Jason Ruggiero joins Andy Burdick this week as Bob and his wife head to the mighty northeast on a journey of self discovery. In his stead, the two catch up on all things baseball just in time for the All-Star Game. The duo open the podcast discussing their likes and dislikes of the All-Star festivities. Andy then digs into the Pirates recent stretch of play and learns that being mediocre sometimes is good enough. He talks about Pittsburgh’s buying/selling options at the deadline, the success that farmhands Adam Frazier, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, and Tyler Glasnow have had in limited time on the Major League roster, and he finishes chatting with Jason about Pittsburgh’s options with Andrew McCutchen and how Austin Meadows affects the franchise. Jason then digs deep into the Tribe’s options for a Game 1 starter of a playoff series, the success of Danny Salazar, the outstanding play of Francisco Lindor, and the 2016 success of Jose Ramirez. The two then finish up the podcast by discussing the Double-A All-Star Game and its Tri-State participants.
The 2015 trade deadline has come and gone so you get an hour and twenty minutes of podcast goodness today, but before Jason and Andy discuss things with the Tribe, they first discuss an appropriate age to bring your child to a baseball game. Once they finish with that discussion at the 12:45 mark, they then dive into the Cleveland Indians. Jason gives his thoughts on the Brandon Moss trade, the Carlos Carassco trade that never was, Jason Kipnis and leadership in the Indians’ clubhouse, and Andy waxes poetic about Francisco Lindor‘s recent production at the plate. Then around the 44:00 minute mark, Andy and Chris Bradley dig into the Pirates’ trade deadline: they first hit on the Aramis Ramirez homecoming, Joe Blanton and the least sexy trade ever and the rest of the Pirates trades before finishing up talking about A.J. Burnett‘s elbow (or what’s left of it) and Jung Ho Kang’s hot streak the last month. Andy then finishes with a quick SeaWolves shout out and talks about going to meet former Pirates manager Jim Leyland this week!
On this week’s podcast, Andy and Jason discuss the Major League Baseball’s All-Star problem with the Kansas City Royals as well as the new Home Run Derby rules. Jason then talks the successes of Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber as well as the struggles of Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez. Andy then discusses the slow start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and how it has affected their playoff hopes in 2015, as well as Jung-ho Kang’s adjustments and Gregory Polanco‘s lack of progress. They finish up talking about the Erie SeaWolves and their less than stellar season on the field, but incredibly fan-friendly ballpark.
Real baseball has returned in Florida and Arizona this spring! Position battles and weird injuries are everywhere as Andy and Jason talk about Hunter Pence and his broken forearm. Andy talks about both of those things in regards to Pirates as Corey Hart has a hot tub related injury and Jung-ho Kang hits an opposite field home run. Andy also talks about the 5th starter spot in the Pirates’ rotation being up for grabs as well as catcher Francisco Cervelli bonding well with staff ace Gerrit Cole. Jason then jumps into the conversation talking about his favorite players to watch in camp (Francisco Lindor) and his undying love for Bruce Chen, even though Dan in Buffalo does not approve. Jason also talks about Trevor Bauer‘s clean mechanics and the 5th starter spot in the Tribe’s rotation as well.
Right now the Indians are ice cold despite being in the warm glow of the West Coast. Thankfully here at TSM Baseball we don’t just follow the Indians and there are plenty of story lines to follow throughout the Indians minor league system. Here’s your weekly dose of who’s hot and who’s not in the Indians minor league system.
Welcome to yet another new weekly feature here at Tri-State of Mind! The CurveDucken report will feature highlights and prospect analysis week-to-week regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates Double-A affiliate, Altoona Curve and the Cleveland Indians Double-A affiliate, Akron Rubber Ducks.
The name comes from a moment of clarity I had at work whilst trying to come up with a way to report on these two teams at the same time. It is an obvious play on the semi-popular engastration dish, “Turducken”.
Akron opened their season in Binghamton on April 3, which yours truly had planned to attend, but life got in the way. Akron dominated with a 7-1 victory. Meanwhile, weather prevented the Curve from opening their season on April 3, so they had to settle for a twin-bill on Saturday the 5. The Curve lost both games against Tri-State’s hometown team, the Erie SeaWolves. Continue reading
It’s finally here! Time to reveal my number one prospect for 2014 in the Cleveland Indians farm system. I’m sure you have no idea who I’m going to select (insert sarcasm here) but you might have questions about the previous 15 prospects I ranked. If that’s the case be sure to check out #’s 20-16, #’s 15-11 and #’s 10-6 before you go any further. If you’re up-to-date on your prospects well bully for you – you’re cleared to move on to the Top 5 below.
Lindor Flashes Power
However, on Sunday afternoon Lindor flashed some power for the Arizona crowd when he slugged a three-run homerun over the right field wall in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Mariners. It might only be March, but it’s always nice to see your top prospect performing.
Bauer Throwing More Strikes
The spring training story I’m the most interested in this year is probably Trevor Bauer’s attempt to recover from an awful 2013. In his first spring start Bauer began by walking the first two batters he faced. Needless to say, that wasn’t exactly the way Indians fans were hoping things would go. But, flashing the mental strength we saw last year during spot starts in Cleveland, Bauer managed to get out of the inning un-scathed with some help from Yan Gomes on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play. (Which was nice since an error by Gomes helped contribute to Bauer’s sticky situation.) He needed 22 pitches to get through one inning and flashed a nice-looking curveball but had trouble locating it at times. In the end it was the same old Bauer. He worked up in the zone, was often behind in the count and relied on his mental toughness and plus stuff to escape a true disaster. In the past
Bauer has stated in the past that he likes to work up in the zone and even once tweeted “Can SOMEONE explain to me why fastballs down in the zone are so revered? I don’t get it. But baseball is obsessed with fastballs down…why?” The link above contains some analysis of that statement but let’s just say that elevated pitches result in more swings and misses but also more bases per hit. I think the matter could be studied more thoroughly (for example breaking the strike zone down into more than two pieces since no one wants to throw down the middle of the plate) but I think the basic conclusion is fairly accurate.
Regardless, when Trevor Bauer made his second spring appearance on Sunday he looked much sharper. He worked ahead in the count more and located more pitches in the bottom of the zone despite giving up a home run. Manager Terry Francona was quoted as saying, “He looked like he had conviction with his fastball. He worked ahead. He threw some fastballs down. Then he spun his breaking ball off of it. That was really exciting.”
In Spring Training the stat line isn’t everything.
Indians Acquire Sellers, DFA Cooper
On Sunday the Indians acquired infielder Justin Sellers from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations. Infielder David Cooper was designated for assignment in order to clear roster space for Sellers, although the Indians did say that they would bring Cooper back into camp if he clears waivers.
Sellers has spent time at second base, shortstop and third base throughout his career. Last year he hit .188 in limited opportunities with the Dodgers (13-for-69) and .270 with Triple-A Alberquerque. The
addition of another utility infielder to camp is interesting since Elliot Johnson is already in camp and was presumably filling that role.
According to Francona one reason Sellers was acquired is that infielder Jose Ramirez has been slow to recover from the thumb injury he suffered during winter ball and recently injured his ankle while running on a treadmill. Ramirez is scheduled to play four innings on Tuesday in a “B” game.
On Monday morning the Indians sold out their home opener on April 4 vs. the Minnesota Twins in 15 minutes.
Santana began playing third base this offseason in Winter Ball with his Dominican team Leones del Escogido. Initially he struggled but eventually he progressed to the point where he was beginning to look comfortable. In fact, his Leones team continued to use Santana at third base throughout the playoffs. It’s important to remember that fact since Winter Ball teams are not at the mercy of MLB teams. In other words, if Santana was struggling they could have easily moved him back to first base for the playoffs. The fact that they didn’t do that means they had confidence in his abilities at the hot corner.
Cabrera disappointed by his season and his performance in the AL Wild Card game last year texted Manager Terry Francona the night of the Wild Card loss and told his skipper he could do more. Then after taking a month off to rejuvenate himself Cabrera set out to stand by his word.
- Tribe prospect Tony Wolters is back in big-league camp this year but as a catcher this time. Wolters made the position switch following Spring Training last year and got solid reviews in High-A Carolina. Francona said the best news for Wolters is that you can’t tell that he’s a converted catcher.
- Reliever Frank Herrman is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. Herrman has begun throwing to batters.
- Former Indians Carlos Baerga is in camp as an instructor. Baerga spent the winter managing the Mayaguez Indians in the Puerto Rican winter league. Current Tribe prospect Roberto Perez was part of Baerga’s team.
- Former Indians player and manager Mike Hargrove is also in camp. Hargrove is currently a special advisor to the Indians front office.
- Live batting practice begins on Friday.
With only eight days until pitchers and catchers are due to report in Goodyear there are still some big names on the free agent market. So let’s dig into another edition of Noise on the North Coast and see where things stand in the free agent market for starting pitchers.
The Waiting Game
In the second half of 2013 Ubaldo Jimenez had a 1.98 ERA and was certainly the best pitcher on the Indians. In fact, he was probably the best pitcher in baseball, but just a few days before players start reporting to Spring Training Jimenez still doesn’t have a job.
The first hold-up was Masahiro Tanaka, but he signed weeks ago. Now the hold-up seems to come down to one thing – money. I’m sure that the contracts Jimenez is being offered are not what he had in mind when he entered free agency. Those offers of course are tempered by the fact that teams who sign Jimenez will lose a draft pick and the bonus pool money that goes along with that pick. That means Jimenez has to decide if he wants to take a below-market deal with the Indians or someone else.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer hit on an interesting point over the weekend. We all know that since the Indians gave Jimenez a qualifying offer in November that they will earn a compensation draft pick if he signs elsewhere. But what if the Indians value that extra draft pick (and the bonus pool money that comes with it) more than they value Jimenez? It’s an interesting idea, especially when you consider the possibility of bringing Jimenez back on a one-year deal.
Every offseason analysis of possible scenarios for Jimenez focused on the idea of minimizing risk and that’s understandable since Jimenez has been such an inconsistent pitcher. From that perspective, the Indians ability to possibly sign Jimenez to a one-year deal seemed like a great scenario for the Tribe – the highest level of risk protection. What writers failed to consider in that scenario is that the potential return from that deal was lowered as well. What if Jimenez signed for one year and had a poor year? If he performs poorly the Indians would be foolish to offer him a qualifying offer (for fear he would accept the offer) and would then lose a compensation pick (which is between the first and second round) for one year of poor performance.
The Indians front office is probably working hard to hedge against that situation. On a one-year contract the best hedge would be the lowest possible salary but that is still an un-even trade (one year of control versus six years of control of a late first-round pick). If I were in the Indians front office I would be working to sign Jimenez to a longer-term deal, something like three years, with a fairly low AAV each year and plenty of incentives. This would protect the Indians financially in case the deal backfires, push Jimenez to perform at an elite level and balance out the cost of losing a late first round pick.
Spring Training Invites
With just over a week until pitchers and catchers report I thought it would be a good time to list all of the new faces that will be joining the Tribe in the desert. FYI – Every player who is currently on the 40-man roster is invited to Spring Training. The list below are the additional players that have been invited.
David Aardsma, Scott Atchison, Travis Banwart, Matt Capps, Tyler Cloyd, Shaun Marcum, J.C. Ramirez, Mike Zagurski
Luke Carlin, Jake Lowery, Matt Treanor, Tony Wolters
Jason Giambi, Elliot Johnson, Francisco Lindor, Ryan Rohlinger, Joey Wendle
Matt Carson, Jeff Francoeur, Nyjer Morgan, Tyler Naquin
– Jose Ramirez is still about three weeks away from returning to baseball activities. He underwent surgery on his thumb this winter after suffering a thumb injury sliding into third base in a Dominican Winter Ball game.