Mike Hessman has signed a minor league contract with the Houston Astros. The Hess-man played in Toledo and terrorized the Clippers and the International League from 2005 to 2009, smashing 140 HR (he also struck out 747 times). He signed with the Mets in 2010 and suited up for the Buffalo Bisons. He played in Japan last season.
Hessman is Toledo’s version of Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni, a slugger with the ability to wow crowds with towering homers. He hit the most impressive homer I’ve ever seen in person, a blast in 2007 off lefty Brandon Claussen that disappeared over the left field scoreboard at Toledo’s Fifth Third Field. The ball disappeared into the darkness somewhere over a parking lot across the street. I like to think it still hasn’t landed.
Hessman’s return to the states is intriguing because he’ll be teamed with former Clipper and International league batting champ Jordan Brown, who also signed with Houston. The Astros also recently added former Durham Bulls star Justin Ruggiano.
I think I speak for many International League pitchers when I say I’m glad Houston’s Triple club (Round Rock) is in the Pacific Coast League.
“Life is a highway”
The Cleveland Indians equipment truck completed its cross-country tour Thursday and arrived at the Tribe’s facility in Goodyear, AZ. Pitchers and catchers report one week from Monday (2/20).
“Celebrate good times”
The Clippers will be celebrating the Triple-A National Championship during the opening weekend of the season. There are promotional items scheduled for the three nights:
Thursday, April 5 vs. Louisville (7:05pm) – National Championship Hat Giveaway
Friday, April 6vs. Louisville (7:05pm) – National Championship/Governors’ Cup Blanket Giveaway
Saturday, April 7vs. Louisville (7:05pm) – Governors’ Cup Trophy Paperweight Giveaway
The Clippers have also announced the Columbus Icons Bobblehead Series, celebrating the city’s bicentennial. Nine Columbus figures will be represented on Sundays at Huntington Park:
April 8 – James Thurber
April 29 – Eddie Rickenbacker
May 20 – Howard “Hopalong” Cassidy
June 10 – “Jungle” Jack Hanna
June 24 – Bobby Rahal
July 1 – Dave Thomas & Wendy
July 8 – James “Buster” Douglas
July 29 – Jesse Owens
August 12 – Woody Hayes
You can purchase a ticket for all nine Sundays for $135 per seat. Call 614-462-5250 and reserve your spot on Columbus Icons Bobblehead Days!
Last week was college football’s signing day, an event that has grown tremendously over that last several years. There is now a recruiting “industry”, where media members spend countless hours researching high school players, ranking them, and covering their college visits as they narrow their possible selection down. Then after the recruits are signed, the experts grade each school’s class and determine who the big winners were on signing day. It’s a little more than I can handle.
I don’t purchase recruiting magazines or watch the signing day shows because many of those highly touted recruits will never become college football stars. There is no way to accurately rank a school’s recruiting class until their careers are over and their accomplishments are complete. It’s a lot of speculating and predicting that seems a bit much for my taste. I’d rather just wait until the season starts and watch the games. I know it’s crazy.
Professional baseball has its version of the recruiting frenzy, it’s the prospect and farm system rankings.
Many think the baseball prospect is a fascinating concept. There are some “can’t miss” prospects that never pan out and there are non-prospects that make it big. The “experts” decide who is a prospect based upon their potential and sometimes players reach that potential while other times they do not. Ranking prospects is as much art as it is science.
ESPN writer Keith Law has ranked the Cleveland Indians farm system 29th in MLB. The only team ranked worse is the Chicago White Sox. Prior to this season, the Tribe spent a few years in the top ten in most prospect rankings. These rankings are a reflection of the recent “graduation” of players to the major league roster and trades Cleveland has made, sacrificing some prospects to bolster its big league roster.
Last season’s top position player prospects, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis, have both advanced to the major eliminating them from “prospect” status. The Tribe also traded their top pitching prospects, RHP Alex White and LHP Drew Pomeranz, to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Clippers have been prospect fortunate in the first three years as Cleveland‘s Triple-A affiliate. Columbus has hosted the Indians’ top ranked minor leaguers each year. Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Alex White, Carlos Carrasco, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, and other big names have suited up for the Clippers since 2009.
This year, the organization’s top prospects are seemingly closer to diapers than the Triple-A level. Shortstop Francisco Lindor and RHP Dillon Howard are ranked #1 & #2 by Baseball America; they were the club’s top draft picks last June. Both were high school students less than ten months ago.
Clippers fans may see a return of “former” prospects like Matt LaPorta and Lonnie Chisenhall, if they don’t crack the Indians roster in spring camp. We’ll also likely see a continuation of the minor league journey for LHP Nick Hagadone (#3 prospect in Baseball America), RHP Chen Lee (#4), RHP Zach McAllister (#6), and LHP Scott Barnes (#9). All of those players are on the verge of breaking into the majors, but will need to perform well at Huntington Park until opportunity knocks.
The Clippers season will be a little different without a “mega-prospect” on the roster, but I believe the roster is shaping up to make for a very good Triple-A club. There will be, without a doubt, some players who greatly improve their stock by playing well. There will be others who fall further off the map because of their struggles. That’s the intrigue of watching young players compete. That’s what makes minor league baseball fun. So let’s get ready to watch the games and go from there.
Besides, who cares what the “experts” think anyway?
A little less than a month ago, I posted an entry on the blog entitled “Who’s on first?”, essentially a comparison of Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman, the first basemen the Indians were pursuing. Now let’s take a closer look at that position now that Kotchman has been signed, sealed, and delivered to Cleveland.
The Indians will obviously have Casey Kotchman start a majority of the games at first, but he’s another left-handed hitter in an already overly left-handed lineup.
It’s possible that Carlos Santana will see a share of the 1B starts, especially against lefty pitchers. Last year, the switch-hitting Santana made 63 starts at first base. My guess is that he’ll see a mixture of time as the 1B and DH in an attempt to save some wear and tear on his still durable knees. The Indians are hoping to extend his life as a catcher by resting him, but still want his bat in the lineup as much as possible.
Shelley Duncan may also see time a that position, especially if he wins the job as the Tribe’s fifth outfielder and 25th man on the roster. He may be called upon occasionally just to get his right-handed bat in the lineup.
Jack Hannahan could land at first base every once in a while. Hannahan will either be the Tribe’s starter at third or make the club as Lonnie Chisenhall’s back-up and be available for a cameo across the diamond.
If Kotchman, Santana, Duncan, and Hannahan are all members of Cleveland’s roster, it still leaves quite a crowd at 1B in Columbus.
Matt LaPorta would likely be the Clippers Opening Day and the “everyday until further notice” first baseman. The 27 year-old hit .247 with 11 HR and 53 RBI in 107 big league games last year. His struggles at the plate combined with an always tenuous glove will put him in Columbus trying to re-prove himself to the Indians.
Russ Canzler could see time at first as well. The reigning International League MVP plays first, third, and the corner outfield spots. He only made 17 starts at 1B with Durham, most of his time late in the season was spent in the outfield. The Indians spent $100,000 to get him from Tampa Bay and if he doesn’t make the Indians roster, he’ll be on the short list for a call up for a variety of roles. Canzler has all his minor league options still available.
Beau Mills debuted on the Triple scene last season, playing 35 games with Columbus. He split time with veteran Nick Johnson and spoke several times about the positive influence Johnson was for his development. Mills, a 2007 first round draft pick, may get pushed back to Akron for a fourth year in the Eastern League. Another option would be a platoon at 1B and DH with the guys mentioned above.
Jared Goedert may be back to playing exclusively at the hot corner, but time will tell for sure. He made a brief transition across the diamond during spring training and after an injury delay the beginning of his season, only made one start at first after July 28th. He played 33 games at 1B between Akron and Columbus. My assumption is that he’ll go into camp fighting for a job at third, but his fate there may rest with Lonnie Chisenhall’s ability to make the Indians roster. If Chisenhall starts in Columbus, Goedert could be Akron-bound for a while. He could also land in a DH platoon situation.
Chad Huffman will go into camp looking for a spot in the outfield, but may also see a few starts at first. He logged 60 at-bats as the Clippers 1B last season and played almost exclusively at that spot during that year’s Arizona Fall League.
The history of first base…
A season with a log jam at first base is nothing new to the Clippers. Columbus spent the 2009 season with Matt LaPorta, Jordan Brown, Michael Aubrey, Stephen Head, and a host of others seeing time a first. Last season ended with five players on the roster that had started games at the position: Nick Johnson, Beau Mills, Jared Goedert, Chad Huffman, and Travis Buck.
It will be one of many areas I’m interested in following this spring. I’ll be watching to see who plays well, who gets the most opportunities, and who stays healthy. That’s what will determine the answer to “Who’s on first?”
On a side note (if you haven’t suffered enough), follow me on Twitter (@Scott_Leo).
As we approach Spring Training, thoughts turn to Arizona and Florida. Drills on sun-drenched practice fields, intra-squad games, players wearing numbers in the 90′s and every player hopeful that this year will see them moving up the organizational ladder (or in the case of about 20 guys, that they just don’t get hurt).
When camp begins in Goodyear, AZ, the Cleveland Indians, like most teams will already have most of their allotted 25-man roster accounted for. Barring injury, we know Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Dereck Lowe are in the rotation, with Kevin Slowey a favorite for the other spot. Chris Perez is the closer with Vinnie Pestano, Tony Sipp and Raffy Perez in the 7th/8th inning roles. Joe Smith is likely in unless he falls on his face. That’s 10 spots
The Tribe will have Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore in the outfield. Carlos Santana, Casey Kotchman, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jack Hannahan are the certain infielders. Travis Hafner returns at DH and Lou Marson will be the back-up catcher. There’s 10 more
With around 60 players in big league camp and only 3-5 jobs up for grabs, there is going to be fierce competition not only for the Major League roster, but at several spots at Triple-A as well.
The contenders for the Major league openings: (*-denotes spot on 40-man roster)
Rotation (Maybe 1)
The entire projected Clippers rotation is on the 40-man and will compete, but someone is going to have to out-perform Kevin Slowey considerably to bull their way into the opening cycle.
Jeanmar Gomez*- Probably the 1st guy up if a starter is needed. Gomez has very good stuff, but sometimes needs to be pushed to be more aggressive with it.
David Huff*- has one option remaining. Huff had been passed up in the organizational depth chart a bit last year. The trade of Drew Pomeranz and Alex White pulled him right back in though. Being a lefty who can throw 93 certainly gives him an edge
Zach McAllister*- had a couple good outings with the Indians. a nice rebound season in 2011 for the big righty
Scott Barnes*- Barnes injured his knee last July, ending a season that was on a steep upward arc. Lefty with a deceptive motion and a high strikeout rate. He will pitch in the Bigs this year, just not right away.
Corey Kluber*- Kluber battled inconsistency last year, but showed that he can be effective. He got a shot with Cleveland in a bullpen role late last year and that may be his long-term opportunity as well- a la Frank Herrmann.
Useless Prediction- All five start the season in Columbus
Bullpen (likely 2 spots)
Frank Herrmann*- “The Herrmannator” has pitched most of the last 2 seasons in Cleveland and to fairly respectable effect. His career numbers are not outstanding, but he has an interesting stat line in close-up inspection. Though he’s not considered a “late innings” guy, Herrmann pitched better in high-leverage situations than in medium or low leverage situations. His BA against also gets lower, the closer the game is. He is also the commissioner of the Indians fantasy football league, so that would be tough to lose.
Nick Hagadone*- Made his Big League debut last season. He was acquired in the Victor Martinez trade and seen as a top-end arm. his conversion to the bullpen is complete and he got better as the season went along last year. mid-high 90′s fastball and very tough on left-handers. With Josh Judy and Zach Putnam gone, Hagadone is the best internal bullpen arm in the system.
Dan Wheeler- signed to a minor-league contract without an out clause, Wheeler would seem to be at a disadvantage to the other invitees. He struggled with Boston last year, but had 3 very good years with Tampa Bay prior to that. He obviously knows how to pitch against tough competition and has late-innings experience should the Tribe need someone in that role.
Robinson Tejeda- he is familiar with the Al Central, having pitched for Kansas City since 2008. He spent most of last year in Triple-A, but had good numbers in 2009 & ’10 with the Royals. He fits into the role the Indians are looking for in middle innings. Does not have an out clause.
Others with a chance
Jeremy Accardo- He saved 30 games in one season for Toronto, but that was back in 2007. He has spent most of the last 3 seasons pitching in Triple-A. He has a June 6th out clause
Hector Ambriz- He didn’t pitch last year due to injury, but the Indians liked him enough that they selected him from Arizona in the Rule V draft and when healthy, he pitched 34 games for them in 2010. He is just 27 and should be in the mix.
Chris Ray- Ray has an April 3rd out clause, so he is either on the team, or likely gone. His stats are not overly impressive. He will have to really out-pitch the competition.
Chris Seddon- Another long shot. He has been mostly a starter in his career and hasn’t spent much time in the majors
C.C. Lee- Likely the Clippers closer so the Indians can see if he can handle the pressure situations. Very good fastball/slider combination and he’ll probably be an Indian at some point.
Kelvin De La Cruz*- Tall, hard-throwing lefty, converted to bullpen last year. Might see Cleveland in 2012, but as a call-up.
Austin Adams and Tyler Sturdevant- non roster invitees who will get their 1st look at Big League Camp. both may see time in Columbus.
Useless Prediction- Herrmann and Wheeler with Hagadone 1st up when needed.
Bench (likely 2 or 3 spots)
Jason Donald*- He played very well when healthy last year. Can play 2B, SS and 3B and will probably see time in the OF in Spring Training. Part of the Cliff Lee trade. Looks like a front-runner for one of the spots.
Shelley Duncan*- A valuable pinch-hitter last season, he got better as he saw more time. Power from the right side is a big need for Cleveland and Duncan provides it. He’s a great teammate and can play 1B and the corner OF spots.
Lonnie Chisenhall*- The top prospect from 2011 spent a bulk of the season in Cleveland, but with Jack Hannahan signed at $1+ million, it’s anything but a slam-dunk that Chiz opens in Cleveland. He needs more development defensively and his plate discipline has room to grow as well. He would have to show growth to bump the slick-fielding Hannahan to a bench spot.
Russ Canzler*- Cleveland just traded for the IL MVP and I’m sure it wasn’t to help the Clippers. Canzler has blossomed at the higher levels of the minors and plays all four corner positions. The every day 1B slot is out, but if he performs in Goodyear, he has a chance to grab a spot.
Aaron Cunningham*- Minor league stud who hasn’t yet made it work in the bigs. Cunningham has a Major League contract and is out of options. The Indians will give him every chance to earn a spot
Matt LaPorta*- Matt has the potential to be everything the Indians hoped for at 1B. His defense isn’t great, but he didn’t kill them there. We saw his bat in Columbus and it looked like something special. His inability to make the transition to the Majors has been his downfall and he goes into camp as a man with seemingly few supporters and a lot to prove. With one option remaining, it will be hard for him to make the team unless he outshines everyone else.
Others with a chance
Ezequiel Carerra*- Zeke spent some time in Cleveland, but he raised the ire of fans with some lapses in the OF. His speed on the bases and in the outfield make him valuable as a late-inning guy.
Thomas Neal*- Brought over in a trade with SF, he was hurt most of his time with the Clippers. He’s had a lot of good years coming up through the minors, but is mostly an unknown. A big spring could see his stock rise and give him a chance to break through.
Ryan Spilborghs- He can play all over the outfield and has a track record of success. Coming off of a down year in Colorado, where he spent his whole career, Spilborghs has a chance to reestablish himself. He’s not a huge power threat, but Spilborghs has an OBP of .360 or better in 3 of the last 5 years and a career .345 mark.
Juan Diaz*- on the Indians 40-man roster, but nowhere near ready
Cord Phelps*- Might not be suited for a utility role. He hits well from both sides of the plate, but really best suited at 2B, blocked by Kipnis. Will likely see time in Cleveland this year though.
Chad Huffman- Huffman had a monster camp in 2011 and many thought he should have made the team. Once the regular season began, things took a turn for the worse. He had a few white-hot streaks, but I’m sure he’d say 2011 was a disappointment from an individual standpoint. He still has value, but will be hard-pressed to crack the roster.
Nick Weglarz*- On-base machine with dazzling power potential. Hasn’t been able to stay healthy or turn the potential into power reality. Projects as a DH. This is a critical year for him.
Fred Lewis- Lewis has played for 3 teams in 3 years, last season with Cincinnati. he has performed well as a back-up but in a crowded field, he doesn’t have any numbers that jump out at you.
Felix Pie- The speedy outfielder tantalized teams for years, but couldn’t get on base enough.
Andy LaRoche- the former top 3B prospect in baseball is way behind heading into spring. With Chisenhall and Hannahan at 3B and Donald as a utility in front of him, his chances are slim.
Jose Lopez- the former All-Star is versatile defensively, which will help him. He had 5 consecutive years with double-digit homers, but rapidly declining offensive stats coupled with the presence of Jason Donald in the utility role make him unlikely to see much time in the race.
Useless Prediction- Donald Utility IF Duncan OF/1B and Canzler wins the last spot with Chisenhall starting in Columbus.
So there you have it. Many of those who don’t make the Cleveland roster will wind up in Columbus, others will get their walking papers. What say you Indians and Clippers faithful? questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The city of Indianapolis is in full recovery mode after the spectacle that was Super Bowl XLVI steamrolled through town. Now, the giant “Zip Line” must come down, the hotels must clean up, and Victory Field can return to a ballpark instead of a stop along the parade.
The Indianapolis Indians home welcomed broadcasting folks like the “Dan Patrick Show” over the last week, and, hosted the “Celebrity Beach Bowl” transforming into an inland beach thanks to a million pounds of imported sand and a giant tent stationed on the field. A “who’s who” of movie stars, music performers, and professional athletes then played a game of flag football in front of thousands of fans. The musical group ”The Fray” performed afterward. Now the clean up begins because in less than two months, Victory Field will open its gates for baseball, just like our own Huntington Park.
The Super Bowl is as over-hyped as anything we ever experience. The talking heads spend two weeks dissecting everything from play-calling to which hoodie Bill Belichick will wear on the big day. I love sports talk radio, but I usually take a break from it leading up to the “Big Game”.
As it turned out, this year’s game lived up to any and all expectations, a close game with a heart-stopping finish. Those who have very little rooting interest can ask for nothing more. The commercials were not as good as is tradition, but Madonna’s halftime show was, believe it or not, entertaining…
Some people will play the cynical role and bash all of it, and the social media age has made that sort of thing much too prevalent. We know the debates about the game, commercials, and even Madonna will be the fuel of the day at workplaces all across the nation.
That is, assuming you go to work. I read that about seven million people call in sick on the Monday after the Super Bowl.
The Giants took home the hardware with a 21-17 victory and after the confetti had fallen to the ground and the cameras were shut off, the football off-season was underway. That means a lot of things to a lot of people; to me it means baseball is almost here.
Some of the Cleveland Indians players have already made their way to Goodyear to begin working out for spring training. Everyone will be there within the next two weeks.
In related news, a gentleman passed me at a grocery store the other day and saw I was wearing a Clippers jacket. He stopped me and started talking about his days as a child attending Columbus Jets games on West Mound Street. He spoke of his memories at the old ballpark, eating hotdogs and spending time with his father. He spoke about taking his own children to see pin-striped Clippers and says he now goes, as a grandfather, to spend time with his family Huntington Park several times each summer.
His eyes seem to light up when he saw the Clippers logo, obviously because it reminded him of many great things. I think that’s the most exciting thing about each approaching season, the thought of more great memories-to-be. Get ready.
The Clippers are teaming with the Southern Ohio PGA chapter for a special promotion on July 17th called “Pros at the Park”. It will feature “Chipping for Charity” after the game, benefiting The Miracle League of Dublin. There will be golf instruction for kids at various points along the concourse and chipping instruction by some area course pros prior to the game. Stay tuned for more details!
“Kotchman joins the Tribe”
As Ryan discussed, the Indians have inked 1B Casey Kotchman to a one year, $3 million deal. Kotchman, 28, is fresh off his best offensive season of an eight year career. Last season with Tampa Bay, Kotchman hit .306 with 24 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 48 RBI in 146 games. He is a career .268 hitter with the Angels, Braves, Red Sox, Mariners, and Rays. Kotchman, who is very solid defensively, will go to camp to be the Indians starting first baseman. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com has more on the Kotchman deal.
The Tribe will make a 40-man move in the next few days to official place Kotchman on the roster. There is already plenty of speculation as to who will be dropped. Take a look at the roster and pick some candidates for yourself.
“One down, one to go”
The Indians signed LHP Rafael Perez to a one-year deal, thus avoiding arbitration. He is the sixth arbitration eligible player to sign and only Asdrubal Cabrera remains. Cabrera and the Indians are reportedly discussing a multi-year deal, something that none of his teammates have received from the club.
Does your son or daughter have a birthday this spring? If so, look into booking a party a Huntington Park! The birthday child receives a Clippers hat, Clippers “Happy Birthday” mini bat, and “Happy Birthday” card from the Clippers. All children attending the birthday party will get a coupon for an inflatable game and a Clippers gift! Click here for the details.
We are less than two months from Opening Day! Click here to buy tickets!
Have a great week.
The Cleveland Indians have signed Casey Kotchman to a 1-year deal for 2012 to be their first baseman. This comes on the heels of trading for corner defender and reining IL MVP Russ Canzler.
This does a couple things for the Tribe for the upcoming season. First it gives Cleveland an established Major-Leaguer at what was the biggest position of need heading into the off-season. It certainly is not like inking Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, but Kotchman raised his stock considerably with what may have been his career best offensive season in 2011. Playing on a one-year minor league deal with the TB Rays, Kotchman hit .306 with an OBP of .378. He is regarded as a fine defender at 1B and does not strike out much. These are all good things and part of what the Indians were looking for when seeking to fill the position. The rest of what Kotchman as everyday 1B means leaves some holes unfilled. He hits from the left side, which does not help the balance of the line-up (though as the Indians have noted over recent days, the Tigers and Twins project to have rotations with 9 of 10 slots filled by right-handed pitchers). Also Kotchman does not provide much in the way of power, which is something the Indians need more out of 1B than they have gotten. So what it comes down to is that Cleveland opted to solve some, but not all of the issues they have had at 1B over the last few seasons with the resources they had available. Kotchman signed for a reported $3 million, a windfall after a minor-league deal last year, but still far less than what the other 1B free-agent options garnered. It should be noted that the Indians made a higher offer to Carlos Pena than he took from TB. Pena, like Kotchman, provided some, but not all of what Cleveland was looking for at 1B. The Indians were never in on Pujols or Fielder (though maybe they should have been on Fielder) and so you have to be selective in what needs you address given your financial constraints.
All of this 1B talk could have been avoided if the Indians had a first baseman who hit right-handed, had pop in his bat and didn’t strike out much. If only they had a prospect who had a .298/.390./566 minor league slash line who only K’s once every 6 PA’s who could play passable defense. That’s exactly what they had in Matt LaPorta, but he has not found consistent success in the Majors. The recent moves seem to indicate that he will start the year in Columbus barring a spectacular Spring Training. For Clippers fans, this is great news. LaPorta has hit .313 as a Clipper with 27-2B’s 23-HR’s and 79-RBI’s in 113 games. Matt is 27 and his window for establishing himself is closing, so hopefully he will find a way to put it all together this season in Columbus and get another shot in The Show.
Pitchers and catchers report in less than 3 weeks, so next time we will look at some position battles.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Despite this oh so fantasic holiday, I’m here to tell you that the first sign spring is near has nothing to do with a groundhog. It does however have everything to do with an 18-wheeler, the Cleveland Indians equipment truck to be exact, which leaves for Goodyear on Friday.
Pitchers and catchers report on February 20th and shortly after that we’ll be watching highlights and reading box scores from the Cactus League. It really is a great time of the year, when the prospect of warm sunshine and a winning baseball season fill our hearts and minds.
I get goose bumps just thinking about it, don’t you?
* As the season nears, the Indians are attempting to put the finishing touches on their arbitration situation. Five of the seven arbitration-eligible players are signed, leaving just Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez. However, it looks like the Tribe may be headed in front of the arbiter for the first time since 1991. Rafael Perez is reportedly asking for $2.2 million and the Indians are offering $1.6 million while Asdrubal Cabrera is reportedly asking for $5.25 million while the club is offering $3.75 million. That’s a substantial difference and it’s likely that an agreement won’t be reached before the hearing dates, which began Wednesday and last for three weeks.
Why go, Lugo?
It appears now the Julio Lugo will NOT be joining the Indians after all. The 36 year-old agreed to a minor league contract almost two weeks ago, but reports say the deal is now off. Some have speculated that Lugo failed his physical, but the club has not commented on it. Indians beat writer Jordan Bastian has more insight on the Lugo fallout and the contract specifics for some recent Cleveland signings.
One more mouth to feed…
The Clippers roster will expand from 24 to 25 players starting this season because of recent legislation passed by the MLB general managers. The group voted to add one player to maximum roster limit for all Double-A and Triple-A clubs. The minor league managers will surely be very happy to have an extra bullpen arm or a bench player to use late in games. This change will benefit National League affiliates who do not use a designated hitter when playing against other NL affiliated teams. Bring on the double-switches!
Thanks, but no thanks.
Free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt has reportedly told the Indians and Blue Jays that he is not interested in signing with them. Oswalt, 34, may be leaning towards a deal with either St. Louis or Texas. The right-hander will be entering his 12th Major League season, carrying a 159-93 record and 3.21 ERA over 326 starts with Houston and Philadelphia. He is a three-time All Star.
The Biggest Little City in the World
The International League and Pacific Coast League each announced that Reno, Nevada will host the 2013 Triple-A All-Star Game. This season’s game is being held in Buffalo. One of the most common questions I’ve received is “When will the Clippers host the All-Star Game?” The answer is that I don’t know, but two leagues alternate hosts, so it will be back in an International League park in 2014.
Meanwhile, Durham is hosting this year’s Triple-A National Championship, which now also rotates location each season like the Super Bowl. It’s up for grabs again for 2013.
The season is approaching quickly the Clippers Cargo Shop is featuring 23 brand new hats! Check them out here.
You can get a Clippers partial season ticket plan for as low as $235! Talk a look at all the options here.
Columbus Alive has started its voting for the “Best of Columbus”. Take this survey and vote for the Clippers as the best of the best!
There are only 63 days until the Clippers host Louisville on Opening Night! Check out the 2012 schedule!
That’s all for today, keep coming back!
The Indians acquired INF/OF Russ Canzler on Tuesday from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash, placing him to the 40-man roster spot that opened with the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona was placed on the Restricted List.
Canzler, 25, was named the International League MVP last season. He is very versatile, with the ability to play the corner infield and outfield positions. Cleveland hopes he adds some serious competition for a spot on the big league roster, possibly an alternative to Matt LaPorta at first base.
If Canzler fails to make the team this spring, he’ll start the season in Columbus. Canzler has all three minor league options available, so the Tribe can bounce him from Cleveland to Columbus as they see fit.
Canzler hit .314 with 40 doubles, 4 triples, and 18 HRs in 131 games with Durham last year, his rookie Triple-A campaign. He also compiled 83 RBIs and posted a .401 OBP before receiving an end-of-season call-up to Tampa where he appeared in three games (1-for-3, K, BB, 1 RBI). He was designated for assignment on January 27th after the Rays signed INF Jeff Keppinger.
He was originally selected by the Cubs in the 30th round of the 2004 draft out of Hazleton Area High School in Pennsylvania. Russ was released by Chicago in 2010 and signed by Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent prior to the 2011 season. The right-handed hitter owns a minor league average of .280 with 172 doubles, 23 triples, 84 HR and 405 RBI in 738 career games.
He could be the second reigning IL MVP to join the Clippers in the last three seasons. Shelley Duncan joined Cleveland in 2010 after winning the award with the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Duncan has now logged 161 games (506 plate appearances) in the majors with the Tribe. The Indians are hoping Canzler, who is five years younger than Duncan was when acquired, can help them in some capacity either now or in the future.
Jordan Bastian has more on Russ Canzler at Indians.com
Russ Canzler has a fan in Mike Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.
Baseball America has released its 2012 Prospect Handbook, ranking the top young players in each organization.
Here is a look at the Cleveland Indians Top 10, which is really only a Top 9 now that #10 has been traded to Colorado. I made a few notes about each one. Let’s take a look:
1. Francisco Lindor, SS – 1st round draft pick (8th overall) in 2011 from Montverde Academy in Florida, played five games with Mahoning Valley last year. He passed up a scholarship to Florida State and received a $2.9 million signing bonus. He will likely start in Lake County.
2. Dillon Howard, RHP – 2nd round draft pick (67th overall) in 2011 from Searcy High School in Arkansas. Did not play last year. He had committed to Arkansas, but chose to sign for $1.85 million. He will likely start in Lake County.
3. Nick Hagadone, LHP – 2nd round pick (55th overall) by Boston in 2007. He was traded to Cleveland at 2009 July deadline, along with Justin Masterson and Bryan Price, for Victor Martinez. He was 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 34 relief outings with the Clippers last year and was called up in late August. He will compete for a spot in Indians bullpen this spring, but will likely start the 2012 campaign in Columbus. He is a member of the 40-man roster.
4. Chen Lee, RHP – Signed as an international free agent in 2008 from Taiwan. He was a combined 6-1 with one save and a 2.40 ERA in relief with Akron and Columbus. The opposition hit just .210 against him (right-handers hit just .197). Lee was the Indians Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He will attempt to crack Cleveland’s roster, but will likely start the year in Columbus. He not currently on the 40-man roster.
5. Luigi Rodriguez, OF – Signed as an international free agent at the end of 2009 from the Dominican Republic. Split last season between the Rookie-level Arizona Indians and Lake County. He will start in Lake County or Carolina.
6. Zach McAllister, RHP – 3rd round pick by the New York Yankees in the 2006 draft. He was traded to Cleveland in August 2010 for Austin Kearns. He was 12-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts with Columbus last season. He won’t likely crack the Cleveland rotation in the spring, but will be on the short list pitching in Columbus. He is on the 40-man roster.
7. Tony Wolters, SS – 3rd round pick in 2010 from Rancho Buena Vista High School in California. He batted .292 with 1 HR, 20 RBI, 19 SB, and a .385 OBP over 69 games with Mahoning Valley last season. He will likely start the season in Lake County.
8. Austin Adams, RHP – 5th round pick in 2009 from Faulkner University in Alabama. He was 11-10 with a 3.77 ERA in 26 starts with Akron last season, striking out 131 batters over 136 innings. He will be considered for a spot in the Clippers starting rotation, but the log jam of arms may push him back to Akron to begin the season.
9. Scott Barnes, LHP – 8th round pick by San Francisco in 2008 and was traded to Cleveland for Ryan Garko in 2010. He tore his ACL while pitching for the Clippers in July and is rehabilitating in hopes of pitching this spring in Arizona. At the time of his injury, he ranked 4th in the International League in strikeouts (90), 7th in batting average against (.240), 10th in wins (7), 17th in ERA (3.68), and 19th in WHIP (1.30). Barnes will, if healthy, likely slot into the Columbus rotation. He is a member of the 40-man roster. Click here for more on Scott Barnes.
10. Zach Putnam, RHP – Traded to Colorado for RHP Kevin Slowey on Januray 20th
In the minor leagues, much of the fan experience has nothing to do with the game on the field. Baseball as affordable family entertainment counts on the ballpark, its amenities and the accouterments that accompany the actual game. One of these is the nightly promotion. Mark Galuska, the Clippers Director of Marketing does a great job booking acts to thrill the masses at Huntington Park every year. This season on May 19th the Clippers will kick in the hyper-drive and travel to a galaxy far, far away to bring the Columbus faithful (cue John Williams)- Star Wars Night. Though I’m a not a Sci-Fi fan in general, as a child of the 70′s and 80′s I was a huge fan of the movies and they are as iconic as anything in American pop culture. It will be a night that would-be Skywalkers from near and far can enjoy. Get your tickets now for this great event to see the characters you’ve loved and hated since childhood. Not surprisingly, the Clippers will be taking on the representatives of the Evil Empire, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. You can check out the rest of the promotions here for the 2012 season.
Baseball, like Star Wars brings out the nerd in many of us. Star Wars and baseball trivia both can turn into heated contests among devotees. Top 10 baseball players lists, Han vs. Luke, should a pitcher be able to win the MVP, whether or not those building the second Death Star were innocent victims, these are the conversations that many take seriously, seriously. Mixing these two American icons should be a recipe for a great night for nerds everywhere. I may even challenge Mike Vander Woude, the voice of the SWB Yankees to a light saber duel.
Speaking of broadcasters (and nerds) I would like to extend a very warm welcome onto the IL brotherhood to my good friend Patrick Kinas. Patrick will take the reins on the Durham Bulls broadcasts this season, replacing Neil Solondz who took the pre/post game job with the Bulls parent club Tampa Bay. In 2002 Patrick brought me on sight unseen (which was to my benefit) for my first job in pro baseball as his #2 in Zebulon, NC. Kinas called Carolina Mudcats games from 1999-2011 when they were a Double-A club affiliated with Colorado, Florida, and Cincinnati (the Mudcats are now the High-A affiliate of the Indians, moving from the Southern League to the Carolina League). Kinas is an extremely talented broadcaster who does NC State women’s basketball and also can be seen on ACC and ESPN broadcasts. I have learned a lot from him over the years and I’m very glad I’ll be able to let him pay for dinner several nights throughout the season.
Finally, the Indians swung a trade for reigning IL MVP Russ Canzler today for cash considerations. Canzler is on the 40-man roster and will have a chance to make the team in Spring Training, but most likely he will see time in Columbus. It would mark the 2nd time in the last 3 seasons that the Clippers had the reigning IL MVP on their roster (Shelley Duncan won the IL MVP in 2009 for SWB).
Questions, comments, Star Wars rants and top-10 players lists can be sent to email@example.com