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May 31, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Draft Update  
The Indians announced the signings of two of their 2004 draft picks over the weekend, inking 21st rounder Carlton Smith and 49th rounder Jose Chavez to deals. Both were DFEs (draft and follows) who spent this spring playing junior college ball. Smith is the more highly regarded of the two and was ranked by Baseball America as the #151 prospect headed into the 2005 draft next Tuesday. Working with a 92 mph fastball that can reportedly touch 95 mph, Smith went 8-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 87 innings (82H, 19W, 80K) for Okaloosa-Walton (FL) Community College this spring. The younger brother of former Indian first round pick Corey Smith (hitting .288/.359/.429 with 4 HRs, 52K, and 14 E for double-A Mobile), Carlton is a 6'2", 200 pound right-hander who will likely begin his pro career with Burlington. Terms were not disclosed but I would suspect that Smith received a $150-200k bonus which would be in line with his projected fifth round selection this June.

Chavez, a 5'9", 170 pound switch-hitting shortstop, was a first-team Orange Empire Conference selection this year after hitting . 374/.424/.484 with 6 doubles, 3 longballs, and 17 stolen bases for Santa Ana College. Like with Smith, terms were not disclosed, but I would suspect that his bonus money was significantly less than what Smith received. Like Smith, however, he'll begin his pro career with Burlington.

With the above, the Tribe signed 29 of their 50 players drafted in 2004. There were reports that they were also interested in signing a DFE deal with left hander Doodle Hicks (28th round) of Walters Stats but the two sides apparently could not agree to terms. Walters State and Hicks played in the NJCAA World Series over the weekend which significantly lessened the negotiating window. Teams are only allowed to (officially) talk terms with their DFEs between the end of the players season and one week before the start of the draft (i.e., midnight this morning).

CIR UPDATE: Gonzalez actived, Ludwick designated  
As expected, the Indians have activated Juan Gonzalez from the disabled list and designated Ryan Ludwick for assignment. In a five-game rehab stint with Buffalo, Gonzalez hit .285 (6-for-21) and played four games in right field, showing no ill effects of the strained right hamstring that sidelined him late in spring training. Juan Gone did not play in yesterday's Bisons game so he should be well rested and I would expect to see him in the lineup tonight. Casey Blake, fresh off an 0-for-12 series against the A's, seems to be the likely choice to lose at-bats with Gonzalez in the fold although I would suspect that he'll be worked into the lineup semi-regularly to spell Gonzalez' hamstring and Jody Gerut against tough lefties (or when Gerut cools off). I just hope that the presence of Gonzalez both in the lineup and the clubhouse does not disrupt any of the chemistry and momentum the Indians have built over this recent 7-3 stretch. We'll see.

As for Ludwick, the Indians now have 10 days to trade, release, or outright him to the minors. I don't believe that Ludwick has been designated before so I'll assume that he would not have the right to refuse assignment if he clears waivers which, unfortunately, is highly unlikely. Perhaps a reunion with Buddy Bell in Kansas City may be in the offing. If the Indians do manage to work out a deal with someone, expect no more than a low-level organizational type prospect in return. In limited duty this season, Ludwick, whose last start was on May 22, hit .220/.333/.512 with four homeruns in 41 at-bats. I'm surprised the Indians did not give him more of a look this year given the struggles of Blake and you have to wonder if the big contract given to Casey this off-season had something to do with that decision. More on Ludwick when his final destination becomes known sometime in the next week.

CIR UPDATE: Bell tolls in KC  
ESPN is reporting that the Kansas City Royals have hired Indians' bench coach Buddy Bell as their new manager and that Bell is expected to be in uniform tonight when the Royals face the Yankees. Bell replaces former Indian Tony Pena who resigned three weeks ago. July 18 at Jacobs Field will mark the first time that Bell's Royals will face off against the Tribe. No word on whom will replace Bell as the Indians bench coach.


May 26, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: Millwood goes on DL  
The Indians placed Kevin Millwood on the 15-day disabled list and called up Brian Tallet from Buffalo. No word on how long Millwood may be out. More in the next CIR.

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Thursday, May 26, 2005  

Just an abbreviated report today.

Kevin Millwood left in the 5th last night with a guh-guh-guh-groin injury ($1 to Sam Malone). Eric Wedge says it's a "considerable" injury while Millwood sounds more optimistic ("nothing popped"). Whether a trip to the DL is required will be more apparent after an MRI today. Waiting in the wings in Buffalo is Brian Tallet (3-1, 2.53, 46.1 IP, 36 H, 14 BB, 35 K, .213 BAA). I wouldn't think Jason Davis is stretched out enough at this point and bringing him back up after one triple-A start seems counter productive. Steve Watkins and Francisco Cruceta would seem to be long-shots at this point. Kaz Tadano, although working multiple innings in relief, wouldn't appear to be stretched out enough to join the rotation.

Another longshot may be Billy Traber, who tossed seven shutout innings for Akron yesterday, retiring 15 straight at one point. The left-hander did not walk a batter while yielding just two hits and striking out five. In five starts for the Aeros, Traber has a 2.65 ERA, a .197 BAA and has struck out 27 in 34 innings while walking just five and allowing 25 knocks. If anything, a Tallet promotion to Cleveland may open a spot in Buffalo for Traber.

Coco Crisp's sprained thumb has gone from a three-month to a three-week injury and he may resume baseball activities this weekend. More on Coco and the outfield situation (see below) in the next report.

At least he didn't injure himself. That's the story after Juan Gonzalez' debut with the Bisons on Tuesday. Although he was hitless in four trips to the dish, Juan Gone did handle several chances in the field and he played all nine innings. Without injuring himself. The Bisons were off yesterday but Gonzalez will be back in the lineup today. If he can make it through the weekend healthy, don't be surprised if he's up with the big league club next week.

Bisons skipper Marty Brown will manage the IL All-Stars on July 13 in the triple-A all-star game.

On the rehab front, Adam Miller and Jason Stanford have begun throwing programs in extended spring training. Both appear to be on target to begin a rehab assignment in mid June. Scrappers fans may get the first chance to see their returns.

Paul Hoynes noted in the PD earlier this week that Mark Shapiro spent this past weekend in California and Oregon on a scouting trip in preparation for the draft. Typically, when a GM heads out on such a trip, he's looking at players in the first couple of rounds. Shapiro's trip just happened to coincide with a weekend series involving USC and Oregon State in Corvallis. Jeff Clement (.351/.482/.613, 17-0-11, 41 BB, 37K), power-hitting catcher for the Trojans has been mentioned as a possible Tribe first round pick. Beavers centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (.415/.504/.604, 17-2-6, 30 BB, 14 K, 21/29 SB) may also have caught the Indians eye with his leadoff abilities. BA compares him to Johnny Damon. Neither player distinguished himself over the weekend. Clement went 2-for-15 with a homer and six strikeouts while Ellsbury went 2-for-10 with two walks, a stolen base, and three strikeouts.

The Astros released Trenidad Hubbard while the White Sox released Joe Winkelsas.


May 24, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Tuesday, May 24, 2005  

Is anyone surprised by the following?

Apparently, Juan Gonzalez arrived at Dunn Tire Park at 9:10 AM for a 10:30 AM start, took some cuts in the cage, pulled himself out of the lineup because he was tired, and then left the park, entourage in tow, sometime around noon in the middle of the fifth inning. I'm just curious as to where he had to go? I mean, it was his first day in Buffalo. How much could he have had lined up? Was he checking out the sights? Headed over to the Falls? Doing his duty at the duty free? Scarfing wings at the Anchor Bar? What was so important that he couldn't hang around to watch the end of the game? It's sad that the Indians are so desperate for right-handed power that they have to put up with these kinds of antics. I suppose it should be noted that a member of Juan Gone's entourage told the media that he was "headed to the doctor" but judging from Bisons skipper Marty Brown's reported reactions to that comment, it doesn't sound like the Indians knew anything about a trip to the doctor. At any rate, Gonzalez should be in the Bisons lineup tonight.

Fernando Cabrera continues to roll in Buffalo, picking up his 5th win of the season against no defeats with two scoreless innings of relief in the Bisons 10-7 win over Charlotte. In 13 appearances, Cabrera now has a 1.08 ERA, is holding International League hitters to a .220 BAA, has rung up 31 in 25 innings, and, most impressively, has walked just four batters in the process. As good as the Indians bullpen has been, Cabrera's right arm could have a major impact in the second half.

Congrats to Dan Denham on being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week in recognition of his 1.80 ERA in two starts covering 15 innings (13H, 1 BB, 12 K) this past week.

Teammate Fausto Carmona staked a claim to next weeks ELPoW award with eight sensational innings last night against Erie at Canal Park. In limiting the SeaWolves to just one run, Carmona scattered three hits while walking none and striking out five. Unfortunately, the Aeros offense ran into a buzzsaw named Virgil Vasquez who kept them hitless through 5-1/3 innings in retiring the first 16 batters he faced. A walk to Jonathan Van Every in the 8th, subsequently caught stealing, was the only other blemish on Vasquez' line.

Despite walking the bases loaded in the first inning, Jeremy Sowers worked his way out of trouble and went onto to toss 5-2/3 innings of solid ball in the K-Tribe's 2-1 loss to Salem yesterday. Sowers was reached for a pair of runs in that first inning thanks to a two-out base knock but settled down to allow just one more hit and free pass the rest of the way while punching out seven. The four walks is a season high for Sowers who entered the game having issued just 10 freebies in 44 innings.

Brian Barton continues to impress in Lake County as the former Miami Hurricane had two more hits yesterday, including his second homerun, in the Captains 4-2 victory over Lakewood. Barton, signed as an undrafted free-agent last summer, is hitting .457/.525/.743 with four doubles and two longballs in 35 at-bats since being activated out of extended spring training. Adding to the good night, he also threw a runner out at the plate.

Two pitchers bombed by the Tribe last week took very different paths yesterday as Danny Graves was designated for assignment by the Reds in part due to the five runs he allowed in 1/3 of an inning against the Tribe on Sunday as well as the obscene gesture he made to a fan while leaving the field. On top of that, earlier in the week, the Mets had pummeled Graves for four runs in one tough inning on the mound. Just a hunch, but I'm thinking Atlanta may be a future home for the former Tribe draft pick. On the other side of the coin, the Angels Ervin Santana, whom the Indians roughed up for six runs in four innings in his major league debut last Tuesday, bounced back with a complete game shutout against the White Sox. That's the kind of kid I like. The Tribe's gives him a beatdown and then he helps us out by blanking the Sox. Well done.


May 23, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: T-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-e Bisons Win!  
Andy Abad just belted a three-run homerun in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Bisons a 10-7 come-from-behind victory over Charlotte.


Thanks for being patient with me through this latest bout of CIR downtime. I'll have more to say about that in the next few days. For now, let's just get back to talking about the Tribe.

Despite reports that Juan Gonzalez was expected to begin his rehab assignment in Buffalo today, he was not in the Bisons lineup this morning. They had (have) an early morning tilt against Charlotte and are currently losing 6-2 in the 7th. Charlotte's rehabbing Frank Thomas was also out of the lineup.

Also sitting this one out is the Bisons Brandon Phillips who was hit by a pitch on Sunday and ended up leaving the Bisons 12-4 victory in the 6th inning yesterday. After a poor start, Phillips has slowly raised his average to .249, although his secondary numbers of .297/.416 with 10 walks and 37 strikeouts in 173 ABs indicate he is far from a return to the big leagues.

Also in that Bisons game, Jason Davis made his first start since being demoted by the Indians and allowed three runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out four. He retired seven straight at one point, working a pair of 1-2-3 innings (three total) but ran into trouble in the first (which he worked out of) and then again in the fourth, where the Knights scored three times.

Darnell McDonald and Ernie Young just belted a pair of two-run homers to tie the game at six apiece. For McDonald, today marks his second game back since serving a 15-game suspension for violation of baseball's substance abuse policy.

Nathan Panther had a big day at the plate for the K-Tribe yesterday, going 3-for-4 with his seventh homerun in the good guys 10-4 victory over Winston-Salem. Panther continues to display an intriguing mix of on-base/power skills at the top of the order as he's hitting .289/.395/.504 with six doubles, seven longballs, and 23 walks on the season.

Nick Pesco worked six shutout innings in that Kinston victory, lowering his ERA to 3.14 for the season. Pesco is now 5-3 while holding Carolina League hitters to a .259 BAA while walking 10 and striking out 35 in 51.2 innings.

The Aeros Dan Denham matched Pesco with six scoreless frames in the Aeros 5-0 shutout victory over Norwich. Denham, who has not allowed a longball in 50-1/3 innings this year, punched out five in lowering his ERA to 2.86 on the season. Impressively, he's allowed just 36 hits (nice H/IP ratio) while also walking 17 and striking out 30.

The LMJ notes that left-hander Dan Cevette will begin a throwing program in Winter Haven and is targeted for a mid-June return to the LC. Cevette has been out since late April with a broken left thumb. Prior to the injury, he had a 1.98 ERA in 13.2 innings with 11 strikeouts.

With the organizations perfect 5-0 record yesterday, three of the Tribe's four active farm teams are in first place. The Bisons are 27-16 with a 1-1/2 game lead, the Aeros are 24-17 with a one game lead, and the K-Tribe is 25-17 with a 1/2 game lead. Only the 4th place Captains at 24-19 and 3-1/2 games out are not currently holding the pennant high for their respective circuit.

Look for the annual CIR draft coverage to kick off later this week.


May 20, 2005  

The CIR is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Monday. See you then!


May 04, 2005  

CIR UPDATE: JD Stays Hot  
JD Martin is number 14 on the latest Baseball America Prospect Hot Sheet while Kevin Kouzmanoff and Rafael Perez make the team photo.


May 03, 2005  

CLEVELAND INDIANS REPORT: Tuesday, May 3, 2005  
Some random thoughts while surfing through my notes...

According to the Kinston Free-Press, K-Tribe shortstop Brandon Pinckney left the game last night after being hit in the hand while attempting to lay down a bunt. Rob Sinclair, the radio voice of the K-Tribe, was quoted as saying "it doesn't look good".

Last week I noted that published reports had the Indians moving Jeremy Guthrie out of the rotation in Buffalo in favor of Kaz Tadano. Well,, Guthrie took his regular turn in the rotation last Wednesday and is slated to start again tomorrow night. Tadano also continues to work out of the 'pen.

The Tribe's pair of 2003 first round hitters are off to good starts in Akron and Kinston respectively. Michael Aubrey is in the midst of a five game hitting streak in which he's ripped at a .435 (10-for-23) clip with two long-balls, two doubles, a triple, and driven in eight runs. The streak has raised his averages to .304/.345/.494/.839 for the season. Moving down a level, Brad Snyder had three pair last night in the K-Tribe's 5-3 loss to Lynchburg. The former Ball State Cardinal had a pair of hits, knocked in a pair of walks, and swiped two bases. For the season, Snyder is hitting a healthy .314/.379/.500/.879 with four longballs. Pessimist note: Snyder's BB/K ratio stands at 6 walks to 22 strikeouts while Aubrey's is 5 to 15.

Jody Gerut is headed to Buffalo for a rehab assignment although exact details of when he will play in a game are a little unclear (at least to me). Some of the local papers reported that he'll start his rehab assignment today and that it will last at least 10 games. In the LMJ, however, Jim Ingraham reported that Gerut is 10 days to two weeks from playing in a game although I'm not sure if that means in any role (DH?) or just the outfield. At any rate, Mark Shapiro was quoted as saying that Gerut is a long way from rejoining the Tribe and that "he's a little bit beyond the start of spring training" which would place his return anywhere from four-to-six weeks by my primitive calendar calculations.

As for his former extended spring training comrade, Juan Gonzalez remains on a timetable with no timetable.

JD Martin was finally roughed up a little, although he managed to pickup his first victory of the season in the Aeros 6-3 win over Harrisburg on Saturday. Martin allowed three runs on eight hits in 5-2/3 innings but he didn't walk a batter and struck out six.

How's this for ugly line of the year:
.1IP, 3H, 6ER, 1BB, 1WP, 2HBP, 1BK, 1HR

That's curiosity of Captains reliever TJ Burton last Saturday. Ouch!

Defying the rain and snow, Ryan Garko continues to heat up in Buffalo. In Sunday's double-header, Garko reached base six times thanks to three hits, including a double, and three walks.

Tony Sipp's scoreless streak now stands at seventeen innings after he tossed six shutout frames against Hagerstown on Friday. The left-hander carried a no-hitter through 5-2/3's before finally surrendering a double with two outs in the sixth. After walking four and punching out seven, Sipp called it a night. Sally League hitters are now batting just .098 against Sipp as he's worked 17 innings with just five hits and six walks allowed while fanning 17. Impressive, to say the least.

In Kinston, Rafael Perez had his scoreless streak snapped at 21-1/3 when he was finally reached for a run in April 28 outing against Lynchburg. Perez did notch his third win of the season as he held the Hillcats to just three hits and a walk in six innings while punching out seven. Along with the seven strikeouts, Perez induced 10 groundball outs.

The Rockies sent Jeff Baker to the minors and activated Dustan Mohr off the disabled list. Hector Luna was sent down by the Cardinals while the Marlins called up Jim Crowell.


May 02, 2005  

If the Indians ever needed an off day, it's today. I need to take another one also. Just too swamped this morning. Back tomorrow with some good news from down on the farm.


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