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September 22, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Monday, September 22  

Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed regarding my absence from your mailbox (or browser) over the last ten days. Your thoughts and concerns are certainly appreciated and well received. All is well and the CIR is only on a temporary hiatus. Quite simply, the real world has intruded into this little hobby of mine and will continue to do so through the end of month. As a wise-man once said...

"I can't take it anymore! She's driving me crazy! I can't sleep, I can't leave the house, and I'm here, I'm climbin' the walls. Meanwhile, I'm dating a virgin, I'm in this contest - something's gotta give!".

In this case, what gave was the CIR. And "she's" not a nekkid lady across the street (if you understand the reference above) but a huge amount of work that has me toiling seven days a week right now. With the minor leagues complete (congrats Aeros!), the Indians out of contention, and no real news to report except for injuries (Billy Traber, huh?), I don't think there's too much going on that requires daily reporting at this late juncture in the season. In short, ya gotta pay the bills. I trust that you all understand.

Rest assured that the CIR will resume in October with a review of the final three weeks of the season. We'll then begin the transition into offseason mode which will likely mean 1-to-3 reports per week covering the Arizona Fall League, Winter Leagues, Winter Meetings, Rule 5 Draft, Free-Agents, etc. Soon enough, it will be time for spring training and with the way the Browns have looked this season, mid-February can't come soon enough for me.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query regarding a potential 2003 CIR archives book. It's still very much in the plans and I will in touch with you in the next few weeks on that subject. And don't forget that there's still time to join the fight against breast cancer as the CIR Races for the Cure on October 11. All proceeds go directly to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and everyone who donates will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of the 2003 CIR archives. Thanks to everyone who has already pledged their support!

See you in October!

 

September 16, 2003  

 
CIR UPDATE
Hi Everyone. Sorry for my absence, but I've been extremely busy. The CIR should return with a regular report on Wednesday. Talk to you then.

 

September 12, 2003  

CIR UPDATE: Dual Live Chats  
FYI.... Billy Beane is having a live chat right now on Baseball Prospectus while Josh Boyd is doing the same on Baseball America. It's a multi-tasking Friday afternoon.


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Friday, September 12  
Record:64-83, 4th Place, 14.5 GB
Last:Won 6-5 in Kansas City on Thursday
Streak:Won one
Next:Today against Minnesota, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:Kenny Rogers (11-7, 4.80) vs CC Sabathia (12-8, 3.66)
On Deck:Three games against KC next week

Yesterday said a lot about the Indians and Eric Wedge. The final game of a brutal roadtrip (2-7 in the first nine games). Two rain delays in the first two innings totaling a little over two hours. Getaway Day and your own bed and family awaiting you at home. It would have been so easy for this club to pack it in and go through the motions. But they didn't. Even after falling behind 4-1 after the second rain delay, they battled. 40-year old Terry Mulholland, who hadn't pitched since August 30, kept the Indians in the game with 4.2 scoreless innings after being rocked early. Jody Gerut belted a homerun. Brandon Phillips hung in tough and turned a sweet doubleplay. Chris Magruder sprayed basehits all over the park. Mulholland picked off Desi Relaford at first (twice). Ben Broussard saved a run with a nice pick on a Casey Blake throwing error. Alex Escobar knocked in the gamewinner through the hole. And finally, David Riske worked a dominating 9th inning as he set down the Royals top three in order after they had gone 5-for-12 (.417) and driven in all five Royals runs. A demoralizing loss for the Royals (now 3-1/2 games back) and an invigorating win for the Tribe. I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those games that could be looked back upon during the 2004 season as a turning point. Simply outstanding.

Chris Magruder debuted with a bang yesterday, going 4-for-5 with a triple, three singles, and driving in two runs. Unfortunately for Magruder, though, he's got about as much chance of making the Indians 2004 opening day roster as John Rocker does of getting made over on Queer Eye. That said, playing well never hurt anybody (unless you've decided to implement Operation Shutdown) and while Magruder is certainly hoping to impress the Indians brass so they'll add him to the 40-man roster or give him a legit shot in the spring, he's also playing to impress the other 29 teams in baseball. An impressive run to end the season and an impressive winter ball campaign (I assume he'll play somewhere) would obviously improve his trade value (good for the Indians too) and make him more attractive as a Rule 5 pick this December (if left off the 40) and potentially more attractive as a six-year minor league free agent when the Indians lose his rights after the 2004 season. In short, there's always something to play for unless, of course, you're Juan Gonzalez.

Jody Gerut (.282/.340/.511/.851) had another nice game, blasting his 21st homerun with a single. He also made a tremendous diving catch in center (with a somewhat near miss on another) and broke up a play at second with a hard slide that prevented Desi Relaford from doing anything else except get the heck out of the way and watch the ball go into right field and Gerut scamper to third. In other ROY news, Hideki Matsui (.289/.352/.446/.798) had two hits for the Yanks. Angel Berroa (.284/.335/.454/.789) singled with a GIDP against the Indians. Mark Teixeira (.254/.326/.466/.792) went 0-4 and Rocco Baldelli (.294/.329/.419/.749) sat against Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

As bad as the recent trip through the AL Central may have been, Ben Broussard took a liking to the road as he had a hit in all 10 games, going 14-for 37 (.378) and slugging a robust .784 thanks to 4 HRs and a double and triple.

Eric Wedge has juggled the rotation and CC Sabathia will start tonight against the Twins now that he's recovered from his bout with food poisoning. Of course, his wife is due to give birth any day now so all of his starts need to be prefaced with a "unless..." note. Billy Traber (who was scheduled to start tonight) will likely start on Tuesday in what would have been Sabathia's normal turn.

Paul Hoynes notes that Jason Stanford has been invited to tryout for the US Olympic Qualifying team. The full tryout roster will be announced on September 24.

Jim Ingraham notes in the LMJ that Greg LaRocca could be recalled today from Akron. With the Aeros one win away from winning the Eastern League championship, I'd be very surprised if they didn't just wait until the playoffs are finished.

Andy Call notes in the Canton Repository that Rodney Choy Foo has been named as Joe Inglett's replacement in the Arizona Fall League. Choy Foo spent all of 2003 in Kinston where he hit .257/.342/.378/.720 with 17 doubles and 11 homeruns. He also stole 22 bases in 30 attempts and walked 53 times with 95 strikeouts while splitting time between second and third base. Choy Foo is very much under the radar and this will be a good chance to showcase his skills against a higher level of competition. He's still young (22 in December) and switch-hitting middle infielders with a little pop, a little speed, and who possess a little but of a clue at the plate are always worth watching.

Tyler Houston cleared waivers and is now a free-agent.

Goodbye Jack Tripper. May you live on in TV Land reruns forever. Down at our rendezvous, Three's Company too.

Thanks to everyone who has responded on the 2003 CIR Book. If you think you would be interested in purchasing a copy (all the 2003 reports plus lots of book-exclusive material), please let me know at IndiansReport@aol.com. Note that this is not a commitment to buy or a pre-order. I just need to guage demand before moving forward on the project. See the Tuesday, September 9 report for further details.

AKRON (lead 2-0): Game three tonight in Akron. Paul Rigdon is on the mound for the Aeros.

LAKE COUNTY (trail 2-1): The Captains fell to the brink of elimination with a 3-1 loss to Rome last night down in Jaw-ga as the Braves now hold a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series. The good guys actually got on the board first with a run in the first but Matt Wright and the Rome bullpen shut down the Captains for the rest of the game. Fausto Carmona was perfect through three and carried a shutout into the 6th inning before uber-prospect Jeff Francouer tied the game with an RBI double. The Braves then took the lead for good with an infield groundout and later added an insurance run in the same inning. Carmona finished with three runs allowed in 5.2 innings, giving up five hits and two walks while striking out three. Carlos De La Cruz finished with 2.1 scoreless innings. At the plate, Nathan Panther scored the Captains only run after doubling in the first. He also singled. Micah Schilling singled twice and walked while Javi Herrera also had two hits. Shaun Larkin and Ben Francisco added baseknocks.

The Captains will send Keith Ramsey (1-0, 2.29, 13-6, 2.99) to the mound against Kyle Davies (1-0, 1.50, 8-8, 2.89) in game four tonight in Rome.


 

September 11, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Thursday, September 11  
Record:63-83, 4th Place, 15.5 GB
Last:Lost 9-7 to Kansas City on Wednesday
Streak:Lost one
Next:Today vs Kansas City, 2:05 PM ET
Matchup:Jake Westbrook (6-9, 4.55) vs Darrell May (8-7, 3.70)
On Deck:Four games versus the Twins this weekend

Two years. Let's roll (and never forget).

Great news on the farm (see recaps below).

CC Sabathia was skipped in the rotation yesterday due to food poisoning (insert your own joke here) or flulike symptoms depending on which paper you read. Chad Durbin made the spot start and was roughed up by his former 'mates as he allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. Of course, the Indians weren't much nicer to BA as they pounded him for six runs (including longballs by Josh Bard and Jhonny Peralta) and nine hits in 4.1 innings. If healthy, I wonder if CC will start today in place of Jake Westbrook?

What the heck was up with Jose Santiago last night? Three batters, one hit, two walks, and it looked like the last place he wanted to be was on a pitchers mound in Kansas City. If the end of the season means the end of Santiago in Cleveland, September 28 can't get here fast enough. That said, I'll feel like an ass if the story breaks that he's left the team to be with his ailing Mother.

Jody Gerut (.282/.340/.506/.846) singled twice and doubled (#30) yesterday. Hideki Matsui drove in three runs (leaving him one shy of the magic 100 mark) with his 16th homer and 41st double. Angel Berroa walked twice and stole a base. Rocco Baldelli walked twice and scored twice. Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4. Even with Gerut and Matsui's big nights, the most amazing portion of the above numbers is that Baldelli and Berroa walked twice in a game, let alone both of them on the same night.

As expected, the Tribe promoted Chris Magruder from Buffalo to add some depth to the outfield. Magruder missed the first half of the season with a thumb injury but returned to hit an impressive .328/.391/.474 with 7 doubles and 3 longballs in triple-A. Recent reports have noted that he's been suffering from a shoulder injury and that's likely the reason he was not recalled earlier. Ryan Ludwick was placed on the 60-day DL to make room for Magruder on the 40-man roster. Eric Wedge was quoted in the local papers as saying that because of this recall it's doubtful they would add an outfielder from Akron (Ryan Church and/or Grady Sizemore) once the Aeros season comes to an end. Greg LaRocca remains a possibility, though.

Matt Lawton was placed on the 15-day disabled list now that he is officially done for the season.

Tremendous outing from Jason Davis on Tuesday night in shutting down the Royals for five innings. In a cautionary move, the Indians yanked after him after 66 pitches (43 strikes) and I haven't seen any reports that his shoulder was bothering him after the game. That's good news.

Victor Martinez belted his first homerun of the season on Tuesday. Coincidentally (or not), this comes one day after I wrote "He's not hitting for power (only three extra base hits in 109 at-bats) but that will come". I say coincidentally because way back on May 27, I wrote the following "The Buffalo News notes that Victor Martinez is hitting .174 at home and has thrown out only 10 of 42 baserunners. For the season, Martinez is down to .225/.337/.305 with only three doubles and three homeruns. Over the last two years, Martinez has been a doubles machine. I hate to say it, but I'm thinking undisclosed injury right now." The very next day, Victor started raking all over the yard which prompted the following note on June 8, "Over the last 11 days, Victor Martinez has raised his averages from .225/.337/.305 (May 27) to .281/.372/.392 (June 7). Seven doubles and a homerun are included in that stretch and his plate discipline remains solid with 24 walks and 27 strikeouts." and then this on June 9, "Victor Martinez checks in at number nine on the Top Prospect Alert Hot List in recognition of him raising his average 55 points in the last week thanks to 17 hits in his last eight games.", followed by this June 21 note, "Victor Martinez has raised his average over .300 and is now sitting at .302/.377/.423 with 18 doubles and four homeruns. Now he just has to start lifting a few of those doubles over the wall (and he did just that on Friday night, belting two homeruns (#5 and 6)).", and finally, this notation from the June 24 report, "Victor Martinez was named the International League Hitter of the Week after hitting .412 and slugging .794 with four doubles, three homeruns, and driving in nine runs." All of which makes me wonder if the CIR is being posted in Martinez's locker? If supplying bulletin board material is what it takes, I'll be happy to oblige. Now if only I can get this to work on my rotisserie league guys.

Finding a lefthander for the bullpen will be one of the objectives facing Mark Shapiro this offseason. Paul Hoynes mentions Kinston southpaw Michael Hernandez as a name to remember while Sheldon Ocker mentions Buffalo lefty Matt White. Hernandez is someone whom I've frequently mentioned as a player who could move quickly through the system and, depending on his performance in the first half next year, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see him in Cleveland sometime late next summer.

This is the best news I've heard in awhile as Opus is returning to the comic pages. But what about Milo and Binkley and Oliver and Steve Dallas?  God, I loved that strip.

Thanks to everyone who has responded on the 2003 CIR Book. If you think you would be interested in purchasing a copy (all the 2003 reports plus lots of book-exclusive material), please let me know at IndiansReport@aol.com. Note that this is not a commitment to buy or a pre-order. I just need to guage demand before moving forward on the project. See the Tuesday, September 9 report for further details.

AKRON (lead 2-0): The Aeros swept the first two games in New Haven and return home needing only one more victory for their first Eastern League Championship. In the opener, Francisco Cruceta did not allow an earned run (three unearned) in 6.1 innings as the Aeros knocked off the Ravens 7-3. Cruceta struck out three, walked four, and gave up six hits. Kazuhito Tadano and Fernando Cabrera combined for a scoreless final 2.2 innings. Grady Sizemore and Ryan Church had three hits apiece as the offense banged out 16 hits on the night. Hector Luna, Corey Smith, and Brian Luderer chipped in with two hits apiece. Victor Valencia and Luis Gonzalez doubled and Tyler Minges and Greg LaRocca singled. Ryan Church and Corey Smith each made two errors in the games with three of the miscues happening on one play in the 7th inning.

In game two, the Aeros scored in five of the first six innings in jumping out to a 9-0 lead and held on for a 9-7 victory in the last game at Yale Field (the Ravens are moving to New Hampshire next year). Victor Valencia homered (#2) and doubled to drive in a pair of runs. Greg LaRocca banged out two doubles. Hector Luna and Corey Smith both doubled and singled. Luis Gonzalez and Luke Scott roped a two-bagger and Grady Sizemore added a baseknock. Kyle Denney threw five shutout innings before being reached for two runs in the 6th, finishing with two runs allowed in 5.1 innings on eight hits, two walks, and two punchouts. Derrick Van Dusen recorded two outs to rescue Denney in the 6th. Jose Vargas and Jake Robbins combined to allow five runs in 1.2 innings before Kazuhito Tadano recorded the final four outs. Corey Smith committed an error in the field.

Paul Rigdon takes the mound tomorrow night at Canal Park as the Aeros go for the series sweep.

LAKE COUNTY (series tied 1-1): The Captains staged a dramatic late-inning rally on Tuesday night to defeat Rome 14-9 and send the series to Georgia tied at one apiece. Trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the 7th, the Captains placed a six-spot on the board for a 9-5 lead. Rome battled back, however, in the top of the 8th as they reached the normally dominant bullpen duo of Shea Douglas and Todd Pennington for four runs to tie the game at 9. In what would become their final home at-bats of the season, the Captains rallied for five more runs in the bottom half of the frame capped by a game-winning single by Javi Herrera and the added insurance of Micah Schilling's first professional homerun, a grand salami that set the score at the eventual final of 14-9. Schilling drove in five runs on the night as he also singled. Herrera drove in three runs as he also doubled and walked. Ben Francisco and Bill Peavey both reached base four times, twice by walks and twice by singles. Nathan Panther tripled and singled. Chris De La Cruz singled twice. Shaun Larkin walked twice and singled and Ricardo Rojas added a baseknock. Sean Smith allowed five runs in 2.1 innings on five hits and five walks. Nelson Hiraldo was sensational in relief as he tossed 4.1 innings of scoreless ball, fanning two and giving up just three hits. Douglas was charged with three runs (two earned) in one inning of work while Todd Pennington was charged with an unearned and closed the door in the 9th.

Tuesday's victory was the 100th of the season for the Captains (100-44). Fausto Carmona takes the mound tonight in Rome for game three.

SLY FOX MASUGA: The Foxers extended their streak to nine consecutive seasons of not going two-and-out in the playoffs with a 9-0 thumping of the CowboysERRRRAlexanders. The Janimal was splendid on the mound, throwing a quality first pitch strike, and the defense was spectacular in not making any errors in the field. With one down and five to go, next up for the Foxers is either Swoosh or Johnny's as they continue their remarkable run to their first championship.


 

September 09, 2003  

CIR UPDATE: Magruder promoted  
As expected, the Tribe promoted Chris Magruder to add some depth to the outfield. Magruder missed the first half of the season with a thumb injury but returned to hit an impressive .328/.391/.474 with 7 doubles and 3 longballs for Buffalo in triple-A. Recent reports have noted that he's been suffering from a shoulder injury and that's likely the reason he was not recalled earlier. Ryan Ludwick was placed on the 60-day DL to make room for Magruder on the 40-man roster.


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Tuesday, September 9  
Record:62-82, 4th Place, 15.5 GB
Last:Lost 7-3 to Chicago on Sunday
Streak:Lost six in a row
Next:Tonight in Kansas City, 8:05 PM ET
Matchup:Jason Davis (7-10, 4.60) vs Jimmy Gobble (3-3, 5.51)
On Deck:Four games against Minnesota this weekend

Couple of admin notes before we get to the Tribe news of the day...

As some of you may recall from last season (our community was a lot smaller then), I made the complete 2002 CIR archives (cir.blogspot.com) available in PDF form. This year, I plan on doing the same but I would also like to publish the archives in actual book form as well. This would not, however, be a straight archival dump as in addition to the 200+ daily reports from October 2002 through September 2003, this yet-to-be-titled tome would include new book-exclusive material such as a top prospects list, transaction analysis, 2003 surprises/disappointments, 2003 draft update, comprehensive year-in-review, player-by-player review, and a 2004 preview.

At this point, all of the above is still in the early planning stages (and subject to change). Since this will undoubtably be a self-published venture, I need an estimate of the demand before proceeding further and that's where you all come in. If you would be interested in purchasing such a book, I'd appreciate it if you would let me know at IndiansReport@aol.com as soon as possible. Note that this is not a pre-order, nor is it a confirmation to buy, it's just you telling me "hey, I would probably buy a copy (or two)". For now, I would guesstimate the book would cost in the $18-20 range plus shipping and handling and would be ready for shipping in time for Christmas. Thanks for your help.

Additionly, if you're interested in helping to support the CIR, don't forget that you can do so very easily (at no cost to yourself) by making all your Amazon.com purchases by entering Amazon through the link on the CIR homepage (cir.blogspot.com). Every purchase you make at Amazon when entering through that link results in a small referral fee for me and helps keep the CIR free for everyone. If you're so inclined, note that you can also donate to the CIR through a paypal link on the homepage as well. Thanks so much for your support.

And finally, don't forget that you can join the fight against Breast Cancer by making a donation to the CIR Races for the Cure campaign which culminates with a 5K race in downtown Cleveland on October 11. Note that your donation is a secure online transaction that goes directly to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and everyone who donates will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of the 2003 CIR archives. Thanks to everyone who has already pledged their support!

Ok, onto the Tribe news (it's brief today)...

Sheldon Ocker has a feature on Ryan Ludwick

John Sickels forecasts a Brian Anderson type of career (not someone who is going to dominate often, but steady and reliable, once he adjusts to major-league conditions) for Jason Stanford in his Down on the Farm column for espn.

I'm not sure if this is a revised schedule or if I messed it up on my own (shaddup), but here's the Eastern League Championship Series schedule. Tickets for the games in Akron are $5.

GAME 1: Tuesday, September 9 at 6:35 p.m.
Akron Aeros @ New Haven Ravens
RHP Francisco Cruceta (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. LHP Dave Gassner (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

GAME 2: Wednesday, September 10 at 6:35 p.m.
Akron Aeros @ New Haven Ravens
RHP Kyle Denney (0-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. RHP Dustin McGowan (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

GAME 3: Friday, September 12 at 7:05 p.m.
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
RHP David Bush (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Paul Rigdon (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

GAME 4: Saturday, September 13 at 7:05 p.m (If Necessary)
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
RHP Cameron Reimers (0-0, 7.94 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Evans (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

GAME 5: Sunday, September 14 at 7:05 p.m. (If Necessary)
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
T.B.A. vs. T.B.A.

Justice B. Hill has a "Where Are They Now" article on former Indian ALL-STAR Ken Schrom on mlb.com.

AKRON: Game one of the Eastern League Championship Series is tonight in New Haven.

LAKE COUNTY (trail 1-0): The Captains lost game one of their best-of-five series to Rome 3-2 in Eastlake. Dan Eisentrager worked a strong six innings, striking out five and allowing just one run on four hits and two walks before turning the game over to the normally dominant Lake County bullpen. Blake Allen loaded the bases, however, in the 7th and two runs scored on a single up the middle when the Captains turned on the wheel play in anticipation of a bunt attempt. The good guys rallied in the bottom half of the frame to cut the lead to one but Chris De La Cruz was thrown out at home while attempting to score the tying run on a basehit and that squelched the rally. Micah Schilling doubled, singled, and walked. Ben Francisco and Chris De La Cruz each singled twice and walked. Shaun Larkin and Javi Herrera added basehits while Nathan Panther drove in two runs with a pair of sac flys. Reid Casey finished with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. Game two is tonight in Eastlake and it's the final Captains homegame of the season as the series will shift to Rome for the final three games (as necessary).


 

September 08, 2003  

CIR UPDATE: Aeros Playoff Schedule  

I'm not sure if this is a revised schedule or if I messed it up on my own (shaddup), but here it is. Tickets for the games in Akron are $5.

GAME 1: Tuesday, September 9 at 6:35 p.m.
Akron Aeros @ New Haven Ravens
RHP Francisco Cruceta (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. LHP Dave Gassner (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

GAME 2: Wednesday, September 10 at 6:35 p.m.
Akron Aeros @ New Haven Ravens
RHP Kyle Denney (0-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. RHP Dustin McGowan (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

GAME 3: Friday, September 12 at 7:05 p.m.
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
RHP David Bush (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Paul Rigdon (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

GAME 4: Saturday, September 13 at 7:05 p.m (If Necessary)
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
RHP Cameron Reimers (0-0, 7.94 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Evans (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

GAME 5: Sunday, September 14 at 7:05 p.m. (If Necessary)
New Haven Ravens @ Akron Aeros
T.B.A. vs. T.B.A.


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Monday, September 8  
Record:62-82, 4th Place, 15 GB
Last:Lost 7-3 in Chicago on Sunday
Streak:Lost six in a row
Next:Tuesday in Kansas City, 8:05 PM ET
Matchup:Dennis Leonard (0-0) vs Mike Paxton (0-0)
On Deck:Four games against Minnesota this weekend

What do Danys Baez and the prevent defense have in common?

If you're a Cleveland sports fans, you know the answer to that one this morning.

What an ugly, ugly weekend it was, although the weather helped to make up for it (for once).

I'm going to avoid the details of the three-game White Sox sweep except for the mention that Danys Baez was simply awful on Saturday and Sunday although I was glad to see Eric Wedge toss him right back out on the bump yesterday. Hey, Baez needs to show he can bounce back after a rough outing. Yesterday was a bad result, but it was still a good move. Since being removed from the closer role on August 15, Baez has pitched in 11 games covering 11.2 innings and has a 6.17 ERA. That's inflated by his recent three-game stretch in which he's given up six runs in three runs that included a two-run homer on Wednesday to Carlos Pena (that gave the Tigers the lead), a two-run single to Paul Konerko on Saturday (that gave the White Sox the lead and cost my fantasy team two earned runs to Jack Cressend), and a two-run homer to Frank Thomas yesterday (that gave the White Sox the lead). What to do with his sui generis contract and the fact he stands to earn approximately $3.0-3.8 million (depending on if he would have been arbitration eligible) more in 2004 than a normal player with his major league service time will be one of the more interesting decisions facing the front office this offseason.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR WATCH (sorted by OPS)
Jody Gerut: .846/.280/.339/.507, 29 2B, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 410 ABs
Mark Teixeira: .805/.257/.331/.475, 25 2B, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 455 ABs
Angel Berroa: .798/.287/.336/.462, 28 2B, 16 HR, 65 RBI, 494 ABs
Hideki Matsui: .786/.285/.349/.437, 39 2B, 15 HR, 92 RBI, 551 ABs
Rocco Baldelli: .749/.295/.327/.422, 30 2B, 9 HR, 71 RBI, 559 ABs

Victor Martinez has hit in 11 straight games (13-for-33) dating back to August 1 (remember he missed three weeks with an injury) that has raised his average from .228 to .275. He's not hitting for power (only three extra base hits in 109 at-bats) but that will come. This is exactly what he did down in Buffalo before he started lining doubles all over the place.

Ben Broussard is hitting .421/.522/1.000/.1522 with three homeruns and seven ribbies in September.

I love watching Cliff Lee pitch.

The Indians made a minor trade on Saturday to bolster the bullpen, acquiring 30-year old right-hander Dave Lee from the Dodgers in exchange for Aeros outfielder Alex Requena. Lee spent the entire season pitching for triple-A Las Vegas and posted a 3.13 ERA and .212 BAA with a 3-2 record and 9 saves in 56 appearances. He struck out 61 in 60.1 innings while walking 36 and giving up 47 hits. Originally drafted in the 23rd round of the 1995 by the Rockies, Lee has a 4-2, 4.15 career major league record in 84 appearances (102IP, 105H, 62W, 86K) split between the Rockies in 2000 and the Padres in 2001. Notice the high W/IP ratio. Lee pitched for Indians coach Buddy Bell when Bell managed the Rockies and his wife just gave birth to a little girl last week (which held up the trade for a few days). As for his future with the Indians, this could strictly be a brief three-week trial simply to add an arm to an overworked bullpen and he'll be designated for assignment quickly in the offseason. If he impresses the Tribe brass during this three-week audition, once designated, he could be signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Or perhaps he'll serve as a Jose Santiago type on the 40-man roster, someone who fills a spot with the Indians knowing that he'll clear waivers when designated to make room for a free-agent signing (Brian Anderson?, second basemen?, lefty reliever?) later in the offseason.

Alex Requena was probably never much of a prospect but stealing 87 bases (as he did in 2000 for low-A Columbus) in a system devoid of talent (like the Indians were in 2000 and 2001) tends to get you noticed. So much so, in fact, that Requena was ranked as the Indians #10 prospect by Baseball America entering the 2001 season. It's true he was blessed with great speed but a .311 career OBP in five seasons in the Tribe system prevented him from putting it to much use. Relegated to a bench role in Akron this year, the 23-year old Venezuelan hit just .180/.245/.240 in 150 at-bats for the Aeros.

To make room for Lee on the 40-man roster, Omar Vizquel was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Omar, incidentally, went under the knife for the second time in three months last week to repair his knee. He'll be on crutches for the next four weeks but is expected to be ready for spring training.

The Indians are expected to add some depth to their outfield with a roster move either today or tomorrow. Much as we've speculated the past week, Chris Magruder appears to be the likely candidate and the local papers are finally reporting this morning that Magruder has been nursing a sore shoulder, which is the likely reason that he was not recalled earlier. A player will need to be moved off the 40 to make room for Magruder and the Indians can satisfy that requirement by designating someone for assignment or moving an injured player to the 60-day DL (like they did with Omar above).

Magruder is needed because Ryan Ludwick, Matt Lawton, and Milton Bradley have been declared out for the rest of the season. Ludwick has a bruise and a tear in the patella and he'll rest for four weeks to see if it heals naturally before arthroscopic surgery becomes an option. He's expected to be ready for spring training. Lawton is being shut down due to his dislocated finger that has not shown any improvement since he was activated. He's ticketed to visit a specialist in Baltimore this week. Bradley is in Los Angeles for the next four-to-six weeks for a five-stage program on his back. The above leaves the Indians with only Coco Crisp, Jody Gerut, and Alex Escobar as healthy outfielders on the active roster.

Terry Pluto notes that the back problems that have shelved John McDonald for the rest of 2003 were the result of a knee injury that requires offseason surgery to correct. Apparently, McDonald changed the way he ran to compensate for the pain in his knee and that caused the back pain. McDonald recently had the first of two surgeries required on his knee and he'll be on crutches for the next six-to-eight weeks but is expected to be ready for spring training.

In better news among the walking wounded, Jason Davis (shoulder tendonitis) completed his bullpen sessions without pain and he's listed as the probable starter tomorrow night against the Royals. I would expect that he'll be on a tight pitch count.

Sheldon Ocker takes an early look at the race to be the Indians 2004 5th starter.

Kinston coach Lou Frazier has joined the big league club for the rest of the season and he'll work with the guys on the fine (and sometimes lost) art of baserunning. A long time ago (well, 1988) Frazier was a top leadoff prospect when he stole 87 bases and walked 90 times. I know Daber loved him.

Most (or all) of the local papers ran stories about Kazuhito Tadano this weekend. Anyone else think it's more than a mere coincidence that this story "broke" the same week/weekend as the first week of the NFL. Smells like smart planning by the Indians PR or media relations departments as they knew that this story would likely end up buried or lost amidst all the NFL and Browns hoopla. On a slow news day, this would be front-page material for espn.com and I didn't see anything like that nationally. Good move by the Tribe (if this is the case). Hopefully, we can all just move on and concentrate on Tadano the pitcher.

Akron's Hector Luna, Kinston's Ivan Ochoa, and Lake County's Chris De La Cruz didn't crack Baseball America's top 20 shortstop prospects but they did make the "others to watch" list.

Final records of the Tribe's six U.S. minor league affiliates.

Buffalo: 73-70, .510, 3rd Place Tie
Akron: 88-53, .624, 1st Place
Kinston: 73-66 , .525, (34-35 - 3rd in 1st half, 39-31 - 1st in 2nd half)
Lake County: 97-43, .693, (48-22 - 1st in 1st half, 49-21 - 1st in 2nd half)
Mahoning Valley: 38-36, .514, 2nd Place
Burlington: 37-31, .544, 2nd Place Tie
Total: 406-299, .576, six winning records, three playoff teams
  
Lake County finished with the best record in the minor leagues while Akron's 88 wins were fourth. Additionally, San Felipe won the Venezuelan Summer League and both of the Tribe's entries in the Dominican Summer League finished with winning records with one of the teams reaching the playoffs. While the minor leagues are more about development than wins and losses, that's still a pretty impressive accomplishment.

"Super Saturday" at the US Open is not yet appointment viewing on my sports calendar, but it's getting close.

Kelly Holcomb, huh? Sports radio is going to be unlistenable this week.
 
AKRON: Open the Eastern League Championship Series (best-of-5) on Tuesday at home against New Haven.

LAKE COUNTY: Open the South Atlantic League Championship Series (best-of-5) at home tonight against Rome (Ga).

 

September 07, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Sunday, September 7  
Record:62-81, 4th Place, 14 GB
Last:Lost 8-5 to Chicago on Saturday
Streak:Lost five in a row
Next:Today in Chicago, 2:05 PM ET
Matchup:Cliff Lee (3-1, 3.00) vs Dan Wright (1-5, 5.54)
On Deck:Three games in Kansas City next week

AKRON (win series 3-1): The Aeros cruised into the Eastern League championship series with a 8-0 shutout of Altoona. Kyle Evans came up huge as he tossed seven shutout innings, striking out six while permitting six hits and three walks. Jake Robbins, Derrick Van Dusen, and Kenny Rayborn combined to mop up the final two innings. Tyler Minges, who hit .667 in the series, had four hits, including a triple. Victor Valencia homered, singled, and walked. Hector Luna had three hits, including a double. Grady Sizemore singled twice. Corey Smith doubled and walked and drove in three runs. Ryan Church tripled and Hector Luna singled. The Aeros will face either New Haven or New Britain (who play a decisive game 5 today) in the championship series.

P.S. Sorry for the brevity of today's report but Sunday mornings are now reserved for stat-keeping duties for my college fantasy football league. I'll be back tomorrow with a regular report.


 

September 06, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Saturday, September 6  
Record:62-80, 4th Place, 13 GB
Last:Lost 5-3 to Chicago on Friday
Streak:Lost four in a row
Next:Today in Chicago, 1:20 PM ET
Matchup:Jason Stanford (0-1, 4.32) vs Esteban Loaiza (18-6, 2.45)
On Deck:Three games in Kansas City next week

Note: Sorry this is published late but Blogger was down for most of Saturday.

Just the minor league playoff recaps today. It was a good night down on the farm...

AKRON (lead series 2-1): Somebody forgot to tell the Akron and Altoona hitters that last nights matchup between the Aeros Kyle Denney and Curves John VanBenschoten was supposed to be a pitchers duel. Instead, an 11-6 slugfest broke out between the two club with the Aeros emerging with the 2-1 series lead. The good guys jumped all over VanBenschoten (one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues) for six runs in the first inning and chased him before he could record three outs. Denney, on the other hand, held the Curve scoreless through the first four innings before the Curve erupted for six runs in the 5th. Denney finished with five runs allowed in 4.1 innings on nine hits, a walk, and four punchouts. The bullpen did the job from there as Jose Vargas, Ryan Larson, and Fernando Cabrera combined for four scoreless innings of relief. Tyler Minges homered, doubled, and singled to drive in two runs. Ryan Church knocked in five runs with a doubled and single. Grady Sizemore had three hits, including a double. Hector Luna and Corey Smith singled twice. Victor Valencia doubled and singled. Luke Scott added a double. Luna committed two errors while Greg LaRocca made one.

LAKE COUNTY (win series 2-0): Keith Ramsey went seven strong innings to pitch the Captains to a 3-2 victory and into the South Atlantic League championship series. Ramsey allowed just one run on three hits and a walk while striking out five. Carlos De La Cruz was charged with a run without recording an out but Kevin Martin and Todd Pennington closed the door over the final two innings. Ben Francisco drove in two runs with a homerun and single. Bill Peavey doubled and Shaun Larkin, Michael Aubrey, Micah Schilling, and Ricardo Rojas added basehits. The Captains open the bet-of-five championship series at home with games on Monday and Tuesday. The series then shifts to either Rome or Hickory for the final three games as the Sally League rotates home field advantage between divisions each year.



 

September 05, 2003  

CIR UPDATE: Dittler, Denney, and the Daily Dish  
Jake Dittler and Kyle Denney are featured in Baseball America's Daily Dish.


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Friday, September 5  
Record:62-79, 4th Place, 12.0 GB
Last:Lost 2-1 to Detroit on Thursday
Streak:Lost three in a row
Next:Tonight in Chicago, 8:05 PM ET
Matchup:Billy Traber (6-7, 4.61) vs Jon Garland (10-10, 4.39)
On Deck:Three games in Kansas City next week

Don't forget that you can support the fight against breast cancer when the CIR Races for the Cure on October 11. Thanks to everyone who has already pledged their support.

Did we really just lose three straight to the Tigers? Does it bother you that most talk shows in Detroit this morning will qualify their enthusiasm with an opening statement of "Ok, it was just the Indians, but...."

The Tribe will have a chance to impact the AL Central race over the next 20 days as they begin a stretch in which they'll play 15 of 18 games against the White Sox (3), Royals (6), and Twins (6). As of this morning, the Sox (73-66) and Twins (73-66) are tied for first with the Royals (71-67) 1-1/2 games out. So far this season, the Tribe has fared pretty well against the Sox (8-8) and Twinkies (8-5) but have been beaten up on by the Royals (3-10). Interestingly enough, if you flip-flop the Indians and Royals series (Tribe winning 10 of 13 games), the Indians would stand 69-72 and be only five games out entering this stretch.

Nice outing by Jake Westbrook yesterday in tossing a five-hit complete game (8IP, 2R, 1ER, 1W, 5K). It was his best performance since he held the Yankees without an earned run through five innings way back on July 20. For those with long memories, that was the afternoon where Alex Herrera relieved and gave up four runs without recording an out and was quickly banished to Buffalo after the game.

To say that Coco Crisp is red-hot is an absolute understatement. Yesterday, he racked up his 5th consecutive multiple hit game with two singles against the Tigers. Over that span, Crisp is raking at a .545 clip (12-for-22) with four stolen bases and three walks. Amazingly enough (or not, depending on your mood), he's only scored four times despite being on base 17 times. This streak is just part of a larger stretch dating back to August 16 in which Coco has hit in 17 of 18 games (including 9 with multiple knocks) and posted a .383/.419/.481/.900 average (31-for-81) which has raised his season averages to .290/.331/.387/.717. Very encouraging. Expect the Indians to continue to emphasize plate discipline with Coco in the offseason and spring training with designs of raising that OBP to make him an impact leadoff hitter.

Ryan Ludwick had an MRI in Cleveland yesterday after the swelling worsened and he was walking around on crutches.  For now, Angel Santos and Zach Sorenson, and perhaps even Ben Broussard, will serve as the backup outfielders.  Once the Aeros season ends, expect one or both of Ryan Church and Grady Sizemore to be promoted for outfield help.  No mention of any non-40 guys (Magruder, Mouton, etc) getting the call.

It's official.  Omar Vizquel will have surgery to repair a minor tear in his knee.  No date has been set but he's expected to be fully healthy for spring training.

Our old friend Chris Kline has an article on Kazuhito Tadano on baseballamerica.com. While we briefly discussed the rumors on why Tadano was not drafted in Japan earlier in the season, the two important things I take from this article are the huge amount of preparation and support provided by the Indians organization (first class all the way) and the note that Tadano works with a 93-94 mph fastball and three quality secondary pitches.  That's the fastest I've seen him referenced as throwing, usually it's been in the 89-91 mph range with movement.

The News-Herald has an article on Captains third basemen Shaun Larkin.  The former "dirtbag" from Long Beach State (and 2002 9th round pick) hit .266/.373/.471/844 this season and finished third in the South Atlantic League with 20 homeruns, tied for 3rd in RBIs with 80, and was 4th in runs scored with 80.  He also belted 26 doubles and posted an impressive 73 walks to 70 strikeouts.

Kinston was eliminated from the playoffs last night in another late-inning heartbreaker. Congrats to the K-Tribe on a fantastic season. Akron lost to Altoona to even their best-of-5 series at one apiece. Lake County plays game two of their best-of-3 series with Lexington tonight. See the recaps below for more details.

If you're a fan of Division 1-AA football, you need to subscribe to Eric Gemunder's 1-AA Football Preview. It's a free weekly newsletter that contains all the information you'll need to follow the highest level of college football that decides its champion on the field and not in the polls or computers. Click the link above to check out his site or just click here to subscribe to the newsletter.

AKRON (Tied 1-1): Kevin Nicholson belted his second homerun of the game in the 9th inning to give Altoona a 4-3 victory over the Aeros and send the series to Pennsylvania tied at one game apiece.  Nicholson's blast came off Kazuhito Tadano who fanned six in 3.1 innings but also allowed two runs on five hits and a walk.  Francisco Cruceta started and allowed two runs in 5.2 frames on seven hits and two walks.  Greg LaRocca homered (#1) and walked in his Aeros "debut".  Luis Gonzalez doubled and singled while Brian Luderer had two hits.  Luke Scott and Tyler Minges doubled.  Hector Luna, Grady Sizemore, Corey Smith, and Ryan Church singled.  LaRocca committed an error in the field.  Game three is tonight in Altoona.

KINSTON (Lost series 2-0): The K-Tribe was eliminated from the playoffs with a 6-4 loss in Winston-Salem.  Leading 4-3 heading into the bottom of the 8th, the Warthogs pushed the winning run across the plate and then scored the eventual gamewinner on a Ivan Ochoa botched double-play ball that went into the outfield.  Wily Taveras compounded matters by misplaying the ball and then Dave Wallace dropped the throw at the plate to give the Warthogs the lead.  Strange.  Jake Dittler worked 3.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits.  Oscar Alvarez fanned five in 3.1 scoreless innings.  Scott Sturkie and Marcos Mendoza worked the 8th when the three final Winston-Salem runs crossed the plate.  Ivan Ochoa homered (#1) and singled.  Wily Taveras and Dave Wallace doubled and singled.  Rodney Choy Foo doubled and walked and Matt Knox singled.  Ochoa, Taveras, Dittler, and Eider Torres committed errors.

LAKE COUNTY (Lead 1-0): Game two is tonight in Eastlake.


 

September 04, 2003  

 
CIR UPDATE
Did we really just lose three straight to the Tigers?


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Thursday, September 4  
Record:62-78, 4th Place, 11.5 GB
Last:Lost 6-5 to Detroit on Wednesday
Streak:Lost one
Next:Today in Detroit, 1:05 PM ET
Matchup:Jake Westbrook (6-8, 4.80) vs Gary Knotts (2-5, 5.04)
On Deck:Three games in Chicago this weekend

Her back was not turned out of any disrespect to Danys Baez but Kelley knew exactly what was happening when she spun around and yelled out "HOME RUN" when Carlos Pena went deep in the 8th inning last night to erase the Indians one-run lead and give the Tigers a 5-4 advantage. As she watched Pena trot around the bases, she summed up how we were all feeling... "Yucky". Some of you may wonder what our little angel was doing up that late. We wonder too.

Coco Crisp is now hitting .288 after three more hits yesterday.

Am I reading the boxscore correctly? Alex Escobar walked twice? Once with the bases loaded? Cool. He homered too (#3).

Big knock for Ben Broussard in the 9th inning last night. He may look like Tim Skutt on the basepaths but he's managed to go from first-to-third on consecutive nights on some pretty shallow singles. It's true, however, that he may have been helped by the vastness of Comerica's outfield which typically forces outfielders to play deeper than in say, Jacobs Field.

115 pitches for CC last night. That follows starts of 116, 101, and 104 and is part of a larger stretch in which he's exceeded 100 pitches in 6 of his last 7 outings. These aren't Dusty Baker pitch counts, but I thought the rotations workload was going to be reduced down the stretch?

The Indians sure could have used Ryan Ludwick, a.k.a. Mr. Extra Innings, last night but Paul Hoynes notes in the PD that he's expected to sit the next 3-5 days with a bruised right knee suffered when he slid back into first base in the 5th inning last night.

His injury also forced the Indians to play National League ball for the rest of the game as Jody Gerut had to be moved out of the DH spot and into leftfield when Ludwick was taken out of the game. With Ludwick expected to miss 3-5 days, I wonder if the Indians will look to add an outfielder to the roster today (Chris Magruder and Lyle Mouton are possibilities) as they're essentially left with only three outfielders (Crisp, Gerut, Escobar) capable of playing in the field with Lawton (can't throw), Ludwick (can't play), and Bradley (DL) all dinged up to some degree. They'd have to designate someone off the 40 to make room with Carl Sadler being a leading candidate in my estimation.

Ludwick, incidentally, is ticketed for the Instructional League in the fall to continue working at first base.

Milton Bradley has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his lower back and an inflamed disc. Rest has been prescribed for a week and if the pain persists, he'll receive a series of epidural injections and begin a back program in Los Angeles. Complicating matters somewhat is the news that Bradley received a speeding ticket early Saturday morning in Cuyahoga Falls and then (allegedly) sped away when handed the citation. That led to a brief police chase before Bradley made it past the Hazzard County line (insert Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane laugh here) and the officer stopped pursuit. Bradley has a scheduled court appearance tomorrow morning in Cuyahoga Falls. I may not know much, but I'm pretty sure that speeding away when an officer tries to hand you a ticket isn't the smartest thing in the world to do.

Maicer Izturis will not join the Aeros for the playoffs as his demotion was blocked (and apparently protested by the Pirates on behalf of their Altoona affiliate) due to the fact that he had played a majority of his games in triple-A.   In a strange twist, the Aeros may end up getting a better player as the Indians purchased the contract of Greg LaRocca and optioned him to Akron.  Note that LaRocca last played full-time in double-A in 1997 with Mobile of the Southern League (although he did play in Akron for 31 games in 2001).  I assume the optioning rules supersede the demotion rules and that's how/why the Indians can send LaRocca to Akron.

To make room for LaRocca on the 40-man roster, triple-A outfielder/first basemen Luis Garcia was designated for assignment which means the Indians have 10 days to trade, release, or outright him to the minors.  Another major league team could also claim him on waivers.  Garcia, acquired in the Chuck Finley trade last summer, was a major disappointment this season as he hit just .215/.260/.331/.591 with 27 doubles and 7 homeruns this season for Buffalo.

When the Aeros playoff run comes to a halt, I hope the Indians bring LaRocca up to the big league club for the rest of September. The funk he went into after being passed over in favor of Angel Santos (understandable from both sides) is one of the reasons for the Bisons late season collapse and it would be nice to see the Tribe reward an organizational solider who has put together three productive seasons in the Tribe's farm system. I don't think it's any secret that LaRocca plans on playing elsewhere in 2004 but as long as he's on the 40, he remains in the Indians control. I would assume, though, that this is a temporary situation and he'll be among the players designated in the offseason to make room for Grady Sizemore and other prospects.

Hector Luna (high ankle sprain) was back in the lineup yesterday for the Aeros.

I haven't seen the official announcement but Kinston closer Lee Gronkiewicz has won the minor leagues Rolaids Relief Award after saving 37 games in 44 opportunities this season. Unfortunately, he had an off night in game one of the Carolina League playoffs (see recaps).

10 Years Ago: Jim Abbott threw the New York Yankees' first no-hitter in 10 years, leading them to a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

AKRON (Best of Five: Lead 1-0): The Aeros defeated Altoona 8-2.  Paul Rigdon went six innings for the win, allowing just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out three.  Ryan Larson and Derrick Van Dusen combined for three scoreless innings of relief.  Tyler Minges knocked in three runs with three hits, including a double.  Eric Crozier and Luis Gonzalez also singled twice and doubled.  Grady Sizemore tripled, singled, walked, and stole a base.  Brian Luderer doubled and walked and Ryan Church added a baseknock.  Hector Luna and Corey Smith committed errors.  Game 2 is tonight in Akron.

KINSTON (Best of Three: Trail 1-0): The K-Tribe lost to Winston-Salem 2-1 in a matchup of top pitching prospects. Travis Foley and Kris Honel dueled for seven innings until Foley allowed a two-out double in the 8th inning and Lee Gronkiewicz relieved by giving up back-to-back basehits which allowed the tying and winning runs to score.  Foley was sensational as he punched out nine in 7.2 innings of work, allowing just the one run to score and giving up only four hits and a walk.  Honel was equally sharp as he did not allow an earned run in seven frames, striking out four, walking none, and scattering four K-Tribe hits.  Wily Taveras singled twice and Ivan Ochoa, Miguel Quintana, Rodney Choy Foo, and Matt Knox added basehits.  The series heads to Winston-Salem tonight for game 2.

LAKE COUNTY (Best of Three: Lead 1-0): The Captains won in Lexington 3-1.  Fausto Carmona allowed one run in 5.2 innings for the win, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out three.  Shea Douglas and Todd Pennington combined for 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.  Nathan Panther had four hits, including two doubles.  Michael Aubrey singled three times.  Shaun Larkin doubled and walked.  Bill Peavey, Ben Francisco, Javi Herrera, and Micah Schilling added basehits. Game 2 is Friday in Eastlake.

MAHONING VALLEY (38-36, 2nd Place, 18.0 GB): The Scrappers concluded their season with a 7-3 loss to Jamestown.  Brad Snyder (.284) homered (#6) with two singles and knocked in two runs.  Anthony Lunetta doubled.  Dan Cevette (0-2, 8.22) allowed six runs (three earned) in three innings on nine hits.  Roger Lincoln (2.64) tossed three scoreless innings of relief.  The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was rained out. 


 

September 03, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Wednesday, September 3  
Record:62-77, 4th Place, 11.5 GB
Last:Lost 8-6 to Detroit on Tuesday
Streak:Lost one
Next:Tonight in Detroit, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:CC Sabathia (12-8, 3.63) vs Oscar Robertson (1-0, 3.72)
On Deck:Three games in Chicago this weekend

Did Brandon Phillips really look at five pitches and take a walk after his two-run homer?  Baby steps.  Did he then work the count 3-0 (laying off a close 2-0 pitch in the process) and then take two monster swings at 3-1 and 3-2 in his next at-bat with runners at the corners and no outs to strike out?  Baby steps. Note that all this occurred after he came off the bag early at second on a doubleplay ball. Baby steps.

Chad Durbin debuted with the Indians yesterday and allowed one run in three innings. Unfortunately, the run he allowed came on a solo shot by Dmitri Young and was the eventual gamewinner. One of the local papers reported that Durbin has already agreed to terms for the 2004 season and I'm going to assume that this means he's going to be carried on the 40-man roster. He would definitely be eligible for the Rule 5 draft and probably be a six-year minor league free-agent as well. Additionally, he may have an option left from his days in Kansas City.

I hope Cody Ross isn't hurt too badly but it sure looked to me like he rounded first base and should have been called out in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The Indians recent 7-4 streak coupled with the Orioles nine-game losing streak have brought the Tribe and Orioles into a virtual tie for the 3rd worst American League record and #6 pick in the 2004 draft.  To stem the tide of "You want us to lose?" e-mails, just know that I report this for informational purposes only, in the vein of "If the season ended today, where would we draft next year?".

Omar Vizquel has decided to hang it up for the rest of the season after going 0-for-4 last night against the Tigers and experiencing continued swelling and soreness in his right knee.  He'll return to Cleveland for an evaluation and it's likely that surgery will be required.  Omar finishes with his worse season as an Indian, hitting .244/.321/.336/.657 with 13 doubles and 2 homeruns.

Jason Stanford was named the Bisons Pitcher of the Year after going 10-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts for Buffalo this season.  Andy Call notes in the Canton Repository that Stanford has also been asked to try out for the US Olympic Qualifying Team that will train in the Arizona Fall League before the qualifying tournament November 1-11 in Panama.  The list of invitees is expected to be announced in mid-September.

Greg LaRocca was named the Bisons Team MVP after hitting .290/.346/.424/.768 with 33 doubles and 10 homeruns this season. LaRocca's finale on Monday was the 300th (and probably final) game of his Bisons career as the Buffalo News reports that he will likely look to sign elsewhere this offseason as a minor league free-agent.  He's also reportedly mulling over trying out for the US Olympic qualifying team and playing in Japan next year.

The Buffalo News also reports that Marty Brown will likely return to manage the Bisons in 2004.  Brown and pitching coach Terry Clark will spend the rest of the season with the Indians before heading to Instructional League in October.

The ABJ reports that Maicer Izturis will join the Aeros for the playoffs after injuries to starting second basemen Joe Inglett and starting shortstop Hector Luna have left the Aeros shorthanded up the middle.  Izturis hit a combined .270/.332/.374/.706 with 27 doubles, 9 triples, 3 homeruns, and 28 steals this year between Akron and Buffalo.  Given what we learned yesterday, that all downward moves have to be approved by the National Association and the player has to have spent a majority of his season at the lower level, this move seems a little odd since Izturis played 85 games in Buffalo and 54 games in Akron.  Maybe it's an injury allowance.

Fausto Carmona finishes at #8 on the season-ending Prospect Hot Sheet from Baseball America.  Grady Sizemore also made the list at #16 and Jake Dittler was among the players just missing the cut.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that 23rd round pick Tim Montgomery (Univ of Hawaii) has signed with the Indians for a $35,000 bonus and will report to the Instructional League in a few weeks.  The article notes that the Indians wanted Montgomery to play in a summer league because their rookie league rosters were full so Montgomery spent the summer playing for the Bend Elks in the Pacific International Summer Collegiate where he was named a 1st-team All-Star, hitting .356/.427/.567 (32-for-90) with eight doubles, three homeruns, and nine stolen bases.  He later joined the Fairbanks Goldpanners for the NBC World Series where he hit .133 (2-for-15) in four games.  Montgomery is a 6'3" centerfielder whom BA noted was an excellent defensive with little feel for the bat in their draft preview.  I would assume that he signed a 2004 contract.

In the same article, the Star-Bulletin reports that the contract recently signed by 17th round pick (and Rainbow recruit) Jeff Pry has been voided by the Indians after his physical revealed that he needs Tommy John surgery.  Unfortunately for Pry, because he signed a pro contract, he won't be able to play for Hawaii or any other D1 team.  Instead, Pry will attend Mt. Hood Community College and I assume that the Indians would retain his draft rights until one week before the June 2004 draft the same as any other draft-and-follow.  With the normal TJ recovery being 9-12 months, I would think it's going to be extremely difficult for Pry to pitch competitively before next years draft.  Tough break.

In other draft news, Greenville Online reports that 13th round pick Steve Reinhold attended classes at South Carolina which means the Indians have lost all draft rights to him.

David Segui will have season-ending surgery on his left wrist next week.  He should be ready for spring training.

Marty Cordova had surgery on his right elbow last week and he's expected to be able to swing the bat for spring training (throwing may come later).

Rotoworld.com reports that Jose Mercedes has agreed to a contract with the Expos and has joined the team but does not yet have the necessary work permit to suit and pitch.  Mercedes was 14-6 with a 3.71 in the Mexican League this season.

Akron, Kinston, and Lake County begin their respective playoff series tonight.

MAHONING VALLEY (38-35, 2nd Place, 18.0 GB): Rained out.  Conclude their season with a DH today.

SLY FOX MASUGA: The season that will never end drags on for another week as the mighty Foxers were rained out last night.


 

September 02, 2003  

CIR UPDATE: Jeff Pry and Tim Montgomery  
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin is reporting that 23rd round pick Tim Montgomery has signed with the Indians while recently signed 17th round pick Jeff Pry has had his contract voided after the Indians physical revealed that Pry needs Tommy John surgery. He'll attend Mt.Hood Community College this fall. More tomorrow in the CIR.


CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Tuesday, September 2  
Record:62-76, 4th Place, 11.5 GB
Last:Won 7-4 in Detroit on Tuesday
Streak:Won two in a row
Next:Today in Detroit, 7:05 PM ET
Matchup:Cliff Lee (3-1, 2.67) vs Jeremy Bonderman (6-18, 5.42)
On Deck:Three games in Chicago this weekend

On Saturday, October 11 I will be taking part in the Susan G.Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 10th Anniversary Race for the Cure 5K. While I'll personally be looking to improve upon my dismal showing in the Browns Touchdown run a few weeks ago, the important part of this event is that all proceeds from the Race for the Cure go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which provides funding and support to Northeast Ohio agencies working to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease.

If you can't make it down to Voinovich Park for the race, I have setup a CIR Races for the Cure online donation page where you can offer your support in the fight against breast cancer. Please note that only online donations will be accepted and this is a secure site run by the organizers of the event. This works well for both of us as I don't have to worry about collecting and being responsible for donated money and you don't have to worry about donating money and wondering if it ever found its way to the intended charity. There is no minimum donation amount although I would suggest $10 as a starting point. And using that as a base, if every regular reader of the CIR donated $10, we would collectively raise over $15,000 which is simply mind-boggling to me but is reflective of the community that has developed here over the last two years. As an additional incentive, everyone who donates will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of the 2003 CIR archives. Thanks for your support!

Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner played longball in Detroit yesterday with Broussard belting two homeruns (#11-12) and Hafner going deep (#11) and smacking a triple to dead center in the Tribe's 7-4 victory over the Tigers. Jody Gerut continued to feast against Tigers pitching (.333, 25 RBIs) with three more hits and two ribbies. The bullpen combined for 4.2 scoreless innings, including David Riske's 5th save.

The Indians finished August with a 16-13 record, their second winning month of the season

AL Central Standings (since May 1)
59-51 Chicago
59-52 Minnesota
55-56 Cleveland
53-58 Kansas City
31-81 Detroit

AL Central Standings (since All-Star Break)
28-15 Chicago
27-17 Minnesota
21-23 Cleveland
19-24 Kansas City
9-35 Detroit

Jason Davis is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday and, if all goes well, he'll start against Kansas City next week.

The local papers are reporting that offseason conditioning will be a priority for the Indians with Jhonny Peralta at the top of Eric Wedge's list. The Tribe is working on encouraging players to remain in Cleveland this winter to work with strength and conditioning coach Tim Maxey. When I saw Peralta play last year in Akron, one of the things I mentioned (it's in the archives somewhere) was that it looked like he could put on 15 pounds of muscle. He may play winterball but Wedge says that he can do both. Jody Gerut is the often cited example of what a good offseason program can do for you after he spent last winter working out in Arizona. This was a topic discussed at the BP Pizza Feed with the Indians glowing about Gerut's work (and work ethic).

Akron opens the first round of the Eastern League playoffs at home on Wednesday against Altoona. Game 2 will be Thursday in Akron before the series moves to Altoona for games 3 and 4 on Friday and Saturday. The series would return to Akron for game 5 on Sunday if necessary.

Kinston opens the first round of the Carolina League playoffs on Wednesday at home against Winston-Salem.

Lake County opens the first round of the South Atlantic League playoffs on Wednesday in Lexington (where they just lost 3-of-4 games to conclude the regular season. The best-of-three series returns to Eastlake for games two and three on Friday and Saturday. The Captains finished the year with a minor league best 97-43 record.

Honeudis Pereyra was named the NY-Penn League Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven scoreless innings in two appearances that included 11 punchouts.

Peter Gammons sorts the AL Rookie of the Year candidates by OPS and Jody Gerut sits atop the list. He also lists the 15 most improved players in the game (as ranked by a vote of baseball executives) with OBP being the most common denominator.

Jesse Orosco was traded from the Yankees to the Twins. Ryan Drese was called up by the Rangers. AJ Hinch was activated off the DL by the Tigers.

BUFFALO (73-70, T-3rd, 9.5 GB): The Bisons lost 2-1 to Rochester in their final game of the season. Zach Sorenson doubled and Chris Magruder (.328) and Scott Pratt singled. Nick Bierbrodt (2-2, 3.00) allowed two runs in three innings, Carl Sadler worked three scoreless frames despite allowing four hits and two walks, and Matt White worked a scoreless frame. The game was cut short after 6-1/2 innings due to rain.

AKRON (88-53, 1st Place, 10.0 GA): Rained out.

KINSTON (39-31, 1st Place, 1.0 GA): Dan Denham and three relievers combined on a 5-0 shutout of Myrtle Beach to pitch the K-Tribe into the Carolina League playoffs. Denham (5-5, 4.50) struck out five in 6.2 innings, scattering seven hits and walking none. Chris Cooper recorded the lone batter he faced. Kieran Mattison worked a scoreless frame and Lee Gronkiewicz worked a perfect 9th inning. Jason Cooper belted his 9th homerun and walked. Matt Knox and JJ Sherrill had two hits apiece and Wily Taveras singled.

LAKE COUNTY (49-21, 1st, 6.0 GA): The Captains lost to Lexington 6-4 in their final tuneup for the playoffs. Nelson Hiraldo (1-1, 3.14) allowed his first runs after tossing 10 scoreless innings in his first two appearances for Lake County, working 4.1 innings and giving up five runs on six hits (including three longballs). He walked none and struck out two. Shaun Larkin doubled and homered (#20) to drive in three runs. Ben Francisco doubled and singled. Micah Schilling and Bill Peavey singled and walked. Nathan Panther, Chris De La Cruz, and Michael Aubrey added basehits.

MAHONING VALLEY (38-35, 2nd Place, 17.5 GB): Rained out.


 

September 01, 2003  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT -- Monday, September 1  
Record:61-76, 4th Place, 12 GB
Last:Won 5-4 over Toronto on Sunday
Streak:Won one
Next:Today in Detroit, 1:05 PM ET
Matchup:Jason Stanford (0-1, 3.48) vs Chris Mears (0-1, 4.24)
On Deck:Three games in Chicago this weekend

Happy Labor Day!

The Baseball Prospectus (no-pizza) Pizza Feed on Saturday was a great night. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a feed, do it. You won't be disappointed. The amount of baseball knowledge and information at this event (from the Indians to the BP guys to the fans) was simply amazing. Thanks to BP and Will Carroll, Nate Silver, and Dave Cameron for making the drive to Cleveland and hosting the event. Thanks to the Indians for providing the use of Jacobs Field. Thanks to Neal Huntington and Chris Antonetti for answering a lot more questions than they probably expected to. Thanks to The Franchise for his expert work in setting up the tables for us. Thanks to Matt, John, Mark, Gary, Tom, and everyone else whose names I have forgotten. It was nice to place a face with the e-mail address.

Terry Pluto had a great article in Sunday's ABJ on what management is thinking on players for this season and 2004. Among the interesting notes...

"Ryan Ludwick will hit at least 30 to 35 homers. They have much more confidence in him than they did Karim Garcia. They believe Ludwick will keep himself in better condition, that he is more open to suggestions from coaches and he is a better outfielder. He also can play first base. They project him as a possible cleanup hitter."

"Jason Davis and Cliff Lee are set for the rotation next year. The MRI report on Davis' arm is excellent. He just has a little fatigue and stiffness."

Note: It's interesting that Billy Traber has not been mentioned as a "lock" for the rotation.

"Bob Wickman will have the closer's job to lose, but if he doesn't come all the way back from arm surgery, the Indians project David Riske as a closer."

"Danys Baez won't be the closer. The front office also says it has no plans to use him as a starter next year. In fact, his $4.2 million contract option might mean the Indians will simply allow him to become a free agent."

Note: That's an awful lot for a setup man, don't you think? Don't be surprised if Baez is moved this offseason.

"Victor Martinez has dramatically improved his catching skills. He was hitting .294 in 18 games after the All-Star break when he sprained an ankle. Martinez has promised to stay in Cleveland this winter to improve his strength, which makes the front office very happy. They see him as the catcher of the future and have Josh Bard slotted as a backup. Bard has real problems with his offense, although his catching is above average."

Note: While the former (improved catching skills) is noteworthy, I think I'm more excited about the latter (build strength in offseason).

"They don't know who will play second base. They'd like Brandon Phillips to regain his magic but have made him no promises about next year. This would have been a year for John McDonald to establish himself as a solid candidate, but he's been hurt more than healthy and is hitting only .211."

Note: This goes along with my thinking on Saturday. A "rent-a-second basemen" for 2004 should/could be high on the offseason wish list.

Special Note to Bruce Drennan: Your amigo, Robbie Alomar, probably doesn't fall into this category.

"First base remains unsettled. Travis Hafner is a .302 hitter since getting healthy after the All-Star break. But he's best suited for DH. Ben Broussard is a superior fielder at first but doesn't pack the power of Hafner. Broussard is hitting only .242 with two homers in 38 games after the All-Star break."

Note: If Matt Lawton hangs around through the spring, one of these guys is likely to be dealt. I like both, but Hafner is my guy.

"HE HIT THE BALL INTO THE SEATS!" "HE HIT THE BALL INTO THE SEATS!" Even James can appreciate Alex Escobar getting ahead in the count and taking a pitcher deep (as he did on Sunday for his second homerun).

Jason Boyd is expected to be activated today instead of throwing in a rehab appearance in Akron. Zach Sorenson is also expected to be recalled by the Indians. Jason Stanford and Chad Durbin will also be formerly recalled although they have been with the Tribe for the last few days. Stanford will start today against the Tigers. Durbin was originally tabbed to start tomorrow but Eric Wedge has decided to move to a five-man rotation until Jason Davis returns, which moves Durbin to the 'pen.

For now, Durbin will be the only non-40 player recalled with expanded rosters and his spot was cleared when David Cortes was designated for assignment earlier in the week. Given the Indians need for a 2004 lefty in the bullpen, I'm a little surprised that southpaws Nick Bierbrodt and Matt White were not promoted although I suppose it's possible that the Indians don't want to give other teams a look at them at the major league level (even though they both have prior major league experience). Either that or they've seen enough at Buffalo to make their evaluation.

Omar Vizquel did not play yesterday due to swelling and soreness in his knee and there are now doubts on whether Omar will play against this year. If you ask me, if there any doubts, don't let him play. The games are meaningless and why risk further injury by sending him out there less than 100% at this point in the season?

Brandon Phillips returned to the lineup after missing two games with a bruised wrist.

Milton Bradley will be in Los Angeles this week to have his back examined, not last Friday as originally reported.

Bob Wickman gave up three runs in 2/3 of an inning for the Aeros on Saturday. Victor Martinez had four hits, including a double, for the Aeros over the weekend. He should be activated today.

Aeros second basemen Joe Inglett dislocated his left elbow on Saturday and is out for the season. Not only is this a blow to the Aeros playoff hopes but it also knocks Inglett out of the Arizona Fall League which was a tremendous opportunity for him to raise his prospect status. An AFL replacement has not been named yet. Inglett hit a combined .294/.390/.410 for Kinston and Akron this season with 26 doubles, four homeruns, 40 RBIs, 57 walks, and 50 strikeouts.

The Aeros also lost shortstop Hector Luna to a high-ankle sprain on Sunday although he is listed as day-to-day. In a return to his high school days, Corey Smith finished the game at short for the Aeros.

Was that a Pat Osborn sighting at third base yesterday for Mahoning Valley? Last years 2nd round pick has been out since June when he was placed on the Kinston DL. Osborn went 4-for-6 with a double for the Scrappers. I would expect that his season will continue in the Instructional League down in Florida.

Dennis Manoloff had an interesting note in Sunday's Plain Dealer in which he reports that all "downward" moves (i.e. demotions) in the minor leagues after August 12 has to be cleared by the National Association (minors governing body) to prevent farm directors from stacking teams for the playoffs. Additionally, the players must have spent the majority of the season playing at the lower level. Under those guidelines, the Indians do have permission to return Kyle Denney and Victor Valencia from Buffalo to Akron and Todd Pennington from Akron to Lake County for the playoffs. A number of other players moved throughout the system over the weekend to cover organizational holes and they should be returning to their original teams as well.

Andy Call notes in the Canton Repository that Matt Whitney (broken leg) and Brian Slocum (shoulder tendinitis) will play in the Florida Instructional League. Call quotes John Farrell as saying that Whitney should be 100% healthy for spring training.

Tyler Houston was designated for assignment by the Phillies. Kelly Stinnett was traded from the Reds to the Phillies. Pat Borders was recalled by the Mariners.

Interesting signing of knuckleballer Steve Sparks by the A's. Think they envision a Tim Wakefield "staff-saver" type of pitcher for 2004? He can't be a replacement for Mark Mulder this year, can he?

I'm not proof-reading the recaps today so forgive any errors, Mrs. Whitwell.

BUFFALO (73-69, T-3rd, 9.0 GB): The Bisons lost 6-3 to Ottawa on Saturday. Kyle Denney (2-1, 5.28) gave up five runs in six innings on 10 hits and a walk while striking out four. Maicer Izturis and Lou Lucca had two hits. Lucca and Benji Gil doubled while Lyle Mouton tripled.

The good guys rebounded on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Rochester. Kenny Rayborn went six innings for the win, allowing just two runs on six hits and a walk while fanning two. Chad Paronto recorded his 18th save with a scoreless inning of relief. Maicer Izturis (.264) singled and walked. Victor Valencia had a pair of hits. Zach Sorenson singled, knocked in two runs, and stole a base. Chris Magruder doubled. Luis Garcia singled and walked.

AKRON (88-53, 1st Place, 9.5 GA): The Aeros swept a doubleheader from New Britain on Saturday. Eric Crozier (#19) and Luke Scott (#7) belted homeruns in the opener to lead the Aeros to a 6-5 win. The rehabbing Victor Martinez had two hits, including a double. Nate Grindell doubled with two walks. Kyle Evans gave up five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 3.1 innings. Todd Pennington notched his first win with 2.2 scoreless innings while Fernando Cabrera recorded his 5th save with a scoreless frame.

The bats stayed in hot in the nightcap as the Aeros won 8-4. Hector Luna had three hits, including a triple, and drove in three runs. Luis Gonzalez and Grady Sizemore each singled twice. Victor Martinez doubled. Bob Wickman was charged with three runs in 2/3 of an inning after allowing three hits and a walk. Francisco Cruceta (13-9, 3.09) picked up his 13th win with six innings on one-run ball, striking out five and allowing just two hits and two walks.

New Britain blanked the Aeros 7-0 on Sunday. Jim Warden gave up four runs in four innings on six hits and five walks. Grady Sizemore had three hits, including a triple. Hector Luna (.297) singled and stole a base before leaving the game with a high ankle sprain. Corey Smith singled and walked. Victor Martinez added a basehit.

KINSTON (38-31, 1st Place, 1.0 GA): Jake Dittler tossed a complete game, four-hit shutout as the Indians blanked Myrtle Beach 5-0. Dittler (5-1, 2.40) was sensational in allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out four in becoming the first K-Tribe starter to go the distance this season. Trey Dyson doubled, singled, and stole a base. Miguel Quintana and Eider Torres both singled twice. Rodney Choy Foo tripled with a steal. JJ Sherrill walked twice and stole a base. Jason Cooper and Ivan Ochoa added basehits and Ochoa also stole a base as the K-Tribe roamed the basepaths at will.

The Pelicans bounced back on Sunday with a 4-1 victory that, coupled with Salem's 7-6 victory over Lynchburg prevented the K-Tribe from clinching the division title. Victor Kliene allowed two runs in seven innings while surrendering six hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Michael Hernandez allowed the final two runs, although only one was earned. The K-Tribe managed only six singled in the game.

LAKE COUNTY (49-20, 1st Place, 7.0 GA): The Captains won 11-5 on Saturday. Ben Francisco belted two homeruns (#10-11) and singled to drive in five runs. Michael Aubrey also had three hits, including a double. Ricardo Rojas needed only a dinger for the cycle as he singled, doubled, tripled, and also walked twice. Nathan Panther had a pair of hits and also stole his 38th base. Shaun Larkin walked twice and Chris De La Cruz added a basehit. Sean Smith (11-4, 3.71) allowed three runs in five innings while permitting six hits and a walk. He fanned two.

Keith Ramsey (11-6, 2.93) was roughed up on Sunday in the Captains 6-4 loss to Lexington. Ramsey allowed six runs in 5.1 innings on nine hits. He walked none and fanned six. Ignacio Montano followed with 2.2 scoreless frames. Nathan Panther singled, doubled, and tripled. Shaun Larkin doubled twice and walked. Brandon Pinckney, Bill Peavey, Clayton McCullough, and Ben Francisco added basehits. Peavey and Francisco also walked.

MAHONING VALLEY (38-35, 2nd Place, 18.0 GB): The Scrappers recorded their second consecutive 5-0 shutout of Aberdeen on Saturday. Scott Roehl fanned four in five innings and Adam Hanson and Chris White worked two innings apiece. Ryan Goleski doubled and stole home.

They made it five wins in a row on Sunday as the Scrappers knocked off the Ironbirds 6-4. Ryan Garko doubled twice and singled. Ryan Goleski singled twice and doubled. Pat Osborn had four hits, including a double. Brett Parker belted his 1st homerun and drove in three runs. Mike Conroy, Josh Noviskey, and Brad Snyder singled twice. Ryan Mulhern doubled and singled. Juan Lara (3-3, 3.50) allowed four runs in seven innings on seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Matt Davis (1.54) finished with two scoreless frames.

 


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