Friday, August 11, 2017

WTF...yesterday's 8th inning was ridiculous

I normally don't rant about individual games...but I have had my moments where I do.

This is one of them.

Besides the lack of hitting, lack of timely hitting and, well, did I mention the lack of hitting, there was the 8th inning.

Twice, not once but TWICE, the Indians could have turned a double play just by catching a foul pop on a suicide squeeze.   The second time would have ended the inning, giving Corey Dickerson no chance to hit his 3 run HR.

Now these were suicide squeezes and, in each case, the runner on 3rd did not exactly sprint back to 3rd base once the ball was popped up.  He froze.   In each case if we catch the ball we easily double him up. 

Now, the first one was a difficult attempt by Urshela but, given that it is Urshela and given that replays clearly showed his glove got to the point where the ball was going to hit the ground (or just past it), I think it is a play that should be made.

But, OK, let's give that one to the Rays as a difficult play.

However, the next one was a joke.   Pop up that Santana muffs.   Now, maybe there is a rule in baseball that I don't know about that made this a dead ball as soon as Santana touches it, meaning the runner is allowed to return to 3rd.   However, if that obscure rule does not exist, then all Santana has to do is catch the freakin' easy popup and turn and lob to 3rd and we are out of the inning.  

Really, really bad play, unless that obscure rule truly exists. 

I would like to say it cost us the game but it was crappy hitting that cost us that game.  I watched the Cardinals at the same time as the Indians last night and the Cardinals put up a bunch of runs with rookies getting clutch hits.   In contrast, we have Edward Encarnacion making out after out. Perfect example was in the first inning yesterday.   Ramirez was on first and the Logan Morrison was holding him on.   The rest of the infield was on the left side of second base.   Encarnacion could have taken either of the first two pitches to right field for a hit just by rolling the ball in that direction and Ramirez would have made 3rd.   Instead he grounded into a double play once the count got to 0-2.   Snell was struggling all season and we had the chance to keep the pressure on.  Encarnacion was hitting .200 since the all-star break.   He should have hit the ball on the ground into right field.  Just bad managing and bad hitting, in my opinion.

Jay Bruce

Good pickup by the Indians.   The cost is right...unlike the Joe Smith trade where we WAY overpaid for two months of a 7th inning guy AND in a situation where we needed hitting more than pitching. 

Why is it, thought   that the other teams know EXACTLY the guy(s) who are the most intriguing prospects to pluck from our system.  Not the most high profile, just the most intriguing.

Ryder Ryan is a guy who throws really hard but doesn't have that much pitching experience.   If you are thinking you have heard that before you are right.   Nick Goody came to us for Yoiber Marquina, the former catcher in our system who was starting to make headway as a pitcher before he went down with TJ surgery last year.

Ryan is a long shot to make the majors but, just like Pannone and Samad Taylor, is the type of guy who you might kick yourself about later.

Bruce is someone who can help us.   I really think he could help in the regular season and we need a lot of help with the offense.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trade Deadline hangover goes through Tuesday night

Well, in the Francona era there have been many memorable wins.

Tonight's game, to me, represents the most memorable loss in his tenure.   What about Game 7 of the World Series you say?  I say not even close.

You had your AL rivals (the Red Sox) at their place and you led 5-0, 7-5 and 10-9 and couldn't hold the lead.

Allen lost the game on a chopper off the plate and a strikeout wild pitch then giving a 3-1 meatball the other team's #9 hitter. 

This was a win we really needed.   We needed it against Boston/Sale in Boston.  We needed it because we had looked so pathetic last night.   We needed it because, well, we just plain needed it.

And we lost.  Let's hope this is just one game....but I said that about Monday's game, too.   Things like this are what start long losing streaks. 

At least Joe Smith pitched two scoreless innings.   BTW, following up on yesterday's trade, Hoynsie said neither Pannone or Taylor was on MLB's top 30 Indians prospects.   He is right.  First because Taylor is in rookie ball and because Pannone was #22 on Toronto's list.    Terry Pluto said neither Pannone or Taylor were on Baseball America's top 30 Indians' prospects.   Duh, that's because that list came out in January.   MLB said in their review of Panonne that his FLOOR is that of an end-of-rotation starter.  So we gave up a future ML starter and a guy (Taylor) just coming into his own for 2 months of Joe Smith.   Like the trade even less now.

Compare that to the Yankees getting Sonny Gray without giving up any of their top 3 prospects.   Two of the three guys they gave up are out for the season with injuries.   So we give up two decent prospects for Smith (by the Indians' own admission, 4th on their relief  and the Yankees give up three good prospects, with two of them hurt, for 2 years 2 months of Sonny Gray.  Doesn't seem to make sense, does it? 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Deadline rant - bad deal made

Let me preface this post by saying, historically, I have had a penchant for going hysterical over what others think are minor issues related to minor leaguers.

Still, even with that history, the trade for Joe Smith just sucks rotten eggs.

Big time sucks rotten eggs.

Look, we got a middling middle reliever, yeah, a middling 7th inning guy who is a free agent at the end of the year and, for this, we paid two of our CURRENT top 30 prospects in my opinion.

This was like the Guyer deal last year.  Do we even remember who was traded for Guyer? 

This was like the Coco Crisp deal last year.  I don't even think we traded anyone for Crisp, did we?

But in this deal we traded two guys, Thomas Pannone and Samad Taylor who were REAL, LEGITIMATE prospects...and for a freakin' right-handed reliever. 

We had lots of needs on this team, especially on offense.   The LAST thing we needed was another relief pitcher.  Yeah, I know, you can't have too much pitching and maybe there are some injury issues that we don't know about yet.

But Pannone and Taylor for Joe Smith.   That is just a bad, bad deal.   

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Report from Cleveland

OK, back from my annual trip to Cleveland where, while I didn't see a lot of baseball, I did take in a couple of minor league games.  Here is the report:

Monday, July 24th - Captains game with Brady Aiken pitching -

Brady Aiken - First, you know how at the end of the pitcher's pre-game warmups the umpire may lean over the catcher to see the last couple of pitches?   Not a good idea with Aiken!  Right now he looks like a somewhat tame version of the Wild Thing.   In his pre-game warmups he was all over the place, looking like he would never find the plate and his outing would be short.   Once the game started, however, he was, as advertised.   Not striking out a lot, walking some and, generally, having a lot of traffic on the bases.   Let's just say, with this guy almost everything is a high leverage inning so maybe he has a future as a Andrew Miller-like reliever.   He is certainly getting practice in pressure situations and, generally, is really successful.  Overall, a very good outing for him. 

One thing I saw with him is that he doesn't appear overly athletic.   One time he was really slow  getting over to first base to cover the bag on a grounder to Tapia (more on that next).  Another time there was a dribbler to his left and he fell down on his face trying to field it.

Emmanuel Tapia -  I came expecting to see some power from this guy and was not disappointed.  He hit his first ball so hard and it got out over the fence in center so fast that it fooled the base umpire who thought it had hit the fence when it really hit the backdrop and bounded back.  Eventually the umps changed the call to a HR, which was accurate.   He also showed that with two strikes and runners in scoring position he can shorten his stroke and, although he lined out to the shortstop, the fact that he could make that mid-at bat adjustment bodes well for his future.  There is some swing-and-miss in his game but he seemed more under control than a guy just swinging from his heels would be. 

If that wasn't enough, I also saw something that shocked me.   Tapia made not one, not two, but THREE great defensive plays in the game, diving twice to his left and once to his right to rob hitters of hits.   He was also otherwise solid around the bag, as well.  

This combination of power and defense is not normally seen at low A ball.  Those two attributes plus his developing two strike approach mean, to me, that we may really have something in this kid, something that I don't know if anyone really saw coming. 

Thursday July 27th - WIlliamport at Mahoning Valley with Zach Plesac on the mound for the Scrappers. 

I wrote previously that the combination of last year's draft of HS players, those HS players only moving up one level this year and the large number of college players we drafted this year gives Mahoning Valley a glut of position players.   When I was there Ulysses Cantu, Nolan Jones and Hosea Nelson did not play as it was their night to sit as manager Luke Carlin tries to rotate guys in to get everyone some ABs.

Zach Plesac - He looked as advertised, dominating hitters and being the anti-Aiken, keeping traffic off the bases.  He was on a pretty strict pitch count and so left after retiring the first batter of the 4th.

Samad Taylor - When your second baseman is hitting 3rd, a guy who normally hits leadoff, it gets your attention.   He isn't built like a 3-hole hitter but it is interesting that Carlin thought he could handle that better than other guys who could have batted 3rd.  (NOTE: interestingly Taylor was back leading off the next night and went 4-5).  The thing that struck me about Taylor is that it appears he has significant swagger to his game.   Not that swagger is a bad thing but that level of fire was unexpected for a guy so young.   I like him and he is definitely worth watching.

Scrappers bullpen - The college pitchers drafted this year continue to do very well.   It looks like the Indians, once again, have found college pitchers who stand a decent chance to develop into ML middle relievers, or more.

All-in-all a good couple of nights of viewing Indians' prospects and, what do you know, I got to see two wins, as well.  Now, back to real life or, at least, watching the trading deadline approach.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trade deadline rant

OK, besides today being an Indians' off day (some would speculate they have taken EVERY day off starting the Sunday before the all-star game) and me being pissed about the recent road trip, I am getting tired of reading about what the Indians should do by the trade deadline.   Since I am so tired of reading about it I decided to write about it...again.  So here goes...

I did a quick check on the Indians' losses this year and here is what I found:
  • they are in good shape as far as pitching goes, all things considered.  
  • their hitting is middle of the pack in most categories, including runs per game
  • their fielding is probably average or above
  • Here is how their losses break down":
    • Blowout losses (4+ run differential) in games we score 4 or more runs: 2 losses
    • Blowout losses in games we score 3 or less runs: 13
    • Close losses (3 or less runs) in games we score 3 or less runs: 15
    • Close losses in games we score 4 or more runs: 9
What does all this mean to me?

We are losing a lot of games (28) where we score 3 runs or less and not very many games (11) where we score 4 or more runs.   In 24 of our losses if we would have had a little more offense we would have won.   In 15 of those games our pitchers pitched OK, we just didn't score enough runs.  In 9 of those games those pitchers didn't pitch well but the offense kept the score close.

Looking at the stats and the game results, the answer is clear to me: 

Despite the struggles of Bauer, Tomlin and Salazar, what this team needs above anything else is more hitting.   They don't need any more pitching, they just need our pitchers to pitch.  With a little more offense even our struggling pitchers will win more often.  That, to me, is the bottom line here. 


We need offense.  We have lost this season so many times when we face a struggling pitcher that I can't even remember how many times that is.   Pitchers we should crush, we can't even score 4 runs off of them.

So where do we need offense?  Well catcher is obvious.   DH (Santana) is the next choice but even RF could use an upgrade.

Teams always pay dearly at the trade deadline as we found out last year.   So, if we are going to part with prospects let's get something of value...and long term return.

I have said it before and I will say it again.   The best value in hitters in this market is Giancarlo Stanton.   Basically, all he will cost us is one prime prospect and we have to eat his salary. 

So we get Stanton.  It is a STUPID move financially for the Indians but, prospect-wise, it is anything but stupid if we do this right.    Greg Allen, Naquin and McKenzie should get it done.  That's one of your top 10 prospects (top 30 in all of baseball) and one guy in the 10-25 range and Naquin who has significant upside somewhere other than here.

That is it.  

If we want to get creative, as I have said before, we put up a big package to get Realmuto and Straily, too.  I have posted that package below and I stick by it as an all-in trade that will help the Indians for years.   Maybe not as I structured it but something like that.

We need hitting.   Stanton, believe it or not, is the most cost (of prospects) effective way to get this done at a position (RF) that we can use help at. 

You get Stanton at a reasonable cost of prospects and you turn your season around.

If you just get Stanton and not the other two guys you then roll the dice and bring up Mejia.  Plus you can start musical chairs with Morimando, Merrit and even Pannone to see if you catch lightning in a bottle in that 5th starter spot, similar to what Clevinger is providing.

Giancarlo Stanton.   Get him at a reasonable price and I am pretty sure everything else will fall in place.   Get him, Realmuto and Straily and I think we are going back to the WS and, with the Cubs struggling, we stand a reasonable chance to win it all. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mid-Season Report

Here is how the Indians' top 50 prospects look (2017 draftees, DSL players and 2017 international signees not included) in addition to opinion on the Indians' prospects who have graduated to the majors:

Graduated to the majors:

Bradley Zimmer - His tools look really loud at this point.   I am just a little worried as his numbers look too good for what you would imagine based on his minor league results.

Mike Clevinger - Really, really good so far.  I think he has a greater chance of his current performance lasting than Zimmer does. 

Giovanny Urshela - An incomplete so far as he only has a few ABs but he looks like the same old Gio.  Good defense, good contact rate, little power or OBP.

Erik Gonzalez - Of all the Indians' prospects who have graduated to the majors, his skills and performance appear to be the most in line with his minor league performance.

Nick Goody - Excellent this year.  Exceeding all expectations but will it last?  Time will tell.

Shawn Armstrong - He is about to cross the Austin Adams line.   That is, the point where AAA performance is no reflection of how much he would struggle in the majors.  He needs to do a Nick Goody pretty fast here or he becomes a throw-in to some trade like he would have been last year in the Lucroy deal.

Here is my Indians' top 50+ prospects list:

1. Francisco Mejia
2. Triston McKenzie
3. Bobby Bradley
4. Yandy Diaz
5. Thomas Pannone
6. Yu-Cheng Chang
7. Shawn Morimando
8. Ryan Merritt
9. Ulysses Cantu
10. Oscar Gonzalez
11. Nolan Jones
11. Conner Capel
12. Will Benson
13. Erik Stamets
14. Emmanual Tapia
15. Matt Esparza
16. Greg Allen
17. Aaron Civale
18. Shane Bieber
19. Juan Hillman
20. Brady Aiken
21. Willi Castro
22. Julian Merryweather
23. Adam Plutko
24. Samad Taylor
25. Shao-Ching Chang
26. Sicnarf Loopstock
27. Francisco Perez
28. Luigi Rodriguez
29. Ryder Ryan
30. Cole Sulser
31. Erik Haase
32. Mike Papi
33. Nellie Rodriguez
34. Justin Garza
35. Brock Hartson
36. Li-Chen Chu
37. Logan Ice
38. Gavin Collins
39. Jonas Wyatt
40. Jose Fermin
41. Cameron Hill
42. Sam Haggerty
44. Louis Head
45. Mark Mathias
46. Tyler Krieger
47. Tim Cooney
48. Rob Kaminsky
49. Luke Wakamatsu
50. Luis Lugo
51. Cameron Hill
52. Ben Krauth
53. Tanner Tulley
54. Andrew Lantrip
55. Robbie Aviles
56. David Speer
57. Matt Whitehouse
58. Josh Martin
59. Jeff Johnson