Friday, July 31, 2009

Victor to the Red Sox

Proving that nobody is safe from the chopping block, team captain, all-star catcher and clean-up hitter Victor Martinez has been traded to the Boston Red Sox for MLB starter/reliever Justin Masterson, and minor leaguers Bryan Price and Nick Hagadone.

A tough few days for Tribe fans. Will these guys be key components in 2010 and beyond?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Shapiro first GM to trade Cy Young winners in back-to-back season

According to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, and multiple other sources, the Cleveland Indians And Philadelphia Phillies have agreed in principle to a trade that would send Cliff Lee and Ben Fransisco to the Phillies, in exchange for prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald.

Donald, a 2B/SS/3B utility guy, and Marson, a catcher, create an overabundance of similar players at the AAA and MLB levels for the Tribe. This may be an indication that the Tribe have another move pending involving some combination of Martinez, Marson, Carrol, or Peralta.

This haul appears to be two average defenders with patient bats, albeit not a ton of power, a low-ceiling but high-floor #3 starter, and a very high ceiling single-A pitcher.

More scouting reports to come! Stay tuned, and this has the looks of being part of a larger deal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Comings and Goings

As often seems to be the case, it's time for the Tribe's mid-season team evaluation and re-tooling for next season.

Who could be on their way out? What pieces need added? We will be exploring these issues in the coming days.

Our list of players to be moved:

Carl Pavano: Definately. He's pitching well, and he's on a cheap one year deal. He won't be here next year, and a lot of contending teams would like to have him. He might attract some "bargain hunters" who are unwilling to meet the demands for Carl Pavano and Cliff Lee.

Raphy Betancourt: His $5.4 million 2010 option is a bit steep, and numerous contending teams could use back-end bullpen help. The Angels could be a strong possibility.

Kerry Wood: He's signed for $10 million per for both this season and next, and his $11 million 2011 option vests if he makes another 18 appearances this season, or 55 next season. The Tribe would love to move him, but the price tag will probably scare away suitors.

Jamey Carrol: He could easily be moved after the deadline, as he's a good candidate to clear waivers. A versatile defender whose bat will neither win nor lose you games, he'd be a great candidate to fill in for an injured or underperforming infielder on a contending team.

Jhonny Peralta: He's seemed to lose motivation since being moved to third, and has expressed his dislike for his new position. Even if he gets his swing back, a .270/20/80 bat is a lot less appealing at third base than shortstop. With Andy Marte still young, and finally showing his potential in AAA, and Wes Hodges back from injury, the time might be right to free up the "hot corner", and give Peralta a shot at starting over with a new team.

Ryan Garko: A cheap lefty-mashing bat who can be a capable 5 or 6 hitter, and put up a realiable .800 OPS. He's losing playing time to Victor Martinez, and will lose even more with an inevitable Matt LaPorta call-up. With other names like Hodges, Mills, Brown, and Weglarz lurking in the minors, Garko is the very definition of expendable.

Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee: They are both free agents after 2010, and it is unlikely that the Indians can re-sign both. Martinez has expressed a desire to finish his career in Cleveland, but Lee may have more value to the team. Do you trade one or the other, and if so which one? Would that be waiving a white flag for next season as well?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Betancourt: Case Closed?

The Angels are in the market for pitching, and according to the LA Times Tribe set-up man Rafael Betancourt is on their list of targets. While they probably will be reserving their biggest trade chips for a top starter, a mid-range pitcher would not be out of the question. The problem is that the Angels have one of the thinnest farm systems in the league (ranked 25th by Baseball America), after a few seasons of trades and signing Type A and B free agents. They lack any consensus top-50 prospects (not that Betancourt would command such a return).

The Chubby Indian's short list:

1) Jordan Walden. Mid 90s throwing righty with a decent slider. He's currently having control problems at the AA level, with 28 BB to 57 Ks in 60 IP, and needs to work on a third pitch to be an effective starter. That might, however, be something that the Tribe could avoid: he can hit 100 throwing from the pen.

2) Sean O'Sullivan. Righty starter. He's shown great promise this season, getting fast-tracked to the MLB level and putting up a 3.80 ERA in 4 appearances. He doesn't have great stuff, but he has good command over his low 90s fastball, as well as an average curve and change. He throws strikes, and uses all of his pitches.

3) Tyler Chatwood. Another Righty starter. The Angels second round pick last season is only 19, hits the mid 90s with his heat, and has a great curve. His 5.9 BB/9 at the A level shows that he still needs plenty of work, but he has all the tools you could want in a kid who is only a year removed from High School.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tribe Aquires Chris Perez!

The Indians have traded Mark Derosa for Chris Perez.

Perez is one of the top set-up men in the league.

More analysis tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crunch Time

Pay close attention to the next two games, Tribe fans.

In our opinion, the next two starts (each) by David Huff and Jeremy Sowers will be the major determining factor in Shapiro's decision to buy pitching, or sell for prospects. If these two can continue improving, as they have in their last few starts, the Tribe will have 4 quality starters in their rotation, as well as Westbrook, Laffey, and Scott Lewis all set to return around the end of the month. If they are only able to give 5 4-5 innings per start, the pressure on the bullpen will likely be too much, and the Tribe will find themselves in sell mode as they approach the break.

Both Huff and Sowers have made major strides in the pasat month. In his first two starts, Huff's pitches (particularly his fastball) showed little life or deception, and he had trouble getting them past the batter for strikes. In his four starts since, he has added a couple MPH to his fastball, and more movement to his breaking pitches. Sowers, for the last two seasons, has had a chronic problem getting through the opposing lineup the second time around. This season, he's made great strides in that area, and has finally been able to keep his heat in the low 90s with control.

The key to their success is going to be their efficiency.

Sowers has given up only 5 runs in his last 4 appearances (counting a may 25th appearance when he pitches 5 innings of relief, after Carmona lasted only 1 inning). The flipside is that he only lasted an average of 5.1 innings in those appearances, and had to pitch an average of 83.25 pitches to get that far (if you remove his may 25th appearance, when he was pulled after 57 pitches, it looks a lot worse).

Similarly, Huff has given up only 10 runs in his last four outings, and though he did go 7.1 innings in his last start, it took him 112 pitches to get that far, and he looked pretty shaky at the end.

If these two young starters can pitch consistently, then the Tribe will likely be 3 relief arms away from a solid staff (even before last night's debacle, it should have been obvious to most that Herges, Aquino, and Vizcaino are not playoff-caliber arms). That's not even taking into account the inevitable return of Betancourt. Sowers can possibly fill one of those spots, and Rich Rundles, Vinnie Chulk, and Tony Sipp are waiting in the wings at Huntington Park. The bullpen is fixable. If Huff and Sowers fail to improve, however, there will be simply too many holes for a middle-market team like the Tribe to fill, without mortgaging a large part of their future away.

Keep your eyes on the ball.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Sad Day for Cleveland

Former Tribe owner Dick Jacobs has passed away today, at age 84. Jacobs owned the team from 1986-2001, ended nearly 40 years of bad teams and ushered in the "Era of Champions".

Jacobs goes down as one of the greatest Cleveland sports franchise owners in the city's history.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time to pick up the phone?

Leadoff man and short stop Asdrubal Cabrera was helped off the field in tonight's game with a shoulder injury. While it's too early to assume anything, he wasn't moving his arm, which is not a good sign.

If Asdrubal hits the DL, it's very hard to imagine the team contending, which means it is time to start fielding calls for players.

The Cardinals are very interested in Mark DeRosa, by all accounts. How about a trade of DeRosa for hard-throwing righty reliever Chris Perez?

Monday, June 1, 2009

The hits keep coming... the roster, that is.

Those keeping track at home can add Raphael Betancourt, possibly the Tribe's most consistent reliever this year, to the 15-day DL. He sustained a groin strain in Saturday's game.

Tony Sipp has been recalled from Columbus to take his place.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nail in the Coffin?

The nagging elbow injury that has kept Grady Sizemore out of center field has finally landed him on the DL. He had been playing through the pain for the last couple of weeks, mostly in a DH role, but the pain had finally become too much for Grady.

Couple this with Travis Hafner's shoulder soreness lingering, Anthony Reyes and Scott Lewis both out for extended periods of time, and Aaron Laffey on the DL, and you are not looking at a team prepared to make a big pre-break turnaround.

Chris Giminez, a versatile infielder who is primarily a catcher, will take Sizemore's spot on the roster.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sad Day for Dellucci's Hoochies

Much maligned Tribe outfielder David Dellucci was designated for assignment today, clearing space to bring lefty Rafael Perez back up from Columbus.

Signed in 2007 as a righty-hitting specialist, Dellucci never managed to re-create the success he had for the Phillies in 2006, when he hit .292/.369/.530 with 13 homers in 264 ABs. This season he is hitting .275/.333/.350 with no HRs and 1 RBI in 40 appearances.

This Indians are still on the hook for the roughly $4 million owed to David, and unless a GM really has their eye on him, that is unlikely to change. There is a ten-day deadline for David to be Waived, Traded, or Released, the latter being the most likely option.

While some might question why Shapiro waited until after top-prospect Matt LaPorta was sent back down to AAA (LaPorta was in a direct competition for PT with Dellucci during his brief MLB stint), this move is a sign of Shapiro's committment to win this season, putting the best players possible on the 25 man roster and worrying about the cash later.

The Tribe are currently in 5th place, 1.5 games behind the 4th place White Sox, and 6.5 back from the 1st place Tigers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Comings and Goings

There were some pretty big changes in the roster this weekend.

Relief "savior" Aaron Laffey was put on the 15 day DL (oblique injury), along with Anthony Reyes. Rich Rundles and Jeremy Sowers were brought up.

It's hard to imagine this being anything less that Sowers' last shot with the team, as trade season moves closer and (one way or another) the Indians will be moving some players.

Matt LaPorta was sent to Columbus, Trevor Crowe was recalled. Probably a sign that the Tribe has a list of things to work on for LaPorta, who needs some every-day at bats to work on some holes in his swing. Crowe will probably stick around until Hafner is ready to rejoin the team, unless Delucci finds his way out the door,

No new rumors about Shapiro's attempts to trade Mark DeRosa. Only that he is looking for MLB ready starting pitching, the Mets have some interest, and the Brewers do not.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

According to John Heyman at, Tribe 1st/3rd baseman Mark DeRosa is officially on the trading block, as Mark Shapiro tries to add some pitching to get the team turned around. DeRosa, while versatile, is left without a solid position on the club, due to the shift of Peralta (who is hitting well) to third, and the Garko/Martinez holding down 1st.

While this move shows a commitment to turning around this season, it can also be viewed as a vote of confidence for LaPorta and Valbuena, in our eyes.

Now who could they get in return? What caliber of pitcher can be had for a player like DeRosa, who is having a horrible start to the year?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Random Trade Thought

With Carlos Delgado ailing, the Mets are in dire need of a 1st baseman. With David Ortiz woefully ineffective, the Red Sox need a DH.

While neither team in the Yankees, both are in the upper echelon of payrolls. Might one or the other be willing to take on a large contract, in order to fill that void, instead of giving up a top prospect?

Travis Hafner makes an average of $12 million per year, for the next 3 years. Would getting that contract off of the books be enough of a return value for the Tribe? Would either of those teams bite on that deal?

While fans might be upset initially upset about the team just giving a player away, what if that Money could be used to extend Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez's contracts? Or to sign a quality starting pitcher in the offseason? Sounds like a pretty decent option.

Lineup Changes

Giving in to the inevitable?

Finally seeing what everyone else could see?

Trying to save his job?

In addition to finally re-shuffling the infield, playing Jhonny Peralta at 3rd and Asdrubal Cabrera at short, tonight's lineup features Asdrubal Cabrera leading off. This is a role that the Chubby Indian has been saying he should have been given since last fall.

Cabrera has a solid OBP (.376 as opposed to Grady's .302), can lay down a bunt, uses the whole field while batting, and (as of the last month) is a more effective base-stealer than Grady.

Grady, in the meantime, has become almost strictly a power/pull hitter, has shown an inability to beat the spread, and has been making poor choices on the basepaths. It's clear that he's trying to take carry struggling team on his shoulders, but it's just ruining his effectiveness.

Now, if we had our way, the next move would be to put Choo in as the #2 hitter, move Grady back to #3, and put Victor back in the clean-up spot. Cabrera/Choo/Sizemore has as much potential, in terms or a rare speed/power combination, as Damon/Jeter/Rodriguez a few years back. Maybe even enough potential to force Eric Wedge into dusting off his copy of "How to Play Baseball" and open up the "run and hit" chapter.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Martinez on the Block?

From The Boston Globe:

There has been talk among scouts that the Indians might be willing to deal 29-year-old catcher/first baseman/DH Victor Martinez for young pitching. Martinez, who earns $5.7 million this season and $7 million in his option season next year, is hitting .409 with 7 homers and 25 RBIs.

We would have to rate this as pure East-Coast media hype. Victor has been the glue that holds this team together for years. All indications are that he loves playing here. Combine that with his injury history, and the Indians should be able to work out an extension at a relatively inexpensive price.

While such rumors warrant at least a response of "for the right price...", the Red Sox do not, at a first glance, have much to offer for a player of Victor's caliber. A reliable switch-hitting .300 bat with 25 HR/100 RBI power and a near 1:1 K/BB ratio in the midst of his career year, who is also a good defensive catcher and is signed cheaply through 2010 is about as valuable as you can get. Think Mark Texeira valuable; a player for whom the Rangers recieved Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Jarrod Saltamacchia.

The top prospects in Boston's system are already up at the MLB level. The only prospect in the Red Sox listed on any top-50 list is a 1st baseman, a position which the Indians already have too many potential bats. You would have to start the conversation with either John Lester, or more likely a combination of Justin Masterson and Clay Bucholtz, and then toss is a lesser arm (maybe a high-heat reliever?) and a position player.

Now a potnetial trade of Ryan Garko, on the other hand...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

First Look At David Huff?

The Chubby Indian is predicting a first appearance by 24 year old lefty David Huff, making a start on Sunday. With Jeremy Sowers sent down due to his usual ineffectiveness, Zach Jackson having just pitched on Friday night, and Aaron Laffey locked into a relief role, there aren't a lot of options. After all, the powers-that-be wouldn't honestly send us Tomo Ohka or Jack Cassel, after all the pain we have already endured in this young season, would they?

In 39.1 innings, Huff is 5-1 with a 4.35 ERA, with 32 Ks and 16 BBs. While those are not dominating numbers, he has dominated the minors for the last two seasons, and was also dominant at UCLA, and currently ranks 8th on Baseball America's list of prospects in the Indians system.

He has a make-up somewhat reminiscient of Cliff Lee, throwing a low 90's fastball with deceptive speed, mixing it in with a great changeup. While his curveball is not dominant, his slider has evolved into a great pitch, and his inflated ERA can be partially attributed to his working on that pitch.

As for who could be sent down? While many have speculated that Masa Kobayashi could be released, or that Valbuena could be sent down, here's a quote from Eric Wedge after last night's game, in regard to Jensen Lewis:

"He's throwing," Wedge said of Lewis. "I'm tired of watching him throw. He's got to pitch. He's got a lot of moxie, got a lot of guts. He has good stuff. But you've got to pitch. If you're going to make it up here, you can't miss spots by a foot or a foot and a half and expect to have success."
While Kobayashi has been a mess, and recent interviews make it sound as though he's lost all confidence, sending Lewis down to Columbus to get straightened out might make the most sense.

Unless they bring up two pitchers....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jamey Carrol to DL

Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer is reporting that utility man Jamey Carroll is going on the DL with a broken hand, after being struck with a pitch in Saturday's final exhibition game.

Tony Graffanino has been recalled from Columbus to take his place. Between Graffanino, Mark DeRosa, Josh Barfield, and Asdrubal Cabrera, the Indians should have more than enough versatility to cover his absence.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Scott Lewis shelled/Eddie Mujica traded

The Indian's 5th starter went a long way towards giving the fans in Cleveland a sense of trepidation in his last Spring start, giving up 13 hits and 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings, following up similar numbers in his prior start.

Lewis attributed a poor grip on the ball, due to lack of moisture in the air, to his poor start. There's not much to do but hope that was the case.

Also, struggling reliever Eddie Mujica was traded to the Padres, a team in dire need of pitching. Mujica has all the "stuff" you could want, but locating his pitches has been a struggle for him. Maybe a change of scenery, and guaranteed playing time at the major league level will help straighten him out. The Indians' pitching staff is crowded at botht the AAA and major league level, and it's hard to imagine how a guy like Eddie would have fit in.

The Indians will either recieve cash, or a player to be names. We will keep you posted as information on potential players comes to light.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Barfield wins final Spot

Josh Barfield will open the season as an additional utility man, adding some much needed speed to the roster.

While it remains to be seen what kind of arm Barfield has, his speed and range should make him an asset in the outfield, and at the very least an average 3rd baseman.

He also makes for a decent contingency plan, should Asdrubal Cabrera have a slow start, as he did in 2008. One of the two has to get back to form, right?

It remains to be seen how this affects David Dellucci's playing time, although it is hard to imagine him fitting in on the roster at this point. Barfield is young, with a ton of upside, and it is doubtful that Wedge and Shapiro put him on the roster with the intention of warming the bench. His defensive ability has never been in doubt; if he can get back to the offensive form he showed in 2006, he could be the long-term 2nd baseman for the Tribe, finally forcing the move of Peralta to 3rd. Barfield just needs to focus at the plate, use the whole field, and let his legs get him on base.

It would not be surprising to see Josh in at least 3 games per week, until he either earns more time, or strikes his way out of the organization.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Scott Lewis Wins 4th Spot

Eric Wedge has announced that OSU product Scott Lewis, who impressed fans with 4 wins in 4 starts in 2008, will open the season as the Tribe's #4 starter.

A player once considered to be a top draft pick, Tommy John surgery caused Lewis to freefall to the 3rd round of the 2003 draft. Lewis throws a plus change up, a good curve, and a deceptive fastball which usually resides in the high 80s.

Anthony Reyes will start in the 5th rotation spot.

In the eyes of The Chubby Indian, these two provide a significant upgrade over the Sowers/Laffey combination, which was the Tribe's last attempt at a youthful back of the rotation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Offseason Review

Tim Dierkes, over at our favorite website, has posted his evaluation of the Cleveland off-season.

Good evalutaion of the Tribe, although we think that he places a little too much value on Pavano and Reyes. David Huff, Scott Lewis, and even Zach Jackson are more than enough of an insurance policy for the inevitable failure of either the Tribe's 3rd or 4th starter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More of the Same for Adam Miller

Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer is reporting more of the same for long-time top prospect Adam Miller. His middle finger is damaged in such a way that, if cannot find a different way to deliver his pitches, he will need reconstructive surgery. The procedure would likely be career ending.

This is very disheartening to learn, as Miller has been the Indians' best home-grown prospect since C.C. Sabathia. We were hoping for him to jump in as a late-reliever this season, and take the reigns as closer in the next couple of years. Hundred mile per hour fastballs don't come around very often, and rarely are they teamed with the plus-plus slider that Miller can sling.

We wish him the best, and will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 4: Anthony Reyes

While being quick to complain about Mark Shapiro trading away several top players for AA prospects in 2008, hardly any Tribe fans praised him for making one of the most shrewd moves of 2009. On July 26th, Shapiro traded low-A reliever Luis Perdoma for Anthony Reyes, a 27 year old pitcher two years removed from being the top prospect of the Cardinals, and a hero of their 2006 World Series team.

Differences in pitching philosophy had been burning between manager Tony LaRussa and Anthony since his 2005 debut. LaRussa wanted him to develop his 2-seamer and become a ground ball contact pitcher, while Reyes envisioned himself as a strikeout pitcher, throwing his mid-90s heat high in the zone. This came to a head during a brutal 2007 campaign, when Reyes went 2-14 in 17 starts, with a 6.04 ERA, before being shipped down to AAA. LaRussa is not known as a man to back down from his opinions, and after a brief and failed stint in the Cardinals' 2008 bullpen, all of the past accomplishments in the world were not enough to prevent Anthony from being given away.

Despite a sore elbow causing an early end to his season, Anthony Reyes pitched far better than anybody could have expected, upon cracking the Tribe's MLB roster. He went 2-1 in his 6 starts, never giving up more than 2 runs in any game. 34.1 innings is hardly enough to make much in the way of judgements, but the kid looked great. Sometimes a change of scenery will do wonders for a young player (see Brandon Phillips). It is interesting to note that Reyes' K/9 and BB/9 went down by more than 2 points each, upon joining the Tribe, while his ground/fly ratio rose from .60 to a career-high .87. To hear Reyes tell it, he was able to do his own thing upon arriving in Cleveland, and felt more comfortably. While his assessment is undoubtedly true, looking at the numbers it is probable Eric Wedge and Carl Willis (who have a known affinity for ground-ball pitchers) reinforced LaRussa's advice, and Reyes took it to heart this time.

As he enters spring training, the fourth spot in the rotation is essentially his to lose. He has more MLB experience than anybody else competing for the spot (the exception being Jeremy Sowers), while also having a more successful 2008 run than any of them (other than Scott Lewis). Reyes has no options left, and is too talented of a pitcher to clear waivers. He has all the talent needed to be a successful pitcher, and he has valuable post-season experience. Hopefully he takes this opportunity to deliver on all of his potential, or at least to deliver his first full MLB season.

Chubby Indian says:
180IP, 14-8, 3.89 ERA, 120 Ks, 80 BBs. The Tribe's pleasant surprise of the year, and a steal who helps alleviate the lingering pain of a stolen Brandon Phillips.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Choo injury?

It is reported now that Shin Soo Choo may withdraw from the WBC at the request of the Indians, amidst reports of a sore left arm. This is the same arm for which he had Tommy John surgery in 2007, so the highest precautions are definately warranted. No specific information on the injury has been confirmed, other that soreness somewhere in his arm.

On a positive note, Eric Wedge is planning on putting Grady Sizemore in the lineup as a DH, sometime this weeked, indicating that he is recovering from his strained groin. Hafner is expected to start DHing soon as well. Kerry Wood threw a 40 pitch bullpen session, and was reported to be feeling no lingering back pain. No word on Adam Miller's finger.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Adam Miller Gives Spring Training the Finger

Long time top prospect Adam Miller has been sitting out of Spring Training practice with a sore finger.

Yes, it's the same finger as usual.

We will keep you posted with any updates...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Grady Sizemore injury

No need to worry about the Tribe's star player getting injured in the World Baseball Classic.

Girls all over the Greater Cleveland area are holding their breath, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports that Grady Sizemore will miss the WBC with a strained groin muscle. With Grady out, Curtis Granderson and Ryan Braun will likely handle the majority of center field for Team USA.

This sort of injury is not very serious, and Grady's withdrawal is likely a precautionary measure. Barring any complications, there is no reason to think that anthing more than a little rest will be needed to have him ready for opening day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kerry Wood injury?

Reports are rolling in from Arizona about a sore back that is bothering $20 million closer Kerry Wood.

Eric Wedge broke the news following the Tribe's opening game of the spring training season, stating that Wood has not thrown since last weekend.

According to Bud Shaw of the Plain Dealer, Wood attributed the soreness to not having worn spikes all winter, and that he has experienced such pain the last few springs. That's fine, and it may be nothing, but Wood has logged one full season out of the last six. In baseball terminology, "soreness" has a funny way of turning into something more serious (see Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook, and Anthony Reyes, for starters).

Hopefully it is nothing, but this is something that The Chubby Indian will be monitoring closely.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 3B: Jake Westbrook

For the last few seasons, Mark Shapiro's luck with big contracts has been pretty dismal.

$12 million for 3 years of David Dellucci gave him a batting average hovering around .230, a total of 15 HRs in two seasons, and half of an outfield platoon (along with Jason Michaels) that embodied the thought "if you have two guys playing a position, you have none". All of this from a guy with a SLG of over .500 the previous two years.

$24 million into Travis Hafner's $57 million deal , and he has 29 HRs, an OPS of bairly .800, and a mysterious injured shoulder to show for it.

$6 million for two seasons of "Borowski insurance" from supposed Japanese fireballer Masa Kobayashi bought a 4.52 ERA, 6 saves in 9 chances. He lacked the endurance to make it out of August.

Add once-reliable starter Jake Westbrook onto this list. After putting up 210+ innings for three straight seasons, with a total of 44 wins, Jake was awarded a 3 year, $33 million deal. He then went 6-9 in 152 innings in 2007, an oblique injury taking him out for two months. In 2008, he only pitched 34 innings, contributing 1 win. He missed an early part of the year to an abdominal strain, and then suffered an elbow injury which required Tommy John surgery. In September, he added hip surgery for good measure.

While Carl Pavano is supposedly "keeping the seat warm" for Westbrook, the notion that Jake will return is anything but a sure bet. He's scheduled to begin pitching simulated games in April, putting him on a timetable for a July return. However, returning to MLB form a year after after Tommy John surgery is no sure bet. While the surgery is not quite the kiss of death it once was, pitchers usually require of few months of in-game pitching to get back to form. Look at Francisco Liriano last season. He came back early on, and walked 13 in 10 innings. The Twins sent him down to AAA, and he didn't see the mother club again until August. A 2010 return to form for Jake is a much more realistic scenario.

Of possible benefit to Westbrook's rebound is his pitching style. He just lets his sinker do its thing low in the zone, and trusts his defense. Despite developing a good change that can be an "out" pitch, he has never been a strikeout pitcher. He's a contact pitcher, so as long as he can keep his sinker down, he should be alright. We can be optimistic and assume that he's not going to have the "high in the zone" control issues, like Liriano had, that result in a lot of walks. All of this, however, is being pretty optomistic.

Chubby Indian Says:
65 IP, 3-5, 5.19 ERA, 20K and 20 BBs. The Indians give Jake enough innings to evaluate a 2010 contract. He performs about as well as you could hope.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Goodbye Andy Marte, Hello Juan Salas

The Indians designated one time top prospect and long time disappointment Andy Marte for assignment yesterday, making room for reliever Juan Salas, acquired in a trade that sent minor league utility man Isaias Velasquez to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The release of Marte was not a very surprising move, as he has used up multiple opportunities, showing nothing that would make anybody believe he can hit at the major league level. He burned through all of his options in the last 4 years (between ATL and CLE), and was left in a position where even a great spring would be unlikely to get him a spot on the roster. The odds of finding a trading partner for him are about the same as Rickey Henderson finding himself a spot on an MLB roster, so he will probably wind up on waivers. If no other teams claim him (given his youth and supposed power, it's hard to imagine that nobody will), he will wind up back in Spring training and find his way onto the bench in Columbus.

As for Jaun Salas, he's a 30 year old righty with a good cutter, and no secondary pitches. He will most likely wind up in Columbus, as he has one option left, and be one of the first pitchers in the mix to get a Cleveland bullpen spot at some point in 2009. It is hard to imagine him having much of an impact, being a 30 year old with a one pitch arsenal.

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 3A: Carl Pavano

Mark Shapiro felt strongly enough about Carl Pavano's chances for a rebound year that he included in his modest $1.5 million deal a guaranteed spot on the MLB roster, provided he makes it out of spring training in good health. Given his history, that's really not much of a guarantee.

Pavano is considered, very deservedly, one of the great free agent busts in recent history. A $40 million contract gave the Yankees 9 wins and 145 innings over the span of 4 years. Teammates and managers alike questioned his work ethic, and his willingness to work through injuries. Fans booed him walking off the mound with a trainer last season. The media blasted him for refusing a move to the minors late in 2007, to make room for another player on the Yankee 40 man roster, in the heat of a pennant race. He has started a total of 9 major league games since June of 2005.

On the other hand, Pavano is a guy who went 420 innings and won 30 games for the Marlins from 2003-04, including 3 postseason wins, helping bring home the world series win. Yet even before that, injury problems plagued the once high-powered righty. Age, injury, and atrophy have worn down his million dollar arm, and now he relies on control to get outs with a fastball that has fallen into the low 90s. A good slider and change remain in his arsenal, and while he can hit all corners of the strike zone with all of these pitches, none of them are really "elite" pitches anymore.

It's hard to expect much of anything out of Pavano. One can't imagine a 33 year old getting back into the form that had him 6th in Cy Young voting in 2004, especially one coming back from Tommy John surgery. It's hard to imagine he even has the endurance left in his arm to start a whole season, after missing so much time with injury. The best one can realistically hope for is that he can hold down the #3 spot until Jake Westbrook can return mid season, or a strong early performance by some of the tribe's younger arms can push him off the roster. At least it is a low-risk one year deal, based heavily around incentives (it can total out at around 6 million if he starts 35 games and 235 innings). He can be cut loose at any time. Barring a slow prolonged recovery by Jake Westbrook and an abysmal AAA performance by a majority of the Tribe's seven major league ready arms, Pavano will be on a pretty short leash. We would love nothing better than to be proven wrong on this one.

Chubby Indian Says:
85 IP, 3-4, 5.30 ERA, 45 Ks, 30 BB. Pavano does a serviceable job as a starter, but finds himself either out of a job or in a long relief role by the All-Star break.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 2: Fausto Carmona

While he probably provided the highlight of the 2008 season, Fausto Carmona sending a glassy eyed Gary Sheffield back to his dugout propped up by his teammates is not exactly the lasting image that fans were looking for. Fausto spent two months on the DL with a strained hip, and the rest of the season he was plagued by control problems. These manifested themselves in his 70 BB in 120.2 IP, compared to 58 Ks.

It's a testament to his abilities that, despite those abysmal numbers, he managed to scrape together an 8-7 record , finishing with a 5.44 ERA. A K/BB ratio of .82 is atrocious for Fausto, considering that he posted a 2.25 in that same category last season. Not even a league leading 2.96 ground/fly ball ratio can get you out of that. What happened to the man who finished 4th in Cy Young voting in 2007, his first full season as a starter? Early on, opposing batters simply weren't biting on his powerful sinker, which seemed to fall consistently below the strike zone. He still managed to get himself out of jams, prior to his injury, posting a 3.10 ERA up to that point. As the season wore on, he seemed to lose confidence, posting a 7.61 ERA and averaging just a hair over 5 innings per game in 12 games, after coming back.

The problem, it seems, was a classic case of a young player over-pitching. Carmona uses a high right leg kick in his delivery, and while trying to get more power on his sinker, increased the kick, throwing off his balance. This resulted in losing control, and his pitches sailing out of the strike zone. This manifested itself whenever he got behind in the count. When pitching from a 1-0 count, he walked 57 and fanned 14. Compare that to 47 BB and 46 Ks last season. Even worse were his 26 BBs and 4 Ks from a 3-2 count. He could start off well enough, throwing 240 first pitch strikes compared to 163 balls, but he simply wasn't finishing guys off.

What to expect in 2009? There's a lot of reason for optimism. His mid-90s sinker is a rare pitch that is on par with a CC Sabathia slider, or even a Mariano Rivera cutter. It travels almost as fast as his 97 MPH fastball, except that it drops about two feet. When those two pitches are on, they are an un-hittable tandem. The only real problem was his control, and that was mostly mental. A defensive upgrade at third in Mark DeRosa should be a big help to a ground ball pitcher like Carmona, and an offense that (hopefully) doesn't start the season in a slump will take a lot of pressure off his arm. It's hard to bet against this kid.

Chubby Indian says:
210 IP, 17-4, 3.50 ERA, 130 Ks, 60 BBs. A determined Carmona bounces back in a big way and puts himself right in the Cy Young mix.

The 2009 Starting Rotation Part 1: Cliff Lee

That Cliff Lee owns the top spot in the Tribe's rotation should be obvious to any fan who was conscious during the 2008 season. Lee guaranteed himself the opening day start by becoming the Tribe's first 20 game winner in over two decades, while bringing the club their second Cy Young trophy in as many years. Cliff's ability to repeat his 2008 numbers, however, is anything but guaranteed.

With countless awards on his mantle, it's easy to forget that he is the same pitcher who went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 2007, walking 36 batters in 97 innings on his way to Buffalo. He proceeded to walk 25 more batters in 41 AAA innings, winning the right to watch his team lose the ALCS from home.

Forced to battle with Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers for the 5th spot in the Tribe's 2008 rotation, Cliff pulled off possibly the greatest turnaround in baseball history. He went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, with 34 BB and 170 Ks. He improved his ground ball % by almost 10 points, while adding 1 K/9 and subtracting a HR/9 from his previous year's numbers.

The secrets to his success, which he tells all who will listen, were confidence and command. Cliche'? Probably. Effective? The results speak for themselves. Can he keep it going in 2009? While it is unlikely that he would revert to his disastrous 2007 season, it remains equally unlikely that he will keep his ridiculous 2008 numbers going. The AL is too tough of a league for a guy who lacks the "stuff" of a CC Sabathia or Johan Santana to repeat such a performance.

Chubby Indian Says:
200 IP, 15-5, 4.10 ERA, 135 K, 42BB. Probably not Cy Young numbers, but a damn fine season.

Spring Training Questions

In The Chubby Indian's eyes, these are the key questions to be answered coming out of Spring Training 2009:

1) The Starting Rotation. Who wins the 5th spot in the rotation? How will the top two starters rebound from their 2008 seasons? What can we expect from Anthony Reyes and Carl Pavano?

2) The Bullpen. Who is the best candidate for the final spot? Who will get the first crack at the 7th and 8th innings? Who is most likely to fall apart? And who will be waiting in Columbus to make an impact?

3) Ryan Garko/Kelly Shoppach. They are less competing with Victor Martinez for the C/1B spots, and more competing with each other (and likely Travis Hafner) for at bats. Who is most likely to come out on top?

4) The Final Bench Spot. Will Josh Barfield show that he deserves a place in Cleveland? Will Trevor Crowe make his long awaited debut? Can anything Andy Marte does in Spring Training get him a spot in Cleveland, since he is out of options?

5) Who is next in line for OF/1B/DH in Columbus? Who will get the first crack at Cleveland between Matt LaPorta, Jordan Brown, and Michael Aubrey? Can long time AA favorite Trevor Crowe hold off rising star Michael Brantley to win a shot at the majors?

6) Will there be contract extensions for Jake Westbrook, Cliff Lee, or Victor Martinez? All will be entering their (club) option years, in 2010. What money will they command, when will be the best time to offer money, and are they worth bringing back?

Stay tuned to The Chubby Indian in the upcoming weeks, as we will be conducting an in depth analysis of each question.

Spring Training Roster

With pitchers and catchers reporting yesterday, the inaugural spring training season in Goodyear Arizona is officially underway.

The (semi official) Spring training Roster:


*Aquino, Greg RHP
Betancourt, Raphael RHP
*Cassel, Jack RHP
*Chulk, Vinnie RHP
Carmona, Fausto RHP
*Edell, Ryan, LHP
*Herges, Matt RHP
*Huff, David LHP
Jackson, Zach LHP
#Kobayashi, Masahide RHP
Laffey, Aaronn LHP
Lee, Cliff LHP
Lewis, Jensen RHP
Lewis, Scott LHP
Meloan, John RHP
Miller, Adam RHP
Mujica,, Edward, RHP
*Ohka, Tomo RHP
Pavano, Carl RHP
#Perez, Raphael LHP
Reyes, Anthony RHP
Rondon, Hector RHP
Rundles, Rich LHP
*Saarloos, Kirk RHP
Sipp, Tony LHP
Smith, Joe RHP
Sowers, Jeremy, LHP
Westbrook, Jake RHP
Wood, Kerry RHP


*Espino, Damaso R/R
Giminez, Chris R/R
Martinez, Victor S/R
Santana, Carlos S/R
Shoppach, Kelly R/R
Toregas, Wyatt R/R


*Aubrey, Michael L/L
Barfield, Josh R/R
*Brown, Jordan L/L
Cabrera, Asdrubal S/R
*Cannizaro, Andy R/R
Carrol, Jamey R/R
#DeRosa, Mark R/R
Garko, Ryan R/R
*Head, Stephen L/L
*Hodges, Wes R/R
Marte, Andy R/R
*Merchan, Jesus R/R
*Mills, Beau L/R
#Peralta, Jhonny R/R
Valbuena, Luis L/R
*Valdez, Wilson R/R


*Brantley, Michael L/L
#Choo, Shin Soo L/L
Crowe, Trevor S/R
Dellucci, David L/L
Fransisco, Ben R/R
*LaPorta, Matt R/R
#Sizemore, Grady L/L

Designated Hitter:

Hafner, Travis L/R

* Designates Non-Roster Invitee
# May miss time due to World Baseball Classic