Tag Archives: Yan Gomes

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.

Tribe Time Now Weekend Update Ep. 6: Winning Out the Season

In this week’s episode of Tribe Time Now: Weekend Update…

Host Joe Coblitz (@BRBBlog) of Burning River Baseball welcomes in Jim Berdysz (@JBirdman27) of Indians Baseball Insider discuss the most recent week in Indians baseball focusing on the Rangers series and the increased offense. In addition, they make a plea to stop being so mean to Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Ramirez and David Murphy. After the past comes the future and it looks to be a good one with Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles and Shaun Marcum all scheduled to come back this week. They discuss the ramifications of that as well in addition to who is the most likely to be cut.

 

Topics:

  • Recap & Winning Every Game for the Rest of the year
  • Zach Walters’ woes & the Return of Mike Aviles & Yan Gomes
  • Stop Being mean to Lonnie Chisenhall
  • Stop Being Mean to Jose Ramirez & Why Lindor Should be Up Now
  • Who To Cut & Why David Murphy Isn’t A Good Option
  • The Return of Shaun Marcum & What to Expect

 

Links

 

Tribe Time Now online, all the time:

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!

Tribe Time Now #11: R-E-L-A-X. RELAX.

In this week’s episode of Tribe Time Now, Hayden (Indians Baseball Insider) and Ryan (MTAF: Cleveland) explore the reactionary culture of #IndiansTwitter, the concept of defensive sabermetrics, what an error really is, and much, much more!

 

Tribe Time Now #11: R-E-L-A-X. RELAX.

Topics:

a. Today’s game

b. Lineup, Raburn, reactions

c. Lindor, Holt, Wolters, potential call ups: when, where and why

d. Schedule, off days and errors

e. Starting pitchers

f.  Bullpen issues/concerns

g. What’s going on at IBI, next week’s guest, the big dog is coming

 

 

You can subscribe to the Tribe Time Now podcast (and all other Tribe Time Now features) by following this link!

Tribe Time Now #10: Expansion by Inclusion

After extensive conversation and debate, the Indians get an A- on the off season upgrades and we conclude that, overall, the Indians expanded their fan base by increasing Progressive Field’s inclusivity.

Last night, I was joined by Stephanie Liscio (@stephanieliscio) of itspronouncedlajaway.com and we discussed a number of topics already present in this young 2015 season; the most prominent of those being the stadium renovations at Progressive field.

In addition we discussed the following:

  1. Wednesday’s game: CLE:4 CHW:2
  2. WP: Bauer | SV: Allen | LP: Danks
    • Lonnie, Sands, Bourn collect two hits a piece
    • Great bullpen outing
  3. Jerry Sands: Where does he fit on the roster?
  4. Roberto Perez: More than meets the eye
  5. Stadium renovations: Thoughts and analysis
    • The corner, mezzanine
    • Bullpens
    • Upper deck
    • CSU turbine
    • Gate C
    • Kids club house
  6. Detroit: Transitioning to collect a lot of hits over the long ball?
  7. Injury round-up: Yan, Dr. Smooth and Carlos Carrasco

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast: TribeTimeNow.com/subscribe

Tune in Next week and Go Tribe!

Indians sign Kluber and Carrasco long-term; Buck 20 year trend in the process

In the last week, the Indians front office has bucked a trend dating back to the great teams of the 1990s

On Sunday, the Cleveland Indians announced they had signed 2014 AL Cy Young recipient and staff ace, Corey Kluber, to a 5 year $38.5 million deal and two additional club option years worth $13.5 million and $14 million respectively. The deal also includes escalators based on where Kluber finishes in the AL Cy Young race between 2015-18. Over those years, it could increase Kluber’s deal to nearly $77 million.

Kluber said that he “wanted to be here” and “that was the driving force behind it for me”.

Then, on Tuesday, the Indians announced the contract extension of SP Carlos Carrasco. His deal spans 4 years and is worth approximately $22 million. It also includes club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Carrasco said “They never gave up on me. They always gave me the opportunity. That’s what they did last year. They gave me a big opportunity and I didn’t waste it. I took it and I think everything has worked out.”

There are two things here that are relevant and important to the story at hand:

  1. Both pitchers want to be here. They see the value in being a pitcher in this organization
  2. The Indians front office signed both pitchers to long term extensions; something they do not have a history of doing. Ever.

Both pitchers want to be here

I think the most interesting part of this collection of signings is the players involved see value in being a part of the team. The brand that the front office, Tito, and the coaching staff is building is one that appeals to players. That’s huge when teams are competing for free agents and money becomes a non-factor. The next question an agent may ask of the teams in contention are the culture in the locker room, living quality of the city in question, etc. Cleveland is on an uptick and the culture on the team is one that is contagious; players and people want to be around it.

The Indians front office signed both pitchers to long term extensions

The Indians are notorious for not signing starting pitchers to long term extensions. They’re so notorious that I even addressed the issue in an article during spring training last year – Well Masty, It was nice knowing you – and made the point several points that fly in direct conflict with what has happened over the past week. It’s funny because I ended the article with the line “Our players are assets. We must always remember that. Enjoy the time your favorites are here because you can always count on contracts staying short in Cleveland.”

It would appear that this year, my summation does not apply.

This following chart from Tony Lastoria’s (of Indians Baseball Insider) article last year around the same time (@TonyIBI) shows just how out of character these signings are with respect to history:

TABLE 1

PLAYER CONTRACT
Charles Nagy 4 years, $24 million
Jake Westbrook 3 years, $33 million
Chuck Finley 3 years, $27 million
C.C. Sabathia 3 years, $24.75 million
Paul Byrd 3 years, $21 million
Jack McDowell 2 years, $9.5 million
Dennis Martinez 2 years, $9 million
Dwight Gooden 2 years, $5.5  million
Orel Hershiser 2 years, $3 million

 

Clearly, Corey Kluber’s deal in particular surpasses anything (in terms of time) that has been agreed upon in the past 20+ years.

 

The core of the Indians is locked in and the time to compete is now

With players like Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Carrasco locked up for the long term, the Indians’ front office clearly believes they can compete and compete for years to come. With players like Lindor, Frazier and others in the minors continuing their respective developments, the Indians will continue to compete after some of the deals with current deals being to expire.

It’s an exciting time to be an Indians fan. Not just because of the short term potential of this year, but also the potential to compete over the long haul.

Go Tribe & remember to tune in to the Tribe Time Now podcast every week at tribetimenow.com/subscribe for the latest Tribe news and opinions from your favorite sports writers, bloggers, and opinionists.

2015 Cleveland Indians Spring Training Preview

As we enter the final 10 days before pitchers and catchers report, the 2015 Cleveland Indians lineup and depth chart all but appears set.

While the Indians didn’t make as many moves as their AL Central opponents this off season, they didn’t lose a lot of talent along the way. None of the major minor league pieces the Indians brought into the off season were traded and the additions of Brandon Moss and Gavin Floyd help to bolster problem areas from 2014.

The depth chart (according to Indians.com) looks like this:

 

Cleveland-Depth-Chart.0

 

Outfield

There have been no upgrades to any position except for right field in the past offseason via the addition of Brandon Moss. Michael Brantley will once again patrol the friendly LF corner and the oft-injured Michael Bourn will man CF.

Michael Bourn continues to be a point of contention amongst Indians fans this off season. Bourn is in the fatter end of his 4 year/$48 million deal in which he will be paid $13.5 million. Considering the drop off in production from his 2012 all-star campaign and his injury-riddled 2013 season, I’m not the only one hoping that the Indians find a way to move his contract out to pasture.

There isn’t much that needs to be said about Michael Brantley. Earning 3rd place in the 2014 MVP voting behind Victor Martinez (DET) and Mike Trout (LAA), Brantley’s production should maintain If not increase this season barring any time off from injury. Defensively, Brantley had a decent year among his fellow AL outfielders. His errors/defensive chance was a slim 1/284 (0.4%) and was tied for 2nd with 12 assists.

Right field is the area in which Terry Francona is hoping to squeeze a little more defensive efficiency in the 2015 campaign. As mentioned previously, Brandon Moss is a welcome upgrade to David Murphy in RF. In addition to his defensive speed and arm strength, he brought decent power numbers with him from Oakland. The past two seasons, Moss has posted 20+ HRs and 80+ RBIs. He was also an all-star in 2014. In terms of training camp buzz, RF is the area that I will probably be paying the most attention to.

 

Infield

The infield remains almost completely unchanged as Lonnie Chisenhall (3B), Jose Ramirez (SS), Jason Kipnis (2B), Carlos Santana (1B), and Yan Gomes (C) maintain their roles from 2014.

Sure, Yan Gomes’ numbers weren’t anywhere near his 2013 campaign, but I think fans often don’t pay attention to defensive stats for catchers. Sure we could look at errors or put-outs, but those are amateur statistics. I’m much more interested in pitch framing (the art of turning balls into strikes). Yan Gomes is the best in the bigs. The best. Check out this short article from Jason Lukehart (@jasonlukehart) at letsgotribe.com. Gomes was 1st in: fWAR (4.0), bWAR (3.9), and WARP (3.1). He posted several other links to more advanced stats that further my point and I’ll let you go down those rabbit holes at your own risk.

At 1B, the move of Carlos Santana from catcher was the best move of any AL manager in the last few seasons. Carlos Santana can still play catcher, sure, but is there a need for him to do so? Considering Roberto Perez’ decent year behind the dish on Gomes’ off days, Santana should be (and will be) in two places in 2015: 1B and DH. He will switch on and off with Nick Swisher (hopefully less than 40% of the time…). Interestingly enough, Brandon Moss will get some time at 1B too, but I suspect that will be if (and only if) Tito wants to play the pitching matchup game between RF, 1B and DH. What I love about Carlos Santana is that, regardless of if he’s in a slump, you can always count on him to walk consistently. Last year, he has 113 walks. One-hundred and thirteen. The first thing that people notice is that Santana’s BA dropped off nearly 30 points between ’13 and ’14. What they fail to mention in addition to that fact is that Santana’s OBP stayed nearly the same. This tells us something important:

  1. Carlos Santana is getting on base at a similar rate even though he isn’t hitting at the same clip from previous seasons.

With hitters like Brandon Moss now being inserted into the lineup, I am pretty certain that we’re going to see Santana get on base and score rather than being stranded as he has been in the past few seasons.

Jason Kipnis was the archetypal tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 2014. Defensively, I feel that he had a pretty decent year with a fielding % of .989 and only 6 errors in 534 defensive chances. His range is the one aspect of his game that I love more than anything else. Additionally, he has above-average arm strength ranging away from 1B which isn’t something every second basemen can hang their hats on. Saying Kip had a down year defensively would be an understatement. Actually, it’s probably the understatement of the year. Kipnis’ BA fell by 40 points, his SLG % fell by more than 100 points, and his RBIs were cut in half from his ’13 campaign total of 84. While Kipnis did struggle with the injury bug early in the season, he just couldn’t get out of the funk long enough to get something going. I don’t think he will struggle nearly as much as he did in ’14, but time will tell as we move into ’15.

Jose Ramirez is the newest addition to the starting infield for the Indians and I think we can all agree: he’s a welcome upgrade over Asdrubal Cabrera. That sounds like it’s coming from a bad place regarding Asdrubal, but it’s really not. I like Asdrubal and I thought that he had a few great years in Cleveland, but he just couldn’t keep it up. He reminded me of a puppy getting used to its power as it grows (i.e.: he never refined his defensive play like the Derek Jeters of the world). His bat was always there (albeit his SO numbers were a little higher than I’d like for SS). Ramirez is going to bring the youth and defensive refinement (*developing defensive refinement) that the left side of the infield so desperately needed in 2014. With only 56 games at SS in ’14, I think we need a full 162 of Jose before we can begin to discuss the merits of elevating Lindor to the majors or continuing his slow and steady development in the minors. As for right now, his defensive efficiency is decent with room for improvement and I think he has an opportunity to really grow into the 1,2, or 3 hole role on Tito’s lineup card.

Finally, Lonnie Chisenhall maintains his role in the hot corner in 2015. Lonnie Chisenhall got me way too excited when he was on his hot streak. And then… he just fizzled out. I’m fairly certain it was because ’14 was his first full season. Lonnie had never played in more than 100 games in his major league career before 2014. In addition to being the everyday 3B, he had more than 200 PA than in 2013. I honestly think he just got tired and a little banged up. Defensively, 3B is the position that I am concerned about more than any other in 2015. Lonnie had 18 errors in 260 chances in 2015 (.931 Fielding %). He actually saved -14 runs in 2014 and that, along with Cabby’s defensive mishaps, is the #1 reason the Indians didn’t make the playoffs in 2014. Hopefully, Jose Ramirez and Lonnie can figure it out and shore up the defense on the left side of the infield as we enter 2015.

Spring training will at least open a window into how the off season has treated some of our struggling hitters (Swisher, Bourn, and Kipnis) in addition to those who had above-average years (Brantley and Gomes). Next week, I’ll be looking in depth at the 2015 Indians rotation and bullpen.

As always, look to mtafcleveland.net for Indians-related breaking news and notes and follow me @rthompak13 for up-to-the-minute opinions on the Indians, Major League Baseball, and the intersection of sports, politics, and pop culture.

Roll Tribe!

Indians execute trade for Moss, trade AA second baseman Wendle

indiansAs_logos

Earlier today, the Cleveland Indians and the Oakland A’s completed a trade in which the Indians received OF/1B/DH Brandon Moss for Double A 2B prospect Joey Wendle.

Moss, who is 31, recently had hip surgery, but should be ready by the time the tribe opens the season in early April. He has been in the league since 2007 and has received playing time with the Phillies, Red Sox, Pirates and Athletics. His first full year of playing time came in 2009 with the Pirates where he hit .236/.304/.364, collected 20 doubles, smacked 7 homeruns and collected 41 RBIs.

Wendle, a sixth-round pick by the Indians in the first year player draft in 2012, has spent all of his time in Cleveland’s farm system since being picked. Wendle won the Lou Boudreau award in 2013 which recognizes the organization’s top minor league hitter. In 261 games in the Tribe’s farm system, Wendle hit .292 and collected 28 homeruns, 68 doubles, 155 RBIs.

The Indians will have to make room for their recent acquisition and have designated 28-year-old pitcher Bryan Price.

Inevitably, this trade was going to happen, it was just a matter of when.

The Moss trade had been making its way around the rumor mill for the last week, but we had to wait for the actual deal to be announced. It ended being exactly what we thought: 1 for 1, Wendle for Moss. There were talks that Billy Beane was trying to get one more piece in the deal (Jose Ramirez), but that quickly fell through. My assumption is Moss’ hip injury plagued the potential for a 2 for 1 deal.

Moss looks promising if his hip injury and subsequent surgery don’t linger.

Looking at the numbers, Moss is clearly the value power hitter that we could afford. He’s in his prime (with regard to hitting) and he came pretty cheap compared with some of the right-handed power hitters that were free agents (think: Nelson Cruz; 5 years/$95 million). In his most recent season, he hit .234/.334/.438 with 23 doubles, 25 homeruns and 81 RBIs. He also had 67 walks. One thing that scares me is his SO/BB ratio. In the past three seasons (2012-14) with the A’s, Moss has SO/BB ratios of .29/.36/.44 respectively. At least it’s going up. Additionally, according to ESPN.com, Brandon Moss saw the 18th most pitches per plate appearance (4.07), coming in just above MVP candidate Victor Martinez (4.06) and just below Shin-Soo Choo (4.08). For a guy who is going to inevitably be in the middle of the lineup, I would like to see that ratio between .80-1.10 as we progress through this year. More so, I’d like to see him sit back on a few more pitches, increase that P/PA ratio, and draw some more walks.

Moss’ WAR in the past three seasons (2012-14) was 2.1, 2.2 and 2.6 respectively. Compare that to David Murphy’s over that same time span (3.7 (TEX), 0.6 (TEX) and 0.2 (CLE)) and, offensively, the picture becomes a little more clear.

With regard to defense, I’m not as up-to-date as I should be on advanced defensive statistics, but don’t worry – I’ll have it down pat by spring training!

I like the trade and I think it signals the front office thinks we can win now.

The trade make sense for the tribe, a club on the precipice of breaking through and becoming an elite contender in the American League. Moss brings power to the middle of the lineup that desperately needs an injection of power after last year’s dismal performances by Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn. David Murphy should recognize this trade as the precursor to his exit as a part of the Indian’s organization. I see the Indians including him in a trade as we move into spring training if there are any teams in need of a utility player who has the potential to knock in some runs and get some extra-base hits.

Losing Wendle is rough considering how well he was progressing in the minors. With Jason Kipnis manning second base, Franciso Lindor waiting in the wings and Jose Ramirez ready to plug in where needed, it was one of the few times trading young talent for a proven hitter was worth it.

Moss has the ability to play both corner OF spots as well as 1B and some DH. He’ll be a welcome addition to the Goon Squad and will hopefully see significant playing time in Right field.

What else is in store for the Indians at the beginning of the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings?

As we head into the beginning of the 2014 Winter Meetings, expect many og the high dollar FA pitchers to find news homes. I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Indians making any moves, but If something comes up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the FO perform due diligence just to see if it could help us win now. Certainly, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, and Yan Gomes aren’t going anywhere. I’m nearly certain that our core of young pitchers (Carrasco, Bauer and Salazar) are on lock too, but I have them as less certain than the former.

Cleveland Indians Notes: Spring Training Schedule Charles Brewer

 

It’s good to be back.

I had to take some time off from writing for MTAF Cleveland, but my schedule has finally normalized and I am back for the long haul. I don’t have too much to talk about, but I thought I would hit on a few recent items that crossed my  Twitter feed over the past week.

While Indians beat writers and fans haven’t had much to talk about, our friends in Boston have a lot to write about now that the Red Sox have signed former San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval and former Los Angeles Dodgers SS/3B Hanley Ramirez. It’s clear that Boston is all in and willing to spend to get another championship with the talent on-tap.

The Indians’ spring training schedule was released just a few days ago and you can find it at this link.

Some interesting opportunities looking at the schedule:

  • The game on March 7th at home versus the Dodgers may give fans the ability to see N.L. Cy Young and N.L. MVP Clayton Kershaw live.
  • I’m somewhat shocked there is only one split squad game. Regardless, those games will be played on Friday, Match 3rd at home versus Arizona and at the Chicago Cubs.
  • With only one off day (Wednesday, March 18th), the Tribe should be able to ramp up for regular season play fairly quickly.
  • We get to see reigning American League Champions and divisional foe, the Kansas City Royals, three times during spring training. We also get to see reigning National League Champions and 2014 World Series Champions, The San Francisco Giants once (Wednesday, April 1st).

In addition to the release of the Indians’ 2015 spring training schedule, a small roster move was made with regard to the Rule 5 draft: Scott Barnes was designated for assignment to make room for RHP Charles Brewer (@CharlesBrewerAZ). Brewer was acquired for cash considerations from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brewer is a tall, lanky right hander who played his college ball at UCLA before being selected in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB. He made his MLB debut on 6/10/2013 and pitched in four games for the Diamondbacks, primarily in short relief at the end of ballgames.

Personally, I see Brewer as a project (a rough Trevor Bauer). I would call for him to begin in Columbus and see how he does. If he shows great promise getting back from his injuries in addition to the necessary velocity and control to compete against MLB hitters, bring him up. Having a solid right-hander in the pen can’t hurt, especially at the rate Tito goes through relievers.

Special kudos…

…To RHP Corey Kluber on his American League Cy Young win in addition to Silver Slugger wins by LF Michael Brantley and C Yan Gomes. The entire Indians organization worked hard this past season, but those three really dug deep and achieved greatness. We, as fans, are very lucky to have those three individuals locked up for significant amounts of time and hopefully the Indians organization can continue to surround them with the talent necessary to win a World Series championship.

Have an opinion you’d like heard or explored?

I look forward to covering the Indians for you, the fans, as senior correspondent for MTAF: Cleveland. If you have any topics you’d like to see me explore or opinions you would like heard: comment on my article or tweet me @RThompAK13!