Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reed Johnson A Good Fit for the Indians

Now that the Indians have re-signed Grady Sizemore to be their center fielder the 2012 starting outfield is set with Micheal Brantley in left, Grady Sizemore in center, and Shin-Soo Choo in right.

Right now that 4th outfielder spot appears to belong to Shelly Duncan but the Indians will be best served by acquiring a right handed hitting outfielder who can hit well against left handed pitching and can play all three outfield positions. A player that fits the Indians needs is free agent outfielder Reed Johnson.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Outside The Box: Franky G back to Cleveland?

When it comes to internet rumors during the Hot Stove league it is best to take each one with a grain of salt. With full disclosure I am writing this trade proposal as a winter conversation starter and not something that I think is probable but rather something that is a little outside the box thinking.

The Cleveland Indians send Travis Hafner and 2.75 million cash (or prospects) to the Seattle Mariners for center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. 

According to Cot's: 

Travis Hafner is due 13 million in 2012 and a 2.75 million dollar buyout in 2013 (or an additional year at 13 million). Hafner does have a limited no trade clause to specific teams. For our purposes let's assume 15.75 million due to Hafner.

Franklin Gutierrez is due 5.5 million in 2012, 7 million in 2013, and a 500K buyout in 2014 (or an additional year at 7.5 million). Gutierrez salary increases to 7.25 with 600 PAs in 2012. For our purposes let's assume 13 million for Gutierrez.

Player Evaluations
We'll look at each player through a 3 year window which is standard for player evaluation and we'll keep it to the basic statistics of average/on-base/slugging OPS, home runs, and stolen bases for Gutierrez.

Franklin Gutierrez has seen a decline in his numbers over each of the past 3 seasons. 
Played 153 games in 2009 and posted a slash line of .283/.339/.425 an OPS of .764 with 18 HR & 16 SB. 
Played 152 games in 2010 and posted a slash line of .245/.303/.363 an OPS of .666 with 12 HR.& 25 SB.
Played  92  games in 2011 and posted a slash line of .224/.261/.273 an PS of .534 with 1 HR.& 13 SB.

Travis Hafner has seen a flattening out of his numbers over the past 3 seasons.
Played   94 games in 2009 and posted a slash line of .272/.355/.470 an OPS of .826 with 16 HR.
Played 118 games in 2010 and posted a slash line of .278/.374/.449 an OPS of .824 with 13 HR.
Played   94 games in 2011 and posted a slash line of .280/.361/.449 an OPS of .811 with 13 HR.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tribe Memorable Play: Sizemore Returns with a Bang

On May 16, 2010 Grady Sizemore was forced to leave a game against the Orioles with a bruised left knee. What followed was microfracture surgery and nearly a year or rehab. Nearly 11 months to the day, against those same Baltimore Orioles, a healthy Grady Sizemore stood in the batters box at Progressive Field in his familiar leadoff position.

His first plate appearance was uneventful as he grounded out to second base. His second at-bat came with the Indians up 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning and Grady thrilled the crowd by blasting his first homer of the season off Baltimore righty Brad Bergesen. He added a double in the bottom of the fifth and ended his day going 2-4 with an RBI. The Indians received a strong performance by Fausto Carmona and went on to win the game 4-2 to improve to 11-4 on the season.

Grady Returns to the Indians May 17, 2011:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memorable Game #2: Indians Win 4-0 Over Angels for 8th in a Row

For many Indians fans the fact that Mitch Talbot was in the rotation at all was a mystery. During spring training Talbot gave up 24 runs in 23 innings while striking out only 8 and walking 8. In his first start of the year against the Red Sox he only lasted 4.1 innings giving up 2R/2ER on 5 hits whiles striking out 7 and walking 3.

After his start versus the Angels many fans were wondering where had this Talbot been? He went 8+ scoreless innings on 5 hits while striking out 4 and walking 2 while leading the Indians to their 8th victory in a row. Asdrubal Cabrera provided the Indians with an early 1-0 lead by belting his 4th homer on the year in the first inningand Matt Laporta gave the Indians a 4-0 lead with his second homer of the year in the 2nd inning. Talbot surrendered a leadoff double to Bobby Abreu to lead off the ninth and was replaced by Vinnie Pestano who retired all three hitters he faced to secure the victory.

Unfortunately for Talbot and the Indians, this version of Mitch Talbot would not be seen again in 2012. Prior to his next start he was placed on the DL with stiffness in the elbow and returned to the rotation on May 25 and was returned to Columbus after 9 starts where he posted a 1-6 record with a 7.43 ERA. Talbot did return and made one final start in late September against the Twins where he gave up 6 runs in 5.1 innings.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tribe Interested in Shane Victorino?

Rumors are flying that the Indians and Phillies are talking about a deal that would send Shane Victorino to the Indians for positional prospects. The Indians are looking for a CF to replace the departed Grady Sizemore and the Phillies are reportedly looking to move salary in order to make a splash in the free agent market.

Victorino (turns 31 on November 30th) would provide the Indians durability in center field, a top of the order hitter with the ability to swipe a bag, a patient hitter who doesn't strike out often, a switch hitter who performs better from the right side of the plate, and a hitter with extra base hit ability. He also was a gold glove winner in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and adds added veteran experience to a young offense.

The question becomes what are the Phillies are looking for? Are they most interested in a first baseman in exchange or would they want a number of prospects that could be used to acquire a first baseman from another organization? Or are the Phillies looking simply to move the 9.5 million to free up money to sign Michael Cuddyer who could play 1b until Ryan Howard returns?

I'd surmise that if the Indians and Phillies were to work a trade there would be a third team involved or a second deal involving a few of the prospects sent to Philadelphia would happen later this winter. Nothing is impossible in regards to acquiring Victorino and it is a breath of fresh air to hear the Indians being aggressive early in the offseason in addressing one of their most glaring needs heading into 2012.

  • Victorino is coming off his best offensive season of his career as he posted a slash line of .279/.355/.491 an OPS of .846 with a league leading 16 triples, 27 doubles, and 17 home runs. .
  • He stole 19 bases while only being caught 3 times. 
  • He earned a fWAR of 5.9 and a rWAR of 5.1.
  •  He had a K rate of 10.8% and a BB rate of 10.4%.  
  •  He had a wRC+ of 135 and a wOBA of .372. 
  • As a left handed hitter he has posted a slash line of .274/.336/.415 an OPS of .751 versus right handed pitching. 
  • As a right handed bat he has posted a .297/.371/.507 an OPS of .877.  
  • Victorino's numbers in 2011 were not the cause of a high BABIP as his BABIP was a very modest .292.

Memorable Game #1: Indians Sweep Sox 1-0

Fausto Carmona was roughed up (to say the least) by the Chicago White Sox in his first start of the year. He was pounded for 10R/10ER on 11 hits in just 3 innings of work while striking out 5 and walking 1. (Interesting to note, Carmona finished the year with a 5.25 ERA but 0.4 runs less at 4.85 without this game).  After a busy offseason which included signing Carl Crawford away from the Tampa Bay Rays, trading for Adrian Gonzalez, and getting healthy returns from Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Josh Beckett the Red Sox were picked by many to represent the AL in the World Series. The Indians had taken the first two games of the series and were looking for the series sweep on a Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Carmona went 7 dominant shutout innings allowing 2 hits while striking out 4 and walking 2. Jon Lester matched him with 7 shutout innings on 3 hits while striking out 9 and walking 3. 

The Indians only real threat off of Jon Lester came in the 7th inning when after Shelly Duncan led off with a double Austin Kearns (on his own) attempted a sacrifice bunt but popped out to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. In 3,291 career at-bats Kearns had attempted 1 sacrifice bunt! (2006 with Washington!).

Said Indians Manager Manny Acat after the game:
 “Austin did that on his own,” said Acta of the bunt. “He felt uncomfortable against that guy (Lester), and he felt the best way for him to move the runner to third was to bunt. Ideally you’d like him to swing away there, but he didn’t feel like he could move the runner that way, so he bunted. I understand that.”
In a scoreless tie Manny Acta turned to Chad Durbin to open the 8th. He retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia  for the first out before allowing a single to Marco Scutaro and walking Jacoby Ellsbury. Rafael Perez relieved Durbin and retired Carl Crawford on a groundout but runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd with 2-out. Perez ending the Red Sox threat by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to first baseman Matt Laporta.

Terry Francona turned to Daniel Bard to work the bottom of the eighth inning and he issued the dreaded lead off walk to light hitting Adam Everett. After Bard threw two balls to Orlando Cabrera Manny Acta gave Adam Everett the steal sign and on the next pitch he stole second base. On the next pitch Cabrera successfully sacrificed Everett to third to bring Asdrubal Cabrera to the plate. With the count in his favor 2-1 Asdrubal laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to push across the Indians lone run of the afternoon.

With a 1-0 lead and the game on the line Manny Acta called on Chris Perez to shut the door. The Red Sox were desperately trying to avoid their first 0-6 start since 1946 and looked to have a rally started after a 2-out walk to David Ortiz who was pinch run for by Darnell MacDonald. J.D. Drew lined a single off the leg of Chris Perez but the ball went to Adam Everett at 3b who saw that Darnell MacDonald had rounded 2b and threw back to Orlando Cabrera at 2b. To make matters worse for MacDonald he slipped on his way back into second and was tagged out for the final out of the game.

Tribe Memorable Play: Santana's Triple Play

April 3, 2011: The Indians needed a strong pitching performance from Justin Masterson in just their third game of the year. The White Sox battered Fausto Carmona for 10 runs in 3 innings and put up 7 runs against Carlos Carrasco in 6.2 innings. Masterson gave the Indians exactly what they needed by going 7 innings giving up 1R/1ER on 7 hits with 0 strikeouts and 2 walks as the beat the White Sox 7-1 for their first victory of the season.

Masterson received quite a boost from his defense in the top of the fourth inning. Masterson walked Carlos Quentin to lead off the inning and A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Alexei Ramirez attempted a sacrifice bunt which Carlos Santana (playing 1st base) made a diving catch on. Santana threw back to Orlando Cabrera covering first base for the second out and then threw back to Asdrubal Cabrera at second base to complete the triple play.  It was the first Triple Play by the Indians since Asdrubal Cabrera turned an unassisted triple play on May 12. 2008.

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Tribe Memorable Play: Varitek's Mental Mistake

When things are going good they're going good. 

April 6, 2011: The Boston Red Sox were 0-4 on the season and were trailing the Indians 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Red Sox relief pitcher Dennys Reyes was on the mound in relief of Daisuke Matsuzaka and he hit Travis Buck and Matt Laporta and walked Jack Hannahan to load the bases without retiring a batter. Dan Wheeler was called in to replace Reyes and Michael Brantley sent a line drive to Kevin Youkilis at third base.

Youkilis was unable to catch the ball in the air but since the  runners were frozen at their respective bases he had an easy double play. All Youkilis had to do was step on third and throw home to Varitek and Buck would be caught in a rundown and tagged out. Youkilis did his part by stepping on 3rd base but Jason Varitek thought it was a force out at home or didn't see Youkilis step on the bag and never tagged Travis Buck!

To make matters worse the next batter was Asdrubal Cabrera and he hit a 3-run homer to give the Indians an 7-2 lead. The Indians went on to win the game 8-4 and sent the Red Sox to their fifth straight defeat to begin the year.