carlin for much of the year.
* Michael Aubrey, a former Indians first round draft pick (11th overall in 2003) has decided to retire. The 29 year-old first baseman, who has suffered through several injuries, played for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals organizations for the last two years. Aubrey hit four homers in a game last year for the Syracuse Chiefs.
* Cleveland Indians pitching coach Scott Radinsky has been rocking with his band Pulley. He is the lead singer for the group and was pictured in this tweet from the Rochester Red Wings at the House of Blues Hollywood. Radinsky was the Clippers pitching coach in 2009, Cleveland’s bullpen coach in ’10 and ’11, and was named pitching coach when Tim Belcher stepped down after last season.
* The Associated Press reported Thursday that Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity. Reports say that Carmona’s real name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and he is 31 years old instead of 28.
The Indians released this statement:
“We were recently made aware of the situation that occurred today in the Dominican Republic and are currently in the process of gathering information,” said Cleveland Indians GM Chris Antonetti. “We are not prepared to make any additional comment at this time.”
That’s all for now. Keep checking back!
The Indians announced several moves this week, mostly internal items, including the addition of these six (non 40-man) players to major league spring training: RHP Chen-Change Lee, RHP Tyler Sturdevant, OF Chad Huffman, RHP Hector Ambriz, RHP Austin Adams, and CA Chun Chen.
Lee, the organization’s reining “Minor League Pitcher of the Year” was 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 44 games between Akron and Columbus. The native of Taiwan average 12.5 strikeouts per nine inning s last year and now ranks as the club’s #4 prospect according to Baseball America.
Sturdevant, a 2009 (27th round) draft pick out of New Mexico State, split time between Columbus and Akron. He was 7-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 42 relief appearances.
Huffman played all of 2011 with the Clippers, posting a .246 average with 13 HR and 58 RBI. He tied for 4th in the International League in walks (67) and finished 10th in doubles (30). He was claimed off waivers from New York at the end of the 2010 season.
Ambriz was a Rule 5 Draft from Arizona in 2009. He missed all of 2011 recovering from Tommy John surgery after posting a 0-2 mark with a 5.59 ERA over 48.1 IP with Cleveland in 2010.
Adams, the club’s 5th round draft pick in 2009, spent last season with Akron going 11-10 in 26 starts with a 3.77 ERA. He was an Eastern League All-Star and tied for second in wins. Adams is the #8 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America.
Chen, a native of Taiwan, was a free agent pickup in 2007. He spent 2011 with Akron, batting ,262 with 16 HR and 70 RBI. He finished tied for 4th among Indians minor leaguers in RBI and tied for 6th in HR.
* The Tribe have inked three players to minor league contracts: INF Argenis Reyes (re-signed), INF Chin-Lung Hu, and RHP Willy Lebron.
Reyes, 29, is a .288 career minor league hitter over eleven with the Indians, Mets and Red Sox organizations. He’ll enter the 2012 season just 30 hits away from 1,000 for his minor league career. He played in the bigs for the Mets in 2008 and 2009.
Hu, 27, spent last season in the Mets system, appearing in 22 big league games. He was outrighted to Triple-A Buffalo on May 17th and batted just .161 over 48 games. Hu, a native of Taiwan, is a career .296 hitter in the minors.
Lebron, 31, spent the 2011 campaign with the Kansas City Royals organization. He pitched in 32 games (one start) between Double-A and Triple-A, finishing 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA. Lebron, a native of the Dominican Republic, is 8-6 with a 3.93 ERA over his career.
* The Carolina Mudcats are officially in the family, signing a two-year Player Development contract to serve as Cleveland’s Carolina League (Class-A) affiliate. Mudcats ownership purchased the Kinston Indians and moved it Zebulon, NC (20 miles east of Raleigh) to replace the former Carolina club that now resides in Pensacola, FL.
The Indians will travel to Zebulon to play an exhibition game against Carolina on Tuesday, April 3rd at 2:00pm. It will conclude the spring training/pre-season schedule with Opening Day coming on Thursday, April 5th against Toronto.
* The Indians have invited the following players to the organization’s “Winter Development Program”: RHP Austin Adams, RHP Rob Bryson, CA Chun Chen, OF Aaron Cunningham, INF Juan Diaz, OF Tim Fedroff, OF Jordan Henry, LHP TJ McFarland, OF Thomas Neal, CA Roberto Perez, and RHP Tyler Sturdevant.
The program, in its’ 15th year, runs from January 16-27 in Cleveland and Goodyear. The purpose of the program is to acclimate some of the organization’s upper-level prospects to Progressive Field, the city of Cleveland, and the Goodyear facility. The program featuring guest speakers including Team President Mark Shapiro, Manager Manny Acta, Cleveland Cavs GM Chris Grant, Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur, Terry Francona, Jason Bere, Peter Gammons, St. Ignatius Football Coach Chuck Kyle, and Vanderbilt Baseball Coach Tim Corbin.
* You may notice a new logo on the right side of this blog. Consider that our version of a championship (or participation) banner. We were one of the Top 100 MLBlogs in 2011, checking in at #79 to be exact. I think if we move up a few spots we can qualify for the NCAA Tournament!
* The Indians signed RHP Chris Ray to a minor league contract this week. He’ll get a big league invite to spring training as well. Ray, 30, has a Major League record of 18-19 with a 4.10 ERA and 51 saves in 283 relief appearances with Baltimore, Texas, San Francisco and Seattle (six seasons). The Clippers actually faced Ray in his first career Triple-A appearance (May 31, 2009), he pitched two scoreless innings and earned a save for the Norfolk Tides.
* Former Indians/Clippers pitcher “Mr. Prefect” Justin Germano inked a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox. Germano threw the first perfect game in Clippers history and only the fifth 9-inning perfecto in 127 years of the International League. He left the Clippers in early August to join the Samsung Lions, who went on to win the Korean Baseball Organization championship and the Asia Series.
* The Tribe have hired Adam Everett as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations. Everett, 34, completed his playing career last season after appearing in 34 games for Cleveland. As Special Assistant, Everett will be in uniform during spring training and give infield instruction at both major and minor league camps.
* Indians pitcher Justin Masterson is making an appearance in Cleveland on Friday night, as a broadcaster! He will serve as the color analyst for Cleveland State University as the Vikings take on Butler. My friend, the “Voice of the Vikings” Al Pawlowski will call the play-by-play.
That’s all folks. Have a great weekend!
The Cleveland Indians are continuing their pursuit of a first baseman, but the options may be more limited by the week. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder were not realistic targets for the Tribe, and Michael Cuddyer inked a deal with Colorado back in December.
So who is left for the Indians to get?
The two biggest names remaining on the market are Casey Kotchman and Carlos Pena. The Indians have been linked to both in various reports. Tampa Bay has also been in serious talked with both players.
Kotchman, who turns 29 in February, batted .306 with 10 HR and 48 RBI in 146 games last year with the Rays. He’s played eight major league seasons with the Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, and last season with Tampa. Kotchman is a 6-3, 220 pounds, left-handed hitting former first round draft pick (2001, Angels). He carried a robust .378 on base percentage last season.
Pena, 33, is a former Clippers first baseman (2006 with the Yankees). He is a career .239 hitter over eleven big league seasons. Last year Pena batted .225 (up from .196 in 2010), but delivered 28 HR and 80 RBI. He’s played for the Rangers, A’s, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, and Cubs.
To compare, Kotchman is a better “on base guy”, but Pena has more “pop” in his bat. Kotchman is a much better fielder (.998 fielding percentage compared to Pena’s .994).
If Cleveland can sign a free agent at first, it means Matt LaPorta likely begins the season with the Clippers with the opportunity to improve his game. If LaPorta is with the Clippers it puts Beau Mills situation up in the air. He could backup LaPorta with plenty of DH opportunities or go back to Double-A.
A signing would also mean Carlos Santana will primarily catch with sporadic chances at first and Shelley Duncan, assuming he makes the roster, will mostly play in the outfield. The Tribe could again be carrying five outfielders when camp breaks.
The Indians, and the fans, are hoping to scoop up a dependable first baseman and add some much needed offense before it’s time to turn on the electricity in Goodyear next month.
Balancing the budget…
It’s possible that the Tribe could get more aggressive in the Kotchman/Pena sweepstakes after arbitration is completed.
Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, Jack Hannahan, and Justin Masterson are all arbitration eligible and the Indians will be spending more than $20 million on this group. That expense is already going to increase the club’s payroll from last year, so there is question as to whether or not there is room for a free agent addition.
For more on arbitration players, check out this post.
There will be plenty of competition for the Tribe’s 25-man roster when players report to Goodyear, Arizona next month. Anyone given an invitation to major league camp will use the spacious clubhouse and play in Cactus League games at 10,000-seat Goodyear Ballpark. Those not on the list will be relegated to the smaller lockers and will spend their time on the back fields behind the Player Development Complex, with very few eyes watching.
The question will be “Who is on the list?”
The list of non 40-man roster invitees to camp continues to grow with the recent signing of LHP Chris Seddon.
Seddon, 28, spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Mariners organization, pitching mostly with Triple-A Tacoma. Seddon has started 250 of his 266 appearances in the minors, posting a 4.64 ERA. He has pitched in the majors with Florida (2007) and Seattle (2010), totaling 17 games (4 starts). Seddon has a 7.03 ERA in the bigs.
Seddon joins RHP Robinson Tejeda, catchers Luke Carlin, Matt Pagnozzi, Michel Hernandez, infielders Andy LaRoche, Jose Lopez, and outfielder Felix Pie as non-roster invitees to Indians camp. Several others will be added, from inside and outside the organization.
Many of the players that open the season in Columbus will spend some time in major league camp. For younger players, it’s a great opportunity to be around the veterans that know the game at its highest level. For minor league journeymen, it’s another opportunity to get to “The Show”.
* The Indians have re-signed INF Argenis Reyes to a minor league contract. Reyes, 29, has been part of Clippers championships the last two seasons. Reyes was signed originally by Cleveland in 2001 and has bounced around quite a bit. Last season he started in the independent Can-Am League, but was re-signed on July 31st and re-joined Columbus. Reyes has won six championships in the minors, which is why he’s holding up six fingers in the team’s championship photo. Reyes is a versatile player and is great in the clubhouse, which is why Mike Sarbaugh likes him so much. Plus, he’s either really lucky or a proven winner.
* James Quinlan was named the Clippers new athletic trainer, replacing Michael Salazar upon his promotion to Cleveland’s staff. Quinlan has spent the last four seasons as the club’s rehab coordinator.
* More former Clippers have signed contracts for this season: Wil Nieves (Rockies), Ryan Langerhans (Angels), Nick Green (Marlins), R.J. Swindle (Cardinals), Yohan Pino (re-signed with Blue Jays).
* There are 85 days left until Opening Day at Huntington Park! Season tickets, partial plans, mini-plans, and single game tickets are all available. Check out the schedule!
The Cleveland Indians made no secret of their pursuit for offense this winter and they are looking everywhere for help. Last month, the Tribe acquired 25 year-old Padres OF Aaron Cunningham for bullpen prospect Cory Burns. The Indians (needing to open a 40-man roster spot for Cunningham) designated reliever Josh Judy for assignment, exposing him to waivers, and he was claimed by Cincinnati. Cleveland is hoping Cunningham, a .231 major league hitter, but .306 minor league hitter, will be a “sleeper addition” that can help the big league club (much like Jack Hannahan). However, the loss of Judy and Burns eliminates some of the organization’s bullpen depth and creates a vacancy in the back of the Clippers ‘pen. It’s no coincidence that Columbus has won championships each of the last two years when blessed with solid closers (Vinnie Pestano in 2010).
Josh Judy, 26, was the Clippers closer for much of last season, saving 23 games in 28 attempts. He struggled early in the season, posting a 6.43 ERA in May, but after raising his delivery point (getting the ball elevated higher than his ear before releasing it) Judy became a very reliable weapon at the back of the Clippers bullpen. He finished with a 2.68 ERA in 38 appearances.
Cory Burns, 24, seemed to be on the fast track to either inheriting the Columbus closer role (if Judy made the major league roster) or wrestling it away from the competition. He set an Akron franchise saves record last season (35 in 37 opportunities) and got an appetizer-sized portion of Triple-A hitters during the Governors’ Cup playoffs. Burns carries a remarkable 2.02 ERA over 130 career minor league games.
Now, the search is on for a new closer. The early candidates include Zach Putnam, C.C. Lee, and Nick Hagadone.
Zach Putnam saved nine games last season and has the “stuff” to pitch in that role. He has often times been in the setup role for Mike Sarbaugh over the last two seasons and despite suffering a few pitfalls, has been solid. The biggest concern surrounding Putnam is his streakiness, he allowed runs in consecutive games on a few different occasions and allowed 15 earned runs over 18 appearances in July and August.
Chen-Chang Lee is the organization’s reigning “Minor League Pitcher of the Year” after posting a stellar 2.27 ERA in 21 games with the Clippers. He did not allow an earned run in his first nine Triple-A appearances and statistically was better late in games (5.40 in 6th inning, 1.93 in 7th inning, 1.74 in 8th inning, and 1.50 in 9th inning). Lee, however, can’t easily overpower hitters with his fastball and with his lower arm angle delivery, some of the club’s powers-that-be may think he’s better suited for a different role.
Nick Hagadone looks like a closer at 6-5, 230 and throws hard enough to make hitters take notice. The lefty held Triple-A hitter to a .228 average over 48.1 innings and, at times, showed why Cleveland pursued him in the 2009 Victor Martinez trade with Boston. Like all the others on the verge of making a major league roster, he is looking to show the club he’s consistent enough for the big league. Maybe that audition will come in the Triple-A ninth inning role.
The Indians bullpen is currently among the best in baseball, which is why the Aaron Cunningham move was possible for General Manager Chris Antonetti. Like any team, the Indians gave away pieces where they have depth in order to acquire talent in an area that they are lacking. Only time will tell if this move will pay off.
In the meantime, we’ll wait to see who will be the next closer under the lights at Huntington Park.
Talk to you again soon!
I’m back from the holiday break, more than two weeks without a blog entry. I tried to spend that time decompressing and (mostly) managed to avoid Twitter, Facebook, and the television.
It helped that I was either on a beach or underwater…
Now, I’m ready to fire up the blog again and bring you all the baseball news (and nonsense) you’ve become accustomed to reading here…
- The Indian signed 29 year old reliever Robinson Tejeda to a minor league contract with a spring training invite. Tejeda (tuh-HAY-duh), a right-hander, spent the last four seasons with Kansas City. He pitched 31 games for Triple-A Omaha last season, the team Columbus beat in the Triple-A National Championship.
- The Clippers were named the Columbus Underground “Best Sports Team” of 2011. You would be hard pressed to find an organization that has won more awards than the Clippers.
- Toledo, Scranton Wilkes/Barre, and Durham announced that their entire coaching staffs will return for the 2012 season:
Phil Nevin will enter his second season as manager for the Mud Hens. The Hens were 67-77 last year. Nevin, 40, was a #1 draft pick in 1992 (Houston) and played 12 big league seasons.
Dave Miley (former Clippers manager) is one of the most successful skippers in Triple-A baseball. Four seasons in Scranton, four winning seasons. He has two Governors’ Cup Championships on his resume (2001 with Louisville and 2008 with Scranton).
Charlie Montoyo is back for his sixth season with Durham. He carries a 405-314 in five seasons with the Bulls, including five division titles, a Governors’ Cup Championship and a National Championship. Neil Allen (former Clippers coach) will return as his pitching coach.
- The Cleveland Indians are returning to the airwaves in Columbus. The Tribe will be heard on WBNS-AM (1460) this season.
- Party suites for the 2012 season are now available at Huntington Park. There are a great way to entertain friends, make new friends, impress the family, or entertain clients!
Lastly, “The Countdown” is officially on: 42 days until pitchers and catchers report to sping training, 90 days until Opening Day!
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!