Tagged: Cleveland Indians

2010 Cleveland Indians Preview

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indians.gif2009 Record: 65-97, 5th AL Central

2009 Prediction: 70-92, 5th AL Central

2010 Prediction: 5th AL Central

 

Impact Player: Grady Sizemore

Impact Pitcher: Kerry Wood

Top Prospect Player:
C Carlos Santana

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Nick Hagadone

 

Manager: Manny Acta, 1st Season (158-252,
.385 [WAS, 07-09])

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Mike Redmond,
INF Mark Grudzielanek, 3B Brian Buscher, OF Austin Kearns, RHP Jason
Grilli
, RHP Saul Rivera

Significant Losses:
C Kelly Shoppach, INF Jamey Carroll, RHP Tomo Ohka

 

Besides the worst logo in all of baseball (seriously guys,
change it; times have changed, so should you), the Indians also had one of the
worst pitching staffs in all of baseball in 2009.  They finished 13th in the AL in
ERA and were completely lost after they dealt Cliff Lee to Philadelphia in July. 
The Indians have traded away a practical All-Star team the past few
years saying goodbye to C.C. Sabathia,
Lee, Victor Martinez, and Kelly Shoppach and the front office,
led by GM Mark Shapiro has sat threw the most harrowing free fall in the majors
since being a win away from the World Series in 2007.  Shapiro has orchestrated some of the best
trades in baseball in the past (see Bartolo
Colon
to Montreal) but seems to have lost his touch the past few
years.  Ownership is standing behind him,
but one has to wonder for how long. 
Shapiro canned his entire coaching staff after last year’s disaster
season, but was Eric Wedge and company really the problem?  The Indians had no depth on their pitching
staff and a lineup that lacked teeth outside of Grady Sizemore.  Things
aren’t any better this year either; expect another long season, Cleveland.

 

Pitching

kerry_wood.jpg

You know it’s bad when your “number 1” pitcher is a guy who
has only 30 starts since 2006 and has only one time in his career had an ERA
under 4.  Nonetheless, Jake Westbrook takes the reigns as the
number one starter by default.  He’s
apparently healthy but who knows if he’ll ever be 100% again.  After Westbrook is Fausto Carmona who was brilliant in 2007 posting 19 wins but has
been an enigma since, going 13-19 with a 5.89 ERA in the past two years.  His 2009 was atrocious with only 5 wins and a
6.32 ERA.  Carmona’s work ethic and
attitude have been questioned and he is probably never going to be the pitcher
he was in 2007.  If he continues pitching
this way for much longer, he’ll be out of the rotation.  A swath of pitchers will attempt to fill
spots three through five with Justin
Masterson
(acquired in the Victor Martinez trade), David Huff (who won 11 games in his rookie season but posted a 5.61
ERA), Aaron Laffey, Anthony Reyes, Carlos Carrasco (who was acquired in the Lee deal), Mitch Talbot (who was acquired for
Kelly Shoppach), and Rule 5 draft pick Hector
Ambriz
being the top contenders.  Top
prospect Nick Hagadone who was also
acquired in the Martinez trade from the Red Sox could also see major league
time at some point in 2010.

 

The best pitcher on the staff is Kerry Wood who will close again this season.  He struggled in his first season with the
Tribe posting a 4.25 ERA and only 20 saves, but there’s no denying his
stuff.  He’s in the last year of his
contract so he’ll likely be traded if/when the Indians fall out of contention.  The rest of the bullpen will be filled by
righties Chris Perez (who can close
if Wood is dealt), Jensen Lewis (who
was much better in ’08 than in ’09), Jason
Grilli
(a veteran who was signed in the offseason and can pitch anywhere in
the ‘pen including long relief), and Joe
Smith
(who can be an elite setup man if he’s healthy).  Lefthanders Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp
round out the ‘pen.  The former had an
awful year and will look to rebound, while the latter was terrific posting a
2.92 ERA in ’09 as a rookie.  Talbot and Jeremy Sowers will get a look as long
men as both are out of options and must clear waivers if they are sent to the
minors.  All-in-all, the bullpen could end up being a strength if Lewis
and Rafael Perez regain their form and Smith is healthy.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Jake Westbrook

32

R/R

Fausto Carmona

26

R/R

Justin Masterson

25

R/R

David Huff

24/5

L/L

Aaron Laffey

25

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Kerry Wood

32/3

R/R

Joe Smith

26

R/R

Chris Perez

24/5

R/R

Rafael Perez

28

L/L

Tony Sipp

26/7

L/L

Jensen Lewis

25/6

R/R

Jason Grilli*

33

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Carlos Carrasco

23

R/R

Anthony Reyes

28

R/R

Saul Rivera*

32

S/R

Mitch Talbot*

26

R/R

Jess Todd

23/4

R/R

Hector Ambriz*

25/6

L/R

Jeremy Sowers

26/7

L/L

*=newly acquired

 

Lineup

grady_sizemore.jpg

The Indians finished 8th in runs scored in the AL
last year and 7th in batting average, so it could have been
worse.  If starting centerfielder and
perennial All-Star Grady Sizemore is
healthy (which he wasn’t last year) that might improve this season.  Sizemore hit just .248 last year with only 18
homeruns.  Those numbers should improve
significantly if he’s healthy.  He’s
still one of the best pure athletes in baseball.  Shin-Soo
Choo
is back in rightfield and is becoming a very solid major-leaguer.  Last season Choo became the first Asian-born
player to have a 20/20 season with 20 HR and 21 stolen bases.  He also hit .300 with a .883 OPS.  Not to mention that he is one of the best
defensive rightfielders in the AL posting a 9.1 RTot rating last season.  Leftfield will likely go to rookie Michael Brantley, son of former major
leaguer and former Jays hitting coach Mickey Brantley.  Brantley hit .313 in a short stint last
season and might be the best pure hitter in the organization among prospects.  He won’t hit for much power, but with his
contact ability and blazing speed, he could leadoff which would allow the Tribe
to put Sizemore down to third in the lineup and take fuller advantage of his
power.  If Brantley can’t stick, Trevor Crowe could get a look and the
team also signed Austin Kearns to a
minor-league deal.

 

The infield is led by Asdrubal
Cabrera
who is becoming a very good player. 
His RTot rating was not great last season, but scouts say he has the raw
ability of a Gold Glover and he came around at the plate last season hitting
.308 with an impressive .799 OPS and 68 RBI. 
He’s still only 24.  Cabrera’s
emergence at short means that Jhonny
Peralta
will be the everyday third baseman. 
He’s better suited defensively there than at short and the Indians are
hoping he starts hitting like his old self with less to worry about on the
defensive side of the ball.  The Indians
are probably trying to trade him though. 
Luis Valbuena will be given
the job at second but will be pushed by offseason acquisitions Mark Grudzielanek, Brian Bixler and Luis
Rodriguez
.  At first base, young
slugger Matt LaPorta will be given
every opportunity to win the job and show Indians fans that they got something
back in the Sabathia trade.  The catcher
to start the year will be 23-year-old Lou
Marson
who was acquired in the Lee deal. 
He has promise, but is likely only holding a spot for the organization’s
top prospect Carlos Santana who
might be ready by mid-season.  Marson may
not be an Indian for long.  The DH will
be Travis Hafner providing he
doesn’t get bought out before the season starts.  Hafner has been a disaster the past few years
and although he blames injuries, one has to question his sudden drop in weight and production in spite of the fact that
he is still only 32.  Is anyone else
curious?

 

Veteran Mike Redmond will
likely start the year as the backup catcher but he’ll turn 39 during the
season.  Wyatt Toregas and Chris
Gimenez
(who can also play first and rightfield) are insurance
policies.  Either Crowe or Kearns will be
the fourth outfielder and Grudzielanek will most likely be joined by
utility-infielder Andy Marte who
just can’t seem to get it right at the major-league level.  He has become the penultimate 4-A
player.  Brian Buscher was acquired from the Twins and may get a look at
first base if LaPorta struggles.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Michael Brantley

22/3

L/L

SS

Asdrubal Cabrera (2B)

24

S/R

CF

Grady Sizemore

27/8

L/L

3B

Jhonny Peralta (SS)

27/8

R/R

RF

Shin-Soo Choo

27/8

L/L

DH

Travis Hafner

32/3

L/R

1B

Matt LaPorta (RF)

25

R/R

2B

Luis Valbuena

24

L/R

C

Lou Marson

23/4

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

Andy Marte (1B, 3B, SS, 2B)

26

R/R

OF

Trevor Crowe (LF, CF, RF)

26

S/R

C

Mike Redmond*

38/9

R/R

INF

Mark Grudzielanek* (2B, SS)

39/0

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

1B

Chris Gimenez (C, RF)

27

R/R

INF

Brian Bixler* (2B, SS)

27

R/R

C

Wyatt Toregas

27

R/R

LF

Jordan Brown (LF)

26

L/L

3B

Brian Buscher* (1B)

29

L/R

INF

Luis Rodriguez* (2B, SS)

29/0

S/R

OF

Austin Kearns* (RF, LF)

29/0

R/R

OF

Shelley Duncan* (RF, LF, 1B)

30

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

The Indians didn’t do much this offseason so don’t expect miracles.  Their rotation is awful, their bullpen and
lineup are average at best and their young players have yet to hit their
ceiling.  Mark Shapiro could be on the
hot seat if a run at .500 isn’t made, but it’s going to be hard to do that with
the likes of Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona at the top of your
rotation.  Indians fans should look to 2011
and beyond.

Final Prediction:
66-96, 5th AL Central

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Jays offseason update

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The Jays reacquire Zach Jackson

Zach Jackson.jpg

A few things
have been happening the last few days in Jaysland.  Today, Toronto reacquired lefthander Zach
Jackson from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later.  Some sources are saying the player is
infielder Russ Adams who has become even more expendable than he already was
this week when the Jays acquired Brian Bocock off waivers from San Francisco.

 

Jackson was
originally drafted by the Jays as a sandwich first-rounder back in 2004 and was
dealt to Milwaukee in the Lyle Overbay deal in December of ’05.  Jackson was then dealt to the Tribe in ’08 in
the C.C. Sabathia deal.  Jackson has yet
to stick at the major-league level and has struggled in the minors as well, but
the Jays are hoping he can regain his college form with the organization he
started out with.

 

Alomar, Blyleven not going to Hall…yet

bert blyleven rangers.jpgNo
disrespect to Andre Dawson, who definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,
but how did Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven not get in?  Sure, I may be biased in both cases what with
Alomar being one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time and Blyleven being the
greatest Dutch-born player in the game’s history, but they both deserve to be
in the Hall now, not a few years from now.

 

I can see
Blyleven not being a first-ballot HOFer, but this was like his 8th
or 9th year of eligibility. 
He finished his career with 287 wins and was 5th all-time in
strike outs.  Yes, he lost 250 games in
his career but there’s no doubting his longevity.  As MLB Network analyst Sean Casey pointed out
the other day, no one pitches 21 years in the bigs who doesn’t deserve to do
so.  Blyleven kept his team in every game
and could bear down and be outright dominating. 
If he doesn’t get in next year than there’s something wrong.

 

roberto alomar jays.jpgAs for
Alomar, he was probably the best second-baseman of his generation.  Defensively, there’s probably never been
anyone better.  Based on his numbers and
performance alone, he is without a doubt a first-ballot HOFer.  My theory is that he’s not in there because
he retired sort of young, and also because of the John Hirshbeck thing.  As for the that incident, many players
contend that Hirshbeck used a derogatory slur before Alomar snapped.  Regardless of what actually happened, Alomar
apologized profusely and eventually made up with the umpire, joining him in a
campaign to raise awareness about ALD, a disease which Hirshbeck’s son died of.  I’ve always thought people overreacted about
that incident and have always seen Alomar as a class-act.  Him and Blyleven need to get in next year.

 

Chapman being pursued by Jays.

aroldis chapman.jpgThe Jays
have entered the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes. 
The 21-year-old Cuban lefthander who can hit triple-digits with his
fastball has been pursued heavily by the Angels, Marlins, Yankees, Red Sox, and
others but reportedly only the Jays and Angels remain in the chase.  Toronto surprisingly offered Chapman a
$23-million deal.  This would be a huge acquisition for Toronto; Chapman is
at most a year or two from being a top-of-the-rotation talent.  Let’s hope the Jays get him.  Just think: Drabek AND Chapman.  The future would indeed look bright.

’09 Preview — Cleveland Indians

wuck5s4efslyho5xey2eivvqm.gif2008 Record: 81-81, 3rd AL Central
2009 Prediction: 5th AL Central

Impact Player: Grady Sizemore
Impact Pitcher: Cliff Lee
Top Prospect: Matt LaPorta, OF

Significant Acquisitions: P Kerry Wood, INF Mark DeRosa, P Carl Pavano, P Joe Smith
Significant Losses: OF Franklin Gutierrez, P Juan Rincon, P Joe Borowski

The Cleveland Indians were one win away from the 2007 World
Series and actually had a 3-1 lead in their ALCS with the Red Sox before blowing it
and losing in 7 to the eventual champs.  Last year, the Indians had a
hangover year and started terribly.  By the time they woke up at the end
of July, they were 47-60 and their ace pitcher and franchise player C.C.
Sabathia had been traded to the Brewers.  They finished the year very well
and amazingly finished 3rd in the AL Central with an 81-81 record.  This
year, the team lacks depth on all fronts and might have a hard time staying out
of the cellar of the competitive Central division.

Pitching
The rotation is top-heavy with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee and
young fire-baller Fausto Carmona in the one and two spots.  Lee was fantastic last year going 22-3 with a
2.54 ERA; it will be very hard for him to live up to those numbers and it will
be interesting to see if he can do it. 
Carmona was stellar in ’07 but his production dropped off in ’08 as he
couldn’t seem to replicate his delivery and too often left balls over the
plate.  If the Tribe has ANY chance of
competing in this division, he’ll need to be back in form.  Outside of those two, the rotation is
extremely thin with young, unproven lefties Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers expected
to get the #3 and #4 spots.  The fifth
spot could go to any number of four pitchers: Anthony Reyes, Scott Lewis, Zach
Jackson, or off-season signee Carl Pavano who will look to find the form he was
never able to in the spotlight of New York. 
Only the first two spots are really locked down with Jake Westbrook likely out until August, recovering from Tommy John Surgery, so look for a wide open
competition this spring.

In the bullpen, the Indians will look to a new face at
closer with off-season signing Kerry Wood. 
Wood was 34 for 40 in save opportunities last year with the Cubs but has
always had injury problems; so far the move to the bullpen has allowed Wood to
stay mostly healthy.  Outside of Wood,
the Indians will look to a unit that struggled to stay consistent last year but
was very good in ’07.  Getting to Wood
will be the responsibility of three young guns: Jensen Lewis (25), who might
also compete for a job in the rotation, Rafael Perez (27), a lefty who may have
the best stuff in the ‘pen, and Rafael Betancourt (24), who looks to rebound
after a terrible ’08.  Also in the mix will be Joe Smith who posted a 3.55 ERA last year with the Mets and was acquired in the three-team trade that sent J.J. Putz from the Mariners to the Mets.  A number of minor-league contractees and young prospects will vie for spots as well.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Cliff Lee (L/30)
  • Fausto Carmona (R/25)
  • Aaron Laffey (L/24)
  • Jeremy Sowers (L/26)
  • Anthony Reyes (R/27)
  • **Jake Westbrook (R/31) out until August.

Bullpen

  • Kerry Wood (R/31)
  • Jensen Lewis (R/25)
  • Rafael Perez (L/27)
  • Rafael Betancourt (R/24)
  • Joe Smith (R/25)
  • Masahide Kobayashi (R/35)
  • Carl Pavano (R/33)

Lineup
The Indians were a middle-of-the-road team offensively in ’08 and they should be no better in ’09.  In the outfield, franchise player Grady Sizemore is back after a solid campaign that saw him hit 33 HR and drive in 90.  The problem was he hit only .268; far less than we’ve come to expect, so he will look to rebound in that regard.  He was still the only 30/30 man in the AL and plays gold-glove-caliber defense in Center.  Shin-Soo Choo will start the year as the everyday Right Fielder after being one of the team’s most consistent hitters in ’08; and Ben Francisco and David Dellucci will battle for the Left Field job with the loser being the team’s fourth outfielder.  In the infield, Ryan Garko (1B), Asdrubal Cabrera (2B), and Jhonny Peralta (SS) all return and super-utility-man Mark DeRosa enters the fray as the new Third Baseman.  DeRosa might be the most significant off-season pickup for the Indians because of his versatility and ability with the bat.  Catching and DH are a little more complicated in ’09.  Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner struggled to stay healthy last year and even when they were healthy, they didn’t exactly play to their full potential.  Meanwhile, Kelly Shoppach emerged as a bona fide starting catcher hitting 21 HR and played outstanding defense with a .989 fielding percentage.  Expect Shoppach and Martinez to split catching duties and Hafner and Martinez to split time at DH until someone proves that it should be otherwise.

On the bench will be whoever gets the day off from the Hafner/Martinez/Shoppach triangle, and whoever gets the day off in Left Field.  Infielder Josh Barfield might see time at Second if Cabrera struggles and utility infielder Andy Marte should also be on the big club unless he gets moved before the end of Spring Training.  Veteran Jamey Carroll will also be kicking around.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)
 
CF  Grady Sizemore (L/26)
  RF  Shin-Soo Choo (L/26)
  1B  Ryan Garko (R/28)
  DH  Travis Hafner (L/32)
  3B  Mark DeRosa (R/34)
  SS  Jhonny Peralta (R/27)
  C    Kelly Shoppach (R/29)
  LF  Ben Francisco (R/27)
  2B  Asdrubal Cabrera (S/24)

Bench
  OF  David Dellucci (L/35)
  C/1B/DH Victor Martinez (S/30)
  2B  Josh Barfield (R/26)
  INF Andy Marte (R/25)
  INF Jamey Carroll (R/35)

Outlook
The Indians surprised a lot of people with their awful start and then surprised them again with their strong finish.  I don’t believe Travis Hafner will ever be the player he once was and every other aspect of the team seems to lack real depth.  Their starting rotation is thin and if Lee, Carmona, or Wood go down with an injury this team will suffer immensely.  I just don’t see them competing this year.  Final Prediction: 70-92, 5th AL Central

P.S. The Indians HAVE to change their symbol.  It is one of the most racist things I’ve ever seen and the fact that his name is “Chief Wahoo” just makes it all the worse.  That is why I have the “I” symbol at the top of this entry.