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April 24, 2006  

Off-day for the Tribe, off-day for the CIR. I think we'll go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with the reports this week. Updates as they happen. See you tomorrow!

Off-day for the Tribe, off-day for the CIR. I think we'll go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with the reports this week. Updates as they happen. See you tomorrow!


April 22, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Miller out 4-6 Months  
Matt Miller will have surgery on Wednesday to repair his right flexor tendon and will be out four-to-six months although the Indians are cautiously optimistic that he could pitch late in the second half. With surgery scheduled for April 26, the minimum return date (four months) would be August 26 which likely means that Miller is done for the season, although it's possible he could get in some rehab appearances before the minor league season ends. Miller will likely end up on the 60-day DL at some point this summer when the Indians need to free open a roster spot to add a non-roster player such as Steve Karsay, Einar Diaz, Jeremy Sowers, etc. Once he hits the 60, his odds of making it back to the bigs late in the season likely decrease as well because someone would have to be removed from the 40 in order for him to rejoin the active roster. Injuries, trades, etc., can influence 40 availability but, generally, unless you're a superstar or crucial to a team's postseason hopes, the odds of being activated off the 60-day DL in September are not good. Let's hope the Indians cautious optimism rings true but if I'm a betting man, it looks like a lost season for Miller and a hit to the Tribe's bullpen.


April 21, 2006  

After a year in which the Indians had only four pitchers spend time on the disabled list, the Tribe has already reached that mark in 2006 with Rafael Betancourt (see below) officially joining Matt Miller, Fernando Cabrera, and CC Sabathia on the injured list today. While yesterday's 9-4 loss to the Orioles cannot entirely be blamed on the Tribe's injury woes, certainly the fact that Fausto Carmona was starting in place of CC Sabathia was a contributor, along with Eric Wedge perhaps riding Carmona a little longer than he may have normally with a full-strength bullpen ready to bail out the young right-hander.

As expected, Rafael Betancourt was placed on the 15-day DL with a strain of the right latissimus dorsi muscle (back). The move is retroactive to April 20 and he would be eligible for activation on May 5.

Brian Slocum was called up from Buffalo and will follow Rafael Perez in making his major league debut out of the Indians bullpen. The right-hander has taken a liking to the 'pen after being converted to relief late last season in Akron. This past fall, he posted a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings (14H, 7W, 19K) in the Arizona Fall League and followed that up with a 1.93 ERA, a .156 BAA, and 11 strikeouts in 9.1 innings covering five appearances for the Bisons this year. Slocum will wear #54 for the Tribe and will likely work the middle innings.

As noted above, Rafael Perez did debut yesterday and pitched a perfect inning, striking out Brian Roberts, getting Jeff Conine to ground-out to third, and finishing with a punch-out of Melvin Mora. Not a bad start to your big league career.

Matt Miller was scheduled to undergo an MRI yesterday and the Indians expect to have a game plan for the right-hander within the next 5-7 days. Tribe trainer Lonnie Soloff told the local media that because Miller throws side-arm, he is more vulnerable to flexor tendon injuries. Sheldon Ocker went on to note in the ABJ that there is a "feeling" among team officials that Miller will need surgery. I haven't seen a forecast as to how long he might be out if surgery is required but it doesn't look good for a short, or perhaps even a medium, length of stay on the DL. One final note, this injury is similar to last season when Miller went the rest and rehab route and missed a good chunk of the season.

Given the above, the depth of the organization and the wave after wave of prospects the Indians have been trying to put into place within their player development system will certainly be tested over the next two weeks. Jason Davis has performed well, Rafael Perez was impressive yesterday, and Brian Slocum (now) and Andrew Brown (perhaps) will likely get their chance as well.

The bullpen now consists of Bob Wickman, Guillermo Mota, Scott Sauerbeck, Jason Davis, Danny Graves, Rafael Perez, and Brian Slocum. The 8th and 9th are in good hands with Mota and Wickman but, earlier than that, I think the Tribe will have their fingers crossed that the kids can hold it together and/or Danny Graves can step up.

While there's always pressure on the starters to work deep into games, you have to believe there's even more now. It will be interesting to see if Eric Wedge adjusts his pitch count limits to compensate for the bullpen injuries.

Could there possibly be a better time to be facing the Royals?

CC Sabathia threw another bullpen session yesterday without setback and will throw a simulated game on Saturday. That should setup CC for a rehab appearance next Wednesday or Thursday with a possible return to the Indians rotation the first week of May.

Casey Blake returned to the lineup yesterday after missing a game with a ga-ga-ga-groin, ga-ga-ga-groin, ga-ga-ga-grooooooin injury. Thanks Mayday.

Kelly Shoppach picked up his first major league hit on Wednesday with a pinch-hit single to centerfield off Eddy Rodriguez.

Steve Karsay was activated out of extended spring training and tossed 2-2/3 innings of one-run ball yesterday for the Bisons. The run came on a solo shot, he didn't walk a batter, 25 of 38 pitches were strikes, and he worked out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing a 6-4-3 double-play.

Ryan Garko is day-to-day in Buffalo after being hit by a pitch in the 8th inning on Wednesday. X-rays were negative.

Chris Cooper was placed on the Aeros DL with left shoulder tendinitis. The southpaw was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in four appearances this year. Victor Kliene was activated from extended spring training and will take Coop's spot in the bullpen. He was rocked in his debut last night, giving up seven runs on six hits and a pair of walks in 2-1/3 innings.

Ryan Edell was placed on the Captains DL with a sore left elbow. Jorge Riera was activated to take his place on the roster and he worked four scoreless frames (2H, 2W, 3K) in his return to the bump.

JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUliooooooooooooooooooo Franco became the oldest player in major league history to go deep when he blasted a two-run shot off of Scott Linebrink last night. The 47-year old Franco now has 171 long balls for his career to go along with 2,523 hits. The most amazing thing to me is that he's doing it in the NL without the benefit of serving as a DH.

Bartolo Colon was placed on the 15-day DL by the Angels with shoulder inflammation. No tear was found and the Angels are hoping that he'll miss only two starts.

The Orioles placed Tim Byrdak on the 15-day DL due to bone chips in his elbow. He'll have surgery and is expected to miss at least six weeks.

Brandon Phillips (.367, 11-for-30) went deep twice yesterday for the Reds and drove in six runs thanks to a two-run shot and a salami. Phillips has 13 RBI in limited duty.

Too little time to get to it fully, but Chuck Lofgren (5IP, 5H, 2W, 7K - 4 swinging in a row), Brian Barton (2 HRs), John Drennen (3-for-4, SB, .326), Jordan Brown (4-for-5, .235), Lou Merloni (2-for-4, 2B, .415, 8 game streak), and Fernando Cabrera (1.2IP, 3K, 30 pitches, 21 strikes) had good games yesterday.


April 20, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Rafael Perez Called Up  
So, why Rafael Perez? Why dip down into double-A for a starter with a 7.02 ERA this year? Why not Andrew Brown, Brian Slocum, Jeremy Guthrie, Steve Karsay, or Felix Heredia? The simple answer: Perez can pitch today. He last worked on Sunday, tossing six innings against Harrisburg (7H, 3R, 1W, 7K, 10GB), giving him three full days of rest and making him available for multiple innings today against the Orioles. Andrew Brown, on the other hand, worked two innings and threw 45 pitches on Tuesday. Brian Slocum tossed two innings yesterday for the Bisons. Jeremy Guthrie turned in another strong start yesterday, tossing seven frames of two-run ball (3H, 1W, 5K, 10GB). Steve Karsay and Felix Heredia were both just activated out of extended spring training and, more importantly, are not on the 40-man roster, meaning that someone would have had to be removed from a very tight 40. The ABJ also notes this morning that a very upset Edward Mujica (who is on the 40) was removed from last nights Aeros game in the 9th inning as a precaution (he had thrown 15 pitches) to a potential call up today. Taking all that into account and considering that with Miller and Rafael Betancourt not available today, the Indians needed someone who could (potentially) work multiple innings if Fausto Carmona struggles and gets an early hook. That doesn't mean that Perez will definitely pitch. If Carmona works six or seven frames, we'll see Sauerbeck, JD, Mota, and Wickman as usual. Just consider Perez as protection for the middle innings. On that note, don't be surprised if Perez' big league stint is a short one and we see Andrew Brown get the call once he is available to pitch (likely on Friday). If Betancourt goes on the DL, I would think we'll see Slocum joining the 'pen as well. More in the next CIR

CIR UPDATE: Miller Placed on DL  
The Indians placed Matt Miller on the 15-day disabled list this morning with a strained right elbow and recalled Rafael Perez from Akron. They're still waiting on test results for Rafael Betancourt's back so an additional move may be coming later today. More in the next CIR.


April 18, 2006  

After his last start (4/12 v Sea, 3.2IP, 7H, 6R, 3W) Paul Byrd hinted that Carl Willis had discovered a mechanical flaw in his delivery. Consider the flaw corrected after Byrd's strong seven-inning performance yesterday in the Indians 10-2 win over the Tigers. The right-hander turned in seven strong innings, blemished only by solo homeruns to "Babe" Shelton and Carlos Guillen, while allowing just those two runs on four hits and a walk. Finishing strong, after the Guillen homer, he set down the final 10 batters he faced. The flaw, incidentally, was that Byrd was bending over too much at the waist during his delivery. After checking the video, Willis and Luis Issac noticed that he stood taller in his motion last year. And that's how pitching coaches earn their pay. Like the first two outings were just two starts, this is just one (good) start but it's an encouraging sign. As is the one walk (64 strikes, 88 pitches) issued after Byrd uncharacteristically struggled with his control in his first two appearances.

CC Sabathia is scheduled to throw 50-60 pitches in a bullpen session today. If all goes well, another bully (perhaps in the form of a simulated game) may follow later this week with a rehab start the following week.

As speculated yesterday, Fernando Cabrera has been sent out on a rehab assignment and in his first appearance yesterday for the Bisons, he tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three while allowing one hit and no walks. 21 of his 28 pitches went for strikes. With his activation date set as April 29, Cabrera should be able to make four or five more appearances for the Bisons before he rejoins the Indians. Note that Cabrera is out of options so leaving him in Buffalo is not, well, an option. Talk about an injury coming at the right time, just when Cabrera is struggling with his control and the Indians have a roster decision to make.

Congratulations to the Wedges on the birth of their first child, daughter Ava, who checked in at 7 lbs, 12 oz yesterday morning. Dad is expected back with the team in time for tonight's game in Baltimore.

Victor Martinez' (.408) hitting streak is apparently still on as he rapped out three hits yesterday to run his streak to 12 games despite going hitless in one trip to the dish on Sunday. Perhaps because he did not have an official at-bat (he walked), the streak continues? That seems kind of odd to me.

The early returns could not be more positive for Eduardo Perez. Three hits yesterday, including a pair of doubles, and Per-EZ (as Jon Miller would say) is stroking at a healthy .316/.409/.737/1.046 clip. With Ben Broussard also off to a good start, Benaurdo is providing .327/.389/.571/.960 production.

Jeremy Sowers (2-0, 0.47) continues to toy with triple-A pitching with the Clippers being his latest victim in the Bisons 10-1 victory yesterday. Sowers worked a strong seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and no walks while striking out four. 56 of 79 pitches were strikes. He permitted leadoff singles in the first two frames but after back-to-back doubles plated a run in the fifth, he retired the last eight hitters he faced. In 19.1 innings, Sowers has allowed just one earned run on 17 hits and five walks while striking out 11.

Ryan Garko (.419/.490/.581/1.072) ran his hitting streak to seven games with a three-hit performance that included a RBI single in the first, a walk in the third, a two-run double in the fourth, and his first longball (a two-run jack) in the sixth.

Franklin Gutierrez (.370/.442/.587/1.029) also had three hits as did Joe Inglett (.278).

Felix Heredia completed his 10-game suspension for violation of MLB's steroid policy and returned to the mound on Sunday for the Bisons, although it certainly wasn't the best of debuts. In one inning, the veteran left-hander allowed three runs on four hits. It's interesting that he was allowed to serve his suspension in the minor leagues.

Adam Miller (2-0, 2.04) outdueled Adam Loewen for the second consecutive outing as the Aeros knocked off Bowie 6-2 last night at Canal Park. Miller, who allowed a baserunner every inning, did not allow an earned run in 5-2/3 innings on the bump, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out four. In three starts, Miller's struck out 15 while walking three and surrendering just 12 basehits.

Jonathan Van Every enjoyed a three-hit night to raise his averages to .343/.442/.600/1.042. He also has three doubles and two homeruns.

Ryan Mulhern (.280/.315/.460/.775) belted his second dinger and also singled.

Concluding the night of strong outings by the organizations starters, Kinston right-hander Sean Smith (1-2, 3.00) flipped six innings of one-run ball against Wilmington, although the good guys took it on the chin in a 5-0 loss. Smith punched out five while walking one and giving up four knocks.


April 17, 2006  

Fausto Carmona was sensational in his debut on Saturday against the Tigers, limiting the Motown mashers to one run on five hits and a pair of walks in six innings on the bump while punching out four. 52 of his his 88 pitches went for strikes and, somewhat uncharacteristically, he recorded just four of 18 outs via the groundball. The right-hander worked out of jams in the late innings (5th and 6th) and topped out at 97 mph on the heater while consistently working in the 93-94 mph range. He'll throw again Thursday against the Orioles.

To make room on the roster for Carmona, Fernando Cabrera was placed on the 15-day DL with a bruised right heel. Set retroactive to April 14, he'll be able to come off the disabled list on April 29. A rehab assignment, in which Cabrera can work on regaining his control (7 BB, 4.2 IP) in a non-pressure environment, would seem to be a likely course of action. For Jason Davis, it means another two weeks in the big leagues. Davis, incidentally, was impressive in two innings of work in Friday's loss.

CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday and reported no pain afterwards. He'll increase his pitch count to 40 in a bully scheduled for Tuesday. CC appears on target for an end-of-the-month return.

Victor Martinez' 11-game hitting streak (/386/.440/.568/1.008) was snapped yesterday when he walked in his lone trip to the plate yesterday as a pinch-hitter.

Ryan Garko is hitting .478 (11-for-23) over a six game hitting streak that has raised his season averages to .385/.457/.462/.918. Yesterday, he reached base five times (double, two walks, two hit by pitches) in the Bisons 8-3 loss to Columbus.

Ben Francisco had two homers on Saturday, including a walkoff blast in the 11th inning. He followed up that stellar performance with a three-hit outing yesterday. Francisco is now hitting /312/.405/.531/.936 for the season.

Franklin Gutierrez has a modest four-game hitting streak (6-for-16) and is hitting .333/.417/.571/.968 with four doubles, two longballs, and six walks.

Brian Slocum (1.23) has punched out 10 in 7.1 innings covering four appearances out of the 'pen. Hyang Nam Choi (2.35) has 9 strikeouts in 7.2 innings in four appearances.

Jake Dittler struggled through four frames yesterday, allowing nine hits and five runs with four walks and no strikeouts. In three appearances this year, Dittler has allowed 16 hits and nine walks in 12 innings with just three strikeouts.

Jeremy Guthrie (1-0, 0,00) and Dan Denham (1-0, 2.70) were both sharp in their recent outings. Guthrie flipped five scoreless frames while Denham tossed five innings of one-run ball.

Jeremy Sowers starts for the Bisons today at 1:05 and you can follow the action live on

The Indians and Bisons extended their affiliation agreement for two years through 2008.

Tony Sipp (1-0, 1.64) tossed six scoreless innings in the Aeros 2-0 victory over Harrisburg on Friday. The southpaw punched out eight while allowing just three hits and three walks. In 11 innings covering two starts, Sipp has struck out 17.

Ryan Mulhern (.261/.300/.391/.691) had his nine-game hitting streak (12-for-38, .316) snapped yesterday.

Ivan Ochoa missed a pair of games over the weekend due to a bruised left eye suffered during infield practice.

Kinston right-hander Joe Ness carried a no-hitter through four innings, and a shutout through five in the K-Tribe's 3-2 victory over Winston-Salem yesterday. The right-hander finished with seven strikeouts in six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk.

Brian Barton (.333) returned to the K-Tribe lineup last Friday (1-for-4). He had been day-to-day since the opener with a knee injury.

Matt Whitney (.129, 4-for-31, 15 K) went deep in back-to-back games over the weekend for his first two jacks of the season.

Chuck Lofgren, Scott Lewis, and Aaron Laffey turned in strong performances for the K-Tribe. Lofgren tossed 5-2/3 scoreless innings, Lewis flipped four scoreless, while Laffey worked five innings of one-run ball.

Trevor Crowe remains hot, hitting .357/.487/.500/.987 (10-for-28) with a double, homerun, nine walks, and three stolen bases.

Ken Dixon was hittable for the first time this season, giving up 10 knocks and three runs (two earned) yesterday in the Captains 3-2 loss to Hagerstown.

Ryan Edell was removed from his start last Thursday for the LC due to a mild strain in his left arm. With an off-day today, he's not listed in the Captains projected five-day rotation and it looks like he'll miss at least one start.

Jody Gerut was placed on the minor league restricted list by the Pirates after he decided to have surgery on his right knee against the teams wish. Both sides agree that Gerut has patellar tendinitis but the Pirates say he can play while Gerut believes otherwise. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Gerut will remain on the 40-man roster but will not be paid, will not accumulate service, and the surgery expenses will not be covered by the team.

Ryan Church was called up by the Nationals.

Andy Abad was designated for assignment by the Reds.

Ryan Drese was placed on the 15-day DL by the Nationals and may have Tommy John surgery recommended by Dr.Lewis Yocum today in Los Angeles. He left his start in the 5th inning on Friday, saying "it was pretty painful, I've never felt anything like this before". Travis Hafner, meanwhile, has seven homeruns in 11 games.

Sean Casey is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after being placed on the Pirates 15-day DL with two fractures in his left lower back. The Mayor was injured after a collision of sorts with John Mabry at first base. Former Tribe farmhand Mike Edwards was called up to replace Casey on the active roster.

One nice benefit of Sports Time Ohio: evening replays of afternoon contests. Came in handy on Saturday because....

You might have a red neck, if you spend all day in the backyard putting together a swing set while foolishly believing you can't get a sunburn in April.


April 13, 2006  

In a game when the Indians did just about everything they could to lose, they did, falling 11-9 to the Mariners to snap their six game winning streak. The lone bright spot was that the offense kept hitting, continued to battle, had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, and put themselves in a position to win.

Is it too early to start worrying about Paul Byrd? A two start sample size says yes. but after watching him allow six runs on seven hits and three walks in 3-2/3 innings yesterday, the concern-o-meter has to tick up a notch. Slow starts are nothing new for Byrd, however. He had a 5.29 ERA last April for the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area Angels and followed that up with a 3.03 and 3.34 ERA in May and June. What is concerning is the high walk counts in these first two outings. Byrd has six walks in 10-2/3 innings. Last year, Byrd walked 28 in 204.1 innings. At his current rate, he'll reach that figure by his eighth start. In 2004 and 2002 (sat out 2003 with injury), Byrd walked 19 in 114.1 innings (04) and 38 in 228.1 innings (02) so the history is there. When a finesse pitcher starts to walk hitters, it means they're either off the plate or the off-speed stuff isn't fooling anyone. And when that happens, it's bad things man, as evidenced by these first two appearances. His next start will be Monday in Detroit against the hot-hitting Tigers. Interestingly enough, Byrd has never pitched in Comerica.

The Tribe has its work cut out for them tonight as they face the "King", Felix Hernandez, for the first time. Hernandez, who just turned 20 five days ago, is the "phenom" who has been compared to a young Doc Gooden when he broke in with the Mets some twenty-two years ago. His performance has backed it up as well. Last year, Felix went 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA, 0.998 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 84.1 innings. As a 19-year old. That sentence is separated for effect. In his first start this year, the right-hander limited the A's to just one run and two hits in five innings although he did allow four walks. I would expect the Tribe to be patient early but if Hernandez is on, it could be a tough night.

Down on the farm, Jeremy Sowers (1-0, 0.00) was sensational again last night, tossing 6-1/3 scoreless innings in the Bisons 4-1 victory. The southpaw allowed just five hits and two free passes while striking out a pair. Sowers is unscored upon in two starts covering 12.1 innings with a 1.300 WHIP.

Andrew Brown allowed a run in 1-2/3 innings of setup relief. In three appearances, Brown has a 2.08 ERA and has allowed just one hit but has walked three versus one strikeout. Ben Howard worked a perfect ninth for the save.

Jason Dubois (.316/.375/.526/.901) (6-for-19) belted his first longball of the season as did Einar Diaz (.158, 3-for-19).

Andy Marte was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. It's the first time in seven games he has failed to reach base.

The anticipated pitchers duel between Adam Miller (1-0, 3.00) and Adam Loewen in Bowie last night never really materialized as the game turned into a bit of a slugfest with the good guys holding on for a 7-6 victory. After a rocky first in which he allowed two runs, Miller settled down and held the Bay Sox scoreless until the 5th when he served up a two-run, one-out dinger. Impressively, Miller quickly regrouped and punched out the next two hitters before working a quick 1-2-3 sixth with three groundballs to the middle infield before giving way to the bullpen. Although he was reached for the four runs, in six innings, Miller allowed just four (timely) hits and one walk while striking out four. Loewen, meanwhile, was charged with six runs in 4.1 innings as the Aeros reached him for eight knocks.

Edward Mujica (0.00, 2 sv) wiggled out of jams in the 8th and 9th inning to notch his second save of the season. The right-hander entered the game with one out in the bottom of the 8th and runners on 1st and 2nd but retired the next two batters to put out the fire. In the 9th, Mujica uncharacteristically walked the first two batters (he walked just seven in 60.1 innings last year) but got out of the jam thanks to two grounders (and an assist to Ivan Ochoa for nailing a runner at the plate) and a punchout. In five innings this year, Mujica has not been scored upon and has allowed just one hit with four walks and four strikeouts.

Kevin Kouzmanoff rapped out three safeties and is hitting .320/.370/.360/.730 on the season.

There's big swingers aplenty in the Aeros lineup. Brad Snyder has 13 whiffs in 30 at-bats, Ryan Mulhern has 13 in 31 at-bats, and Jonathan Van Every has 10 in 22 trips to the dish. Mulhern had two hits, including a double, last night while JVE belted his first longball of the season.

Sean Smith (1-1, 3.75) turned in another strong outing for the K-Tribe, working six frames and allowing just one run on four hits while walking two and striking out four. The right-hander retired the first seven he faced and worked the first five innings in scoreless fashion before being reached for a run in the sixth.

Stephen Head went deep for the first time this year in support of Mr.Smith and added a single as part of a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Head is now hitting .364/.462/.591/1.053 with four walks versus two strikeouts.

The Captains return to the LC tonight for their home opener against Hagerstown. The good guys haven't let the fans down yet, going 3-0 in home openers since the franchise moved to Eastlake from Columbus.

Last night, James Deters (3.00) turned in a nearly identical outing to his first start, giving up two runs in six innings while walking none and striking out six.

John Drennen had his second-straight multiple-hit game, going 2-for-3 with a walk.

Felix Heredia was scheduled to start in an extended spring game in Winter Haven yesterday. Is this an attempt to get him some innings or does the Tribe have other plans?

In the "just what they needed" category, Sports Time Ohio was off the air for a few innings last night. Well timed during Lost, however.

Coco Crisp signed a three-year, $15,5 million contract extension with the Red Sox that includes a $8 million team option in 2010 that would cover Coco's first year of free agency. It's likely he'll still be on the DL (broken finger) when the Red Sox make their only visit to the Jake on April 25-27.

David Riske (lower back strain) was placed on the 15-day DL by the Red Sox. Riske pitched only one game for Sox, allowing two runs in one inning of work. Terry Mulholland (left elbow inflammation) was placed on the 15-day DL by the D-Backs.


April 12, 2006  




After going a combined 25-46 the past three April's, to say the Indians have gotten off to a hot start in 2006 is an understatement. After last night's 9-5 victory over Seattle, their sixth in a row after the rain-delayed opening loss in Chicago, the Indians stand a robust 6-1 and hold a one game lead over the equally hot-starting Tigers, who just happen to be coming to town for three games this weekend.

Last night, Cliff Lee carried a no-hitter through 4-2/3, the middle of the order (Peralta, Hafner, and Martinez) went 8-for-10 with five RBIs and two walks, and the Tribe cruised to victory.

To illustrate just how hot the Indians are, seven of the nine starters have averages over .300: Grady Sizemore (.353), Jason Michaels (.333), Peralta (.300), Hafner (.423), Martinez (.484), Aaron Boone (.333), and Casey Blake (.375), who just happened to get me and the boy off to a good start last night in's Beat the Streak game. To make it hotter, Ben Broussard isn't far behind at .286. Ronnie Belliard, the only regular struggling at .143, returned to the lineup last night after missing two games with a strained calf, and knocked in a pair of runs and made two nice plays in the field.

As a team, the offense ranks first in batting average (.324), second in on-base percentage (.375), second in slugging percentage (.527), and second in OPS (.902). On the mound, the pitching staff has been equally impressive, leading the AL in OPS-against (.618), and batting average against (.208), and ranked second in WHIP (1.14) and 4th in ERA (3.94).

It's only seven games, and those numbers can fluctuate up and down rapidly with such a small sample size (if this stretch was in August, for example, the streak would be noted but the impact on overall stats would be small), but, while you can't win a pennant in April, you can surely put yourself in a better position to win a pennant and the Indians are doing just that.

Eric Wedge confirmed that Fausto Carmona will start against the Tigers on Saturday and in his final tuneup on Monday, Carmona was charged with five runs (four earned) in six innings against Norfolk (5H, 1W, 6K, 1HR).

Andy Marte continues to rip, going 2-for-4 with a double yesterday in the Bisons 6-4 loss. He also had one of the Bisons three hits on Monday and is stroking at a .400/.538/.550/1.088 clip with three doubles and six walks (versus three strikeouts).

Nick Pesco flipped six strong innings for the Aeros on Monday, limiting Bowie to one run (solo shot) on three hits and a walk while punching out three. Edward Mujica tossed two scoreless frames in relief of Pesco.

Last night, Rafael Perez was roughed up by the Bay Sox to the tune of eight runs (seven earned) in 5-2/3 innings.

Brad Snyder tripled and singled last night and is hitting .308/.333/.538/.872 (8-for-26) with a double, triple, and longball. Note that 10 of his 18 outs have been by the whiff.

Adam Miller vs Adam Loewen tonight in Bowie.

Chuck Lofgren punched out eight in a dominating performance in Kinston's 4-1 victory over Wilmington on Monday. Setting the stage early, the lefty struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced, including top Red Sox prospects Jacoby Ellsbury (1st, 2005), Jeff Corsaletti (2004 Indian draftee), and Jed Lowrie (1st, 2005) in order in the first. Over 79 pitches covering five innings, Lofgren did not walk a batter and allowed just two hits while being charged with one unearned run.

Through five games, Trevor Crowe is hitting an even .400/.500/.600/1.100 (6-for-15) with five walks and two stolen bases for the K-Tribe.

Jorge Riera was placed on the Captains disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Frank Hermann was called up from extended spring and made his professional debut on Monday, allowing a run on four hits in three innings on the bump. The right-handed Hermann was signed last year as an undrafted free agent out of Harvard where he was named All-Ivy honorable mention for the Crimson.

John Drennen is starting to heat up, reaching base four times (three hits, one walk) in the last two games. He also swiped a pair of bags.

Captains right-hander Ken Dixon extended his hitless streak to 8-1/3 innings last night before finally being reached for a base knock in the third inning. Dixon, who was unhittable (literally) in the opener with six hitless frames, held Delmarva to just that third inning single last night in five innings of work. Two runs did cross the plate thanks to a pair of walks (three for the entire outing), a hit batsmen, a sacrifice bunt, a strange force-out, and the timely knock. Oh yeah, he also punched out five. In eleven innings, Dixon, the pride of Minnesota State (5th, 2005) has allowed just one hit and four walks while striking out 11. A finer start to the season will be tough to find.

Baseball America notes in yesterday's Daily Dish that outfielder Mike Butia is back with the Indians in extended spring training after retiring in March. Butia, 2004 5th round pick out of James Madison, hit just .252/.315/.379/.694 at Lake County and .198/.264/.275/.539 at Kinston last year after a solid debut in the Valley (.315/.397/.461/.857) in 2004.

The once promising career of right-hander Jeff Pry has apparently come to an end as the Indians announced that Pry retired last week. Drafted out of a Oregon HS in the 17th round of the 2003 draft and rated as the 5th best prospect in the state by Baseball America, Pry signed with the Tribe one week before classes were scheduled to begin at the University of Hawaii where he had a commitment to play college ball. Unfortunately for Pry, the Indians reportedly voided his contact (according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin back in Sept 2003) after his physical revealed that he needed Tommy John surgery. Unfortunately for Pry (again), because he had signed a pro contract, NCAA rules prohibited him from playing for Hawaii or any other D1 team. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. No pro contract and no college ball in Hawaii. Oof! Whether the Indians actually voided the contract or, more likely, reduced his signing bonus, Pry eventually did sign with the Indians, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2004, made his pro debut in Burlington last year, posting a 5.87 ERA in 15 appearances out of the bullpen, and then decided to hang it up this spring.

The ABJ notes that the Indians have sold 1.4 million tickets this year. It took them until June to hit that mark in 2005. 6500 single-game tickets were sold yesterday along with 2700 walk-ups for last nights contest against the Mariners. If you win, they will come.

Coco Crisp was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken left index finger. Original estimates had Coco out for 6-to-8 weeks but it now appears that he might miss only 2-to-4 weeks. Crisp was hitting .333 (8-for-24) with a double, triple, and two stolen bases to start the season. Former Indian farmhand Dustan Mohr was called up from Pawtucket to replace Crisp in the nation's outfield.

Matt Lawton may see his first action of the year tonight at the Jake after serving his 10-game suspension for violating baseball's steroid policy.

Best wishes to Allan Simpson who is leaving Baseball America 25 years after he founded the magazine in his garage in British Columbia. I've been reading BA since the late 80s and a heartfelt thanks goes out to Allan and his crew for the tremendous amount of information and analysis they have provided over the years.

And finally, Cleveland Indians Charities has donated $150,000 to the Cleveland Public Schools to fund twenty baseball and softball high school programs this season. This is the second consecutive year that CIC has provided such support.


April 10, 2006  

News and notes from a weekend on the farm...

Jeremy Guthrie threw six sensational innings yesterday for the Bisons, holding Richmond scoreless while striking our four and allowing just four hits and a walk.

Hyang Nam Choi made his North American debut in relief of Guthrie and tossed two scoreless innings, striking out three.

Franklin Gutierrez (.444) started the season with three multiple hit games (2-for-5, 3-for-5, 3-for-5) before going hitless in game two of the doubledip yesterday.

Andy Marte had an interesting opening series in Richmond. While he struggled in the field (two errors) and was involved in a bizarre play on the bases that ended up in a game-ending double-play, he also banged out five hits and walked six times and is hitting .417/.611/.583/1.184.

Jason Cooper, left off the 40, passed in the Rule 5, not invited to big league camp, and somewhat forgotten amidst the Tribe outfield prospects, has three doubles among his five hits and is hitting .313/.389/.625/1.014 in the early going.

The Buffalo News notes that Jason Stanford (4IP, 2H, 2R, 3W, 4K) became the first player in the "modern era" of the Bisons to play with the team for six years. Who's the pitching equivalent of Crash Davis?

Tony Sipp fanned nine in five innings yesterday for the Aeros, walking none and allowing two earned runs on six hits.

Trevor Crowe, hitting third in the K-Tribe lineup, is 5-for-11 with a homerun (.455/.571/.727/1.299).

On the flip side, strugglers among the small sample sizes of opening weekend include Ryan Mulhern (.158, 3-for-19, 8K), Matt Whitney (.071, 1-for-14, 6K), and John Drennan (.083, 1-for-12, 3K).

I wish I could be in Bowie on Wednesday when Adam Miller and Adam Loewen are slated to faceoff in a matchup of two of the best pitching prospects in the minor leagues. Miller tossed six scoreless innings in his first start while Loewen carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning and punched out twelve.

Kevin Millwood has had a rough start for the Rangers, posting a 7.36 ERA in two appearances (11IP, 15H, 9ER).

Cory Snyder will manage the St.George team in the independent Golden Baseball League when it debuts in 2007.

Chris Kline uses the Indians as an example of how a big league team puts together its minor league rosters.

If you don't listen to MLB Radio, you're missing the "Big Richie" Sexson commercial. Great stuff.

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting article on the "institutions", otherwise known as the Indians long-time beat writers.

The Pirates and Jody Gerut are disputing whether Gerut's right knee is injured after he informed them, upon being optioned to triple-A, that his knee has been bothering him all spring. Note that he never mentioned this prior to being sent down. Dave Littlefield, the Pirates GM, says Gerut is healthy enough to play. Jody says otherwise. Test results from a second opinion are expected this week.

With Eric Gagne out 6-8 weeks, Danys Baez is the new closer in Chavez Ravine.

Brandon Phillips doubled in his first at-bat for the Reds on Saturday. With Felipe Lopez, Rich Aurilia, Tony Womack, and Ryan Freel also playing in the middle infield in the Queen City, playing time will likely not come easily (or often) for Phillips. How he responds to infrequent use will be interesting to see.

Brian Tallet picked up the win on Saturday for the Blue Jays with 2-2/3 innings of solid relief. Bubbie Buzachero, whom the Indians acquired for Tallet, has tossed four scoreless innings of relief for the Aeros.

Ryan Drese was activated off the disabled list by the Nationals.

Colorado released Ernie Young, Brian Kirby, and Aaron Marsden. Kansas City released Benji Gil. The Yankees released Luis Garcia. Pittsburgh released Derrick Van Dusen. Luther Hackman was released by the Cardinals. Jack Cressend and Travis Driskill were released by the D-Rays.


April 08, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Call to Arms  
It was Cleveland 5-0 yesterday as all five teams (from the bigs to the smalls) notched victories. On the farm, pitching dominated as the four starters (Jeremy Sowers, Adam Miller, Scott Lewis, and James Deters) combined for a 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings of work, striking out 23 while walking just four. Here's the individual lines...

Sowers (BUF) 6IP, 6H, 1UER, 3W, 5K
Miller (AKR) 6IP, 3H, 0R, 1W, 7K
Lewis (KIN) 4.1IP, 3H, 1UER, 0W, 5K
Deters (LC) 6IP, 7H, 2R, 0W, 6K

Very nice to see Adam Miller off to a strong start. More in the next CIR


April 07, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Indians Trade Phillips to Reds  
The Indians have traded Brandon Phillips to the Reds for a player to be named later or cash. AP reports t hat the Indians have until June 15 to complete the dea. Phillips is expected to join the Reds in time for their game tomorrow. St.Ignatius grad Matt Kata was designated for assignment by the Reds to make room for Phillips on their roster. Just a thought, but the timing of the completion date (after the June draft) could indicate that the PTBNL is a player from the 2005 draft. If you remember, a player cannot be traded until one year after he signs his first pro contract. More in the next CIR.

CIR UPDATE: Minor League Recaps (4/6)  
The Bisons lost 5-4 in Richmond. Fausto Carmona (on a pitch count, threw 57 pitches) allowed two runs (one earned) in four innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out three. Jake Dittler was charged with three runs (one earned) in 3.1 innings of relief. The unearned runs came after back-to-back errors by Andy Marte and Dittler. Marte reached base twice via the free pass in his Bisons debut. Jason Cooper drove in three runs with a double and triple. Jake Gautreau went deep (#1) and Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez had a pair of knocks.

The Aeros were shut out by Binghamton 3-0 as Kevin Kouzmanoff, Pat Osborn, and Jonathan Van Every recorded the only hits for the good guys. Rafael Perez allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings. Travis Foley fanned four in two scoreless frames. Ryan Mulhern opened in left field with Pat Osborn playing first.

The K-Tribe fell 4-3 in Winston-Salem. Sean Smith allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings, although he did punch out seven while walking none. Argenis Reyes had a pair of knocks and drove in two. Matt Whitney was 0-4 with a K. Trevor Crowe (hitting third) walked twice and stole a base. Stephen Head walked and singled.

Finally some good news. Make that, great news. Ken Dixon tossed six hitless innings in the Captains 2-0 shutout victory in Hickory. The right-hander was sensational as he retired the first six batters he faced, permitted a walk to lead off the third, and then retired the next twelve hitters in order before reaching his 85 pitch limit. Matt Loberg followed with two scoreless frames, the no-no was broken with a leadoff single in the bottom of the 7th, and picked up the win when the good guys pushed a run across in the 8th. Mike Conroy banged out three hits and Jose Constanza drove in the game-winner.


April 05, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Opening Day Minor League Rosters  
Consolidating them all in one post...

STARTERS: Jeremy Guthrie, Fausto Carmona, Jason Stanford, Jeremy Sowers, Jake Dittler
RELIEVERS: Andrew Brown, Dan Denham, Jason Young, Ben Howard, Brian Slocum, Rob Bell, Hyang-Nam Choi
CATCHERS: Ryan Garko, Einar Diaz, Tim Laker
INFIELDERS: Joe Inglett, Jake Gautreau, Jose Flores, Andy Marte, Lou Merloni
OUTFIELDERS: Jason Cooper, Jason Dubois, Franklin Gutierrez, Ben Francisco

STARTERS: Rafael Perez, Bear Bay, Adam Miller, Nick Pesco, Tony Sipp
RELIEVERS: Chris Cooper, Travis Foley, Tom Mastny, Edward Mujica, Juan Lara, Bubbie Buzachero, Jim Ed Warden
CATCHERS: Javi Herrera, David Wallace
INFIELDERS: Ivan Ochoa, Eider Torres, Pat Osborn, Shaun Larkin, Ryan Mulhern, Kevin Kouzmanoff
OUTFIELDERS: Jonathan Van Every, Brad Snyder, Nathan Panther, Todd Donovan

STARTERS: Scott Lewis, Jensen Lewis, Chuck Lofgren, Joe Ness, Sean Smith
RELIEVERS: Dan Eisentrager, Scott Roehl, Christopher Niesel, Kyle Collins, Jesus Soto, Aaron Laffey, T.J. Burton, Reid Santos
CATCHERS: Caleb Brock, Armando Camacaro, Wyatt Toregas
INFIELDERS: Micah Schilling, Rodney Choy Foo, Brandon Pinckney, Luis Cotto, Argenis Reyes, Stephen Head, Matthew Whitney, Brian Finegan
OUTFIELDERS: Ryan Goleski, Brian Barton, Trevor Crowe, Jordan Brown, John Drennen

STARTERS: Jorge Riera, Kevin Dixon, James Deters, Albert Vargas, Ryan Edell
PITCHERS: Ryan Knippschild, Julio Pinto, Matt Davis, Mark Jecmen, Matthew Loberg. Michael Finocchi, Dustin Roddy
CATCHERS: Joshua Noviskey, Chris Gimenez, Omar Casillas
INFIELDERS: Marshall Szabo, Fernando Pacheco, Chris De La Cruz, P.J. Hiser, Matthew Fornasiere, Nick Petrucci, Niuman Romero
OUTFIELDES: Juan Valdes, Jose Constanza, Mike Conroy, John Drennen


April 04, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Captains Opening Day Roster  
Lake County announced it's opening day roster today and it is as follows...

CATCHERS: Chris Gimenez (new position), Omar Casillas
INFIELDERS: Fernando Pacheco, Marshall Szabo, Chris De La Cruz, Matt Fornasiere, Niuman Romero, Nick Petrucci, PJ Hiser
OUTFIELDERS: Jose Constanza, Juan Valdes, Mike Conroy, Juan Drennan
STARTERS: Kevin Dixon (opening day starter), Jim Deters, Ryan Edell, Jorge Riera, Albert Vargas
RELIEVERS: Ryan Knippschild, Matt Davis (closer), Mike Finnochi, Mark Jecman, Matt Loberg, Julio Pinto, Dustin Roddy

The Captains open Sally League play on Thursday in Hickory, NC against the Crawdads.

CIR UPDATE: CC on DL, JD on the way  
The Indians placed CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list today with a strained right oblique muscle and called up Jason Davis from Buffalo to replace CC on the roster. Davis will work out of the bullpen until a 5th starter is needed and then will likely be optioned to Buffalo and replaced by Fausto Carmona. More in the next CIR.


April 02, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Rosters Finalized  
As expected, the Indians made a flurry of moves yesterday to finalize their 25 and 40-man rosters prior to the opener tonight in Chicago. Danny Graves and Todd Hollandsworth had their contracts purchased from triple-A Buffalo and were added to the 40. Jason Davis and Jason Dubois were optioned to Buffalo. Steve Karsay, Einar Diaz, and Tim Laker were assigned to minor league camp and Brandon Phillips and Kazuhito Tadano (there's your other) were designated for assignment. The Indians now have 10 days to trade, release, or outright the pair to Buffalo provided that no one claims them on waivers.

The opening day roster is as follows...

CATCHERS: Victor Martinez, Kelly Shoppach
INFIELDERS: Travis Hafner, Ben Broussard, Eduardo Perez, Ronnie Belliard, Jhonny Peralta, Ramon Vazquez, Aaron Boone
OUTFIELDERS: Grady Sizemore, Jason Michaels, Casey Blake, Todd Hollandsworth
STARTERS: CC Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee, Paul Byrd, Jason Johnson
RELIEVERS: Bob Wickman, Guillermo Mota, Fernando Cabrera, Rafael Betancourt, Scott Sauerbeck, Matt Miller, Danny Graves

More in the next CIR.


April 01, 2006  

CIR UPDATE: Phillips Watch  
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have had discussions with the Indians regarding Brandon Phillips, although an industry source told the paper that Phillips is not expected to end up with the O's. The PD notes that the Devil Rays, Rockies, and Nationals may also have an interest in Phillips. More in the next CIR.


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