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October 18, 2002  

If you're in the Cleveland area, channels 45 and 49 will premiere a documentary on the Akron Aeros, Monday night at 10:00 PM. Sounds pretty interesting.

Friday, October 18

Following is a list of Indians playing winterball this season. It is anticipated that this list will grow throughout the fall. I'm not going to track boxscores on a daily basis but I will provide a weekly update for your review. Also following is some prospect notes from the last two weeks.

Season Began: October 1
All Indian prospects play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs

Eric Crozier (.280/.308/.280, 7-for-25, playing RF & 1B)
Brian Luderer (.250/.250/.250, 2-for-8)
Marshall McDougall (.316/.350/.421, 6-for-19, 2 doubles)
Jhonny Peralta (.238/.298/.286, 10-for-42, 2 doubles, 13 Ks, playing third and short)
Brandon Phillips (.179/.361/.286, 5-for-28, 8W, 7K, playing exclusively at 2B)

Lance Caraccioli (0-1, 6.00, 3 GS, 9IP, 18H, 2W, 8K, 11R, 6ER)
Ryan Larson (1-0, 7.20, 5G, 5IP, 4H, 1W, 4K)
Marcos Mendoza (0-0, 7.20, 5G, 5IP, 5H, 3W, 2K)
Dan Neil (0-1, 4.05, 5G, 6.2IP, 7H, 4W, 2K)

Season began: October 12
Players: Greg LaRocca, Karim Garcia, Bill Selby, Ignacio Montano, Luis Garcia

Season began: October 16
Players: Oscar Alvarez, Victor Martinez, Scott Pratt, Hank Thoms, Luis Gonzalez, Alex Herrera, Jorge Moreno, Alex Requena

Season begins: October 19
Players: Earl Snyder, Mike Spiegel, Matt White, Jose Colon

Season begins: October 29
Players: Fernando Cabrera

Instructional League notes courtesy of "The Franchise"....Chad Paronto is throwing pain-free, Alex Escobar is receiving 5 at-bats a day and playing some in the outfield while nursing a sore left hamstring, and Jeremy Guthrie has started to throw off the mound.

Victor Martinez and Billy Traber were named as 1st Team Baseball America All-Stars. Brandon Phillips was named to the second team. Victor Martinez was named Double-A Player of the Year while Phillips and Traber joined him on the double-A all-star team. Ben Francisco was named to the short-season all-star team.

Victor Martinez finished 10th in the minor leagues in hitting with a .336 average and 4th in slugging at .576. Alex Requena swiped the third most bases in the minors with 72 steals. Billy Traber's 17 wins between Akron and Buffalo placed him second behind the Royals Ian Ferguson who had 18.

The Indians were well-represented in Baseball America's positional rankings. Cliff Lee was ranked as the #4 left-hander in the minor leagues. Victor Martinez as the #2 catcher and Josh Bard as the #9 backstop. Corey Smith was pegged as the 8th best thirdbase prospect while Brandon Phillips was ranked as the best shortstop prospect and Grady Sizemore as the 15th best outfield prospect. The Indians did not have anyone listed at the other positions or as a right-handed starting pitcher. I'm particularly pleased by Sizemore's ranking and it will be interesting to see where he slots into BAs annual top 100 list next spring. Last year, 19 outfielders made the top 100.

Brandon Phillips was also named the #3 AFL preseason prospect by Baseball America.

And finally, the Indians announced yesterday that Jason Phillips and Bill Selby cleared waivers, were outrighted to Buffalo, and signed minor league contracts with the team with an invite to spring training. The Indians also announced that they had claimed right-handed reliever Jack Cressend off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. If you're wondering why you didn't see Cressend pitching for the Twins in the playoffs the last two weeks, it's because he was placed on the disabled list on June 8 with a strained rotator cuff and had surgery on September 12 to repair torn labrum in his shoulder. Subtracting two and adding one leaves the 40-man roster at 36. I'll have some comments on these moves in the next report.

And finally (part 2), is reporting in their transactions that the Indians resigned Brian Luderer to a minor league contract (Buffalo) and that Brandon Rickert was signed to a minor league contract (Burlington). A quick google turned up nothing on Rickert.


October 17, 2002  

Thursday, October 17


By the Indians Report guy

What I did on my two week offseason vacation was watch a lot of exciting playoff baseball. I saw many former Indians that played well. I saw three of them get a hit in the bottom of the 9th inning to lead their team to the World Series. I cheered. It made me wish my team was going to the World Series. I watched some afternoon games during the week and wished I could see more so that I would not have to stay up so late. I heard thundersticks and prayed they would not find their way to Cleveland. I watched some bad football that made me sick. I went to the zoo, celebrated James second birthday twice, and watched Kelley crawl, pull herself up, and clap for the first time. I lost Kelley only to find her in the bathroom and realized I now have another one to chase. I cried. I saw my college fantasy football team fall out of contention depsite having scored the most points in the league and I took over the reins of a college fantasy basketball league. I became totally immersed in Push, Nevada. I saw my father-in-law travel to Washington D.C. where some psycho is indiscriminately picking off innocent victims. I worried. I tinkered with the links on the webpage and added a bunch of new sites. I saw Indians prospects take to the field in Arizona and saw Jim Thome's agent compare his client to Alex Rodriguez. He spun and I laughed. It was a nice two weeks but it's good to be back. The end.

Today, we'll review the Indians recent roster moves and other assorted news and notes from the last two weeks. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the Arizona Fall League and Monday we'll follow that up with a review of the Jim Thome and managerial situations.

The Jaret Wright era most likely came to an end yesterday when the Indians declined the $6 million option they held on Wright for the 2003 season.   At the same time, Wright declined an outright assignment from the 40-man roster to triple-A Buffalo and will file for free agency after the World Series.  The rise and fall of Jaret Wright is well-known around these parts but here's a brief recap...

Wright was the Indians 1st round draft pick (10th overall) in 1994 and quickly moved through the system over the next three years, culminating in an 8-3, 4.38 second half of the 1997 season that saw him defeat the Yankees twice in the division series, win game four of the World Series against the Marlins, and become the second youngest pitcher (behind Bret Saberhagen in 1985) to start a World Series game seven.  His first major league season in 1998 saw Wright post a 12-10 record and a 4.72 ERA (192.2 IP, 207H, 87BB, 140K) in 32 starts, highlighted by his first shutout, a complete game three-hitter against the Tigers in June.   Those numbers earned him a four-year deal in the offseason as the Indians looked at the then 22-year old as the future ace of the staff.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.

After starting opening day 1999 in his hometown of Anaheim, Wright struggled through 26 starts, finishing with a 8-10 record and 6.06 ERA (192.2IP, 207H, 87BB, 140K) and making only eight starts in the second half. Along the way, he battled headhunting allegations, a reputation that follows him to this day, which resulted in a five game suspension. He also suffered through shoulder injuries that were more than a hint of the problems that were awaiting him in the new millenium.

The year 2000 found Jaret getting off to an encouraging start as he tossed the second complete game shutout of his career (a five-hitter versus the A's), took a no-hitter into the 7th inning against the Mariners, and tossed 7-2/3 shutout innings against the Royals before being removed from the game with tightness in his shoulder.  At the time, Wright was holding hitters to a .235 average against which was the 7th best in the American League.  After that May 11 start against Kansas City, however, Wright was never the same as he bounced on and off the disabled list and rehab assignments before finally undergoing surgery to repair the labrum and some fraying in his rotator cuff in August. He finished the year making only nine starts and posting a 3-4 record and a 4.70 ERA in 51-2/3 innings (44H, 28BB, 36K).

After an offseason of rehab, Wright started 2001 in extended spring training and finally made his way back to the Indians in May, where he went 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his first four starts. Despite the impressive surface numbers, the 17 walks in 20 innings hinted at the underlying problems that surfaced in the bombardment he took in his next three starts and he was sent back to the minor leagues.  After making two starts in Buffalo, Wright was placed on the disabled list with a strained A/C joint in his right shoulder.  He rehabbed for a month, made three more starts, was shut down for the season, and underwent another operation to remove tissue and part of the clavicle in his A/C joint in September. He finished 2001 with a 2-2 record and 6.52 ERA in seven starts (29Ip, 36H, 22BB, 18K).

2002 was more of the same as Wright spent the first half of the season on the disabled list and spent the second half between triple-A Buffalo (5-3, 3.88) and the Indians (2-3, 15.71) which was highlighted by a one-hit, 12 strikeout performance for the Bisons in August.  After undergoing two operations on his shoulder since the end of the 2000 season and spending seven stints on the disabled list, Wright ended his Indians career by picking up the win with a scoreless inning of work in the final game of the season. In six seasons with the Indians, Wright finishes with a 35-32 record and a 5.50 ERA in 515 innings (96 starts).

Mark Shapiro is saying that the door is open for Jaret's return but with all the young pitchers the Indians will have in camp battling for a spot in the rotation, you have to wonder how much opportunity really remains for him in Cleveland. Personally, I think Wright's future lies in the bullpen and why the Indians did not attempt such a switch over the previous two seasons has never really been disclosed or even discussed as to whether this option was ever under consideration. Wright was still throwing 95mph this season so that alone should generate a fair amount of interest in the free-agent market although given his injury history I doubt he would receive a guaranteed major league contract. More than likely, I see him signing a minor league deal loaded with incentives should he break camp with a big league club. I think Anaheim will be on his list since it's his home town and you can't discount the John Hart factor in Texas. I think you'll also see the Detroits, Tampas, and Kansas Citys of the world looking for a bargain basement deal and that might be the best place for him as he would be out of the spotlight, have a good opportunity to make a pitching staff, and start to rebuild his career.

Indians scout Tony LaCava was hired as an assistant General Manager by the Toronto Blue Jays.  While LaCava spent only one season with the Tribe after being a fallout victim of the Expos-Marlins shenanigans this past offseason where he was formerly the Expos Director of Player Development in 2001, his impact on the Indians organization (positive or negative) will be felt for many years as he was undoubtedly heavily involved in the Indians evaluation and acquisition of Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore from his former team this past June.  All three were players drafted under his watch in Montreal.

Dave Elder cleared waivers and was outrighted to triple-A Buffalo where he signed a minor league contract and accepted an invitation to major league spring training camp.  Elder showed promise as a reliever this season, his first working out of the pen, flashing a mid 90s fastball and showing a presence on the mound which indicated he was not going to be intimidated by big league hitters.   Elder pitched in 15 games with the Indians, striking out 23 hitters in 23 innings with a 3.13 ERA. This followed an impressive run at Akron and Buffalo where he struck out a combined 84 batters in 72 innings and posted a combined 2.31 ERA that included a string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings for the Aeros. It may seem a bit surprising that the Indians would even attempt to pass him through waivers but if the offseason waiver wire works the same as the in-season waiver wire, meaning you can recall a player if they are claimed by another team, I like the strategy of trying to pass guys like Elder through.  If it works, you free up a roster spot for another player/prospect.  If it doesn't, you can always recall the player and still keep him on the 40.  And if he gets through now, I would think he has a good chance of not being selected in the Rule 5 draft in December. After all, why would a team pass on acquiring him today for free and then spend $50,000 to acquire him in December? Don't quote me on that, but I would think the odds would be in your favor that he would not be selected.

Speaking of Elder, did you notice that the player we traded to Texas to acquire Elder, John Rocker, was quietly waived by John Hart last week?  At this point, Rocker's future in baseball is in doubt, although a lefty who throws 95+ usually gets a a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh chance somewhere.   Remember Steve Howe?

Greg LaRocca was also removed from the 40 this week as he was outrighted on Monday to triple-A Buffalo.  Since he was on the 40, I would think he would have to agree to be outrighted to the minor leagues but since the official release did not mention a minor league contract (like with Elder), I will take Coach Manning's advice and not ass/u/me anything so there remains a possibility he could become a minor league free-agent.  With the gaping hole at 3B at the major league level, though, I think the Indians would remain an attractive option for LaRocca.  A personal favorite (for no real reason), I hope he sticks with the organization.   Interestingly enough, LaRocca is listed among the Indians playing winter ball so that may indicate he is staying with the Tribe.

With the removal of Wright, Elder, and LaRocca from the 40-man roster, the current roster count now stands at 37. Short-term, the Indians need to clear some more space to return the players on the 60-day DL (Bob Wickman, Ricky Gutierrez, etc) to the 40-man roster for the offseason. Five roster spots will be freed up when Jim Thome, Charles Nagy, Dave Burba, Terry Muholland, and Travis Fryman (formality) file for free agency so they will have plenty of room to accomplish the short-term task. I think we may also see a few more outright assignments in the next few days as well. Long-term, though, the Indians still need to create space for minor leaguers that need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft in December and we'll start to get into some of those roster issues in the next week or so.

Ricky Gutierrez underwent successful neck surgery on October 7 in Fort Lauderdale that removed all the tissues that were causing pressure on his spinal cord.  Ricky will be in a brace for six weeks and, according to new Indians Director of Medical Services, Paddy Jarit, he will begin an aggressive therapy program in three months which may have him on the field for the start of spring training.  Of course, he may also find that his injury is career-threatening, but for now, all signs are positive.

Have you seen the rumors circulating about the Yankees rumored interest in Japanese free-agent-to-be Hideki Matsui?  According to the New York Post, the Yankees intend to skirt the luxury tax by "loaning" Matsui for three-four years from his Japanese team, thereby keeping him on the Yomiuri Giants payroll, or having a third party (Japanese broadcast network) pay his salary in exchange for the rights to televise Yankees games in Japan.  Or perhaps it's to televise Yomiuri Giant games on the Yankees new cable network (YES).  Either way, there is no way that major league baseball can allow this to happen.  If it does, how quickly does Time Warner sign Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as CNN baseball experts and, oh yeah, have them pitch on the company baseball team too.

Baseball America recently ranked the top 10 recruiting classes and Indians 24th round pick Dan Donaldson (LHP) was listed as a key component of Texas A&M's 10th rank class.

The Indians appear to be in pretty serious negotiations with the city of Fort Myers to relocate their spring training camp there starting with the 2004 season.   Under terms of the reported deal, the Indians would share a stadium with the Boston Red Sox and would have a minor league complex, clubhouse, etc., built for them by the city.  Ideally, the Indians are looking for a facility that they can use year round which makes me wonder if they would then move their high-A affiliate from the Carolina League to the Florida State League. Anyway, the Indians will train in Winter Haven in 2003 and Boston and Minnesota are the two teams that currently train in the city known for Ernie's famous pecan waffles.  Speaking as someone fortunate enough to get his hands on a Lauderdale condo every once in awhile, I am all for this move two hours across Alligator Alley.

The Lake County Captains announced their home opener will be Thursday, April 10 against Charleston (WV). Click here to check out the construction progress of the new stadium.

You knew he couldn't stay away, didn't you?  According to the Beacon Journal, Travis Fryman will work as an extra instructor for the Indians this spring in Florida.

Statistical odds-n-ends from the end of the season courtesy of the ATM Reports: Jim Thome led the AL in OPS (1.122) and Ellis Burks finished 10th (.903).  Thome also led the AL in RCAA (Runs Created Against Average) with 88 while Einar Diaz was the third worst in the AL with -30.  Ryan Drese was the worst pitcher in the AL according to RSAA (Runs Saved Against Average) at -31 while Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright tied for 5th worst at -23.   Bartolo Colon finished with a combined RSAA of 37 (26 AL, 11 NL) which would have placed him 6th overall in the American League.


October 14, 2002  

Monday, October 14

Hi Everyone! Just a quick note to let you know that the CIR will be back tomorrow with a full update and that the Indians have "snuck" Greg LaRocca through waivers and outrighted him to triple-A Buffalo, thereby removing him from the 40-man roster. See you tomorrow.


October 04, 2002  

Great article by Terry Pluto on the CC Sabathia robbery by former Cleveland State basketball players Damon Stringer and Jamaal Harris.


October 02, 2002  

Wednesday, October 2

With the offseason upon us, let me take a minute to answer the two questions that have been filling my mailbox for the past week...

Yes, the CIR will continue to be updated throughout the offseason.

No, it will not be updated on a daily basis.

Why? Quite simply, there will be many days when there just isn't that much to talk about and I really don't feel the need to fill up your mailbox/browser with short missives on Bill Selby being designated for assignment and/or the hitting exploits of Chris Magruder in winter-ball. Yes, we'll still cover all those issues, but on a more leisurely basis. I envision the CIR being updated 1-3 times/week throughout the winter with more frequent updates (Thome, managerial hiring, etc.) as warranted.

I also have plans for quite a few special reports that will include, at a minimum, a 40-man roster breakdown, a draft review, and a positional analysis of the entire system. I say minimum because I have a laundry list of stuff that I would like to accomplish this winter, but since I'm not sure I'll be able to get to everything, the above is all I will commit to right now :-).

Plans are also in the works for a site redesign which, admittedly, is pretty primitive. On the backend, with traffic continuing to increase, I may need to find a new home for the CIR so if anyone has server space available or can recommend a good, inexpensive host, please send me an e-mail. Likewise, if you've ever dealt with the free (or pay) message board services available on the web, I have some questions for you. And if you have experience in setting up a listserv, feel free to send me an e-mail as I have some questions for you as well.

In the immediate short-term, I will probably disappear for the next week (or so) as I plan to sit down in front of a roaring fire with a good cup of tea and read all the CIRs from this past season. Ok, it will most likely be in front of a 15" monitor with a bad glare and a cup of grape kool-aid, but the former sounds so much more writerish, doesn't it? I would suspect a "What the Heck was I Thinking" column will follow shortly thereafter.

So that's the offseason plans for the CIR but I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has promoted, linked, referenced, quoted, cited, berated, or plagarized the CIR in an e-mail to a friend or on a message board somewhere. It's greatly appreciated and the main reason why traffic on the site continued to grow throughout the month of September, which is pretty remarkable given the Indians won-loss record. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

And finally, if you have any suggestions or thoughts on the CIR (good or bad), I would love to hear from you. What did you like? What didn't you like? What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Just send me an e-mail.

Enjoy the playoffs and don't forget to vote for Jim Thome in the Internet Baseball Awards run by Baseball Prospectus.


October 01, 2002  

Don't forget to vote for Jim Thome in the Internet Baseball Awards run by Baseball Prospectus.


If you're interested in following the playoffs through the fan's point of view, make sure and check out these sites...

Minnesota Twins ----> TwinsGeek

Oakland Athletics ----> Elephants in Oakland

New Yawk Yankees ----> Pinstripes

Atlanta Braves ----> Braves Journal

St.Louis Cardinals ----> Bleed Cardinal Red

San Francisco Giants ----> Only Baseball Matters

If anyone knows of good blogs for the Angels and Diamondbacks, please send me a link. I'll be back tomorrow with the offseason plans for the CIR.

Oh yeah, if I must.......Oakland over Arizona in 6 games.


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