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April 30, 2004  


WARNING: The following bullpen numbers may induce nausea and vomiting.

Worst ERA in baseball at 7.42 (almost two more runs allowed than the next worst in the American League, Seattle, at 5.42) Twenty-five more hits allowed (105 to Minnesota's 80) than any other AL team. Double the homeruns (16 versus Toronto's 8) allowed than the second-most team in the AL. Most walks in the AL (40) although several other teams are close at 39 and 38. An unbelievable WHIP (walks plus hits / inning pitched) of 1.867. That's means for every inning pitched by an Indians reliever, almost two batters are reaching base.

So what can the Indians do about it?

Option #1 is to call in reinforcements from Buffalo. They've already tried that with Dave Lee and Jason Anderson with less than spectacular results. Kazuhito Tadano is the latest call-up and while he may have the most potential of the group, his time in Cleveland may be limited depending on how soon Jose Jimenez and Jason Stanford come off the disabled list. Who else is in Buffalo? How about Luther Hackman and his 14.90 ERA and 21 hits allowed in 9-2/3 innings? He'd actually probably fit in pretty nice with those numbers. Matt Miller (2.70, 11 K in 10 IP) has thrown the best but the fact that the Indians chose to potentially start the option clock on Kazuhito Tadano early (he was on the 40 when promoted) instead of calling up Miller hints to me that Miller isn't really in their plans. Fernando Cabrera, the other top relief prospect in Buffalo, is also clearly not ready with a 7.36 ERA and 11 hits and 7 walks allowed in 11 innings. Cliff Bartosh (4.76) and Matt White (2.25) are two left-handers who have pitched decently but are they any better than what's already in Cleveland? At this point, they couldn't be worse, right?

(Quick note on Tadano: His option clock will start ticking only if he's optioned to Buffalo. If he remains with the Indians for the rest of the season, an option year would not be used. Given that, now that he's up, I wonder if he's going to hang around for awhile. I mean, why waste an option if he's only going to be around for a week and make one or two appearances before being returned (optioned) to Buffalo to make room for Jimenez or Stanford? Yes, it's likely that he would have been called up later in the year but I suspect that that call-up may have been permanent and he would have stuck with the big league club for the remainder of the season (and thus no option year would have been used). Of course, it's also possible that the Indians aren't that concerned about wasting Tadano's first option on a short-term callup simply because they believe that once he sticks, he'll be here for good and the options won't really come into play with him. That may turn out to be true but injuries, slow starts, and other roster requirements can often eat up those options in a hurry. At any rate, it'll be interesting to see what they do with him).

(Quick note on White: Anyone else find it amusing that White, a two-time Rule 5 pick, keeps coming back to the Indians but they never really give him a chance to show his stuff in the big leagues? With all his travels (and I bet there's going to be a lot more to come as a likely 4A left-hander), he's got the makings of a great book when his playing days are over.)

Option #2 is to trade for a reliever. They did that with Rick White and he needs to make a couple more appearances before we can pass any judgment on his worthiness. Other relievers, similar to White, are likely available but may not have the unique circumstance involving his agreement with the Dodgers to deal him if another team expressed interest in him for the big league club. I'm sure many a team would flip a reliever to us for one of our better prospects but I don't want to do that, do you? And remember, we're not talking about acquiring Mariano Rivera here. Whether we like it or not, taking on salary is always an issue with the Indians and, besides, guys like that are very rarely available this early in the season. One of the best times to shore up the 'pen is typically late in the spring when teams are facing roster crunches and need to find homes for bubble players or are looking to save a little money. The Braves used this approach in late March to acquire Juan Cruz from the Cubs and Chris Reitsma from the Reds for a trio of level two prospects and all Reitsma has done is post a 2.84 ERA in 11 appearances while Cruz has a 1.00 ERA and .229 BAA in four appearances. Not to mention that these two are (or were) highly regarded prospects in their own right. Of course, the Indians bullpen was viewed as a concern in late March.

Option #3 is to prowl the waiver wire for help. They tried this with Jason Anderson (claimed off waivers from the Mets) who has pitched well in Buffalo but was awful in one inning with the Tribe. Last year, they picked up Dan Miceli off the scrap heap and he threw the ball well for the Indians before being dealt to the Yankees in the Karim Garcia deal. He's now pitching well out of the Astros 'pen. They had their chance with Ugueth Urbina who, despite supposedly not being ready to pitch until May 10, has a 1.80 ERA for the Tigers and has not allowed a run in four appearances since the Indians reached him for a run in his season debut back on April 16. Don't tell me that he wouldn't have looked good coming out of the 'pen in the ninth inning in Chicago on Wednesday. This one is going to come back and haunt us.

Option #4 is to essentially do nothing but shuffle the cards that you have and hope for improvement. David Riske, Scott Stewart, Jack Cressend, and Jose Jimenez all have had success at the major league level and the Indians need to figure out what needs to be done to return them to that level. The fact that everyone is struggling only compounds the problem. Even Rafael Betancourt, who is the fan favorite for the closer role, blew up in the ninth on Wednesday and has a 4.15 ERA this year. Needless to say Carl Willis and Eric Wedge have their work cut out for them. Let's just hope the starting pitching remains solid.

Misc numbers from the 'pen...

Rafael Betancourt has not issued a walk in 13 innings while striking out 15. David Riske is being pounded by everyone but particularly by righties who are hitting him at a .529/.636/.765/1.401 clip with five walks and just one strikeout. Scott Stewart has recorded 11 of 19 outs via the whiff. He's averaging 15.63 strikeouts per nine innings but has a 9.95 ERA and has allowed 15 hits in 6.1 innings. Jack Cressend has allowed a homerun in four straight appearances.

Andy Call has an interesting quote from Ted Kubiak this morning in the Canton Repository regarding Corey Smith. Kubiak says that "Corey can already hit a curveball as good as anybody. As soon as he learns to get the bat head out on his swing, he'll be ready to be an impact hitter. He'll be a solid major league hitter for 10 years once that happens". That's interesting. Usually when you see a hitter with the high strikeout and low walk totals that Corey has posted in his career, the first assumption is that the player is flailing at breaking pitches and off-speed stuff. Smith significantly lowered his BB/K ratio last season from 59 BB / 141 K in 2002 at Kinston to 50 BB / 99 K with the Aeros. He's at 9 BB / 15 K this year and is hitting .306/.390/.611/1.001 with five homeruns. Call also notes that Smith has seven errors this season, most of which are of the throwing variety (which is something that we really can't tell from a boxscore).

Carl Sadler was activated off the disabled list and will report to Akron. He had been in extended spring training nursing a sore shoulder that sidelined him for all of regular spring training. At the rate the current bullpen is going, if Sadler is healthy and pitching well, he could find himself in the mix quickly.

Brad Snyder made his season debut with the Captains last night, belting a two-run homerun and adding a sacrifice fly to drive in three runs in his first full-season game. Snyder had been sidelined since mid-February with an eye infection.

Ricardo Rojas (left wrist) was placed on the disabled list to make room for Snyder on the roster. Rojas was off to a pretty good start this season, hitting .327/.351/.509 with four doubles and two homeruns but his only appearance since last Thursday has been as a pinch-runner.

Jacksonville right-hander Andrew Brown (MBPTBNL) continues to impress as he tossed 5-2/3 scoreless innings yesterday but did not receive a decision in the 2-1 Suns loss. Brown struck out eight while walking two and permitting just three hits. For the season, he now was 44 strikeouts in 24-2/3 innings with just seven walks. If he's in the mix, I wonder how many starts the Indians want to see him make before telling the Dodgers that he's the guy?

Speaking of Jacksonville hurlers, former Indians Derek Thompson gets some love in yesterday's Daily Dish which notes that Thompson's fastball is back to 91 mph (he was 95 mph pre-injury) and that he has a 1.86 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19 innings this season.

The Diamondbacks placed Richie Sexson on the 15-day DL with a shoulder bruise or partially dislocated left shoulder (depending on the source) and he's expected to be out until mid-May (at least). Big Sexy had already belted nine longballs for the Snakes, including a massive 500 foot shot the other night.

BUFFALO (11-9): There was offense aplenty in Rochester as the Bisons won 25-13. Grady Sizemore (#2), Chris Clapinski (#3), Russ Branyan (#3), Ernie Young (#4), and Eric Crozier (#4) all went deep. Sizemore and Clapinski had four hits apiece while Young and Crozier each had three hits. Young drove in seven runs while Sizemore plated five. Matt Miller was credited with the win thanks to his two scoreless innings of relief (note that he worked the final two innings with the Bisons already up 21-13). Fernando Cabrera allowed four runs in two innings.

AKRON (10-9): Francisco Cruceta allowed one run in 5.1 innings but the bullpen could not hold a slight 2-1 lead and the Aeros fell 3-2 in Trenton. Cruceta struck out three, walked two, and allowed four hits. Jake Robbins took the loss after two runs in 1.2 innings. Franklin Gutierrez and Oscar Salazar each singled twice with a double. Tyler Minges added two baseknocks.

KINSTON (14-4): The K-Tribe lost 6-4 to Lynchburg. Brian Slocum (3-1, 3.00) allowed five runs and ten hits in six innings of work. Ivan Ochoa doubled and tripled while Jonathan Van Every doubled and singled.

LAKE COUNTY (8-12): The Captains lost 12-6 to Hickory. Nick Pesco (0-1, 5.40) took the loss as he was charged with five runs (three earned) in four innings, walking none, striking out six, and allowing six hits. Brad Snyder debuted with a two-run homerun and added a sac fly. Brandon Pinckney (.400) added a solo shot (#2). Mike Conroy had two hits. Micah Schilling committed two errors in the field.


April 29, 2004  


Just the recaps today. We'll save yesterday's debacle for discussion tomorrow.

BUFFALO (10-9): Brandon Phillips had three hits as the Bisons knocked off Rochester 6-5. Phillips (.359) singled twice and doubled and also stole a base. Russ Branyan belted his second homerun and also singled. Brent Abernathy also had three hits. Jhonny Peralta's 10 game hitting streak came to an end. Kyle Denney (3-0, 2.16) went six innings for the win, allowing four runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out nine. Dave Lee recorded the final out for his first save.

AKRON (10-8): The Aeros defeated New Hampshire 4-3. Victor Valencia (.257) homered (#1) and singled while Franklin Gutierrez added tow hits, including a double. Travis Foley allowed three runs in five innings. Oscar Alvarez picked up the win with three scoreless innings of relief and Lee Gronkiewicz worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save.

KINSTON (14-3): Dan Denham and two relievers combined to shutout Lynchburg 3-0. Denham (3-0, 1.69) went the first six innings, striking out five and allowing just three hits and two walks. Matt Davis followed with two scoreless frames and Ryan Prahm worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save. Ryan Garko (.415) singled and Shaun Larkin and Armando Camacaro drove in runs.

LAKE COUNTY (8-11): Off Day.


April 28, 2004  

Baseball America - Daily Dish  
Chris Kline profiles former Indian Ryan Church in the latest edition of the Daily Dish on Baseball America. (Church was dealt to Montreal this past winter (along with Maicer Izturis) for Scott Stewart). Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Garko also get some love in the dish.



Not only did the Indians rally from behind, they won an extra-inning game, the bloops (I haven't seen that many fall since last softball season) fell their way, and the bullpen held in the late innings. This was a big win.

Shaky debut for Kazuhito Tadano yesterday as he allowed four hits, a walk, and was charged with a run in 1.1 innings of work. I only caught a couple of his pitches but it looks like everything he throws has movement. Rick White also debuted as he bailed out Tadano in the sixth before serving up a solo shot to Carlos Lee.

(For those keeping score at home, the bullpen now consists of David Riske, Rafael Betancourt, Rick White, Jack Cressend, Kazuhito Tadano, and Chad Durbin)

What in the world was Joel Skinner thinking in sending Ben Broussard home in the second inning? Aaron Rowand couldn't have been 30 feet from the infield and the replays looked like Brossard was just rounding third when Rowand picked up the ball.

I liked how Alex Escobar laid off the Jon Garland 1-2 slider off the plate in the second. I think that's a pitch he would have been hacking at last season. Of course, he struck out swinging on a 93 mph fastball on the next pitch but at least he worked himself into a more favorable count and didn't chase something out of the strike zone. Baby steps.

Cliff Politte is the perfect example of why guys with great arms will always get a look. Last night, he gave up a digner to Victor Martinez (nice to see him turn on this one) and a single (that coulda/shoulda been caught by Willie Harris) and was charged with two runs in one-third of an inning. Looking at the boxscore, his line is far from impressive but when you look at his stuff, it's electric (if somewhat straight) and you can visualize the potential. Did I really see the 100 mph number popup on the screen after a fastball to Alex Escobar (who walked in another nice at-bat). The Sox are the third team for whom Politte's pitched in the big leagues (after the Phillies and Blue Jays) and I'm just going to guess that he'll be pitching somewhere else next year as well. Someday if/when it clicks for him, he's going to have a great run as a late-inning setup man before injuries or attrition slow him down.

The Tribe announced their rotation for the next five games and it is as follows...

Wed, 4/28: Jason Davis
Thu, 4/29: Off Day
Fri, 4/30: Cliff Lee
Sat, 5/01: CC Sabathia
Sun, 5/02: Jake Westbrook

So Jake will get (at least) one more start to stake his claim to a permanent spot in the rotation. As speculated earlier in the week, Jason Stanford will be sent down for a rehab start to (officially) build up his arm strength and (unofficially) provide the Indians with an extra week before making a decision. Smart move by the Tribe.

After Sunday, the rotation gets a little squirrely thanks to the off-day on Thursday. Going by rotation turns, Monday's start should belong to Jeff D'Amico. Going by the big three and keeping them on schedule, however, Monday's start should (or could) go to Jason Davis who would then be starting on his normal four days rest between starts. Would they skip D'Amico and reset the rotation order? Perhaps. Either way, he would either pitch again on Monday (5/3) or Wednesday (5/5) against the Red Sox and that outing could determine his future with the Indians. If Westbrook throws well on Sunday and Jason Stanford throws well in his rehab appearance (also Sunday I'm going to guess) and D'Amico gets hit hard again on either Monday or Wednesday, can the Indians justify keeping him in the rotation in place of either Westbrook or Stanford? I would hope not. He served up more meatballs in that first inning than Chef Boyardee (I can't believe I couldn't come up with anything better than that).

As mentioned yesterday, Jeremy Guthrie was officially sent down to Akron where he's expected to make his first start for the Aeros this weekend. For Guthrie, this marks a return to the double-A level that he dominated last season in 10 appearances, posting a 1.44 ERA in 62.2 innings with only 44 hits allowed. His lack of dominance (K/IP), however, with only 35 strikeouts in those 62 innings was noted as a concern and Guthrie struggled mightily in triple-A, initially after his promotion last season and in four starts this year for the Bisons (7.91 ERA, 19.1 IP, 23 H, 18 BB). Most puzzling is his loss of command but that could be attributed to him pressing and a loss of confidence. Note that the Indians say that he is healthy so we'll rule out an injury for now. This is a major setback for Guthrie and all talk of him competing for a spot in the 2005 rotation is obviously on hold but it's important to remember that this is only his second season of pro ball. If he can get himself straightened out (and I expect that to happen), it will be interesting to see how quickly the Indians return him to triple-A. I think it's crucial for him to experience success at that level this season.

Minus Guthrie, the Bisons five-day rotation now stands as Robert Ellis (pitched last night), Kyle Denney, Matt White (moving from bullpen), Kenny Rayborn (promoted from Akron), and Jeriome Robertson.

Onto some good news from Buffalo as Jhonny Peralta continues to inch closer to the .400 mark as he doubled and singled yesterday to raise his average to .397. Peralta now has five straight multiple hit games (11-for-22, 5 2B) and has doubled in three straight games. He also has a ten-game hitting streak in which he has hit .436 (17-for-39). Peralta's .397 average is tied for second in the International League and he's also tied for second in runs scored (15) and fourth in OBP at .451.

Joel Hanrahan was charged with three runs last night in six innings of work for Las Vegas. Even though he left with a 7-3 lead and was charged with only one earned run, the right-hander was not particularly sharp as he walked five and allowed two longballs as part of the five hits he allowed. He also struck out five. For the season, Hanrahan has a 3.48 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .234 BAA in 20.2 innings of work (18 H, 10 BB, 18 K, 5 HR).

In other MBPTBNL news, Andrew Brown checks in at number five on Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet. For the season, Brown has struck out an unbelievable 36 hitters in 19.1 innings while issuing only five free passes with a 3.26 ERA and a .195 BAA.

Jonathan Broxton, another top Dodgers prospect, is number one of the Prospect Hot Sheet thanks to a 1.08 ERA, a .148 BAA, and 36 strikeouts and only four walks in 25 innings. I haven't spent a lot of time focusing on Broxton as a MBPTBNL candidate (although I think I did briefly mention him) because he's pitching in high-A ball and it's believed that the MBPTBNL will be a player who is closer to the major leagues. But Broxton would be a pretty good acquisition too.

Corey Smith reaches number six on the Prospect Hot Sheet while Ryan Garko, Adam Miller, and Brian Slocum are all listed as honorable mentionables.

According to the BA transactions, the Indians placed outfielder Luis Hodge on the restricted list. Boston did the same with Paul Rigdon. The Angels released right-hander Ross Lewis, who was the Indians 41st round pick in 2001 (did not sign).

Boston signed right-hander Ryan Larson, who was released by the Indians in spring training (did I already mention this?). Anyway, Larson was the Indians 20th round pick out of Sacramento City College in 2000 and he posted a 3.84 ERA in 63 innings with the Aeros last season but allowed 78 walks with only 29 strikeouts. He'll have a chance to work against his former 'mates as he's now pitching for Portland in the Eastern League.

Newsday has an article today about the Mets and Milton Bradley in which they write "Bradley was no fan of the Indians by that point, but it seemed as if he had a bigger problem with the city of Cleveland." because Bradley said "they're big cities (NY/LA) with different cultures of people, different ethnicities. Cleveland is a black-and-white sort of place. It's not what I was used to." Anyone else think this is a poor attempt at trying to create some controversy? I don't think Bradley said anything other than his honest opinion and in some ways he's probably pretty accurate. It'll be interesting to see if a comment like this gets picked up by talk radio and is completely blown out of context and spun to make it seem like Bradley was bad-mouthing Cleveland.

BUFFALO (9-9): Robert Ellis tossed six strong innings to lead the Bisons to a 3-2 victory over Rochester. Ellis (2-1, 4.30) allowed two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out a pair. Jason Anderson and Matt Miller combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Jhonny Peralta (.397) extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double and single. He also walked. Ernie Young also had a pair of hits, including a double.

AKRON (9-8): Victor Kliene and three relievers combined on a four-hitter in the Aeros 3-1 victory over New Hampshire. Kliene, making his first appearance of the season, did not allow an earned run in four innings and permitted just two hits and a pair of walks while punching out two. Derrick Van Dusen, Jose Vargas (1-1, 1.86), and Lee Gronkiewicz (Sv 3) combined for three scoreless innings of relief. Jason Cooper tripled and singled. Corey Smith did not have a hit but he walked and scored a run.

KINSTON (13-3): The K-Tribe rolled over Lynchburg 11-5. Ryan Garko (.442) led the attack with three hits, including a double. Jonathan Van Every drove in three runs and belted his second homerun and also doubled. Eider Torres had three hits, including a double, while Nathan Panther and Michael Aubrey had two hits apiece. JD Martin (1-1, 8.79) went six innings for the win although he allowed 11 hits in the process. Martin was charged with four runs but didn't walked a batter and struck out six. Shea Doulas recorded four of his six outs via the whiff.

LAKE COUNTY (8-11): The Captains lost in Charleston 6-1. Aaron Laffey (0-2, 3.38) took the loss after being charged with three runs in four innings of work. He walked three, struck out four, and allowed two hits. Mike Conroy (.295) had three hits and a walk. Brandon Pinckney (.407) also had three hits and stole a base.


April 27, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: K-Tribe on radio  
Bored at work? Listen to the K-Tribe online as they battle Lynchburg this afternoon. Ryan Garko just doubled in Nathan Panther and the good guys are up 7-2 through five innings.


Jake Westbrook received the perfect award for a near-perfect week as he was named the American League Pitcher of the Week for April 19-25 in recognition of the 16 innings of two-hit ball that he spun against the Tigers last week. Westbrook becomes the first Indians pitcher since Bartolo Colon in September 2000 to receive the honor. Justice B.Hill notes for that Westbrook beat out Red Sox star Pedro Martinez (2-0, 0.64), Twins reliever Joe Nathan (0.00, four saves), Tigers catcher Brandon Inge (.435, two homers, 10 RBIs), Rondell White (.387, three homers and an MLB-best 11 RBIs) and Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro (.450, eight RBIs) for the award.

The red-hot Corey Smith also received a well-deserved award when he was named the Eastern League Player of the Week for the week ending April 25. The former number one pick had an unbelievable week for the Aeros, hitting .591 and slugging .955 with five doubles, a longball, and seven RBIs. Corey now has a nine-game hitting streak after he tripled and singled in yesterday's 7-5 loss to New Hampshire.

Jim Ingraham reports in the News-Herald that the Indians are considering sending Jermey Guthrie down to Akron in a bid to get him straightened out. Ingraham quotes John Farrell as saying that "It's a definite mechanical issue involving his stride direction. He's throwing more across his body because of it, and it's caused him to have an inconsistent release point, which explains the high number of walks. We saw it first in spring training and it hasn't gotten any better". Farrell also added that "Mentally, he's fine. He recognizes the changes he has to make. What's frustrating to him is he knows he's a more capable pitcher than this. He's a very good athlete, and has shown an ability to adjust in the past. He's been throwing 90 to 95 mph in every start, which he couldn't do if he was injured. But this is not a velocity issue. It's a location and strike throwing issue."

Ingraham also talked to Farrell about re-acquiring Russell Branyan to which Farrell replied "We're going to work diligently with Russell to try to get him to be a consistent offensive player. We still think there's a chance we can get to that power, and it's possible he could give us some help at the big-league level, too." Branyan homered, along with the requisite pair of strikeouts, in his return to Buffalo yesterday.

Johnny Peralta raised his average to .383 with three more hits yesterday, including his 6th double. Brandon Phillips is also hot, raising his average to .351 with three hits himself. Phillips also has nine walks this season as opposed to just two strikeouts. Grady Sizemore continues to rake, banging out two doubles last night. He's up to .220 and has started to drive the ball. Oh yeah, Mark Little also hit for the cycle. Yeah, the Bisons won big.

Oscar Alvarez's stay in Buffalo was indeed a short one as he was sent back to Akron. Kyle Evans was also returned to the Aeros.

Left-hander Victor Kliene leaves extended spring training and makes his season debut tonight for the Aeros.

Tyler Minges was activated off the Akron DL. Todd West returns to the DL with a strained left hamstring.

Pat Osborn was officially disabled in Kinston for inflammation in his left wrist.

Jonathan Van Every, Armando Camacaro, and Dennis Malave were activated off the Kinston DL.

Clayton McCullough was sent from Kinston to Mahoning Valley (or extended spring training). Joining him will be Adam Hanson who was transferred from Lake County.

Ellis Burks will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery today after he tore his left medial meniscus and was placed on the disabled list by the Red Sox. Burks was hitting .133 (4-for-30) with a homerun for the Sox. EB missed most of last season with the Tribe due to a nerve condition in his right hand.

So Robbie Alomar thinks he has it rough after a Ben Sheets pitch broke his hand and will force him to miss the next 6-8 weeks? Try being on babysitting duty all weekend with multiple viewings of Wiggle Bay. Eso es áspero, mi amigo.

BUFFALO (8-9): Mark Little hit for the cycle as the Bisons routed Rochester 11-3. Little (.362) drove in two runs as he belted his second homerun and also singled, doubled, and tripled. Jhonny Peralta (.383) had three more hits, including a double, and also stole a base. Brandon Phillips also had three knocks, including a triple, and also walked. Grady Sizemore (.220) doubled twice. Russell Branyan went deep (#1) and also struck out twice. Jeriome Robertson picked up his second win with six solid innings of work. Robertson (2-0, 2.45) allowed two runs on four hits while walking four and striking out two. Fernando Cabrera picked up his fourth save with three innings of one-run relief. He fanned three. Peralta (playing short) committed his seventh error in the field.

AKRON (8-8): New Hampshire rallied for five runs in the final two innings for a 7-5 victory over the Aeros. Kenny Rayborn (1-1, 6.75) took the loss as he allowed all five runs to score in three innings of work. That wasted a strong outing from starter Jake Dittler who did not allow an earned run in six innings on the bump. Dittler (1.59) was charged with two unearned runs and struck out six while walking three and permitting two baseknocks. Jason Cooper (.313) had three hits, including a double. EL Player of the Week Corey Smith drove in three runs with a triple and single. Nate Grindell belted his first homerun and singled. Brian Luderer also had two hits. Scott Pratt, Zach Sorenson, and Franklin Gutierrez committed errors.

KINSTON (12-3): Rained out. The game has been rescheduled for June 16.

LAKE COUNTY (8-10): Javi Herrera drove in five runs to lead the Captains to a 9-2 victory over Charleston. Herrera (.292) had three hits, including his third dinger. Brandon Pinckney also had three hits and plated two runs. Adam Miller gave up a run in each of the first two innings but settled down thereafter to work two more scoreless frames while punching out six. Nelson Hiraldo picked up the win in relief with four scoreless innings of work, striking out four, walking none, and allowing just two basehits.


April 26, 2004  


Note: No time to proof-read or spell-check today.

Yesterday morning, Eric Wedge and Carl Willis had one problem. Fix the bullpen. This morning, they have another issue to tend to, although this one is a far nicer problem to have. How to squeeze Jake Westbrook in the rotation after his masterful complete game outing against the Tigers yesterday afternoon?

Fresh off of his perfect seven-inning relief outing against the Tigers earlier in the week, Westbrook held the Tigers to just two hits and three walks while recording 17 groundball outs. He threw 100 pitches, of which he told the Canton Repository that he guesses that 70 of those were sinkers. Interestingly enough, Eric Wedge left him in to finish even though he had a healthy and rested David Riske in the bullpen and Westbrook had already thrown 88 pitches through eight frames. If you remember, Wedge was criticized for removing Westbrook after he had thrown 83 pitches in his previous perfect outing.

Westbrook also threw a perfect game, if you combine the one out he recorded on April 14 against Minnesota, the 21 against the Tigers on Monday, and the first five he recorded yesterday. He won't go down next to Len Barker in the record books but it's still an impressive accomplishment.

So, in his last two outings, Jake has thrown 16 innings and allowed just two runs on three walks and a pair of hits. If that doesn't get you a spot in the rotation, I don't what does. But how are they going to do it? Here's how the rotation shapes up over the next week...

Mon, 4/26: Off Day
Tue, 4/27: Jeff D'Amico
Wed, 4/28: Jason Davis
Thu, 4/29: Off Day
Fri, 4/30: Cliff Lee
Sat, 5/01: CC Sabathia

Sunday, May 3 is where it starts to get interesting. This would normally be Jeff D'Amico's regular spot in the rotation but Jason Stanford is also eligible to come off the disabled list. Jake Westbrook will also have gone six days between outings so he'll be more than ready for a Sunday start. Here's what I think could happen...

Mon, 4/26: Off Day
Tue, 4/27: Jeff D'Amico
Wed, 4/28: Jason Davis
Thu, 4/29: Off Day
Fri, 4/30: Cliff Lee
Sat, 5/01: CC Sabathia
Sun, 5/02: Jake Westbrook
Mon, 5/03: Jeff D'Amico
Tue, 5/04: Jason Davis
Wed, 5/05: Cliff Lee
Thu, 5/06: CC Sabathia
Fri, 5/07: Jake Westbrook

D'Amico is pushed back a day, Stanford is sent to Buffalo on a rehab assignment, and the Indians buy themselves a couple of weeks to evaluate the situation. I suppose you could also see Jake go on Saturday, D'Amico on his regular Sunday turn, and CC slide in on Monday but everything I've heard points to CC pitching this weekend. Note that Eric Wedge told the local papers yesterday that Stanford would likely not need a rehab assignment but that may have been before Westbrook's outing.

Two additions were made to the bullpen over the weekend, running the count to five pitchers added over the past eight days. Kazuhito Tadano was called up from Buffalo where he had a 4.70 ERA in two starts designed to stretch out his arm to work three-to-four innings and 75 pitches out of the 'pen. Consider this move as pushing panic button as earlier in the week the Indians had said that Tadano was not ready for the big leagues. He did not pitch in Detroit and will likely make his major league debut against the White Sox in Chicago.

The other move brought reliever Rick White from the Dodgers in exchange for Kinston outfielder Trey Dyson. White has pitched for six teams (Devil Ryas, Mets, Cardinals, Rockies, Astros, White Sox) over the past three years and posted a 5.78 ERA in 67 innings last season at the big league level with the Astros and Sox. The longball was a problem as he allowed 13 bombs to leave the yard. White signed with the Dodgers in the off-season and was pitching well in triple-A, striking out 14 and not allowing a run in 11.2 innings. He apparantly had an agreement with the Dodgers to be traded if any team expressed interest in him (likely only for a major league job). White was originally drafted by the Pirates back in 1990 and his best seasons were in the late 90s with the D-Rays where he served as a pretty good setup man. He has a career 4.20 ERA in 390 major league appearances.

White is also a native of Springfield, Ohip and now that I think about it, I may have played against White back in high school. Of all the places an Ohio team can travel to in the spring (Florida, South Carolina, etc.), we traveled to Springfield, Ohio in 1986 for a weekend series. I only played in one game but the memory is still vivid because it's the scene of one of the longest balls I ever hit, a long flyout to left-center that was caught right up against the 340 foot sign. (Yeah, if that's one of the highlights of your career, it ain't much of a career). I have no idea who was pitching but White was probably a junior or senior at the time and was likely there (if he went to Springfield High). Did I almost take Rick White deep? Sing it with me...

"I had a friend was a big baseball player
back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
but all he kept talking about was

Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days"

Trey Dyson was acquired from the Royals in the Brian Anderson deal and was hitting .179 with a homerun in 39 at-bats at Kinston. Dyson was viewed as more of an organizational player than a prospect.

Leaving the bullpen are right-handers Dave Lee and Jason Anderson. Anderson was optioned back to Buffalo after his one-inning implosion against the Tigers on Friday. Lee was designated for assignment so the Indians have 10 days to trade, release, or outright him to the minors if he's not claimed on waivers. He's been around for awhile so I'll assume that he could refuse assignment and become a free-agent if the Indians outright him.

Why wasn't David Riske pitching in the ninth inning on Saturday with the score tied at two?

The Indians also acquired Russell Branyan from the Braves for a PTBNL. It would not surprise me if Branyan had a clause in his contract allowing him to be a free-agent if he wasn't in the major league by X date (likely April 15 or May 1). Branyan was hitting .179 with a homerun for triple-A Richmond. Traded to the Reds in June 2002 for Ben Broussard, Branyan hit .216 with nine homeruns for the Reds last year with 69 strikeouts in 176 at-bats. It's nice to see he hasn't lost his touch. Branyan will report to Buffalo. This one caught me a bit by surprise given his troubles with the Indians (and specifically Eddie Murray) before he left. Not to mention that his "hack at any price" approach might not be the best thing to expose to our young developing hitters. Unless, he's going to serve as an example of what that type of approach will do to your career.

Casey Blake sat out his third straight game with a strained hammy. He is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Eric Wedge told the local papers that Jose Jimenez is expected to go out on a rehab assignment prior to being activated from the disabled list but no date has been set for that to happen. The Indians remain puzzled at the drop in Jimenez velocity (mid-to-upper 80s) from where they saw him at in the Caribbean Series (low-to-mid 90s) this winter.

Jeremy Guthrie struggled through another rough outing yesterday, giving up eight runs in four innings in a Bisons loss. In four starts this season, Guthrie now has a 7.91 ERA, opponents are hitting .303 against him, and he's walked an unbelievable 18 hitters in 19.1 innings. The degree to which his performance and command have dropped make me wonder if he's hiding an injury and his mechanics are off (thus affecting his command) as he's compensating for it in his delivery. In a strange sense, I almost hope this is the case because at least it would provide an explanation for his puzzling decline and inability to find the plate and make batters miss. In the one start I saw him make in Akron, he was untouchable and was painting the black all afternoon.

Jhonny Peralta has raised his average to .364 during an eight-game hitting streak that includes two more baseknocks yesterday.

Oscar Alvarez was promoted to Buffalo and worked three scoreless innings yesterday for the Bisons. He's likely only going to be up on a temporary basis. Alvarez had a 5.06 ERA in three appearances for the Aeros.

Corey Smith remains red-hot in Akron with four more hits over the weekend to raise his average to .345, which is good for 8th best in the Eastern League. Smith is also second in the league in homeruns with 5, tied for second in RBIs with 13, third in slugging at .690, tied for third in extra-base hits with 10, and tied for third in runs scored. Most importantly, he's demonstrating excellent command of the strike zone with seven walks versus ten strikeouts.

Franklin Gutierrez returned to action on Sunday, going 0-for-4, after he took a Jim Abbott (not that Jim Abbott) pitch off the helmet on Friday night. X-Rays proved negative and Gutierrez was diagnosed with a right cheek bone contusion which sounds like a fancy way of saying "bruise". Thank goodness that's all it was.

Joe Inglett was placed on the Aeros DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis which just happens to be the elbow that he dislocated in the Eastern league playoffs last season. He's out indefinitely and the ABJ noted that he has "increasing numbness" in his surgically repaired left arm. Inglett was hitting .190 in 21 at-bats for the Aeros this season.

Zach Sorenson moves down from Akron to replace Inglett which should help the Aeros in the Win column. Sorenson was riding the bench in Buffalo with Brandon Phillips and Jhonny Peralta seeing most of the playing time up the middle so this will at least get Zach some regular at-bats. He rejoins fellow 1998 high draft pick Scott Pratt in Akron. Both can become minor league free-agents after this season and I would be surprised if both don't look for a better opportunity elsewhere this offseason.

Dave Wallace, who had been sidelined with a sore oblique muscle, was activated off the Kinston DL. He had two hits on Saturday but three baserunners stole bases against him (as best I could tell by the boxscore).

Pat Osborn was placed on the Kinston DL with a wrist injury. Anyone know how serious this may be? Osborn was off to a great start for the K-Tribe, hitting .375/.444/.813 with three homeruns this season.

Jonathan Van Every was also placed on the Kinston DL. JVE was hitting .286 with a dinger and five strikeouts in 14 at-bats.

Nick Brannon was sent up to Akron from Kinston. He was among the pitchers who took a beating yesterday (see recaps below).

Nick Pesco's numbers from Friday: Two runs in 4.1 innings on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Andrew Brown (MBPTBNL) turned in another sensational outing for Jacksonville, allowing just one hit in 5.2 innings while striking out eight and walking three. In 19.1 innings, Brown has now struck out 36 with only 5 walks. If he's not the PTBNL in the Milton Bradley, I'm going to be really disappointed.

Ricardo Rodriguez will be out three-to-four weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. He had been pitching well for the Rangers in triple-A, posting a 2.77 ERA in two starts. The Newberg Report speculates that it would have been Rodriguez starting for the Rangers this weekend instead of fellow former Indian Ryan Drese if not for the injury.

I have a somewhat strange opinion of the Browns draft. I really like both Kellen Winslow and Greg Jones so in that sense I think they did alright. But I also think that they gave up way too much to acquire those two and that makes for a bad draft. The last I checked the Browns were not one great player away from the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. This team needs a lot of good players not one great player. Besides, when's the last time a tight end has let a team to the Super Bowl? They should have kept the pick, taken DeAngelo Hall at #7 and then nabbed either Jones or Jacob Rogers in the second. Or perhaps even Ben Troupe if they really wanted a tight end. They then could have used their third round pick to add to defense or o-line. I like Luke McNown on day two (I had him one round later in my Browns mock) if for no other reason than he was a four-year member of my college football fantasy team. Overall, I think this draft will be the undoing of Butch Davis, he just hasn't done enough this offseason to improve this club beyond 5-11 or 6-10, but it could be viewed as a very good draft by whomever is coaching the team three years from now if McCown is starting and Winslow and Jones develop into all-pros.

Iron Chef America was disappointing. I should have known better though. Anytime you hear that a show has been "Americanized" you can pretty much expect that it's going to suck. One of the best moments in the draft was watching Jesse Palmer impersonate Ron Jaworski. The Bachelor was dead-on. If you're a draftnik, you need to check out The "That's what Marvin wants" Bud Light commercial is one of their best in years.


BUFFALO (7-8): Tim Young made the spot start for the promoted Kazuhito Tadano and was pounded for 10 runs in 1.2 innings as the Bisons lost 18-11 to Ottawa. Luther Hackman did not fare much better in relief as he allowed eight runs in 1.1 innings. Brandon Phillips had four hits, including a double. Grady Sizemore belted his first homerun. Jhonny Peralta had two hits while Eric Crozier had three hits, including a double.

AKRON (8-6): Francisco Cruceta rebounded from a round outing his last time on the mound by tossing seven strong innings in the Aeros 11-2 victory over New Britain. Cruceta (2-1, 2.92) was charged with two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk. He struck out one. Corey Smith belted his fifth homerun and doubled. Jason Cooper also went deep (#2) and drove in three runs.

KINSTON (12-2): The K-Tribe knocked off Myrtle Beach 6-4. Michael Aubrey, Ivan Ochoa, Shaun Larkin, and Dave Wallace had two hits apiece. Keith Ramsey allowed four runs in five innings.

LAKE COUNTY (6-10): Rafael Perez debuted with five solid innings in the Captains 5-1 loss to Charleston. Perez (0-1, 3.60) allowed seven hits and two runs with one strikeout. Luis Cotto singled three times while Ryan Mulhern (.341) banged out a couple of hits.


BUFFALO (7-9): Jeremy Guthrie turned in another poor outing as the Bisons fell 9-6 to Ottawa. Guthrie (1-2, 7.91) was charged with eight runs in four innings, giving up nine hits and four walks while striking out four. Brandon Phillips (.321) had three more hits. Jhonny Peralta (.364) doubled and singled. Grady Sizemore doubled and tripled. Ernie Young belted his third homerun.

AKRON (8-7): Scott Sturkie, making a spot start, carried a shutout into the fourth inning and then the house collapsed as the Aeros lost 19-0 to New Britain. Five pitchers combined to allow those 19 runs. Corey Smith (.345) had two more hits as did Scott Pratt. Former Aero Billy Munoz had four hits, including his fourth homerun and a double.

KINSTON (12-3): Braves prospect Kyle Davies outdueled Fausto Carmona as the K-tribe lost 5-0 to Myrtle Beach. Davies tossed six innings of two-hit while Carmona was charged with four runs only one earned) in six innings, allowing hits and a pair of walks while striking out four. Michael Aubrey (.283) and Anthony Lunetta had a pair of hits. Ryan Garko kept his average over .400 (.404) with a single.

LAKE COUNTY (7-10): The Captains rallied for a 2-1, eleven innings victory over Charleston. Sean Smith tossed six innings of scoreless ball, striking out seven and allowing just two hits and a pair of walks. Javi Herrera had two hits, including his second longball of the season which sent the game into extras. Micah Schilling also had a pair of hits.

CIR UPDATE: Russell Branyan Returns  
The Indians acquired Russell Branyan from the Braves for a PTBNL. Branyan was hitting .179 (5-for-28) with a homerun for the triple-A Richmond this season. More in the next CIR.


April 25, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Tribe makes bullpen changes  
Kazuhito Tadano was called up from Buffalo and Rick White was acquired from the Dodgers for Kinston outfielder Trey Dyson. Jason Anderson was optioned to Buffalo and Dave Lee was designated for assignment. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: See you on Monday  
THE CIR will return on Monday with a full report. Have a good Sunday everyone!


April 24, 2004  


10-4 on Monday

15-5 on Tuesday

17-3 on Friday

11 runs and 7 walks in the 6th

6.16 bullpen ERA

6-11 record
(and we haven't even played New York or Boston or Seattle or Oakland or Anaheim get the drift)

It's a beautiful weekend morning and that's pretty much all I'm going to say. No need in getting all upset and ruining the rest of the day.

Jason Anderson (45.00) debuted yesterday and imploded in the 11-run sixth by walking four and serving up a salami to Brandon Inge. Did you catch that? Brandon Freaking Inge. The rest of the bullpen didn't fare much better as David Lee (10.38) gave up two hits and two walks and did not record an out. Jack Cressend (7.15) followed and gave up three hits and three walks and two runs. Only Scott Stewart (imagine that?) escaped unscatched but he only needed to retire one batter.

If you're looking for help in Buffalo, Matt Miller has allowed eight hits in 5.1 innings and has a 5.06 ERA with five strikeouts, Cliff Bartosh (worked two scoreless frames yesterday) has a 5.79 ERA and has allowed six hits in 4.2 innings, and Luther Hackman has allowed 12 hits in 6.2 innings with a 9.45 ERA. Kaz Tadano is still being stretched out as a starter and has a 4.70 ERA in seven innings while Fernando Cabrera allowed four runs in the ninth inning yesterday and has a 6.00 ERA in six innings with only two strikeouts. Only Matt White has pitched well in the early going, tossing five scoreless innings with six strikeouts. If he's not summonded, the only other option is to look outside the organization. More on that tomorrow.

CC Sabathia reported no pain after a long-toss session yesterday. He's expected to throw a bullpen session tomorrow and then be ready to take his normal turn in the rotation next weekend. Trainer Lonnie Soloff told the Canton Repository that "the injury is not uncommon among pitchers because of the stress they put on the front of their throwing shoulders" and Eric Wedge followed by saying "he did the right thing in letting us know (about the soreness)". Amen to that.

In other injury news, Soloff told the Repository that Jason Stanford has had "several real good days of treatment in a row" and that "he’s relatively pain free". He's eligible to come off the DL on May 1 and it doesn't sound like he's going to need a rehab assignment.

Casey Blake is day-to-day with a mild hamstring strain.

Jake Westbrook will start on Sunday against the Tigers.

Kyle Denney is doing everything he can to get himself into the mix for a promotion to Cleveland. The right-hander fired off his third consecutive strong outing last night as he allowed just one run through six innings, punching out five and scattering four hits and a walk. In three starts for the Bisons, Denney has a 0.95 ERA in 19 innings and is holding opposing hitters to a measly .152 batting average. In addition, he's fanned 19 while walking only three. Denney's in a bit of a tough spot because, at age 26, he's not considered much of a prospect at this point in his career. He's also not on the 40, went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft this past December, and won't become a minor league free-agent until after the 2005 season. All he can do is keep pitching well and force himself into the Indians plans or draw interest from another team in trade. So far, he's off to a great start.

Chris Kline reports in the Daily Dish that Mariano Gomez was pulled in the third inning on Wednesday due to a strained ligament at the base of his left middle finger, which is the same injury that caused him to be shut down last July for the rest of the season. No word from the Tribe on the seriousness of this injury.

Nick Pesco was officially activated by the Cpatains yesterday and was scheduled to make his season debut against Savannah last night. No boxscore was available for the game but the score was 2-2 through nine innings so I'll assume he had a decent outing.

Dan Rich was sent up to Kinston to make room for Pesco on the Lake County roster. Rich had a 10.13 ERA in three appearances for the Captains, striking out six in five innings of work.

Chad Allen was called up by the Rangers.

It's a huge day in Berea. My personal order of preference is Robert Gallery, DeAngelo Hall, and Sean Taylor. Kellen Winslow is a good player but the line and secondary are of far more concern in my opinion. Here's a moron's shot at a Browns mock draft...

1st: DeAngelo Hall, CB, Virginia Tech (shutdown corner)
2nd: Jacob Rogers, OT, USC (converted TE like Gallery)
3rd: Tank Johnson, DT, Washington (more bulk for the middle)
4th: Troy Fleming, FB, Tennessee (catch and block backup)
5th: Luke McCown, QB, Louisiana Tech (long-shot to groom)
6th: Leon Joe, LB, Maryland (speed for special teams)
6th: Jason Geathers, WR, Miami (Fla) (see Joe above, token Miami pick)
7th: Scott Verhalen, P, East Texas Baptist (this has Butch written all over it)

The more I think about, the more I think Gallery is the prime objective but the interest in Winslow and Taylor is a bit of a smokescreen so teams don't trade up to take Hall. A shutdown cornerback will provide more time for the line to get to the QB and help running game by allowing the safeties to cheat in against the run. He's the pick if they can't trade Gallery. I guarantee this mock and thought to be 100% inaccurate.

Congrats also to the Browns for getting long snappers officially listed as a position in the Sports Weekly draft preview. That alone makes the 2003 draft a success!

BUFFALO (7-7): Kyle Denney turned in his third consecutive strong outing as the Bisons rolled over Ottawa 11-5. Denney (2-0, 0.95) allowed just one run run through six innings, scattering four hits and a walk while punching out five. Cliff Bartosh added two scoreless innings of relief while Fernando Cabrera was touched for four runs in the ninth inning as he surrendered four hits and two walks with no strikeouts. Jhonny Peralta doubled twice while Mark Little and Todd Dunwoody added two hits apiece. Brandon Phillips walked four times and Grady Sizemore three times as the Bisons received twelve free passes from Ottawa knuckleballer Joe Gannon (and you thought the Tribe game was bad!).

AKRON (7-6): New Britain rallied for two runs in the top of the 9th inning to knock off the 3-1 in Canal Park. Jose Vargas took the loss in spoling a strong outing from starter Travis Foley who punched out six in five innings while allowing just one run on two hits and a walk. Zach Sorenson had three hits, including a triple. Corey Smith doubled, walked, and stole a base. He also committed an error in the field.

KINSTON (11-2): Brian Slocum continued the string of strong performances on the mound by tossing seven innings of one-run ball as the K-Tribe won 6-3 over Myrtle Beach. Slocum (3-0, 1.50) worked seven innings of one-run ball, striking out three, and allowing five hits and one walk in picking up his third victory of the season. Michael Aubrey tripled and drove in a pair of runs. Eider Torres had two hits, including a double.

LAKE COUNTY (6-9): The Captains lost 3-2 to Savannah in 10 innings. Kevin Martin took the loss in relief and Mike Conroy and Ryan Goleski drove in the Lake County runs. No boxscore was avialable for this game but it looks like Nick Pesco pitched well in his season debut.


April 23, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: 4/21 rescheduled for 7/24  
The Indians announced today that the April 21 rainout against the Royals has been rescheduled for July 24 as part of a day/night doubleheader. The rainout game will be played at 1:05 and the rescheduled game will be played at 7:05.

CIR UPDATE: Pat and Kevin Tillman  
I'm sure most of you have heard the news that former NFL safety Pat Tillman was killed on Thursday in Afghanistan while on duty as an Army Ranger in operation Mountain Storm. Tillman's younger brother Kevin spent one year in the Indians system, playing for Burlington in 2001. Like his brother, Kevin Tillman also joined the Rangers and served (or is still serving) in the Middle East. Our condolences to the Tillman family.


It's all good.

That's what the MRI said (for the most part) as the Indians announced that CC Sabathia has an irritated biceps tendon and is expected to miss only one start before rejoining the rotation.

CC was warming up in the bullpen before yesterday's game and was approximately halfway through his warm-ups when he "felt something" in the front of his shoulder after throwing a change-up. He stretched, then threw a couple of more pitches and said "that's enough", according to pitching coach Carl Willis via the Canton Repository. The Indians then sent him out for an MRI, scrambled Jeff D'Amico to the bullpen, and we all started praying.

D'Amico turned in a stellar performance given the twenty minute notice he was given (notified at 11:55, game scheduled to start at 12:05, but postponed to 12:15 due to the injury), in holding the Royals scoreless for the first five innings and finishing with two runs in 5.1 innings of work. He didn't walk a batter and struck out four while surrendering six hits. Needless to say, it was a far better performance than his previous outing when he failed to record an out in the first inning.

As you might expect, the Indians rotation is now a complete mess thanks to the Sabathia injury, Stanford injury, and the short outings from the starters this week. D'Amico was scheduled to pitch on Sunday but the ball will likely now go to either Jake Westbrook or Chad Durbin in a spot appearance. Here's how the rotation might shake out over the next two weeks....

April 23: Jason Davis
April 24: Cliff Lee
April 25: (spot) Jake Westbrook or Chad Durbin
April 26: Off
April 27: Jeff D'Amico
April 28: Jason Davis
April 29: Off
April 30: Cliff Lee
May 01: CC Sabathia (returning from injury)
May 02: Jeff D'Amico
May 03: Jason Davis
May 04: Jason Stanford (returning from DL)
May 05: Cliff Lee
May 06: Back to Sabathia for the regular five-man turn

Note: Those two off-days next week will be a blessing.

Jason Anderson was recalled from Buffalo this morning to help out a bullpen that has seen all of it's long-men see extensive work this week. Anderson, acquired via waivers from the Mets earlier this month, had made three appearances for the Bisons, posting a 1.93 ERA in 4.2 innings with five strikeouts. I read in one of the papers that John Farrell came back from Buffalo with glowing reports about Anderson so it will be interesting to see what he can do.

If Anderson pitches well, he could hang for awhile, as the bullpen (David Riske aside) struggled again yesterday. Scott Stewart allowed an inherited runner to score and both Jack Cressend and Rafael Betancourt allowed a run in one inning of work.

To make room for Anderson on the roster, Jeriome Robertson was optioned to Buffalo. Robertson appeared in one game for the Tribe, giving up eight runs (five earned) in 5.1 innings of work on Tuesday.

Omar Vizquel picked up his 2000th career basehit yesterday with a single off Jason Grimsley. 1,469 of those hits have come as an Indian and Omar is now ninth on the all-time Indians hit list and just three safeties behind Terry Turner in eighth place.

Nice work by David Riske in the 9th.

Get used to Victor Martinez delivering clutch hits late in the game.

Mark Shapiro says the Indians will have between $9 and $17 million to spend on free-agents this off-season. Wasn't $15-$25 million the numbers that were tossed around for offseason spending earlier this year. I'll have some thoughts on this, maybe over the weekend.

Grady Sizemore (leading off) rapped out two hits yesterday in what hopefully signals an end to the slump in which Sizemore has started the season. In 41 at-bats, the Indians top prospect is hitting just .195/.292/.220/.512 with only one extrra-base hit. It's likely that Sizemore is still recovering from a bout with a stomach virus that caused him to lose 15 pounds late in spring training. Let's hope that yesterday begins the turnaround.

Elsewhere in Buffalo, after a hot start, Brandon Phillips has fallen to .238/.327/.357/.684 with two doubles and a homerun. Encouragingly, though Phillips has four walks to just two strikeouts which is a nice reversal of his previous BB/K ratios.

Jhonny Peralta is stroking the ball well as he's raised his average to .341/.378/.390/.768 over the past week. He hasn't shown much power yet, though, and his BB/K ratio stands at three walks and eleven strikeouts. Peralta has also committed six errors in the field, including two last night while playing third base.

Joel Hanrahan, potential MBPTBNL, allowed three runs in five innings last night for Las Vegas. Hanrahan (1-1, 4.30) struck out four, walked three, and gave up three hits, two of which were of the longball variety.

BUFFALO (6-7): Ernie Young (#2) and Todd Dunwoody (#2) belted homeruns as the Bisons knocked off Scranton 4-2. Grady Sizemore (leading off) added two hits as did Sandy Martinez. Robert Ellis (1-1, 4.76) went six innings for the win, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out two.

AKRON (7-5): Off Day

KINSTON (10-2): Off Day

LAKE COUNTY (6-8): The Captains lost 2-1 in Savannah. Aaron Laffey turned in another strong performance, tossing five shutout innings and scattering just two hits while striking out seven. Nelson Hiraldo (0-3, 4.56) was charged with the loss after allowing two runs in three innings. Kevin Kouzmanoff had two hits, including a double to lead the offense.

CIR UPDATE: Good news on CC  
The MRI revealed that CC Sabathia has an irritated biceps tendon. He's not expected to be placed on the disabled list and he's not expected to miss another start, although they still have not figured out when his start will be. This is obviously very good news. More in the CIR later today.


April 22, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: CC felt something in his shoulder  
According to Eric Wedge in his post-game comments, CC Sabathia felt something in the front of his left shoulder (gulp) during pre-game warmups. He was immediately shutdown and will undergo an MRI with a results announcement expected tomorrow. Wedge believes that CC was more than halfway through his warmups and he also stated that CC had not complained of any soreness in his shoulder prior to today. There will be a lot of talk about young pitchers and heavy workloads on the tube and radio tonight. Keep your fingers crossed on this one guys, we can't afford to lose the big fella.


Note: Tribe is up 2-0 after three innings in today's businessman's special.

On Tuesday, I wrote "Quick note: Combine the above two paragraphs, a lot of walks and a lot of errors, and you've just painted yourself a very ugly picture." That's exactly what happened in the sixth inning on Tuesday. Three walks, a botched double-play, and a grand slam turned a relatively close 7-4 game into an 11-4 blowout (and eventual 15-5 loss).

CC Sabathia was scratched from today's start while warming up in the bullpen. This would have been CC's 100th career start, joining Bob Feller (175) as the only two Indians pitchers to make 100 starts before the age of 24. More on CC throughout the day as details are made available.

Jeriome Robertson made his Indians debut in Tuesday's 15-5 debacle against the Royals, giving up four runs and eight hits in 5.1 innings including the salami to Matt Stairs. Robertson had made one start for the Bisons in triple-A, posting a 1.80 ERA in five innings.

Robertson replaces Jason Stanford on the active roster as Stanford was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. In two starts, Stanford had a 0.82 ERA in eleven innings. He's eligible to come off the DL on May 1 and is not expected to exceed that time, although I'm thinking he could go out to Buffalo on a quick rehab assignment to align himself back into his rotation spot. The rotation is a bit out of whack right now thanks to the short outings from Chad Durbin and Jeff D'Amico, the scratching of CC Sabathia from his start today, and the impending off days this coming Monday and Thursday.

Speaking of debuts, how about Tim Laker on the mound, tossing one scoreless frame with a mix of 75-78 mph stuff. Let it be known that I hit 74 on the gun last year and am available for mop-up duty.

Jody Gerut sat out Monday and Tuesday with a hyperextended knee but he's back in the lineup today.

Alex Escobar strained a glut muscle while running the bases on Tuesday but is back in the lineup today.

Jason Bere underwent elbow surgery (transpose ulnar nerve) yesterday and it will be eight weeks before he is cleared to throw a baseball. His complete recovery is expected to take 14-to-16 weeks.

Corey Smith has raised his average to .319 thanks to a 5-game stretch in which he's hit .526 (10-for-19) with three doubles, two homeruns, four walks, and seven RBIs. For the season, Smith is now hitting a healthy .319/.407/.638/1.045 with a solid BB/K ratio of six walks versus nine strikeouts. Smith usually starts off with a hot April and he is repeating a level but this is encouraging, especially the improvement in plate discipline.

Elsewhere in double-A, Dodgers right-hander (and potential MBPTBNL) Andrew Brown recorded 13 of 18 outs via the punchout on Monday. Brown was charged with three runs on four hits, two of which were longballs, but he walked none while striking out 13. That's impressive. Brown has now struck out 28 while walking only two in 13.2 innings covering three starts.

Ryan Garko was named the Carolina League Player of the Week after he hit .444 with two doubles and a grand slam last week. Garko, incidentally is number twenty on the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet.

Nick Pesco and Rafael Perez will be officially added to the Captains roster on Friday.

Roberto Alomar will be out 6-to-8 weeks after a Ben Sheets pitch broke a bone in his right hand. Alomar was hitting .222 (8-for-36) for the Diamondbacks.

BUFFALO (5-7): The Bisons split a double-header on Tuesday with Scranton. Jeremy Guthrie (1-1, 5.28) took the loss in the opener as he walked seven in 5.2 innings and allowed four runs (two earned). Eric Crozier belted his third homerun and Jhonny Peralta had two hits. In the nightcap, Chris Clapinski belted his second grand slam in four days to lead the Bisons to a 4-2 victory. Jhonny Peralta had two more hits while Brandon Phillips singled and stole a base. Jason Anderson (1-0, 1.93) and Fernando Cabrera (Sv 3, 0.00) combined for four scoreless innings of relief.

In a game shortened by rain last night, the Bisons lost 6-1 to Scranton. Mark Little doubled and tripled. Kyle Evans took the loss after allowing five runs (three earned) in 3.2 innings.

Note: I thought this was a funny comment from the Buffalo News: "Clapinski's grand slam landed in the back parking lot, just short of Orlando Merced's legendary blast in 1990".

AKRON (7-5): Corey Smith had four hits on Tuesday to lead the Aeros to a 9-2 victory over Harrisburg. Smith singled three times, doubled, walked, and drove in three runs. Jason Cooper drove in a pair with a double and single. Jake Dittler (1-2, 2.16) picked up his first victory as he punched out six in 6.2 innings, allowing two runs in five hits and a free pass.

The bats stayed hot yesterday as the Aeros routed Harrisburg for the second consecutive night, winning 8-2. Corey Smith (.319) reached base four times thanks to a double, single, and two walks. Rodney Choy Foo (.161) did the same. Nate Grindell, Brian Luderer, and Todd West all had two hits apiece. Mariano Gomez worked only 2.2 innings before leaving the game. Scott Sturkie picked up the win in relief with two scoreless frames.

KINSTON (10-2): The hottest team in baseball was limited to one hit on Tuesday as the K-Tribe's 10-game winning streak came to a screeching halt in a 9-1 loss in Wilmington. Shaun Larkin managed the only K-Tribe basehit and Trey Dyson walked twice. JD Martin (0-1, 10.80) was pounded for seven runs in 4.1 innings as he allowed seven hits and five walks while striking out only two.

The losing streak reached two yesterday as Wilmington knocked off the little Indians 6-5. Dan Denham (2-1, 5.40) took the loss as he allowed six runs in five innings on eight hits and two walks. Five of those eight hits went for extra bases (four doubles and a longball). Ryan Garko (.429) singled twice and drove in a pair of runs. Ivan Ochoa (.325) also had a pair of hits.

LAKE COUNTY (6-7): The Captains rang up back-to-back shutouts in Savannah thanks to the strong arms of Sean Smith and Adam Miller. On Tuesday, Smith (2-1, 3.86) worked five scoreless frames, punching out five and permitting just two hits and a walk in leading the Captains to a 6-0 victory over the Sand Gnats. TJ Burton followed with three scoreless innings of work. Ricardo Rojas and Micah Schilling each doubled and singled while both Ryan Goleski and Mike Conroy tripled and singled. Bill Peavey belted his second homerun.

Adam Miller (2-0, 1.13) allowed a leadoff single and then retired 14 of his next 15 in pitching the Captains to the 4-0 victory yesterday. Miller struck out seven and allowed only one hit and a walk. Scott Roehl punched out four in three perfect innings of relief. Ryan Goleski (.391) belted his fifth homerun. Ricardo Rojas (.333) went deep for the second time this year. Mike Conroy tripled and drove in two runs.

CC Sabathia was a late scratch from his scheduled start this afternoon. Tom Hamilton reported that CC was warming up in the bullpen and then the change was announced. Jeff D'Amico replaces CC on the mound.


April 21, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: No CIR today  
Just wanted to post a quick note that there will be no CIR today. We'll return tomorrow with a full report.


April 20, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Gerut out of lineup again  
Just heard on the radio (Eric Wedge to Tom Hamilton) that Jody Gerut has a strained knee and will be out of the lineup again tonight. Wedge did say that Gerut should be available as a pinch-hitter if needed.

CIR UPDATE: Stanford on DL, Robertson called up  
Jason Stanford was placed on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained left forearm and Jeriome Robertson was recalled from Buffalo to take his place on the roster. Chad Durbin starts tonight in place of Stanford. Robertson will serve as the long reliever with Jake Westbrook out of commission for awhile after his seven perfect innings yesterday. More in the next CIR.


What a strange game last night.

First of all, I flip on the game only to find it in a rain delay when I'm looking out the window at partly cloudy skies (although that changed in a hurry). Jeff D'Amico does not record an out (three hits, two walks, one reached by error) but Jake Westbrook tosses seven perfect innings of relief. That's PERFECT as in no hits, no walks, no hit-by-pitches, no reached by errors. 21 up and 21 down. And he accomplished this despite entering the game with runners on first and second and no outs. Rafael Betancourt, the one almost "sure" thing in the bullpen replaces Westbrook but serves up a three-run jack to Rondell White and the game spirals out of control from there with the Indians losing 10-4.

You can't say enough about Westbrook's performance. Seven perfect innings, seven punchouts, and 83 pitches. What a lot of people will be talking about this morning, however, is Eric Wedge's decision to remove him after seven innings and turning a tie ballgame over to a shaky bullpen. I'm with most of you in saying that I would have loved to see him continue. As devil's advocate, however, keep in mind that Jake had only pitched twice this year (71 pitches on April 6 and 24 pitches on April 14) and the Indians were likely fearful that his arm had not been built up for 90-100 pitches, which is where he was heading. I would have kept him in, but the Indians have a plan and they're sticking to it. Bottom line, though, is that the bullpen needs to do the job when called upon and they did not do it again last night.

I'm sure some of the more thersitical fans let Jeff D'Amico have it last night as he became the first Indians starting pitcher to not record an out in the first inning since Tommy Kramer on August 17, 1993. In that game, Kramer faced four batters, walking three and serving up a three-run bomb to Roberto Alomar before being relieved by Jeff Mutis. Mutis didn't actually pitch that bad, allowing just two runs in five innings, but the Indians rally fell a little short as they lost 6-4.

Ronnie Belliard banged out three more hits last night, all doubles, to raise his average to an AL second best .446. He now leads all of major league baseball in hits with 25 and the American League in doubles with 8. He's also hitting an unbelievable .571 (12-for-21) against left-handers with the Royals scheduled to throw three southpaws (Brian Anderson, Jeremy Affeldt, and Jimmy Gobble) against the Tribe this series. Belliard would have to go 0-for-26 for his average to fall below .300. Unbelievable.

Matt Lawton drove in two runs to move him into a tie for first place in RBIs in the American League with 15. Lawton is hitting .316/.365/.561/.926 with two doubles and four longballs this year.

Omar Vizquel doubled and his next basehit will be the 2000th of his career.

The Indians also committed three more errors (Belliard, Vizquel, and Blake) which raises their season total to 13 which is tied for the second most in the American League.

I mentioned last week that I was concerned over the number of walks being issued by Tribe starters and Jim Ingraham adds some detail to that thought in the News-Herald this morning. Among the numbers noted, Indians starting pitchers lead the AL in walks with 36 and the entire staff projects to issue 648 free passes if they continue at their current which would be an increase of 147 walks from last season. Of course, only five of those 36 walks have scored but that is a ratio that will not stand up over the course of a season.

Quick note: Combine the above two paragraphs, a lot of walks and a lot of errors, and you've just painted yourself a very ugly picture.

Bob Wickman has been cleared to start throwing from 45 feet on April 30. That will be the first throwing milestone on his rehab program.

A couple of formers will be on the mound tonight at the Jake. Former Indian Brian Anderson faces his old 'mates while former Royal Chad Durbin does the same in a spot start in place of Jason Stanford. Stanford has a forearm strain but is expected to miss only one start. BA has a 8.62 ERA in three starts, has allowed 22 hits in 15.2 innings, and has not allowed less than five runs in an outing this season.

Francisco Cruceta was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending April 18 in recognition of the two sensational starts Cruceta fashioned to start the season. He did not fare as well last night (see recaps below).

Tim Young was activated off the Bisons DL (strained left hammy) to replace the promoted Dave Lee.

Tyler Minges (sprained left ankle) was placed on the Aeros disabled list. He was hitting .188 (3-for-16) for the Aeros. Todd West was activated to replace Minges on the roster.

With the impending activation of starters Nick Pesco and Rafael Perez in Lake County, the Captains rotation for the next five days shapes up as Sean Smith, Adam Miller, Aaron Laffey and Nelson Hiraldo, Nick Pesco, and Rafael Perez and Ed Mujica. Note the dual starter system being used in two spots of the rotation. Oakland and Texas have used a similar system over the past couple of years and I believe the Tribe may have employed this system down in Burlington last season. I would expect the starter to work five innings or 75 pitches with the "reliever" finishing. It will be interesting how game decisions (i.e., tight ballgame in the late innings) impact the development decisions (i.e, letting the "reliever" get his work in). reports that rule 5 pick Lino Urdaneta is expected to pitch in a simulated game for the Tigers this week.

Kenny Lofton was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Yankees with a strained right quad. Lofton was hitting .167 (4-for-24) with a stolen base.

Simon Pond was sent to triple-A by the Blue Jays.

Peter Gammons reports that the consensus on the June draft is that it is extraordinarly weak, especially in regards to position players. He quotes one scouting director as saying that there is only one college position player (Oklahoma State third basemen Josh Fields) considered a lock for the first round. It's expected that the draft will lean heavily toward college pitching, especially in the early picks. The Indians have the number six selection in the draft.

BUFFALO (4-5): Rained out against Scranton.

AKRON (5-5): The Aeros rallied late but lost 11-9 in Harrisburg. Eastern League Pitcher of the Week Francisco Cruceta, coming off two dominating performances to start the season, was pounded for seven runs in 3.2 innings as he allowed seven hits and two walks and did not strike out a batter. Trailing 11-1, the offense scored four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and three more times in the top of the 9th before the Senators could close things out for the victory. Franklin Gutierrez (.385) drove in three runs with a homer (#1) and single. Jason Cooper (.275) doubled twice. Corey Smith (.225) doubled and singled as did Ben Francisco (.228) and Victor Valencia.

KINSTON (10-0): The K-Tribe remained the only unbeaten team in baseball with a 10-7 victory in Wilmington. Nathan Panther (.310) homered (#4) for the third consecutive game and also doubled to drive in a pair of runs. Ryan Garko (.457) stayed red-hot with three more hits, including a double. Pat Osborn (.387) needed only a longball for the cycle as he singled, doubled, and tripled. Shaun Larkin added a pair of baseknocks. Fausto Carmona (5.14) struggled through four innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while punching out two. Shea Douglas picked up the win in relief and Ryan Prahm recorded his third save by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

LAKE COUNTY (4-7): Day off.


April 19, 2004  


Note: I left all my notes at home this morning so this will be a short update.

Jayson Stark reports in his Rumblings and Grumblings column on that "scouts who have watched the Braves through the spring and early April have consistently buzzed about how well Jaret Wright has thrown, now that he has mixed a hard two-seamer in with his 95-mph four-seam fastball." In two starts for the Braves, Wright has a 2.25 ERA and .190 BAA with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 innings.

Stark also reports that the Red Sox were close to signing Terry Mulholland before he was dealt to the Twins.

He also notes that "we've heard almost nothing but good things about Franklin Gutierrez, the outfield phenom the Indians got from the Dodgers for Milton Bradley. But one NL executive says he's no lock for stardom. "He's a lot like Alex Escobar" the exec said. "He's very similar -- in talent and numbers. He has definite upside ability, and he can play center and right field. But he's a high-strikeout guy, so it won't always be pretty." Gutierrez went 0-for-2 yesterday with two walks in the Aeros 3-1 victory over Reading and is now hitting .382/.450/.500/.950 with 5 walks and 10 strikeouts in 34 at-bats.

The Arizona Republic reported on Friday that the Indians are rumored to be part of a three-team "trade" of spring training sites with the Angels moving to a new facility in Goodyear, Arizona, the White Sox moving to the Angels old facility in Tempe, and the Indians moving into the White Sox digs in Tucson. I love Arizona but it's sooooo much easier to get to Florida for most Tribe fans.

Joel Hanrahan, potential MBPTBNL, picked up a win on Saturday with five innings of one-run ball. The right-hander struck out five, walked none, and surrendered five basehits.

A pair of former Indians reached milestones over the weekend with Jim Thome banging out his 1500th career hit and Manny Ramirez blasting homerun number 350. Of Thome's 1500 hits, all but 1332 came with the Indians while 236 of Manny's 350 longballs were belted with the Tribe. I can't believe this is Manny's fourth season in Boston.

Speaking of milestones, Omar needs just two hits for 2,000 in his career.

BUFFALO (4-5): The Bisons lost to Ottawa 7-5. Kazahito Tadano (0-2, 4.70) allowed three runs in 4.1 innings. Brent Abernathy belted a homer (#1) and drove in three runs.

AKRON (5-4): Travis Foley tossed five scoreless innings as the Aeros knocked off Reading 3-1. Foley struck out four, walked three, and permitted four basehits. Jason Cooper (#1) and Corey Smith (#4) went deep for the Aeros.

KINSTON (9-0): The K-Tribe remained unbeaten with a 10-1 victory in Frederick. Nathan Panther (.297) had three hits, including his third homerun. Ryan Garko (.419) had two hits, including his second homerun, and drove in four runs. Juna Lara tossed five innings of scoreless two-hit ball.

LAKE COUNTY (4-7): The Captains could not hold onto an early 5-1 lead and fell to Kannapolis 6-5. Ryan Goleski (.395) had three hits, including his fourth dinger, and drove in two runs. Jim Warden worked five innings, striking out five and allowing two runs on four hits and a walk.


April 18, 2004  


Whoever said that the best thing about baseball is that there's another game tomorrow was a wise man indeed. Nothing more really needs to be said about yesterday's 6-1 loss to the Tigers. Well, maybe a couple of things.

Scott Stewart pitched a little better yesterday (1.2 IP 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) but still allowed two inherited runners to score.

Ronnie Belliard had three more hits to raise his average to .417 but his baserunning blunder in the fifth (backend of a 1-6-2 double-play) killed the Indians best chance for a big inning, which is saying a lot considering they left 11 runners on base.

Jose Jimenez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle on the left side of his back. The official medical term is intercostal muscle? Jimenez first reported soreness after his appearance last Sunday against the Royals in which he was charged with two runs allowed and the loss in 1.1 innings of work. That was his last appearance aside from a throwing session this past Friday where the soreness persisted. Mark Shapiro had been quoted in the local papers as saying that the Indians were worried about Jimenez' velocity being down and maybe this is cause of that. In four innings, Jimenez has a 9.00 ERA and has allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four.

Getting David Riske straightened out becomes even more of a priority now with Jimenez out. I'd look for Betancourt to become the primary setup man (if he wasn't already) and Jack Cressend to move into more of a late inning role.

Dave Lee was recalled from Buffalo to replace Jimenez on the roster. Lee had made two appearances for the Bisons, working four scoreless and hitless innings while walking five and striking out six. Acquired from the Dodgers late last season for Alex Requena, Lee re-signed with the Tribe this past off-season as a minor league free agent. Pressed into action yesterday, he apparantly left Buffalo around 11:00 AM and arrived at the Jake during the sixth inning, Lee was charged with two unearned runs on four hits in two innings of work. He also struck out a pair.

Kyle Denney turned in his second consecutive sensational outing as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball in the Bisons 4-1 victory over Ottawa yesterday. Denney now has a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings with 14 punchouts and just two walks and six hits allowed. He's second in the International League in strikeouts and innings pitched and 9th in ERA (right behind everyone with a 0.00 ERA).

Brandon Phillips is off to a strong start for the Bisons, hitting .308/.387/.462 (8-for-26) with a double, homerun, and three walks versus two strikeouts. John Farrell told that "these are part of the adjustments that, whether he didn't see at the time or didn't feel like they were needed to be made, he's understood the reasons or how to cover the ball away on the outside corner of the plate, as a result, he's collected a number of hits in the right-field gap."

Grady Sizemore is hitting .200/.323/.240 (5-for-25) with a double. Jhonny Peralta is hitting .280/.345/.360 (7-for-25) with two doubles. Jeremy Guthrie has a 6.52 ERA in two starts with 11 hits and seven walks allowed in 9.2 innings.

Franklin Gutierrez rapped out three more hits yesterday in the Aeros 7-4 victory over Reading and his .406 average now ranks 4th in the Eastern League. He's also 5th in hits with 13. Overall, Gutierrez is hitting .406/.444/.531/.975 with four doubles. Francisco Cruceta leads the EL in ERA (0.00) and innings pitched (14). The Aeros staff leads the EL in ERA at 2.10.

In the Carolina League, K-Tribe hitters are all over the early-season leaderboards which is exactly what you would expect from a team that's off to a 9-0 start. Overall, the K-Tribe offense leads the league with a .299 average and Ryan Garko sits atop the list at .417 with Pat Osborn third (.391) and Michael Aubrey seventh (.364). Osborn is tied for the league lead in homers with three while Garko is tied for the league lead in doubles with four. Osborn leads the league in slugging at .870 with Garko second (.708) and Aubrey third (.682). Aubrey leads the circuit in OBP at .517 with Ivan Ochoa second at .500, Pat Osborn third at .482, and Ryan Garko fourth at .440. On the mound, Fausto Carmona leads the CL in strikeouts with 15 and Dan Denham is one punchout behind with 14.

The Captains are represented on the Sally League leaderboards by Ricardo Rojas who is tied for second in runs scored with nine and eighth in batting average at .389. Ryan Goleski is tied for second in longballs with three and ranks second in runs batted in with 11. Ryan Mulhern is fourth in OBP at .500.

Indians Assistant Director of Player Development Mike Hazen told the News-Herald that both Nick Pesco and Rafael Perez should join the Captains next week. Both will be used as starters. I wonder what was the delay in getting them out of Florida.

Milton Bradley is hitting .279/.367/.512/.879 with four doubles and two homeruns for the Dodgers. He's walked six times as opposed to nine strikeouts with one stolen base in three attempts.

Hector Luna has two hits, including a double, in eleven at-bats (.182) for the Cardinals.

Luis Gonzalez is hitting .207/.258/.345/.603 (6-for-29) with a double and homerun for the Rockies.

Lance Caraccioli, who pitched in Buffalo last year, is unscored upon in five scoreless innings for the Mets double-A affiliate in Binghamton with five strikeouts and no walks. I'm not sure if I ever reported Caracciloi signing with the Mets this past offseason (and if I did, I forgot about it). Thanks to Tom for reporting Caraccioli's whereabouts.

BUFFALO (4-4): Kyle Denney tossed seven innings of one-run ball to lead the Bisons to a 4-1 victory over Ottawa. Denney (1-0, 0.69) scattered just three hits and a walk while striking out four. Jason Anderson recorded the final five outs for his first save. Ernie Young homered (#1) and doubled. Grady Sizemore drove in two runs and singled.

AKRON (4-4): The Aeros rallied from an early three-run deficit for a come-from-behind 7-4 victory in Reading. Franklin Gutierrez (.406) reached base four times thanks to a double, two singles, and a walk. Corey Smith (.188) belted a two-run shot (#3) and walked. Jason Cooper singled twice and drove in two runs but also struck out three times. Scott Pratt doubled and singled. Kyle Evans (1-0, 6.00) allowed four runs (on three longballs) in the first two innings but held the Phillies scoreless over the four frames to pick up his first victory of the season. He fanned three, walked four, and allowed seven hits. Lee Gronkiewicz worked a perfect ninth for this second save.

KINSTON (9-0): I could not find a boxscore for this game but the K-Tribe did run their record to 9-0 with a 9-4 victory in Frederick. Brian Slocum picked up the win after allowing two runs through five innings, striking out five and walking one.

LAKE COUNTY (4-6): The Captains knocked off Kannapolis 4-3. Edward Mujica (1.69) struck out six through five innings of two-run ball, walking none and surrendering five hits. Adam Hanson picked up the win in relief with three innings of one-run ball. Chip Southerland closed the ninth for his first save. Chris De La Cruz (.303) belted his first homerun and singled. Kevin Kouzmanoff also did a little yard work (#2). Ricardo Rojas (.389) doubled and singled. Ryan Goleski went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.


April 17, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Jimenez on DL, Lee recalled  
The Indians placed Jose Jimenez on the 15-day disabled list and called up right-hander Dave Lee from triple-A Buffalo. Jimenez had been bothered by discomfort in his left side and back. Lee was unscored upon in four hitless innings in Buffalo and had walked five and punched out six. More in the next CIR.


Now that's more like it.

CC Sabathia turned in his third consecutive strong outing (and actually got credit for the win), the offense banged out 19 hits, and the Tribe rolled to a 10-3 victory over the first-place Detroit Tigers 10-3.

I wonder if the headline on the Detroit Tigers weblog this morning will be "Jody FREAKING Gerut" (or something to that effect) after Gerut went 5-for-5 yesterday with three doubles, a single, and a longball (#3). In 74 career at-bats against the Tigers, Gerut is now hitting .338 (25-for-74) with 6 doubles, 8 homeruns and 30 RBIs. That's 8 of his 24 career homeruns and 30 of his 81 career RBIs. Amazing.

Ugueth Urbina made his Tiger debut yesterday and did not look ready as he allowed three runs to score (three inherited, one his own) on two hits and two walks in one inning of work.

Victor Martinez came alive last night with three hits, including a big two-run single off Urbina and his third homerun.

Eric Wedge told the local papers that no changes are imminent in the bullpen although they will not be as patient as they were last year. Chad Durbin gave up two runs last night while Rafael Betancourt worked a scoreless inning.

CC's pitch counts through the first three games: 104, 107, 95. The big sixth inning and 9-1 lead made it easy to remove him last night. It's nice to see the Indians following their plan. I expect we'll see CC stretched out to 110 pitches as we move into the month of May. He could help his cause and work deeper into games, however, if he can cut down the number of walks. Three more last night and 11 in 21 innings for the season. That projects to 105 over 200 innings which would be the highest walk total of his career and a reversal of his three-year decreasing BB/IP trend. It's been an excellent start for CC, just keep an eye on those walks.

Chris Kline, who used to cover the K-Tribe for the Kinston Free Press, profiles Michael Aubrey in BA's Daily Dish.

Kline also reports that David Wallace (strained rib cage muscle) is about five-to-seven days away from returning to Kinston, Brad Snyder (eye infection) is about 10 days away from returning to Lake County, and Matt Whitney (broken leg) is taking light batting practice and DHing in simulated games in extended spring training.

I caught a little of the Captains game last night on the Tube (see full recap below). Aaron Laffey was impressive. He was throwing strikes and had a nice breaking pitch. Kind of reminded me of Brian Anderson with his mechanics. He looks like he'd be tough on lefties. Chris De La Cruz showed nice range on a play up the middle.

BUFFALO (3-4): Ottawa spoiled the Bisons home opener by knocking off the good guys 10-5. Robert Ellis (0-1) gave up six runs in six innings and Luther Hackman gave up four runs on six hits in one inning of relief. Chris Clapinski drove in five runs and homered (#1) and doubled. Dusty Wathan had three hits. Brandon Phillips singled and Jhonny Peralta doubled.

AKRON (3-4): Gavin Floyd continued his dominance of the Aeros in a 3-2 Reading victory. Floyd, who tossed five hitless innings against the Aeros last week, followed up that performance with 5.2 innings of scoreless ball, permitting three hits and three walks while punching out three. Mariano Gomez nearly matched Floyd as he allowed just one earned run (three total) in 5.1 innings on four hits and three walks while punching out seven. Nate Grindell's error allowed the two unearned runs to score. He tried to atone for that miscue in the 9th with a two-run double. Franklin Gutierrez had three hits, including two doubles, and also stole a base. Oscar Salazar singled twice. Corey Smith walked and committed his fifth error in seven games.

KINSTON (7-0): Dan Denham tossed five scoreless innings as the K-Tribe remained unbeaten with a 3-2 victory over Frederick. Denham (2-0, 2.70) permitted four basehits and struck out only nine while only walking one. Shea Douglas debuted with the two scoreless frames and two punchouts. Ryan Prahm closed for his second save. Shaun Larkin (.300) doubled twice. Ivan Ochoa (.316) singled twice with a walk. Nathan Panther also had two hits and drove in two runs.

LAKE COUNTY (3-6): Kevin Martin served up a two-run homer in the top of the 9th inning as Kannapolis rallied for a 5-4 victory in Eastlake. Martin was on in relief of Aaron Laffey who turned in six strong innings, allowing just one run on a solo homer and punching out three. TJ Burton was reached for a pair of runs in his two innings of work. Ricardo Rojas (.375) reached base four times thanks to a pair of hits and walks. Ryan Mulhern (.375) doubled and singled while Mike Conroy (.300) also had a pair of hits.


April 16, 2004  


We're only 10 games into the season and I'm already burned out on these opening paragraphs. That's not good. But then neither has been the Indians performance and that's probably part of it. Let's just get to it, shall we?

I thought Jason Stanford threw the ball really well last night in holding the Twins to five hits, a walk, and one run through six innings of work. That was much better, in my opinion, than his first start in which he held the Royals scoreless through five innings but allowed eleven baserunners in the process (seven hits and four walks). I was especially impressed by his work in the 4th inning after Corey Koskie knocked in a run with a one-out single and then stole second and went to third on Victor Martinez' throwing error. Instead of losing his composure, Stanford punched out Michael Cuddyer and Jacque Jones to end the inning and strand Koskie on third. He sat at 87-89 mph most of the night but, against Cuddyer and facing a 3-1 count, he dialed it up to 92 (foul) and 90 (foul) before finishing him off with an 82 mph change (foul) and another 80 mph change. There was some nasty stuff being dished out in that at-bat.

Speaking of that stolen base by Koskie, Victor looked very slow in his footwork coming out of his crouch and the throw wasn't even close. I know this was just one stolen base but it looks like he still has a lot of work to do in this area. The Twins stole three bases last night and opposing runners are 6-for-8 in their attempts against Martinez so far this season. I would expect to see similar aggressiveness from other teams as we move further into the schedule. That's something you fantasy leaguers may want to keep in the back of your mind. Behind the plate (blocking pitches, etc.), however, Victor has looked pretty good to me.

The news came out on Josh Bard yesterday and it was not good. Bard had surgery on Wednesday to repair a sports hernia and is expected to be out for three months. Indians trainer Lonnie Soloff said that "this is a common injury in soccer and hockey, sports in which you do a lot of twisting and turning" (or catching) and that "there was some minor tearing in the abdominal muscle." Sandy Martinez is now the likely recall candidate should anything happen to either Victor Martinez or Tim Laker. Keep those two in your prayers.

Peter Gammons notes that "of all of the small-market teams, the Indians seem to have the most solid foundation because of their starting pitching". He goes on to state that CC Sabathia is a premier starter with a developing change, Jason Davis is an emerging star and threw 25 pitches over 95 mph in his first start this season, and that Cliff Lee "has All-Star written all over him"

Interesting comments from Aeros pitching coach Steve Lyons in the ABJ yesterday following Francisco Cruceta's second straight dominating performance (7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) on the mound. Lyons was quoted as saying "not to sound negative, because he did pitch well today, but I'd still like to see him locate his fastball a little better. It's not about his numbers here, it's about how he's pitching. We know he can get Double-A hitters out, but we want him to be able to get major-league hitters out. And those kinds of fastballs won't get by in the big leagues." By those fastballs, the paper went on to add that Lyons said that Cruceta "left too many fastballs up near the belt and higher".

How hot are the bats in Kinston? Damn hot, I tell you. Damn Hot. Four hitters have an OPS over 1.000, led by Pat Osborn (.421/.500/1.000/1.500) and followed by Michael Aubrey (.444/.583/.833/1.416), Ryan Garko (.450/.476/.800/1.276), and Trey Dyson (.316/.435/.579/1.014). The K-Tribe won again last night to extend their season opening winning streak to six games.

If you're in the Cleveland area, tonight's Lake County game will be on Adelphia cable on a tape-delayed basis at 9:00 PM. Aaron Laffey, young high school lefthander selected in the 16th round last year, is scheduled to be on the mound for the Captains.

Quick thought: What if one of the PTBNL choices in the Milton Bradley is former Indian and former Rule 5 pick Derek Thompson? He's in the Jacksonville rotation (along with Andrew Brown) and struck out six in 4.1 innings of one-run ball in his first start. Aftyer dominating (10 Ks in 4 innings) in his first outing, Brown did not fare so well his second time out, giving up three earned runs in 3.2 innings of work.

As much as an April series can be considered "must win", this series is it. Two wins would be great, but the Indians really need to sweep the Tigers. If if's a save situation tonight, who gets the call? Riske? Betancourt? Jimenez? We'll see. If Ugueth Urbina (wasn't he supposed to be out until May 10?) saves a couple of games this weekend, the sports talk shows should be rather lively next week.

Have you checked out the ESPN Stat Pack? Kind of nice, especially if you're headed out to the ballpark.

BUFFALO (3-3): Day Off, Home Opener tonight.

AKRON (3-3): The Aeros lost in Reading 2-1 last night. Jake Dittler (0-2, 1.80) was solid through five innings, allowing just one earned run (two total) on six hits. He walked none and punched out three. Corey Smith belted his second homerun but also committed his fourth error. Franklin Gutierrez (.280) rapped out a pair of hits while Ben Francisco doubled and singled. Lee Gronkiewicz fanned two in a scoreless frame.

KINSTON (6-0): The K-Tribe stayed perfect on the season with an 8-3 victory over Potomac. Pat Osborn (.421) belted a three-run shot (#3) and singled to drive in four runs. He also stole a base. Ryan Garko (.450) doubled twice while Michael Aubrey (.444) and Trey Dyson each doubled and singled. Shaun Larkin and Eider Torres added two hits apiece. JD Martin allowed three runs in four innings on four hits and a pair of walks. Chris Cooper (1-0), Dan Eisentrager, and Ryan Prahm combined for five scoreless innings of relief.

LAKE COUNTY (3-5): The Captains lost to Kannapolis 4-3. Ryan Goleski (#3) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (#1) went deep. Nelson Hiraldo (0-2, 4.00) took the loss and was charged with four runs, although only one was earned, as he surrendered four hits and a walk while striking out five.


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