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May 31, 2004  

CIR 5-30 Recaps  

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you manage to avoid the raindrops today as you head out for your parades, picnics, barbeques, or to the ballpark this afternoon. The news was (mostly) good yesterday down on the farm as three sensational pitching performances led to three wins. The CIR draft preview resumes tomorrow with a review of the 1999 draft along with the resumption of the regular reports. Have a great day everyone!

BUFFALO (22-28, 4th, 7.5 GB): Norfolk put a 'hurtin on Robert Ellis and the Bisons yesterday as they routed the good guys 12-2. Ellis (3-4, 6.83) gave up a whopping 11 runs in three innings to take the loss. Sandy Martinez drove in both Bisons runs while Grady Sizemore (.257) and Brandon Phillips (.287) added basehits.

AKRON (23-25, 4th, 7.0 GB): Andrew Brown carried a no-hitter through 4-2/3 innings and the Aeros belted four solo homeruns in a 4-0 victory over Harrisburg. Brown (1-0, 1.86) was masterful in allowing just one hit and one walk in 5-2/3 innings while striking out nine in his second appearance for the Aeros. Carl Sadler followed with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Jason Cooper (#6), Tyler Minges (#3), Ben Francisco (#6), and Rodney Choy Foo (#1) all did some yard work.

KINSTON (33-15, 1st, 3.0 GA): Brian Slocum was not nearly as perfect as Andrew Brown but he was still pretty darn good in the K-Tribe's 6-1 victory over Winston-Salem yesterday. Slocum (5-2, 2.77) did not allow a run in six innings as he struck out seven, walked none, and scattered five basehits. Eider Torres (.296) pushed his average ever closer to the .300 mark with three basehits and he also drove in a pair of runs. Caleb Brock belted his second homerun and JJ Sherrill doubled and singled. Nathan Panther, Michael Aubrey, and Shaun Larkin added baseknocks.

LAKE COUNTY (25-25, 4th, 6.5 GB): Nick Pesco joined in the troika of tremendous pitching performances yesterday as he tossed five scoreless frames as the Captains went on to rout Charleston (WV) 8-1. Rebounding from a disastrous outing on Tuesday in which he gave up eight runs in two innings, Pesco dominated the West Virginians in limiting them to just three hits and no walks while striking out eight. TJ Burton followed with three scoreless innings of relief. Josh Noviskey drove in five runs in support of Pesco and company with three hits, including his first homerun and a triple. Brad Snyder (.264) tripled and singled and Chris De La Cruz (.259), Mike Conroy (.267), and Ryan Mulhern (.283) had two hits apiece.


May 27, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: More Bullpen Changes  
Lou Pote is the newest member of the Indians bullpen after he was acquired from the Oakland A's yesterday for cash. The right-hander was pitching for Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League where he had a 3.38 ERA in 26-2/3 innings and was holding opposing hitters to a .225 BAA with 20 strikeouts. Pote had a decent four year run in the Angels 'pen from 1999-2002 and spent last season in Japan. Scott Stewart, he of the 7.24 ERA and .351 BAA versus lefties, was optioned to Buffalo to make room for Pote on the roster. I also forgot to mention earlier in the week that Luther Hackman was released from Buffalo. A 10.89 ERA, 31 hits in 19 innings, and more walks than strikeouts tends to lead to something like that happening. Oh yeah, Jose Jimenez is the new closer. Lots of stuff to talk about, so little time. More in the CIR over the weekend.


May 26, 2004  

CIR DRAFT PREVIEW: Breaking Down a Draft  

Special Draft Preview Edition Part II

Welcome to the second edition of the 2004 CIR Draft Preview. Over the next two weeks we'll provide you with all the information that you need to get ready for the MLB draft on Monday, June 7. The MLB draft is the least publicized of the major drafts and, therefore, also the least understood. Perhaps the most frequently asked question regarding the MLB draft is just what do teams do with all those draft picks (this year the Indians have 50 picks)? In tandem, the follow-up question is usually why don't they sign all of those picks? Today, we'll breakdown a draft and discuss what types of players the Indians will be selecting with those 50 picks and whether they really have any intention of signing all of them.

As we move through this exercise, with rare exception, every player selected in the MLB draft this June will fall into one of the following categories: The A-list, The Flyers, The DFEs, The Organizationals, and The Favors. Following is a breakdown of each of these categories.

The A-List is the group of players the team wants to (has to) sign. Typically, these are the selections within the first 10 rounds although it could stretch well into the teens. The Michael Aubrey's, Adam Miller's, Ryan Garko's, and Kevin Kouzmanoff's fall into this category. Sometimes these are high-profile, high-cost players and sometimes they are signability picks (i.e., players drafted earlier than their talent warrants due to their lower signing costs). Regardless, failure to sign one of these players means a wasted pick and no organization can afford many of those. Last year, the Indians signed their first four picks and 13 of their first 14 selections. Fourth round pick Brian Harrison from Florida chose to pass on the Indians offer and return to school for another year. That bonus money did not go to waste however.

Sometimes referred to as "contingency picks", these are typically high-school players who have a strong commitment to a four-year University and will have to be lured away with a sizable signing bonus. Flyers start being popped on draft day in the teen rounds and the run lasts well into the later part of the second day. Why do teams take a flyer? Because you never know when a 17-18 year old kid will change his mind, especially when you dangle a $300k-$1mil signing bonus in front of them. Not to mention that the potential reward of signing such a player usually far outweighs the signable talent on the board in that round. Flyers are also contingency picks in case a team does not sign one of their early A-List picks. Case in point, Brian Harrison from last year. It's highly likely that once the Indians realized they were going to have a difficult time signing Harrison (or had no chance at all of getting him inked) they were able to use that money (or a portion of) to sign 16th round pick Aaron Laffey (currently pitching for Lake County) who reportedly had a strong commitment to Virginia Tech. That's why you take a few of these guys instead of filling up the system with Joe Undersized First Baseman from Daberkow College. There's plenty of time for that in the later rounds.

If you missed the previous draft report FAQ, please visit the CIR website for the definition of a draft and follow. Similar to flyers, DFEs start flying off draft boards in the teens and continue well into the later rounds. They can be players already enrolled in a Junior College (freshman) or high school kids who plan on attending a JUCO school. The advantage to drafting a DFE is that you retain negotiating rights to the player for a whole calendar year (one week prior to the next draft) which you can use to evaluate that player without incurring the expense in player development (although there's certainly an expense in scouting). A DFE also lets a team escape from paying a signing bonus in the drafted season so there are some budget implications in these selections as well. The downside to a DFE is that if the player develops, his signing bonus typically escalates well beyond the bonus that he would have received for the round he was originally drafted. In these instances, the player has the leverage because he can always refuse to sign, reenter the draft, and hope that he goes in an earlier round with a higher bonus. Of course, a team would also have a pretty good prospect on their hands so it's more of a financial issue than a baseball one. Over the past two years, the Indians have signed right-handers Sean Smith and Nick Pesco via the DFE process. An analysis of the 2004 DFEs will be in a later report.

Typically college players, usually seniors, these are the "organization" players, i.e., guys needed to fill out rosters in the lower levels of the minor leagues. You generally see a lot of middle infielders, catchers, and pitchers (converted to relief) fall into this category. These are easy signs and the players are usually referred to as "crafty", "gritty", or "hard-nosed". Occasionally, an organizational will break free from this stereotype and develop into a true prospect but they generally have to prove themselves at each level.

These are the selections made late in the draft as a favor to a local school, team executive, scout, coach, player, or former player. It seems like the Indians usually draft the best player from Cleveland State (when there's one who is draft-worthy) and that's likely a favor to the CSU baseball program. Mike Piazza is probably the best example of this type of selection.

The Indians 2004 draft picks will likely report to either Mahoning Valley or Burlington to begin their professional careers. It's the rare player who makes the jump to Class-A ball upon signing. The Valley is considered a "short-season" league and is typically reserved for college draftees and prior year draftees/signees who already have a season of pro ball on their resume. Burlington is considered a "rookie" league and is typically reserved for high school draftees and foreign players making their first appearance in the States. Rosters for short-season leagues are set at 30 players (25 active) while rookie leagues are set at 35 players (25 active). With both teams having players returning from last season in addition to first-year players from the Indians Dominican academy, the Indians would be hard-pressed to find room for all 50 of their drafted players on rosters this summer. Certainly, some draftees could (and do) sit out the summer after they sign (usually pitchers with lots of use in the spring or players with injuries) but this limit on roster spots is one reason why teams do not sign (or want to sign) all 50 of their draft picks. They simply don't have enough room for them in their respective systems. Last year, the Indians signed only 23 of their 52 picks but the key figure is that they signed 13 of their first 14 picks as previously discussed. So don't worry (necessarily) when you hear that the Indians only signed 20 or 25 or 30 of their 2004 draft picks. Focus instead on the early picks, those are the keys.

COMING NEXT: 1999 Draft Review (next Tuesday)


May 25, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Sturkie traded to Atlanta  
The Indians traded right-hander Scott Sturkie to the Atlanta Braves as the PTBNL in the Russell Branyan trade. Sturkie was in the midst of a fine season in the Aeros bullpen, posting a 1.78 ERA in 13 appearances (including one start). The Aeros also activated Kyle Evans off the disabled list (he'll start tonight, I believe), released Marcos Mendoza (5th round 2001), and saw Jake Robbins returned from Buffalo. More in the next CIR (which will likely be tomorrow or later in the week as I have a HUGE TS-16949 surveillance audit coming up on Thursday and Friday which is the number one, two, and three priority right now. Don't worry, the draft previews will be posted as scheduled as those are already in the can).

CIR UPDATE: Draft Preview Schedule  
Following is the planned publishing schedule for the CIR draft preview...

May 24: Draft Preview
May 26: Breaking Down a Draft
June 1: 1999 Review
June 2: 2000 Review
June 3: 2001 Review
June 4: 2002 Review
June 5: 2003 Review
June 6: Listmania!
June 7: 2004 Preview
June 7: LIVE Pick-by-Pick Day 1 Analysis
June 8: Day 2 Analysis throughout the day
June 14: 2004 Review

CIR UPDATE: Elarton signs with Tribe  
The Rocky Mountain News is reporting this morning that right-hander Scott Elarton has signed with the Tribe and will start for Buffalo on Thursday. Once a former top prospect with the Astros, Elarton struggled with the Rockies and was desginated for assignment last week. As low-risk signings go, I like this move. More later today in the CIR.


May 24, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Andrew Brown Debut  
Justice B. Hill reports on Andrew Brown's Indians debut yesterday in Akron for

CIR UPDATE: 5-23 Recaps  

The bats were booming on the farm yesterday as the minor leaguers combined to blast 27 extra-base hits and score 38 runs in sweeping all four games.

BUFFALO: For the second day in a row Raul Gonzalez tormented his former mates as he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Bisons a 7-6 victory over Norfolk. Yesterday heroics followed his superlative effort on Saturday when he drove in five runs and had three hits, including his first homerun as a Bison. The good guys scored in each of the final five innings yesterday and Russ Branyan (8th homerun), Jhonny Peralta, and Grady Sizemore all had two hits apiece. Mark Little did them one better as he banged out three hits, all of the two-bag variety. Kenny Rayborn allowed two runs in six innings on the bump. Dave Lee blew a save in the ninth by allowing three runs and Kane Davis picked up the win in relief with a scoreless inning.

Note: Grady Sizemore had five hits over the weekend to raise his average to .241. Joe Dawley did not allow an earned run (three unearned) in 5.2 innings on Saturday. He struck out seven, walked one, and permitted four basehits.

AKRON: The Aeros doubled their pleasure on Sunday as they banged out eight two-baggers in a 7-5 victory over Altoona. Brian Luderer and Rodney Choy Foo (.175) had two doubles apiece. Franklin Gutierrez (.325) also had two hits. Andrew Brown debuted with four scoreless innings before being reached for two runs in the fifth. He finished with six strikeouts and three walks and two hits in four innings of work. Scott Sturkie (2-1, 1.78) picked up the win in relief with three scoreless innings.

Note: Jeremy Guthrie tossed seven shutout innings on Saturday, scattering five hits and striking out two while walking none.

KINSTON: There were doubles a-plenty in Kinston too as the K-Tribe rapped out seven fat-guy homers in a 15-6 victory over Winston-Salem. Ryan Garko (.357) had three hits, including a double as did Caleb Brock. Ivan Ochoa (.265) doubled and tripled while Shaun Larkin (.254) singled twice. Dan Denham (6-1, 3.35) tossed six scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing four hits and a pair of walks. Dan Eisentrager was rocked for six runs in 1-2/3 innings.

LAKE COUNTY: Ryan Mulhern belted a three-run dinger (#2) in the 9th inning to give the Captains a 9-6 come-from-behind victory over Delmarva. A solo shot by Ryan Goleski (#12) earlier in the ninth had tied the game for the good guys. Goleski (.341) also singled twice. Brad Snyder (#5) also went deep while Kevin Kouzmanoff (.318) had two hits. Adam Miller (2.80) allowed four runs in the first inning but settled down to work the next three frames in scoreless fashion, finishing with four runs allowed in four innings on four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts. Scott Roehl struck out three in three innings of one-hit relief. Jim Warden picked up his second win.

Special Draft FAQ Edition

Note: Most of the following information comes from the CIR Draft FAQ.

Welcome to the first 2004 CIR draft report. Over the next two weeks we'll provide you with all the information that you'll need to prepare for the 2004 MLB draft on Monday, June 7. The MLB draft is the least publicized of the major drafts and, therefore, also the least understood. Today will serve as a draft primer in FAQ format and serve to answer all the questions you may have regarding the draft.

The 2004 draft will be conducted on Monday, June 7 and Tuesday, June 8. Wait a minute, doesn't the draft usually start on a Tuesday? Yes it does, typically the first Tuesday in June. This year, however, the powers that be decided to push back the start of the draft one week in order to allow teams more time to prepare for the draft. This is also due, in part, to the later than usual dates for the regionals in the college world series where a lot of last minute scouting typically takes place.

The draft alternates between AL and NL teams, with the NL team with the worst record picking first in even numbered years and the AL team selecting first in odd years. So in an even-numbered year (i.e., 2004), the worst N.L. team picks 1st, the second-worst N.L. team picks 3rd, the third-worst N.L. team picks 5th, and so on.

Note that this is the last year for the above system of determining the draft order. Beginning with the 2005 draft, teams will draft in reverse order of their won-loss record regardless of league so it's possible for one league to have the first two or three or four picks in the draft.

The Indians will draft 6th in each round. For the first time since 1999, the Indians have no additional compensation picks for losing a free-agent in the offseason.

Draft picks cannot be traded.

The draft is conducted via conference call. You can listen to the draft via mlb radio on the internet. Teams are allowed two minutes to make their selections but the draft is typically very fast-paced with Tommy Lasorda generally providing the only entertainment when the Dodgers make their selections.

The draft lasts 50 rounds or until all teams have passed on selecting a player.

Residents of the United States, United States Territories (Puerto Rico), and Canada.

High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college.

College (4-year) players, who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 yrs old within 45 days after the draft.

Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed.

21-year-old players.

Teams must provide a list of potential draftees to MLB one week prior to the draft. If you've ever listened to the draft and heard the i.d.'s assigned to each player, you know the reason why.

A sophomore who turns 21 within 45 days of the draft (i.e., the draft is on June 5 and the players birthday is July 3). That player would be eligible for the draft as a sophomore. Jeremy Guthrie was drafted in the 3rd round by the Pirates in 2001 as a draft eligible sophomore but elected to return to Stanford for his junior season.

Teams must offer a contract to a selected player within 15 days of selection or they lose negotiating rights with that player who then becomes a free-agent. Think Travis Lee, John Patterson, Bobby Seay, and Matt White in 1996.

A club generally retains the rights to sign a selected player until one week prior to the next Draft, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college on a full-time basis.

A selected player who enters a junior college cannot be signed until the conclusion of that school's baseball season. The window is from that date until one week prior to the draft.

A player who is drafted but does not sign with the team that selected him may be drafted again in a future year's Draft, so long as the player is eligible for that year's Draft. A team may not select a player again in a subsequent year, unless the player has consented to the re-selection. The Indians had to go through this process with Ben Francisco in 2002 after drafting him out of high school in 1999.

Drafted players who enter (or return to) junior college remain eligible to sign with the team that drafted them until seven days before the next year's draft. Teams often sign these players almost a year later. Draft and follow is the name for this process.

A drafted player cannot be traded until one year after he signs his first pro contract. This is often the reason for PTBNLs (player to be named later) during the summer as teams must wait a full year before dealing a player they drafted/signed the year before. If a player is drafted in June and doesn't sign until August 5, he cannot be traded until August 5 of the following season.

An eligible player who is not drafted becomes a free agent and may sign with any Club, up until one week before the next Draft, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college full-time or enters, or returns to, a junior college. In the one-week period before any Draft, which is called the "closed period," the general rule is that no Club may sign a new player.

A worldwide draft to include players from all countries was agreed upon in spirit during the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations in 2002. The details were supposed to be ironed out in future negotiating sessions in time for either the 2003 or 2004 drafts. As it turns out, the owners and players have only discussed this once since they averted a strike last year and the idea will most likely be tabled until the next CBA negotiations in 2006.

Players from outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico that are not draft-eligible may sign with major league teams when they are 16, with the restriction that the player must turn 17 by the end of his first professional season.

The official name of the draft is the Rule IV draft which simply means that the draft is governed by major league rule IV. And now you know how the Rule V draft in December got its name.

NEXT: Breaking down a Draft.


May 22, 2004  


Short news update on a rainy weekend morning...

Raul Gonzalez is the latest "depth" acquisition to join the Bisons after he was signed as a free-agent on Thursday. A right-fielder by nature, Gonzalez will fit into the outfield mix and replaces Todd Dunwoody (.167, 4 HR) who was released. Originally signed by the Royals, Gonzalez made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2000 and has also played in the bigs with the Reds and Mets. Most recently, he hit .230/.317/.332/.649 with two homeruns in a backup role for the Mets last season. Named the International League MVP in 2002 when he hit .333/.416/.495/.911 with 13 homeruns for Louisville (Reds), Gonzalez was hitting .262 with a homerun in 65 at-bats for triple-A Norfolk this season before he was released on Monday. He had also missed time earlier this season with a strained calf muscle. The 30-year old Gonzalez is a career .237 major league average with five homeruns in 337 at-bats.

One of our Florida spies reports that the Bisons radio announcers noted that Jason Anderson is on the DL with minor shoulder soreness and is not expected to be out long. As our spy correctly noted, however, anytime you talk about the shoulder, that's cause for concern.

The Canton Repository noted this morning that Zach Sorensen is expected to sign with Anaheim and suit up with their triple-A club in Salt Lake City.

Newly acquired Joe Dawley is expected to start for the Bisons today while Andrew Brown is expected to make his Aeros debut on Sunday afternoon.

Rick Helling pitched well for New Britain on Thursday night, holding the Portland Sea Dogs to two runs and five hits in seven innings of work., however, noted that Helling was throwing just 84-87 mph. Now, Helling was never a flame-thrower but that's Charlie Nagy post-injury velocity and we all know how fine you have to be with your pitches to succeed in the big leagues with that tpye of "heat". Let's hope the Indians pass.

BUFFALO (16-25, 5th, 7.0 GB): More bullpen problems for the Bisons as Luther Hackman could not hold a 4-3 lead and gave up four runs in two innings as Norfolk rallied for the 8-4 victory. Hackman (0-2, 10.89) was on in relief of Jeriome Robertson who allowed three runs in six innings. Russ Branyan (.265) belted a solo shot (#7) and also singled. Grady Sizemore (.235) doubled and singled while Jhonny Peralta (.347) also had a pair of hits. Brandon Phillips (.280) singled and walked while Raul Gonzalez went 0-for-3 with a walk in his Bisons debut.

AKRON (20-19, 4th, 4.5 GB): Rained out

KINSTON (28-11, 1st, 4.5 GA): Keith Ramsey was not sharp as Winston-Salem knocked off the K-Tribe 8-5. Ramsey (4-1, 4.64) gave up eight runs in 5-1/3 innings on 13 hits, including three longballs. Dave Wallace drove in a pair of runs for the good guys as he doubled and singled. Eider Torres also had a pair of hits. Pat Osborn (.391) tripled and Ivan Ochoa (.260) doubled.

LAKE COUNTY (18-23, 7th, 8.0 GB): Rafael Perez continues to struggle as he gave up six runs in five innings in the Captains 7-1 loss to Charleston. Perez (0-3, 8.51) gave up three runs in the first, two in the second, and one in the third before working a scoreless final two frames. Mike Conroy had two hits, including his sixth triple.


May 21, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Zach Sorensen Granted Release  
Zach Sorensen asked for and was granted his release today from double-A Akron thus ending his seven-year career with the Indians. Selected in the second round of the 1998 draft out of Wichita State, Sorensen reached triple-A in 2000 and enjoyed his best all-around season in 2002 when he hit .264 with 12 doubles, 12 triples, and 7 homeruns for the Bisons. A cup of coffee (well, maybe a couple of cups worth) in the big leagues last summer enabled Zach to belt his lone major homerun off of Brandon Webb on June 8 which was the highlight of his 5-for-37 (.135) performance in the show. Facing the prospects of limited at-bats in a utility role in triple-A this season due to the presence of Brandon Phillips and Jhonny Peralta, Sorensen asked for a demotion to Akron to get some playing time and he was hitting .258 with a homerun in 93 at-bats for the Aeros. No word on whether he's retiring, found a better opportunity with another organization, or headed overseas to further his career. Sorensen would have been a minor-league free-agent after this season and given the glut of middle infield prospects in the system, it's likely this would have been his last season with the Tribe. Todd West was activated off the disabled list to take his place on the Aeros roster.

In case you're wondering what could have been in the 1998 draft if the Indians had not selected Sorensen with the 63rd overall pick, you have to read down twenty more names before you find the A's selecting USC southpaw Barry Zito with the 83rd overall pick. Note that Jody Gerut was selected with the 71st pick overall by the Rockies but it's cooler to keep Gerut in the Jacob Cruz trade so we'll leave him out of this discussion.

As for the 1998 draft (since we're not going to be reviewing it in the draft preview which starts next week), the entire draft now consists of CC Sabathia. That's not a bad thing, anytime you develop a star player from a draft it has to be viewed as a successful draft but certainly you would have liked (or expected) to find one or two additional major league players among the 50 picks. Here's the breakdown of the first 10 picks and other recognizable names...

1st: CC Sabathia (one of best starters in AL)
2nd: Zach Sorensen (just released from Akron)
3rd: Scott Pratt (utility player for Akron)
4th: Ronald Marietta (P)
5th: Ryan Drese (partly brought Travis Hafner from Texas in trade)
6th: Tyler Minges (backup outfielder in Akron)
7th: Brody Purcell (P)
8th: Chris Reinike (sidelined by injuries)
9th: Paul Day (3B)
10th: Michael McPadden (P)
15th: Matt White (Rule 5 favorite)
23rd: JJ Sherrill (Kinston outfielder)


May 20, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Outfield Shuffle in Buffalo  
Todd Dunwoody was released from Buffalo today and Raul Gonzalez was acquired from Norfolk (Mets). Dunwoody was hitting just .167 (11-for-66) with 4 homeruns (including one yesterday) while Gonzalez, a minor league veteran, was hitting .262 for the Tides. More in the next CIR.


All the good news yesterday regarding the Indians happened off the field so let's focus on that, shall we?

As first speculated in the CIR back on April 6 when I wrote...

Andrew Brown is a 23-year old right-hander who missed all but one inning last year. A sprained flexor muscle (suffered in his first start in April) sidelined Brown for the first two months. He then underwent surgery in June to have a bone spur removed from his elbow which shelved him for the remainder of the season. Prior to that, Brown was "throwing an effortless 93-96 mph fastball, along with a pair of plus breaking balls and an average changeup" according to the 2004 Baseball America Prospect Handbook and was coming off a 2002 campaign in which he had punched out 129 in 127 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .215 average. This spring, Brown reported to camp 100% healthy, tossed three scoreless innings in major league camp, which prompted Dodgers minor league pitching coordinator Mark Brewer to tell that "the way he threw today, he can compete anywhere" and Dodgers skipper Jim Tracy to compare Brown to top prospects Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, and Hanrahan by saying "when you talk about them, you've got to throw (Andrew Brown's) name in the mix also". Interesting, huh?

...Dodgers right-hander Andrew Brown has officially been named as the Player to be Named Later in the Milton Bradley trade. We've followed Brown's outings throughout the first two months but his numbers for double-A Jacksonville are well-worth repeating; in eight starts Brown has struck out an amazing 58 batters in 40 innings while walking only 14. It's true that his won-loss record was just 1-3 with a 4.02 ERA but those K/BB (58/14) and K/IP (58/40) ratios are what you should key in on.

Some notes from Mark Shapiro regarding Brown as heard on WTAM: The Indians saw all eight of his starts. They've been on him since his high school days. He's been clocked as high as 97-98 and as low as 92-93 in some outings. Brown has a power arm, a good curve, and a usable slider. His ceiling is that of a front of the rotation starter or the back of the bullpen. There is risk involved given his elbow history but the Indians feel he's healthy.

Brown is expected to join the Akron rotation sometime in the next few days (his next scheduled start for Jacksonville would have been today). I think Mark Schwab hit it exactly right when he mentioned that the development of (or lack thereof) his secondary pitches will ultimately define Brown as a starter or reliever (and potential closer).
If he can healthy (and that's a somewhat big "if" for now), Brown looks to be a tremendous addition to the organization.

For the record, Milton Bradley is hitting .252/.320/.432/.752 with six homeruns, 14 walks, and 29 strikeouts in 139 at-bats for the Dodgers. Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .326/.391/.475/.866 with 15 doubles, two homeruns, and 40 strikeouts in 141 at-bats for double-A Akron.

The Tribe made another pitching move yesterday when they claimed right-hander Joe Dawley off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. A career minor leaguer (Orioles 92-95, Indy Leagues 95-98, Braves 99-03, Royals 04), the 32-year old Dawley had a 3.19 ERA in nine appearances (including three starts) for triple-A Omaha with 29 strikeouts in 31 innings. He does have some major league experience as he struck out the only batter he faced in his 2002 debut with the Braves and then posted a 18.00 ERA in limited duty last year (7 IP) with the Atlantans.

Dawley was designated for assignment by the Royals when they needed to clear room on the 40 for infielder Wilton Guerrero. Why do I find that move so funny? He now joins the Indians 40-man roster and was optioned to Buffalo. I suspect he'll replace Kyle Denney (see below) in the Bisons rotation and could be in the mix for a spot start with the Indians. As Mark Shapiro put it, this just adds depth to the Indians starting pitching options before it becomes a "disastrous situation", he went on to add. For the pessimists among you, it's noted that having depth is one thing but the quality of the depth is what's really important.

Kyle Denney was officially placed on the Bisons DL after an exam in Cleveland revealed a strained ligament in his left knee. The ABJ notes that he could be out 3-4 weeks while the Buffalo News notes that Bisons skipper Marty Brown says that Denney will miss 2-3 starts. This is obviously a tough break for Denney who was in serious consideration to join the Indians rotation, if only for a spot start or two in May. In seven starts for the Bisons, the right-hander had posted a 2.45 ERA and a .209 BAA while striking out 43 and walking just 9 in 44 innings.

Since we mentioned Dawley and Denney in regards to the Indians 5th starter options, let me throw another name into the mix. Rick Helling makes what is expected to be his final start as a member of the Twins today for double-A New Britain. He's been on the mend for the past two months since a line drive broke his right leg (fractured fibula) during spring training. Helling had been in line to be the Twins 5th starter but Carlos Silva has cemented that spot in the rotation and the Twins now have no room for Helling on their major league roster. The Grand Forks Herald (ya gotta love the Internet) reported yesterday that Helling (North Dakota native) has been given permission to talk with other teams regarding a big-league job and that the Twins would release him if he can find one. The Indians have shown interest in Helling in the past and their admittedly uncomfortable with their starting pitching depth so I wouldn't be surprised if they have some people in the stands tonight in Portland. In three starts for New Britain, Helling has a 4.50 ERA although the Connecticut Record-Journal notes that he was hit hard in his last two outings.

Jason Anderson was also placed on the Bisons disabled list, according to the Buffalo News, but no ailment was listed.

Jack Cressend will join the Bisons bullpen as he cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to Buffalo. Cressend was simply awful with the Indians this season (6.32 ERA, 15.2 IP, 22 H, 10 W, 4 HR) after a pretty good 2003 campaign with the Tribe (2.51 ERA, 43 IP, 40H, 9 BB). Hopefully, he can get straightened out and be ready to help out the big league club later this summer.

Jake Robbins has tossed three hitless innings (with four strikeouts) since being promoted from Akron to Buffalo.

For those keeping score at home, the Bisons pitching staff now consists of Jeriome Robertson, Robert Ellis, Matt White, Kenny Rayborn, Joe Dawley, Kaz Tadano, Fernando Cabrera, Bob Howry, Kane Davis, Luther Hackman, Dave Lee, Jack Cressend, Jake Robbins. That's thirteen names so I wouldn't be surprised to see someone placed on the DL or sent to Akron (perhaps Robbins).

Travis Foley has been placed on the Aeros disabled list with inflammation of the right elbow. Foley has really struggled this year in making the jump to double-A, posting a 6.99 ERA in seven starts. You never like to hear anything wrong with the elbow but, hopefully, this has been the cause of his struggles and he can get back on track after some rest. Let's just hope that the inflammation doesn't turn into anything worse.

In a bit of good news for the Aeros rotation, Chris Kline noted in the Daily Dish that Jake Dittler is expected to rejoin the rotation on May 28. He had been on the DL with a strained back since May 1. Kline quotes Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti as saying "it was nothing major, we're just trying to be as cautious as possible". That's certainly good to hear.

The news was not so cheery on yet another injured Aeros starter, however, as Kline reports that Mariano Gomez remains sidelined indefinitely (no return date set) with a strained ligament in his left middle finger. Kline quotes Antonetti as saying "it's a strange injury that has no record of being a medical condition in baseball. It happens with rock climbers a lot, but not in baseball and the best way for it to heal is simply with rest." Gomez is on the 40-man roster and, if he misses a considerable amount of time this year (or, hopefully not, the entire season), it's going to be interesting to see if he retains his 40 spot this offseason.

Jake Dittler, Andrew Brown, Francisco Cruceta, and Jeremy Guthrie make for a pretty impressive rotation, don't you think?

According to the Captains website, Chris De La Cruz will begin serving his three-game suspension for his role in the brawl against Lexington on Thursday. Javi Herrera, who completes his three-game suspension today, is expected to be back in the lineup tomorrow. The Captains lost again this afternoon (morning education game) although I did manage to catch Mike Conroy banging an extra-base hit off the top of the wall in the late innings.

The Hartford Courant reports that the Indians have been scouting the Yankees minor league teams lately. Given the Yankees hole at second base (Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo are not the answer), it's possible the Boss and company could have an interest in Ronnie Belliard later this summer. Just a thought, but let's hope the Indians are in contention and have no need (or interest) in trading their second-sacker.

Congratulations to Josh and Lindsay Bard on the birth of their baby boy Luke Michael on Wednesday.

Let's see, I still need to talk about Terry Clark, Cliff Lee, and Jason Davis. We'll table that for tomorrow's report.

CIR UPDATE: 5-20 Recaps  

The regular CIR report will follow later today.

BUFFALO (16-23, 4th, 6.5 GB): The bats were booming yesterday as the Bisons blasted six homeruns in defeating Louisville 8-5. Eric Crozier led the attack as he went deep twice (#6&7) and also doubled. Interestingly enough, Crozier also played right field. Jhonny Peralta (.343) belted his first homerun of the season while Russ Branyan (#6), Ernie Young (#6), and Todd Dunwoody (#4) also did some yard work. Grady Sizemore continues to struggle as he went 0-for-5 to lower his average to .228 for the season. Robert Ellis (3-3, 4.98) allowed four runs in 6-1/3 innings. Bob Howry allowed a run in 1-2/3 innings. Dave Lee worked a scoreless ninth for his third save and lowered his ERA to a scant 0.57.

AKRON (19-19, 4th, 5.0 GB): Making a one-day start in place of Travis Foley, Fausto Carmona was superb in allowing just one run in 7-1/3 innings but Dan Crouthers and the Bowie Baysox were just a little better in defeating the Aeros 1-0. Carmona exhibited his fine control in not walking a batter while he punched out three and scattered six hits. Franklin Gutierrez (.326) singled and stole a base. Nate Grindell and Armando Camacaro accounted for the Aeros other two hits.

KINSTON (28-10, 1st, 6.0 GA): A Chris Cooper wild pitch allowed the winning run to score in the top of the 9th inning as the K-Tribe lost to Wilmington 5-4. Cooper (1-3, 3.50) was on in relief of Juan Lara, who allowed four runs in 4-2/3 innings, and Dan Eisentrager, who worked 2-1/3 innings of scoreless ball. Ryan Garko (#10) and JJ Sherrill (#5) belted solo shots. Michael Aubrey (.311) had a pair of hits as did Caleb Brock.

LAKE COUNTY (18-21, 6th, 6.5 GB): The Captains knocked off Charleston (WV) 8-2. Aaron Laffey settled down after allowing two runs in the first inning and tossed four innings of scoreless ball for his first win. Edward Mujica followed with four frames of scoreless relief for his first save. Chris De La Cruz (.258) had three hits, including a triple. Ryan Goleski (.340) singled, doubled, and drove in a pair of runs. Brandon Pinckney (.407) remained over .400 with a single. Ryan Mulhern had two hits and plated two runs.


May 19, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: It's Official, Andrew Brown is the MBPTBNL  
As first speculated in the CIR back on April 6, Dodgers right-hander Andrew Brown has officially been named as the Player to be Named Later in the Milton Bradley trade. We've followed Brown's outings throughout the first two months but his numbers for double-A Jacksonville are worth repeating; in eight starts Brown has struck out an amazing 58 batters in 40 innings while walking only 14. It's true that his won-loss record was just 1-3 with a 4.02 ERA but those K/BB (58/14) and K/IP (58/40) ratios are what you should key in on. I suspect that Brown will join the rotation in Akron and, if he can stay healthy, this looks to be a very nice addition to the organization. More tomorrow in the next CIR.

P.S. WKNR mentioned that Brown is a Chardon native (graduated from high school in Florida).


May 18, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Martinez named Player of the Week  
Congrats to Victor Martinez on being named the American League Player of the Week (along with the Twins Joe Nathan). In five games last week, the Tribe backstop had four multi-hit games and raked to the tune of .429/.458/.762 (9-for-21) averages with four doubles, one longball, and a league-leading 10 RBIs. A weel-deserved honor for the Tribe's new cleanup hitter.

CIR 5-17 Recaps  

BUFFALO (15-22, 5th, 6.5 GB): Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, The mighty Bisons have won one in a row. Sorry, but when you've lost 12 of 13, a 7-6 victory over Louisville is well worth a little celebratory jig. Russ Branyan (.261) led the way with a homerun (#5) and single and two runs batted in. Jhonny Peralta (.346) drove in three runs with a single. Brandon Phillips (.270) singled and walked. Mark Little added two baseknocks while Grady Sizemore singled. Kenny Rayborn (1-1, 4.74) allowed two runs in five innings for the win. Fernando Cabrera struck out three in two scoreless frames (nice to see). Bobby Howry recorded only two outs and was charged with four runs on two hits and two walks.

Note: Branyan now has five homeruns (and 29 strikeouts) in 69 at-bats for the Bisons. By my notes, Cabrera's two scoreless innings last night were the first time in eight outings (dating back to April 21) that he has not allowed a run to score. Think that has anything to do with pitching coach Terry Clark being fired yesterday? More on that tomorrow.

AKRON (19-17, 3rd, 3.0 GB): The veterans led the way in the Aeros 7-4 victory over Bowie. Oscar Salazar doubled twice with a single to drive in two runs while Brian Luderer singled twice and plated a run. Scott Pratt contributed a double while Zach Sorenson added a baseknock. Jason Cooper represented the young guys by smashing his fifth tater. Jeremy Guthrie (3-1, 4.63) picked up the win after allowing four runs in 6-2/3 innings of work that included three longballs. Lee Gronkiewicz struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save.

Note: Corey Smith walked twice (21 BB / 37 K) and committed his 10th error.

KINSTON (27-9, 1st Place, 6.0 GA): The K-Tribe knocked off Wilmington 4-3 in a battle of first place teams. Shaun Larkin (.281) led the attack with three hits and two runs batted in. Ivan Ochoa (.261) added two hits while Eider Torres (.286) and Nathan Panther (.281) singled. JD Martin (4-2, 4.76) picked up the win after allowing two runs in 5.2 innings of work. Ryan Prahm notched his 10th save in relief.

Note: Prahm allowed a run for the first time this season but it was unearned. His ERA remains perfect at 0.00 through 11.2 innings with 15 strikeouts.

LAKE COUNTY (17-21, 6th, 7.0 GB): Much like the Ancient Greeks, the Captains fell to Rome, losing 9-5 in the last game of their homestand. Adam Miller allowed only a solo homerun through four frames before a rough fifth inning in which the Braves scored four times, although only two of those runs were earned. Miller (3-1, 2.20) finished with four runs allowed (three earned) in 4.2 innings on eight hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Brandon Pinckney (.419) had three hits and stole a base. Ryan Goleski (.333) belted his 10th homerun. Micah Schilling (.263) walked twice and singled. Clayton McCullough added a pair of safeties.


May 17, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Remember Kane Davis?  
Remember Kane Davis? He of the 14.73 ERA in 11 innings back in 2000? Well, he's back according to the MLB transactions on as the Indians reportedly purchased his contract from Camden of the independent Atlantic League. But before we go any further, I'm going to hedge my bets here and say that this could be a move by the Indianapolis Indians (Milwaukee's triple-A affiliate) as the two Indians teams have been mixed up on the transaction wire in the past. Anyway, Davis had pitched in five games for the RiverSharks this season and had not allowed a run in 4.1 innings while striking out seven. He most recently pitched in the bigs in 2002 with the Mets and Davis actually threw the ball fairly well for the Rockies in 2001, posting a 4.35 ERA in 57 games. He'll likely join the Bisons bullpen.


Bring on them White Sox!

Four in a row. Five of six. Five games out. Who would have thought that a week ago?

And how about the debuts of Cliff Bartosh and Matt Miller? All they did was combine to record eight of eleven outs via the whiff and provide some much needed relief to the bullpen. Bartosh came first on Saturday when he entered an 8-5 game with a runner on second base and promptly retired Aubrey Huff on a ground out and Rocco Baldelli via the punchout. Nice work and he followed that up with a 1-2-3 eighth inning in which he struck out Tino Martinez and Jose Cruz Jr looking. Ok, this isn't exactly murderers row we're talking about but that's a relatively formidable group of major league hitters to work through in your major league debut. While the ERA (4.05) in Buffalo was not overly impressive, the southpaw had been holding triple-A hitters to a .204 BAA with 15 strikeouts in 13 innings so let's hope he can stay hot for awhile.

Miller Time came on Sunday when he entered in relief of CC Sabathia after seven innings and proceeded to strike out five (Sanchez, Rolls, Blum, Lugo, and Cruz) of the six batters he faced. More importantly, he preserved the shutdown and marked for only the second time this season that the bullpen did not allow a run to score. Miller had been working on a streak of 12-1/3 consecutive scoreless innings at Buffalo and had a 1.93 ERA, .196 BAA, and 17 strikeouts in 14 innings for the Bisons. He doesn't throw hard but everything seemed to have a sink to it yesterday which is sometimes more important depending on the location. Coming from the side, Miller looks like he could be really tough on right-handed hitters.

Bullpen reinforcements may still be on their way as Bobby Howry has reported to Buffalo and thrown two scoreless innings in two appearances. I've seen reports that he could be ready for the big leagues by the end of May or sometime around the All-Star Game. I suppose it's really going to depend on a) his health, and b) how desperate the Indians need help in the bullpen. Aside from building arm strength, I'd assume that the Indians would want Howry to be able to work in back-to-back games before he's promoted.

That takes care of the bullpen but what about the rotation? Would you believe Pedro Astacio to the rescue? So (potentially) says Newsday as they reported on Sunday that the Indians were among three teams (Dodgers and Yankees being the two others) that have been monitoring the progress of Astacio's rehab and recovery from shoulder surgery. Astacio is currently pitching for a Dodgers-sponsored team in his native Dominican Republic where the paper notes that "he's up to 88 mph and his arm worked easy. His breaking ball was sharp and his changeup was very good, as usual". Once upon a time, Astacio was a decent (alright, average) (alright, medicore at best) (alright, he won some games with the Rockies once) pitcher so it doesn't hurt to look. Touching, on the other hand, does not come recommended.

Newsday also notes that the Yankees and Aaron Boone (out for the season after tearing up his knee in a pickup basketball game this past winter) have had "extensive" talks about bringing Boone back to the Bronx on a two-year deal. If the price was right, I wouldn't mind seeing the Indians bring in Boone as insurance (or starting) at second or third next year. Doesn't sound like that is going to happen if he can regain a starting role with the Yanks. The pay's a little better in that neighborhood from what I hear.

Kyle Denney is headed to Cleveland but not for the reasons he had envisioned. Denney will be in town to have his knee examined by Indians team doctors after he suffered a sprained left knee on Saturday against Columbus. The Bisons website lists Denney as day-to-day and it's not known whether he'll be ready for his next scheduled start on Thursday.

Back to the big leaguers for a moment. Do you know who leads major league baseball in on-base percentage? That's right, not just the American League, but all of baseball? Since this is an Indians site, the answer is pretty obvious but, yes, it's the Tribe leading the majors with a .368 OBP, thirteen percentage points ahead of the second place Rockies and Astros at .355. The Tribe is also fourth in baseball (second in the AL) in walks with 157 and third in baseball (and the AL) in runs scored with 206. The Tribe is on pace to score an incredible 927 runs this season which would be the fourth most in club history and would represent a HUGE jump from the 699 runs scored last season. Of course, being the recipient of 25 walks and scoring 27 runs over the weekend will pad those totals but there's no doubting the fact that the offense has a new approach at the plate this season and it's working very well (so far).

By the way, when's the cut date when it's no longer "it's early". As in, the offense is hitting well but "it's early". Is it May 15? June 1? I'm going to go with a shade under a quarter of the season (40 games) and use that as the "it's early" barometer. Barring rainouts, game 40 will be played on Friday in Tampa.

The Indians and Blue Jays hooked up via trade for the second time in a week when catcher Victor Valencia was sent to the Jays for a PTBNL. Valencia was hitting .229 with two homeruns for the Aeros this season. He originally signed with the Indians in March 2003 as a minor league free-agent and spent most of last season in Akron.

Javi Herrera has been suspended for three games in Lake County due to his role in a brawl on May 9 against Lexington. Herrera began to serve the suspension yesterday and is expected back on the field on Thursday. Clayton McCullough was recalled from extended spring training to serve as the backup catcher while Bill Peavey was temporarily sent down to the Valley. Teodoro Encarnacion (.217, 1 HR) was also sent down to the down to Mahoning Valley to make room for a healthy Ricardo Rojas.

Kieran Mattison made his season debut with two scoreless innings for the K-Tribe on Friday after spending the early part of the year in extended spring training. Dan Rich was released to make room for Mattison on the roster. The Bay Village had a 13.50 ERA in four appearances for the K-Tribe this year.

Former Indian Jamie Brown joined the Red Sox after he was called up to replace the struggling BH Kim on the Sox staff. Brown was off to a strong start for triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.84 ERA in six starts and allowing just two walks in 38 innings while striking out 27 and holding opposing hitters to a stingy .199 average. Brown was dealt to the Sox last June for a PTBNL who ultimately became infielder Angel Santos who is no longer in the organization.

Ricky Gutierrez was designated for assignment by the Mets after hitting just .175 in 63 at-bats this season. The Chicago papers are reporting that Gutierrez hopes the Cubs (where he enjoyed his two best seasons in 2000 and 2001) place a claim on him or try and sign him as a free-agent if/when he clears waivers. From an Indians stand-point, they're still on the hook for the $4 million plus they owe for 2004 while the Mets are still on the hook for the $600k they owe him as well. It will be interesting to see if Gutierrez is willing to accept an assignment to the minor leagues (where he would likely have the opportunity to play everyday) in order to further his career.

David Segui had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and will be out for 6-8 weeks. Since leaving the Indians as a free-agent after the 2000 season for a 4-year, $28 million contract with the Orioles, Segui has played in 188 games over the past four seasons. That's a nifty $148,936 per game. Nice work if you can get it, huh?

Marty Cordova is officially out for the season after he underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. Since leaving the Indians after the 2001 season for a 3-year, $9 million contract with the Orioles (notice a trend here), Cordova has played in 140 games over the past three seasons. That's a nifty $64,285 per game. Not Segui money but it sure beats selling old ladies Kenmores.

Simon Pond was recalled by the Blue Jays and he'll fit into their outfield mix.

If you're among the few people still keeping score at the ballpark, you'll want to check out Tom Reed's article in the ABJ. I know that I'll be trying to teach my kids to keep score but by that time I'll probably have to settle for keeping score on their cell phone or something.

CIR UPDATE: 5-16 Recaps  

Nice weekend for the Tribe. More on that later today in the regular CIR.

BUFFALO (14-22, 5th, 6.5 GB): Jose Contreras made a strong statement for re-joining the Yankees rotation in the Clippers 3-2 victory over the Bisons. Contreras punched out twelve in seven innings of work while limiting the Bisons to just two runs on four hits, although he did also walk four. Chris Clapinski (.248) was the dagger in Contreras' side as he reached base four times, twice via a hit and twice via a walk, and also stole three bases. Grady Sizemore (.241) and Dusty Wathan managed the other basehits while Russ Branyan walked twice. Jeriome Robertson pitched much better than in previous outings as he went 6-2/3 innings, allowing just four hits. Three of those hits, however, were solo shots, including two in the 7th inning that erased a 2-1 Bisons lead. Kaz Tadano finished by retiring the final four batters in order.

AKRON (18-17, 4th, 3.0 GB): Another high-profile pitcher stuck it to an Indians farm team as former number one overall pick (2002) Bryan Bullington tossed five innings of one-run ball to lead Altoona to a 6-2 victory over the Aeros. Bullington was not dominating as he only struck out two but he did limit the good guy to four hits, one walk, and just the one run in his five innings of work. His opponent, Francisco Cruceta, went eight innings for the Aeros, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits and no walks while striking out four. Four of those runs came in the third inning. Jason Cooper (.275) belted his fourth homerun and singled.

KINSTON (26-9, 1st, 6.0 GA): The K-Tribe rallied from an early 4-0 deficit for an 11-5 victory over Frederick. Keith Ramsey (4-0, 3.38)allowed a three-run jack and a solo shot in the first inning but then settled down to throw zeros over the next four innings. He finished with eight strikeouts, six hits, and two walks allowed in five innings of work. Shea Douglas lowered his ERA to 0.45 with two scoreless innings of relief. Ryan Garko (.371) blasted his ninth homerun and doubled. Hey, he even stole a base! Michael Aubrey (.312) also went deep and needed only a triple for the cycle as he drove in three runs. Nathan Panther (.280) also had three hits and he stole two bases. Shaun Larkin (.265) singled twice and dropped his third bomb of the season. Ivan Ochoa added a baseknock and stole his eighth base.

LAKE COUNTY (17-20, 6th, 6.0 GB): The Captains lost 4-3 to Rome. Sean Smith (3.63) allowed two runs (two-run shot) on three hits and three walks in five innings while striking out five. Nelson Hiraldo (2-4, 2.49) took the loss after allowing two runs in three innings of relief. Chris De La Cruz had two hits and stole a base. Brad Snyder belted his fourth homerun. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Micah Schilling doubled.


May 16, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: 5-15 Recaps  

BUFFALO (14-21): Another day, another loss for the Bisons as they fell 5-2 in Columbus. They've now lost four in a row and 10 of 11 to fall seven games under .500. Kyle Denney (4-1, 2.45) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing five runs (three earned) in four innings on five hits and three walks while striking out seven. Dave Lee, Jason Anderson, and Jake Robbins combined for four scoreless innings of relief. Mark Little doubled and tripled while Jhonny Peralta doubled and Grady Sizemore singled. The Bisons committed five errors in the game.

Note: Kyle Denney left the game in the fifth inning with an undisclosed injury suffered while making a throw to second on a strange play that resulted in two of the five errors mentioned above. More information is expected today.

AKRON (18-16): Altoona put a five-spot on the board in the third inning and went on for a 6-2 victory over the Aeros. Victor Kliene (1-1, 4.26) took the loss, allowing six runs in six innings. Carl Sadler worked two scoreless innings of relief. Scott Pratt (.337) reached base four times (double, triple, two walks) and stole two bases. Franklin Gutierrez (.344) belted two doubles and now has 14 two-baggers for the season. Corey Smith walked twice and singled while Brian Luderer added two hits, including a double.

KINSTON (25-9): Like their triple-A brethren, errors also helped do in the K-Tribe yesterday in their 8-2 loss to Frederick. Matt Davis committed two himself on the mound and was charged with five runs in relief although only one was credited as earned. Davis was on in relief of Brian Slocum (4-2, 3.51) who worked five innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks while punching out four. Anthony Lunetta and Jonathan Van Every had a pair of hits in defeat. Nathan Panther, Ryan Garko, and Eider Torres added baseknocks.

LAKE COUNTY (17-19): Rafael Perez couldn't make it out of the third inning as Rome knocked off the Captains 6-3. Perez (8.38) allowed eight baserunners (four hits and four walks) in 2-2/3 innings and was charged with three runs allowed. Adam Hanson (1-2, 3.55) took the loss in relief as he allowed three runs in 3-1/3 innings. Micah Schilling (.262), Kevin Kouzmanoff (.310) and Chris De La Cruz had two hits apiece. Ryan Goleski, Mike Conroy, Bill Peavey, and Javi Herrera added basehits.


May 15, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: 5-14 Recaps  

BUFFALO (14-20): The losing continues in Buffalo as the Bisons lost to Columbus 3-1. Robert Ellis (2-3, 4.87) took the loss after allowing three runs in six innings. Bob Howry and Dave Lee followed with a scoreless inning apiece. Brent Abernathy (.341) doubled, singled, and stole a base. Jhonny Peralta walked twice and singled. Dusty Wathan added a pair of baseknocks.

AKRON (18-15): Travis Foley suffered through another difficult outing as the Aeros were roughed up by Altoona 10-2. Foley (1-4, 6.99) allowed five runs in five innings on seven hits and three walks for his fourth loss of the season. Marcos Mendoza followed and, in his season debut, recorded only five outs and was charged with five runs on three hits and three walks. Ben Francisco (.277), Corey Smith (.261), and Nate Grindell had two hits apiece in defeat. Franklin Gutierrez (.342) singled and stole a base.

KINSTON (25-8): Nathan Panther was the recipient of a walk-off walk in the bottom of the 10th inning as the K-Tribe rallied for a 3-2 victory over Frederick. Fausto Carmona turned in a stellar performance on the mound, allowing two unearned runs in seven innings while scattering five hits, walking none, and punching out seven. Dan Eisentrager (2-0, 4.05) was credited with the win in relief after tossing three hitless innings. Offensively, the K-Tribe ran wild as Eider Torres (2), Jonathan Van Every, JJ Sherrill, and Panther all stole bases. The aggresive baserunning helped the offense overcome a weak attack as they managed just three hits in 10 innings.

LAKE COUNTY (17-18): Kevin Kouzmanoff went deep in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Captains a 3-2 victory over Rome. For Kouzmanoff that was his fourth jack of the year. Mike Conroy (.297) also had a good day at the plate, banging out three hits, including a double. Ryan Goleski singled twice, Ryan Mulhern singled and doubled, and Brad Snyder added his fourth longball. Nick Pesco turned in a strong performance on the mound, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in six innings. He also fanned six. TJ Burton, Chip Southerland, and Jim Warden combined for six scoreless innings of relief.


May 14, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Miller and Bartosh get the call  
Matt Miller and Cliff Bartosh were called up from Buffalo and will join the Indians bullpen. Both pitched last night for the Bisons with the right-handed Miller extending his scoreless streak to 12-1/3 innings with one shutout inning against Columbus while southpaw Bartosh allowed three runs on a pair of hits (one longball) and a walk. To make room for Bartosh, Jeff D'Amico was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back. Jack Cressend was designated for assignment to make room for Miller. They're not the answer but, at this point, they're worth a shot, especially if Miller can stay hot. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: 5-13 Recaps  

BUFFALO (14-19, 5th, 6.5 GB): Despite outhitting Columbus 11-9, the Bisons lost for the ninth time in ten games as they fell to the Clippers 10-4. Grady Sizemore (.246), Jhonny Peralta (.352), Mark Little, and Sandy Martinez all had two hits for the Bisons. Martinez (#2) and Chris Clapinski (#5) went deep. Matt White allowed three runs in five innings. Matt Miller ran his scoreless streak to 12.1 innings with a scoreless frame. Cliff Bartosh took the loss after allowing three runs in one inning of work while Fernando Cabrera was charged with four unearned runs.

AKRON (18-14, 2nd Place, 1.0 GB): The news was much better in Akron as Oscar Alvarez tossed six shutout innings to lead the Aeros to a 3-1 victory over Bowie. Alvarez (4-0, 2.59) allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out four in notching his fourth victory of the season. Jose Vargas picked up his first save. Ben Francisco doubled and drove in two runs. Franklin Gutierrez doubled and singled while Rodney Choy Foo also had a pair of hits.

KINSTON (24-8, 1st, 6.0 GA): Potomac rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory over the K-Tribe. Chris Cooper took the loss in relief as he allowed three runs and six hits in two innings. Ryan Garko (.374) homered for the third consecutive game. Michael Aubrey (.326) had two hits, including a double, and drove in a pair of runs. Shea Douglas lowered his ERA to 0.50 with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.

LAKE COUNTY (16-18, 5th, 7.0 GB): Columbus scored seven times in the middle innings to rally from an early deficit and knock off Lake County 8-6. The Captains belted three homeruns in the game, including a three-run jack by Javi Herrera (#4) and solo shots by Micah Schilling (#4) and Brandon Pinckney (#3). Pinckney (.421) also doubled and singled while Herrera (.289) added a baseknock. Ryan Goleski (.352) doubled while Brad Snyder (.296) and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.308) singled. The Captains committed four errors in the game but they only led to unearned run. Aaron Laffey (0-4, 5.27) took the loss in relief after allowing four runs in four innings. Edward Mujica started and allowed four runs in five frames.


May 13, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: 5-12 Recaps  

BUFFALO (14-18, 4th, 5.5 GB): Off Day

AKRON (17-14, 2nd, 1.5 GB): Franklin Gutierrez and Jeremy Guthrie led the Aeros to a 4-1 victory over Bowie. Gutierrez (.339) singled three times and drove in a pair of runs while Guthrie tossed five innings of scoreless ball, punching out five and scattering three hits and four walks (more command issues). Jason Cooper (.282) and Zach Sorenson added doubles while Lee Gronkiwicz notched his sixth save.

KINSTON (24-7, 1st, 7.0 GA): The K-Tribe had some fun yesterday as they routed Potomac 13-4. Six starters had multiple hit games led by Eider Torres (.292) with three basehits. Ryan Garko (.375) drove in a pair of runs and belted his seventh homerun and singled. Shaun Larkin also went deep (#2) and doubled to drive in four runs. Michael Aubrey (.315), Nathan Panther (.270), and Jonathan Van Every had two hits apiece. JD Martin (3-2, 5.03) went six innings for the win, allowing three runs on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out four.

LAKE COUNTY (16-17, 5th, 7.0 GB): Brandon Pinckney delievered a game-winning single in the 10th inning to give the Captains a 5-4 extra-inning victory over Columbus. Pinckney (.403) pushed his average back over the .400 mark with a pair of singles. Adam Miller (1.73) tossed six scoreless innings before tiring in the seventh, finishing with two runs allowed in 6.1 innings. He walked none, allowed seven hits, and punched out three. Nelson Hiraldo (2-3, 2.05) picked up the win in relief as he struck out six over 3.2 innings.


May 12, 2004  


For the past seven years, I have been (un)fortunate enough to have been exposed to the wonderful world of quality control in American manufacturing. And as any good quality hack knows, that means problem solving and corrective action, usually in whatever flavor of the month technique the Big Three automakers happen to be favoring at the moment.

One particular technique, however, does stand out in my mind. Ingenious in its simplicity, the "5-why" problem solving method works exactly as it sounds. Once you have identified and confirmed the problem, you continually ask "why" this action occurred until the root cause of the problem is determined. Typically, this is found within five steps, hence the name. In an effort to assist Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge, I have decided to apply this problem solving technique in an analysis of last nights 5-3 loss to Boston. Let's see what we can come up with...

PROBLEM: The Indians lost 5-3 last night to Boston after the bullpen blew their ninth save in thirteen opportunities by giving up three runs in the eighth inning.

WHY: Scott Stewart gave up a two-run triple to Dave McCarty.

WHY: Stewart brought in for a lefty-lefty matchup against Brian Daubach that was turned around by Terry Francona when he pinch-hit McCarty for Daubach.

WHY: Jose Jimenez gave up a double to David Ortiz, a double to Bill Mueller, and a single to Gabe Kapler after recording the first two outs of the inning.

WHY: Jimenez brought in to relieve starter CC Sabathia in the top of the eighth inning.

WHY: CC reached his pitch count after throwing 116 pitches in seven innings.

So there we have it. In five e-z steps, we've determined that last nights loss was not the bullpen's fault after all. It was CC's. Sure, the big fella only allowed two runs in seven innings of work. Sure, he matched future hall-of-famer Pedro Martinez pitch-for-pitch. Sure, he turned a lead over to the bullpen for the fifth time in six starts. But he pitched himself, and the Indians, out of the game by reaching his pitch limit in the seventh inning. And that's inexcusable. CC needs to be at 70-80 pitches through seven innings so he can make it through a full nine and throw a complete game. 0-2 waste pitches? No more. Foul balls? Bats have to be missed. First pitch strikes are the rule, not the goal. Economy of pitches by the starting pitchers is the only way to keep the bullpen in the bullpen and off the mound. That's where CC failed last night. He forced Eric Wedge to make the call to the bullpen and that's a call that just can't be made with the Indians anymore.

After all, if you give a monkey a loaded gun and he shoots somebody, you don't blame the monkey, do you? Of course not. It's the same with the Indians bullpen. If you give the ball to the 'pen in the late innings and they give up a couple of runs, what did you expect to happen? But Eric Wedge has to bring in somebody because that dang starting pitcher did not economize his pitches and had to be taken out. And that, Tribe fans, is the root cause of the problem. The starters have to go the distance for the Indians to have any chance at victory. Anything less and they're just asking for trouble.

So when you're watching Cliff Lee tonight, keep a close eye on that pitch count. An average of 10-12 pitches per inning is what you're looking for. Watch for those first pitch strikes. Watch for those missed bats. And watch for those pesky Red Sox hitters to try and work deep counts, knowing that a glorious feast and a veritable bounty of meatballs awaits them if they can only force the Indians to summon a call to the "Hellpen".

Note: Hellpen was noted today by Paul Hoynes in the PD as being coined by an "Internet wise guy". The earliest citation I can find is this post on Well done.


May 11, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: May 10 Recaps  
BUFFALO (14-17, 4th, 4.5 GB): The good news is that the bullpen only allowed one run in five innings of work. The bad news is that starter Kenny Rayborn (0-1, 5.14) allowed four in three innings and the Bisons lost 5-3 in Toledo. Chris Clapinski belted his fourth longball in support of Rayborn while Brent Abernathy and Ernie Young had a pair of hits. Brandon Phillips singled and stole a base.

AKRON (15-14, 4th, 1.5 GB): Day Off

KINSTON (23-6, 1st, 7.0 GA): The K-Tribe rallied from an early three-run deficit and plated a run in the top of the ninth for the 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Potomac. Jonathan Van Every (.324) led the offense with three hits, including his third homerun. Ivan Ochoa added a pair of hits while Ryan Garko (two walks), Michael Aubrey, and Nathan Panther added basehits. Brian Slocum (3.25) allowed only five baserunners through six innings but four of them scored thanks to two longballs. Shea Douglas (2-0, 0.59) picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief while Ryan Prahm worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save.

LAKE COUNTY (14-17, 6th, 9.0 GB): Ryan Goleski went deep twice and drove in five runs as the Captains knocked off Columbus 9-6. Goleski (.375) also singled in the contest. Brad Snyder also went deep (#3), singled, and stole a base. Ryan Mulhern added a pair of hits, including a double. Rafael Perez continued to struggle, allowing eleven hits and five runs in 4.1 innings of work. TJ Burton picked up the win in relief with 3.2 scoreless innings of relief.


May 10, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: May 9 Recaps  
BUFFALO (14-16, 4th, 3.5 GB): Kyle Denney went the distance for a complete game shutout as the Bisons blanked Toledo 4-0. Denney was masterful in limiting the Mud Hens to just four hits and no walks while punching out eight. Brent Abernathy had three hits in support of the right-hander while Grady Sizemore belted his third homerun and Jhonny Peralta, Todd Dunwoody, and Russ Branyan doubled.

AKRON (15-14, 4th, 1.5 GB): The Sea Dogs had their day at Canal Park yesterday as they pounded the Aeros 10-3. Travis Foley lasted only 1-2/3 innings, allowing three runs, while Derrick Van Dusen gave up six runs in three innings of relief. Franklin Gutierrez doubled twice while Brian Luderer blasted his second longball of the season.

KINSTON (22-6, 1st, 6.5 GA): Fausto Carmona tossed seven innings of two-run ball to lead the K-Tribe to a 9-2 victory over Salem. Carmona (2-2, 3.78) struck out seven while allowing seven hits (one longball) and just one walk over his seven frames. Matt Davis finished with two scoreless innings of relief. Nathan Panther led the offense with three hits, including a double. Dave Wallace drove in three runs and singled. Shaun Larkin, Eider Torres, and JJ Sherrill all doubled.

LAKE COUNTY (13-17, 6th, 9.0 GB): Chip Southerland gave up three runs (including two taters) in the 9th inning as Lexington rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Captains. Southerland was on in relief of starter Nick Pesco who struck out five in five innings of two-run ball. Nelson Hiraldo followed with three scoreless innings of relief. Kevin Kouzmanoff had a pair of hits while Mike Conroy tripled and drove in two runs. Ricardo Rojas did not record a hit but scored twice and swiped three bags.


May 06, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Pratt promotion  
It doesn't look like Scott Pratt was promoted to Buffalo due to Brandon Phillips' hamstring. The Bisons placed Brent Abernathy on the temporarily inactive list today due to a death in his family. Our condolences to the Abernathy family.


CC vs Pedro. Suh-weet!

It might be a good idea to double-check the batteries on the old remote this afternoon. It's probably going to be smoking tonight with Survivor and Friends also on. In honor of Chandler Bing, could there BE any more stuff on the tube this evening.

As expected, Jason Stanford will make another rehab start this weekend, although he'll throw for Akron on Saturday instead of Buffalo. The start would have Stanford ready to re-join the rotation on Thursday, May 13, but that's an off-day. So plan on his next outing to be Friday, May 14 against the Devil Rays (although there's certainly a lot of different ways the Indians can go with this). This also means that Jeff D'Amico should receive one more start (Tuesday, May 11 against the Red Sox in Fenway) before the Indians are forced to make a decision as to which of the six starters is the odd man out. He certainly didn't help his case last night against the Sox (7 ER in 5 IP).

(Oops: I think I messed this up. D'Amico's next start would likely come on Monday, May 10 against the Sox. That's wicked bad on my paht.)

Jose Jimenez may be close to being activated off the disabled list as he worked two scoreless innings last night for Buffalo, striking out three and allowing just one hit and no walks. Given he pitched two innings yesterday and may not be available to pitch today, it wouldn't surprise me if we see the Indians wait to activate Jimenez until Friday. Kaz Tadano, Jack Cressend, and Chad Durbin seem the likely candidates to be farmed out. I also wouldn't be surprised if they tried to do something with David Riske (DL) although Eric Wedge seemed pretty pleased with how he threw last night, despite the three-run bomb to Bill Mueller.

Ryan Ludwick could receive permission to resume full workouts this week, according to Justice B.Hill on He'll be in Colorado to have his knee examined.

Every local paper yesterday mentioned that Matt Lawton and Ronnie Belliard have combined to lead the American League in batting average from the leadoff spot. That's great, but none of them mentioned that Lawton has just two walks versus nine strikeouts from atop the order. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's probably not going to hit .397 for the rest of the season while leading off so the lack of walks is a concern.

Potential MBPTBNL Andrew Brown is number six on the Prospect Hot Sheet while Adam Miller is number twelve and Ryan Garko merits honorable mention. Brown pitched last night for Jacksonville, striking out seven and allowing three runs in 4.1 innings on six hits and a pair of walks. Garko (.384) belted his fourth homerun and drove in a pair of runs in Kinston's 6-1 victory over Lynchburg. In dish from the Dish: Ryan Garko reminds Torey Lovullo of Tigers prospect Chris Shelton, "an accomplished hitter with no defined postion".

Speaking of that Kinston victory, Brian Slocum (4-1, 2.70) out-dueled Pirates 2003 first round pick Paul Maholm (1-3, 1.51) for the "w" as he allowed just one run in six innings. He did allow 11 baserunners (seven hits and four walks), though, while striking out just one. For the season, Slocum has a nice ERA of 2.70 bu the low K/IP ratio of 14 punchouts to 30 innings is concerning.

Matt Knox has begun the transformation from infielder to pitcher down in extended spring training. It's a move designed, obviously, to prolong his career after Knox was looking at a backup role or possible release this season after he had hit .247 with 22 homeruns in three seasons with the Tribe. The article notes that Knox throws in low 90s but hasn't pitched regularly since high school, although he did throw an inning for Kinston last year during a blowout. Good for Matt, at least it allows him to keep going out to the ballpark for another season. I don't know why more players with good arms don't attempt moves like this. All they need to do is look at the Indians own Rafael Betancourt for inspiration.

Brandon Phillips returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the previous three game with a strained left hammy. In four at-bats, Phillips doubled and walked and also committed an error in the field. He did not play last night. Coincidentally, or not, Scott Pratt was promoted from Akron to Buffalo last night. I wonder if this means that Phillips is going to be on the DL for awhile? Pratt was hitting .333 with five doubles for the Aeros.

Jhonny Peralta continues to flirt with .400 as he banged out three hits last night to raise his average to .394. On the down side, he also committed his 10th error of the season, this one while playing short.

Stubby Clapp was traded to Toronto for a player to be named later and cash. Unfortunately for Bisons fans, Stubby had spent the entire season on the disabled list and had yet to appear in a game. Clapp reported to the Blue Jays double-A affiliate and wouldn't you know that New Hampshire just happened to be playing the Aeros yesterday where Clapp doubled and scored two runs. For as widely reported as this very minor trade was, you have to wonder if his name was Joe Smith, would anyone have cared?

Left-hander Nick Brannon was released by Akron. He signed with the Indians as a minor league free-agent in the offseason and gave up five runs in four-plus innings in Kinston along with one appearance in Akron.

Brandon Pinckney is en feugo for the LC as he had three more hits yesterday to raise his average to a sizzling .440 (22-for-50) for the season. Last years 12th round pick out of Sacramento City College is also showing some power this season as he's slugging a robust .680 thanks to six doubles and two round-trippers. He's also walked six times with just two strikeouts. With both Micah Schilling (.239, 26 K in 81 AB) and Chris De La Cruz struggling (.239), I would expect to see Pinckney start receiving a little more playing time.

If they're going to do it, they may as well as have done it cool and put the spider on the nets behind home plate. Now that the field itself has been breached, how much longer will it be before we see Sammy Sosa heading up to home plate with a bat painted to look like a Pepsi two-liter?


May 04, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Stanford and Jimenez  
Oops. I forgot to provide any details on Jason Stanford's rehab outing yesterday for the Bisons. The left-hander did not allow a run in 3.1 innings (65 pitches) while surrendering two basehits and three walks while striking out four. I think it's safe to assume that Stanford was a little rusty after not pitching for almost three weeks. Jose Jimenez also made a rehab appearance, allowing three baserunners (two hits and a walk) in a scoreless inning of work. Both are eligible to be activated off the disabled list. It's unclear whether the Indians will have them make additional rehab appearances prior to re-joining the big league club.


Consider Jake Westbrook a permanent member of the rotation after he turned in yet another splendid performance last night in holding the Red Sox scoreless through six innings in the Indians 2-1 victory. Sure, the Sox are only hitting .257 as a team and are last in the AL in hitting with runners in scoring position but it's still a pretty potent lineup. Westbrook didn't do it all by himself, however, as he needed a little help from his friends in the infield as his flithy sinker induced thirteen groundball outs and one big double-play. Westbrook now leads the American League with a 1.32 ERA and has recorded 54 of his 82 outs this season via the groundball.

When exactly Westbrook will make his next start, however, remains to be seen as Eric Wedge has again slightly juggled the rotation. Jason Davis starts today as expected but Jeff D'Amico will take the mound on Wednesday night. CC Sabathia will follow on his regular turn on Thursday with Cliff Lee getting an extra two days rest and the start on Friday. From this point forward, the schedule has not yet been announced although Saturday would be Westbrook's normal turn in the rotation. The hiccup in the schedule is finding room for Jason Stanford who worked three-plus innings yesterday for the Bisons in a rehab start and would be pitching on his normal four days rest if given the nod on Saturday. That would push everyone else back a day and with a scheduled off-day next Thursday (13th) a lot of different scenarios could play out. If I'm a betting man, D'Amico is the still odd-man out and Stanford will make one more (and possibly two) rehab appearances in Buffalo.

Eric Wedge is, understandably, keeping his cards close to the vest but I found this comment in one of the local papers kind of amusing. Wedge was quoted as saying "What I don't want is for the starters (this week) to feel like they are starting to stay in the rotation." Let's see, you've got six guys for five spots. LOL, what else are they supposed to think?

Victor Martinez is going to be a star. Facing Curt Schilling in his first at-bat as the cleanup hitter, all he did was turn on a two-out, first pitch Schilling fastball and deposit it into the right-field seats for a two-run jack that turned out to be the difference in the ballgame. In his next at-bat, he muscled a high fastball into right center for a single and then followed that up with a double off a splitter that he went down and got to drive the ball down the line in right. Incredibly impressive performance given the new spot in the lineup and the pitcher he was facing. Over his last thirteen games, Martinez is now hitting an even .400 (16-for-40) with three doubles, three homeruns, and seven walks as opposed to just one strikeout.

Rick White sure had the yakker working last night. What I found most impressive was the variety of speeds at which he would throw his breaking stuff. I saw a range of 70-84 mph with many coming in around 78 mph. Mixed in with a 93-94 mph fastball (faster than I thought he had) and that type of separation is a pretty good recipe for success. Four of five outs recorded by the whiff back that up (at least for one night).

David Riske's velocity was up a little (topped out at 91 mph as far as I could tell) but not back to the 91-93 mph range that he typically works at when pitching well. He was also missing upstairs which is not a good spot to be missing. To be fair, Riske was pinched by blue on a 2-2 inside fastball that should have rung up Bill Mueller for the second out of the inning but you have to come back and throw a strike on the next pitch.

Riske is out of options so sending him to the minor leagues to get straightened out is, well, not really an option, unless he should be diagnosed with a minor injury (maybe about the time that Jose Jimenez or Jason Stanford is due to be activated from the disabled list). If that were to happen, Riske could then take a short break (or no break if he's put on the DL retroactively) and then make three or four appearances for Buffalo on a rehab assignment. Just a thought.

After two poor, injury-plauged, seasons, Matt Lawton is finally producing like the hitter the Indians envisioned when they acquired him from the Mets back in December 2001. Fifth in the American League in RBIs with 20, tied for the team lead in homeruns with 5, and hitting a healthy .314 with an OPS of .835, Lawton is off to a very good start. One contributing factor to this increased production is the tremendous improvement that Lawton has made against left-handers this season as he's handling them at a .333 clip versus the .183 he hit in 2003 and .178 in 2002. It's still early, thus making for a small sample size, but it's an encouraging trend.

One trend that is not so encouraging, however, is the dramatic drop in Lawton's BB/K ratio. For a hitter that had walked almost 100 more times (541) in his career entering this season than he had struck out (450), the fact that Lawton has just five walks versus 21 strikeouts this season is really startling. The fact that he's been able to increase his batting average while being less selective at the plate is also surprising. This would, however, help to explain the increase in slugging percentage (.480 versus career .422) as he's turned into more of a free-swinger to increase his power numbers. I worry, though, whether or not his average can be sustained over the course of the season with Lawton suddenly becoming a lot less selective at the plate (especially from the leadoff spot). Just something to keep an eye on.

One more thought about Lawton. When Jason Varitek is comfortably taking an extra base on you (as he did on a double to the gap last night), that's not a good sign.

Left-hander Tim Young was released from Buffalo. He had a 17.28 ERA in 8.1 innings for the Bisons. The Buffalo News speculates that this move could free up a spot for Bobby Howry but it could just as likely open a spot for whomever is sent down when Jose Jimenez and/or Jason Stanford is activated from the disabled list.

In one week since re-joining the Indians organization, Russ Branyan has belted four homeruns (including one last night), drove in nine runs, and struck out 13 times in 32 at-bats. He's hitting .313/.361/.719/1.080.

Former Indian Earl Snyder, now playing for Pawtucket, also went deep yesterday (although his was in game two of the Bisons double-header). Snyder's jack was his 8th of the season and he's now hitting .274 with 22 runs batted in for the PawSox. He's turned into a nice 4A slugger.

Ryan Goleski continues to mash in the LC as he banged out three more hits yesterday in the Captains 13-0 victory over Lexington. Goleski needed only a double for the cycle as he drove in four runs and belted his 7th longball of the season. Last years 24th round pick out of EMU is now hitting .371 which is good for 5th overall in the Sally League. He's also tied for first in homeruns (7), first in slugging percentage (.719), second in RBIs (25), second in extra-base hits (15), tied for second in hits (33), and fourth in on-base percentage (.440). It's early, but you have to start wondering how long John Farrell is going to wait before moving him up to Kinston to face a higher level of pitching.

My first softball game is this evening and I haven't picked up a bat, fielded a grounder, or made a throw to first since last September. No worries, though, because I know that I can fall out of bed and hit lazy fly balls to the outfield with the best of them.


May 03, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Fausto Carmona  
First of all, he's healthy. Just thought I would mention this since several people have asked me if anything was wrong with Carmona after he was listed in yesterday's game 1 boxscore as the starting pitcher but not pitching any innings. That game was actually the makeup for Friday's game that was called with Kinston up at the plate in the first inning and which Carmona was scheduled to start. It's likely that he went through all his warmups and the Indians simply decided not to bring him back the next day so JD Martin got the start in Sunday's makeup. Carmona is now scheduled to pitch tomorrow against Lynchburg.


All Hail CC!

The big fella returned to the mound on Saturday with yet another dominating performance as he held the Orioles to one run in seven innings of work. In his first outing since he "felt something" in his shoulder on April 22, Sabathia needed only 85 pitches to hold the O's to just four hits without walking a batter. In a refreshing change, I don't think anyone complained that he didn't come out for the start of the 8th inning.

Unfortunately for Sabathia, however, this was yet another tremendous start for which he received no credit in the win column thanks to Rick White serving up a game-tying homerun in the 8th inning. This marks the third time in four outings that CC has turned a lead over to the 'pen only to see gas cans used to douse the fire instead of water. CC now leads the American League in ERA at 1.61 and has allowed just one earned run in three of his four starts. Opposing hitters are hitting just .170 against him and he's fared much better against lefties this season (.185) as opposed to 2003 (.275). His next two starts come against the Red Sox who are hitting just .239 against southpaws so far this season.

Due to yesterday's rainout, Jake Westbrook will start tonight against the Red Sox. The Indians have not announced the starters for the rest of the series but I suspect that we'll see Jason Davis on Tuesday, Cliff Lee on Wednesday, and CC Sabathia on Thursday. Jason Stanford, who starts today for Buffalo on a 65-pitch limit (according to the Buffalo News) after his rehab outing was rained out yesterday, should be activated from the disabled list to start on Friday against Baltimore. If not, Jeff D'Amico would seem the likely candidate for the Friday start. Saturday would bring us back to Westbrook and his regular turn. Or, perhaps, D'Amico if Westbrook struggles tonight and is moved back to the bullpen. At any rate, D'Amico would appear to be the odd man out. Whether that means a switch to the bullpen, a demotion to triple-A so he can start every 5th day, or a trade or release, remains to be seen. I kind of like D'Amico, if only for his determination in battling back from numerous surgeries, but I think it's far more important for the Indians to find out what Westbrook and Stanford can do with 20-25 starts apiece.

Rafael Betancourt has supplanted David Riske as the Indians closer although the switch is only temporary according to Eric Wedge. Riske and Carl Willis have apparantly discovered via videotape two flaws, overstriding and an exaggerated turn of his left shoulder as he begins his throwing motion, in Riske's delivery that have caused his velocity to be down in the 87-88 mph range rather than the 91-93 mph range he was throwing in last season. I found it telling that Eric Wedge elected to go to Rick White, Jack Cressend, and Chad Durbin instead of Riske on Saturday in the late innings. He was rested (did not pitch on Friday) so I think it's safe to assume that they would prefer to bring him back in a non-pressure situation. Given the yeoman's work of the 'pen on Saturday, it would have been interesting to see if Riske would have been called upon yesterday if the game was tight in the late innings.

Riske and compnay might soon receive some reinforcements as Jose Jimenez is expected to work one inning in relief of Jason Stanford today in Buffalo. If all goes well, Jimenez could be activated from the disabled list in the next few days. Kaz Tadano, Jack Cressend, and Chad Durbin (if D'Amico is moving to long-relief) appear to be the likely candidates to be farmed.

Bobby Howry is also close to heading out on a rehab assignment, according to Eric Wedge. The right-hander could report to Buffalo sometime this week and be ready for Cleveland by mid-May.

The last time Ronnie Belliard's average dipped below .400 was back on April 16 against the Tigers which makes for an amazing 17-day run above the magical mark. He's currently sitting right at .400 and is 4-for-12 (.333) lifetime against tonight's starter Curt Schilling. Belliard would have to go 0-for-his-next-31 for his average to fall below the .300 mark. Amazing.

Brandon Phillips has sat out the last two games in Buffalo (and would have sat out Sunday too according to the Buffalo News) with a strained left hamstring. Phillips has raised his average to .369/.455/.508/.963 over the last couple of weeks and maintains an impressive nine walks to three strikeouts ratio He's considered day-to-day with the Bisons.

Picking up where he left off last season in double-A, Jeremy Guthrie threw seven innings of one-run ball against a Trenton lineup that featured a rehabbing Kenny Lofton. Guthrie scattered four hits and a walk while striking out six, including catching Lofton looking in the first. Kenny also popped out to short and grounded out to first. An encouraging first start for the right-hander.

Ryan Prahm racked up his sixth save in seven appearances for the K-Tribe yesterday by recording three of his four outs via the whiff. Prahm has now struck out 13 hitters in 7.2 innings.

Adam Miller turned in another gem for Lake County yesterday, tossing five scoreless innings for his third victory of the season. Last years first-rounder allowed just three hits and a walk while punching out four. In five starts for the Captains, Miller has a 1.44 ERA while holding opponents to a .161 BAA in 25 innings. He's struck out 31 and walked seven while surrendering only 14 basehits. Yesterday's performance came just two days after Miller received some much deserved love in Friday's Daily Dish. BA's Chris Kline also ranked Miller ahead of more heralded fellow 2003 first round picks Jeff Allison and Chad Billingsley in a BA Chat on Friday afternoon.

Steve Karsay suffered a setback while rehabbing his shoulder and is expected to miss the entire season. This comes after his shoulder forced him to sit out all of 2003. Karsay is in the third year of a 4-year, $21 million contract.


May 01, 2004  

CIR UPDATE: Betancourt new closer  
Rafael Betancourt has replaced David Riske as the Indians closer although Eric Wedge says that he expects Riske to return to the closer role. Riske will work in the middle and late innings. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Guthrie strong in Akron debut  
Picking up where he left off last season in double-A, Jeremy Guthrie threw seven innings of one-run ball against a Trenton lineup that featured a rehabbing Kenny Lofton. Guthrie scattered four hits and a walk while striking out six, including catching Lofton looking in the first. Kenny also popped out to short and grounded out to first. An encouraging first start for the right-hander.


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