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April 27, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Shuey Retires reports that Paul Shuey announced his retirement today. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Sabathia Press Conference at 5:35  
The Indians have scheduled a press conference for 5:35 PM ET this evening to announce the signing of CC Sabathia to a two-year contract extension that the AP is reporting is worth $17.75 million. The deal covers the years 2007 and 2008 and includes the Tribe picking up CC's $7 million 2006 option from his current contract. More specifically, the AP reports that CC will earn $8.75 million in 2007 and $9 million in 2008 which can max out to $11.75 in both years if he reaches incentives built into the contact. Additionally, his 2006 salary can increase to $9 million if he reaches similar incentives. More in the next CIR.

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Wednesday, April 27, 2005  
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Down on the farm...

JD Martin is the second hottest prospect in baseball, according to the Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet. Only White Sox lefty Gio Gonzalez, who's punched out 38 in 22 innings with a .151 BAA for Kannapolis of the Sally League, was deemed hotter than Martin. Kinston right-hander Nick Pesco is "in the team photo".

Making a bid to join Martin and Pesco on the Hot List is Kinston's Jeremy Sowers who tossed five perfect innings yesterday against Lynchburg before being forced from the game due to a rain delay. In retiring fifteen straight, Sowers struck out the first two hitters he faced, fanned the last two in the second, and then struck out the side swinging in the fifth. All told, the southpaw recorded eight punchouts (six swinging), six groundball outs, and only let one ball reach the grass. The lefty now has a 2.91 ERA and .225 BAA in four starts with 21 strikeouts and 1 walk in 21.2 innings. Given those last two numbers, I think we can see why Kinston manager Luis Rivera calls Sowers a "strike machine".

In that 10-0 victory over L-Burg, the K-Tribe hurlers carried the no-no into the 7th inning before Sean Smith allowed a single. Smith, making the conversion to the 'pen this season after three years as a starter, worked three scoreless frames and now has a 1.32 ERA in 13.2 innings with 15 strikeouts. He's also walked 10 which is less encouraging. Ryan Mulhern (.370/.407/.648) belted his third homerun and scored four times while Kevin Kouzmanoff (.368/.429/.632) had a pair of hits. Nathan Panther belted his 5th longball of the season, this one of the grand salami variety.

Speaking of salami, as if you weren't already talking about the scrumptious deli staple, Jonathan Van Every belted one last night in the Aeros 15-6 victory over Bowie.

The Bisons Ryan Garko (#2) also went deep yesterday and only needed a single for the cycle as he banged out three hits in their 10-9 loss to Syracuse. After getting off to a slow start at the plate, Garko is starting to show signs of life and has raised his average to .232 with five extra-base hits, although his plate discipline is noticeably off with five walks to 16 strikeouts.

Brandon Phillips was plunked in the ninth inning of that Bisons loss which resulted in both benches clearing but no punches thrown. Syracuse pitcher Justin Miller apparently took exception to Phillips asking for time while he was in the middle of his windup so he drilled him on the next pitch, according to the Buffalo News. Once the brouhaha subsided, John Rodriguez took Miller's next pitch deep to tie the game at nine. How cool is that? Alas, the joy was short-lived as Aaron Hill delivered the game-winning blow with a solo shot off Chad Zerbe in the bottom of the frame.

Adam Miller has begun a throwing program in Winter Haven which is expected to last four-to-six weeks as his distance is progressively increased. Miller appears to remain on schedule for a return to the mound in mid-June.

In big league injury news, Jody Gerut is playing a full nine innings in extended spring games in Winter Haven and could head out on a rehab assignment in the next week. Juan Gonzalez is swinging the bat but has yet to play in a game. No timetable exists for Gonzalez' return to action. Dude must love Winter Haven.

Billy Traber completed the Carolina League portion of his rehab work in less than stellar fashion as the left-hander was reached for eight runs on nine hits, including a two-run jack by Cleveland native Bobby Kingsbury, in a morning start today against Lynchburg. Traber will now head to Akron where he is scheduled to make four starts before moving onto Buffalo. No word on who may move out of the Akron rotation to make room for Traber.

Aeros lefty Mariano Gomez is headed to Kinston, which should clear room on the Akron roster for Traber, as John Farrell told the ABJ that Gomez is physically healthy but needs to be stretched out and regain his confidence. The move comes after Gomez was charged with four runs in 2/3 of an inning yesterday after allowing three hits and three walks and uncorking a wild pitch in front of a contingent of the Indians top brass. Gomez is recovering from a partially torn tendon in his left middle finger that limited him to just 20.1 innings last season and resulted in the Indians moving him off the 40-man roster this past off-season. Still just 22 years old, I think he just needs to pitch after roughly a year and a half of inactivity. Kinston is familiar surroundings so hopefully this move will help turn him around.

We talked yesterday about Jeremy Guthrie's struggles in Buffalo and now Justice B.Hill reports on that the right-hander has been removed from the Bisons rotation. Replacing him in the starting five will be Kaz Tadano, who worked 2-2/3 innings yesterday in relief of Kyle Denney, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk. In five appearances this season, Tadano has a 1.93 ERA with a .214 BAA and 17 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

By now, I'm sure you've heard that Jason Davis walked five consecutive batters on Sunday against the Mariners and that Dan Spillner was the last Indians pitcher to "accomplish" this feat way back on June 25, 1980. Andy Call notes in the Canton Repository that Spillner, who lives in the Seattle area, threw batting practice for the Mariners on Sunday. Strange coincidence, don't you think? In that historic outing against the Tigers twenty-five years ago, Spillner actually got off to a good start, striking out Rick Peters to start the game and then getting a young Alan Trammell to lineout to third. A single by Steve Kemp appeared to unnerve Spillner as the walks began with Richie Hebner, Champ Summers, Johnny Wockenfuss, Tom Brookens, and Jim Lentine all receiving free passes. Only a Lou Whitaker (Lou's hacking on 2-and-0?) fly out to left got Spillner out of the inning. Six runs and inning and two-thirds later Spillner was removed from the game and the Tigers were on their way to a 13-3 victory. Mike Hargrove, incidentally had three hits for the Tribe in the losing effort.

Albie Lopez and Andrew Lorraine signed minor league deals with the Giants. Brooks Kieschnick did the same with the Astros. Enrique Wilson was placed on the temporarily inactive list by the Orioles as was Earl Snyder by the Devil Rays. The Pirates placed Jon Nunnally (hey to Teds) on the restricted list. Nick Moran was released by Tampa Bay while Toronto placed Ryan Prahm on the voluntarily retired list per the BA minor league transactions. Note that Prahm was released by the Indians late in spring training.

CIR UPDATE: Tribe to Ink CC?  
Paul Hoynes reports in the Plain Dealer this morning that the Tribe is close to signing CC Sabathia to a contract extention and that a deal could be announced as soon as this afternoon. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Morning Baseball  
Lots of afternoon (or morning) baseball today. You can listen to the Bisons on SportsJuice.Com at 10:40 AM or the K-Tribe at 11:00 AM on WRNS 960. The Aeros also play this morning at 10:30 but per the Fox Sports 1350 website: "Sorry folks, we don't offer streaming audio of the Aeros games. The big moose out front should have told you." Of course, you could follow the game via the BA scoreboards.

In that Kinston game, Billy Traber will be making his final start for the K-Tribe before moving up to Akron and the next step of his rehab program.


April 26, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Tuesday, April 26, 2005  
It is alive.

Paul Shuey made his 2005 debut last night at Canal Park, pitching two innings against Bowie and allowing a run on two hits and a pair of walks while striking out two. Most importantly, there were no immediate reports of Shuey feeling pain after the outing as he continues to recover from hip surgery last summer. The ABJ notes that Shuey was clocked as high as 87 mph which is down from the 94-96 mph range he usually works in. As noted before, Shuey has a clause in his contract whereby he can become a free-agent by May 16 if he's not in the big leagues so a decision on his future should come sooner rather than later. You have to root for the long-time Indian but unless his velocity improves, the Shue-dog seems a longshot to return to the bigs.

To make room for Shuey on the Aeros roster, Derrick Van Dusen was released. The remaining link to Brian Giles (Giles for Rincon, Rincon for McDougal, McDougal for Van Dusen), Van Dusen spent the last two years (uneventfully) in Akron (with a brief stint in Kinston) and had a 1.69 ERA in four appearances for Akron this year. He turns 24 in June so he'll likely get another chance from someone. And thus closes the books on one of the worst deals in Indians history (sigh).

In better news, Fernando Cabrera returned to the mound on Sunday after not pitching for six days due to a blister on his right index finger, according to the Buffalo News. Cabrera fanned six in three scoreless innings in relief of Brian Tallet as the two combined for a 2-0 seven-inning shutout of Pawtucket. After a horrendous spring in which Cabrera walked more batters (9) than he recorded outs (8), the right-hander has been impressive in the early going against International League hitters, punching out 15 in 8.1 innings with just one free pass issued. By the end of the season, Cabrera could be a major part of the Indians bullpen.

The Captains returned to the diamond yesterday in a day dominated by the pitchers. In the opener, Justin Hoyman twirled seven innings of three-hit scoreless ball (one walk, seven strikeouts) but did not pickup a decision as West Virginia eeked out a 1-0 victory in 10 innings. The good guys rebounded in the nightcap, however, as four Captains hurlers carried a no-hitter into the final two outs before Kieran Mattison finally yielded a knock in the 3-0 seven-inning shutout win. Curiously enough, Tony Sipp's start only lasted two innings (no hits, one walk, four K's) before being relieved by Adrian Schau. I haven't seen any reports noting the left-hander left early due to injury. Let's hope that's not the case.

Hoyman, incidentally, is holding Sally League hitters to a .167 BAA with 18 strikeouts in 24.1 innings while Sipp remains unscored upon in 11 innings with a .121 BAA with 10 strikeouts. As well as these two are pitching, it's going to be interesting to see how the Tribe moves its pitchers through the ranks this summer given the already crowded rotations in Kinston and Akron. You hate to say it, but injuries usually take care of these types of issues.

Other than the Aeros and Captains in action, yesterday was a slow day as the Tribe was off and Mother Nature took care of both Buffalo and Kinston.

Mike Matthews was designated for assignment by the Mets. He had a 10.80 ERA in six games this season. Replacing Matthews on the roster is fellow southpaw Royce Ring who, once upon a time, was a Tribe draftee who spurned the Indians offer to attend San Diego State.


April 25, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: The Dish  
The Kinston trio of Jeremy Sowers, Nick Pesco, and Rafael Perez all get some love from the Monday edition of BA'sDaily Dish.


April 24, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Monday, April 25, 2005  
On Wednesday, we're at the park in shorts with the kids. Yesterday, I'm watching the Tribe while simultaneously watching a blizzard outside our windows. This morning, the power's out and we've got at least a foot of snow in the yard. Tomorrow morning, we'll probably have the sixth Great Lake formed in our backyard. Say it with me....Only in Cleveland.

Back to baseball...

Thank goodness the Indians were on the road this weekend. Can't say the same for the Aeros and Captains who lost three and two games respectively due to the weather. That's going to upset their rotations a little.

If there's another pitcher in the minor leaguers off to a better start than the Aeros JD Martin, he must be throwing a no-hitter every time out. Despite once again not picking up a decision, Martin was sensational last Thursday as he tossed six innings of one-run ball while striking out 11 in the Aeros 3-2 victory over Altoona. After surrendering a lead-off single, JD struck out the next six batters en route to retiring 10 in a row. The Curve finally reached him for a run in the 6th which finally snapped his streak of 19 scoreless innings to start the season. In three starts, Martin is holding Eastern League hitters to an unfathomable .105 BAA while striking out 28 in 20 innings with just seven hits and four walks allowed. Stephanie Storm noted in the ABJ that Martin has increased his velocity from 84-86 mph to 88-90 mph and is using the fastball to setup his curve, which he changes speed with to form a nasty combination. After a scintillating debut in Burlington in '02 (1.38 ERA, 72K, 45.2IP), Martin struggled the past two seasons with inconsistency and injury. I know it's early, but it appears the Indians insistence on Martin developing his fastball is starting to pay major dividends.

Speaking of hot starts, Kinston right-hander Nick Pesco is right behind JD with a 3-0 start for the K-Tribe with a .148 BAA and 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. Pesco has walked just three hitters while fanning 13 and allowing just nine base knocks. He also received some love from BA's Daily Dish which noted that Pesco throws 90-94 with a heavy fastball and has the best change in the Indians system. That's saying something, considering the aforementioned Martin's ability to change speeds on his breaking pitches.

In the other direction, Jeremy Guthrie continues to struggle at Buffalo. On Saturday, Guthrie was tagged for eight runs, including two homeruns by Boston catching prospect Kelly Shoppach in the second inning, while recording just five outs. For the season, the right-hander now has a 10.66 ERA in three starts and has allowed 13 hits and 10 walks in 12.2 innings. Ooof, as Kevin Goldstein would say.

Eider Torres was suspended for 15 days and becomes the first member of the Indians organization suspended for a "performance enhancing substance". Torres, hitting .273/.294/.348 with a homer and four steals for Akron, reportedly purchased a "vitamin supplement" in Venezuela during the off-season and then tested positive during a March 24 test in spring training. He denies any knowledge that the "supplement" was a banned substance and has apologized for his mistake. The second-sacker will now be subject to random testing and could face a suspension of 30 days for a second offense, 60 days for a third offense, a one year suspension for a fourth offense, and a permanent ban from organized baseball for a fifth offense. Five strikes and you're out, if you will. Unless you hire Steve Howe's lawyer. He'll get you another chance (or five or six).

Bisons outfielder Darnell McDonald has also reportedly been suspended for a performance enhancing substance but has appealed the suspension. McDonald will remain on the roster during the appeal process which is expected to take up to two
weeks to complete. DMAc is hitting .267/.333/.400 for the Bisons. He was in the lineup yesterday, singling in three trips to the plate.

With Eider Torres out, Anthony Lunetta was promoted from Lake County to Akron. Lunetta was hitting .158 for the Captains.

Denny Stark was released from Buffalo to make room for Matt Miller on the Bisons roster. In three appearances for the Bisons, the veteran minor leaguer had a 9.45 ERA and had allowed 12 hits in 6.2 innings. Yesterday, Stark signed a minor league deal with Colorado for whom he pitched from 2002-2004.

Speaking of Miller, he's listed as day-to-day in Buffalo with a sore hamstring. Miller faced just two batters in his first outing for the Bisons before leaving the game.

Captains left-hander Dan Cevette is out four-to-six weeks with a broken left thumb suffered when he tried to make a play on a one-hopper back through the box. Cevette was off to a fine start for Lake County, posting a 1.98 ERA in 13.2 innings with 11 striekouts, four walks, and 13 hits allowed. With Cevette out, Aaron Laffey and Tony Sipp will assume regular turns in the rotation thus ending their shared starting role. Laffey twirled six innings of one-run ball on Friday, holding the West Virginia Power to just three hits while punching out four and walking three. In three appearances, opposing hitters are hitting a measly .163 off the former 16th round pick (2003).

Kieran Mattison was promoted to replace Cevette on the Captains roster. He debuted on Friday by fanning two in a scoreless inning of work out of the pen. For those who have forgotten, Mattison was acquired from Royals in August 2003 in the Brian Anderson deal.

The LMJ also noted that Matt Whitney has been activated from extended spring training and has rejoined the Captains. Just in time for Christmas, errr, I mean the April blizzard.

Travis Foley was also activated out of extended spring training and will move into the Aeros bullpen. Foley has been recovering in extendeing spring training from off-season elbow surgery.

Travis Thompson was placed on the DL with right shoulder fatigue to make room for Foley on the Aeros roster. Thompson had not allowed a run in 5.2 innings of relief for Akron. The 27-year old was signed as a minor league free-agent this past off-season after spending the previous six years with the Reds organization. Primarily a starter throughout his career, Thompson was moved to the bullpen last season and posted a 1.83 ERA in 18 games for double-A Chattanooga while striking out 34 in 34.1 innings.

Franklin Gutierrez missed four games last week while sitting out with a twisted knee. He returned to the Aeros lineup on Thursday and singled in four trips to the dish.

Peter Gammons noted on that Kevin Millwood is touching 95 mph for the first time in years.

For the 8th time in his career, Jaret Wright is headed to the disabled list. This time due to scar tissue in his right shoulder which will keep him sidelined for the next four-to-six weeks. Wright was pounded on Saturday by the Orioles, giving up 11 hits and three homeruns, before leaving the game in pain. For the season, the right-hander has a 9.15 ERA and has allowed 36 hits in 19.2 innings. The Boss is paying him $21 million over the next three season although the Yanks can buy out his 2007 salary for $4 million if Wright spends a total of 75 days on the DL within the first two years of the deal. I can see The Boss now, "all my scouting people were saying Jaret Wright, Jaret Wright, Jaret Wright".

The Yomiuri Giants released Dan Miceli after the former Indian posted a 23.63 ERA with two blown saves to start the season. For his 4-game Japanese career, Miceli will reportedly receive $1.8 million (US). Not bad work if you can get it.

Tom Martin signed a minor league deal with the Astros. Jason Boyd signed the a minor league deal with the Rangers.

I'm glad my Browns mock draft was incorrect and that Braylon Edwards was sitting there for Phil Savage at #3. I would still love to know what direction they would have gone if Smith and Edwards had been off the board, but that's something of which we'll likely never hear the full story. Overall, I thought they did fairly well. It looks like they went for "football" players instead of combine and workout stars. I like that they won their gamble on Charlie Frye still being on board in the third after they popped the safety Pool in the second. Not a particularly sexy draft but it looks like it should be productive and that's what the Browns need right now.

To sum up...

"That's a great pick"
-- Torry Holt

Great outing from Cliff Lee last night. Lots to talk about. Back to baseball and the Tribe on Monday. Provided, of course, that we're not snowed in with the April blizzed of '05. Ridiculous.


April 23, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Saturday, April 23, 2005  
As is tradition in the CIR, for one day a year the focus switches from the Tribe to football. That day is NFL Draft Day and with that comes my annual mock draft where my horrible prognosticating skills are put to the test. So without further adieu, here's my first round forecast along with my projected Browns picks for the entire seven rounds.

1 San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
2 Washington Redskins (trade): Braylon Edwards, WR, Michigan
3 Cleveland Browns: Shawn Merriman, DE, Maryland
4 Chicago Bears: Cedric Benson, RB, Texas
5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn
6 Tennessee Titans: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami
7 Minnesota Vikings: Troy Williamson, WR, South Carolina
8 Arizona Cardinals: Carlos Rogers, CB, Auburn
9 Miami Dolphins (trade): Cadillac Williams, RB, Auburn
10 Detroit Lions: Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas
11 Dallas Cowboys: Demarcus Ware, DE, Troy State
12 San Diego Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, USC
13 Houston Texans: Marcus Spears, DE, LSU
14 Carolina Panthers: Jammal Brown, OT, Oklahoma
15 Kansas City Chiefs: Thomas Davis, S, Georgia
16 New Orleans Saints: Pac Man Jones, CB, West Virginia
17 Cincinnati Bengals: Erasmus James, DE, Wisconsin
18 Minnesota Vikings: David Pollack, DE, Georgia
19 St. Louis Rams: Khalif Barnes, OT, Washington
20 Dallas Cowboys: Brodney Pool, S, Oklahoma
21 Jacksonville Jaguars: Fabian Washington, CB, Nebraska
22 Baltimore Ravens: Mark Clayton, WR, Oklahoma
23 Seattle Seahawks: Alex Barron, OT, Florida State
24 Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, QB, California
25 Miami Dolphins: Roddy White, WR, UAB
26 Oakland Raiders: Marlin Jackson, CB, Michigan
27 Atlanta Falcons: Shaun Cody, DT, USC
28 San Diego Chargers: Matt Roth, DE, Iowa
29 Indianapolis Colts: Travis Johnson, DT, Florida State
30 Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller, TE, Virginia
31 Philadelphia Eagles: Matt Jones, TE, Arkansas
32 New England Patriots: Corey Webster, CB, LSU

34 Cleveland Browns: Jason Campbell, QB, Auburn
67 Cleveland Browns: Eric Green, CB, Virginia Tech
103 Cleveland Browns: Chris Canty, DE, Virginia
139 Cleveland Browns: Chase Lyman, WR, California
176 Cleveland Browns: Roger Cooper, LB, Montana State
217 Cleveland Browns: Adam Seward, LB, UNLV

Quick thoughts: The Browns are in a tough position in the first round. I think Nick Saban is coming to pull one over on his former colleague Phil Savage. If the Niners take Alex Smith first, I see Saban convincing the Redskins to swap their two firsts and change for the number two pick so they can grab Braylon Edwards. A deal the Browns would likely love to make. If that happens and Smith and Edwards go one and two, who does that leave for the Browns at number three? Or, rather, who does that leave the Browns to trade with at number three? Put another way, who's on the board that a team would trade up to get? That's what going to make the Browns 15 minutes so interesting today. In my mock, I went with the Browns keeping the pick and selecting the best player available for the new 3-4 defense and that's Shawn Merriman from Maryland. Doesn't sound like a Phil Savage pick, though. After that, I see the Browns taking Jason Campbell over Charlie Frye in the second and then loading up on productive "football" players the rest of the way.

God Bless CC.

Back to the Tribe in the next report.


April 18, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Martin named EL Pitcher of the Week  
The Aeros JD Martin was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week in recognition of his sensational start to the season. As noted in today's report, JD has not allowed a run in 14 innings while permitting just four hits and three walks while punching out 17.

CIR UPDATE: Daily Dish  
Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jeremy Sowers get some love in the Daily Dish. The Dish notes that Kouzmanoff "was shut down at the end of spring training with back soreness which was unrelated to the back problems he encountered in the Arizona Fall League when he fell down the dugout steps while going after a foul ball".

Cleveland Indians Report: Monday, April 18, 2005  
Nice to have the big fella back. More on CC tomorrow.

On the injury front, Mark Shapiro says this about Juan Gonzalez slow-to-heal hamstring: "It's a tissue-related problem in the hamstring that's not getting any better. I'm not there and I'm not a physician. I just know what I'm being told." Think he's a little frustrated with the whole situation? Yeah, me too. Gonzalez has yet to play in a game in extended spring training and it's unknown when he will be cleared to take the field again. It's not costing the Indians much as they wait out Gonzo's hammy but, at this point, I think I'd be surprised if we see him in an Indians uniform this season. Especially given the next paragraph....

In better news, Jody Gerut is now playing six innings in extended spring games. We may see him sent out on a rehab assignment towards the end of the month. Fitting Gerut on the big-league roster once he's ready is going to be tough enough without having to also try and find a for Gonzalez at some point as well.

Brandon Phillips has put together a modest four-game hitting streak in Buffalo which has raised his average from .111 to .205. He had three hits on Saturday, including his first homerun.

While it wasn't quite as good as his sensational eight-inning, one-hit outing to start the season, Aeros right-hander JD Martin continues to throw zeros as he tossed six innings of shutout ball on Saturday against Bowie. Coincidentally, the same team that he blanked earlier in week. Martin punched out seven while walking three and surrendering three knocks. He's now unscored upon in 14 innings and has struck out 17.

Billy Traber tossed six shutout innings for Kinston on Saturday, limiting the Frederick Keys to just three hits and a pair of walks while punching out five. The K-Tribe went on to win 3-1. In 12 innings for Kinston, Traber has allowed seven hits and three walks with nine strikeouts and 0.75 ERA. He's scheduled to make two more starts in the Carolina League before moving up to Akron.

Another Kinston lefty off to a strong start (along with Jeremy Sowers) is Rafael Perez, who ran his scoreless streak to 11 innings with six frames of shutout ball yesterday. Perez allowed just one hit and a walk while striking out four as the K-Tribe rolled to a 5-1 victory.

And the good pitching just keeps coming as the Lake County duo of Tony Sipp and Aaron Laffey combined for a 5-0 shutout of Lakewood of Saturday. Sipp worked the first five, striking out five while walking none and Laffey followed with four innings of one-run relief. The twosome has not allowed an earned run in 18 innings this season. Next outing, Laffey should start with Sipp working the final four frames.

Fernando Pacheco homered for the third consecutive game in the Captains 7-4 victory over Lakewood. The 20-year old is now stroking at a .375/.457/.750/1.207 clip with four longballs and 11 runs batted in.

The LMJ reports that Captains right-hander Matt Knox has been shutdown for the next six weeks due to a grade two sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. This is the same injury that has sidelined Adam Miller this spring. Knox had not allowed a run in two appearances for the Captains.

Speaking of Adam Miller, his six weeks of non-throwing should be at an end. Hopefully, we'll see an update this week.

Infielder Jose Ortega was activated by the Captains on Friday. I haven't seen the official word yet, but Chad Longworth made his season debut with the Captains yesterday, going 1-4 with a single. For Longworth, this was his first appearance in a full-season game after having spent the previous two years in short-season leagues.


April 17, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Miller Optioned to Buffalo  
The Indians optioned Matt Miller to Buffalo to make room for CC Sabathia, who was activated off the disabled list. Jason Davis moves to the bullpen as CC makes his first start of the season this afternoon against the Twins. More in the next CIR.


April 16, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Saturday, April 16, 2005  
Strange things were afoot in Bowie, Maryland last night as the Aeros took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning only to find three relievers give up nine runs en route to a 9-1 loss to the Bay Sox. The disastrous eighth wasted another fine outing by Dan Denham who tossed 6.2 innings of two-hit scoreless ball while striking out four and walking three. In two starts, Denham is holding Eastern League hitters to a .077 BAA and has allowed just three hits in 12.1 innings.

The bats keep booming in Kinston as the good guys rolled over Frederick 11-2 last night. Kevin Kouzmanoff went 5-for-6 with a triple and three runs batted in to raise his averages to a .480/.519/1.000/1.519 (12-for-25) on the season. That incredible 1.000 slugging percentage is based on three doubles, two trips, and two big flys. Brad Snyder enjoyed a perfect evening at the plate as he reached base six times thanks to four singles, a walk, and a hit by pitch. Snyder is raking at a .393/.452/.607/1.059 clip (11-for-28) with two longballs.

It's two starts but how impressive has Jeremy Sowers been in his brief professional career? The left-hander moved to 2-0 last night with six innings of one-run ball, limiting the Frederick Keys to five hits while walking none and striking out six. He also hit a batter and let loose a wild pitch. Sowers now has a 2.25 ERA and has not walked a batter in 12 innings while striking out nine. Again, it's two starts but be encouraged.

Another left-hander off to a strong start for the K-Tribe is Juan Lara. Working out of the bullpen, Lara has struck out eight in 4.2 scoreless innings while allowing just two hits.

Down in the LC, Chris Niesel struck out eight in six innings as the Captains knocked off Lakewood 6-4. In two starts covering 12 innings, the former Golden Domer has fanned 16 and is holding opposing hitters to a .182 BAA.

Fernando Pacheco went deep, his second of the season, in the Captains victory and is hitting .344/.447/.625/1.072 with four extra-base hits. For the 20-year old Pacheco, the fast start is an encouraging sign that the 2002 fourth round pick has started to turn the corner. He entered the season with a career .220 average in 514 at-bats in short-season leagues. Most impressive, Pacheco has six walks to five strikeouts with hints at continued improvement in his approach at the plate.

Tim Laker cleared waivers and was outrighted to triple-A by the Devil Rays.

Tom Martin (19.31 ERA) was released by the Braves.

Ben Sheets signed a four-year, $38.5 million contract with the Brewers that will keep the right-hander in Milwaukee through the 2008 season. The deal includes a full no-trade clause through the first three seasons (2005-2007). Sheets was just 12-14 last season but posted a 2.70 ERA while striking out 264 in 237 innings with 201 hits and just 32 walks allowed. That's a 0.983 WHIP, my friends. Sheets was anticipated to be one of the hot commodities on the trade market this summer but those long-shot (for the Indians) hopes are now dashed.

In other contract news, the Cardinals signed Chris Carpenter to a two-year extension through 2007 that also includes a vesting option for 2008. Terms were not disclosed but the deal is believed to be in the $7 million/year range.

Note the above as the Indians continue to negotiate with CC Sabathia on a multi-year deal. More on that in a future report.


April 15, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Friday, April 15, 2005  

Just a quick minor league update today...

Franklin Gutierrez (.281) homered (#2), singled twice, walked, and stole three bases (second base all three times) in the Aeros 5-2 victory over Bowie.

Nick Pesco (2-0, 1.64) worked five strong innings in the K-Tribe's 9-1 victory over Wilmington, allowing one run on three hits and a pair of walks while punching out two.

Brad Snyder (#2), Kevin Kouzmanoff (#2), Dave Wallace (#2), and Ryan Mulhern (#1, Grand Slam) went deep as the K-Tribe hitters did some yard work against the Blue Rocks staff. Mulhern, although having hit just 12 homers in 601 career at-bats entering this season, is considered to have among the best raw power in the system. His 53 career doubles perhaps hints at that developing power. He could be a guy to watch this season.

Argenis Reyes continues to hit in the LC, banging out two more knocks last night to "lower" his average to .424 (14-for-33) for the season. The hot start comes on the heels of Reyes' breakout 2004 campaign in which the 22-year old led the NY-Penn League in hits (101) and runs scored (53).

According to Baseball America, the Indians released the following minor leaguers: Carlos De La Cruz (battled shoulder injuries), Neomar Flores (minor league Rule 5 pick last December), Daniel Guzman (brother of Cubs prospect Angel Guzman), Mark Harris (31st, 2003), Edwin Minaya (spent last two years in Japanese minors), Gerard Oakes, Ryan Prahm (2004 Carolina League All-Star, 43K, 36IP), Hector Santana (couldn't convert from catcher to the mound), Elliott Shaw, Justin Lamber, Roger Lincoln (34th, 2003), Dave Martinez (Victor Martinez's younger brother), Teodoro Encarnacion (three years in the States), Josh Loggins (former Washington Wild Thing, hey to JE).

Additionally, BA notes that Pierre Luc Marceau (acquired from the Expos for Jeriome Robertson last August) was placed on the restricted list and Brett Parker (29th, 2003) was placed on the voluntarily retired list. Brian Wright (7th, 2002) was placed on the retired list earlier in March. Wright showed some promise in his debut in the Valley in '02, hitting .285 with 5 homeruns and 38 walks to 35 strikeouts, but sat out the last year and a half with a back injury.

The Tribe also sent catcher Fernando Lunar and pitcher Brent Hoard (signed as minor league free agents) to the Mets for future considerations.

Speaking of Robertson, the left-hander has a 2.70 ERA with 12 hits allowed in 6.2 innings for the Reds triple-A affiliate in Louisville. Meanwhile, over in Houston, Willy Taveras is hitting .370/.438/.470 (10-for-27) with three stolen bases while Luke Scott is hitting .316/.350/.421 (6-for-19) with a double. This is a worthless discussion, but if those two were still with the Tribe, it would be interesting to see what level they would be playing at this season. It wouldn't be the big leagues, that's for sure. Taveras would probably have been a Rule 5 pick under the assumption the Indians would not have added him to their 40-man roster over the off-season. Alas, even though they were expendable given the Indians depth in the outfield, you hate to see so little received in return.

In former Indians news, Jose Jimenez and Kelly Stinnett were released by the Diamondbacks. Stinnett was also released by the Mets according to the BA minor league transactions. Scott Sturkie was released by the Braves, Andrew Lorriane by the Orioles, Mayobanex Santana by the Athletics, Ben Margalski by the Rangers, and Matt White by the Nationals. In an amusing transaction (at least to me), Benji Gil had his contract purchased from the Martiners by the Mets. Aren't there a hundred Benji Gil's out there looking for work at the end of spring? Perhaps there is just no substitute for the original.


April 14, 2005  

Cleveland Indians Report: Thursday, April 14, 2005  

Lots of good pitching down on the farm last night...

Brian Tallet continues his impressive return from Tommy John surgery as the left-hander tossed five innings of one-run ball in the Bisons 2-1 victory over Syracuse yesterday. Tallet limited the Sky Chiefs to just three hits (one of the longball variety) while punching out five. In two outings this season, Tallet has a 2.70 ERA, 1.100 WHIP, and nine strikeouts in ten innings. Encouraging signs. Does the (early) emergence of Tallet as a potential big league replacement starter influence the Indians decision on whether to keep Jason Davis in the 'pen in Cleveland or send him to Buffalo to pitch every fifth day as a starter? We'll see.

Fausto Carmona and Dan Cevette matched Tallet with strong outings on the bump yesterday. Carmona (1-0, 2.77) scattered six hits and a walk in seven innings of one-run ball for the Aeros while Cevette (1-0, 1.64) permitted just one run in five innings of work. Five innings of anything but the ordinary work, I should say, as Cevette hit two batters, uncorked a wild pitch, and picked two runners off base.

In that Captains game, a 2-1 victory by the way, Michael Hernandez and Matt Knox combined for three innings of hitless relief. Hernandez, recovering from shoulder and knee surgery, has now struck out nine in six scoreless innings of relief. Knox continues to impress in his conversion from the infield to the mound. Both could move quickly this season.

Brandon Phillips took the collar last night, going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts to lower his average to .111 (3-for-27). Not exactly the type of start we were hoping to see from Phillips. Keep in mind that this is his last option year so, one way or the other, the Indians will have to make a decision regarding Phillips' fate next spring. If he's still around then, I should say. Given his option status, depending on how well Jhonny Peralta plays at the big league level and, of course, how well Phillips plays in Buffalo, Phillips would appear to potential trade bait this summer. Or rather, it will likely be easier for the Indians to get more in return for him this summer than it would be for them next spring if his roster status is uncertain. Summing up, this is a big year for Phillips.

Ben Francisco's thumb injury is expected to keep him out of the lineup for the next 6-8 weeks. Francisco injured the thumb while making a catch in the outfield on Saturday.

Shoulder soreness is what landed Danny Garcia on the DL in Buffalo.

At the big league level, Casey Blake was out of the lineup last night with a strained hammy. It was pretty cold down there.

Jim Callis compares/contrasts Jeremy Sowers and Tom Glavine in the latest edition of Ask BA.

In case you missed it, Omar Vizquel's 62-game errorless streak came to an end the other night when Omar booted a grounder off the bat of the Dodgers Jason Repko.


April 13, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Four More Years, Four More Years  
The Indians announced today that they have signed Travis Hafner to a three-year contract that includes a club option for a fourth season. The deal binds Hafner to the Indians through 2007 with the option covering 2008. The AP reports that Hafner will receive $500k this year (a bump from the $377.5k he was scheduled to earn), $2.5 million in 2006, $3.75 million in 2007, and $4.75 million in 2008 if the Indians pick up the option. If they don't, Pronk would receive a $250k buyout. For the Indians, the deal is all about cost certainity as it locks up Hafner through his arbitration years and right up to the brink of free-agency (maybe one year early). Regardless, I like it. More in the next CIR.

Cleveland Indians Report: Wednesday, April 13  

Bring on the Twins! That's what CC Sabathia is saying this morning after the left-hander worked five scoreless innings last night for the Aeros in what will likely be his final rehab appearance before being activated this weekend for an expected start on Sunday against the Tribe's central division rivals. Sabathia threw 52 of 77 pitches for strikes and was clocked in the 94-96 mph range on the gun according to newspaper reports. The BaySox managed just a pair of hits and a Most importantly, the big fella felt fine after the game and all signs point to him re-joining the rotation this weekend.

Now, the speculation shifts to who does he replace on the big league roster? Does Jason Davis continue starting in Buffalo? Or does Davis return to the 'pen (as per the original plans) and either Matt Miller (0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP) or Rafael Betancourt (0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP) get farmed out? That seems unlikely given how well those two, and the entire bullpen, have pitched, doesn't it? I mean, why mess with a good thang? On the bright side, you want it to be a tough decision and these things sometimes work themselves out. With four games to play before Sabathia needs to be activated, a lot of innings remain to be pitched that will impact this decision.

Danny Garcia was placed on the Bisons DL and Jake Thrower was activated. Thrower debuted with a bang yesterday, rapping three doubles in the Bisons 5-3 victory over Syracuse. Signed as a minor league free-agent this off-season, the 29-year old Thrower spent 2004 in the Angels system, hitting .298/.356/.417/.773 with 29 doubles for triple-A Salt Lake City. Originally a product of the Padres organization, Thrower has also spent time with the Expos although he has yet to make his major league debut.

Andrew Brown worked the final two innings for the Bisons yesterday to notch his first save of the season. The right-hander punched out two in the final frame and sounded very impressive over the radio.

Ben Francisco was placed on the Aeros DL with a left thumb ligament sprain. No word on how long he may be out. Francisco was hitting .308 (4-for-13) for the Aeros. JJ Sherrill was called up from Kinston to replace Francisco on the Aeros roster. JJ was hitting .143 in seven at-bats for the K-Tribe. Replacing Sherrill in Kinston is Ricardo Rojas from Lake County. No word on who will replace Rojas in the LC, although Matt Whitney should be close to being activated out of extended spring training.

Bear Bay, acquired from the Cubs for Cliff Bartosh, made his Indians debut last night in Kinston. In an unmemorable outing, the right-hander was reached for four runs in the second inning that included a two-run blast on his way to allowing four runs and nine hits in four turns on the bump. On the plus side, Bay did not walk a batter while punching out three. Around the plate, but he got hit.

Justin Hoyman continues to impress, tossing seven scoreless innings in the Captains 2-1 loss to Delmarva yesterday. The former Gator scattered three hits and a pair of walks while striking out two and has not allowed an earned run in two appearances this season covering 12 innings.

Fellow 2004 draftee Wyatt Toregas (.353) is also off to a hot start for the Captains. Toregas was the only Captain to solve Shorebirds starter James Tiller and a pair of relievers as he went 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk. One of the hits was a solo shot (#2) which provided for the Captains lone run. Toregas is now slugging .824 (two doubles, two longballs) with 14 total bases this season.

Alex Escobar underwent surgery to remove screws from his right foot and is expected to be out until after the All-Star Break. He had been on the Nationals DL with a strained quad.

Manny Ramirez says he will retire in three years at the age of 36. Since leaving the Indians in 2001, Manny has hit .321/.612/.418/1.030 with 154 HRs and 466 RBIs for the Red Sox, compared to .313/.592/.407/.998 with the Tribe (although that does include his early development years). Still, Manny has not come close to the level of his final two seasons with the Indians when he posted an OPS of 1.105 and 1.154. Career HR number 400 should come early this spring. I don't know about you but it's strange hearing Manny Ramirez retirement talk, albeit three years out.


April 12, 2005  

You can listen to the Bisons game this afternoon against Syracuse over on Former Indian Eric Crozier is being interviewed now in the pregame show.

Some great pitching last night down on the farm. JD Martin debuted in double-A with a bang, allowing just one hit over eight innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks. The right-hander retired the last 16 batters he faced. Seven unearned runs crossing the plate for Bowie in the 9th cost Martin the "W". The result was better in the Captains home opener as Aaron Laffey and Tony Sipp combined for the 2-1 victory. Laffey worked the first five frames, scattering four hits and a pair of walks while Sipp finished with four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just a hit and a walk in the process. Those two will pair as tandem starters to start the season with Sipp starting in their next appearance.


April 05, 2005  

Having the flu is no fun. That's all I'm going to say.


April 01, 2005  

Mark Shapiro sits down with BA's Chris Kline in today's spring training dish


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