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.