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Hoynes - Deep Hole

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Here's Hoynes with his usual optimism. Sadly, I agree with much of this:

 

Cleveland Indians are in a deep hole, what will it take to climb out?

By Paul Hoynes, The Plain Dealer

November 11, 2009, 6:49PM

 

CHICAGO -- Let's start with the crater in the middle of the Indians' starting rotation. After trading CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee in consecutive years, it resembles the kind of indentation that astronomers study on the far side of the moon.

 

The hard part is filling it. The Yankees certainly have a big enough shovel. They won the World Series earlier this month after signing Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Not too many other teams can do a patch job like that, especially the Indians.

 

They've been contemplating the problem since sending Lee to the Phillies on July 29. The contemplation continued Wednesday when the Indians left the General Managers meetings, but this is a problem with no answer.

 

They developed two Cy Young winners and traded them. Sabathia and Lee aren't coming back and free agent John Lackey is not on their radar screen. The only way this rotation is going to improve on last year's 45-73 record is for Jake Westbrook's right elbow to heal and Fausto Carmona to remember how he won 19 games in 2007. If that miracle takes place, there are still three spots to fill.

 

The Indians have enough bodies to do it in David Huff, Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey, Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon, but there is no safety in these numbers. Huff won 11 games as a rookie, so he has a chance. Sowers is out of options and may be running out of chances. As GM Mark Shapiro said after the season, "Sowers is in our plans until he's not in our plans." Masterson still might be better suited for the bullpen and Carrasco and Rondon need more time at Class AAA.

 

The Indians could improve the situation with the right trade. But after two years of fire sales, there aren't many attractive players left. Grady Sizemore would create interest despite recovering from elbow and groin surgery, but surely the Indians have irritated their fans enough for the time being. Closer Kerry Wood might make sense to a contender, depending on how much of his $10.5 million salary the Indians would pay.

 

There would be a rush for Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, but they aren't going anywhere. They're the Indians' favorite kind of players -- young, talented and cheap.

 

The Indians might be able to find pitching help in the second or third tier of free agency. But how much money they have to shop with is on a player-by-player basis. Shapiro has to make his case to Larry and Paul Dolan and wait for their answer.

 

In ownership's defense, Travis Hafner, Wood and Westbrook, representing three of the times they said yes, will make a combined $33 million next season on a payroll likely to drop sharply from last year's total of $81 million. Hafner and Westbrook haven't been healthy for two seasons and Wood was underused and inconsistent last season.

 

The bullpen is as tangled as the rotation. Wood would be a good anchor if he's not traded and gets consistent work. Chris Perez and Tony Sipp showed promise as set-up men, but Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis need bounce-back seasons. They hurt the pen considerably last year.

 

Regarding the position players, the Indians are looking to add an infielder and, perhaps, a first baseman. They're hoping new manager Manny Acta can get a good year out of third baseman Jhonny Peralta, who drove in 83 runs last year but rarely looked like he was enjoying himself. Peralta wasn't happy about losing his job at short and his frosty relationship with former manager Eric Wedge didn't help matters.

 

A return to health by Sizemore, Cabrera (right elbow) and first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta (left toe, left hip) will help the Tribe. LaPorta is the only one who may miss the start of the regular season. If the Indians find the right kind of first baseman, look for LaPorta to move to left field, which could make it tough for Michael Brantley to make the Opening Day roster.

 

Brantley played well in place of the injured Sizemore in September, but Shapiro went out of his way after the season to say he and LaPorta are guaranteed little when it comes to next year.

 

"Until we go through the off-season and we see what the alternatives are, and what we're choosing between, I'm not going to commit spots to those guys," said Shapiro. On a team that is trying to reinvent itself after 97 losses, commitment should be in short supply.

 

INDIANS CHATTER

News, notes and quotes from the General Managers meetings at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport hotel:

On the mend: Chris Antonetti, the Indians' assistant general manager, said center fielder Grady Sizemore is recovering well from his two September surgeries. Sizemore underwent surgery on his left elbow and left groin

"Grady is in Goodyear [Ariz.], and his rehab is going well," said Antonetti. "He's running and cutting. His recovery from elbow surgery has gone as expected. There should be no limitations in his off-season conditioning program."

Too little, too late: On the last day of their meetings, general managers listened to a report from MLB on steps being taken to protect them from signing players in the Dominican Republic who are not who they say they are.

The Indians signed a Dominican player two years ago for $570,000 only to find out they'd been deceived. The player, Wally Bryan, is still playing for the Indians. They did not get their signing bonus back.

New name: Add Gary Thurman to the list of names being consider as one of Manny Acta's coaches. Thurman is the Indians minor league outfield and baserunning coach. Thurman, a No.1 pick by the Royals in 1983, played nine years in the big leagues.

-- Paul Hoynes, Bill Lubinger

 

Beanpot

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I guess we'll see how important it is to (not) have a true ace on the staff. I think we have at least 3 good, reliable starters with Laffey, Huff, and Masterson. Can't even predict what will happen with Westbrook or Fausto, but I'd take low-4 ERA type seasons from both of them. I think we have a lot of pretty good options, but we'll see how it goes with no Cliff or CC making an impact every 5th day. Hopefully Acta can do some good things with Fausto, Rondon and Carrasco.

 

 

I don't see us adding any kind of impact starter, maybe another Quadruple-A, Sowers type. I don't think it's worth trading Choo or Cabrera, and there's no way we trade Sizemore (yet). Not much to do but hope for the best.

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Not much to do but hope for the best.

 

That seems to be the attitude the team took last year and it turned in to 97 losses.

 

Pretty much no matter what you are going to win 60 and lose 60...so 42 games determines the season. With that in mind, I look to trade anybody another team wants and just go with the young guys.

 

We are a farm club to the major market teams anyway, so we might as well play the up and commers and get something out of them before they end up on a real major league club.

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I don't think we have to worry about young guys getting playing time. Just a matter of what young guys they are.

 

C - Marson, Torregas, Santana

1B - LaPorta, Brown, Marte

2B - Valbuena, Donald

LF - LaPorta, Brown, Brantley, Crowe

 

Short, Center and Right are set, barring injuries. I'd prefer Carroll at 3rd but that's most likely gonna be Jhonny.

 

I'm not sure who that leaves to trade. Shoppach probably won't net anyone significant, Peralta is probably staying. No one's trading for Hafner.

 

And the pitchers pretty much come down to

 

Starters - (Fausto, Westbrook) Laffey, Sowers, Huff, Carrasco, Rondon

Relievers - (Wood) Perez, Sipp, Smith, Todd, other Perez, Lewis

 

Plenty of opportunity for the kids.

 

I'd take what we can get for Wood, but other than that I think we're gonna play with the pieces we have.

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Totally agree Cimo, especially about the Wood thing.

 

As for those pieces, Castro and Ingraham weigh in on a couple:

 

Omar Vizquel figures to become available on the open market late next week, and he'll be one of several veteran infielders the Indians could potentially pursue for their utility role.

 

Jamey Carroll filled that role the past two seasons, and filled it well. But Carroll made $2.5 million last season, and the cash-strapped Indians, whose Opening Day payroll in 2010 should be anywhere from $20 million to $30 million less than the $81 million mark it was in 2009, aren't expected to invest that kind of money in a part-time player.

 

Vizquel, on the other hand, joined the Rangers on a Minor League contract last year and made a base salary of just $1 million when he made the club's Opening Day roster. If that's the type of deal it takes to land the 42-year-old Vizquel this winter, then the Indians, it would seem, could certainly stomach his salary.

 

Personally, I think it'd be kind of cool to bring back Omar in that role. He's said that he'd only consider playing for a contender. However, if he's not offered that opportunity, I'd welcome him back to hopefully increase the attendance a tiny bit.

 

Here's the difference between the financial haves and the have nots. The Indians will likely non-tender starting catcher Kelly Shoppach a contract for next year, because they feel he could go to arbitration and win a salary of about $2 million. The Red Sox, meanwhile, will pay Jason Varitek $3 million to be their backup catcher behind Victor Martinez.

 

Yeah, that's one difference.

 

http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/news/arti...sp&c_id=cle

http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2009/1...s/nh1694112.txt

 

Beanpot

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Do you guys feel the polish is wearing off of Sizemore?? I tend to think it is and think we may be nearing the end of his sell high point.

 

I for one would be interested to see just what sort of value other teams might be willing to offer.

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Do you guys feel the polish is wearing off of Sizemore?? I tend to think it is and think we may be nearing the end of his sell high point.

 

I for one would be interested to see just what sort of value other teams might be willing to offer.

 

Man, I don't see it Peen. While last year wasn't optimal, I think that had a lot more to do with his shoulder and groin than it did any sort of polish wearing off. His line drive percentage was the lowest of his career (16.3% v. 20.4% for his career) as was his BABIP (.276 v. .317 career) and both of those figures can be attributed to an injury far more likely than a cliff-dive by someone his age.

 

Not that I wouldn't be interested to hear some offers myself. As Ingraham wrote 2 months ago:

 

This much we know for sure: Sizemore has signed his last contract with the Indians. There is no reason to believe when Sizemore becomes a free agent after the 2012 season he won't leave whatever team he is with and sign a monstrous contract with one of the big-market teams...

 

With Sizemore, the only question remaining is exactly when the Indians will trade him. It won't be in 2010, regardless of how good or bad the team is.

 

It more likely will be in the middle of the 2011 season, if that season unfolds the way this one did. If the Indians stay in the race for all of 2011, Sizemore will likely stay on the team for the duration.

 

Failing all that, at some point before or during the 2012 season, he will be traded for a package of prospects. Guaranteed.

 

His salary in 2012 will be $10.5 million. On the free agent market, at age 29, still in the prime of his career, he figures to command a huge contract, a contract only a big-market team could afford.

 

So the Indians are on the clock with Sizemore. And the ticking of that clock became a lot quicker with the events of this season and, by extension, next season.

 

If they can't field a winner in 2011, Sizemore will be traded by the All-Star break.

 

And the countdown to the end of the Michael Brantley era will begin.

 

Now that already has Yankee fans talking, naturally:

 

With the Indians looking primed to be a losing club for the duration of Sizemore’s contract, it might make sense for the Yankees to attempt and blow them away with a deal now...Of course, as with any move, the question is the cost. Any deal would almost certainly start with Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson, Zach McCallister, and Austin Romine, and might require some more arms to fill out the package. While I am loathe to give up prospects like those, Sizemore is an exceptional talent who would fit seamlessly into the pantheon of great Yankee center fielders.

 

Personally, I gladly hold on to the guy unless clearly blown out of the water by an offer.

 

http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2009/0...s/nh1416929.txt

http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/?p=7378

 

Beanpot

 

 

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BTW, Nick Cafardo at the Globe mentions that the Indians are trying to move Wood:

 

Kerry Wood, P, Indians - Cleveland is looking for someone to take Wood, who will earn $10.5 million this season and could have an $11 million option vest should he finish 55 games. He finished 50 last season, so the Indians avoided that disaster. Wood had 20 saves in 58 appearances and struck out 63 in 55 innings. Could he rebound on a better team, with his velocity still in the high 90s?

 

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/arti...wolf/?page=full

 

Beanpot

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And here's today's Pluto:

 

About the Tribe ...

 

1. Nearly as important as the selection of Manny Acta as manager is Tim Belcher as pitching coach. The pick was obviously influenced by the front office, where Belcher has been the special assistant to baseball operations for the past eight years. He sometimes served as a roving minor-league pitching coach and helped former Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis in spring training. He also did some advance scouting of other teams in the majors, and wrote evaluations of Tribe minor-leaguers.

 

2. Adding to Belcher's background is his 14 years pitching in the majors (146-140, 4.12 ERA) from 1987 to 2000, which should give him credibility with the players. But we've never seen Belcher coach a single staff for an entire season at any level. Belcher is handed a staff with a 5.06 ERA -- second highest in the AL. That 5.06 ERA also is the second-highest in team history.

 

3. When Eric Wedge was hired as manager in 2003, his first pitching coach was not Willis. It was Mike Brown, the team's minor-league pitching coordinator. Brown was the choice of the front office. Wedge wanted Willis, who had coached in the minors with him. Wedge and Brown clashed, and Brown was replaced by Willis in the middle of spring training. Acta and the front office are working together on the coaching staff. Class AAA Columbus hitting coach Jon Nunnally is a serious contender to take the same job with the Tribe.

 

4. It makes sense to promote some of your best from the minors (Nunnally) or someone who seems to have a varied and strong pitching background (Belcher) from your organization. But the Indians also need some coaches from outside the organization. In Washington, Acta's first bench coach was former Tribe, Rangers and Phillies manager Pat Corrales. Some health concerns led to Corrales retiring, but then Acta hired former big league manager Jim Riggleman. They need an experienced guy like that for this staff.

 

5. What AL team had the lowest ERA in 2009 at 3.87? It was Seattle, where the pitching coach was ... Rick Adair? That's right, the same Rick Adair who was the Tribe's pitching coach in 1992-93. He also was a Tigers pitching coach, and has spent a ton of time in the minors coaching for different teams. This was his first season in Seattle. After Seattle was Chicago with a 4.14 ERA. Don Cooper has been their pitching coach since 2002, and he has been with the White Sox organization for 22 years.

 

6. Pitching coach Rick Anderson has been with Minnesota since 2002. He coached in their farm system from 1989 to 2001. Former Tribe farm director and assistant general manager John Farrell left Cleveland to be Boston's pitching coach. The point is, these coaches come from different backgrounds. Willis had some good moments, including coaching Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee.

 

7. From 2004 to 2008, the Indians and Twins were either first or second in the AL in fewest walks. But last season, the Indians' staff fell apart long before the trades of Lee and Carl Pavano. Only Kansas City had more walks (600) than Tribe pitchers (598). The Twins had the fewest walks (466).

 

8. One of Belcher's major projects will be Justin Masterson, who was 1-7 with a 4.80 ERA as a starter with the Tribe. Acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez deal, Masterson must do two things as a starter: 1. Throw more strikes -- he walked 34 in 541/3 innings. 2. Handle lefties better, as they hit .323 against him. Meanwhile, righties were at .203, second lowest in the AL. The success vs. righties means Masterson has a future in the bullpen, but the Indians desperately need him to start. He also needs to hold runners better, as they were 15-of-21 in stolen bases.

 

9. I bring up Masterson because he is ignored in all discussion of putting Fausto Carmona back together, what to do with Jeremy Sowers and hoping Jake Westbrook stays healthy. But Masterson is just as critical. At the moment, the Indians have Hector Rondon written in pencil to open the season at Class AAA, but if he has a big spring training, the 21-year-old could make the rotation. Other than Carmona and Westbrook, it's hard to imagine anyone having a spot in the rotation to "lose" in spring training. Next would be Aaron Laffey (7-9, 4.44), David Huff (11-8, 5.61) and Masterson as favorites for the rotation.

 

10. The bottom line for Belcher is that he takes over a rotation that had a 5.30 ERA, a rotation where Laffey's 4.44 ERA was the lowest of the possible starters in 2009. Here are the other ERAs: Sowers (5.25), Carmona (6.32), Huff (5.61), Masterson (4.55), Carlos Carrasco (8.87). Who knows what to expect from Westbrook? Belcher takes over a rotation that will probably add a veteran starter/reclamation project in the Carl Pavano mode -- although it probably won't be Pavano, who is in line for a multiyear deal somewhere. Here, the Tribe staff needs lots of luck and work.

 

http://www.cleveland.com/pluto/blog/index....out_quin_1.html

 

Beanpot

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Do you guys feel the polish is wearing off of Sizemore?? I tend to think it is and think we may be nearing the end of his sell high point.

 

I for one would be interested to see just what sort of value other teams might be willing to offer.

Only if someone's willing to give up a young ace.

 

If he's fully healthy, there aren't many position players I'd take over him, and no one's giving up a prospect with his tools to replace him.

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And here's today's Pluto:

 

Good article, but I think the most important stat for this staff isn't ERA, but the walks. Fausto and Masterson were over 5 per 9 innings. Laffey and Sowers were right around 4. Huff was only around 3, but definitely had some control problems.

 

As long as the guys are working from ahead in the count, and being able to last more than 5 or 6 innings per start, it'll be an upgrade from last year.

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And just for the hell of it:

 

 

Beanpot

 

Odd. Interesting. Fascinating.

 

Thanks for posting this!

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Tis the season for projections. Here are two for Sizemore, from Bill James and the well respected Sean (CHONE):

 

AB: 574 H: 156 2B: 35 3B: 6 HR: 25 R: 101 RBI: 78 SB: 21 AVG: .272

 

AB: 525 H: 145 2B: 32 3B: 5 HR: 24 R: 95 RBI: 70 SB: 20 AVG: .276

 

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playe...amp;position=OF

http://www.baseballprojection.com/2010/CLE2010.htm

 

Beanpot

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Olney had this blurb about Wood today:

 

Kerry Wood is available for trade, after an odd season in which he had very little opportunity to do what he was hired to do by the Indians -- to close out games. He had 20 saves in 26 chances, striking out 63 in 55 innings, while walking 28. One talent evaluator who saw him last season thinks throwing the cut fastball has been a bad thing for Wood. "A lot of pitchers are going to the cutter, but I think in his case, I don't understand," said the evaluator. "He throws 97 mph, and he looked like he lost the feel for his curveball."

 

http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index...me=olney_buster

 

Beanpot

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Any one have information on a post hole digger for a small CUT. I have on order a JD 2305 and would like to put some arbs in the ground with it.

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Any one have information on a post hole digger for a small CUT. I have on order a JD 2305 and would like to put some arbs in the ground with it.

 

Thanks for that, lon-k. This continues a recent trend of posts like this that are copied from other forums around the net (this one came from 2/17/2007 at a site called mytractorforum.com). Any one have any idea why this stuff happens? Has to be some benefit for someone, right? I'm just missing the angle.

 

http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=38876

 

Beanpot

 

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The hole isnt too deep. Win games, and people will come back, simple as that. People dont support losing franchises, with football being the exception. That is mostly like because any NFL team only plays 8 home games a year.

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