Tag Archives: Danny Salazar

A Eulogy For the 2015 Indians

What can you say about the 2015 Cleveland Indians? They had their moments, sure, but to compare the end result to where we figured they would be in late September before the whole party began in April, leaves an almost unexplainable discrepancy.

When the front office pulled off the coup of landing Terry Francona, straight out of the ESPN broadcast booth in 2013, it was supposed to be different. When they pulled out all of the stops for Nick Swisher, and then signed Michael Bourn, under the RADAR, it promised to be a new day in Cleveland.

All three had grossly underperformed in Cleveland, and two of them didn’t last three full seasons. The third, Francona, was brought aboard by someone who opted not to stick around to watch it all crumble. It crumbled in Boston, but they had a couple of shiny trophies on the mantle to remind them of the good times. Progressive Field has only a painted grey flag with the numbers “2013” to show for all of they hype that came with the 2012-2013 off-season.

The 2015 season didn’t mean the arrival of too many new faces; the headliner of the group was Brandon Moss, but the former Oakland Athletic was damaged goods, and the Indians’ brass was all about the reclamation projects (see: Kazmir, Scott). Gavin Floyd and Jeff Manship decided to come along for the ride, joining the pitching staff. They didn’t figure to need a lot of new faces, as the familiar faces were supposed to carry this squad to a title, said the experts at Sports Illustrated.

After all, they had the reigning Cy Young winner, in Corey Kluber1no longer Hans set to take the ball on Opening Day, and pick up where he left off in 2014. Carlos Carrasco showed the accountants enough in the second half of the prior season, that the club decided to extend him 5 years. Trevor Bauer was expected to turn the corner this season, Danny Salazar was expected to bounce back from a sophomore slump of sorts, and Gavin Floyd was the big veteran the team needed to eat up innings at the back of the rotation every fifth day.

It turned out to be the rookie Cody Anderson, and not Floyd, due to completely foreseeable injury, that owned the 5th spot, after Bruce Chen and Shawn Marcum reminded everyone why they were available to anyone willing to give them a shot. Bauer had his glimpses, but finds himself in a battle with Josh Tomlin for a 2016 rotation spot, after Tomlin showed flashes of brilliance, but no consistency in 2015.

Those who did start on the bump, on a semi-regular basis, all flirted with no-hitters. Trevor Bauer was first, but it was early in the season, so he combined with the bullpen for about 8 innings in Tampa, before Nick Hagadone blew the no-no and the shutout. Kluber went 5 or 6 on multiple occasions. Cody Anderson went 5, to kick off a remarkable streak of games in Tampa for the rotation. It was during that stretch that Carlos Carrasco came closest to finishing the job, surrendering a hit with 2 outs in the 9th. Carrasco was on a nice run last Friday against the Royals’ taxi-squad, the night after they clinched their first division title since 1985. Unless it happens in the next four games, Len Barker’s 1981 perfecto against Toronto will remain the last no-hitter of any sort from Tribe pitching.

In a time when the city has moved on to the Browns and getting Johnny Manziel on the field, you could put the celebrity quarterback in the same bucket with the group that plays 81 games a year in the building a few blocks south of First Energy Stadium. You might love the snapshots, but have to understand there’s nothing sustainable, just yet.

Carlos Santana is a first basemen; his days of catching or playing third base have gone the way of the dodo. That might be more of a Yan Gomes thing than a Santana thing, but the effect was felt when Gomes’ season was put on hold in early April, and we entered the black hole of the Roberto Perez/Brett Hayes platoon offensively. The thing offensive about that duo is that fans took offense to the lineup card, but Yan couldn’t go between suffering an injury on April 11th and returning to the lineup in late May.

Arguably, Yan never got things going with the bat all, after a 1-for-4 outing on Opening Day. It was June 6th before he broke the Mendoza line, and his water mark in the batting average category was .237, after a 3-for-4 day in a home loss to the Yankees in August.

At that point, who even cared? They were 7 games under .500, 14.5 games behind the Royals, and in the middle of spending a full month in the American League Central Division cellar. These are symptoms of a team whose clean-up hitter was batting .229, and I’m not talking about Ryan Raburn here.

Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley had some lofty expectations set on them, and despite some really badly-timed slumps, they’ve given everyone everything they can honestly expect at the plate, when you’re looking at the big picture. The problem is, that can’t do it alone, and the players who manned the left side of the infield on Opening Day in Houston weren’t cutting in the field or at the plate. Eventually, the club understood the formula for insanity, doing the same shit and expecting different results, wasn’t going to work, with Jose Ramirez at shortstop and Lonnie Chisenhall at third base, though Chisenhall was reborn as an outfielder, a la Alex Gordon, in the minor leagues.  There’s a definite “to be continued” happening there, so stay tuned.

Alas, we get the relatively unknown Giovanny Urshela up from the minor leagues to play third base, and not too far behind, but way too late for many die-hard Tribe fans, Francisco Lindor to play short. People who couldn’t pick the latter out of a lineup admired and pined for the services of Lindor in Cleveland. Going against the grain of everything not named LeBron James in Cleveland, Lindor has lived up to the hype, and should be named American League Rookie of the Year. In resetting a season that largely makes me frown, it’s all smiles when it comes to the 8th overall pick from the 2011 draft.

Lindor passes the eyeball test, even when he swings and misses. At shortstop, he turns into outs and fielder’s choices into double plays. While I liked Julio Franco, Omar Vizquel, and various stages of the Asdrubal Cabrera Experience, it’s fair to say this young man is one of a kind. He has fun, he takes instruction, and oh by the way, the numbers on the stat sheet are sexy as hell too. They’re not good for a rookie, they’re good for a baseball player. It’s all there in black and white.

The bullpen did some things, like suffer through CC Lee, Scott Atchison, and Anthony Swarzak outings. Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw didn’t look too bad on paper, but you always cringed when Tito called to the bullpen for their services. Cody Allen was able to stay the course for what he’s been over the course of his still young career, and he will continue to be the starter until he veers obscenely off course (see: Perez, Chris). Manship and Austin Adams seemed to be better with each appearance. We also saw some nice things from Floyd and Shawn Armstrong, but in very small sample sizes.

They sent Marc Rzepcynski packing at the deadline, when Brandon Moss and David Murphy were already gone. Due to their ability to clear waivers, Swisher and Bourn were moved after the traditional July 31 deadline. The moves brought back AAA slugger Abraham Almonte and the albatross contract of Chris Johnson in return; it’s very likely that neither are long-term options, but nice placeholders until the farm system develops recent draft picks a little more.

It was clear after a 7-14 April that this team was not World Series-worthy and the ceiling was reset from 94 wins to 83, and they will be very lucky to even reach that plateau. We’ll miss them anyway.

Rest in Peace, 2015 Cleveland Indians2…or play golf, fish, and have fun with your family.  I’m just offering some parting words on the ball club.  These players should enjoy their lives..

References
1 no longer Hans
2 …or play golf, fish, and have fun with your family.  I’m just offering some parting words on the ball club.  These players should enjoy their lives.

Fun Stats about the Indian's Pitchers

This is the second part of a series looking at the most interesting, meaningful and sometimes meaningless stats of Indians players. This time we look at our amazing pitching staff. For last week’s piece click here.

Corey Kluber: Kluber leads the majors in: WAR, strikeouts, strikes, strikeout to walk ratio, linear wights for his curveball (means he has the best curveball in the business), swing rate on pitches out of zone, swing and miss percentage, and is tied for the AL lead in losses. Plus he hasn’t been that lucky this year, his Batting average against on balls in play is really high and should go down.

Carlos Carrasco: Carlos Carrasco has a 4.35 ERA. This is mostly due to bad luck and poor fielding because his independent measures like FIP and xFIP are in the 2.8 range.

Trevor Bauer: Trevor Bauer is an interesting case. He is the only qualified starting pitcher on the Indians with a BABIP under .300 (.262). Hitters are only batting .208 against him which leads the Indians staff and is 14th in the nation. Hitters are also having trouble getting good contact against him. 25.9% of the contact hitters make against him have been soft contact which is second best behind Dallas Kuechel. The only issue is that he walks a lot of people.

Danny Salazar: Leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings. Change-up has vastly improved and he now has the 4th best change-up in the league according to Fangraph’s linear weights model.

Relievers:

Cody Allen: Has been a good closer so far for us this year. His only problem is that when he puts a runner on, (which happens to often because of our poor defense) they score 35% of the time which is way too much for a closer his quality.

Zach McAllister: ZMac has been getting his fair share of criticism so far this year, but he truth is that he has been one of best relievers this year, posting a strong 2.93 ERA. Oh and that whole Zach McAllister only throws fastballs claims that I see on twitter whenever he pitches, is false. ZMac only throws his fastball 70.2% of the time which is 32nd among qualified relievers.

Nick Hagadone: Lefties are going .220/.279/.359 this year against Hagadone. Those numbers are exactly what you need from a lefty killer.

Bryan Shaw: Shaw has done well avoiding hard contact. Only 17% hitter’s contact against Shaw were hard contact. But three of the balls that were hard contact went over the fence for home runs.

Scott Atchison: Grandpa Atch has allowed more home runs this year than walks.

Mark Rzepczynski: 46.8 of the runners that are on base when Zep is up go on to score. This rate is very high for a reliever so hopefully that will improve.

 

 

 

Tribe Time Now #12: Don't Judge a Defense by its Fielding Percentage

In this edition of the Tribe Time Now Podcast, Ryan (MTAF: Cleveland) is joined by Mike Brandyberry (didthetribewinlastnight.com) and Craig Brown (royalsauthority.com) to discuss the Indians, the Royals, Defense, and Yordano Ventura.

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Subscribe to the podcast here and make sure to check out the new Tribe Time Now website!

Indians drop series to Motor City Kitties; Bats continue to under perform in the clutch

Tribe drops series to Tigers in wake of Brandon Moss sighting; Bats stay silent in clutch moments

I reached the pinnacle of my “happy” Indians feelings at approximately 9 PM Friday night.

Granted, I was two Manhattans in at that point, but the fact still stands: Friday night was great.

In classic Indians fashion though, my happiness waned as the night carried on and the following two days were filled with disappointment and losses.

Brandon Moss

I was impressed with his performance Friday, sure. In fact I even thought for a second that we were finally going to usher in the Brandon Moss era that we were expecting back in December.

Deep down, I had a sinking feeling that the Moss we glimpsed would be fleeting. He would fall flat on the pages of the Saturday paper and fade to black in the game that same day.

He didn’t disappoint either. He went 0 – 4 and tacked another strikeout to the year’s tally. He helped to manage expectations yesterday by going 2 – 3 with 2 RBIs and, again, only one strikeout.

As I’ve stated on the Tribe Time Now podcast, it’s way too early in the season to be pigeon-holing people. I stand by that statement.

And yet, Brandon Moss is beginning to frighten me. It’s not an issue of his old hip injury, so please, don’t think I’m one to cop out to that excuse. More than anything, I’m just concerned this he is too up and down. What I mean by that is: What happens when Brandon Moss falls into a really awful slump? What happens when Moss becomes an offensive trench in the lineup?

Imagine Michael Bourn right now. That’s the kind of trench that I’m talking about. The Mariana Trench of all trenches.

Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn is in such a rut right now that his performance (or lack thereof) prompted Tito to move his “speedy” veteran to the 9 spot.

The N-I-N-E spot.

The $48 million dollar man is making it very hard me as a Tribe fan right now, but the move to the bottom of the lineup is somewhat* softening the blow.

On a brighter note, Carlos Santana continues to impress.

In the weekend series against Detroit, Santana padded his slash line (.250/.384/.433) and hit well (3 for 5) with RISP.

In addition, Ryan Raburn (of all people) continues to kill left-handed pitching. He’s hitting .381/.391/.762 with an OPS of 1.153. That is ridiculous. At the beginning of the year, I was calling for Raburn’s head (and I’m still weary. He has to come down to earth eventually). If I see him in the outfield more than once every…6-7 games, I am going to be one very unhappy camper. After last year’s…debacle, he has no reason to be out there. I would rather see him in the DH role (permanently) against LHP.

Starting Pitching

Danny Salazar pitched a gem on Friday night and had ample run support such that, if he made a mistake (i.e.: pitching in general to Miguel Cabrera), it would not have made the game even remotely close.

I don’t know if many people realize this, but Trevor Bauer was supposed to start Saturday against the Tigers but, due to a freak stomach bug, he was unable to do so and T.J. House had to make a spot start instead. As you would expect, House didn’t last long and was chased early on in the campaign (3.0 IP). The bullpen was, once again, able to come in and provide 5 innings of 1 run baseball; ample opportunity for the Indians to at least tie the game up. Unfortunately, the Indians could only muster 8 hits hit a paltry 2 – 9 with RISP.

Finally, on Sunday, Carlos Carrasco appeared to be coming back down to earth as he allowed 5 runs on 9 hits over 4.1 IP. He was replaced with Old Man Atchison who gave up an additional 2 runs on 2 hits before alphabet soup (Rzepchzynski) and Cody Allen (2.0 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 earned combined) came on to finish out the game. Similar to Saturday, the Indians hit .250 with RISP and could not make up the runs needed to make it a competitive contest late in the game.

The key to Indians season thus far has been the lack of run support and lack of hits with runners in scoring position. If the starting pitching and middle relievers hand Tito a 2-3 run performance and the Indians can’t muster more than 1-2 runs/game – that’s not a pitching problem, it’s a hitting problem.

Just imagine where we’d be if the Indians bats were hitting slightly above league average – certainly not in the cellar of the AL Central.

Upcoming Series: Kansas City

Beginning tonight (6:10 EST first pitch), the Indians take on the reigning AL Champion Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field for a three game AL Central showdown. Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar will be manning the bump and hopefully the friendly confines will allow the Indians to get a series win. The Royals send Vargas, Guthrie, and Ventura to the bump in response and look to beat up on the Indians and regain the top spot in the AL Central.
The keys to the series for the Indians are (and continue to be) hitting .500+ with RISP, getting quality starts from their starters, and minimizing mistakes (both errors and near-errors) defensively.

Another interesting statistic: The Indians are last in the majors in steals allowed (20 over 17 games or 1.18/game). One steal a game; no big deal right?

Wrong.

A majority of those steals are baserunners moving from first to second (scoring position). Instead of a single moving the runner to third, that runner is scoring. The Indians have to be better at holding runners on first and throwing runners out at second in the process of stealing. This statistic no doubt is a byproduct of Yan Gomes not being behind the dish.

The phrase “You don’t run on Yan” didn’t just appear out of thin appear.

The Royals (Ned Yost in particular) will be sure to exploit this weakness with his faster players and you can guarantee that it may be the difference in tighter games during the series.

On Friday, look for my article concerning the outcomes of the Kansas City series in addition to a preview of the 4 game weekend home stand against the Blue jays. Also be sure to take a listen to the Tribe Time Now Podcast, this week featuring Mike Brandyberry from Did The Tribe Win Last Night and Craig Brown from Royals Authority (7 PM EST Thursday April 30th).

Hit ‘em hard, hit ‘em long – hell, just hit ‘em! Go Tribe!

Where, oh where, is the run production?

I had an article written before this weekend’s series with the twins.

In it, I talked about how the team was experiencing some early season bumps & bruises and bad luck.

In it, I spoke about how many quality teams experience weird stretches in April.

But then this weekend happened and I just don’t know if I believe that anymore.

Many of the diehards on Twitter would call me an “early jumper” by jumping off the wagon so soon, but I’m not seeing this team make the necessary changes to become better. The defense is just as bad, if not slightly worse than last year. All of the hope that I had for T.J. House is quickly evaporating. His last two outings have been paltry at best. There was only two bright spots this weekend and bright spot is pushing it for one of these two individuals:

Brandon Moss & Danny Salazar

I guess bright spot isn’t necessarily the correct term for Moss. Shimmer in Tito’s eye would be better. Brandon Moss has 28 plate appearances this season. In those 28 plate appearances, he has struck out 14 times.

Fourteen times or 50% of the time for those who are more mathematically inclined.

The glimmer in this particular series was his ability to hit the long ball. He did that in the 6th inning of Friday night’s game to left-center field. Other than that, he managed to add 6 SO to his total and make me think the “power” and “prestige” we saw in spring training was nothing more than an Arizona mirage.

For Danny Salazar, his line of 6.0 IP, 10Ks, 2 BBs, and 2 ER was impressive, especially for a guy that lost his starting role in the rotation before the season began. If he can continue to provide a quality start and double digit (or near double digit) strikeouts in every start, consider me a happy camper.

The big problem for the Indians right now is scoring runs.

Ranked 22nd in average with RISP and 26th in RPG, the Tribe is finding it difficult to get the few runners getting on base around the horn to the promise land. I blame this on a few factors:

  1. Patience at the plate
  2. Swinging at bad pitches
  3. Spring training timing

Patience at the plate

I don’t have metrics to back this up; it’s more of a feeling that I have after watching several games. It seems that lineup, specifically the top portion of the lineup, is very eager to swing the bat, at anything. I can’t pin point what it is, maybe first pitch strikes are just too appealing or maybe they’re getting the green light early. Whatever it is, I think it would be best to be a little more patient to feel out the starting pitcher, work his pitch count up, and wait for the best possible pitch within the zone.

In relation to the latter item, I’ve noticed across the board, the Indians are swinging at junk pitches. I can understand swinging at 12-6 curve after misreading it out of the pitchers hand. I can even understand swinging at a slider that has sick tail movement on it. What I can’t understand is when our guys swing at sliders that are starting off at the knees and dipping into the other batters box. The pitchers that we’ve faced haven’t been Cy Youngs. We’ve faced generally below-average pitchers and we’ve made them look really good by expanding the zone. By being more patient at the plate (see point 1), we’re going to force pitchers to throw in the zone more often giving us more pitches to hit.

These two points play well into one another; they’re not mutually exclusive.

Spring Training Timing

This all could be moot if the Indians are still on spring training timing. I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it here again: When I asked Trevor Bauer when players go full tilt and his reply was “with about one-week left in ST”, it made sense why April was often very weird month. I can guarantee at least a few players are still trying to get into the groove of full-tilt, full-time major league pitching. I’m not talking about velocity. I’m talking about off-speed pitches, secondary pitches, etc. Sure, pitchers were experimenting with different pitches in spring training, but in no way were they throwing fully-developed secondary pitches like a Corey Kluber slider.

I think in time (1-2) weeks, everyone should be up to speed. Everybody takes a different amount of time to get going, some guys more than others.

Hopefully the series this week against the White Sox and Tigers will yield better results, although, if the lack of run production continues, it could be a very long week for Cleveland Indians fans everywhere.

Have a good week all and go Tribe!

Tribe Time Now #7: Waiting Till This Year

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On this episode of the Tribe Time Now podcast, Ryan and Stephanie Liscio of itspronouncedlajaway.com tackle a number of interesting subjects including:

– Stephanie’s trip to AZ for Spring Training

– The status of Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar

– Lonnie Chisenhall and the iffy-ness that is the 2015 Cleveland Indians Defense

– The health and appearance of Brandon Moss

Michael Bourn’s resurgence (?)

– 1 Good Minute on Nick Swisher

The SI cover jinx

Ryan’s One Big Thing

Sands’ Bomb, the play of Michael Martinez, and if they belong in the 25-man roster

1st and 2nd round of cuts/demotions to AAA and AA

– “The Corner”, #TribeLive, Ballpark amenities, etc.

– Upcoming items on itspronouncedlajaway.com

– Co-owner Susan Petrone’s new book titled “Throw Like a Woman” and an upcoming speaking appearence by Stephanie Liscio

Make sure to subscribe to the Tribe Time Now Podcast at tribetimenow.com/subscribe or search “Tribe Time Now” in the iTunes Podcenter

As always, e-mail us with questions, comments, and concerns at feedback@tribetimenow.com or tweet us @_TribeTimeNow

Tribe Time Now Roundtable: The Indians Regressed the Least in AL Central

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After a lengthy discussion, the first Tribe Time Now podcast roundtable agreed: The Indians regressed the least among the AL Central this off season

Last night (2/18), I was joined by:

And we discussed a plethora of topics regarding the Indians including:

  1. Bruce Chen
  2. Dayan Viciedo
  3. Indian’s pre-season rankings
  4. The back end of the rotation
  5. Gavin Floyd
  6. The starting line up

Be sure to follow the incredible guests we featured on the first roundtable on twitter and check out their Indians-related content on their respective websites.

As always, follow me on twitter (@rthompak13) and the Tribe Time Now podcast (@_TribeTimeNow) for show related musings, podcast links, etc.

If you have any feedback, questions for the next show, or comments in general: email us at feedback@tribetimenow.com!

Go Tribe!

It’s Tribe Time Now!

Before we delve into the Indians starting rotation for 2015, a shameless plug:

…For the new MTAF: Cleveland podcast: Tribe Time Now hosted by yours truly! This week, we broke open the show with Joe Coblitz from burningriverbaseball.com. We discussed a number of topics surrounding the Indians, Major League Baseball, expanding the strike zone, etc. Be sure to click the link below and subscribe (coming to iTunes Podcenter soon!):

You can follow us on Twitter @_TribeTimeNever

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Will Reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber be able to maintain his dominant 2013 form and lead the young Tribe rotation to the promised land?

The premise sounds very Hollywood — that much is true. Like the 2013 season, the Indians come into spring training with high hopes for their rotation. Corey Kluber returns as the staff ace after a stellar year in which he over-powered nearly every opponent he faced. Filling in the 2,3 and 4 slots are Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Gavin Floyd. The final spot appears to be up for grabs between Right-handed flame thrower Danny Salazar and southpaw T.J. House.

Their are three spots that are locked up for sure: Kluber, Carrasco, and Bauer. The final two spots are fluid and very dependent several factors that will present themselves as spring training progresses.

The first kink that will need worked out is Gavin Floyd

I wrote late last year about the Floyd signing and my weariness of it. Clearly, the Indians are hoping that Floyd can reinvent himself like Scott Kazmir in 2013. Unfortunately, lightning never strikes the same place twice. I just don’t see Floyd panning out.

Floyd’s best years are clearly behind him. His 2008 campaign was his best and only year that he eclipsed the 200 inning mark. Since that season, he has pitched 187, 193, 168, 24, and 54 innings in ’09-’14 respectively. In 2014, things were looking up for Floyd. Through 9 starts, he held a 2-2 record, had a 3.5 SO/W ratio, and a FIP of 3.8 (considered average). In a game in which he was pitching masterfully against the Nationals, Floyd was forced to exit the game after feeling something pop in his previously-injured elbow in which he underwent Tommy John Surgery. He would miss the rest of the season with the injury before he was signed by the Indians in the off-season.

The fact that Floyd came back from TJS in 2013 and began what appeared to be a promising 2014 campaign gives me hope for this season. Having said that, two major elbow surgeries in two seasons makes me on edge. There’s only so much the body can take and two consecutive surgeries on a very active of major league elbow.

Honestly, if the Indians could get 120 solid innings, a 3.40 ERA, a +3 SO/W ratio, and an average FIP stat, I would be extremely pleased.

The next question that needs to be answered is what do the Indians do with T.J. House and Danny Salazar

Anyone that has a decent memory and pays even the slightest bit of attention to baseball will tell you that Danny Salazar is special. Salazar has always reminded me of Verlander in his prime. For kicks, check out these two GIFs of the two pitchers throwing a fastball. The similarities between their mechanics is uncanny (click on each GIF to watch):

Justin_Verlander_Ultimate_2012_Highlights DET_CLE_Salazar_strikes_out_10_over_7_2_3_innings

Salazar’s leg kick and arm angle are eerily similar to Verlander’s. If Verlander’s success is any indication, let’s hope that Salazar figures it out this season and puts all the pieces together.

Salazar is your prototypical right-handed blazer who easily throws the ball in the mid-upper nineties consistently. What I love more than anything about his stuff is the discrepancy between his fastball and breaking ball. The split second the hitter has to decipher the rotation of the ball and the speed with which it is travelling towards him gives Salazar an edge not many others enjoy.

Oh, and his breaking ball is straight nasty. There’s that too:

CLE_CWS_Salazar_whiffs_10_in_just_3_2_3_innings

T.J. House debuted for the Indians in 2014 and had a perfectly normal season. He went 5-3 over 19 starts with a 3.35 ERA and 3.69 FIP. Additionally, his SO/W ratio was 3.64 and he pitched 102 innings (approximately 5 1/3 innings/start). Personally, I think that House, for those who are risk averse, is appealing because his first year is indicative of someone who can provide consistent, albeit not dominant, starts.

For those who fancy themselves as risk takers, Salazar is the clear option considering his high upside and unique skill set/pitch repertoire.

If House ends up in AAA Columbus to begin the year and eventually has to come up for a spot start or to fill the eventual hole that Floyd will leave, that would work for me. Right now, taking a chance on Salazar just makes sense. He has all the tools to be a very successful right-handed pitcher alongside Corey Kluber.

Indians news and notes: Week of February 11th

According to Jon Heyman:

For about a week now, various reports have surfaced linking the Indians to several different relief pitchers such as Barry Zito. It was reported last night and confirmed today that the Indians had indeed signed Bruce Chen to a one year/$1 million minor league with $1 million in performance-based incentives.

I have to agree with my colleague Joe Coblitz in that the Chen signing just doesn’t make any sense. His career numbers are nothing indicative of need-to-have talent. Chen’s ERA has been up and down all over his career and, as Joe puts it:

        “Chen’s up and down career provides and excellent reason to ignore conventional statistics and go straight to the FIP. Of those 16 years, Chen finished eight with an ERA above 5.00 and six below 4.00, but all but three of those seasons were within one run of his career average 4.91 FIP. Two of those three seasons (all of which were more than a run above 4.91) came when he pitched 45 games across 2006 and 2007 before missing all of 2008 with injury.”

There just doesn’t seem to be a place in which Chen fits. The Indians have a plethora of starters with several individuals that would spot start or jump Chen if the need would ever arise. Additionally, Chen is going to have to work is way in to an already above-average bullpen. I agree with Joe in that giving innings to Chen is an absolute waste of younger, higher upside talent in individuals like Nick Hagadone, Kyle Crockett, Scott Downs, or Nick Maronde.

Construction update: The New Bar has it’s Name!

I received an email today (as I’m sure many of you have asking about a few names for the bar that is being constructed along with the stacked bullpens, etc. Personally, option #2 is clearly the best and I can’t wait to enjoy a cold beer at The Corner of Carnegie and Ontario while I channel my inner Hammy.

Next week: Dissecting the Indians Bullpen

 Next week, I’d like to discuss the Indian’s bullpen in-depth. Normally  I would want to cover the entire pitching staff in one article, but I know attention spans are often short.

Please be sure to check out our new podcast and subscribe!

Go Tribe!

Cleveland Indians News & Notes: 28 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report

With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, this tribe fan is skeptical of the 2015 Cleveland Indians due a lack of moves made over the off-season

Color me skeptical

Unfortunately, the 23 years of disappointment that I’ve endured as a Cleveland sports fans tells me not much more than the same as last year from the 2015 Cleveland Indians. I don’t say that as a debbie-downer. If the Tribe plays above potential (see: 2013) in 2015, I will be more than happy to write about how wrong I was at the end of the season. Like I said: if my experience as  a Cleveland fan tells me anything, it’s this: The Cleveland Indians Front Office did not make enough moves to compete in 2015.

The Washington Nationals made moves to get better.

The Detroit Tigers made moves to get better.

The Seattle Mariners made moves to get better.

The Chicago White Sox made moves to get better.

And those are just a few of the teams that significantly improved their rosters in the off-season.

The Indians’  biggest signing has been acquiring 1B/RF Brandon Moss from the Oakland A’s for minor league 2B Joey Wendle. I wrote back when the move was made about how it will benefit the Tribe in the long-run due to Nick Swisher’s diminishing returns and the smoldering dumpster fire that is RF for the Tribe. As much as I like David Murphy, he is not the long-term solution in right field. Moss will at least allow for Tito to squeeze a few more hits/runs/etc out of his everyday lineup.

Then there is the idea that Gavin Floyd is just going to magically step into the #4 starter role

Again: Really? That’s the best we could do (I wrote recently how Antonetti’s signing of Floyd was an attempt to reincarnate Scotty Kazmir from the ’13 campaign). I’d take ’09 Floyd over ’14 Floyd any day of the week (just look at the numbers). To say that he is the #4 starter is ballsy, particularly on the part of Chris Antonetti. What about T.J. House? He had a solid 2014 campaign and he isn’t even in the rotation. Sure, Salazar, Bauer and Carrasco have much higher upsides than T.J. House, but all three of them have proven inconsistent at times. House was no Kluber, but at least he provided some consistency in the back-end of the rotation.

Floyd is going to have to really prove it to me in spring training that he belongs as the #4 man in our rotation.

There is an upside to all of this though

As ESPN and FanGraphs noted in their ESPN Insider story (full text available here), the Indians’ starting rotation (on the surface) can be described in two words: young and inexperienced (save Kluber of course).

But then people began to dig a little deeper and discovered that the Indians don’t have just 1 very descent starter — they have 4. Bauer, Carrasco, and Salazar all took positive steps forward in their development as top-tier starters while Corey Kluber just went out and won the AL Cy Young. IF the Indians can get 150+ consistent, quality innings from Bauer, Carrasco, and Salazar, not only will the Indians win the AL Central, they will cruise into the ALDS with the best, if not one of the best rotations in baseball.

So: If Floyd doesn’t work out, at least we’ll have a plethora of able starters ready to jump up into his place.

Signings, arbitration, etc.

Over the course of the last week, the Indians avoided arbitration with several players including: Carlos Carrasco, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mark Rzepczynski, Brandon Moss, and a few others.

I’m really happy we got that mess out of the way in a timely fashion this year. I’m all for players fighting for their worth, but last year’s arbitration “issues” leaked in spring training and it just left a bad taste in my mouth going into opening day.

In addition to avoiding arbitration with the latter players, the Indians signed former Twins pitcher Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak’s best year was in 2013 where he went 3-2 in 48 appearances with a 2.91 ERA over 96 innings. Looking at next level stats: Swarzak had a 3.28 FIP and 1.156 WHIP. He regressed somewhat in 2014 posting an identical record over 50 games with an ERA of 4.60 over 10 less innings.

Swarzak provides a solid relief arm in the bullpen which Terry Francona so eagerly goes to in the middle innings. If Swarzak makes the big league club out of spring training, he’ll make a cool $900k with an opportunity for an additional $350k in incentives.

Finally, 1st round draft pick Justus Sheffield was arrested in Tullahoma, TN on charges of aggravated burgalary and underage drinking after allegedly braking into a residence in Tullahoma around 4:30 AM on Monday, January 12th. The Indians released a statement that stated they were “aware of the report” involving Sheffield and “will not comment further until the legal process is completed”. Sheffield was released after posting bail ($5,500). He is scheduled to appear in Coffee County Court on February 5th.

In Memory of Hank Peters

Sadly, on January 4th, Former Indians GM and President (’87-’91) died from complications with a recent stroke in Boca Raton, FL. He was 90.

I feel that it’s fair to credit Hank with the foundation of what was the most amazing decade of Indians baseball ever. Before his 2nd tenure with the Tribe, Peters served as GM of the Baltimore Orioles for 12 years where he won a world series (’83) in the midst of ten consecutive winning seasons.

Next week: A preview of the 2015 depth chart

Tune in next week for a detailed preview of the 2015 Indians depth chart in addition to guesses at the final starting rotation, record at the All-Star Break, Post-season birth %, etc.

Should be fun; Go Tribe!

 

Cleveland Indians News and Notes

Happy New Year Tribe Fans!

Unfortunately, it’s been a little quiet at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Thus, my material to write about has been a bit…lacking.

But that has changed today!

Indians hire Bere as Bullpen Coach

Earlier this morning, the Indians announced that they have hired Jason Bere as their new bullpen coach. Bere replaced Kevin Cash after he took the helm of the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this offseason. Bere pitched with the Indians in 2000 and 2003 and has been a special assistant for baseball operations evaluating and instructing pitchers in the Indian’s organization over the past nine years. The search was almost entirely completed in-house, and Manager Terry Francona had high praise for Bere, specifically concerning his ability to communicate and teach young players.

Even though Bere will be the Tribe’s bullpen coach, he will be very instrumental in guiding young pitchers Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar along with pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

Interesting side note via foxsports.com: Jason Bere started and won the final game at Cleveland Stadium on 10/3/1993

Progressive Field named “Most Family-Friendly in MLB”

In a recent set of rankings, ABC Travel Guides for Kids Magazine listed Cleveland as the #1 destination for kids in 2015. The publication noted that Progressive Field may be the most family friendly ballpark in the MLB. In addition to available kid-friendly concessions and concession policies, the Indians have continued to make an investment in creating a family-friendly atmosphere via promotions, attractions and family ticket pricing packages.

Read more about Progressive Field’s “Most Family-Friendly” rating here.

The Indians added the Kid’s Clubhouse in 2012 as a part of the renovations to the RF portion of the ballpark. Currently under construction are additions to the CF portion of the ballpark bordering the Indian’s Hall of Fame and bullpen. These renovations will cut seating in the upper-deck in right-center field so that the aforementioned Kid’s Clubhouse can be expanded. In addition, several new concession options will be made available that showcase different Cleveland food scenes such as Tremont and Ohio City. The bullpens will also be moved and stacked such that fans sitting in center field will be able to see the players warming up a way not possible before at Progressive field.

The renovations should be completed before the beginning of the 2015 season and there are plans to erect a statue of Larry Doby, the first African-American ballplayer in the American League.

The funding for the 2014-15 renovation project, in addition to expanding the fan experience at Progressive Field, is completely privately funded and does not utilize any taxpayer money meant for infrastructure improvements such as heating, concrete, and sewers.

You can read more about the renovations here or watch a short 3-minute video here.

I’m hopeful that these new renovations, while cutting capacity by approximately 1/7th, will increase the fan experience for all who attend in the coming years. These renovations are a part of a 4-5 year master plan that will see continued off-season renovations to areas such as: The Lower Bowl and Club/Suites. In addition, sound system improvements are slated for sometime in the next 3-5 years.

Coming soon: A discussion of the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

Have a good one Tribe Fans!