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January 31, 2003  

Friday, January 31

This is the second in a series of position reviews that will breakdown the depth chart at each level of the Indians organization. Over the next several weeks, a different position will be reviewed in each report that will eventually bring us to the start of spring training. Keep in mind that it's only January and a lot can happen (injuries, trades, good/poor performance, etc.) that will shuffle players up or down a projected level. This exercise is simply an early look at how each position may look for opening day. Last report, we examined the catching depth in the system. Today, it's the first basemen who go under the 'scope.

Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard will battle for the starting job this spring in Winter Haven.  Both are left-handed hitters who have shown the ability to hit for average and power with good plate discipline in the minor leagues and both are average (at best) with the glove.  Hafner should have the edge coming off his monster year in triple-A (.342/.463/.559/1.022, 22 HR), the fact Einar Diaz was traded to acquire him, and the fact that at age 25, he has absolutely nothing left to prove in the minor leagues.   He will be a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. The same can be said about Broussard, however, as he's a year older than Hafner and has three full seasons of high minors ball on his resume. In short, he has nothing left to prove in the minors either. In fact, Broussard posted similar numbers to those of Hafner's above in double-A in 2001 when he hit .320/.420/.592/1.012 with 23 homeruns. He also posted a very healthy .930 OPS at triple-A Louisville prior to being dealt to the Indians last June. So the pedigree is there, but perhaps he was pressing from the trade, perhaps it was simply typical rookie struggles, but Broussard did not impress during his Tribe tenure in 2002, posting a .676 OPS in the big leagues and a .746 OPS for triple-A Buffalo, numbers that are far below his previous performance levels, and that's the reason why a lot of people seem to be writing Ben off.

I'm not ready to do that myself just yet, even with Hafner on board, and I don't think the Indians are either. But it will be interesting to see where Broussard fits into the opening day plans if he does not beat out Hafner for the starting job. With the Indians keeping two catchers (Bard, backup), one designated hitter (Burks), four outfielders (Lawton, Bradley, Garcia, Spencer) and four infielders (Hafner, McDonald, Vizqual, Gutierrez), that leaves room for only two other position players should the Indians keep an expected 12 pitchers.  One would most likely be a utility player/middle infielder and the other should be an outfielder that can backup Milton Bradley in centerfield, neither of which is a role that Broussard can fill. His best chance at making the opening 25 is if Matt Lawton cannot start the season where I could see Broussard and Shane Spencer platooning in left. Failing that, since Broussard has options left, I think the Indians will return him to triple-A and see what happens with Lawton, Hafner, and Broussard over the opening months of the season.

First base at Buffalo could be a revolving door type of position this year, albeit a very talented revolving door.  If Ben Broussard is sent down, he'll see a lot of time at first but the Indians will probably also want to make some time there for Luis Garcia, who will also be looking for playing time in a crowded outfield. Barring spring injuries, I think we'll see some combination of Broussard, Garcia, Jody Gerut, Coco Crisp, and Alex Escobar manning the 1B, DH, and three OF spots for the Bisons. And that's pretty cool. Casey Blake is another option at first, especially if the Indians decide to play Jhonny Peralta at third base. Regardless of whom is in the lineup, the Bisons should have a pretty good hitter at that position.

Eric Crozier should be the primary first basemen for the Aeros this season.  Crozier broke out in the 1st half at Kinston but did not show the power he had displayed in the Carolina League when he was promoted midseason to Akron (.387 SLG vs .508 SLG).  He also struggled in the Arizona Fall League so another tour of duty in the Eastern League seems to be in order.  Rickie Morton is a likely candidate to move up from Kinston and serve as Croziers caddy while also seeing time as the DH and in the outfield.  Speaking of the outfield, Crozier spent some time there in Arizona and we'll see if the Indians continue the experiment into the regular season.

If healthy, I think this is where we'll see Rick Elder make his Indians debut.  Elder is the former Orioles first round pick who the Indians drafted in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft in December.  He’s displayed raw power potential in the lower minors but also struck out a ton and missed all of last season with an injury.  He last played in the Sally League and given his age and the 2001 and 2002 draftees who deserve some PT at the low-A level, I think the Indians will bump Elder up a notch and see what happens. Along with Elder, Brian Kirby should see some time at first as he moves up from Columbus.  Elder has also played outfield and Kirby is versatile enough to see time at third, the outfield, and behind the plate as well.  Rickie Morton would also be a candidate if he does not move up to Akron.

For the Captains debut season, I think Bill Peavey will be the primary first basemen with Andy Baxter and Matt Knox also seeing time at the position. Peavey was the Indians 11th round pick out of USC last year and he displayed nice plate discipline in the Valley (31/37 BB:K ratio) although he did not demonstrate as much power (.409 SLG) as you would hope from a guy his size. It's his first season so I wouldn't be too concerned at this point. Knox will also see some time spelling Matt Whitney at thirdbase. Sean Swedlow ('00 3rd) hasn't done much in his pro career to justify the high selection but he could figure in the mix if he returns to the organization this year. If you remember, he returned home in July for personal reasons. None of the above first base candidates is a top prospect at this point in their careers.

Fernando Pacheco struggled making the adjustment to wooden bats in his pro debut (.188/.295/.293/.588) after being picked in the 4th round last year so I think the Indians will keep him in extended spring training with a return to short-season ball.  I still like Pacheco a lot but there’s no need to rush him. Domingo Vasquez also struggled mightily (.198/.215/.299/.514, 5 BB in 187 AB) last year and should return to Burlington if he's back with the organization. You'll also see some June picks and DL and VL players in the mix as well.

Between Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard, the Indians have two very talented candidates fighting to be the Tribe's first basemen for the next 5-6 years. Worse case, we're probably looking at a Pauly Sorrento type statistically, but I think both will turn out better than that. Again, it's just potential at this time, but the Indians look solid moving forward. Luis Garcia is one of my breakout candidates for this season and, while he's also an outfielder, it's nice to know he can slot into first base as needed. At the lower levels, the Indians don't really have any top prospects but the nice thing about first base, is that you can always find first basemen within your system (and on the free-agent market). For example, if Matt Whitney struggles at third, he'll make the move across the diamond just like Jim Thome did a decade previous. So at this point, even though the Indians may not have a lower-level prospect to get excited about just yet, I wouldn't worry too much about that. The Indians have plenty of talented first base options in the system.

In the next report, we'll take a look at second base. Onto the other Tribe news of the day....

The spring training truck leaves Jacobs Field for the warmer climes of Winter Haven this afternoon. I can feel it getting warmer already!

The Indians signed Paul Rigdon to a minor league contract. Rigdon was originally the Indians 6th round pick in the 1996 draft before eventually being dealt to the Brewers in the Richie Sexson deal. In his major league career (which includes 17.2 rough innings with the Indians in 2000), Rigdon is 8-10 with a 5.45 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts) and he's allowed 31 homeruns in 166.2 innings. He spent all of last season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury with the exception of three starts in triple-A (0-1, 5.29). Rigdon's best season with the Tribe came in 1999 when he dominated double-A hitters to the tune of a 7-0 record and 0.90 ERA while allowing only 20 hits in 50 innings. A promotion to triple-A followed where he went 7-4 with a 4.53 ERA in 19 starts for the Bisons. Pending a healthy shoulder, Rigdon is a candidate for the last rotation spot and long-relief role in Buffalo along with fellow vet Mike Thurman.

Interestingly enough, Rigdon is now the highest drafted member of the Indians '96 draft still in the organization. He joins fellow draftees John McDonald (12th), Jamie Brown (21st), David Riske (56th), Travis Hafner (31st, Texas), and Carl Sadler (34th, Montreal) on the roster. There could be more, these just happened to be the guys I noticed while doing a quick scan of the list over on the Baseball Cube. Danny Peoples was the Indians 1st round pick, JD Brammer was the 4th round pick, Sean DePaula was tabbed in the 9th round pick, all of which should make you ill when you consider that the Astros took Wade Miller and Roy Oswalt in the 20th and 21st rounds respectively.

Jason Haase and Neil Simoneaux were placed on the voluntary retired list according to  Simoneaux was acquired from the Cardinals last year for Nerio Rodriguez.  Haase is a former Cleveland State star who was the Indians 13th round pick in 2000 (one round ahead of Ryan Church).  You can remove him from the catching mix at Eastlake which should mean that Dave Wallace and some combination of Ben Margalski, Armando Camacaro, Armando Bastardo, and Clayton McCullough forms the catching duo for the Captains this year.

Not sure if I reported this before, but Baseball America notes that the Indians released minor leaguer Rafaelito Garcia. has a pair of articles worth checking out.  The first is on Jason Davis and notes that he is working on developing a third pitch to go with his fastball and slider.  Mark Shapiro adds that Davis fields his position well and has a plus move to first base, a skill that has been lacking in Tribe hurlers the last few years.  The other article is on Coco Crisp and notes that he's been working on a strength and condition program this offseason while rehabbing the foot he injured in winterball.

WTAM announced that they will broadcast 20 games this spring with the first being the exhibition opener on February 28.  Can you believe that game is less than a month away?  Fox Sports Ohio announced they will broadcast four games with the first broadcast scheduled from the Disney Complex against the Braves on March 24.

Baseball Prospectus has a review of the draft pick compensation from the 2000 offseason.  The Tribe did pretty well with the picks acquired when Mike Jackson signed with the Phillies, selecting Derek Thompson in the sandwich round and Brian Tallet with the Phillies second round pick.

BP also reviews the Indians offseason moves with an analysis that includes this interesting comment...."....Shapiro's snagging Hafner from the Rangers is probably the winter's best deal in terms of results over the next five years." Nice.

Julian Tavarez signed a minor league deal with the Pirates and will battle a cast of thousands to be the 5th starter or a long man out of the bullpen.  Eddie Perez signed a minor league deal with the Brewers that includes an invite to spring training. Jacob Cruz signed a minor deal with the Reds and Jose Cabrera did the same with the Twins. Earl Snyder cleared waivers and was assigned to triple-A Pawtucket by the Red Sox.

The Dallas Morning News notes that John Hart and the Rangers may have an interest in Kenny Lofton. That's interesting considering they already have Doug Glanville on board (not that Lofton wouldn't be an upgrade).

Have a good weekend everyone!


January 28, 2003  

Tuesday, January 28

This is the first in a series of position reviews that will breakdown the depth chart at each level of the Indians organization. Over the next several weeks, a different position will be reviewed in each report that will eventually bring us to the start of spring training. Keep in mind that it's only January and a lot can happen (injuries, trades, good/poor performance, etc) that will shuffle players up or down a projected level. This exercise is simply an early look at how each position may look for opening day. Today we'll start with the Tools of Ignorance, a.k.a. the catchers.

Josh Bard is the starter now that Einar Diaz has been reunited with John Hart in Arlington. Orginally viewed as a solid "catch and throw" guy when he was acquired from the Rockies in 2001, Bard hit enough last year in triple-A (.297/.332/.436/.768, 26 doubles) to give the Indians hope that he will be an offensive contributor as well. He only walked 20 times in 344 at-bats with indicates he needs to work on his plate discipline but he also struck out only 45 times so it appears he has a decent idea of the strike zone and can make contact which is a good start. He followed the same trend in the big leagues with only 4 walks in 90 ABs although he did knock out five doubles and three longballs. If he hits .260 and doesn't get the bat knocked out of his hands at the plate while working well with the young pitchers, I think the Indians will be happy with his progress.

Bard will be backed up by either Tim Laker or free agent signee AJ Hinch. Laker is the classic journeyman backup catcher while Hinch is the can't miss prospect who missed. I personally think it's Hinch's job (power potential evident in minors) to lose although either could get the nod with a strong spring. It's possible that Victor Martinez could hit his way onto the opening day roster but every indication from the Indians points to Martinez starting the year in triple-A to work on his throwing skills.

Baseball Weekly Minor League Player of the Year Victor Martinez will be the starting catcher for the Bisons. What more can I possible say about him that you haven't read previously in the CIR and elsewhere? As I mentioned above, he's in triple-A strictly to work on his throwing skills as he only threw out 25% of opposing stealers last year in Akron and he struggled even worse at the major league level, throwing out just 15% (2 of 13) of would-be base stealers, which I just happened to observe first-hand and noted in my September 30 report from last season. Those with the 2002 archive handy can check that out. Martinez was originally signed as a shortstop so you would have to think his arm strength is sound and I've heard reports that he needs work on his footwork (getting into throwing position) and release mechanics that would back up that line of thinking. He's been voted the top defensive catcher in his league each of the last two seasons in a poll of league managers by Baseball America so the running game is the only concern. Offensively, he rakes. The loser of the Laker-Hinch battle will serve as Martinez' understudy for the Bisons.

Dusty Wathan and Brian Luderer should be the Aeros catchers this season. Luderer backed up Victor Martinez last year and Wathan is new to the organization after signing as a minor league free-agent. Luderer saw some action in Arizona this fall and hit pretty well (.350 in 40 ABs) after seeing only 155 ABs while serving as Martinez' backup with the Aeros. He'll be 25 next season which puts him on the verge of journeyman status and it would not surprise me to see him post some nice numbers in 2003 during his fourth tour of double-A ball. Wathan will be 30 years ago in August but I don't think he'll see triple-A for the Indians unless there's an injury in the spring. For a catcher with limited offensive skills to stick around that long, you have to think his strengths lie in calling a game and working with a pitching staff. The Aeros staff will be young, and will most likely get younger as the year goes on, so that should be a plus.

Ben Margalski should be the #1 catcher at Kinston this year. He was acquired from the Phillies early in the offseason and has a reputation as a very good defensive receiver. That's good because he hasn't done much with the stick in his professional career which includes a .211 average and .583 OPS last year in the South Atlantic League. With the lack of depth immediately above him, however, Margalski could ride those defensive skills up a couple of levels in the next few years. The backup catcher could be Jeff DePippo again, or it could be Angel Bastardo or Armando Camacaro. DePippo returned to Kinston last year after spending 2000 and 2001 in Akron and at age 27 you have to wonder how much longer he'll beat around the lower bushes before embarking on a coaching career. Just a hunch on that, but why else would he accept a demotion to single-A in his mid-20s? Bastardo and Camacaro are younger but have both struggled with the stick in the States. Brian Kirby could also figure into the mix. He caught 25 games at Columbus last year while also playing at first (31), the outfield (20), and designated hitter while showing some decent pop (14 HRs) although he did strike out 123 times. He would definitely be the best offensive option behind the plate for Torey Lovullo.

This is where it starts to get a little murky. It's possible that Margalski could return to the South Atlantic League for another tour of duty. You could also see Bastardo and Camacaro in the mix as well. Jeff Haase, who hit 8 homeruns and slugged .473 in the Valley last year, is worthy of a bump in level. So is Dave Wallace, who split time with Haase at Cafaro Field last year. Add in 22nd round draft choice Clayton McCullough (.459 OBP in 54 ABs for Burlington) and you have a wide variety of choices for the Eastlake catching corps. None of which is anything to really get excited about at this stage of their careers.

Take the three or four from above who don't start the season in Eastlake and add Josh Noviskey, Kenton Myers, Mike Woodson, and Omar Casillas to the mix. Noviskey is still trying to make the conversion from the outfield and this would be his third season of short-season ball. He displayed nice plate discipline last year at Burlington (19:27 BB:K ratio in 98 ABs). Omar Casillas signed late after being selected in the 16th round and passed up a scholarship to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to sign with the Tribe. From his draft profile, I liked him as a possible sleeper but I think we need to let him get some ABs at the professional level before we place any kind of tag on him. You can also add any catchers that would be making their U.S debut from the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues as well as any draft picks from the 2003 June draft. As it stands now, there is not much here to be excited about.

Catching is an organizational strength for the Indians but, at the same time, it could also be considered an organizational weakness (albeit at the lower levels of the system) Victor Martinez is generally regarded as one of the top 10 prospects in the minor leagues and Josh Bard is generally ranked among the top 10 catching prospects. Most teams would be happy to have one player of their caliber, the Indians have two. The problem is that neither has proven themselves at the major league level so, for now, that organizational strength is built solely on potential. If Bard and/or Martinez fulfill that potential, than this is an area in which the Indians shouldn't have any worries for the next six years (i.e., when they can file for free agency). If they flop or are injured, the Tribe will have to look outside the organization as there is not much coming up behind them. When you move beyond the Big Two, the catching depth tails off dramatically to a pair of minor league veterans at Akron and a bunch of organizational types at Kinston and Eastlake. Don't be surprised if you see the Tribe take a catcher in the early rounds of the June draft to start building the next wave of catching talent within the organization.


January 27, 2003  

Monday, January 27

Starting tomorrow, the CIR will begin a series of position-by-position reviews of the Indians organizational depth chart. We'll start with the catchers and work our way around the field to finish up just in time for the start of spring training. With all the young talent in the organization, this should be a fun exercise.

For a minute or two, I thought the Raiders were going to make this a Super Bowl to remember. The snow kept us from going to our annual party but I still managed to kick butt in the squares, winning three of the four quarters which netted me a bag of Honey Roasted Peanuts and a Doritos and Cheetos "to go" pack (you are sooooo jealous). Of course, having 25 squares certainly helps. Poor James and Kelley were shut out of the winnings although they did do a number on Mom's winning Kit-Kat prize after the 1st quarter. And I have a feeling that those "to go" packs might be gone by the time I get home so don't feel too bad for them :-)

No, the Eric Johnson who returned the blocked punt for a touchdown for the Raiders is not the same Eric Johnson who was drafted by the Indians in the 3rd round of the 1999 draft as an outfielder out of Western Carolina.  This Eric Johnson was a 4-year letterman at Nebraska.  The Indians Eric Johnson has spent the last couple of years with the Bears.

The best thing about the Super Bowl is that baseball season starts as soon as the clock hits 0:00.  I know it's only January 27, there's six inches of snow on the ground, and you froze your (insert word of choice here) off this morning getting gas and coffee at BP, but it's now baseball season.  Don't look out the window.   Don't check the weather forecast.  Trust me, it's baseball season.

The Browns could use Terry Tate, office linebacker. The Yao (Yo) Ming commercial was pretty funny too.

For all you left-coasters out there, if you're interested in joining a West Coast Indians Backer club, send an e-mail to  The group was formed last year and they had 75 people at the exhibition game at Dodger Stadium, 125 at the opener in Anaheim, and another 125 when the Tribe came out in August.  They also did some luncheons, a BBQ swim party, and tailgate parties.  For 2003, they're planning a weekend in Arizona for the D-Backs series in June and also an Angels game in May.  Sounds like a good group.   And I would just like it noted for the record that I am available for guest speaking engagements :-).  Send an e-mail to Ed at the above address for more info.

With starters James Baldwin (KC) and Jamey Wright (Sea) signing minor league deals last week, did the Indians err in signing Jason Bere and Brian Anderson so soon? I know we're not talking much money but could we have gotten them signed to a minor league deal? It's a thought that needs to be raised but I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it.

Eddie Perez signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers that included an invite to spring training.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates are interested in Kenny Lofton.  I'm sure the PBBers would love to see Brian Giles and Kenny patrolling the outfield at PNC.

The Indians signed Miguel Inzunza (Camacho) to a Dominican League contract. As near as I can tell, Inzunza is a 20-year old infielder who was with the Jays DSL team as of January 2002 and was sent to Yucatan of the Mexican League on April 24, 2002. I couldn't find any stats for last season after googling for five minutes.

Actual Question from the CIR mailbag...
Sorry, maybe I missed a CIR report on him, but who is Matt Whitney, what position does he play, and what level is he at?

Answer: If you had the CIR 2002 Archive you would have all of Matt Whitney's information at your fingertips. The archive is the perfect resource for questions on the 2002 season and Indians players in general. Don't forget to pick up a copy (or two, or three) at the CIR Bookstore.

Oops, forgot to mention that a couple of gossips wrote in and reported that CC and Serena Williams stopped dating awhile ago and the future Mrs. Sabathia is some other lucky young lady. Best of luck to the both of them.


January 24, 2003  

Al Rosen and Jack Corrigan are scheduled to appear on MLB Radio between 1:00 and 2:00 this afternoon.

Friday, January 24

While driving home through the snowstorm yesterday, I managed to catch a little of Mark Shapiro's appearance on WTAM. In the portions that I heard, he compared Victor Martinez to Jorge Posada, noted that Ricky Gutierrez, Casey Blake, and Jhonny Peralta were the options at thirdbase, added a trade for a third basemen is a possibility if Gutierrez is not healthy, noted that Jhonny Peralta has gold glove potential at third, and stated, in regards to Matt Whitney, that he (Shapiro) has not been this excited about a hitting prospect since Manny Ramirez. Nice.

Shapiro also noted that CC Sabathia is engaged. I know (well, at least I heard the rumors) that CC was dating Serena Williams last year. Is she the future Mrs.Sabathia? If so, why hasn't this leaked to the press or am I just late to the party? Think those kids are going to be a little athletic?

Victor Martinez won the Lou Boudreau award as the Indians Minor League Player of the Year. Billy Traber won the Bob Feller award as the Indians Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The Plain Dealer notes that Coco Crisp only played seven games in the Dominican Winter League due to an unspecified foot injury.

The local papers are reporting that the Indians have run into a snag with the city of Fort Myers that could prevent them from moving their spring training operations there until 2005. The problem for the Tribe is that their contract with Winter Haven expires this season and local officials may not be receptive to a one-year extension. Alternative sites do exist, however, with the former home of the Texas Rangers (moved to Arizona) in Port Charlotte the leading candidate. I saw a game in Port Charlotte about 10 years ago and it's a nice facility.

The ABJ has an article on the Indians winter development program.

The Lake-Herald has an article on Captains manager Luis Rivera.

Jeff D'Amico, whom the Indians acquired and traded twice last season, signed a minor league deal with the Pirates.

The Red Sox designated Earl Snyder for assignment to make room for free-agent signee Hector Almonte on their 40-man roster.

Jack Corrigan was named as the new radio play-by-play announcer for the Colorado Rockies. Corrigan spent 17 seasons calling Indians games for Channel 43.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that the Pirates are close to a minor league deal with Julian Tavarez with the Rockies also interested in his services.

Have a good weekend everyone!


January 22, 2003  

Wednesday, January 22

Eddie Johnson | 1959- 2003

Sad news this morning as former Browns linebacker Eddie Johnson lost his battle with colon cancer and passed away yesterday at the age of 43. Johnson manned the middle of the Browns defense from 1981-1990 and later became a minister after he retired from football. #51, The Assassin, No-Neck, he was awesome. My deepest sympathies go out to the Johnson family.

I'm going to be in Toronto the next two days so any orders for the 2002 CIR Archive will not be processed until Friday.   Just an FYI.  Thanks to everyone who has already placed an order, the response so far has been outstanding!

In our first philanthropic endeavor, the CIR is proud to sponsor the Milton Bradley page on baseball-reference and the Brandon Phillips page over on the Baseball Cube (formerly sports-wired).   Both sites are used heavily when putting together the daily reports and my sponsorship helps keep those sites free for everyone much like your support of the CIR helps keep this site free for all Tribe fans.

As I speculated last week, the Boston Red Sox claimed Earl Snyder off of waivers in a move that should make the Plainville, Connecticut native very happy.  Unfortunately for Earl though, the Red Sox previously acquired Jeremy Giambi from the Phillies and they're also reportedly close to signing David Ortiz while still negotiating with the Chunichi (sp?) Dragons of the Japanese League for Kevin Millar so if all those moves happen, Snyder looks like nothing more than triple-A insurance for the Sox.  Of course, if Ortiz and Millar do not sign, Snyder could be very much in the mix at first base and DH.  Worse case, he spends the summer closer to home in Pawtucket. After I added to this the website over the weekend, it's been reported that Ortiz just has to pass a physical to sign with the Sox and MLB has ruled that the Red Sox cannot trade for Millar so the chances of him playing in Boston next year appear remote.

It's never a good thing when you lose a player with some useful skills without receiving anything in return.  Not that the following makes it acceptable in this instance, but the Indians are well equipped to handle the loss of an Earl Snyder as they have Travis Hafner, Ben Broussard, and perhaps Luis Garcia in line at firstbase.  Third basemen Casey Blake was added in the offseason and he's probably a better bat than Snyder while possessing legitimate third base skills so the hot corner experiment with Snyder was probably going to come to an end anyway, especially if Jhonny Peralta is moved there this year.   In short, Snyder was as expendable as you can deem a player whose road is blocked but still possesses some skills.  It would have been nice if the Tribe could have swung a deal for a prospect in exchange for Snyder but I'm not sure the trade market for 4A first base sluggers is all that large right now, especially considering the bargain rates that veteran first basemen at the major league level have been signing for this season.  Snyder becomes the first of the five players acquired for Robbie Alomar to leave the organization so the trade now stands as Matt Lawton, Billy Traber, Alex Escobar, and Jerrod Riggan for Alomar and Mike Bacsik (Danny Peoples had been previously released by the Mets). notes that the Indians signed 28-year old pitcher Rafael Betancourt to a minor league contract.   You die-hard prospect junkies may remember him as a one-time closer prospect with the Red Sox in the late 90s.  I googled a trail on Betancourt and compiled a partial history that includes a 1.95 ERA, 52 strikeouts, and only 2 walks in 32 innings in the Midwest League in 1997, a promotion to the Red Sox in September 1998 (although he did not appear in a game), a one-year stint as a player loan (part of the Tomo Ohka agreement) with the Yokohama Bay Stars in Japan where he wore Kaz Sasaki's old number and went 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 11 games, and a spring training invite by the Sox in 2001.  I could not find final stats for Betancourt for 2001 but it looks like he was injured at some point during that season which may explain why Baseball America does not list him as having played organized ball in the states in 2002 (perhaps he was rehabbing an injury?). Betancourt did pitch for Oriente in Venezuela this winter (where his teammates included Victor Martinez and Alex Herrera, among others) where he went 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in 18 appearances, striking out 16 in 16.1 innings while walking only one.   He was signed to a double-A contract and that would be a good guess as to where his future lies (or begins) with the Indians.  

Top Prospect Alert has a profile on Indians/Rangers prospect Marshall McDougall. has a short article on Jhonny Peralta.  John Farrell is quoted as saying that Peralta had a "breakout season" and could play up the middle defensively in the major leagues right now, although his ultimate defensive position (3B?) is yet to be determined.  It's also noted that Peralta hit .331 versus left-handers last year.

Lee Stevens signed a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that includes an invitation to spring training.  If Stevens makes the opening day roster, he'll make a reported $400,000.  Former Indian Ryan Thompson also signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Devil Rays. Cleveland native Chuck Smith signed a minor league deal with the Brewers.

I only caught a snippet of Mark Shapiro's in-studio appearance with Kenny Roda on WKNR yesterday but here's a little of what I did manage to hear. Jeremy Guthrie topped out at 94 mph in Arizona and sat at 92-93 mph. He's very polished and has three out-pitches, fastball, change, and slider. Brian Slocum is less polished but may have the biggest upside of anyone drafted (interesting). Matt Whitney will start at 3B in Eastlake (we knew that already). The organization is still very high on Corey Smith. Grady Sizemore projects as an impact centerfielder, although he quickly added leftfielder which may hint at the arm strength issues that have been noted previously by Baseball America, etc. The first caller I heard asked some excellent questions about the Tribe's minor league system. Pete, are you out there?

I was surprised but not surprised at the firing of John Lucas on Monday.  I was surprised because there really wasn't any public build up for such a move, but at the same time, not so surprised because the Cavs record is simply awful and the team hasn't shown much progress of late.  I fully support the Cavs rebuilding plan but the blowouts and blown leads late in games seem to indicate that something was wrong.  Although the players are very young, this team has too much talent to be playing this bad. I was never really that excited about Lucas being hired in the first place so I think it's probably a move in the right direction.  Whether Keith Smart is the answer or not, I really don't know, but it might be good for the kids to have to deal with a new voice.  We'll see how they respond.   Hopefully, Smart can light a fire under Darius Miles, among others. The worst part about the firing is that we're not going to hear Coach Luke talk about "the bigs" on WKNR anymore.  That's too bad.


January 20, 2003  

Monday, January 20

Hi Everyone!

I promised you some cool stuff last Thursday and I'm not going to disappoint. Here we go...

The CIR is proud to announce CIR: The Book, CIR: The Bookstore, and CIR: Honor System.

Let's start with the book, or rather, the Cleveland Indians Report 2002 Archive (in book form).

Checking in at 394 pages, the CIR 2002 Archive contains every report and update that appeared on the website during the 2002 season plus the "lost report" on the Eric Wedge hiring that never appeared on the website or in the e-mail newsletter.

Starting with the first CIR ever written (six paragraphs on Mike Lansing), the book takes you through spring training, the 11-1 start, the collapse in April and May, the universally praised 2002 draft and first round pick Jeremy Guthrie, the Bartolo Colon trade that shook the very foundation of the franchise, the infusion of minor league talent the likes of which this organization has never seen, the July fire sale, the Charlie Manuel resignation, the Akron Aeros incredible year, Victor Martinez’ breakout season, the minor league playoffs that involved four of the six Indians farm teams, Jim Thome’s quest for 50 home runs, Charlie Nagy’s last days as an Indian, and an offseason that found the Thomenator signing with Philadelphia and a comprehensive review of the 40-man roster and the Rule 5 Draft. It’s all there, along with the misspellings, inane commentary, and side stories thrown in at no extra charge.

Want to follow Travis Foley and JD Martin start-by-start through their year in Columbus? It's in there.

Want to follow Victor Martinez' domination of the Eastern League? It's in there.

Want to follow the progress of the 2002 draft picks in their professional debuts? It's in there.

Want a detailed analysis on all the prospects brought into the organization over the past 12 months? It's in there.

Want to review all the transactions made by rookie General Manager Mark Shapiro? It's in there.

Want a zesty sauce like Mom used to make? It's in there too. Oh wait a minute, that's Prego.

Quite simply, the CIR 2002 Archive is the most comprehensive daily review of the Cleveland Indians 2002 season available anywhere and an invaluable tool for broadcasters, reporters, die-hard baseball fans, die-hard Tribe fans, prospect junkies, anyone who has friends or family in the Indians organization, and any Tribe fan who wants to learn more about his or her favorite team.

The CIR 2002 Archive is available only in PDF form and costs $5.50 with a preferred method of payment through PayPal. If you already have a PayPal account, when you're on the website, simply select "Send Money" and type in where it asks for an e-mail address. In the comments section, make sure to note you're ordering the 2002 CIR Archives. Once I receive notification of your payment, I will e-mail you the PDF file. It's as simple as that.

If you're unfamiliar with PayPal, signing up for an account is extremely easy, costs absolutely nothing, and is completely secure. I just started using PayPal myself a few weeks ago and have already made and received a few purchases (Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia) with no issues. You can also receive a $5.00 bonus when you sign up and complete the new account bonus requirements. It's a great service.

Ok, time for some quick Q&A.

Q: What if I don't want to send my credit card information over the Internet?
A: PayPal is secure. You should really consider it. If you insist otherwise, contact me at for alternative payment options.

Q: What is a PDF file?
A: A PDF file is an Adobe Acrobat file. If you don't already have the Acrobat Reader on your system (most people do), you can download the FREE reader by clicking the link. Simply download the reader, install it, and then open the CIR 2002 Archives file for hours of reading pleasure.

Q: Why only $5.50?
A: Because the PayPal fee structure will take about $0.50 for processing the transaction which leaves me with a nice and tidy $5.00 for the book.

A: There is no new content in the book save for the "lost report" on the hiring of Eric Wedge. Everything in the book is already accessible on the CIR website through an archive search but, of course, that requires you to be online, it involves multiple pages and multiple searches, and the Blogger archives can sometimes be buggy. The book contains everything in one archive which makes searching and reading very easy. You can also print the book which would be difficult, if not impossible, off the website.

A: The other reason is for piracy. Most other books of this nature would be priced in the $20 range but I have a feeling that if I charged that much a group of people would get together on a message board, make one purchase, and e-mail it to each other and anyone else who wanted a copy. By pricing the book at a very affordable $5.50, I hope to discourage such piracy by making the book affordable for everyone. At this time, let me make a simple appeal to anyone who buys the book, if someone asks you for a copy, please just tell them to buy it themselves, it's only $5.50. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I trust you all to do the right thing. After all, it's only $5.50.

Q: What if I want to buy copies for my friends and family?
A: No problem. If you want three copies, just send me $16.50 and let me know the e-mail addresses you would like them sent to and I will take care of the rest. When you order, there will be a "special instructions" field where you can detail this and any other instructions you may have.

Guys, the book is awesome. I've already used it a few times to look up information from the 2002 season in preparing the recent daily reports. It's easy to search through and you'd be amazed at how much of the detail from the previous year that you forget about during the offseason. At $5.50, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Don't believe me? Well, just check out these testimonials from some lucky individuals who were fortunate enough to receive an advance copy.

"If I were managing the Indians, I would want this book on my desk"
Eric Hedge, Manager, Buffalo (Burger King)

"This is a five-tool baseball book"
Peter Gummons, Baseball Writer, (Pine Times Elementary)

"I bet this book is a hit"
Pete Ruse, All-Time Hits Leader (North Ridgeville Little League)

If that's not enough to sway you, I don't know what is. Ok, that's enough on the book for now. Let's move on to cool thing number two.

The CIR is proud to announce the opening of the CIR bookstore, in association with the good folks at It's your one-stop shop for Indians books and videos, Baseball books and videos, and other cool stuff that receives the CIR seal of approval. You can find the link at the top left of the links section on the website. If you're looking for a gift for that special Indians or baseball fan in your life, or just a little something for yourself, the CIR bookstore will have something to make the gift a memorable one. And best of all, for every purchase you make through the links in the CIR bookstore, the CIR will receive a small referral fee which will help keep the website and newsletter free of charge. You get the goods while supporting your favorite Indians website and it doesn't cost you an extra cent. How cool is that?

The bookstore link has actually been on the website for a few weeks now and several people have already discovered it and started making their 2003 baseball annual purchases through the links. I know many of you probably purchase one, some, or all of the following: Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Forecaster, Baseball America Prospect Handbook, or the TSN Guides and there's no better place to buy them than the CIR bookstore. You know your fellow fantasy leaguers have already bought their copy.

That covers the bookstore. On to cool thing number three.

The CIR Honor System is also in conjunction with and allows you to make a cash donation to the CIR through a link in the CIR bookstore. If you don't want to buy the CIR 2002 archives or buy a book or video in the bookstore but still want to help support the CIR, this is the way to do it. Simply click on the link, enter the amount in the new Amazon secure page, and follow the instructions from there. You can donate as little or as much as you want and it's all secure through Now that I think about, you could also donate through PayPal as well. Follow the instructions for ordering the book and type in donation in the comments. Every bit is greatly appreciated.

So that's the cool stuff for today. The CIR 2002 Archive book, the CIR Bookstore, and the CIR Honor System. Pretty cool, huh? Of course, I realize that not everyone will purchase the book, buy something through the bookstore, or donate through the Honor System and that's fine. The whole purpose of the above from my standpoint is to bring in enough money to support the cost of the CIR and keep the newsletter and website free of charge, and if there happens to be a little left over for a ballgame or two, well, that would be great too :-).

Thanks for taking the time to read all this and thanks to those who have already been making purchases through the CIR bookstore. Your support is greatly appreciated. I'll be back in a few days with a regular report.


January 18, 2003  

The Boston Red Sox claimed Earl Snyder off of waivers yesterday in a move that should make the Plainville, Connecticut native very happy. Unfortunately for Earl, though, the Red Sox previously acquired Jeremy Giambi from the Phillies and they're also reportedly close to signing David Ortiz while still negotiating with the Cunichi (sp?) Dragons of the Japanese League for Kevin Millar so if all those moves happen, Snyder looks like nothing more than triple-A insurance for the Sox. Of course, if Ortiz and Millar do not sign, Snyder could be very much in the mix at first base and DH. Worse case, he spends the summer closer to home in Pawtucket.


January 16, 2003  

Top Prospect Alert has a profile on Indians/Rangers prospect Marshall McDougall.

Thursday, January 16

A sure sign that spring is right around the corner...the Indians equipment truck leaves for Florida on Friday, January 31.

The Tribe put an end to all the scuttlebutt and officially announced the signing of Shane Spencer to a one-year contract that is reportedly in the $600,000 - $900,000 range plus incentives.  He had become a free-agent after he was non-tendered by the Yankees in December.  Spencer has spent his entire career in the Yankees organization after being selected in the 28th round of the 1990 draft which was, coincidentally, 10 rounds before another recent Indian signee, Jason Bere, was selected.  Spencer spent eight seasons toiling in the minor leagues, developing into a solid 4A slugger that included seasons of 29 homeruns and .489 slugging in double-A in 1996, 30 homeruns and .533 slugging in triple-A in 1997, and 18 homeruns, .322 average, and .570 slugging in triple-A in 1998.  It was those final numbers, put together at age 26, that finally resulted in a callup to Yankee Stadium where he burst upon the scene with an August and September to remember, belting 10 homeruns while posting a Ruthian 1.321 OPS in 67 at-bats.  Added to the postseason roster, he blasted two homers against the Rangers in the Division Series before the Indians shut him down (1-for-10) in the ALCS. Spencer had the last laugh, however, as he went on to pickup a ring when the Yanks knocked off the Padres in the World Series.   Despite that dynamic breakthrough, Spencer was never able to really build on that success as injuries (torn ACL right knee, 2000) and free-agent signings always seemed to limit his playing time and, subsequently, he never received more than 300 at-bats in any of his last four seasons in the Bronx. 

Last year, Spencer hit .247/.324/.375/.699 with six homeruns in 288 at-bats which was the continuation of a three-year trend of decreased homeruns, batting average, and slugging percentage.  A strained left hamstring bothered him for most of September and limited his availability in the playoffs.  Spencer splits heavily towards left-handers as he's hit them at a .296/.343/.463 clip with eight homeruns over the past three seasons compared to .249/.315/.403 with 17 homeruns (in three times the at-bats) versus right-handers over that same time period.  He's hit pretty well at the Jake over the last three years (.280/.345/.520) although it's important to nrecognize that it's a relatively small sample size of only 25 at-bats.

Spencer has been quoted in the papers as saying that the Indians have promised him 400-450 at-bats this year which sounds strange but may be accurate if Matt Lawton starts the season on the disabled list.  Failing that, he should see a considerable amount of time spelling Lawton and Karim Garcia in the outfield, Ellis Burks at DH, and perhaps Travis Hafner at first base, although Spencer has only played one game there in his major league career (he did note in the papers (I forget which one) that he spent a month playing first at triple-A Columbus).  If he plays 4-5 times a week, rotating positions, he could very well end up with 400-450 at-bats. Nothing against Spencer, but the best thing for the Indians would be for Mark Shapiro to have to eat some humble pie at the end of the year and have Matt Lawton healthy all season, Travis Hafner develop into an everyday middle of the lineup hitter, and Spencer settle it at his customary 250-300 at-bats.

Even though the Tribe is on a youth movement, though, I really don't have a problem with a player like Spencer being brought on board for a one-year term.  It's important to remember that Jody Gerut only has a half season of triple-A experience, Coco Crisp has a handful of triple-A at-bats, Luis Garcia has never played at the triple-A level, Ryan Church has only a half-year of double-A experience, and Alex Escobar hasn't played anywhere in over a year and his last full season with the Mets at triple-A did not exactly indicate that he was ready to make the jump to the big leagues (.267 BA, 35 BB, 146 K).  Spencer's presence on the roster will reduce the pressure on the Indians to promote their young outfielders too quickly and allow those youngsters to receive valuable triple-A and double-A experience.  Spencer is simply a one-year stop gap who has some middle of the order potential and if he flops, the Indians can always cut bait at a minimal financial loss. For that type of role and for that price, he's a decent addition as a 4th outfielder.

To make room for Spencer on the 40-man roster, the Indians designated Earl Snyder for assignment which means the Tribe has 10 days to trade, release, or outright him to the minors if he clears waivers.  Snyder hit .200/.279/.291/.570 for the Indians last year in 55 at-bats that included his first major league home run.  At triple-A Buffalo, Snyder displayed more of the power (.263/.341/.483/.823, 19 HRs, 29 2Bs) the Indians expected when they acquired him as part of the Robbie Alomar deal. Snyder also spent sometime learning how to play thirdbase in an attempt to expand his versatility and possibly fill the hole left by the injured and eventually retiring Travis Fryman.  Early reports were not encouraging, however, and with Jhonny Peralta, Casey Blake, and possibly Marshall McDougall (if he's returned from the Rangers) ticketed for thirdbase at Buffalo, I think that experiment may be put to rest.  Snyder is an interesting prospect if only for his power potential but with Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard ahead of him and the younger Luis Garcia and Eric Crozier behind him, Snyder is expendable given his age, 27 in May, which is old for a prospect.  It would not surprise me if he's claimed by a team like Boston and it would not surprise me if he clears waivers and heads to Buffalo. 

The Indians also added another outfielder yesterday as they signed Wendell Magee to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league spring training.  Magee is a 7-year major league vet who was originally drafted by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 1994 draft.  He advanced through the Phillies system one level at a time, htting .353 in the FSL in 1995 and .290/.519 with 24 homeruns at triple-A in 1998 which was his breakout season as a prospect although he actually made his major league debut in 1996 during a cup of coffee promotion.  Despite his decent minor league numbers, Magee never received more than 142 at-bats in his four tours of duty with the Phillies and was eventually dealt to the Tigers in the spring of 2000 for minor leaguer Bobby Sismundo.   Aside from seven triple-A at-bats in 2000, Magee has spent the last three years as a backup outfielder with the Tigers that included a .271/.289/.383 season last year which was cut short by surgery on his right big toe in September.  The right-handed hitter split pretty evenly (.252 vs LHP, .258 vs RHP) the last three years and he can play all three outfield positions which could be an important factor in him sneaking onto the roster.  He doesn't bring much speed to the table (7 of 15 career steals), or power (.376 career slugging, although his minor league numbers are better) and plate discipline has been a problem throughout his career, which culminated in an unbelievably low 10 walks in 347 at-bats last year.    Right now, he looks destined for Buffalo as triple-A insurance but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he sneaks onto the opening day roster if Matt Lawton isn't healthy at the end of March, Magee has a better spring than Chris Magruder, and the Tribe elects to send Coco Crisp and Alex Escobar to Buffalo for more seasoning.  

With the Spencer signing, the Indians 40-man roster looks pretty well set heading into spring training. Here's how it breaks down...

PITCHERS (21): Bob Wickman, Carl Sadler, Danys Baez, David Riske, Mark Wohlers, Terry Mulholland, Aaron Myette, Alex Herrera, Chad Paronto, Jake Westbrook, Jerrod Riggan, CC Sabathia, Clifton Lee, Jeremy Guthrie, Ricardo Rodriguez, Brian Anderson, Jason Bere, Alberto Cruceta, Brian Tallet, Fernando Cabrera, Jason Davis

CATCHERS (2): Josh Bard, Victor Martinez

INFIELDERS (7): Travis Hafner, Ben Broussard, Johnny McDonald, Omar Vizquel, Ricky Gutierrez, Brandon Phillips, Jhonny Peralta

OUTFIELDERS (10): Ellis Burks, Matt Lawton, Milton Bradley, Karim Garcia, Shane Spencer, Alex Escobar, Coco Crisp, Luis Garcia, Jody Gerut, Ryan Church

The above 40 will be joined in spring training by the following minor leaguers who have already been invited to major league camp: Wendell Magee, Dave Burba, Casey Blake, Mike Thurman, AJ Hinch, Dave Elder, Chris Magruder, Jason Boyd, Jason Beverlin, Tim Laker, Bill Selby, Jack Cressend, Jose Santiago, Greg Larocca, and Jason Phillips.   Earl Snyder will probably be added to this list if he stays with the organization.  I don't recall if Dusty Wathan received an invite but it wouldn't surprise me if he did just to have another catcher in camp.   Prospects who should receive a spring invite include Billy Traber, Lance Caraccioli, and Jason Stanford.  You may also see a few high-profile double-A guys like Corey Smith get an invite just to expose them to the big league clubhouse and coaching staff for a couple of weeks while also providing them some extra training and instruction.  Apologies if I left anyone of.  We'll have the official list in a few days or weeks anyway.

Updated winterball stats (non-Arizona leagues) and some brief comments...

                        BA  OBP  SLG  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB  K
Chris Magruder (DR)   .277 .397 .415 23  65 16 18  1  1  2   8 13  8
Jhonny Peralta (VZ)   .227 .244 .568 13  44  9 10  1  1  4  11  1 12
Scott Pratt (MX)      .197 .307 .263 23  76 11 15  1  2  0   4 11 19
Alex Requena (VZ)     .125 .222 .125 16   8  4  1  0  0  0   0  1  3
Bill Selby (MX)       .282 .321 .410 19  78  6 22  7  0  1  11  5 14
Earl Snyder (DR)      .088 .139 .088 10  34  0  3  0  0  0   0  1  3
Luis Garcia (MX)      .307 .359 .456 68 274 40 84 16  2  7  35 22 34
Karim Garcia (MX)     .500 .563 .786  5  14  3  7  1  0  1   2  1  0
Victor Martinez (VZ)  .295 .405 .493 42 146 25 43  9  1  6  22 25 23
Dennis Malave (XX)    .238 .304 .286 21  21  1  5  1  0  0   1  0  5
Sergio Marin (VZ)     .182 .250 .364 18  11  3  2  0  1  0   1  1  2
Jose Canizalez (VZ)   .250 .276 .286 22  28  6  7  1  0  0   1  1  7
Coco Crisp (DR)       .333 .385 .375  7  24  3  8  1  0  0   4  2  6
Coco Crisp (PN)       .188 .371 .208 14  48  8  9  1  0  0   1 14  8
Travis Hafner (PR)    .319 .433 .514 21  72 11 23  8  0  2  13 13 14

Travis Hafner posted an impressive .947 OPS before being pulled out of Puerto Rico prior to the trade.  Chris Magruder showed some nice plate discipline (13 walks, .397 OBP) in the Dominican.  Jhonny Peralta did not, however, as he struck out 12 times while walking only once, although he did hit four bombs.  Luis Garcia had a nice season in Mexico as did Victor Martinez in Venezuela.  Martinez continued to be an on-base machine, posting a .405 OBP while going deep six times.  Garcia stole 10 bases. Coco Crisp struggled at the plate (.188) in the Dominican but walked 14 times to post a nice .371 OBP.

                      W L   ERA  G GS SV   IP  H ER  R HR BB  K
Oscar Alvarez (VZ)    2 4  3.38  9  7  0 37.1 39 15 14  3 16 24
Fernando Cabrera (PR) 0 0  2.53 11  0  0 21.1 20 11  6  1 11 21
Aquiles Pinales (DR)  0 1  0.83 14  0  0 21.2 10  3  2  0  5  8
Rodolfo Navarro (MX)  0 0  2.63 12  0  0 13.2 12  4  4  2  3  5
Hank Thoms (VZ)       0 1  6.48  2  2  0  8.1  6  6  6  0  5  6
Carlos Alvarado (XX)  0 0 15.43  6  0  0  2.1  5  5  4  0  4  1
Alex Herrera (VZ)     0 1  3.18 16  0  9 17.0 13  6  6  3  7 24
Jose Vargas (DR)      2 2  3.57 21  0  7 22.2 19  9  9  0  4 28
Jose Vargas (PN)      0 0  0.00  2  0  2  4.0  1  0  0  0  1  2
Matt White (DR)       0 1  3.92 21  0  4 20.2 21 11  9  0  6 27
Aaron Myette (DR)     1 4  5.11  7  0  0 24.2 25 18 14  0 17 22

Note the impressive work of Alex Herrera, especially the 24 strikeouts in 17 innings.  Fernando Cabrera also did some impressive work in his first extended stint out of the bullpen, posting a nice IP/K ratio although the walks were a little high.  Likewise, Jose Vargas posted some nice strikeout numbers (28 in 22.2 IP) while only walking four.  Aaron Myette struggled with his control but posted a solid IP/K ratio.  Matt White's 27 strikeouts are one of the reasons he was picked in the Rule 5 Draft by the Red Sox.

The newly formed Veterans Committee will announce the results of their balloting for the Hall of Fame on February 26.  You can cast your online ballot over at Baseball Prospectus.  I voted for Joe Gordon, Walter O'Malley, Charlie Finley, Marvin Miller, and Gabe Paul.   I know, I know, but someone's got to vote for Gabe.

Wow. Did you see the Colon trade yesterday? Of course you did because you're on the CIR mailing list, right? Anyway, the White Sox acquired Colon from the Expos in a three-way deal that also involved the Yankees. According to ESPN, the White Sox traded Antonio Osuna and minor leaguer Delaris Lantigua to the Yankees for Orlando Hernandez and cash. The Sox then dealt El Duque, Rocky Biddle, Jeff Liefer and cash to the Expos for Colon and minor leaguer Jorge Nunez. Simply put, this is a great deal for the White Sox. Colon and Buehrle are a formidable duo at the top of the rotation and they sacrificed none of their offense. The TwinsGeek is not happy (and I don't blame him) while they're doing cartwheels (well, as much as a bunch of sausage stuffing Swerski wannabes can possibly do) over at White Sox Interactive.

For reference, Mark Shapiro acquired three top prospects for Colon in Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, and Cliff Lee. Omar Minaya acquired Orlando Hernandez, Jeff Leifer, Rocky Biddle, and some cash. Whether Shapiro correctly forecasted the economic sensability that is dominating moves this offseason, I don't know, but he certainly looks smart for dealing Colon when his salary was at an attractive level ($4.5 million) as opposed to the higher level ($6-8.25 million) it will be in 2003. You can never evaluate a trade until three years down the line but, for now, I'm putting my money on the Indians looking good in the end. Of course, if you never thought we should have dealt Colon in the first place, you probably disagree with me. As for facing Colon this season, it sucks, but the Indians aren't going to contend anyway so it makes no difference in my opinion. Long-term, Colon always had the option of signing a long-term deal with another American League team after the 2003 season so the possibility always existed the Indians would face him someday. The only downside is that the White Sox have exclusive negotiating rights with him for the next 10 months. Let's hope he and his agent decide to wait and see if the 2003 free-agent market is any more player friendly than this winter has been. That would be the smart play in my opinion.

I forgot to mention on Monday that I went down to the Convo and saw LeBron James play last Sunday.  This may sound strange but he's so dominant that it's almost hard to tell how good he really is.   He's so much bigger, stronger, faster, and more athletic than anyone else on the court that it was almost silly watching him dominate the supposed #14 team in the nation (Detroit Redford).  A majority of his points were within 10 feet and he missed most of his jumpers from the outside so if there's a weakness in his game, I suppose that's it.   But everything else you're looking for, he's got.  He made a couple of sweet passes while leading the break, swatted (and disrupted) more than a few shots, and every rebound he went after, he got.   And that's not to mention the thunderous slam off a missed shot and the steal at half court that led to a monster tomahawk dunk (I swear he was looking down at the rim) that finally brought the crowd to its feet.  I have no idea whether he's the next Michael Jordan, but I would definitely say he has an NBA body and should be able to contribute at the NBA level next year.  His teammates really impressed me too.  They probably would not be ranked #1 in the country without LeBron, but they would still definitely rank among the top teams in Northeast Ohio and the state.

A little more on LeBron.  The game was not a sellout (8,000 my guess, 13,000 capacity).  Parking started at $20 across the street from the Convo and generally ranged from $15 to $10 unless you were a cheapskate like myself who kept driving until you found a $5 lot.   Guys were selling LeBron James T-shirts (looked pretty nice) for $15 on the street and scalpers were everywhere.   I did not see the Hummer in the parking lot but I did see his Mom in the stands.  Let's just say that she is a little animated while watching the game and leave it at that.  The place emptied (myself included) when LeBron exited with two-plus minutes to go in the game.  All in all, while the crowd was generally deal, it was the most buzz I have seen at the Convo since opening night against Michigan back in '91 or '92.  It's such a great facility to watch a game, it's a shame that CSU doesn't have a basketball team to go with it.   

Oh yeah, the Hummer.  I'm not so sure that LeBron should not be able to take advantage of his impending millions right now.  I mean, if a dealership or any other store is willing to give him the credit until he signs an NBA or shoe contract, what's the harm?   I know, he's only in high school.  That's why I said I'm not so sure.  Anyway, who's to say that his Mom didn't purchase the Hummer under some sort of "no payments until 2004" deal.   Would that be illegal?  Certainly it's a workaround of the rules, but I don't see how that could be illegal.  One thing I do question, however, is the fact that the James family had to know the OSHAA rules and regulations on such a matter as SVSM would have undoubtably reviewed this with the family many times in order to protect his eligibility.  If that's the case, could they not have waited until after the HS playoffs were over?  Or even until June and the NBA draft?  Did he really need to replace his Ford Explorer with a Hummer that badly?  Regardless of whether they'll "get away" with this purchase and save his eligibility, this whole situation was poorly timed and doesn't show a lot of smarts on the part of his advisors.

Celebrity Mole is much better than I expected. Ahmad is fine, but he's no Anderson Cooper. Kathy Griffin is The Mole. 24 rocks, Andy Richter is the funniest show on television, and why am I being sucked in by the Real World-Road Rules Challenge? Oh yeah, because I'm a moron.

Have a good weekend everyone. Some cool stuff coming on Monday.


January 15, 2003  

The Indians designated Earl Snyder for assignment to make room for Shane Spencer on the 40-man roster. The Tribe now has 10 days to trade, release, or outright Snyder to the minors if he clears waivers. More in the next CIR.

The Indians signed outfielder Wendell Magee to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Magee hit .271/.289/.383 with six homeruns for the Tigers last year. More in the next CIR.

Wow. The White Sox acquired Bartolo Colon from the Expos in a three-way deal that also involved the Yankees. According to ESPN, the White Sox traded Antonio Osuna and minor leaguer Delaris Lantigua to the Yankees for Orlando Hernandez. The Sox then dealt El Duque, Rocky Biddle, Jeff Liefer and cash to the Expos for Colon and minor leaguer Jorge Nunez. Simply put, this is a great deal for the White Sox. Colon and Buehrle are a formidable duo at the top of the rotation and they sacrificed none of their offense. I wonder what TwinsGeek will have to say about this as the gap between the Twins and White Sox is a heck of a lot smaller this morning. More in the next CIR.


January 14, 2003  

The Indians officially announced the signing of Shane Spencer to a one-year contract this afternoon. A roster move to free up a spot on the 40-man roster will be announced later today. More in the next CIR.

Tuesday, January 14

Spring Training Dates to remember:

February 14: Pitchers/Catchers Report 
February 15: Physicals/Testing   
February 16: First Workout   
February 19: Position Players Report   
February 20: Physicals/Testing   
February 21: First Full Squad Workout   
February 26: Photo Day   
February 28: First Exhibition Game   
March 27: Final Florida Game/Break Date       

No official word yet on the Shane Spencer signing. It's been reported that he needed to pass a physical first which may (or may not) have taken place last week. The Indians may also simply be waiting for a player to clear waivers (or some other transaction) to clear up a spot for him on the 40-man roster which is full at the moment. My money continues to be on a designation of Chad Paronto for assignment.

Reports on Ricky Gutierrez continue to be good although the acid test will come when he takes the field in Winter Haven.

Peter Gammons has some interesting lists in his latest Diamond Notes column.  In a poll of front office executives and scouts, among the rookies that could have the most impact this season, the Indians new first basemen Travis Hafner was ranked #2, potential rotation member Cliff Lee was #8, and surprisingly, right-handed starter Kyle Denney was listed among the honorable mentions.  Denney bounced back from surgery with a strong 2002 campaign and it's nice to see him get some publicity.  Eight more players were listed as second half impact players and numbers three and six on the list were Victor Martinez and Brandon Phillips.  Danys Baez checked in at #19 on the list of top 20 breakout candidates.

ESPN has the Indians Hot Stove Heater posted along with the minor league report by John Sickels. The general mood of both pieces are positive, noting the abundance of young talent in the organization, and they both forecast a return to contention in a few years.

The South Georgia Waves (South Atlantic League), with Don Mattingly and Cal Ripken in the new ownership group, announced plans yesterday to move to Evansville, Indiana (thanks Franchise!) and play in a proposed 6,000 seat downtown stadium.   Not that it wasn't official already, but this should cement the Lake County Captains move to the Midwest League for 2004.  The previous concern was that the Captains switch of leagues would have left both the MWL and Sally League unbalanced (odd number of teams).  That shouldn't be a problem anymore as both the Captains and the new Evansville franchise should make the move together to the Midwest League.

Alberto Garza signed a minor league contract with the Yankees and this is one six-year free agent that I hope does not come back to the bite the Indians in the foot.  Moved to the bullpen in 2001 after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2000 and a bout of wildness as a starter, Garza rebounded by striking out 123 Carolina League hitters in 76.2 innings for Kinston.  Moving up a level to Akron last year, Garza posted a 1.72 ERA, striking out 45 in 36.2 innings while walking 29.  He also spent quite a bit of time on the disabled list with a strained shoulder and strained back over the summer.  Garza was once ranked among the Indians top 10 prospects by Baseball America but fell out of favor when he lost the ability to throw the ball over the plate in 1999 and his subsequent injuries.  If he can stay healthy, Garza's arm makes him a legitimate relief candidate for the major leagues.  He's the kind of player who disappears under the radar and suddenly has a breakout season at age 29 with his fourth organization.  It's the reason why guys with great arms always get another look, you never know when the arm, the mind, and the body are all going to click at the same time.

Former Indian Willie Martinez signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Mike Buddie inked a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Scott Winchester signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers.  Paul Rigdon was released by the Brewers. He spent all of last season on the DL with shoulder problems.

The Reds signed RHP Paul Wilson to a 2-year, $4 million deal. This is a nice signing by the Reds as Wilson is another great arm, health concerns pitcher who has a lot of untapped potential. If the names sounds familiar, you may remember him from the Mets "future ace" trio that also included Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen. If the Indians were interested, I suspect the guaranteed second year and cost of the deal ($2 million per) removed them from the bidding. With all the young pitchers on the way, I think that was probably a wise decision.

The Tigers traded pitcher Mark Redman to the Marlins for a trio of minor leaguers that included LHP Rob Henkel, whom I really like. Long-term, this could be a good deal for the Tigers. From the Indians perspective, it's nice to get an Tribe-killer out of the American League. Over the previous three seasons, the soft-tossing Redman was 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts against the Tribe.

In a couple of procedural moves, former Cleveland State star Keith Lillash was placed on the restricted list at Mahoning Valley and Eric Johnson was reinstated from the disqualified list.  I believe Lillash retired last season and this might be simply a procedural move to allow the Indians to keep his rights.  Johnson, the Tribe's 3rd round pick in 1999, last played with the Indians in 2001 before retiring.  He's spent the last two years on the Chicago Bears practice squad as a defensive back.

Derek Shelton was named the Indians hitting coordinator where he will continue to develop and maintain the organization's hitting philosophy (according to the official release). Shelton has spent the last three years managing in the Yankees system, where he most recently led the Staten Island Yankees to a first place finish in the NY-Penn League last season, and which should make him somewhat familiar with a few of the Indians lower-level prospects.

Former Indian Chico Carrasquel was beaten during a carjacking in Venezuela. He's recovering and plans to return to the States shortly. Civil unrest in that country forced the premature end of the Venezuelan Winter League and the United States has now placed a January 20 deadline for visa applications.

If you like mysteries and games that make you think, check out Chasing the Wish, an ARG that is scheduled to start in the next few weeks.


January 09, 2003  

ESPN has the Indians Hot Stove Heater and minor league report posted today.

Thursday, January 9

While the Indians may be making news with their recent signings, the big news of the day is the "Strata-Coaster" being built over at Cedar Point. Details and the name of their 16th coaster were finally released today and, if you'll permit me to be holophrastic, it looks AW-SHUM!!. 420 feet, 120 mph, 4 seconds. Those are the only numbers you need to know. Check it out!

I added a guestmap to the CIR website. Stop by and let us know who is your favorite current and all-time Indian player, cast your preference for Stadium Mustard or the yellow stuff, and check out where your fellow Tribe fans are scattered throughout the world!

Word of warning: Today's report is kind of a catchall so it's kind of long. I was cleaning out my mailbox and found some stuff that I had penned previously but, for some reason or another, had never included in the daily reports. So that stuff will be in here, along with the news from this week. Here we go...

The Indians signed free-agent pitcher Jose Santiago to a one-year contract yesterday. The 29-year old spent 2002 with the Phillies organization where he posted a less than stellar 6.70 ERA in 42 relief appearances covering 47 innings and allowing 56 hits, 15 walks, and seven homeruns while striking out 30. He pitched much better in triple-A after clearing waivers in July, posting a 1.29 ERA in 28 innings, allowing 28 hits, seven walks, and striking out 21 in the process. The Puerto Rico native was originally drafted in the 70th round of the 1994 draft by the Kansas City Royals and has spent his entire career working out of the bullpen, with the exception of a few starts in the minor leagues in 1999. I seem to recall some "closer of the future" talk floating around back in 1997/1998 but that was quickly replaced by the Orber Moreno craze that swept up many an unsuspecting rotisserie leaguer in 1999. Santiago's numbers have never been particularly impressive, although he did post a 3.44 ERA (47.1 IP) and a 3.91 ERA (69 IP) in 1999 and 2000 with the Royals. Numbers that are tempered by the hit an inning he allowed and low strikeout rates. After struggling early in 2001 with the Royals (6.75 ERA in 29.1 IP), he was dealt to the Phillies for Paul Byrd in a move that Ed Wade certainly does not like to see publicized. Although, to be fair to the Phillies GM, Santiago did post a 3.62 ERA for the Phils in 62.1 innings so he was effective enough, although that has to be tempered again by the hit per inning he allowed and the low strikeout rate (28 punchouts). Are you detecting a pattern here? Santiago works with a low 90s fastball and slider and is an extreme groundball pitcher, averaging almost 2.5 groundouts to every flyball out. He also lacks a strikeout pitch as evidenced by his career 4.63 K/9 IP rate.

The problem I have with this signing is that the Indians gave him a major league contract and put him on the 40-man roster. If they had inked him to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, no big deal, the more the merrier. But as we've discussed previously, those roster spots are going to become very precious in a few weeks when the Indians need to promote minor leaguers to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft in December and I find it difficult to believe that Jose Santiago is worth more to the Indians organization than the long-term potential of a Ryan Church, Hector Luna, Jody Gerut, or Marshall McDougall, all of whom are Rule 5 eligible this year. While Santiago has experienced some success in the major leagues, he has been far from dominant as evidenced by the more than a hit per inning he has allowed in his career (289 hits in 261.2 innings) and low strikeout rates (mentioned above). There will be dozens of Santiagoesque pitchers available on the major and minor league free-agent market in the upcoming weeks and I can't believe that either Santiago or some other similar pitcher could not be had for a minor league contract with a spring invite. My fear (admittedly this might be too strong of a word) now is that if the Indians think highly enough of him to give him a major league deal and a spot on the 40, they must feel he will be on the opening day roster. Otherwise, why would they use a 40 spot on a marginal pitcher who has to earn a spot on the opening day roster and risk losing a good young player at the start of their rebuilding project. That doesn't make sense.

I'm not going to waste anyone's time with some pathetic fallacy on this signing. It stinks, plain and simple. Santiago is still on the 40 and we lost four players in the Rule 5 draft. Since John Mirabelli stated post Rule 5 that Derek Thompson was #41 on the list, you have to think that the Indians valued the short-term contributions of Santiago more than the potential long-term contributions of Thompson, or Hector Luna, Marshall McDougall, and Matt White, for that matter. Neither of these four may amount to anything but the thought process of valuing an extremely replaceable player more than a decent prospect really bothers me.

And then last night, they designated Santiago for assignment to remove him from the 40 to make room for Terry Mulholland. Keep in mind that he had previously refused such an assignment with the Phillies which is how he became a free-agent and ended up signing with the Indians. If he refuses the Indians assignment (or is claimed on waivers by another team), we will have lost a prospect and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Hopefully, the Indians found out in advance that he would accept a minor league deal and we'll have something (even as marginal as it may be) to show for this poor roster management.

Before Christmas, the Tribe signed former Indian Brian Anderson to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract. Anderson, as we all know, pitched for the Tribe in 1996 and 1997 (1.80 ERA in the 97 playoffs) before being left unprotected for the expansion draft in favor of Jose Mesa (among others) and where he was selected by the Diamondbacks with the first overall pick. Anderson has spent the last five seasons in Arizona, primarily in the starting rotation, where he posted a 41-42 record and a 4.52 ERA. His control has been very good (high of 39 walks in 2000) but he's never allowed less hits than innings pitched and the long ball has been a persistent problem (1 homerun every 5-1/2 innings). Last season, Anderson was bothered by a bruised left thumb early in the year and bounced between the rotation and bullpen (35 games, 24 starts) before finally being sidelined for the season after being hit by a line drive which broke a bone in his left foot on September 21. For the season, he finished with a 4.79 ERA and a 6-11 record in 156 innings, allowing 174 hits and 23 homeruns while walking only 32 and striking out only 81. One other quick note, over the past three seasons, Anderson has been a slow starter, posting a 6.67 ERA in 15 April appearances (9 starts).

Anderson is pretty popular in Cleveland but he really hasn't been all that great of a pitcher since leaving town, especially the last few years. He comes cheap and is signed for only one year so in that regard, the Indians could have done worse for the role he is being asked to fill. His greatest value will be serving as a mentor to fellow southpaws Cliff Lee, Brian Tallet, and Billy Traber. The fact that he is signed inexpensively with no further financial commitment could work into the Indians favor at the trade deadline in July if Anderson is pitching well (or even decently). Teams are always looking for lefty starters and he's not going to break anyone's budget.

Jason Bere is the other starting pitcher that was signed to fill the veteran role that Mark Shapiro wanted for the rotation. Bere signed a 1-year deal for $1 million with incentives that could reach another $1 million according to the Plain Dealer. Asking Bere to work 200 innings may be a stretch, however, since he's only thrown a high of 188 innings (2001) and he's only pitched more than 150 innings twice (2000 and 2001). Bere actually pitched for the Indians back in 2000 although if you don't remember it's for good reason as he posted a 6.63 ERA in 11 starts despite winning 6 games thanks to some strong support from the Indians offense. The last two seasons Bere has pitched for the Cubs where, in 2001, he put together his best season since his debut years with the White Sox in 1993 and 1994. In '01, he posted a 4.31 ERA, winning 11 games, and striking out 175 National League hitters in 188 innings, allowing only 171 hits in the process. Bere did not fare as well last season, however, as he was bothered with a groin injury early in the season and suffered a severely bruised right knee from a Sean Casey line drive in June that effectively ended his season although he did make a late August start where he was pounded for seven runs and seven hits and reaggravated the groin injury which forced him onto the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Overall, Bere posted a 5.67 ERA in 85-2/3 innings and served up 13 gopher balls. If you're looking for a bright spot, he did manage a 4.03 ERA, struck out 22 in 21-2/3 innings, and held opposing hitters to a respectable .253 average against for the month of June prior to being struck by the Casey line drive.

Like Anderson, Bere is cheap and could have some value at the trade deadline if he's pitching well (or decently) due to his low cost. Given his injury history, though, it's doubtful he can make it through an entire season in one piece although he's been more durable later in his career than earlier. At this point, though, he's pretty much a six inning pitcher and if the intent of the veteran starters is to relieve some burden from the bullpen, I don't think Bere is going to be that much of a help as the 'pen should see at least three innings of work in most of his starts. But for the price and role, he's not that bad of a signing. It's not Albie Lopez for $1.5 million.

A.J. Hinch signed a minor league contract with the Indians that included an invite to spring training. He'll battle Tim Laker for the backup catcher spot and I like his chances. Hinch was originally signed by the A's as a third round pick in the 1996 draft out of Stanford after turning down offers from the White Sox in 1992 (2nd round) and Twins in 1995 (3rd round). Baseball America ranked him the number four prospect in the A's organization entering the 1998 season based on a monster 1997 in which he dominated the single-A California League, hitting .309/.387/.583 with 20 homeruns before a promotion to triple-A where he kept on hitting to the tune of .376/.462/.528 with four dingers. Hinch entered 1998 as the A's starting catcher but struggled to duplicate his minor league success, hitting only .231 in 337 at-bats. He didn't fare much better in 1999, hitting only .215 in 205 at-bats while watching Ramon Hernandez emerge from the minor leagues as the A's catcher of the future. The new millennium found AJ at triple-A Sacramento for most of the season and he was finally dealt to the Kansas City Royals in early January of 2001. His tenure with the Royals was marked by the same characteristics as his time with the A's, mashed triple-A pitching, overmatched by major league pitching. In his two years in the bigs in KC, Hinch hit a combined .214 in 318 at-bats with 13 homeruns (3 against the Indians last year). In triple-A, however, he posted .321/.363/.583 numbers with 10 homeruns in 168 at-bats in 2001. As a backstop, he threw out 34% of baserunners in his first full big-league season but the numbers have steadily declined since then to a low of 19% (9 of 48) last season.

I've always been intrigued by Hinch but that may be a byproduct of the Baseball America ranking more than anything else. It's often said that catchers tend to develop later than other position players due to the demands of their position. If that's the case, then maybe the Indians will get lucky here because Hinch has certainly shown that he can hit and hit with power at the triple-A level. And as Ron Shandler says, once you own a skill, you own it forever. It just may disappear for a while. So as a low risk signing, I like this move. At a minimum, Hinch will be a nice triple-A caddy for the young hurlers.

Dusty Wathan was signed to a minor league contract by the Indians and he'll most likely serve as the backup catcher for triple-A Buffalo this season. Wathan is the son of former Royals catcher and manager John Wathan, of whom I believe one of his old bats is sitting in my parents garage right now. But anyway, like Hinch, Wathan spent 2002 with the Royals organization (along with 25 at-bats in the Brewers system) and was 3-for-5 with an RBI in his major league debut last September. In addition, he hit .288/.385/.375 with 1 homerun in 160 at-bats for triple-A Omaha last year.

The player we had but never really did. If you recall, Chapman was the player the Indians selected from the Phillies (take that for signing Jim Thome) in the Rule 5 draft and then traded to the Tigers for cash considerations, which was expected to be in the $100,000 range along with the $50,000 needed to cover the cost of selecting a player. Chapman is starting to get some play in the prospect rankings that are coming out and you have to wonder why the Indians didn't just keep Chapman for the spring and see what he could contribute given the huge hole at third base in the upper levels of the Indians farm system and the big leagues. Plus they had the roster spot open since they failed to resign Thome. Chapman hit .301/.388/.473 with 35 doubles and 15 homeruns in double-A last season which would appear to be worth a look on the surface. Either the Indians really believe Ricky Gutierrez will be ready to play, Marshall McDougall will be returned from the Rangers, or they really wanted that $100,000. Or perhaps, they just felt Chapman wasn't going to stick at the major league level. Regardless, I was a little puzzled by this whole scenario.

As expected, both Terry Mulholland and Dave Burba resigned with the Indians yesterday, the last day they were allowed to until May 1 since the Indians had offered them arbitration in December. Mulholland signed a one-year contract for $500,000 (according to the local papers) while Burba inked a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Mark Shapiro indicated in the Plain Dealer this morning that Mulholland is one of four "sure things" in the bullpen (along with Danys Baez, Mark Wohlers, and Carl Sadler), while Burba will battle for one of the three remaining spots with Aaron Myette, David Riske, Jerrod Riggan, Chad Paronto, Jake Westbrook, Dave Elder, Jose Santiago, and others. It's expected that Myette has a spot locked up barring a complete spring collapse since he is out of options and would likely be claimed should the Indians attempt to sneak him through waivers thanks to his live arm so Burba is essentially in the mix for two spots. I don't really have a problem with either of these moves. Signing a player to a minor league contract never hurts and Mulholland is versatile enough to serve as a functional 12th man on the staff for long relief, middle relief, situational relief, and the occasional start. He also reportedly works well with the kids and is eager to teach and those are skills that should play well in the Indians young clubhouse. And at this point in the Indians development cycle, if you need a reliever to pitch 3-4 days in a row on an empty tank of gas, I'd rather have it be a graybeard like Mulholland than risking injury to a youngster.

The New York Times is reporting that Shane Spencer has signed a one-year deal with the Indians, although no official word has been received from the Indians front office yet. Spencer has long been rumored to be among the candidates for Shapiro's "right-handed bat who can play corner outfield and firstbase" so I would be surprised if this is not going to come to fruition, especially after reading Spencer's comments in the Times article. I'll reserve comment until it becomes official because my fingers are getting tired.

In another strange roster move, the Indians removed Chris Magruder from the 40 and signed him to a minor league contract. My brain hurts from the Jose Santiago thing so I'm not going to ponder this one too much. Magruder still stands a decent shot at making the big league roster as a backup outfielder depending on the health of Matt Lawton and his own spring performance.

Former Indian Eddie Murray (85.3%) and Gary Carter (78%) were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday. Bruce Sutter was the next closest with 53% of the vote. Looking into the future, 2004 has no definites, although Eck and Paul Molitor will merit strong consideration. 2005 brings Wade Boggs to the ballot and 2006 finds former Indians Albert Belle and Orel Hershiser eligible for the first time. It's not until 2007 that a definite first ballot player appears and there's three of them that year in the form of Cal Ripken, Mark McGwire, and Tony Gwynn.

I forgot to mention this in Monday's report, but buried in a Denver Post article is a brief note that states the Indians are talking with Andres Galarraga about a one-year deal to serve as a backup first basemen and part-time DH. The Big Cat is cool and would have some value as a mentor and fielding coach to Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard but with the Indians likely to carry a 12-man staff and Ellis Burks already on the roster as a full-time DH, tying up another spot with another veteran DH doesn't sound too smart to me. I would rather see those at-bats go to Earl Snyder or some other younger player(s). Guess this is kind of moot with the Spencer signing.

In a move that I suspect we all knew was coming, the Phillies have hired Charlie Manuel as a special assistant. He'll serve as a roving major and minor league hitting instructor and the article notes that he'll be in uniform, on the bench, during some big league games. Most likely, when Jim Thome is mired in a slump.

Former Indian Albie Lopez signed a one-year deal with the Royals worth $1.5 million. Doesn't that seem like a lot for Lopez? Anyway, he's slated for middle relief but I think he's got a pretty good shot at making their opening day rotation with all the young starters they have.

Will Carroll announced that he is discontinuing Under the Knife as we know it and has joined forces with Baseball Prospectus. Best of luck to Will and keep your eyes on the BP site for further details.

Talks continue with the city of Fort Myers on the possibility of the Indians relocating their spring training facilities there for the 2004 season. Nothing against Winter Haven, but it'll be better for me if this happens.

As expected, the tOSU-Miami game is an “Instant Classic” and will be shown this Saturday on ESPN Classic at 8:00 PM ET.

The New York Times is reporting that Shane Spencer has signed a one-year deal with the Indians. More details later today in the CIR.


January 08, 2003  

As expected, Dave Burba and Terry Mulholland resigned with the Indians today. Mulholland inked a one-year major league deal while Burba agreed to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. More in the next CIR.


January 07, 2003  

Former Indian Eddie Murray (85.3%) and Gary Carter (78%) were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as announced on MLB radio a few minutes ago. Do you think Eddie will go in as an Indian? :-)

Official results direct from the Hall of Fame.

List of players eligible for election in upcoming years. 2004 has no definites, although Eck and Paul Molitor will merit strong consideration. 2005 brings Wade Boggs to the ballot and 2006 finds Albert Belle and Orel Hershiser eligible for the first time. It's not until 2007 that a definite first ballot player appears and there are three of them in Cal Ripken, Mark McGwire, and Tony Gwynn.


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