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September 30, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Monday, September 30
No matter what kind of spin you attempt to put on it, 74-88 is nothing to get excited about. When you factor in the 11-1 start, well, you can do the math. But wasn't losing a little more palatable the last month while watching Victor Martinez and Brandon Phillips and young pitcher after young pitcher hold his own while showcasing a live arm and major league ability? Not that losing is ever acceptable, but the Indians showed there is hope for the future and that is something to build on. Whether the rebuilding plan works as designed remains to be seen, but the play the last few months is encouraging. More on this in the upcoming weeks, but, at the least, just be glad we're not rooting for the Orioles, who lost their final 12 games and finished the season in a 4-32 tailspin after reaching the .500 mark on August 23 and who have one of the worst farm systems in baseball.
Today was a day of lasts and a day of firsts at the Jake. For the lasts, Jim Thome singled in his final at-bat and watched the final three innings of the game from the bullpen in a somewhat ominous sign of his impending free agency. Travis Fryman doubled in his final at-bat and extended his errorless streak to 36 games which is the longest in the American League at thirdbase this season. Fryman was also the only player on the field at the end of the game who started the season with the Indians. Jaret Wright made his probable final appearance in an Indians uniform and picked up the win with a scoreless inning of work and Charles Nagy spent the first inning in the first base coaches box after throwing a scoreless frame yesterday on "Charles Nagy" day and striking out the final two batters he faced. At this time, please let me note that I struck out the final four batters I faced in my pitching career and recognize that there probably is not much difference these days between the Bay Village Rockets and the Kansas City Royals. As for the firsts, Victor Martinez and Earl Snyder belted their first (of, hopefully, many) major league homeruns.
Jim Thome set the Indians single-season homerun record with his 51st longball on Friday and then he went out and added #52 on Saturday. With a single yesterday, Thome finished the season reaching base in 55 consecutive games, tops in the American League this season.
From the bits and pieces I could hear of the radio broadcast, Tom Hamilton and company were blaming Dave Burba for the Royals running wild on Victor Martinez on Saturday, but from my eyes, Martinez floated the first throw to second base, threw a decent velocity (but high) throw to third on the second throw, and threw a three-hopper into second on the third throw. Now it may be true that Burba did not help matters much by keeping the runners close but that has nothing to do with the poor throws. It's only one game but his arm looked very suspect on Saturday.
The other thing I noticed is that Brandon Phillips plays a very deep second base. There were times when he was four-to-five steps on the outfield grass. I tried to pickup whether there was a particular method to his madness but I couldn't find a discernible pattern, although I readily admit I was frequently distracted by two rugrats and a dessert cart. On the ball that he bobbled for an error, he was playing back on the outfield grass and it looked like the ball skipped a little when it hit the edge of the grass. Of course, he then compounded matters by hurrying a wild throw to first but I do that all the time in softball so I can't fault him for that :-). Other than that, he just looked like a ballplayer if you know what I mean.
Jeremy Guthrie has yet to officially sign with the Indians although details have leaked out that he will receive a 4-year, $4 million contract, of which $3 million will be a signing bonus. Mark Shapiro has been quoted as saying that mere "formalities" need to be worked out and that he will disappointed if Guthrie is not in the major leagues by 2004. When you read this, please realize that this does not mean Opening Day 2004 (although I suppose it is possible) and it's more than likely that any appearance Guthrie makes in the next two years will be a late season audition much like Ricardo Rodriguez had this August or as a September callup. When he officially signs, Guthrie is expected to report to Instructional League in Florida and then later throw in the Arizona Fall League. Depending on what paper you read, Guthrie is expected to start next season in either Kinston or Akron. For my money, I would bet on the former.
With their final record of 74-88, the Indians will have the 11th pick in the 2003 draft next June.
Milton Bradley's MRI was negative and an offseason of rest has been prescribed.
Greg LaRocca will have offseason ear surgery according to the Canton Repository. Apparently, LaRocca punctured his eardrum with a Q-tip during his first season in the minor leagues and this will be his third surgery on his ear.
The PD noted that the chances are good that Dave Burba will be back next season. They quoted Burba as saying "The feeling I got is that I can come back if I want.". With the interest in Burba on the free-agent market expected to be minimal, he would seem a logical candidate to fill Shapiro's desired veteran role as the 5th starter/long reliever. I forgot where I read it, but it was speculated somewhere that, based on his work with CC Sabathia in the second half, Terry Mulholland would be an interesting return candidate, especially with left-handers Cliff Lee, Brian Tallet, and Billy Traber expected to see a lot of time in the big leagues next season. That's an interesting thought and for the mentoring factor alone, I would personally give the nod to Mulholland over Burba.
Brandon Phillips checks in as the #5 prospect in the International League with Josh Bard being ranked #20 by Baseball America. Phillips is compared to a young Barry Larkin thanks to his five tools and is noted as having 20-25 homerun potential. Bard is noted as having 15-homer, 75-RBI potential and catch-and-throw skills that few prospects can match. His work in handling a young Bisons staff was also praised.
In the Eastern League, the Tribe was well-represented as Phillips was ranked as the #2 prospect with Victor Martinez #3, Cliff Lee #5, Billy Traber #12, Brian Tallet #13, and Covelli Crisp #19. Martinez was credited for his hitting skills and work in catching and calling a game, but his arm was questioned (25%) despite the fact he has been tabbed the best defensive catcher in his league the past two seasons. Lee was noted for the movement on his pitches which makes him difficult to hit but it was also noted that that movement can make him struggle to throw strikes. His ultra-competitiveness was questioned as a maturity issue. Traber was noted as having a plus high-80s sinker and curve but was characterized as "savvy" which typically means the fastball is mediocre at best. Not that that is a bad thing as long as you possess good command (like Traber) and can effectively change speeds (like Traber). Tallet was noted as having a killer slider versus left-handers (which is one reason the Tribe is thinking bullpen with him) and a developing change. Brad Komminsk also noted his competitiveness and that he never throws a straight pitch. Here's a direct quote from an AL scout regarding Coco....""He's a throwback to the Cardinals' old Gashouse Gangs of the '30s," one AL scout said. "He's aggressive, athletic and fast. He's the prototypical leadoff hitter who's also an excellent defender. How the Cardinals gave up on him is a mystery to me.".
For those desperate for game action, the Arizona Fall League begins play on Tuesday.
And finally, can we now do away with the faux love affair between Browns fans and Stiller fans? Yes, it's nice how we united against a common enemy back in 1995 but can we please, please, please go back to hating them now? Carmen Policy should be dropped into the confluence wearing nothing but cement shoes for suggesting that he wants to see Browns fans and Stiller fans tail-gating together before games. I hate Mean Joe Greene, I hate Terry Bradshaw, I hate Bill Cowher, I hate the Immaculate Reception, I hate those damn Art Rooney United Way commercials, I hate that god-awful river water they drink, I hate the Terrible Towel (except when I'm using it to wipe my ass), I hate Kordell Stewart, I hate Jerome Bettis, I hate that every sports team in Pittsburgh is black and gold, I hate Primanti's, I hate "Avoid Lloyd", I hate their four goddamn Super Bowl rings, and most of all, I hate all yins that root for the frigging Stillers. Whew. I feel much better now.
September 27, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Friday, September 27
Baseball America is reporting that the Indians have signed Jeremy Guthrie to a $4 million major league contract that includes a $3 million signing bonus. Only the #2 pick, BJ Upton by Tampa Bay, has signed for a higher amount ($4.6 million). BA notes that Guthrie will report to Instructional League and could pitch in the Arizona Fall League if he can get into pitching shape quickly enough. More to come tomorrow but, obviously, it's nice to see the Indians get this done.
2003 Draft Race Update
TEAM L W PCT
With the Indians win, Orioles loss, and Blue Jays win, the Indians can draft no better than 9th and no worse than 11th next season.
That's all for today. Short but sweet :-)
September 26, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Thursday, September 26
Jim Thome went deep twice last night for longballs #49 and #50 on the season, tying Albert Belle for the single-season team record and becoming the 21st player in baseball history to reach the 50 homer plateau. Thome now has more extrabase hits (71- 19 2B, 2 3B, 50HR) than singles, continues to lead the American League in OPS at 1.118, and also stole his first base of the season last night. If this is his final season in a Tribe uniform, he's certainly going out with a bang.
On Tuesday, I mentioned a note from a Morning Journal article which indicated that Thome might be receptive to an offer from the Twins in the offseason. While the TwinsGeek doesn't see Thome as a good fit for the Twins because they already lean heavily to the left, I tend to believe that teams are not that discriminating when it comes to adding a 40+ homerun guy to the roster and that Thome would make a fine replacement for Doug Mientkiewicz and/or David Ortiz in their lineup. Both of us agree, however, that the finances involved to sign a player like Thome make it highly unlikely that the Twins will be a possible suitor in the offseason.
On that note, Dennis Manoloff breaks down the potential Thome suitors in the Plain Dealer this morning. General consensus over the last few weeks have the Indians, Phillies, and Orioles the most likely bidders and I'm sure there will be teams moving on/off the list throughout October. My personal darkhorse candidate is the Oakland Athletics where Billy Beane can be very creative in making pieces fit on their roster and they should have some additional cash available thanks to the new revenue sharing system. Quick note: before you bombard me with messages on why the A's will not sign Thome recognize that I understand that all of your points are valid. That's why they're a longshot :-).
In a related Thome matter, the Cardinals have reportedly agreed to terms with third-basemen Scott Rolen on an 8-year/$90 million contract. Rolen would have been one of the bigger names on the free-agent market this offseason and this signing, along with the Royals preseason Mike Sweeney signing, should give the Indians hope that the market will not present Thome a Jason Giambi type offer this winter. While Thome is having a far better year than Rolen offensively, keep in mind that Rolen is five years younger and is a gold-glove player at a position that has a lack of MVP caliber talent at the major league level. This signing certainly does not move the market upwards and that should work in the Indians favor.
While we're sitting in front of the hot stove, let me also mention that the Newberg Report noted the other day that a Rangers beat writer reported that "he believed one or two of Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, and Jason Hart will be traded this winter, suggesting that they will serve as ammunition to help address needs in center field, behind the plate, or on the mound.". Under the Knife followed that with a note stating "Would the Rangers toss in Hank Blalock to entice a team to eat some contracts for them? One GM says it's a possibility. With Mark Teixeira closer than expected, it's not only possible, it could help the Rangers". As a Tribe fan, be encouraged by the former as Blalock and Teixeira are mega-prospects and would be a tremendous addition to the Indians young lineup. Hafner is a nice prospect as well, but not on the level of the other two, while Hart is similar to prospects already within the Indians system. If John Hart is looking for young pitching and catching, the Indians would definitely have the depth to at least enter the discussion. But having said that, be very discouraged by the latter as the Indians would obviously not be interested in taking on any salary at this point in the rebuilding process.
2003 Draft Race Update
TEAM L W PCT
The Indians are now two full games ahead of the Rangers, who won last night. The Orioles lost their eighth in a row and remain three games in front of the Indians with only four games to play. It's looking like the Tribe will be picking 9th next June.
Despite early troubles (5 hits in the first three innings), it's encouraging that Brian Tallet was able to regroup and retire the last 10 batters he faced last night, ending up with another quality start (2 ER in 6 IP). He is scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League and it will be interesting to see if the Indians work him out of the bullpen as originally planned or if they let him continue as a starter.
Jason Davis and Cliff Lee have been shutdown and will not pitch the rest of the season. Both would have been scheduled to start this weekend against the Royals. Dave Burba is now scheduled to start on Saturday and the one inning he worked last night probably won't altar those plans. Who will take the mound on Sunday is still to be decided although Joel Skinner has indicated that anyone who is ready to pitch in the bullpen may see action since it's the final game of the season. I would suspect either Terry Mulholland or Dave Maurer might get the start since both have started games this season and would be the most likely candidates to toss 3-4 innings before turning it over to their bullpen comrades.
Jeremy Guthrie did not attend class yesterday at Stanford so the Indians and Scott Boras can continue negotiating for another day. The Plain Dealer notes that Scott Boras has installed a 3:00 PM deadline today so we'll see what happens.
The Indians placed four players on Baseball America's list of the Carolina League Top 20 Prospects: Corey Smith (#7), Grady Sizemore (#10), Fernando Cabrera (#11), and Ryan Church (#15). Smith earned praise for his work ethic, raw power, and strong throwing arm but it was noted that he still has a lot of work to do. Sizemore was noted for his athleticism and plate discipline and Ted Kubiak speculated that Sizemore could be a 20-homer guy in the big leagues. Cabrera was noted as working with a heavy 97 mph fastball and improved changeup but his mechanics and secondary pitches still need some polish. Church was noted for his ability to hit for power and average and although he showed solid plate discipline in Kinston (31BB/181AB), he expanded his strike zone too much when he was promoted to Akron (12BB/291AB). Church's low rating seems out of whack with the numbers he produced in Kinston but he was also slightly old for that league and I'm sure BA took that into account. As a frame of reference, please note that Russell Branyan was the top-ranked prospect in the Carolina League five years ago and Willie Martinez was the #9 prospect.
John Mirabelli was a guest on the Baseball America Hour this past Tuesday on MLB
Radio. You can listen to the interview by clicking on that link and surfing through the one-hour program for his segment or you can link directly to Mirabelli from www.indians.com, although I'm not sure how long that link will be active on the main page. Some notes from the interview (my comments are in parenthesis).....
-- The Indians have no plans to move Victor Martinez to another position and the current plan is to start him at Buffalo next season to allow him to get better as a catcher and thrower. He will, however, have an opportunity to earn a big league roster spot in the spring. He has substantial tools to hit and advanced plate discipline and strike zone recognition. (Indeed).
-- The five 19 year olds (Dan Denham, JD Martin, Travis Foley, Jake Dittler, and Mariano Gomez) really surprised everyone in the organization by how they held up throughout the season. The Redstixx team as a whole was a surprise as that team was not setup to win, but rather, setup for development. Denham and Dittler are pitching in the Instructional League. All five will report to a minicamp prior to spring training that will determine who moves up to Carolina and who repeats at Eastlake. (I would think that Foley and Martin are locks for Kinston with Gomez having a pretty good shot. Denham and Dittler may start at Eastlake with a promotion to Kinston later in the season).
-- A fixed timetable has not been set for the three lefties (Billy Traber, Brian Tallet, and Cliff Lee) but the Indians would probably be disappointed if all three did not spend sometime in Cleveland next year. Lee and Tallet have a better chance at breaking camp with the big club simply because Billy Traber does not have to be placed on the 40-man roster until the 2003 offseason. All three will be in the mix, though, for a rotation and/or bullpen spot.
-- The Indians envision Brandon Phillips as a middle of the diamond player (this corresponds with Jhonny Peralta being moved to third in the Arizona Fall League). It's important to remember that he will enter spring training as a 21-year old and there is no hurry to get him to the big leagues. In a perfect world, he will get a couple hundred at-bats at triple-A next year and there is nothing wrong with that (I agree) but he'll have an opportunity to earn the starting second basemen job in the spring (I can't see the Indians keeping him as a reserve).
And finally, good riddance to Lamond Murray. While he could score when he was in the mood, he never played defense and could be found most nights loafing around the three-point line and sulking when he did not have the rock. I think you have to have a work ethic to question one, but he would not have been a positive influence on the young kids the Cavs have brought in and he will not be missed. Short-term, it hurts, but long-term it's for the best. I love how the media has reported this as Murray for Stewart but the key to the deal, aside from dumping Lamond, is the future first-round pick which has a lot more value than anything Murray would contribute over the next 3-4 years. Paxson has done a good job cleaning out the deadweight and now the pressure is on for him to deliver the goods with the young kids. There's no more excuses. Keep an eye out for rookie Smush Parker. Aside from the cool name, the kid can play. He's very raw and very young, but I hope the Cavs can find a way to keep him on the roster. I would rather they take a chance on a kid like this than bring in the 2003 version of John Crotty.
September 25, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Wednesday, September 25
Just a quick update today.
Draft Race 2003 Update. The Indians loss and Rangers win gives the Tribe a 1-game lead over the Rangers for the 9th pick in the draft. The Orioles 11-1 loss to Toronto keeps the O's three games ahead of the Indians for #7 while pushing the Jays three games back of the Tribe. It's looking more likely the Indians will be picking 9th or 11th next June with only five games remaining on the schedule.
TEAM L W PCT
Jim Ingraham continues his review of the Indians with part two of the three-part series. Today's piece takes a look at the top 10 errors made by the Indians this season. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to avoid reliving Brady Anderson and Wil Cordero because the list is not very palatable.
Next to Herb Score, is there a man who has witnessed more bad baseball in his lifetime than John Adams? Brecksville, huh? I'm going to have to keep my eye open at Giant Eagle.
Baseball America reports that Jeremy Guthrie is not on campus and is still expected to sign with the Indians, although "when" is still very much up in the air. The Plain Dealer notes this morning that the Indians made a final offer to Guthrie that is believed to be in excess of $2 million while Boras is rumored to be seeking a bonus upwards of $4 million. No word on whether that offer included a major league contract, although that has been speculated throughout the summer and seems likely considering developments yesterday with another Boras client (more on that in a bit). The Indians may be attempting to "slot" Guthrie, which means slotting his bonus in between the picks immediately preceeding and following his, with the addition of a little extra cash in recognition of the fact that he would have been a top-10 selection if not for signability concerns. Unfortunately, the pick preceeding Guthrie is another unsigned Boras client, Rutgers righthander Bobby Brownlie, and the pick following Guthrie was Braves outfielder Jeff Francouer who was signed outside of the slot to lure him away from a committment to Clemson. As we've discussed previously, I still think Guthrie will sign as returning to school is simply not in his best long-term interest. We'll see who blinks first, Boras or the Tribe. Here's a listing of the surrounding signing bonuses for Guthrie.
17. Phillies. Cole Hamels, lhp, 2,000,000
18. White Sox. Royce Ring, lhp, 1,600,000
19. Dodgers. James Loney, 1b, 1,500,000
20. Twins. Denard Span, of, 1,700,000
21. Cubs. Bobby Brownlie, rhp, unsigned
22. Indians. Jeremy Guthrie, rhp, unsigned
23. Braves. Jeff Francoeur, of, 2,200,000
24. Athletics. Joseph Blanton, rhp, 1,400,000
25. Giants. Matt Cain, rhp, 1,375,000
26. Athletics. John McCurdy, ss, 1,375,000
27. Diamondbacks. Sergio Santos, ss, 1,400,000
One thing to consider when looking at the above list is that while the Indians will receive a sandwich pick next year between the 1st and 2nd rounds if they are unable to sign Guthrie, would they have been better off drafting a player like Sergio Santos, who they were rumored to have under consideration and who posted Matt Whitney like numbers (.272/.367/.520, 9HR, 19-2B) this year after signing for slot money, instead of gambling on being able to sign Guthrie to a contract. Something to remember as the negotiations drag on.
In related draft news, fellow Scott Boras client Jeff Baker has reportedly agreed to a major league contract with the Rockies according to Baseball America. While nothing is official, a Rockies source has reported that Baker's contract includes $2 million guaranteed, with a $50,000 bonus this year and $150,000 in 2003, with the remaining $1.8 million spread out in salary over four years. Roster and service-time bonuses are built into the contract as well. Baker slid to the 4th round due to signability concerns as well as a decent, but not great, 2002 season that he entered as a possible number one pick in the entire draft. It's important to note the above because I think we can use this as a framework for how Guthrie's contract would most likely be structured, albeit with a few more dollars thrown in. Baker, if you recall, was originally a 4th round pick of the Indians in 1999 but passed on the Tribe's $680,000 offer and chose to attend Clemson instead. Hindsight is always 20-20, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that Baker could have entered 2003 as the Indians starting third-basemen if he had agreed to terms four years ago. Instead, he'll spend next season riding the busses in single or double-A with the Rockies.
September 24, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Tuesday, September 24
Jeremy Guthrie remains unsigned although the local papers are noting that while Stanford started classes yesterday, Guthrie's first class is actually not scheduled until tomorrow so the Indians still have 24 hours (or so) to continue negotiations and that deadline can be extended as long as Guthrie does not attend class. Interestingly enough, another Scott Boras client, Cubs draftee Bobby Brownlie, has decided to take this semester off and will not reenroll at Rutgers until January, thereby extending his signing deadline through the end of the year. Why Boras has not taken this path with Guthrie has not been disclosed although we might still see this strategy played if the Indians call Guthrie's bluff on returning to school and he does not sign in the next few days. While it has been reported that the Indians were preparing an offer of a major league contract worth $4 million, the papers note this morning that the sides are $2-3 million apart so either the Indians have gone in at a significantly lower amount or Boras is asking for the moon. I would lean toward the latter and believe Shapiro when he says "If this doesn't get done, it's not because of a lack of funds, the GM said. It will be because we differ on the value of the pick.''.
Shapiro also indicated again that he does not want a 2003 rotation of CC Sabathia and four rookies and that the Indians will be in the market this offseason for a veteran who is versatile enough to move between the rotation and bullpen. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think any pitcher struggling to make the big leagues or hanging on at the end of his career would make himself versatile enough to fill that role, don't you think? Anyway, that makes Dave Burba and Terry Mulholland candidates for a return next season and you can expect the Indians to be active in the bottom barrel of the free-agent market and bring a lot of retreads, failed phenoms, and "live arms" to camp in the hopes of striking lightning in a bottle. We'll take a look at this market more in-depth in the offseason. Myself, I would just prefer to see the Indians use a healthy Jason Phillips, Jake Westbrook, or Ryan Drese in such a role instead of bringing in someone elses discarded leftovers.
I erred yesterday in my breakdown of the 2003 draft race. I knew that the top pick was alternated every year between the worst team in the AL and NL but what I failed to realize is that this process of alternating selections between the AL and NL continues on down throughout the draft order. Since the Pirates (NL) had the first pick in the 2002 draft, the worst team in the AL will have the first pick in the 2003 draft which means that all American League teams will have an odd-numbered selection as their "regular" draft slot. So, focusing on the American League only, here is the 2003 draft race through yesterday...
TEAM L W PCT
Did you see this Barry Bonds stat from Jim Caple on espn.com? "If you took away all of Barry's hits, he still would have a higher on-base percentage (.337) than American League MVP-candidate Alfonso Soriano (.335)." Wow.
Jayson Stark notes on espn.com that the Indians use of 59 players this season is not only a team record but also ties the all-time record of 59 players, which was set earlier this season by the San Diego Padres. C'mon, Shapiro, can't you squeeze Chris Coste in there somewhere as the record-breaking 60th player?
Check out this quote in a Sheldon Ocker article in today's Beacon Journal...
Shapiro again: ``We have Travis Fryman, Milton Bradley and Russell Branyan. If two of the three break through, the offense will be fine. If all three break through, we'll be golden. If only one of them does, there could be problems, and if none of them break through, we're in trouble.''
Jim Ingraham has part one of a three-part series reviewing the Indians today in the Morning Journal. The one thing that stood out in my mind in today's piece was the note about Jim Thome dropping hints he would be receptive to an offer from the Twins in the offseason. Huh?
Francisco Cruceta (#8) and Travis Foley (#19) make Baseball America's listing of the Top 20 South Atlantic League prospects (subscribers only). Cruceta earned his ranking based on his work with the Dodgers organization as he was promoted to high-A Kinston after being acquired in the Paul Shuey trade. Cruceta was compared to fellow trade-mate Ricardo Rodriguez by BA and it was noted that he has good command of his fastball, a tight curve, and a solid change, although there are concerns regarding his maturity. Travis Foley was the only member of the Redstixx "Fab Five" (Foley, JD Martin, Dan Denham, Mariano Gomez, and Jake Dittler) to make the list, although the entire group did receive a mention as a solid group of prospects, although they did have Gomez erroneously noted as a right-hander. Foley was praised for his determination and mental toughness and it was noted that he has good movement on his fastball, a plus curve, and an improving changeup. For what it's worth, Jake Westbrook was ranked as the #8 prospect five years ago while he was in the Rockies organization.
One thing to remember while reviewing these top 20 lists is that not all top 20s are created equal. For example, the South Atlantic League has 16 teams while the Carolina League has only 8 teams so making the Sally League list will be a lot more difficult simply because there are twice the number of players in that league. Just something to keep in mind if you're wondering why a JD Martin did not make the Sally League cut while a lesser prospect may make the cut in the Carolina League postings tomorrow.
And finally, Sean DePaula cleared waivers and has been outrighted to triple-A Buffalo according to the minor league transactions listed on mlb.com.
September 23, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Monday, September 23
I can't believe there is only one week remaining in the regular season. The Tribe has today off and then play their last road series against the Twins this week before returning home for the season finale this weekend against the Royals. All six starting pitchers are expected to make one more start this season, although I still suspect Charlie Nagy may receive a "ceremonial" start on Saturday. Just my sneaking suspicion and, believe me, I have no insider information to back me up on that.
With the season coming to an end, the only "race" that the Indians are in is the race for a better draft pick. While no one wants to see the Tribe play to lose, the "standings" are close enough that they bare watching. Currently, the Indians would pick either 9th or 10th but they could move up as high as 7th or drop to as low as 12th depending on what happens over the next six games. Here's the current standings...
TEAM L W PCT
Classes start at Stanford today and if Jeremy Guthrie walks into a classroom, the Indians will lose the right to negotiate with him and he will reenter the draft next season. Interestingly enough, the Indians would need permission from him to reselect him next year. As we've discussed previously, the Indians have the upper hand in these negotiations as Guthrie is already 23 years old and returning to school for his senior year serves only to take away a year of big league service time away from him down the road. While Scott Boras is known for holding out for every possible last dollar, I cannot believe that he would let Guthrie walk away from $4 million (Indians reported offer) knowing that his leverage will be drastically reduced next season since Guthrie will be a senior, the new compensation rules favor the owners, and the 2003 draft class is expected to be much stronger and deeper than the 2002 class. As long as Guthrie does not attend class, the Indians and Boras can continue to negotiate so don't be surprised if we hear absolutely nothing today. As a frame of reference on Guthrie's age, consider that next years Indians rotation (opening day age) could include CC Sabathia (22), Ricardo Rodriguez (23), Jason Davis (22), Cliff Lee (24), Brian Tallet (25), and/or Billy Traber (23). There's absolutely no reason for him to return to school.
In a very interesting development, the Plain Dealer noted on Sunday that Jhonny Peralta is headed to the Arizona Fall League to play third base. With Earl Snyder and a cast of journeymen the only options currently on the Indians roster, the door is open for Peralta to claim the mantle as future third basemen. This move corresponds with the talk lately that Brandon Phillips will focus on second base exclusively for next season and it appears the Indians have now established a short-term path to the major leagues for their prized shortstop prospects. Which one will eventually replace Omar at shortstop remains to be seen, but I would lean towards Phillips myself.
Peralta will replace Corey Smith in Arizona as he's been removed from the Phoenix Desert Dogs roster on mlb.com. Smith, if you recall, was injured during the playoffs and you would have to suspect this is the reason for the roster change. Marshall McDougall, another aspiring Tribe third-basemen, will also be in Arizona and it will be interesting to see if the Indians try to morph into a supersub type of role or play him mostly at third. Eric Crozier has been added to the roster as a "taxi squad" member and Dan Neil has replaced Jason Stanford on the pitching staff. The roster actually lists nine Indians (Lance Caraccioli-Pitt?, Neil, Sadler, Tallet, Brian Luderer, Crozier, Peralta, McDougall, and Phillips) with Crozier being on the taxi squad (whatever that is) and Luderer previously named as a "Sunday only" player. I believe each team is allowed six full-time players on a roster and the above would leave the Tribe at seven, so we'll see what happens once they take the field. I suspect that Sadler would be the most likely to be removed from the roster given the amount of innings he's pitched this year and his past injury history. I think he's proven himself enough at the major league level that the Indians know what they have headed into Florida next spring.
The accolades continue to roll in for the Tribe minor leaguers as Victor Martinez was named the Baseball Weekly Minor League Player of the Year in recognition of a season in which Martinez was named MVP of the Eastern League and led the league in batting (.336), slugging (.576), and on-base percentage (.417) and belted 40 doubles, 22 home runs and 85 RBIs in 121 games. Martinez joins some heady company as past winners of the award include...
2001: Adam Dunn, OF, Reds
2000: Alex Cabrera, 1B, Diamondbacks
1999: Adam Piatt, 3B, Athletics
1998: Gabe Kapler, OF, Rangers
1997: Paul Konerko, 3B, Dodgers
1996: Andruw Jones, OF, Braves
1995: Todd Greene, C, Angels
1994: Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
1993: Cliff Floyd, OF, Expos
1992: Carlos Delgado, C, Blue Jays
Martinez and Brandon Phillips were also named to the Minor League All-Star Team by Baseball Weekly.
Martinez, Phillips, and Ricardo Rodriquez made the Sporting News 1st Team All-Prospect Team. Cliff Lee was named to the second team. Eric Wedge was named the TSN Manager of the Year.
Ben Francisco (#17) and Brian Slocum (#18) made Baseball America's list of the top 20 prospects (subscribers only) in the New York Penn League. Francisco was noted as a well-rounded centerfield prospect who has a little pop and controls the strike zone effectively while Slocum was noted as throwing in the low 90s with a potentially plus slider and a clean delivery that should help him avoid future injuries.
September 21, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Saturday, September 21
Cliff Lee vs Runelvys Hernandez tonight in a matchup of two pitchers who have really burst onto the prospect scene this season. Hernandez is said to have great stuff so it should be an interesting matchup. Is it me or is this deja vu all over again?
Jim Thome belted homerun #47 last night to close to within three of Albert Belle's team record of 50 with eight games remaining. Thome also extended his consecutive games reaching base streak to 48.
From the ATM Reports, Ellis Burks tied Ron Santo for 66th place on the all-time homerun list with 342 when he belted his 29th of the season last night.
Burks and Thome's longballs were back-to-back jacks off of Royals rookie Wes Obermuller who was making his major league debut. The Indians welcomed him to the big leagues in a hurry as they jumped all over him in the 1st inning with a Milton Bradley leadoff single and the two homeruns. Burks went yard on the first pitch he saw and Thome went deep on the second pitch. Veterans taking advantage of a rooks butterflies, gotta like it.
On the other hand, Jason Davis continues to impress in his September audition as he held the Royals to one run on three hits in five innings of work, walking two and striking out four. The lone KC run came in the 5th inning thanks to a leadoff walk and a double by Dee Brown. Davis settled down, though, and retired veterans Neifi Perez, Michael Tucker, and Carlos Beltran to get out of the inning relatively unscathed. Davis picked up his first major league victory and has now posted a 1.55 ERA in his last 52-1/3 innings (49H, 16BB, 49K) combined at double-A and the major leagues. While he may be the longest shot of the young starters to make next years rotation, considering he has made only 12 starts higher than the single-A level, his performance this month has certainly improved his chances.
The Canton Repository notes that the Royals announced that the start time for next Saturday's game at Jacobs Field has been pushed back to 1:25 to make room for a retirement ceremony for Charles Nagy. While the Indians and Nagy have not acknowledged the retirement portion of that statement, there will be a tribute to Charlie next Saturday and it would not surprise me if he actually did announce his retirement that day. It would also be very cool of the Indians to let him start that game, and even better, if he can work a scoreless first inning and leave on a high note. I'm not sure how cool it would be if he was pounded for five in 2-1/3 innings.
Earl Snyder returned home to attend his grandfather's funeral and is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday. Our condolences to the Snyder family.
The local papers are reporting that Mark Shapiro will meet with the team's young players on September 30 and then meet with Joel Skinner and the coaching staff on October 1 to review the roster in preparation for the offseason.
I spoke in error yesterday when I speculated that Jason Fitzgerald would be a six-year minor league free agent in the offseason. While it is accurate that he just completed his sixth year in the Indians system, the rules state that a player does not become eligible for minor league free agency until they complete their sixth year of renewable contracts, which basically means after their 7th year in the minor leagues since their first year is the initial contract and not a "renewable" contract. Confusing, yes, but it just goes to show that you should always google first if you're unsure of something. Thanks to Michael from the Braves Report for pointing this out to me and thanks to Astros Daily for having a handy reference list available on the web.
And remember, the CIR has Sundays off for the remainder of the season.
Have a good weekend everyone!
September 20, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Friday, September 20
Jason Davis vs Runelvys Hernandez tonight in a matchup of two pitchers who have really burst onto the prospect scene this season. Hernandez is said to have great stuff so it should be an interesting matchup.
The Indians made one minor move yesterday as they traded OF Jason Fitzgerald to the Atlanta Braves as the player to be named later in the Eddie Perez spring training deal. Fitzgerald hit .255/.324/.398 with 23 doubles, 11 homeruns, and 57 RBIs in 106 games for the Aeros this season and also had a short stint with the Bisons in which he went 5-for-13 (.385) in four games. Drafted as a supplemental first round pick (#41) back in 1997, Fitzgerald has shown decent power and speed at times but has been plagued by injuries throughout his tenure with the Indians. Having just turned 27 (four days ago) with only 13 at-bats at the triple-A level, I think it's safe to say that getting Fitzgerald at-bats was no longer a priority for the Indians and he was deemed expendable. Since he has spent six seasons (97-02) in the Indians minor-league system, I believe that he will be eligible for minor league free agency this offseason and, if that is the case, it's highly probable that he would have signed elsewhere in his quest for playing time so this is no big loss from the Indians standpoint. As for the Braves, either Fitzgerald has indicated he will resign with them in the offseason or there was a clause in the deal indicating the type of player to be dealt based on Perez' performance this season. If so, this would explain why they would essentially be getting nothing in return if Fitzgerald can/does sign elsewhere as a free-agent. Regardless, this is probably 100 more words than should ever be spent on so trivial a transaction so we'll stop right here.
Incidentally, the Indians are all over the first 50 picks from the 1997 draft as they themselves drafted Tim Drew at #28 and Fitzgerald at #41, had Troy Cameron (#29) for a couple of years before shipping him to Colorado this summer, and acquired Shane Arthurs (#48) from Montreal late this year and who pitched pretty well out of the bullpen for the Redstixx. Aside from JD Drew, Troy Glaus, Vernon Wells, Lance Berkman, and (potentially) Michael Cuddyer, there isn't much else to get excited about in that list, is there? The supplemental picks are particularly brutal.
With the above deal, the Indians now owe only one PTNBL and that is to the Red Sox for a couple innings worth of Tim Young in the Bisons postseason. The Tribe should still be owed seven PTBNLs for the following players: Donzell McDonald (KC), Edgar Cruz (Phil), Jeff D'Amico (Phil), Jeff D'Amico (Cin), Jon Hamilton (Cubs), Billy Munoz (SL), and Troy Cameron (Col). Hopefully, we'll start seeing some of these players named in the next couple of weeks.
Some interesting articles to check out on a Friday afternoon...
-- Indians rookies talk about their major league debuts in the Beacon Journal.
-- The Three Lefty Amigos are the subject of this article in the Canton Repository.
-- Billy Traber flies solo in this article on mlb.com
Jim Thome has been named the Indians recipient of the Roberto Clemente award which is given to a player on each MLB team in recognition of their work with the community.
Bartolo Colon won his 10th game for the Expos last night, giving him 20 for the season, and making him the first player since Hank Borowy in 1945 to win 10 games in each league in one season. Colon is now 10-3 with a 3.13 ERA for the Expos in 112 innings (110H, 35BB, 70K, 9HR). This marks the first time in his career that Colon has reached the 20-win mark (previous high, 18 wins, 1999) and he will also post the lowest ERA of his career (2.84 current, previous 3.71, 1998). Borowy, incidentally, put together a decent career although you have to note that 67 of his 108 major league were earned in the war years of 1942-45.
While you were reading the Colon story I linked to above (you did link, right?), did you happen to notice who picked up the save last night for the Expos? If you missed it, it's the same player who picked up the save the night before. Still befuddled? Does the name Tim Drew ring a bell? Further proof that anyone can close out a game.
Matt Whitney was named the #3 prospect and Chris De La Cruz was ranked #18 in Baseball America's Appalachian League Top 20 Prospects review (subscribers only). The brief capsules noted that Whitney attracted rave reviews for his glovework (interesting), displayed power to all fields, and showed the ability to make in-season adjustments. De La Cruz impressed with his ability to make contact and play small-ball while concerns were raised on his lack of power and inconsistency in the field. For comparison purposes, BA lists the top 10 prospects from five years ago and some names you might recognize include Tim Drew (#3), Jared Sandberg (#4), Aaron Myette (#9), and Jerry Hairston (#10).
And finally, Lake County has their new website up and running at www.captainsbaseball.com.
Have you been watching Push, Nevada? Two big thumbs up from the CIR household.
September 19, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Thursday, September 19
Another one bites the dust....
Matt Lawton went under the knife on Tuesday and the Plain Dealer is now speculating that he could miss all of next season after doctors found that he had completely torn his rotator cuff after originally opening him up to remove a cyst from his clavicle. Lawton had six screws implanted to reattach the labrum and Dr. Tim Kremchek says that his rehabilitation period will be six-to-nine months with a pretty extensive workout program. Six months would put him in line for a potential spring training return although you would have to figure he would start the season on a rehab assignment to get back into baseball shape. If it's the full nine months, that places his return in mid-June so it could be after the all-star break before he is ready for the big leagues. Judging from the comments made by his doctor and the Indians, I suspect he's going to be out for the full nine months.
Kremchek noted that "I'm amazed that he could sleep on it or lift his shoulder" which begs the question, what the heck have the Indians team doctors been doing for the past six months since Lawton originally injured his shoulder in April while attempting a diving catch on the Metrodome turf? He was originally diagnosed with a separated shoulder and the Canton Repository adds that he's had at least two MRIs and cortisone shots in attempts to reduce the inflammation in the shoulder. Lawton himself has been quoted as saying that he never could get a straight answer out of the Indians team doctors and I don't think this is the last we are going to be hearing about this potential mistreatment by the Indians. It certainly doesn't good for them, does it?
Lawton is now the third Indian regular, along with Bob Wickman and Ricky Gutierrez, who stand to miss a considerable chunk of the 2003 season. On the bright side, this should provide more playing time for the youngsters and free up additional money to resign Jim Thome since insurance should cover a good portion of Lawton's contract if he sits most (or all) of the year. On the down side, all of the three would probably have been shopped in the offseason, and these injuries render them untradeable and stick the Indians with their contracts in 2004. Not to mention, the obvious fact that the Tribe won't have their services available on the field.
Speaking of Gutierrez, the local papers are reporting that he will undergo surgery on October 7 to correct disc problems in his neck. No other details were reported and, if I remember correctly, the extent of the injury (and risk to his career) won't be determined until he has actually is under the knife.
Einar Diaz has been shut down for the season after a visit to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. Dr. Andrews prescribed rest for Einar, who has been out with a strained right elbow after a collision with David Justice at home plate in August. This closes the chapter on a thoroughly disappointing season for Einar as he hit .206/.258/.284/.542 with two homeruns and 16 RBIs. Man, those are tasty Hacking Mass numbers.
In a related move to the above, the Indians named Paddy Jarit as the Director of Medical Services and his role will be to oversee the training staff, strength and rehab personnel, and the minor league trainers and conditioning coaches. Jarit will travel with the team and has prior experience in professional sports with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Indiana Pacers.
The ABJ is reporting that Alex Escobar has reported to the Instructional League in Florida and has been cleared for all baseball activities. Johnny Goryl is supervising the program, which consists of 45 players, primarily 2002 draftees, playing four games and three instructional sessions per week. No formal scores or stats are kept in this league.
Jim Thome singled and walked last night to extend his consecutive games on-base streak to 47 which is the longest in the American League this season. Ryan Klesko holds the NL high this season with 56 consecutive games reaching base. Additionally, Thome's homerun (#46) on Tuesday puts him four behind Albert Belle with nine games left in the season.
Karim Garcia did not start the last two games after fouling a pitch off his foot on Monday, although I think that was also a convenient way of the Indians letting him chill after a 0-for-17 stretch at the plate. He returned to the lineup after Milton Bradley was tossed in the 7th inning last night and belted his 14th homerun (opposite field, no less) in the 9th inning.
Goodbye Columbus Redstixx, Hello Lake County Captains. That's the new nickname for the Indians Sally League affiliate that will begin play in a 6500 seat stadium in Eastlake next April. Sounds ok to me, although I'm generally not a fan of the "County" or "State" nicknames. On a side note, you would have thought they would have www.lakecountycaptains.com registered by now, wouldn't you?
Eric Wedge was named the Minor League Manager of the Year by the Sporting News after leading the Bisons to an 87-57 record and a spot in the International League finals. Wedge posted his second consecutive 90-win season (including playoffs) while using 60 players (34 pitchers) and meeting the Indians demands of developing prospects and the Buffalo fans demands of winning ballgames. This is the second consecutive postseason award for Wedge as he was also named the International League manager of the year last season.
Just a reminder that classes start at Stanford on Monday which leaves the Indians and Jeremy Guthrie five days to reach an agreement on a contract. Of course, that deadline could be extended if Guthrie "sleeps in" and skips a few days of classes.
September 17, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Tuesday, September 17
I love weekday afternoon games. It really helps to make the afternoon move quickly and I get an opportunity to listen to Tom Hamilton. I know, I know, I can listen at night, but it's just so easy to watch the game on TV and mindlessly flip channels in between pitches. You know what I'm talking 'bout, dog.
Anyway, a couple of items of note from yesterday's first game...
-- Joel Skinner told Omar that he was going to sit out one of the games yesterday so Omar requested to start Game 1 against Pedro Martinez. Very cool.
-- Karim Garcia is under the Indians control, meaning he will not be a free-agent in the offseason, but he will be eligible for arbitration.
-- A Charles Nagy appreciation day is scheduled for Saturday, September 28 against Kansas City.
-- Tom Hamilton speculated that should the Marlins look to move 3B Mike Lowell in the offseason as a cost-cutting measure, he would look pretty good in an Indians uniform. I agree.
-- Coco Crisp doubled off Pedro Martinez to leadoff the game. How pumped do you think he was after that? Too bad the Indians could not bring him around to score, however.
I thought this month was all about checking out the kids? Last night's game two starting lineup included five players (Burks, Thome, Stevens, Fryman, and Eddie Perez) over 30 years old.
Speaking of the kids...
Not a bad start to their major league careers, huh? It will be interesting to see how any success they have this month factors into the Indians rotation plans next year. Keep in mind that Davis has only 10 starts above the single-A level (not counting Saturday), Tallet is ticketed for bullpen work in the Arizona Fall League next month, and Lee has only eight starts above the double-A level. All three could start with the big league club or all three could start in Buffalo. Spring training can't get here soon enough!
Congratulations to Brandon Phillips on his first major league hit last night in game two, a single to left off Frank Castillo. Sometime around 2019 when Phillips is zeroing on his 3000th hit, the long forgotten Mr.Castillo will be the answer to a trivia question :-)
The Beacon Journal notes today that Milton Bradley is well enough to play in the field and run the bases but is still experiencing pain when he swings a bat. He's still day-to-day but available for pinch-running and late-inning defensive substitutions, like last night in the 8th inning.
The ABJ also notes that there are rumors floating around Boston that the Red Sox are open to dealing Nomar Garciaparra, who can be a free-agent after the 2004 season. The Sox without Nomah? Say it ain't so.
Over the weekend, it was announced that the Indians will resume their interleague series against the Reds and Pirates. Cincinnati will visit Jacobs Field and the Tribe will journey up the turnpike to PNC park. I smell another Pittsburgh Browns Backers mega-party in the making!!
I wouldn't be surprised if Joel Skinner decides to give Karim Garcia a rest tonight. Since his homerun in the second inning on Friday against Minnesota, Garcia is hitless in his last 17 at-bats with eight strikeouts. Screwing himself into the ground against the flutterball of Tim Wakefield would probably not aid him in breaking out of his slump.
Eric Wedge (Bisons manager) and Carl Willis (Bisons pitching coach) have joined the Indians for the rest of the month. They'll help Joel Skinner and Mike Brown get acquainted with the September callups since all except Davis and Victor Martinez have spent time in Buffalo this year.
Let the Hot Stove season begin. Larry Bowa was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying that Jim Thome is at the top of his offseason wish list. Please note that Bowa is just the manager and I don't think there's a manager in the game who would not have Jim Thome atop his wish list.
Peter Gammons notes in his Apolitical Blues column on espn.com that "Cleveland's 13 left fielders have combined for a .210 average with 15 homers and 56 RBI. As for their catchers before the arrival of Josh Bard and Victor Martinez, Einar Diaz has 15 RBI, five less than the franchise worst record set by Felix Fermin in 1989, and after hitting a three-run double on April 5, Eddie Perez has not knocked in a run". Ouch.
In a fantasy based listing of the top 10 catching prospects in the American League by Top Prospect Alert, Victor Martinez checks in atop the list at #1 and Josh Bard is ranked #5.
And finally, the Columbus Ledger has a nice recap of the Redstixx season. Meanwhile, Eastlake is expected to announce the new team nickname in a press conference today. Casey Coleman speculated "Gulls" this morning on WTAM while I have also heard the nickname "Captains" mentioned.
I can't believe "Nomah" and "flutterball" were not in my spell-check dictionary.
September 16, 2002
MINNESOTA TWINS REPORT
Monday, September 16
Congratulations to the Minnesota Twins on winning the 2002 Central Division championship!!
It's a been a long drought for Twins fans since the glory days of Kent Hrbek, The G-Man, Tom Brunansky, and Kirby Puckett back in 1987 and 1991 and this championship is well deserved as the Twins have simply dominated the division this season. Unfortunately, for Indians fans, they also look to be the class of the division for the next couple of years as well, but that's a topic best saved for the offseason. As for today, thanks to a bet with the TwinsGeek, the CIR belongs to the Minnesota Twins and their fans. Best of luck in the playoffs and just wait 'til next year (as Timmy Lupus might say). For us suffering Clevelanders, I leave you with a reminder on why it is so great to cheer for the Minnesota Twins (with apologies to David Letterman)....
Top 10 Reasons to be a Twins Fan
10) You really only have to care every 10 years or so
9) Never a line to buy tickets
8) Kirby Puckett made fat guys seem loveable
7) You can't find a better place to stretch out with a good book than the Metrodome
6) The playoffs rarely interfere with the start of ice fishing season
5) No Dennis Green
4) Homerdome paraphenalia an easy sell to Simpsons fanatics. D'oh!
3) Nightly promotion....Everyone gets a foul ball!
2) Hey, it beats going to the Mall of America with the wife.
1) 2002 Central Division Champions!
Congrats again to the Twins and their fans! Beat dem Yankees!!
September 14, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Saturday, September 14
Two down, two to go. The White Sox also won last night so the Twins magic number remains at three.
Jim Thome blasted homerun #45 and is now five behind Albert Belle's single season record of 50.
Terry Mulholland may have secured himself a job somewhere in the big leagues next season thanks to yesterday's fine start (7IP, 6H, 2R, 2W, 5K) last night. I have to imagine there were a lot of heads shaking in the Twins clubhouse last night.
Johnny Mac is sick in the field.
Jaret Wright made his first relief appearance last night but the results were the same as when he was starting: one inning, three runs, two no-doubt homeruns, and two hard hit outs to second base. His velocity is down from his pre-surgery days but it's still a healthy 92-94 mph and his breaking pitches showed a little bite, although he was mostly working with the fastball. It looked to me like he was inconsistent with his mechanics and release point from pitch-to-pitch and that was accounting for his inability to throw strikes. Of course, when he did get the ball over the plate, it was right down the middle and straight as an arrow, which I think is probably his biggest problem, that being his fastball has little to no movement.
Jason Davis makes his first major league start today and it's a tough assignment, facing a Twins team that has lost two straight.
Brandon Phillips made his major league debut last night, replacing John McDonald at second base in the 7th inning. He struck out in his only at-bat and handled a couple of balls in the field, including the line drive off the bat of Christian Guzman to end the game. So what did he think of Jacobs Field? “This is beautiful,” said the Indians second baseman, one of seven players promoted Friday from Class AAA Buffalo. “It’s just like I saw it on the video game.” Cool.
When Phillips made his debut, he became the Indians 55th player this season, tying the team record set in 2000. Alex Herrera became the record-breaking 56th player when he worked a scoreless 8th inning. Dave Maurer, Cliff Lee, and Brian Tallet should increase that count to 59 by the end of the season. In addition to the six callups from Buffalo I mentioned yesterday, Tallet was also promoted to the bug club.
Speaking of Herrera, those three strikes he threw to David Ortiz were just plain nasty.
Joel Skinner announced that Brian Tallet and Cliff Lee will start Monday's doubleheader in Boston. Don't expect them to pitch more than five innings apiece as the Indians will have them on a controlled pitch count.
Matt Lawton was placed on either the 15-day or 60-day disabled list, depending on which paper you read. Either way, he's out for the season and is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery next week in Cincinnati.
Sean DePaula was designated for assignment by the Indians which removes him from the 40-man roster and gives the Indians 10 days to trade, waive, or outright him to the minor leagues. DePaula struggled in 6-1/3 innings with the Indians, posting a 12.79 ERA and giving up 11 hits and 3 walks. At Buffalo, DePaula started slowing but pitched well in the second half, ending the season with a 2-3 record, 9 saves, and a 3.95 ERA (57IP, 55H, 18W, 53K). The Indians are loaded with younger bullpen candidates so I think this move pretty much signal the end of DePaula's tenure with the Indians. I would be very surprised if he resigns with the Indians in the offseason.
The Canton Repository confirmed what we've speculated for the last couple of weeks, that Billy Traber was not promoted to the Indians along with Brian Tallet and Cliff Lee because Traber does not have to be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason. Resisting the temptation to give Traber a couple of starts the next three weeks will result in the Indians being able to protect another prospect from the Rule 5 draft in December.
Nice touch by the Indians in honoring the late Jimmy Warfield before yesterday's game by designating the Indians Training Room at Jacobs Field as the Jimmy Warfield Training Room.
Eastlake has scheduled a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Plain Dealer, at which they are expected to announce the new team name.
The CIR will not publish tomorrow but will be back in your mailbox on Monday morning. Have a good weekend everybody!
September 13, 2002
Add Brian Tallet to the list of callups from Buffalo....ESPN Transactions.
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Friday, September 13
Buffalo was swept three straight in the International League finals and Columbus lost a heartbreaking game five to Durham in the Sally League Championship. More in the recaps below.
Great game last night at the Jake that was played with a definite playoff atmosphere. Not that the Indians haven't been playing hard recently, but there was an edge to the Tribe that I haven't seen since April. Sure, Christian Guzman helped us out with an error in the four-run 7th inning, but you still need to take advantage of those opportunities and the Indians did just that.
Danys Baez made it interesting in the 9th, but the three strikes he threw to Corey Koskie to end the game were simply filthy.
You can't say enough about the play that Johnny Mac made to get the force out at home on the potential game-tying run in the 9th inning. On top of the split-second decision that recognized that doubling up the speedy Christian Guzman was not going to be possible, that throw on the move to home plate is not an easy play to make for a second baseman. And you can take that from the guy who turned the doubleplay faster than any other North Olmsted second-sacker in school history (right, Bushy?).
Props must also go out to whomever made the call in the Fox Sports control booth to use the behind the plate overhead camera view when Luis Rivas was trying to sacrifice in the 9th inning. Watching the Indians movement on the field was an interesting perspective. Did it seem to you that Baez missed a pickoff attempt at second base where Fryman charges, luring the runner closer to third, and Omar then sneaks in behind the runner at second? It looked to me like they might have had a shot at it.
I erred yesterday in my analysis of the Twins magic number and none of you called me out on it. Shame on you! While the Twins number is indeed set at three, it's the combination of Twins wins and WHITE SOX losses that makes up the magic number, not Indian losses. I must have had a brain fart when I typed that in yesterday morning. So while the Indians can help to stave off a Twins celebration at the Jake by winning out the series, it is still possible for the Twins to clinch in Cleveland if the White Sox lose all three games this weekend. Of course, if the Twins do clinch via a White Sox loss, I doubt they will be piling on at the pitchers mound and that's all the Indians really care about anyways, right?
The Buffalo News reports that Ryan Drese, Cliff Lee, Dave Maurer, Brandon Phillips, Ben Broussard, and Earl Snyder have been recalled from Buffalo. Along with Alex Herrera, if Lee, Maurer, and Phillips all play in a game, the Indians will have set a new team record by using 58 players this season. The current record is 55 players set in 2000. Additionally, Lee, Maurer, and Phillips are not on the 40-man roster so you can expect the Indians to move a few players from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list to clear out some room. By my count, I still show Eddie Taubensee, Jake Westbrook, Jason Phillips, Chad Paronto, and Alex Escobar as 15-day DLers that are out for the season so there are no shortage of candidates to be moved.
Dave Maurer is the name from the above group of callups that we have probably discussed the least this season but recognize that Maurer quietly put together a very fine season for the Bisons in triple-A. The 27-year old lefty went 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA and five saves for Buffalo and struck out 73 hitters in 68-1/3 innings, walking 24 and allowing just 50 hits. He worked in 36 games and made three emergency starts. Maurer has bounced around a little bit and is on the verge of earning the dreaded journeymen tag, if he doesn't have it already, but he pitched well for the Bisons and it will be interesting how he fares the next couple of weeks. Live armed lefties are always worth a look.
One player who definitely deserved to be in the above group of callups, but wasn't, was Bison Team MVP Chris Coste, the former indy league player that "all he does is hit" at whichever level he is placed. Unfortunately, Coste was hit by a pitch in his left-hand back in a game against Syracuse on September 1 (remember the game where he pitched four innings for the win? That's the one.) and after initially diagnosing it as a bruise, doctors finally found a break in the hand last week after the semifinals against Scranton. Coste was limited to designated hitter duties in the finals against Durham and, I suspect, this is the reason why he was not among the callups as his performance (and story) certainly merited a promotion. Perhaps the Indians will still call him up and let him hang out with the big club and maybe get an at-bat towards the end of the season. What's the harm in that?
Joel Skinner hints in the ABJ that the Indians may be in the market this offseason for a veteran starter who can throw 200 innings to avoid having to rush/overuse the young guns. Terry Mulholland and Dave Burba have indicated they are interested in returning to Cleveland to fill that role. One name comes to my mind when I hear this type of thinking and it's not pleasant. Pat Rapp.
The Beacon Journal notes this morning that Ricky Gutierrez will undergo one more series of tests this weekend and then find out what type of surgery he will have on Tuesday.
Rob Neyer takes a look back at the Jeff Kent-Matt Williams trade over on espn.com. It's a perfect example of why trades cannot be properly evaluated until 2-3 years down the road.
Baseball Weekly ranked the Indians #1 in their final organizational power rankings. The list is based on the quality of top prospects, depth of players in the minors (both through the levels and across the board at different positions), homegrown rookies contributing in the majors and, later in the season, production on the field in the minors. Last month the Indians were ranked #3 and last year the Tribe was ranked middle of the back at #16.
Jose Rijo has been named the starter for the Reds final game at Cinergy/Riverfront Stadium (they'll be playing in the Great American Ball Park next year). Can the announcement that Charles Nagy will be starting the season finale at the Jake on September 29 be far behind?
BUFFALO (lost series 3-0): Geraldo Garcia and three relievers combined on a one-hit shutout to pitch Durham to a 2-0 victory over the Bisons and a 3-0 series sweep for the International League championship. Garcia was perfect through four innings and carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning before allowing the Bisons only hit of the game, a leadoff single to Chad Allen. He struck out eight and walked three in 6-2/3 masterful innings. Ryan Drese also pitched well as he struck out eight in 6-1/3 innings but he walked four and allowed six hits and two runs, which was all the Bulls needed the way that Garcia and company were dealing on the mound. Dave Maurer worked a scoreless final 1-2/3 innings. Allen had the only hit for the Bisons and Ben Broussard walked twice and Todd Dunwoody walked once.
COLUMBUS (lost series 3-2): After rallying from two games down on the road, the Redstixx lost a heartbreaking 5th game last night 3-2 in Hickory to give the Crawdads the South Atlantic League Championship. Mariano Gomez started for the 'Stixx and tossed six superb shutout innings, permitting only five hits and a walk while striking out two. The kid can deal. Once Gomez was removed from the game, however, that's when Hickory struck as they scored three runs in the 7th innings with all three charged to Carlos De La Cruz, although Shea Douglas gave up a 2-run single and Lee Gronkiewicz hit a batter to allow the eventual gamewinner to score. Trailing 3-1, the 'Stixx rallied for a run in the 8th and then had the tying run at 3rd base in the 9th inning but Matt Knox (3-for-3 at that point) popped out to first to end the game. Knox scored twice, walked, doubled, and singled twice. Miguel Quintana drove in a run and had three hits. Dennis Malave doubled and was hit by a pitch. JJ Sherrill singled, drove in a run, walked, and stole a base. Ivan Ochoa singled, walked, and was thrown out at second on a botched hit-and-run play in the top of the 9th inning. Rodney Choy Foo singled, Angel Bastardo had a basehit, and Chad Peshke and Jason Cooper each walked.
September 12, 2002
HERRERA IN THE HOUSE
It's official ---> Tribe Press Release. I know this isn't earth-shattering but I needed something to test out my BlogThis! link.
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Thursday, September 12
The Minnesota Twins are in town for a four game series this weekend and with their magic number down to three, all they need are two wins to celebrate the Central Division crown at Jacobs Field. Mark Shapiro can talk all he wants about how the focus shifted from the Twins to rebuilding when Bartolo Colon was traded but no player, manager, coach, or fan wants to see an opposing team pile on in celebration on their home turf, especially when it's a crown that has adorned the Indians heads for many years. This series, while seemingly meaningless for the Tribe, will show a lot about Joel Skinner and how he can motivate and lead a team. If you're interested in following this series from the Twins perspective, make sure to check out TwinsGeek which is one of the best team specific blogs on the 'net.
Alex Herrera is expected to join the Indians tonight and his arrival will give Joel Skinner another left-handed option in the bullpen, aside from Carl Sadler. After being widely hyped throughout the offseason and spring training as one of the Tribe's top prospects, Herrera suffered through a rough season that included a bout with the chicken pox, his mother suffering a heart attack, and various other aliments that caused him to miss significant chunks of playing time. Through it all, he did manage to post decent numbers with the Aeros, including a nice K/IP ratio of 65 K in 61-1/3 innings and a 3.38 ERA but he also walked 30 batters which is a caution sign. The fact that he aged three years (from 22 to 25) in the process does not work in his favor as a prospect either, although this is less of a concern in the bullpen than at other positions. I haven't seen anything that would indicate a loss of velocity or "stuff" so, hopefully, his struggles this season can be attributed to his health and personal issues and he will ready to go next spring.
Coco Crisp was recalled from Buffalo with Milton Bradley ailing (see below) and banged out two hits last night, including his first major league homerun. In another first, Victor Martinez recorded his first major league hit and although it wasn't pretty (bloop to left), it plated two runs and should be the first of many hits and runs batted in for Martinez in an Indians uniform.
As speculated a few days ago, Jason Davis has replaced Jaret Wright in the rotation and will make his first major league start on Saturday against the Twins. Wright will now work in long relief and could leave the Tribe in the offseason with the dubious honor of having the worse ERA in Indians history when compared to the league average (min 500 IP) according to the ATM Reports. Here's the list (populated by some very funny names from the past)....
PLAYER DIFF PLAYER LEAGUE
Also from the ATM Reports, Ellis Burks homerun on Tuesday night moved him past Jack Clark into 67th place on the all-time homerun list with 341.
In the Direct from Pluto (Terry) newsletter, Mark Shapiro is quoted as saying that Karim Garcia would hit 35-40 homers by accident. Umm, Mark, if that was the case, why did you keep Wil Cordero and Brady Anderson over Garcia this spring?
'Tis the season for injury and rehab news and the local papers were full of it this morning. Here's a recap...
Milton Bradley's MRI yesterday was negative and he is still day-to-day with a strained oblique muscle (somewhere in the abdomen). Joel Skinner speculated (via the team doctors) that this could be a case of Bradley aggravating scar tissue from his appendectomy this spring. Regardless, you can expect the Indians to be extremely cautious with Bradley at this point in the season as there is no reason for him to be out on the field unless he is completely healthy.
Matt Lawton will undergo surgery next week in Cincinnati to have a cyst removed from the clavicle in his right shoulder. The surgery will be performed by one of the Reds team doctors and Lawton is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
Jason Phillips' surgery yesterday (bone chips, ulnar nerve) was a success and he is expected to begin a throwing program in six-to-eight weeks that should have him ready for the start of spring training.
Chad Paronto (elbow tendinitis) ended his throwing program yesterday after it became evident he was not going to pitch again this season. He'll rest the elbow and prepare for spring training.
If the season were to end today, the Indians losses to the Jays the last three days have moved them into the 8th slot in next years draft, although they have a very tenuous hold on that position as they "lead" the Orioles by only a 1/2 game and the Blue Jays by only 1 game. Last week, I talked about the changes being made to the compensation draft picks given to teams that do not sign their first round picks and speculated that if the Pirates (Bullington), Devil Rays (Upton), and Orioles (Loewen) do not sign their top selections this year, the Indians could actually be drafting three spots lower than slotted. Ask BA notes, however, in its latest column that it is doubtful that major league baseball would implement this policy retroactive to this years draft and although they do not state whether the current compensation (sandwich picks) would be continued for one more season, I have to assume that would be the case. BJ Upton, incidentally, signed a $4.6 million contract with the Devil Rays yesterday which leaves only Bryan Bullington (Pirates), Adam Loewen (Orioles), Bobby Brownlie (Cubs), John Mayberry (Mariners) and the Indians Jeremy Guthrie as the only unsigned first round picks. Upton's contract is the largest awarded to a member of this years draft class.
As an FYI, Sunday's game against the Twins will be televised on Fox Sports Net. It was not part of the original broadcast schedule but due to rainouts this season, Fox was able to add the broadcast. Why a game that, back in January, would have seemed to have major divisional implications was not part of the original schedule is beyond me.
Luis Garcia (Akron) and Dave Wallace (Mahoning Valley) were added to the Bisons roster. Kenton Myers and Kevin Martin were reassigned to the Valley. Jesus Colmenter was activated from the Columbus disabled list and Todd Pennington was placed on the Redstixx DL. Pat Osborn was also promoted to Kinston after the Corey Smith injury.
In a series of procedural roster moves, Dan Guillory, Jason Rakers, Brian Jenkins, and Luis Gonzalez were reinstated from the Akron disabled list. Ryan Prahm, Nick Moran, Chris Reinike, Dan Neil, and Jim Warden were reinstated from the Kinston disabled list, and Jim Rickon was reinstated from the Valley disabled list.
BUFFALO (trail two games to none): The Bisons dug a major hole for themselves as they lost both games yesterday and now trail Durham two games to none with the series heading to North Carolina for the final three games. In the completion of Tuesday's suspended game, Lance Caraccioli gave up a two out, two run homerun off the right field foul pole in the top of the 12th innings that gave Durham the 6-4 victory. Sean DePaula was charged with a hard luck loss as he allowed the winning run on base before the rains came on Tuesday. Billy Traber started for the Bisons and allowed three runs on six hits and three walks in six innings, striking out six, and serving up one homerun. Dave Maurer allowed a run in three innings of relief, striking out four, and Sean DePaula worked two scoreless innings before being charged with a run in the 12th. Chad Allen had four hits for the Bisons, including two doubles, and he also walked. Earl Snyder belted a 2-run dinger and walked twice. Brandon Phillips blasted a solo shot, Zach Sorenson singled twice and walked, and Todd Dunwoody singled twice, drove in a run, and stole a base. Chris Coste singled and Ben Broussard walked twice.
In the nightcap, Brian Tallet was pounded for seven runs in 2-2/3 innings as Durham rolled to a 8-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. Tallet gave up seven hits, including two longballs, walked two and struck out two in an uncharacteristically poor outing. Matt White struck out three in 3-1/3 scoreless innings. Travis Miller worked a scoreless frame. Tim Young allowed a run in one inning and Ryan Larson worked a perfect final inning. Offensively, the Bisons managed only five baserunners against Durham starter Luis De Los Santos who carried a perfect game through four innings and retired 22 of the first 23 hitters he faced. Ben Broussard doubled twice and drove in Brandon Phillips with the Bisons only run. Phillips singled, as did Earl Snyder and Todd Dunwoody to account for all the Bisons hits. Delvin James, who was shot three times while sitting at counter in a Waffle House in September, recorded the save for the Bulls in his first appearance since the shooting. The series moves to Durham for Game Three tonight.
COLUMBUS (series tied 2-2): It's now 9 innings and winner takes all tonight for the South Atlantic League championship after the Redstixx whomped Hickory 11-1 last night to force a decisive fifth game this evening. Travis Foley turned in another strong performance, striking out eight in 5-1/3 innings and allowing only one run on seven hits and a walk, as he held the Crawdads scoreless through the first five innings while the Redstixx offense jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead and put the game out of reach. Shane Arthurs, I keep telling you to remember the name, mopped up with 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The offense banged out 16 hits, including five doubles, and was led by Angel Bastardo, who homered, doubled, singled, and drove in three runs. Miguel Quintana also had three hits, including a double, and knocked in a run. Matt Knox doubled and singled to drive in a run. Chad Peshke doubled, singled, and drove in two. Jason Cooper singled twice to plate a run. Dennis Malave doubled, Ivan Ochoa, singled, stole a base, and knocked in a run, JJ Sherrill singled, was hit by a pitch, and plated a run with a sac fly, and Rodney Choy Foo singled with a sac fly RBI. Game 5 is tonight in Hickory and the Redstixx will send red-hot Mariano Gomez to the mound. Go 'Stixx!!
September 11, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Wednesday, September 11
Game one of the International League championship series was postponed due to rain in the top of the 12th inning last night with the Bisons and Red Barons tied at 4. Technically, the game should be replayed in its entirety according to the rule book but both managers and the League President agreed to resume the game today in the top of the 12th inning with one out and a runner on first base. Nice to see common sense prevail and a commissioner able to make the right decision in a rush situation (Hi Bud!). Earl Snyder blasted a two-run homerun, Brandon Phillips added a solo shot, and Chad Allen was 4-for-5 for the Bisons. Lance Caraccioli is scheduled to "start" the completion of game one according to the Buffalo News but I wonder if the wiser decision would be to simply have the scheduled game two starter Brian Tallet finish off game one and work as long as he can in game two thereby saving Caraccioli for extended use in game two or his scheduled game five start.
Lynchburg won the Mills Cup with a 6-5 victory over the K-Tribe, taking the championship series three games to one. Tyler Minges got the Indians off to a quick start, blasting a three-run homer in the first, but the Hillcats rallied back with single runs in the first, third, and fourth innings to tie the score at three. The K-Tribe jumped back on top with a run in the 6th and 7th to take a 5-3 lead only to watch the 'Burg rally for a run in the bottom half of the 7th and the winning runs in the 8th. Aside from Minges blast, the other Indians runs were driven in by Joe Inglett and Hector Luna, each of whom singled and walked in the game. Rickie Morton added two hits, including a double. Grady Sizemore singled, walked, and scored two runs, Heath Wilson singled twice, and Luke Scott added a a basehit. Derek Thompson allowed three runs in 3-2/3 innings on five hits and an uncharacteristic six walks. Scott Sturkie permitted a run in 3-1/2 innings, Nate Fernley was touched for two runs (one earned) in 1/3 of an inning, and Aquiles Pinales recorded the final two outs after allowing the gamewinning basehit.
Columbus staved off eliminated for one more day as they staged their own late inning rally, scoring four in the top of the 9th inning, to defeat Hickory 10-7. The Redstixx now trail the series two games to one, but they'll throw staff ace Travis Foley and red-hot Mariano Gomez at the Crawdads the next two days so they are still very much alive. Dennis Malave had three hits, scored three times, and drove in a run from the leadoff spot. Ivan Ochoa singled, walked three times, and scored twice. Chad Peshke scored twice, knocked in a run, walked, and singled. Jason Cooper drove in two runs and singled and walked. Rodney Choy Foo plated a pair and singled and stole a base. Matt Knox singled, walked, and knocked in two runs and Jesus Colmenter delivered a clutch pinch-hit single that started the 9th inning rally. Dan Denham started for the 'Stixx and gave up five runs in three innings on five hits and three walks. Oscar Alvarez allowed a run in 2-2/3 innings. Ignacio Montano, Carlos De La Cruz, and Lee Gronkiewicz combined for three scoreless innings with Gronkiewicz striking out two in a perfect 9th inning. Montano is credited with the win in the boxscore but if you look at the innings pitched, De La Cruz was actually the pitcher of record when the offense ralled in the top of 9th, so I think he should actually be credited with the win. Either way, Travis Foley starts for the Redstixx tonight in Game 4 in Hickory.
September 10, 2002
CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT
Tuesday, September 10
Last night may have been the last time we see Jaret Wright in an Indians uniform and, unfortunately, he is not leaving on a high note as he was pounded by the Blue Jays for six runs in two innings and, for all intents and purposes, was serving nothing more than batting practice, albeit at 90mph. There is little doubt that Wright's $6 million option for next season will be picked up by the Indians this offseason and after watching him increase his ERA from 14.44 to 15.98 coupled with the bevy of young arms ready to burst on the scene, I think the Indians and Wright are simply going to part ways after September. The only chance I see of Wright remaining with the Tribe is out of the bullpen and, for whatever reasons, the Indians do not want to proceed down that road with him.
Jason Davis turned in a solid four innings yesterday after some initial struggles that can definitely be attributed to the butterflies associated with your major league debut. After giving up a single to the first batter he faced, Tom Wilson, and then a homerun to Eric Hinske and double to Carlos Delgado, both in his second inning, Davis flashed a nice sinking fastball and splitter and retired the next eight batters, including four of the last five by strikeout. Joel Skinner suggested after the game that Davis could be in line for a start and it would not surprise me to see him take Jaret Wright's turn in the rotation the next time around. After starting the year in Kinston, it's been one heck of a season for Jason Davis, to say the least.
The Indians other starting Jason (Phillips) will have surgery tomorrow to remove bone chips from his right elbow and a displacement of the ulnar nerve. This is the same type of surgery that Jake Westbrook had during spring training so, judging by Westbrook's recovery period, it is anticipated that Phillips should be ready for spring training in February.
Heath Murray was moved to 60-day disabled list to make room for Jason Davis on the 40-man roster.
Alex Escobar took batting practice yesterday for the first time since his season-ending surgery and is expected to report to the Indians instructional league in Florida this fall and then play winter ball, according to the local papers.
Milton Bradley left last night's game in the 2nd inning with a strained oblique muscle and is considered day-to-day at this point.
Karim Garcia was named the American League Player of the Week after he hit .387 with 5 homeruns, 15 RBIs, and 28 total bases last week.
Victor Martinez and Billy Traber were among the finalists for the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year award which was announced this afternoon on MLB Radio. Rocco Baldelli (OF, Tampa Bay) is the BA 2002 Player of the Year.
Peter Gammons has a couple of Tribebytes in his latest Diamond Notes column on espn.com. While discussing the value of "true closers" he notes that "The Indians have already moved Danys Baez to the role, and believe Triple-A left-hander Carl Sadler could do it, as well.". That's not the only love that Sadler received this week as Ken Rosenthal had this interesting comment in his Inside Dish column for TSN/Yahoo.
Indians Class AA 3B Marshall McDougall, acquired from the A's for LH reliever Ricardo Rincon, isn't likely to make an impact, but scouts are intrigued by rookie Carl Sadler, Rincon's replacement with the Indians. "He has one of the better curveballs I've seen from a left-hander in quite a while," one scout says. "If you're a left-handed hitter, it starts behind your right shoulder and ends up on the outer third at your knees."
Sadler, of course, was pounded last night for four runs in 2/3 of an inning, including a two-run homer to Josh Phelps, but he's still held opposing hitters to a .196 batting average and been equally effective against lefties (.192) or righties (.200) in his 13 innings with the innings.
Danys Baez, incidentally, ranks 10th amongst starting pitchers in least 1st pitch strikes thrown at 53.5% according to a note in Gammons column. This was extremely evident in his 47 pitch 9th inning against the White Sox on Sunday.
Gammons also lists the Phillies and Orioles as possible bidders for Jim Thome this offseason in this article. He also notes that the Indians revenue should drop enough in 2003 that they will be eligible for revenue sharing dollars starting in 2004. So if Larry Dolan ask you why you are staying from the Jake, just reply that you're trying to help the Indians get revenue sharing money in 2004! We all have to do our part, right?
John Manuel listed the Indians among the top five systems in baseball, referred to Josh Bard as a nice MLB catcher, added that Victor Martinez has a higher ceiling, and noted that Jeremy Guthrie and the Indians were close to a $4mil major league deal in a recent chat on baseballamerica.com.
CC Sabathia was ranked among the best young pitchers in baseball by espn.com, although they did not consider him a future all-star.
Jim Thome belted his 44th homerun last night and passed Willie Horton into 78th place on the all time HR list, with 326, according to the ATM Reports. Thome is now six dingers behind Albert Belle's single season record of 50.
Columbus left-hander Mariano Gomez is the subject of an article in the Ledger-Enquirer. With the big four (Martin, Denham, Foley, Dittler) overshadowing him this year, all Gomez did was post a 1.79 ERA in his 13 starts for the Redstixx after starting the season in the bullpen. Gomez finished the year with a 8-2 record and 2.75 ERA in 111-1/3 innings (106H, 40BB, 98K). He's a definite sleeper prospect for next year.
JDM's Rookie Report breaks down the top 25 minor leaguers by OPS for AA/AAA and A-ball and the short season leagues. Victor Martinez ranked 10th amongst the higher-level players. They also provide a listing of "players you need to know" so you can see how Brandon Phillips, Jhonny Peralta stack up against fellow prospects
The USA finished 6th in the World Basketball Championships with losses to Argentina, Yugoslavia, and Spain. Are you freaking kidding me?
BUFFALO: International League Championship Series starts tonight in Buffalo (best-of-five series).
KINSTON (trail two games to one): The K-Tribe lost Game 3 of the Mills Cup to Lynchburg 5-2 and are now faced with the daunting task of winning the next two games on the road for the championship. Kyle Evans started for the Indians and gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings on eight hits and four walks. He struck out none and served up one homerun. Chris Cooper mopped up with three scoreless innings of relief. Alex Requena had a big day at the player, knocking in both runs and banging out four basehits in five trips to the plate. Grady Sizemore had two hits, and Hector Luna, Henry Pichardo, and Jorge Moreno each singled. Joe Inglett and Rickie Morton added walks. Derek Thompson takes the mound tonight in Game Four.
COLUMBUS (trail two games to none): Game 3 tonight in Hickory with Dan Denham on the mound for the Redstixx.