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July 31, 2003  

Record:44-62, 4th Place, 13.5 GB
Last:Won 4-2 in Oakland on Wednesday
Streak:Won one
Next:Today in Oakland, 3:35 PM ET
Matchup:Jake Westbrook (4-5, 4.15) vs Rich Harden (1-0, 1.29)
On Deck:Three games in Texas this weekend

Anyone else surprised at the apparent lack of interest in Brian Anderson on the trade market?  Bravo to Mark Shapiro, though, if he's simply choosing to ignore the probable low-ball offers of grade C prospects.   There's no sense in dealing BA unless we can add something of value in return.  I'm just flabbergasted that his name is not being mentioned anywhere.   And where the heck is Peter Gammons these days?  I would think that this would be his prime time of the season and all we get is one article on  Have Billy Beane and Theo Epstein imposed a gag order on him?  What gives?

Kyle Denney was lifted due to blisters after recording only four outs in a spot start for Buffalo yesterday.  The Buffalo News speculates that he could be headed for the disabled list.   Victor Kliene (Kinston) also made a spot start for Buffalo and pitched pretty well (see recaps below).  Jose Santiago will start today for the Bisons in an emergency start while Kazuhito Tadano is expected to make a one-day appearance in the Bisons bullpen.

Shane Wallace was released from Akron after posting a combined 5.10 ERA in 30 innings (35H, 17W, 16K, .289 BAA) for the Aeros and Mahoning Valley this season.  Wallace was the Indians 6th round in the 1999 draft who enjoyed a breakthrough 2001 first half (10-2, 1.61) at Kinston before blowing out his elbow that June.  The left-hander has been recovering the past two seasons but was clearly not the same pitcher.  He showed a lot of promise early but too many young arms have been added to the organization over the past two years that are more deserving of his innings.

Taking Wallace's roster spot will be the rehabbing Paul Rigdon who joins the Aeros rotation after making three starts in the Valley (3.60 ERA, 10IP, 11H, 3BB, 8K).

Burlington closer Chip Southerland was promoted to Mahoning Valley after he dominated the Appy League with a 0.53 ERA, .164 BAA, and 24 punchouts in 17 innings.  He was old for that league so temper your enthusiasm.

Jayson Stark notes in his analysis of the Jim Bowden/Bob Boone firing by the Reds that Cincinnati ownership had vetoed four monster trades in the last two years, two of which would have brought the Reds Bartolo Colon and Chuck Finley.  Unless the Colon deal had involved Austin Kearns, I'm glad those trades fell through.

Dan Miceli was traded from the Yankees to Houston for a PTBNL or cash.  He had previously been designated for assignment by the Yankees and the fact he was traded to the Astros suggests that a team with a higher waiver priority had placed a claim on him.  It could very well have been the Indians.

ESPN has a funny and interesting article on GM relationships that is worth a read.  Rotisserie leaguers should especially enjoy it.

Rudy Seanez was released by the Red Sox.  He had a 6.23 ERA in nine games for Boston this season.  Ron Wright was released by the Tigers.  Jon Hamilton signed with the White Sox.

Chad Fox was also released by the Sawx after they acquired Scott Williamson from the Red Legs.  When healthy, Fox can be a dominant reliever as evidenced by his 2001 season in which he held opposing hitters to a .181 BAA and fanned 80 in 66.2 innings.  Unfortunately, though, Fox is rarely healthy.   He missed most of this season with a strained oblique muscle and struggled with his control when he returned (18 IP, 17W, 19K, 4.50 ERA, .264 BAA)  If a contending team doesn't take a chance on Fox, I wouldn't mind seeing the Indians bring him in for an audition to see if he can be a part of the 2004 bullpen.  Low risk, potentially nice reward.

What else am I forgetting? Milton Bradley? CC Sabathia? Ryan Ludwick? Francisco Cruceta? Oh well, we'll get to them tomorrow. Here's the recaps.

BUFFALO (60-50, 2nd Place, 2.0 GB): The Bisons lost a pair of games to Syracuse yesterday.   In the opener, Josh Bard belted his 5th homerun and also singled and walked in the 7-3 loss.  Brandon Phillips doubled and singled.  Lyle Mouton rapped a pair of doubles and Mark Little and Chris Wakeland also had two hits apiece.  Kyle Denney worked only 1-1/3 innings (2 ER, 3K) before being removed with a blister.

In the nightcap, Victor Kliene made the jump from Kinston and allowed just one earned run (two total) in five innings but the Bisons lost 3-2.  Kliene struck out four, walked four, and allowed four hits.  Alex Escobar belted his 20th homerun and singled.  Scott Pratt singled and Brandon Phillips and Lyle Mouton added basehits.

AKRON (69-43, 1st Place, 7.0 GA):  Luis Gonzalez singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Aeros a 7-6 come-from-behind victory on Wednesday.  Gonzalez was on base four times in the game, twice via a basehit and twice via a walk.  Grady Sizemore also had two hits and stole a base.  Nate Grindell doubled twice and walked.  Brian Luderer doubled and singled while Hector Luna singled twice.  Corey Smith singled and stole a base.  Joe Inglett singled and walked.  Keith Ramsey permitted six runs on 10 hits and two walks in 5.1 innings of work.  Jake Robbins, Jose Vargas, and Oscar Alvarez each tossed two scoreless innings of relief.

KINSTON (21-16, 1st Place, 0.5 GA): JJ Sherrill belted a solo homerun (#2) in the 10th inning to keep the Indians alive and then followed with a RBI single in the 12th to give the K-Tribe a 9-8 extra-inning victory over Myrtle Beach.  Sherrill also doubled, walked twice, and stole a base.  Jason Cooper also went deep (#5), doubled, and walked.  Ivan Ochoa extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a triple and single.  Dave Wallace, Eider Torres, and Dennis Malave all had two hits in the game.  Rick Elder walked four times.  Jake Dittler allowed five runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings.  Ryan Prahm was touched for two runs in 3.1 innings.  Lee Gronkiewicz was charged with an unearned run in his 2.1 innings on the bump.  Scott Sturkie worked a scoreless frame and infielder Matt Knox worked a scoreless 12th inning (walking one and striking out one) for his first win.  The Kinston Free Press notes that Knox was throwing in the 90s.  The K-Tribe made six errors (Sherrill, Rodney Choy Foo, Elder, Wallace-2, and Torres) in the game.

LAKE COUNTY (27-12, 1st Place, 5.0 GB): Ben Francisco belted two homeruns (#5-6) and drove in five runs to lead the Captains to a 13-6 victory.  Francisco (.273) also doubled and walked.  Nathan Panther singled twice, tripled, and stole a base (#29).  Shaun Larkin singled twice and walked.  Eric Johnson rapped a couple of hits.  Micah Schilling tripled and walked and Michael Aubrey added a basehit.  Sean Smith allowed five runs in four innings on six hits and five walks while striking out only one.  Carlos De La Cruz fanned six in three innings of relief.

MAHONING VALLEY (18-24, 2nd Place, 15.0 GB): The Scrappers lost 4-3 to Batavia.  Juan Lara allowed four runs in four innings on seven hits and two walks while striking out five.  Kevin Kouzmanoff belted his third homerun and singled.

BURLINGTON (23-20, 3rd Place, 3.0 GB): The B-Tribe knocked off Kingsport 6-5.  Brandon Pinckney had three hits, including a double, and also stole a base.  Teodoro Encarnacion and Chris Clem had two hits.  Caleb Brock tripled.  Adam Miller (4.42) struggled through 3.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out two.  Aaron Laffey fanned six in 3.2 innings of one-run ball while Matt Haynes worked two scoreless frames for his first save.


July 29, 2003  


Record:44-61, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Won 3-2 over Minnesota on Sunday in 14 innings
Streak:Won two in a row
Next:Tonight in Oaktown, 10:05 PM ET
Matchup:Brian Anderson (8-7, 4.17) vs Mark Mulder (13-7, 3.07)
On Deck:Three games in Tejas this weekend

(Pssst...check out what Travis Foley and Fausto Carmona did last night.)

Not a lot of talk on the trade front involving the Indians right now. The Milton Bradley rumors have cooled save for that one San Diego newspaper report and Brian Anderson's name is not being mentioned in any of the rumor columns. He can impact that tonight with a good outing against the A's in Oakland, whom he held to three runs in 7.1 innings in a May 18 start in Jacobs Field that ended in a no-decision. Since a slow start, BA has gone 6-2 with a 3.42 ERA in 10 starts in June and July but that $600k trade escalator may be what keeps him with the Indians for the rest of the season. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Before I forget, first homerun for Jhonny Peralta, first win for Rafael Betancourt, and first Cleveland homerun for Ryan Ludwick over the weekend.

Mark Little (.304/.364/.449/.813) has been reinstated from the disabled list in Buffalo. Reed Secrist has apparently retired as he was placed on the voluntary retired list by the Bisons. He hit .246/.316/.464 (17-for-69) with three homeruns for the Bisons. The 33-year old Secrist ends his 12-year career with over 1,000 games in the minor leagues but none in the bigs.

Eric Crozier has been placed on the disabled list in Akron with a sore back which is something that he's been battling against all season since it was disclosed that he has two hairline fractures in his spine (ouch). His average is down from 2002 but the power numbers are up which makes his numbers (.249/.344/.466/.810, 10 2B, 15 HR, 39 W, 74 K) moderately impressive considering what he's playing through on a daily basis. Ryan Church took his spot on the roster when he was activated from the DL over the weekend.

Travis Foley is rounding into shape down in Kinston as he was sensational again last night in shutting out Myrtle Beach for seven innings, allowing only two hits and a walk in the process. Foley (8-8, 3.93) has been dominating in July as he's gone 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA and allowed just 11 hits and seven walks in 23.1 innings. He was bothered early in the season by a muscle strain in his right forearm but I think that is safely behind him. I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch in Akron next season.

Kinston closer Lee Gronkiewicz notched his 27th save last night (tying his total last year in Columbus) with a scoreless final inning in which he fanned two batters. Gronkiewicz leads the Carolina League in saves and is holding opponents to a .209 average and 2.58 ERA in 36 appearances covering 38.1 innings. He's permitted just 29 hits and 12 walks for a tasty 1.076 WHIP while striking out 31. Undrafted free-agents tend to slide well under the radar and level out at the class-A level but I think Gronkiewicz has pitched himself into an opportunity to throw in Akron next year.

Wily Taveras (.288/.383/.369, 51 SB) is nursing a sore hammy in Kinston (which answers my question from yesterday), according to the Kinston Free Press.

Speaking of closers, Lake County stopper Todd Pennington has been particularly filthy down in the South Atlantic League as he's racked up 18 saves while holding hitters to a .120 average and microscopic 0.78 ERA in 34 appearances covering 34.2 innings. He's struck out an incredible 61 hitters (almost two per inning) while allowing just 14 hits and 17 walks (0.906 WHIP). Low-level closers rarely make an impact at the big league level but the former 46th round pick (2001) has certainly posted numbers that warrant him a look at a higher level next season.

What other words can I use to describe Lake County right-hander Fausto Carmona that I haven't used before? Brilliant? Sensational? Outstanding? Big Daddyesque? Whatever you want to call it, Carmona was dealing again last night as he limited Augusta to one run in six innings of work in running his record to a league best 13-3 and lowering his ERA to a league-best 1.58. The big right-hander needed just 68 pitches (of which 50 he threw for strikes) to complete the six frames and the only thing that stopped him from going after his second consecutive complete game was a lighting failure that delayed the game for 36 minutes and resulted in an early trip to the showers for Carmona. In his last six Sally League appearances (he made one start for Akron during this timeframe), the 19-year old has posted a 1.04 ERA in 43.2 innings and has walked just TWO batters and allowed just 28 hits. Two walks, are you freaking kidding me? He has not allowed more than one earned run in a low-A start since June 18 and he has not walked a batter since June 29 (and that includes his six innings for Akron on July 10. I can only suspect that Carmona has been bypassed in favor of Dan Denham and Jake Dittler for a promotion to Kinston since both of those two were repeating the Sally League. The Tribe may also want Carmona to experience success and comfort at one level for an entire season since this is his first full year in the States. Regardless, Carmona is THE breakout prospect for the Indians this year.

Down in the Valley, several draft picks are off to solid debuts. Catcher Ryan Garko (3rd round) is hitting .293/.349/.517/.866 with 3 homeruns in 58 at-bats. Outfielder Ryan Goleski (24th round) is pounding at a .316/.364/.507/871 clip with 10 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 homeruns. He also has 45 strikeouts to just 9 walks in 152 at-bats. 6th rounder Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B) is hitting .305/.400/.453/.853 with 6 doubles and 2 dingers in 95 at-bats while 1st rounder Brad Snyder (OF) is hitting .261/.413/.424/.827 with 6 doubles, 3 triples, 1 longball, and 26 walks to 30 strikeouts in 92 at-bats.

The Newberg Report notes that Ricardo Rodriguez will see a hip specialist Monday in Nashville to determine whether season-ending surgery will be needed to repair torn cartilage in his right hip.

BUFFALO (59-47, 2nd Place, 0.5 GB): The Bisons dropped out of first place with a 4-3 loss to Pawtucket. Jeremy Guthrie (6.95) allowed three runs in 5.2 innings on six hits. He walked none and struck out six but allowed runs in every inning in which the PawSox scored. Matt White allowed a run in one inning while Nick Bierbrodt worked a scoreless frame. Alex Escobar belted his 19th homerun. Lyle Mouton had two hits. Josh Bard walked twice and singled. Brandon Phillips doubled and stole a base. Chris Magruder (.373) and Scott Pratt singled and walked. Former Indian Jamie Brown (1.37) tossed four innings of one-hit relief, striking out three, for the PawSox.

AKRON (67-43, 1st Place, 5.0 GA): The Aeros lost 7-5 to Bowie. Derrick Van Dusen (8-6, 4.15) took the loss after allowing three runs in five innings on ten hits and two walks. He struck out five and served up one homerun. Kazuhito Tadano was charged with three runs (two earned) in three innings of relief. Ryan Larson permitted a run in his one inning on the mound. Joe Inglett (.292) had four hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs. Ryan Church (.272) doubled twice and singled to knock in the other two Akron runs. Luis Gonzalez singled twice and walked. Victor Valencia walked twice and singled. Corey Smith singled and walked and Grady Sizemore added a basehit. Smith committed his 38th error in the field.

KINSTON (19-16, 2nd Place, 0.5 GB): Travis Foley went seven sensational innings in pitching the K-Tribe to a 2-0 shutout victory over Myrtle Beach. Foley (8-8, 3.93) allowed only two hits and a walk while striking out four in a dominating performance. Scott Sturkie and Lee Gronkiewicz (Sv 27, 2.58) worked a scoreless inning apiece to close out the game. Jason Cooper doubled in the eventual gamewinner and also singled. JJ Sherrill also rapped out two hits. Ivan Ochoa extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a baseknock. He also stole his 18th base. Miguel Quintana doubled and Dennis Malave and Luis Cotto singled. Matt Knox drew a walk.

LAKE COUNTY (25-12, 1st Place, 4.5 GA): The Sally League leader in Wins and ERA did not disappoint last night as Fausto Carmona tossed six innings of one-run ball in the Captains 3-1 win over Augusta. Carmona threw 50 of 68 pitches for strikes before being removed after a 36 minute delay caused by a lighting failure. He scattered four hits and walked none while fanning two. Shea Douglas did not allow a run in 2.1 innings and Todd Pennington recorded the final two outs for his 18th save. Javi Herrera (.286) and Micah Schilling (.231) doubled and singled. Nathan Panther walked twice and stole two bases. Shaun Larkin doubled. Chris De La Cruz singled and walked. Ben Francisco and Eric Johnson walked and stole a base. Michael Aubrey also drew a free pass.

MAHONING VALLEY (18-23, 2nd Place, 14.0 GB): The Scrappers split a doubleheader in Jamestown on Monday. Scott Roehl (1-5, 4.58) took the loss in the 3-1 opener after allowing three runs in four innings on four hits and three walks while striking out five. Matt Davis (1.96) finished with two innings of scoreless relief. Ryan Garko provided the only offense with a solo homerun (#3) and he also singled. Scott Threinen and Jesus Colmenter also had two hits. Brad Snyder singled, walked, and stole a base. Cesar Saurez doubled. Mike Conroy and Kevin Kouzmanoff added basehits.

The good guys salvaged the night by prevailing in the nightcap as three hurlers combined on a 7-1 victory. Adam Brandenburg (1-2, 4.15) picked up his first professional win with five innings of shutout ball, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out three. Adam Hanson permitted a run in one inning while Dan Rich worked a scoreless final frame. Anthony Lunetta drove in four runs with three hits, including his 3rd homerun and a double. Josh Noviskey doubled, singled, and walked. Clint Chauncey, Jesus Colmenter, and Kevin Kouzmanoff also had two hits. Ryan Garko and Mike Conroy singled while Brad Snyder walked.

BURLINGTON (21-20, 3rd Place, 3.0 GB): The B-Tribe lost 6-5 to Kingsport. Teodoro Encarnacion drove in three runs with his 4th homerun and a double. He also singled as part of a three-hit night. Mike Woodson doubled and singled while Luis Hodge had two hits and a walk. Chris Clem, Matt Colin, and Juan Valdes added basehits. Nelson Hiraldo (3.89) allowed two runs in three innings, striking out five, and giving up four hits and a walk. Edward Mujica (2-3, 5.06) took the loss when he allowed four runs in one inning. Rodolfo Navarro fanned four in three innings of one-run ball and Chip Southerland (0.53) finished with two scoreless innings.


July 28, 2003  

Cleveland Indians Report -- Monday, July 28  

Record:44-61, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Won 3-2 over Minnesota on Sunday in 14 innings
Streak:Won two in a row
Next:Tuesday in Oakland, 10:05 PM ET
Matchup:Rick Langford (0-0) vs Rick Waits (0-0)
On Deck:Three games in Texas this weekend

News and notes (mostly minor league) from the weekend...

Jason Davis. WOW!

Omar Vizquel is going to continue his current rehab (torn cartilage in right knee) and postpone surgery in the hopes of playing again in 2003. He could begin a rehab assignment in the next two-to-four weeks.

The local papers are reporting that Brian Anderson has a $600k escalator/bonus in his contract that kicks in if he is traded. If BA is dealt, expect the Indians to acquire a lesser prospect if the acquiring team absorbs that additional money. If the Tribe covers the $600k, they could possibly "buy" themselves a more highly regarded prospect.

Brian Tallet was removed from his start in Buffalo after three innings on Saturday with soreness in his left elbow. Preliminary reports indicate it's just a strain. Tallet allowed five runs on five hits (two longballs) and a walk in the Bisons 12-4 loss to Pawtucket.

Ryan Church returned to the lineup in Akron with a single on Saturday. He added two more singles and a double yesterday.

Kyle Denney and Keith Ramsey made spot starts in Buffalo and Akron respectively over the weekend (see recaps below).

Anyone know what's up with Wily Taveras in Kinston? He hasn't played since Thursday.

Ben Harrison (4th round pick) is hitting .322 (19-for-59) in the Cape Cod League with two doubles, one triple, four walks, and 17 strikeouts.

AJ Hinch (.207/.226/.345/.571, 1 HR) was placed on the 15-day DL by the Tigers with a groin injury.

Dan Miceli was designated for assignment by the Yankees after posting a 5.79 ERA in seven games (4.2 innings) since being dealt by the Indians. Hal Lebowitz noted in his Sunday column that the Indians placed a claim on him.

Dave Roberts (hammy) was activated by the Dodgers. He's hitting .250/.319/.298/.617 with 24 steals. Just seven of his 57 hits have gone for extra-bases.

Zach Day (shoulder) was activated by the Expos. He's pitched in 12 games for Montreal and has a 4-4 record and 4.14 ERA in 67.1 innings (64H, 34W, 30K). Note the low K/IP and K/BB ratios. Tim Drew cleared waivers and was sent to triple-A to make room for Day. Drew had a 12.46 ERA in 8.2 innings (8W, 3HR) for the Expos.

David Segui was placed on the 15-day DL (wrist) by the Orioles and could be facing season-ending wrist injury. The oft-injured Segui was hitting .263/.341/.384/.725 with 10 doubles and 5 homeruns in 67 games for the Orioles. The 2000 season (in which he .332/.384/.498/.882 with 8 homeruns for the Indians in the second half) is the last time that Segui has stayed healthy for a full season.

Pat Borders (.321/.365/.546, 10 HR in triple-A) was called up by Seattle. The 40-year old recently played in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

BUFFALO (59-46, 1st Place, 0.5 GA): Kyle Denney allowed four runs in 5.2 innings in the Bisons 5-4 loss to Pawtucket on Friday. Josh Bard rapped his 3rd homerun and Chris Magruder, Luis Garcia, and Maicer Izturis had two hits apiece.

Brian Tallet gave up five runs in three innings in the Bisons 12-4 loss to Pawtucket on Saturday. He was removed from the game with a sore elbow. Carl Sadler did not record an out and allowed five runs on a hit and four walks. The Bisons pitching staff walked seven and served up five homeruns. The PawSox staff walked none with no dingers allowed. Chris Magruder had three hits and Brandon Phillips singled twice.

The Bisons held on Sunday for a 7-6, 14-inning victory over Pawtucket on Sunday. They scored three times in the top of the 14th only to watch Chad Paronto allow two in the bottom half of the inning before closing the door. Cliff Lee (2.98) allowed three runs in six innings, striking out five. Jose Santiago (0.61) worked five innings of two-hit relief. Josh Bard (.373) belted his 4th homerun, singled, and walked. Alex Escobar, Dusty Wathan, and Maicer Izturis each had two hits. Lyle Mouton added his 4th homerun.

AKRON (67-42, 1st Place, 6.0 GA): Keith Ramsey allowed two runs in six innings to lead the Aeros to a 5-2 win over Erie on Friday. He was making a spot start for Akron. Nate Grindell homered (#6) and singled while Hector Luna had two hits. The Aeros helped the young lefty by scoring four times in the top of the first inning.

Erie rebounded with a 10-6 win over Akron on Saturday. Oscar Alvarez (0-2, 4.88) took the loss after allowing five runs in 2.1 innings. Fernando Cabrera was reached for three runs in two innings. Tyler Minges belted his 8th homerun and doubled. Joe Inglett went yard for the 3rd time this season and also doubled. Luke Scott (.330) singled twice and doubled.

In a hitters paradise, Erie prevailed 10-9 over the Aeros on Sunday. Jose Vargas (3-2, 2.45) took the loss in the 9th. Kyle Evans (3.54) allowed seven runs (five earned) in five innings. Hector Luna (.275) homered (#2) and singled. Ryan Church (.260) had three hits, including a double. Grady Sizemore doubled and singled. Luis Gonzalez (.309) reached base four times thanks to two singles and two walks. Corey Smith had two hits. Joe Inglett singled and doubled. Corey Smith committed his 37th error in the field.

KINSTON (18-16, 2nd Place, 0.5 GB): Jake Dittler tossed 5.2 innings of two-hit ball on Friday as the K-Tribe shut out Potomac 2-0. Dittler struck out four and did not walk a batter. Rodney Choy Food singled, doubled, and stole a base while Ivan Ochoa doubled. Lee Gronkiewicz recorded his 26th save by striking out four in 2.1 innings.

Dan Denham was pounded for seven runs (six earned) in 3.1 innings in Wilmington's 7-3 victory on Saturday. He allowed eight hits and walked two without striking out a batter. Ryan Prahm tossed 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. Rick Elder and Eider Torres had two hits apiece.

The K-Tribe was shutout 7-0 on Sunday. A Jason Cooper double, three singles, and a walk was only offense assembled by the Kinston nine. Brian Slocum (5-6, 4.28) took the loss after being charged with five runs (only one earned) in 4.1 innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

LAKE COUNTY (24-12, 1st Place, 4.0 GA): Sean Smith (9-4, 3.30) worked five scoreless innings in the Captains 3-2 victory in Charleston (WV) on Friday. He struck out seven and scattered three hits and two walks. Nathan Panther tripled, singled, and stole a base. Javi Herrera had two hits while Michael Aubrey singled.

Dan Eisentrager (1.07) debuted in the rotation with 4.1 innings of scoreless ball, striking out six, walking two, and allowing just two hits in the Captains 2-0 shutout victory. Blake Allen and Ignacio Montano completed the shutout. Javi Herrera doubled twice and singled. Shaun Larkin drove in both runs and had a pair of singles. Nathan Panther doubled. The shutout was the Captains 19th of the season.

Randy Perez (0-1, 2.70) pitched well despite the Captains having their eight-game winning streak snapped in a 4-1 loss to Charleston on Sunday. In his low-A 2003 debut, Perez allowed two runs in 6.2 innings, walking none and allowing nine hits. Ben Francisco doubled and singled while Micah Schilling doubled. Chris De La Cruz singled, was hit by a pitch, and stole a base.

MAHONING VALLEY (17-22, 2nd Place, 13.5 GB): The Scrappers won 5-4 on Friday. Ryan Goleski blasted his 4th homerun and tripled. Anthony Lunetta had a pair of hits while Brad Snyder and Kevin Kouzmanoff walked twice. TJ Burton allowed three runs in five innings. Reid Casey (1.98) notched his sixth save with a scoreless final frame.

Jamestown scored 10 runs in the 7th and 8th innings for a 11-7 victory over the Valley on Saturday. Chris White (five runs, three earned and Honeudis Pereyra (five runs, two earned) were charged with the damage. Ryan Goleski belted his 5th homerun. Mike Conroy, Jesus Colmenter and Ryan Garko had two hits. Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled and singled.

Rained out, doubleheader today.

BURLINGTON (21-19, 3rd Place, 2.0 GB): The B-Tribe won 3-2 in 13 innings on Friday. Teodoro Encarnacion had three hits while Jose Cruz and Brandon Pinckney doubled. Pinckney drive in two runs and the offense managed only six hits. Adam Miller (3.00) did not allow a run in three innings. Aaron Laffey (4.15) struck out eight in four innings but allowed two runs on four hits and a walk. Dan Guzman fanned four in three frames while Rodolfo Navarro (2-2, 5.94) was credited with the win after a scoreless inning.

Rafael Perez (5-2, 2.18) struck out eight in six innings as the B-Tribe defeated E-Town 5-2. Perez walked only one and scattered five hits in another outstanding performance. Argenis Reyes had three hits and stole a base. Mike Woodson and Jose Cruz doubled.

The B-Tribe lost 5-2 to E-Town on Sunday despite Nick Pesco (2.81) tossing five innings without allowing an earned run. Pesco struck out six and allowed just two hits and a walk. He carried a shutout into the 5th inning. Richard De Los Santos took the loss after allowing four runs in one inning of work. Fernando Pacheco (.218) doubled and singled while Luis Hodge added a baseknock. The Indians made more errors (4) than they had hits (3).


July 25, 2003  

Record:42-60, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Lost 7-4 to Detroit on Thursday
Streak:Lost one
Next:Tonight vs Minnesota, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:Kenny Rogers (8-5, 4.88) vs Jake Westbrook (4-5, 4.04)
On Deck:Three games in Oakland next week

Note: No proof-reading today so be kind.

The Indians exercised a pair of club options (2005 and 2006) this morning to lock up Eric Wedge through the 2006 season. The Tribe also added club options for 2007 and 2008 to the deal. Wedge has done good work this season in juggling the roster and dealing with injuries to veteran players and a steady stream of youngsters making their major league debuts. It's all the more impressive considering it's also his debut in the big leagues and he's the youngest skipper in baseball. I just wonder why they chose to do this now (and for two years). It's not like Wedge needed a vote of confidence to maintain control of the clubhouse or to put a good organizational face on for the media. If Mark Shapiro was concerned about the somewhat lame-duck contract status for 2005 affecting Wedge in 2004, that option could just as easily have been picked up this offseason. I like Wedge, but like anything else, why commit yourself to someone (whether it be a player or manager) if you don't have to. Isn't that the purpose of the option in the first place? It's a commitment without it being a firm commitment. I wonder if this move (symbolically and in actuality uniting the front office and on-field staff for the next three-four years) is a precursor to some impending moves that will shake up the organization and clubhouse (i.e., Milton Bradley). We'll see.

Of course, the big news of the day comes out of San Diego, where the Union-Tribune is reporting that the Padres have targeted Milton Bradley in trade talks and that the Indians are evaluating outfield prospect Xavier Nady as a possible trade partner. This is just a rumor, unconfirmed as all rumors all, but all rumors are usually based on some form of the truth. In this case, I think we can speculate that the Indians are listening to offers for Bradley and I don't think there's anything wrong with listening. Why for? Here's why for...

1) Marketability. Aside from CC Sabathia and Jason Davis, Bradley may be the most marketable Indian. When you're a rebuilding team, your most marketable player will bring the most in return. That's business and baseball 101. It never hurts to listen.

2) Maturity. Bradley has issues, that we know. How much of a factor they are in the clubhouse and how they affect his teammates, that's what we don't know. Is he Manny Ramirez, who's relatively harmless and just keeps hitting, or is he Roberto Alomar, who's temperament and mood swings can carry into his on-field performance. I think it's telling that the one thing we've heard from Eddie Murray this season (despite his silence on the Indians hitting woes) was about his relationship with Bradley.

3) Lineup. Entering this season, Bradley was generally viewed as a middle of the order hitter with the potential to be a leadoff man based on his power/speed combination. I think everyone will agree that he's exceeded all expectations this year (even with his recent slump) with averages of .321/.429/.492/.922. And with an OPS of .922, you can generally hit anywhere in the lineup. However, he's only hit 8 homeruns (projected for 13) and I think every team in baseball would prefer to have their #3-4-5-6 hitters display a more power. To his credit, he has banged out 29 doubles but if he's going to continue to hit in the middle of the lineup, some of those doubles need to start finding their way over the fence. What Bradley has does this year (at least in my opinion) is demonstrate that he has the ability to be one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball. How many teams would love to have someone who reaches base 43% of the time and can smack 40 doubles and 15 homeruns while running well on the bases? Try 29 with the exception of Seattle and Ichiro (I may be off here so don't send me e-mails telling me I forgot so-and-so. You get my point).

(Stop. See note in parenthesis below)

Xavier Nady is the player named in the article that the Indians are supposedly evaluating. I say "supposedly" because this could also be a writer realizing that Nady becomes the odd man out if an outfielder is acquired and he must be whom the Padres are offering in return. I also question this somewhat because if the Indians knew they were zeroing in on Nady (right-handed, powerhitting rightfielder) why did they trade a pretty good pitching prospect in Ricardo Rodriguez to acquire the similarly profiled Ryan Ludwick from the Rangers last week? Having said that, though, Nady is a bonafide powerhitting prospect who is worth a few minutes of background information, so here we go...

Xavier Nady is a 6'0", 180 pound 1B/3B/OF (did you say 3B, hmmm) who turns 25 in November which makes him almost seven months to the day younger than Milton Bradley. Entering the 2000 college season, Nady was regarded as the premier position player in the draft out of the University of California (where he was replaced the following season by former Tribe draftee Conor Jackson who went in the 1st round this June to Arizona). A disappointing junior season (.329-19-59) and a expected high bonus demand resulted in Nady falling all the way to the Padres in the second round with the #49 overall selection. A lengthy negotiating process ended when the Padres gave Nady a four-year major league contract that included a $1.1 million bonus, $1.75 million in guarantees, and a possible $3.55 million in incentives. For reference, Nady is making $970k this year while Bradley is being paid a scant $314k. The contract included a September promotion to the big leagues and Nady singled off of Eric Gagne in his lone at-bat.

That offseason, Nady played in the Arizona Fall League where he tore ligaments in his elbow. Surgery was not performed but the injury kept Nady out of the field and relegated to a DH role for the 2001 season which squashed plans to move him to either 2B or the outfield since he was blocked by Sean Burroughs and/or Phil Nevin higher up in the system. The elbow didn't keep Nady from bashing in the high-A California League, though, as he hit .302 with 38 doubles and 26 bombs while posting a healthy 62/108 BB/K ratio for a young slugger. Tommy John surgery was performed during the 2001 offseason and that kept him from throwing until the middle of the 2002 season, which he split between Lake Elsinore (Cal League - .278/.382/.580, 13 homeruns) and Las Vegas (AAA - .283/.329/.422, 12 2B, 10 HR). Nice numbers, but a fall-off from his 2001 performance. More concerning was the drop in his BB/K ratio (20/60) after his promotion to Las Vegas. Returning to the AFL in the fall, Nady strained his quadriceps and received the recommendations from fantasy leaguers to stay the heck out of Arizona. Healthy this spring, Nady broke camp with the Padres and followed a .250 April with a .320/.385/.505/.863 May before "the book" on him was apparently established and passed around the league. He slumped to .244 in June and .128 in July where he was mired in a 4-for-43 slump before being sent to the minor leagues, coincidentally enough, yesterday. With the Padres, Nady was hitting .253/.304/.370/.675 with 16 doubles, 7 homeruns, and a 20/64 BB/K ratio.

Publicly, Nady was sent down to make room for Phil Nevin on the field and in the lineup. Given his recent slump, this makes sense and conventional wisdom holds that Nady will be recalled if/when Rondell White is traded to a contender. Again, this makes sense too. If, however, we see Nady suddenly playing thirdbase for Portland in the PCL, then you can strongly suspect that the Indians do have interest and his demotion is an opportunity for them to see him play thirdbase and gauge his arm strength from the hot corner.

(Note: I have more to say but I've been tied up in meetings all afternoon so I'm just going to send this out without adding much further. Quick sum: Interesting idea to kick around (especially if Nady can play thirdbase), but I would want more than Nady in return so my initial inclination is no thanks. Bradley is a bonafide major leaguer in the midst of an all-star caliber season and guys like that are tough to deal. Shapiro has the upper-hand here in that he has no reason to deal Bradley (contract) so he be should overwhelmed before parting with Bradley. Also note that Nady is likely out of options, having used them in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and he would have to be kept on the major league roster next season, much like Alex Escobar. Of course, if you're dealing MB for him, he had better stick on the roster all season for legitimate reasons)

The Aeros have a cool promotion planned for the night/morning of August 16 and 17.  For $20, you get a ticket to the Saturday, August 16 game, permission to camp out overnight in the outfield on Saturday night, a complimentary breakfast with Aeros players on Sunday, August 17th, and a ticket to Sunday afternoon's ballgame.  As an added bonus, you will also receive a ticket to the last game of the regular season on September 1.  If the kids were older, I think I'd be all over this.  For more information, contact Matt Kurilec with the Aeros at 330-253-5151 or 800-972-3767 x283.

Charles Nagy was officially announced as a special assistant to Mark Shapiro.  One of the 100 greatest Indians (as named in 2001), Nagy won 129 games for the Indians between 1990-2002 and was an American League all-star in 1992, 1996, 1999.  But then, you knew all that.  While he's not officially retired, interest in Nagy as a player has been nil since he was released by the Padres in June.

Joe Roa was claimed off waivers by the Padres.  They become his 4th organization of the year, following the Phillies, Brewers, and Rockies.

Juan Gonzalez was placed on the on the 15 day DL by the Rangers with a strained right calf.  As noted yesterday, he'll remain tradable well into August (if he chooses to waive his no-trade clause).

ESPN's Page 2 gave a Jacobs Field a favorable review in their ballpark tour.

BUFFALO: The Bisons lost both games of a twinbill to Syracuse by the score of 5-2 last night. Alex Escobar homered (#17-18) in both games. Reed Secrist (#3) went deep in the opener. Chad Durbin (1-2) took the loss in game one as he allowed five runs in five innings on five hits (two longballs) and four walks. Lance Caraccioli (3-4) took the loss in the nightcap after allowing five runs in 3.2 innings. Matt White fanned three in 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.

AKRON: Francisco Cruceta turned in eight sensational innings in pitching Akron to a 3-1 victory over Harrisburg. Cruceta (8-8) allowed only one unearned run on five hits and three walks and was headed for the complete game until he gave up a leadoff single in the 9th inning. He struck out six in a performance that was vastly different from his most recent effort in which he was tagged for eight runs. Luis Gonzalez and Luke Scott drove in the runs in the 8th inning to give Akron the victory. Scott and Corey Smith doubled while Gonzalez had a pair of hits. Smith committed his 35th error on the season.

KINSTON: The K-Tribe rallied in the 9th inning for a 5-4 victory over Potomac. JJ Sherrill delivered a key bases-loaded double and Rick Elder followed with a (eventually) important insurance run to give the Indians the victory. Sherrill had two hits on the night, as did Matt Knox and Wily Taveras. Ivan Ochoa and Rodney Choy Foo also singled. Victor Kliene (3.01) continues to pitch well as he twirled seven innings of two-run ball, allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out five. Chris Cooper (2-4, 2.55) was credited with the win despite allowing a run in one inning and Lee Gronkiewicz (2.75) notched his 25th save also despite allowing a run in the bottom of the 9th.

LAKE COUNTY: The Captains received yet another strong pitching performance as they defeated Charleston (WV) 6-1. Jim Warden (2-2, 3.00) allowed one run in five innings, striking out six, and scattering three hits and one walk. Carlos De La Cruz fanned four in three innings and Todd Pennington mopped up with a scoreless final frame. Michael Aubrey went yard for the second time and he also doubled and walked while driving in four of the Captains six runs. Chris De La Cruz had two hits and Micah Schilling singled and walked.

MAHONING VALLEY: Split a doubleheader with Williamsport to snap their 11-game losing streak. Paul Rigdon worked five innings of one-run ball in the 5-4 opener loss (9 innings), allowing five hits and striking out two. Kevin Kouzmanoff went 4-for-4 with a homerun (#2) but his errors led to three unearned runs in the 6th inning. Brad Snyder singled twice and walked.

Juan Lara tossed six innings of one-hit ball in the 8-1 victory in the nightcap. Lara (1-1, 3.18) was simply dominating as he struck out seven and did not walk a batter. Mike Conroy (.305) tripled, singled, and walked. Jesus Colmenter (.285) doubled and singled. Brad Snyder (.280) triple and walked and Ryan Garko (.279) and Ryan Goleski (.317) doubled. Clint Chauncey had a pair of hits.

BURLINGTON: The B-Tribe won 12-4 in Pulaski. Dan Cevette (4.46) was charged with four runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings, allowing seven hits and two walks in the process. Nelson Hiraldo (5-0, 3.11) struck out five in 2.1 innings for his 5th victory. Jose Cruz (.290) doubled, singled, and walked. Brandon Pinckney and Domingo Vasquez doubled and singled. Caleb Brock had three hits. Luis Hodge singled and walked twice to reach base four times and Fernando Pacheco had two more hits (five in the last three games).

The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that the Padres are shopping for an outfielder and have targeted Milton Bradley as a possible trade acquisition. The paper goes onto note that the Indians are evaluating outfield prospect Xavier Nady as a possible trade partner. Much more today in the CIR.


July 24, 2003  

Record:42-59, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Won 4-1 over Detroit on Wednesday
Streak:Won one
Next:Tonight vs Detroit, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:Nate Cornejo (4-8, 4.42) vs CC Sabathia (8-5, 3.51)
On Deck:Three games at home against Minnesota

Yes, it was just the Tigers, but...

Brian Anderson did not hurt his trade value by tossing seven innings of one-run ball, scattering five hits, walking three, and striking out four.

Travis Hafner hit his first homerun since being recalled from Buffalo. I still believe that he's going to be a big part of the Indians lineup next year.

Coco Crisp had two more hits to raise his average to .284. Since the break, Coco is hitting .414 (12-for-29). Like Milton Bradley, Crisp is hitting far better right-handed (.372) than left-handed (.250).

Speaking of Bradley, he was hitless last night but walked three times. While his BA has fallen to .319, his OBP remains outstanding at .429. I still think he profiles better as a leadoff hitter than in the middle of the order.

I only saw the highlight but Jody Gerut made one heck of a play in holding some random Tiger to a single with a diving stop in right.

David Riske and Danys Baez made quick work of the Tigers in the 8th and 9th innings.

The Indians snapped their seven-game losing streak.

Brian Tallet was optioned to Buffalo yesterday and Jason Stanford was recalled to take his spot on the roster. Eric Wedge says Tallet was sent down in order to work on command of his fastball and he'll receive consistent work in the Bisons rotation in which to do that. Stanford will work out of the bullpen in a yet to be defined role. It should also be noted that he could slide into the rotation if Brian Anderson is traded in the next week.

There are no rumors floating around that directly involve Anderson but there are plenty of teams in need of another starter. One thing to keep in mind about BA is that the Indians window to trade him may be the July deadline due to his low salary. Players can be traded in August but they have to clear waivers first and his remaining salary ($500-700k) is low enough that teams may place a claim on him at the risk of the Indians saying "he's all yours". Not that the Indians would do that, but the financial ramifications of the waiver claim process is one reason why the expensive players like Juan Gonzalez are expected to be as available in August as they are in July. That might not be the case with an inexpensive player like Anderson.

Brandon Phillips is hitting .158/.292/.316/.608 in six games since being demoted to Buffalo. All three of his hits have been doubles and he's also walked three times.

Josh Bard is hitting .382/.425/.559/.984 in 20 games with six doubles, two homeruns, and 13 runs batted in.

Chris Magruder is sizzling at .400/.475/.571/1.046 with four doubles and a triple in 12 games for the Bisons. He's also swiped two bags.

Eric Crozier is ranked as the 14th best first-base prospect in the game by Josh Boyd and Baseball America. Boyd fails to note the nagging back injury that has plagued Crozier all season but he does mention that "Crozier also struggles against left-handed pitching (.185 this season). His swing tends to get long and he pulls off the ball. He's good around the bag at first and projects to hit for above-average power. While he's not a front-line prospect, he's a sleeper who shouldn't get lost in a deep Indians system". I would agree that Crozier is a sleeper, especially with the increased power shown this year while dealing with his back. I would also expect to see Michael Aubrey high on this list next season.

Jason Cooper drove in five runs last night in Kinston's 9-3 victory over Potomac. After a slow start in the Carolina League, Cooper has raised his averages to .289/.371/.500 with seven doubles and four homeruns in 25 games for the K-tribe. This follows his .298/.385/.553/.938, 17 2B, 7 3B, 12 HR performance in Lake County. It's a small sample size in high-A (Kinston) but he's also maintained (improved) his plate discipline with a 12/17 BB/K ratio. If you haven't yet gotten excited about the former Stanford star, now's a good time to start.

Ivan Ochoa is another Kinston hitter who continues to impress as he singled twice last night to raise his average to .345 for the season. When combined with his .435 OBP, good speed, and excellent glove at shortstop, Ochoa is making a strong case to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. He's been bothered by a nagging hamstring all season so the 139 ABs is a relatively small sample but the improvement from a career .217 average in the States is remarkable. And while he's still not showing a lot of power (.424 SLG), his nine doubles this season have already tied his career high. Keep your eye on Ochoa the rest of the second-half.

According to the Newberg Report, "Ricardo Rodriguez is scheduled to arrive in Arlington today and there is a chance that the piece of torn cartilage in his right hip could settle in such a way that doctors will clear him to play without surgical intervention.  According to Bill Campbell of the Dallas Morning News, Buck Showalter said the righthander would be on the mound soon if an operation is not needed."

Don't forget that Team USA will play five games at Mills Field in Strongsville tonight through Monday. Game times are as follows: 7:00 tonight and Friday, 5:00 on Saturday, 4:00 on Sunday, and 6:00 on Monday. Admission is free (I believe) and the Dogs are warm and cheap. Team USA is 17-0 this summer and this five-game series is their final preparation for the Pan-Am games which take place in early August in the Dominican Republic. Last year, Michael Aubrey (Indians 1st round pick), Ryan Garko (Indians 3rd round pick), and Rickie Weeks (#2 overall pick in draft), among others, played in Strongsville for Team USA. It's a nice setting and worth checking out if you get the chance this weekend (and you can't beat the price).

BUFFALO (58-42, 1st Place, 2.0 GA): The Bisons split a doubleheader in Syracuse yesterday. The first game was actually the completion of Tuesday's suspended game which started in Buffalo and made the Bisons the "home team" while playing in Syracuse. Strange. The good guys rallied from a 3-0 deficit, though, for a 4-3 come-from-behind victory. Lyle Mouton belted two solo homeruns (#2-3) while Chris Magruder singled and doubled. Luis Garcia also doubled, Maicer Izturis singled, walked, and stole a base, and Brandon Phillips added a basehit. Cliff Lee allowed three runs in 3.2 innings, striking out six, before rain suspended play. Jose Santiago (3-0, 0.69) worked the final 3.1 innings in scoreless fashion and picked up his third win.

In the nightcap, the Bisons were shutout 3-0. Jeremy Guthrie carried a shutout into the 5th inning before being reached for a pair of runs. He finished with two runs allowed on five hits and two walks in five innings while striking out three. Carl Sadler relieved and permitted a run in one inning. Josh Bard (.382) had a pair of hits. Chris Magruder singled and stole a base. Brandon Phillips reached base twice via a walk and HBP and also stole a base.

AKRON (65-40, 1st Place, 4.0 GA): Derrick Van Dusen did not allow an earned run as the Aeros defeated Harrisburg 5-2. Van Dusen (4.10) worked the first six innings and was touched for just one unearned run as he permitted six hits and four walks while striking out four. Fernando Cabrera (9-3, 2.81) vultured a win when the offense erupted for four runs in the bottom of the 8th inning as he allowed a run in 2.2 innings, striking out four. Jose Vargas recorded the final out for his 5th save. Luis Gonzalez (.305) had three hits on the night. Nate Grindell and Joe Inglett had two hits apiece. Grady Sizemore doubled and walked. Corey Smith singled and walked, as did Victor Valencia who also drove in two runs. Hector Luna (.270) doubled. Luke Scott added a basehit. Inglett committed two errors while Luna made one.

KINSTON (16-14, 2nd Place, 0.5 GB): Jason Cooper drove in five runs to lead the K-Tribe to a 9-3 victory over Potomac. Cooper (.289) had a perfect night at the plate with a double, single, walk, and two sacrifice flys. In a strange twist, Armando Camacaro also had a perfect night at the plate despite being credited with a 0-for-0 in the boxscore. ACam was hit by a pitch twice, walked, and had two sac flys. Matt Knox tripled and singled. Ivan Ochoa (.345) scored three times thanks to a pair of hits and an HBP. He also stole his 17th base. Wily Taveras singled twice and walked. Rodney Choy Foo walked twice and singled. Miguel Quintana added a basehit. Travis Foley turned in another good performance as he held the Cannons to one earned run (two total) in six innings of work. He permitted six hits and three walks while fanning three. Scott Sturkie finished with three innings of one-run ball for his first save.

LAKE COUNTY (21-11, 1st Place, 1.5 GA): Day Off.

MAHONING VALLEY (15-20, 3rd Place, 13.5 GB): Rain

BURLINGTON (18-18, 3rd Place, 3.5 GB): The B-Tribe lost 8-2 to Pulaski. Edward Mujica (2-2, 4.21) carried a shutout into the 4th but could not finish the inning as he was charged with five runs on six hits and two walks. Reid Santos allowed two runs in two innings of relief while Jonathan Amador permitted a run in two frames. At the plate, Fernando Pacheco stayed hot with a double, single, and walk. Brandon Pinckney also had a pair of hits and a walk. Jose Cruz walked twice and singled. Chris Clem and Domingo Vasquez added basehits.


July 23, 2003  

Record:41-59, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Lost 5-2 to Chicago on Tuesday
Streak:Lost seven in a row
Next:Tonight vs Detroit, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:Matt Roney (1-4, 3.76) vs Brian Anderson (7-7, 4.35)
On Deck:Three games vs Minnesota at home

Thank god for the Tigers.
(I hope we're still saying that on Friday).

Just a couple of quick notes...

Will Carroll has a funny, but serious, quote regarding Ricky Gutierrez in his Under the Knife column on Baseball Prospectus..."While Gutierrez could go on and live a full life outside of athletics, his chance of returning from this in an effective manner is so low as to be something out of Seabiscuit".

Reed Secrist was activated off the Bisons disabled list.

According to the Captains website, right-hander Ryan Prahm has been promoted from Lake County to Kinston. Prahm, recovering from elbow surgery last May, has pitched very well in combined stops at Mahoning Valley and Lake County this season, posting a 1.96 ERA and .127 BAA with 28 strikeouts in 23 innings (10H, 11W). The 24-year old undrafted free-agent out of the University of Iowa has pitched pretty well for the Indians when healthy (7-2, 2.41, 59.2 IP, 47K for Columbus in 2001). He spent the early portion of last season in Kinston before blowing out his elbow.

Left-hander Randy Perez has been promoted from the Valley to replace Prahm on the Lake County roster. Perez, selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft last December out of the Orioles organization, sat out all of 2002 with tendonitis in his left shoulder. Returning to the mound this year, he's posted a 4.26 ERA in seven appearances (including five starts) for the Scrappers, holding hitters to a .276 average in 31.2 innings (34H, 12W, 20K).

Make sure to check out the start turned in last night by Fausto Carmona in Eastlake. Mark Shapiro, John Farrell, and Charles Nagy (new special assistant to either Shapiro or Farrell) just happened to be in attendance.

Add the Cardinals to the list of teams who might be interested in Brian Anderson with Matt Morris expected to be out 3-6 weeks with a fractured right index finger suffered when he was hit by a line drive on Monday. In a strange twist from years past, Anderson may be able to fetch more on the trade market because his contract is so low (approx $500-700k remaining) as opposed to what is being dealt for higher priced players. Again, I'm not saying we should deal BA because he's a free-agent after this season, but the Cardinals should be interested in his services and it's worth the Indians exploring what they can get in return.

Kenny Lofton was dealt to the Cubs along with Aramis Ramirez in a salary dump by the Pirates.

BUFFALO: Game 1 suspended by rain with the Bisons losing 3-0 in the 4th inning. Game 2 canceled. Both games will be made up as part of a doubleheader today in Syracuse (transferred from Buffalo).

AKRON: The Aeros split a doubleheader with Harrisburg yesterday. In the opener, Kyle Evans worked 5.1 innings for his 8th win as the Aeros prevailed over the Senators 7-3. Evans (8-2, 3.26) allowed three runs in four hits and two walks. Jose Vargas notched his 4th save in relief. Eric Crozier (.249) belted his 15th homerun. Tyler Minges added his 7th dinger and a single. Luke Scott doubled. Luis Gonzalez walked three times with a basehit. Nate Grindell doubled and walked and Corey Smith (.244) singled.

In the nightcap, Harrisburg rallied for a 5-4 victory. Ryan Larson (1-6, 4.30) took the loss when he allowed two runs in the final inning. Kazuhito Tadano was also touched for a pair of runs in three innings and Oscar Alvarez allowed seven hits and one run in three innings. Luke Scott (.333) doubled and singled and knocked in a pair of runs. Grady Sizemore doubled and walked. Nate Grindell and Hector Luna had a pair of hits.

KINSTON: The K-Tribe was blown out 14-2 by Potomac. Brian Slocum (5-5, 4.40) took the loss after allowing seven runs in 3.2 innings on nine hits and a walk. Doug Lantz did not fair much better as he was touched for four runs in 1.2 innings. Rick Elder doubled, singled, and walked. JJ Sherrill had a pair of hits. Jason Cooper doubled. Rodney Choy Foo walked twice and singled. Ivan Ochoa singled and walked.

LAKE COUNTY: Fausto Carmona continues to shine as he tossed a complete game to lead the Captains to a 3-1 victory over Hagerstown. Carmona (12-3, 1.58) needed only 87 pitches (61 strikes) to go the distance as he held Hagerstown to just four hits and no walks while striking out five. Michael Aubrey belted his first professional homerun. Nathan Panther singled twice and stole a base. Chris De La Cruz doubled and singled. Ricardo Rojas also had two hits. Neither team walked in the game.

MAHONING VALLEY: The Scrappers losing ways continued last night as they lost both games of a doubleheader to Auburn. In the opener, Scott Roehl (1-4, 4.31) was reached for five runs in 3.2 innings in the 7-3 loss. Ryan Garko blasted his second homerun while Josh Noviskey singled and doubled and Ryan Goleski had two hits.

The nightcap pretty much went the same way as Adam Brandenburg (0-2, 4.85) allowed five runs in four innings and Auburn went on to a 6-2 win. Jesus Colmenter doubled and singled and Brad Snyder (.256) and Anthony Lunetta also doubled.

BURLINGTON: Nick Pesco turned in another great outing as the B-Tribe defeated Pulaski 6-1. Pesco (3-1, 3.33) allowed just one run in five innings, scattering three hits and a walk while fanning two. Matt Haynes (2.66) struck out five in three innings of relief. Fernando Pacheco (.189) doubled twice and knocked in three runs. Junior Garcia (.298) and Domingo Vasquez had two hits apiece while Jose Cruz doubled and singled.

SLY FOX MASUGA: Mercifully, it was over quickly as the Fox fell 19-4 to the hated Zemitos. The offense managed only seven hits, led by Joe's two singles and doubles by Little K and Shindog, while the defense got their exercise for the day in. How'd we sweep a doubleheader on Friday? It's a miracle.


July 22, 2003  

Record:41-58, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Lost 4-3 in Chicago on Monday
Streak:Lost six in a row
Next:Today in Chicago, 2:05 PM ET
Matchup:Jason Davis (7-7, 4.54) vs Bartolo Colon (6-9, 4.36)
On Deck:Two games vs Detroit

Don't forget that today's game starts at 2:05 PM ET.

Did Jeff "Send 'em Home" Newman return for a one-game stint as third-base coach last night? Or was Shindogg sitting in the stands behind third-base yelling "GO, GO, GO"?

Less than a month after his return from spinal surgery, Ricky Gutierrez has returned to the disabled list and will sit out the rest of this season. The official injury is "persistent myelopathy (spinal cord compression) resulting from his 2002 cervical spine surgical procedure". In English, that simply means that Gutierrez cannot move around well enough to play baseball. Eric Wedge explained further by saying "His rehab didn’t go far enough. He doesn’t have the quickness and reaction skills that he had to play at this level. His instincts are good. Fundamentally, he is fine. But in reality, he needs to continue rehab.” Gutierrez himself admitted that he rushed his return (could the Indians medical staff have prevented this?) and that he came back at 50%. He'll return to his home in Florida and then begin rehab with his personal trainer in preparation for spring training 2004. However, the residual effects of his surgery on his body continue to put his career in doubt as no one knows if the rapidity of movement necessary to play in the big leagues will return. Gutierrez finishes 2003 hitting .260/.309/.320 with three doubles in 50 at-bats. He has one year remaining on the 3-year, $11 million contract he signed in the 2001 offseason. Insurance will cover a portion of his salary this year.

Will Carroll reports in his Under the Knife column on Baseball Prospectus that Mark Shapiro is earning a reputation as a "medhead" within the game. The latest example is resting Billy Traber to keep his yearly workload in line with a player of his talent, experience, and age. Carroll also notes that Traber was on board with the decision because he was involved in the process and understood the rationale. This is a good thing for the organization.

Angel Santos was recalled from Buffalo to replace Gutierrez on the active roster. The 23-year old Santos was hitting .239/.314/.413/.727 with two doubles, two homeruns, and five stolen bases in 46 at-bats for the Aeros since being acquired from the Red Sox for Jamie Brown. For the season, Santos' numbers aren't much different as he's hitting .238/.334/.358/.682 with 10 doubles, 7 homeruns, and 14 steals. He also has a 37/58 BB/K ratio and has played second, short, and third base in the infield.

Why Santos? Brandon Phillips is not an option because a) he has not spent the requisite 10 days in Buffalo since being optioned out last week, and b) he's in Buffalo to work on his hitting. Maicer Izturis is not on the 40-man roster so if the Indians had called him up and wanted to option him back to Buffalo in August, they would have started his "option clock" a year early for what would have essentially been three or four weeks worth of stats. For that reason, I don't think we're going to see Izturis until late August or September when they can call him up and just let him remain on the roster for the rest of the season (and, therefore, not waste an option year). Greg LaRocca has the numbers (.325/.373/.476, 28 2B, 8 HR) but I think that the Indians think that they know what they have in him and, for whatever reason, they think it won't play at the major league level. I suspect his biggest flaw (if you will) is that he cannot play shortstop which is pretty important for a backup middle infielder or last position player on the roster. Think Jolbert Cabrera. Santos can play all three infield positions, is young, has some pop, and a little speed. I think the Indians just want to take a look at him and see if he could be a Cabrera super-sub type. I love guys like LaRocca, though, and hope that he can get a few ABs at the major league level this year.

Anyone notice that Coco Crisp has raised his average to .265?

Ryan Ludwick had his first two hits in a Tribe uniform last night.

Last nights game in Buffalo was rained out so the Bisons and Sky Chiefs will play back-to-back doubleheaders next Tuesday and Wednesday. I can't wait to see the roster juggling that takes place to make this work.

Paul Hoynes notes in the PD this morning that Brian Tallet received the callup from Buffalo instead of Cliff Lee because the Indians want to make sure he stays healthy (abdominal strain and hernia earlier in the season). Eric Wedge says that Lee is "right where he needs to be". Tallet is also a more likely candidate to replace the demoted Alex Herrera in the Indians bullpen as well.

Hoynes also notes that Grady Sizemore is expected to remain in Akron for the entire season per the words of John Farrell. This contradicts some talk from the Indians front office a few weeks which hinted at a promotion later in the summer. Incidentally, Sizemore will miss the next few games after being hit by a pitch on his left hand.

Because of last nights rainout in Akron, Fausto Carmona will not make a spot start for the Aeros today. Instead, he'll rejoin the Captains rotation.

The LMJ notes this morning that Dan Eisentrager will be moved into the rotation to replace the recently promoted Jake Dittler. Eisentrager has worked exclusively out of the bullpen this season for Lake County and has been nothing short of sensational in 25 appearances, posting a 8-1, 1.15 record, and 6 saves. In 62.2 innings, he's struck out 77, walked only 8, permitted just 52 hits, and is holding opponents to a .223 average against. The 2002 30th round pick out of Long Beach State signed late last year and did not pitch for the Indians, making his debut in a full-season league all the more impressive.

I had thought that Ryan Prahm would fill the vacant spot but, perhaps, the Indians want to be careful and limit his innings this season as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery. Prahm, incidentally, tossed five innings of two-hit ball last night in the Captains 1-0 shutout victory.

Ryan Drese was optioned to triple-A by Texas.  

Happy belated birthday to CC Sabathia who turned 23 yesterday.

BUFFALO (57-41, 1st Place, 1.0 GA): Rain

AKRON (63-39, 1st Place, 3.5 GA): Rain

KINSTON (15-13, T-1st): Rick Elder belted his 5th longball and drove in three runs to lead the K-Tribe to a 9-7 victory over Potomac. He also doubled. Rodney Choy Foo also went deep (#6). Ivan Ochoa (.341) singled twice and stole two bases. Wily Taveras also had two hits and stole his 50th base. Matt Knox banged out three hits and drove in two runs. Jason Cooper doubled and walked. Dave Wallace walked twice and doubled while Eider Torres added a single. Dan Denham (2-3, 5.97) went five innings for the win, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out three. Michael Hernandez permitted two runs in two innings and Chris Cooper was charged with two runs (one earned) in two innings of work. Taveras made an error in the field.

LAKE COUNTY (20-11, 1st Place, 2.0 GA): Ryan Prahm and two relievers combined on a two-hit, 1-0 shutout of Hagerstown in a game that was delayed twice by rain. Prahm (1.32) surrendered only two hits and two walks in five innings on the bump while striking out three. He was making a spot start in place of Fausto Carmona who was expected to start tonight for Akron. Shea Douglas (3-3, 1.62) and Dan Eisentrager (1.15) each tossed two hitless innings of relief to preserve the victory. Ben Francisco (.276) knocked in the only Captains run as he singled and walked. Chris De La Cruz (.242) also singled and walked while Eric Johnson (.196) and Javi Herrera (.244) added basehits.

MAHONING VALLEY (15-18, T-2nd, 11.0 GB): Rain

BURLINGTON (17-17, 3rd Place, 3.5 GB): Rafael Perez was hit hard for the first time this season as the B-Tribe lost to Johnson City 12-2. Perez (4-2, 1.96) was charged with nine runs allowed in 3.1 innings but only three of the runs were earned. Not that he helped his cause much by committing an error himself (Brandon Pinckney made the other two errors in the game). Perez allowed 10 hits and two walks and struck out four. Dan Guzman (2.76) was touched for two runs in 3.2 innings while Bo Ashabraner (8.64) allowed one run in one inning and Chip Southerland (0.69) worked a scoreless final inning. Teodoro Encarnacion (.266) and Chad Longworth (.211) drove in the only Indians runs with sac flys. Chris Clem (.222) doubled and walked. Junior Garcia (.291) tripled. Luis Hodge (.237), Domingo Vasquez (.227), and Omar Casillas (.172) added basehits.


July 21, 2003  

Ricky Gutierrez was placed on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon and replaced on the roster by Angel Santos. Santos, acquired from the Red Sox for Jamie Brown on July 3, was hitting .239 with two homers and eight RBI in 13 games for the Bisons.

Record:41-57, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Lost 7-4 in New York on Sunday
Streak:Lost five in a row
Next:Tonight in Chicago, 8:05 PM ET
Matchup:Brian Tallet (0-1, 3.77) vs Mike Porzio (0-1, 4.76)
On Deck:Two games at home against De-troit

Admin Note: I'm having PC issues so the CIR may be sporadic or in abbreviated form until I can resolve the problem. If anyone knows why a computer would freeze for 5-10 seconds for no apparent reason, please let me know. Actually, it started when our cable modem was installed but Adelphia says it's a Windows issue but I can't find the conflict. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Goodbye New York. See you next year.

Brian Tallet was recalled last night and he will start in place of Billy Traber today in Chicago. Terry Mulholland was originally expected to make the spot start but he threw an inning yesterday against the Yankees. Nothing is wrong with Traber (as far as we know), they're just giving him an extra bit of rest to keep his workload for the season down. Tallet made two starts for the Indians earlier this season, taking a loss against the Dodgers (5 IP, 3ER) and receiving a no-decision against the Pirates despite not allowing an earned run in six innings. In triple-A, Tallet had a 4.78 ERA for the Bisons in 14 starts and was holding hitters to a .267 BAA. There was a mention in the paper late last week about Tallet possibly moving to the bullpen next season so don't be surprised if we see Tallet remain with the big league club after this start and begin to make the conversion.

Alex Herrera was sent to Buffalo after yesterday's game to make room for Tallet on the roster. Of course, the fact that Herrera had allowed seven runs and three bombs in his last three appearances (including four runs yesterday without recording an out) didn't make the move all that difficult. Herrera finishes his short stay with the Indians with a 9.00 ERA and eight walks and six strikeouts in 10 appearances.

Ricky Gutierrez may go back on the disabled list as his conditioning remains a problem. I know he had major surgery, but how long does it take to work yourself back into baseball shape? I hope it's as simple as that, but something doesn't smell right here. Gutierrez is hitting a very empty .260/.309/.320/.629 with three doubles in 50 at-bats since his return.

If Gutierrez does go on the disabled list, Brandon Phillips 10-day option requirement would end on Thursday but I can't see him making enough adjustments in his swing and approach at the plate to warrant a callup right now. Greg LaRocca (.322/.371/.473, 28 2B, 8 HR) is a likely candidate for promotion as is Maicer Izturis (.242/.292/.350, 8 2B, 3 3B, 6 SB). LaRocca is a triple-A veteran while Izturis is a younger prospect who is a candidate to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason. For the sake of completion, I suppose Scott Pratt (.244/.272/.342, 8 2B, 3 HR) and Angel Santos (.238/.334/.358, 10 2B, 7 HR) should also be mentioned.

Since we're on the subject of middle infielders, how about the 4-for-13 weekend (with a double and triple) turned in by Jhonny Peralta?

Kyle Denney started the Eastern League All-Star game last week and allowed a hit in one inning. Luis Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Grady Sizemore was 1-for-2.

Kinston righthander JD Martin will miss the rest of the season due to a strained ligament in his right elbow. Martin finishes with a 5-3, 4.27 record in 16 starts covering 86.1 innings. He allowed 95 hits and 30 walks while striking out 57 and Carolina League batters hit him at a .281 clip. Martin had pitched better of late but those numbers are a big falloff from his previous level of performance. JD is not expected to pitch again until the Instructional League in the fall and I would expect that a return to Kinston is in store for the start of the 2004 season.

Jake Dittler was promoted from Lake County to Kinston. Dittler tossed five scoreless innings yesterday in the Captains 6-0 shutout victory over Hagerstown to run his record to 6-4, 2.63. In 17 starts for Lake County, Dittler has struck out 82 in 89 innings while allowing 86 hits and walking only 20. True, he was repeating the Sally League but the BB/K and BB/IP ratio is a nice improvement from 2002. Most impressive has been the consistency he has shown from start-to-start after an '02 campaign that varied drastically with each outing. Dittler is the last of the 2001 "Big Four" draft class of high school right-handers to move into the Kinston rotation. He'll join Travis Foley and Dan Denham and replaces JD Martin. Dittler will make his Carolina League debut on Friday.

Fausto Carmona will make another spot start for the Aeros on Tuesday. Ryan Prahm will take his turn in the Lake County rotation.

Kevin Martin (JD's older brother) is on a nice run for Lake County as he has not allowed a run in 16.2 innings for the Captains this season. Opponents are hitting him at a .183 clip and he's fanned 16. Martin posted a 2.70 ERA for Kinston in a brief 3.1 inning stint earlier this year.

First round pick Michael Aubrey returned to the Captains lineup on Saturday and went 1-for-3. He had missed the last month with a strained right quadriceps muscle.

The LMJ reports that first basemen Bill Peavey, out with a bulging disc in his back, is on a non-playing rehab assignment with Lake County. Last year's 11th round pick out of USC is currently on the Kinston disabled list.

Micah Schilling (2002 sandwich pick) had a nice week for Lake County with hits in six games and drawing a bunch of walks. It's been slow progress but he's raised his average to .233 since hovering around the Mendoza Line for most of the season. The power is still not there (.294 SLG) but the 50 BB and .351 OBP offers hope for continued improvement.

Keith Ramsey tossed seven innings of no-hit ball on Friday for Lake County in picking up his 11th win of the season. Ramsey (11-4, 2.83) is holding Sally League hitters to a .253 average and has struck out 88 in 114.1 while issuing only 8 walks. It's interesting that Dittler was promoted instead of Ramsey or Fausto Carmona (11-3, 1.63). All have certainly earned a look at the next level.

Josh Boyd reports on Burlington right-hander Adam Miller in today's Daily Dish from Baseball America. Boyd notes that Miller has been limited to two-inning stints since being shut down earlier this month with elbow soreness but that the elbow didn't seem to effect him last night as he was "throwing 90-94 mph with life on his fastball against Johnson City. After giving up singles to the first two hitters, Miller retired six straight hitters using his complete four-pitch arsenal. He showed good power to his 82-84 mph slider and a fastball arm action to his changeup."

Joe Roa was designated for assignment by the Rockies. He had a 4.05 ERA in 6.2 innings for the Rockies.

BUFFALO: The Bisons won 7-2 over Durham on Saturday. Chad Durbin (1-1, 4.15) went seven innings and allowed just two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six. Lyle Mouton had three hits. Chris Magruder had two hits and two walks. Angel Santos singled twice and stole a base and Greg LaRocca drove in a pair of runs with two basehits.

On Sunday, the Bisons outlasted Durham 4-3 in 11 innings. Jason Stanford allowed three runs in seven innings, striking out six. Nick Bierbrodt tossed three scoreless innings of relief and Chad Paronto was credited with the win. Greg LaRocca homered (#8) and singled. Chris Magruder had two hits. Brandon Phillips singled and walked and Alex Escobar and Josh Bard both singled.

AKRON: Francisco Cruceta (7-8, 3.91) was pounded for eight runs in four innings in Saturday's 9-1 loss to New Haven. He walked and gave up 11 hits. Fernando Cabrera worked two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Hector Luna had a pair of hits with Luis Gonzalez and Grady Sizemore adding baseknocks.

The good guys rebounded on Sunday with an 11-3 victory over New Haven. Brian Luderer had four hits, including a double, to lead the attack. Corey Smith reached base five times, three times via basehits and twice via a walk. Tyler Minges drove in three runs with a pair of doubles while Luis Gonzalez singled twice and walked twice. Kyle Denney (7-3) allowed three runs in six innings (5H, 0W, 4K) for his seventh win. Jake Robbins recorded his seventh save with three scoreless innings of relief.

KINSTON: The K-Tribe lost a tough one on Saturday, falling to Frederick 1-0. Victor Kliene (3-4, 3.06) turned in another solid performance, allowing just one run in six innings of work, scattering eight hits and a walk while striking out four. Marcos Mendoza and Scott Sturkie finished with three scoreless innings. The offense managed only five hits, paced by Jason Cooper's two singles and a walk. Dave Wallace added a double.

Kinston was off on Sunday.

LAKE COUNTY: Sean Smith tossed six innings of one-run ball to lead the Captains to a 2-1 victory over Hagerstown on Saturday. Smith (8-4, 3.47) scattered five hits and two walks while striking out four before turning the ball over to Carlos De La Cruz (1.2 scoreless IP) and Todd Pennington (1.1 scoreless IP) who notched his 16th save. Eric Johnson blasted his third homerun and Ricardo Rojas drove in the other Lake County run with a single. Michael Aubrey returned to action and went 1-for-3.

Jake Dittler continued the sensational run of starting pitching for the Captains as he tossed five innings of scoreless ball on Sunday as Lake County shut out Hagerstown 6-0. Dittler (6-4, 2.63), promoted to Kinston after the game, allowed five hits and three walks while striking out six. Blake Allen took over with three scoreless frames and Kevin Martin closed with a scoreless final inning. Ricardo Rojas needed only a triple for the cycle as he belted his 4th homerun and doubled and singled. Javi Herrera blasted his first homerun and singled.

MAHONING VALLEY: The Scrappers lost 8-3 to Jamestown on Saturday. Paul Rigdon (5.40) continued his rehab and allowed two runs in three innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. Randy Perez, also rehabbing, allowed five runs in four innings. Ryan Mulhern belted his third homerun. Mike Conroy had a pair of hits, including a double. Brad Snyder walked twice and stole two bases.

A late rally by the Scrappers on Sunday ended a run short as they lost their 8th in a row, 8-7 to Jamestown. Ryan Garko tripled and singled. Anthony Lunetta and Jesus Colmenter singled and doubled. Ryan Goleski belted his third homerun. TJ Burton (9.93) turned in a solid outing as he allowed just one earned run (two total) in four innings. Adam Hanson took the loss after allowing four runs in two innings. Shane Wallace allowed one unearned run in one inning of work. The Scrappers committed five errors in the game (Mulhern-2, Lunetta-2, and Colmenter).

BURLINGTON: The B-Tribe took advantage of five Johnson City errors in a 4-3 victory on Saturday. Chad Longworth belted a solo homerun (#2) and Fernando Pacheco singled twice as the offense managed only five hits. Dan Cevette (4.55) allowed two runs in four innings on five hits and three walks. Nelson Hiraldo ran his record to 4-0 with five innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits and a walk while striking out three.

The bats were silent again on Sunday as the littlest Indians fell 11-2 to Johnson City. Luis Hodge (#1) and Teodoro Encarnacion (#3) provided the Burlington runs with solo blasts. Chris Clem and Encarnacion also doubled. Adam Miller (3.75) allowed a run in two innings while striking out three. Aaron Laffey (0-1, 4.00) was touched for three runs in 3.1 innings. He struck out five. Jimmy Schultz took the loss as he was charged with five runs on six hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning.


July 19, 2003  

Record:41-55, 4th Place, 12 GB
Last:Lost 10-4 to New York on Friday
Streak:Lost three in a row
Next:Today in New York, 4:05 PM ET
Matchup:CC Sabtahia (8-4, 3.23) vs David Wells (11-3, 3.76)
On Deck:Two games in Chicago

(details below)

There was some other baseball news yesterday, as the Indians dealt Ricardo Rodriguez and Shane Spencer to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Ryan Ludwick.

For those, who want a quick reaction:
Rodriguez? Good. Ludwick? Good. Gamble? Yes. Risky? Yes. Interesting? Yes.

For those who want more, read on...

Acquired from the Dodgers along with Francisco Cruceta and Terry Mulholland for Paul Shuey on July 28, 2002, Ricardo Rodriguez needed only four starts in Buffalo (3-1, 3.60) before being recalled by the Indians. He made his major league debut against Oakland on August 21 (5.2 IP, 5H, 6ER, 3W, 3K) and picked up his first major league victory in his following start, where he carried a shutout into the 9th inning against the Tigers before Randall Simon belted a solo homerun. His reputation as a headhunter (or as the Indians (and now Rangers) would say, he's not afraid to pitch inside) started with the next batter as he was ejected for beaning Rob Fick. Rodriguez made seven starts for the Tribe to close out 2002, finishing with a 2-2 record and 5.66 ERA (41.1 IP, 40H, 18W, 24K, 5HR, 8HBP). He worked five innings in six of his seven starts and into the 6th inning in five of those outings.

Buoyed by that performance, Rodriguez was expected to win a spot in the 2003 rotation and he did just that in the spring, posting a 2.08 ERA in 26.1 innings and allowing just 18 hits (10W, 14K). He carried that into his first three starts of the regular season, in which he allowed just one run in Baltimore (7 IP), one run in the home opener against the White Sox (6 IP), and one run against Kansas City (7 IP), picking up two wins in the process with a no-decision. Although he finished April with a solid 3.32 ERA in 33 innings, Rodriguez' numbers began to tail off dramatically after those first three outings. His five starts in May resulted in a 6.04 ERA, three starts in June brought a 9.88 ERA, and one disastrous outing in July against Kansas City resulted in a 21.60 ERA (4 ER in 1.2 innings). June also found Rodriguez on the disabled list for the first time with a strained triceps (June 11-June 26). His ERA shows the lack of dominance and his BB/K ratio (12/20 in April, 21/20 next three months) backs that up. The last Kansas City start resulted in Rodriguez being sent to the minor leagues and it's then that we first heard that he was pitching with a sore groin or hip (depending on the source you read at the time). He made two starts for the Bisons in triple-A (0-1, 4.32, 8.1 IP, 6H, 3W, 7K) before being removed after four innings in start number two with tightness in his groin and hip. The Indians did him a solid (or perhaps they had to because he was initially injured in the major leagues) and rescinded his option and placed him on the major league disabled list retroactive to July 2. It's a solid because he can accumulate major league service time while on the major league DL. Only now have we learned the seriousness of his injury (damaged cartilage in right hip, revealed in second MRI) as Rodriguez may require minor surgery if cortisone injections (another on Friday) and rehab do not work. While the Indians had "zero concern that he won't have a full recovery" this is obviously more troublesome than originally reported. Mark Shapiro also noted that the Rangers had full access to the Indians doctors and medical records prior to the deal being agreed upon.

The 25-year old Rodriguez finishes his Indians career with a 5-11 record and 5.71 ERA in 22 starts (123 IP, 129H, 46W, 65K). He also served up 21 longballs and was hit at a .268/.343/.468/.810 clip by opposing hitters. Some have suggested that Rodriguez may be better suited for the bullpen and perhaps they are right (although you'd like a larger sampler size before reaching a final verdict). In his seven starts last year, Rodriguez had a 2.35 ERA against the first nine hitters he faced as opposed to a 7.62 ERA for the remaining hitters. This season, Rodriguez had averages of .271/.342/.390/.738 in the 1st inning as opposed to .301/.344/.523/.866 combined in innings 1-3 which means that he was really knocked around in the second and third innings or the second time through the order.

Shane Spencer was signed as a free-agent in the offseason by the Indians to serve as an extra outfielder and provide some right-handed hitting power. Mark Shapiro says that "Spencer did exactly what we thought he would do for us" and I agree with that assessment. Spencer hit .271/.328/.433/.761 with eight homeruns in 210 at-bats for the Indians and was his typically streaking self, hitting .344/.382/.375/.757 in June (32 at-bats) and .389/.410/.861/1.271 in July (36 at-bats) with five homeruns an 10 runs batted in. The decline in at-bats in June and July (as opposed to 77 in April and 65 in May) is less of a reflection of Spencer's performance (although he did get off to a slow start) as it is of the emergence of Milton Bradley, Jody Gerut, and Coco Crisp on the major league scene and the need to find those three consistent at-bats for the remainder of the season. The addition of Travis Hafner/Ben Broussard (in the DH role) and now Ryan Ludwick made finding additional at-bats for Spencer even more difficult, therefore making him expendable.

Ryan Ludwick is a 6'3", 205 pound, 25-year old right-handed hitting (throws left) outfielder who was originally drafted in the second round of the 1999 draft by the Oakland A's out of UNLV. The younger brother of big-leaguer Eric Ludwick, his #60 overall selection followed Brandon Phillips (#57 overall, Expos, $607k) by three picks and preceded Jason Cooper (#63, Phillies, did not sign) by three picks and Ben Broussard (#65 overall, Reds, $380k) by five picks. That's not a bad collection of talent for an eight-pick range, is it? After signing with the A's for $567.5k, Ludwick debuted in the high-A California League which is very aggressive, even for a college hitter. (For reference, Indians first round Michael Aubrey (an advanced college hitter) was aggresively pushed to low-A ball to start his career this June). Ludwick hit .275/.348/.444/.792 with 11 doubles and four homeruns in 171 at-bats for Modesto which earned him a C grade from John Sickels and ranked as the #8 prospect in the Oakland system by Baseball America. Returning to Modesto again in 2000, Ludwick spent the whole season in the Caly League and displayed the raw power that excited the A' scouts. In 129 games, Ludwick hit .264/.359/.505/.866 with 26 doubles, 29 homeruns, and 102 runs batted in. He struck out 128 times but walked 68 times which isn't a terrible ratio for a young power hitter. That performance earned him a B grade from Sickels and a #3 ranking in the Oakland system from BA. Promoted to AA in 2001, Ludwick continued to display power potential (23 doubles, 25 homeruns) although his overall averages (.269/.356/.503/.859) were a slight disappointment when you consider he was playing in the hitter-friendly Texas League and half of his games in hitter-friendly Midland. His plate discipline ratio (56W / 113K) did not drop off noticeably, though, which is always an encouraging sign for hitters making the jump to double-A. A short stint at triple-A (13-for-57, 1 HR) Sacramento completed the season for Ludwick.

That offseason found Ludwick changing teams as the A's dealt him to Texas in the Carlos Pena deal where he was reunited with Rangers Assistant General Manage Grady Fuson who originally drafted him for the A's. Entering 2002, Ludwick was regarded as the #5 prospect in the Rangers system (interestingly enough, Travis Hafner was not ranked) by Baseball America and earned a B- grade from John Sickels. He started the season in Oklahoma City and posted strong numbers for his first exposure to triple-A pitching, hitting .285/.370/.548/.918 with 27 doubles and 15 homeruns in 305 at-bats. That earned him a promotion to Texas where he hit .235/.295/.346/.641 with six doubles and his first major league homerun. Ludwick was shut down in August with a hip injury that was originally thought to be potentially career-ending. He ended up having surgery in which a screw was inserted into his left hip to repair a stress fracture and he set his sights on spring training 2003. Despite the hip problems, Ludwick remained in the prospect watchers eyes as he was given a B- grade by Sickels entering this season and a #7 Ranger prospect ranking by BA. Returning to Oklahoma City, Ludwick continued to mash triple-A pitching to the tune of .303/.378/.558/.936 with 24 doubles, 3 triples, and 17 homeruns in 317 at-bats. Promoted to Texas on July 2 (same day Rodriguez was demoted/placed on the DL retroactively), Ludwick was hitting .154 (8-for-26) with the Rangers, highlighted by a 2-for-3 day with a double against the Twins on July 9.

Ludwick is generally regarded as a good defensive outfielder with a good arm. Prior to his hip injury, he primarily played centerfield (impressive when you consider his size) but the Rangers were using him at the outfield corners and DH this season. His power, though, is his calling card. BA described it as "light-tower power" and Mark Shapiro says that he has 25-35 home run potential while the ABJ quotes Shapiro as saying he has a shot at 35-45 home run potential. Like most young power hitters, Ludwick can be overaggressive at the plate, which is evidenced by his high strikeout totals. He has showed the ability to draw walks throughout his career, though, which indicates he does understand the strike zone and his BB/K ratios (while you would like to see them improve) are not so drastically low as to cause a lot of concern right now. If you're thinking Russ Branyan (raw power, strikeouts a lot), don't. Ludwick, while he's probably not going to hit for a lot of average in the big leagues, should be able to hit .260-270 and he's also an asset in the field. He's a (potential) run-producting corner outfield to hear Mark Shapiro describe him.


1) Depth. Obviously, this deal was made possible by the Indians depth of starting pitching in the system. CC Sabathia and Jason Davis are locks for the 2004 rotation. Billy Traber, Cliff Lee, and Jeremy Guthrie would appear to be the pecking order for the next three spots. When you add Jake Westbrook, Jason Stanford, Brian Tallet, Kyle Denney, Francisco Cruceta and the kids at Kinston into the mix, the wealth of pitching makes dealing a young starter possible. And, while I'm at it, don't necessarily disregard the notion of Brian Anderson returning or the Indians signing another veteran starter for a one-year stint.

2) Risk. Rodriguez and Ludwick are probably both in the same class of prospect. Upper middle class, Grade B, call it what you will. Neither is one of the can't miss, top prospects in the game, but they both have future big league careers ahead of them with the potential for a high ceiling. That said, standard baseball thinking maintains that you never deal a young pitcher for a young hitter of equal value simply because of the importance and difficulty of developing pitchers. That's the risk on the Indians part. Did they give up on Rodriguez too soon?

3) Maturity. Certainly, Rodriguez's reaction to failure and adversity for the first time in his career factored into the Indians decision and Mark Shapiro alluded to that in his post-game comments. Add in the headhunting reputation Rodriguez had earned and you have to wonder if the Indians saw another Jaret Wright psyche problem developing.

4) Spencer. My only question with including Shane Spencer in the deal is if we could have gotten something more for him at the end of the month from a contender. He will provide some insurance for the Rangers if they can convince Juan Gonzalez to waive his no-trade clause but do you really believe that his exclusion would have been a deal-breaker if Mark Shapiro had refused to part with him? I don't. With his hot July, I wonder what the market would have been for his services over the next two weeks. Probably not that great, a class-A prospect, but you never know what can shake down at the trade deadline. Not that I'm disappointed that Spencer was added in the deal, but it's a question that needs to be asked.

5) Money. The Rangers will absorb the remainder of Spencer's 2003 salary which could be anywhere from $250-$400 depending on what salary figure you use as his base salary for this season. Certainly, that's not a lot of jack in the big picture, but now the question becomes, will the Indians redistribute this money to John Mirabelli for use in signing another draft pick? Perhaps 4th round pick Ben Harrison? Or a late round flyer? We'll see.

6) At-Bats. Ludwick will take Spencer's spot in the outfield rotation along with Jody Gerut and Coco Crisp. He'll also join the DH rotation that includes those two and Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner. Obviously, this is another reason why Spencer was dealt as finding at-bats for Shane would have been extremely difficult with all the kids on the roster. Ludwick is still not 100% so don't look for him to play everyday and perhaps this rotation will be the best for his hip after a full first-half of the season.

7) Injuries. Ludwick's speed is down due to his hip injury and Mark Shapiro indicated that it's a 14-to-16 month recovery process before he regains his former speed and mobility. Rodriguez is expected to be out until September and perhaps longer is surgery is required. I think the injury risk is really on the Rangers in this deal.

8) 2004. Barring another trade or injury, here's your 2004 Indians outfield: Milton Bradley, Jody Gerut, Ryan Ludwick, Coco Crisp, and Alex Escobar.

9) Alex Escobar. Ludwick is a right-handed, power-hitting, corner outfielder. So is Alex Escobar. While they may not publicly say so, I think this deal says a lot about the Indians view of Escobar as a contributor next season and beyond. Escobar has to be carried on the roster next season because he is out of options but where will the at-bats come from?

10) Matt Lawton. Notice how Lawton was omitted from the 2004 outfield above? If you figure the Indians will carry their customary 12 pitchers next spring, that leaves 13 position player spots open. With two for catchers (Martinez, Bard or Laker), five in the infield (Hafner/Broussard, Phillips, Vizquel, Blake or 3B, McDonald), and the above five outfielders, that leaves room for one more player. It could be Lawton, it could be the loser of the Hafner/Broussard battle, it could be another infielder, or it could be someone who's not even on our radar yet. Expect the Indians to continue to shop Lawton and unload him at the first opportunity. I would be very surprised if he opened the 2004 season in an Indians uniform.

11) Ellis Burks. They want him back, but where does he fit in the above equation?

12) Right-handed Power. That's what this deal is all about. Broussard, Hafner, Gerut all swing from the left-side. Martinez and Bradley are not necessarily power hitters and Casey Blake isn't exactly causing opposing outfielders to "give him a step". Escobar was the answer (and still good be) but Ludwick immediately becomes the top right-handed hitting power option in the system.

13) Grady Sizemore. Don't forget he'll be ready for Cleveland by 2005, if not next summer.

14) Evaluation. This is what it's all about for the next 2-1/2 months for Ludwick, Coco Crisp, Jody Gerut, Travis Hafner, and Ben Broussard.

15) Rangers. For the Ranger perspective, don't forget to check out the Newberg Report.

This is a classic baseball trade, with Shane Spencer thrown-in on the side. The Indians dealt from their strength (young starting pitching) and the Rangers dealt from their strength (young hitting). Normally, I hate to deal young pitching, especially an intriguing arm like Rodriguez, but the Indians need right-handed power and Ludwick can supply that. Of course, all trades need three years before they can be properly evaluated but usually on paper you can make an educated guess at who got the better of the deal. I don't think that's the case in this trade, however. Both teams dealt from their respective strengths, both filled needs in their system, both are taking injury risks, and both dealt a similar class of prospect. For now, I like this trade only because it's the initial reaction to the start of the evaluation process (if that makes sense) and signifies that the Indians are moving into the second phase of the transition process. They're determining (or have determined in some cases) which players are keepers and which are not and Mark Shapiro is not going to stand pat and live or die with this group of players and that's good in theory. You want your GM to be aggressive and always looking to improve the ballclub. The execution (proper evaluation of the players involved) is always the key, however, but we won't know the results of that for another couple of years. To the callers on the radio last night who complained about dealing Rodriguez for an unknown, well, I'm not sure many of you knew who Ricardo Rodriguez was when we acquired him last July. Ryan Ludwick is a good prospect. Let's see what he does over the rest of the season before we rush to judgment.

The rest of the Tribe news and recaps will follow tomorrow.

SLY FOX MASUGA (5-10): Continuing their traditional midseason run, the mighty Foxers swept a double-header in convincing fashion last night, knocking off Harry Buffalo 18-8 in the opener and rolling over the arch-rival Hubers 15-6 in the nightcap. Sly Fox has now won four of their last five causing rival manager Zemito to call a two-a-day for this morning in anticipation of their matchup on Tuesday. Captain Sweatpants (4-for-4) and the Janimal (2-for-2 with a walk) both went yard in the opener while H.Ballgame rapped out three doubles. The Fox placed an eight-spot on the board in the 5th inning for the run-rule victory. In the nightcap, the bats kept rolling as the Fox jumped out to an 8-run lead in the top of the first with all runs scoring with two outs already on the board (Note to self: Did we really score 16 runs in back-to-back innings?). Jake needed only a dinger (and an oxygen tank) for the cycle as he smacked shots to the opposite field all night. H.Ballgame laced a homerun down the left field line that didn't even merit a chase from a random Huber. The Janimal stayed hot with a three-bagger and two singles. Little K banged out two triples, a single, and walked twice for the day. The Renegade League represented with a combined 3-for-16 (.187) night at the plate. Joe was 5-for-6 with a triple (how did Joe and Jake manage to hit back-to-back triples?) and two sac flys and played a one-hopper off his shin that has its own heartbeat this morning. I haven't been hit that hard since Steve Garapick imprinted the stitches of a hardball on my thigh back in G-League. The celebration continued into the wee hours of the night, capped by a pizza-sandwich eating contest between Little K and Joe which ended in a 35-second tie. Kobiyashi, you're next.


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