Thursday, September 22, 2016

TJ House and minor leaguers not currently on the active roster.

I guess I don't understand the math.   Dylan Baker has not pitched an inning this year.  His career has continually been slowed by injury.   Why not DFA him and keep TJ House?

Don't get that move to bring in Adam Plutko but, as I have said before, teams sometimes bring in wild cards at the end of the season as other teams don't have a book on the guy.  Good plan to bring in Plutko but don't agree with House.  So, like Plutko, don't like the roster management move, especially when Baker is the most likely player to be jettisoned when the 60-day DL guys come off that list after the playoffs are over. 

Yeah, House has not dominated when in Cleveland but he certainly has more value than Baker short term AND long term, even if the difference is very small as House has about worn out his welcome here.

So, another headscratcher for the Indians.  Not a huge deal but a headscratcher, nonetheless.

Also, don't underatand, except for space considerations, why Morimando and Urshela are not on the active roster.    Each might have had some value in September.  Each has, in my opinion, more long term value and a better chance to be on the playoff roster than does Jesus Aguilar.

Finally, although he is useful now, given that we are essentially qualified, should we still be playing Almonte at all?  I don't think he can become a free agent this winter but, if he can, should we just DFA him now?   He serves little value to this team, we can always sign him back later and it allows us to bring someone else up from the minors.  Just rambling now but we are trying to make the playoffs and playing guys who won't be around then makes little sense, except to use them as spring-training-like replacements for the last few games.   If we do that, even more reason to wonder why Urshela is not here as he gives us extra rest for one of Ramirez, Lindor and Kipnis.   Better to have two guys to rest those three instead of just one. 

Looking ahead to the playoffs

Yes, the Indians might lose all the rest of their games, the Tigers may get hot and we may not win the division.  It could happen.   But the odds are that it will not.

Given the probability of this team making the playoffs let's size up our playoff team.

Catcher - I think we are set with Perez and Gimenez,  unless one gets hurt
First base/DH - Santana and Napoli are set here, although I would like to see Napoli rested about 2/3 of the time the rest of the way as he is reaching unknown territory in terns of games played.
Infield - We are pretty well set as it looks like Ramirez, Lindor and Kipnis are locked in with Michael Martinez as the one utility infielder.
Outfield - Crisp, Davis, Chisenhall, Naquin and Guyer appear to have those spots manned pretty well.

That gives you 13 players but 5 of them are outfielders.   We are VERY short on the infield and will have two outfielders sitting on the bench doing nothing in every game.  In an AL series that is a little tough to take. 

The pitching staff is another story as that is far from set.

Starters - Kluber, Bauer and Tomlin are pretty much locks
Bullpen - Shaw, Miller, Allen, Otero, McAllister and Manship look like locks right now
Question marks - In an ideal world Tomlin would have been our long man and we would have gone with a 4 man rotation.   However, without Carrasco and Salazar we are not going to have that luxury.   This where Francona and his staff make their money.  We have 3 spots left to fill.  I don't know who they are going to pick but likely one of them has to be a starter with two relievers, one of whom can give you innings deep in the game if need be.  My guess would be that they would pick

Starter - Clevinger
Relievers - Joe Colon and Ryan Merritt

However, I really have no idea.  Will they keep one less outfielder and add another reliever so they can have a bullpen day, if need be?  Will they decide on different  relievers other than Colon? 

I don't have the answers.   I just hope Francona does

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Minor League Playoff Wrapup

Congrats to the Akron Rubberducks for winning the EL Championship with a 3-0 sweep of the Trenton Thunder.

"Rubberduckies you're the one, you make baseball so much fun, Rubberduckies, I'm awfully fond of you."

Columbus lost in the first round 3-1

Lynchburg lost in the Carolina League finals 3-1

AZL Indians lost in the first round 1-0.

Of note is that Mike Papi concluded the season (both regular season and the playoffs) VERY hot and showing VERY GOOD power.   This essentially bookends his season where his first couple of weeks were smokin' at Lymchburg.   So the guy remains an intriguing prospect.  It is hard to tell what is going on with him as, in watching him, I don't get why he looks so physically weak at the plate sometimes.  But I guess that is why I am typing and others are coaching.  Now, Mike, all we have to do is work in your performance in May, June, July and August and you will be a stud prospect once again.   With the loss of Clint Frazier, we need Papi to step up to replace him as a star in the making.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Minor League Season in Review

Well, the regular season is now over for all minor league teams.  The playoffs start for those that made it that far.   So let's take a look at how the Indians did (my prediction in parentheses)

Columbus 82-62 - 1st place IL West (70-74) (PLAYOFF TEAM)
Akron 77-64 - 1st place EL West (80-64) (PLAYOFF TEAM)
Lynchburg 84-66 - 1st place both halves of Carolina League North Division (PLAYOFF TEAM)
Lake County - 72-68 (76-68) - missed playoffs because finished one game back in MWL East
Mahoning Valley - 37-38 (32-44)
AZL Indians - 31-25 (33-23) 1st place in 1st half in AZL Central Div. (PLAYOFF TEAM) - Lost in playoffs to AZL Reds

Final overall minor league record: 383-323 for a winning pct. of .542.

Four of the 6 minor league teams made the playoffs.  If Lake County had won one more game in the first half they would have been in the playoffs, too.

Five of the 6 teams finished with winning records.  If MV had won only one of the games they lost this season all 6 teams would have had winning records, something that I don't think has happened to the Indians in their recent history.  Although winning isn't worth much in the minors it is good to win, nevertheless.

Most of the Indians' top prospects had seasons that will keep them in that top prospect category.  Only James Ramsey (lost to waivers), Dylan Baker (injuries) and Luke Wakamatsu (injuries) did not perform at a level that would keep them at that status.   Besides those 3 guys only Mitch Brown and Dorssys Paulino hurt their prospect status and many guys increased their worth by having good minor league seasons or making their ML debuts.   Two (Frazier and Sheffeld) were traded and one guy who would have moved up the prospect rankings (Ben Heller) was traded, too. 

All-in-all, a good season by the Indians minor leaguers, maybe the best in recent memory.   Now on to the minor league playoffs!  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Let's Break The Stereotype

So, the Indians are getting Coco Crisp.   Good for them.  He can be on the post-season roster if we get him, as expected, tomorrow.

9/1/16 UPDATE: Mission accomplished.  Colt Hynes isn't even a prospect.   About the right price to save Oakland $500,000 for the rest of the year.   If this isn't life imitating art I can see the Cleveland front office calling the club president asking if they can have money to make the trade just like in Moneyball. 

But hold on.  It is a trade, for a one-month rental (plus post-season, if one is there for the Tribe).  He is hitting .234 for the year, .239 against righties. 

As far as left handed hitter outfielders who can play in the post-season we have Chisenhall and Naquin.  Obviusly Almonte and Ramirez, switchhitters both, are out as the latter can't play in the post-season and the former is playing 3B. 

Still, this leaves me with two questions:

1. How much did we give up to get him?

and

2. How much did we give up to get him?

36 year old outfielders who are destined for free agency and who is have a below-average major league season who we are getting as a spare part should come very cheap...like for paying the guy's salary.   For Ricardo Rincon the A's gave us the immortal Marshall McDougall.  Yeah, that kind of deal.

So, even if we give up a "B" prospect it is too much.   MacDougall was a "C" prospect, at best.  

For example, a "C" prospect is Yoiber Marquina or maybe Cameron Hill.   I have heard talk it could be Gabriel Mejia.   He is, to me, a "B" prospect.   He is too much to pay for a one-month rental.  Yes, he is not an "A" prospect despite his gaudy batting average and stolen base numbers over the last 3 years.   He is still in rookie ball and is not a young Dominican, by any means.   Still, he has upside.

So, after our overpay for Andrew Miller, should we overpay even a cent for Crisp?   Don't know the answer to that but, on paper, Crisp is a wing and a prayer.   For that, you don't overpay even a penny. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

September Callups

As we approach Sept. 1st when the major league rosters can be increased from 25 to 40 players, there is always a lot of speculation about who will be recalled from the minors.

There are really three types of teams at this point in the season: teams fighting for division titles, teams fighting for a wild card and teams that are out of the race for playoff spots.

When you are in the latter category your mission is simple: balance your minor leaguers playing in a playoff atmosphere in the minors vs giving them their first taste of the big leagues to get the jitters out if they make the majors the next season.   Teams fall on the either side of that fence even though recently it appears that ML teams value minor league playoff experience over being in the majors with a bunch of guys just playing out the string.   Sometimes teams will hand out 'thank you' callups to veteran minor leaguers who have had good seasons and toiled in the minors for years without getting ANY big league playing time.  

For the other two categories above, the equation is a much different one: which player(s) can we bring up from the minors who will help us win in September and, possibly, help us in the playoffs if we have spots on our 25 man playoff roster due to having guys on the 60-day DL.  For these teams, leaving guys in the minors to get playoff experience is not an issue.  Can you help us?  OK, you are in the majors.

Right now the Indians are in the first category.   They are in first place and, although there is A LOT of season left, they look pretty good to win the AL Central.   So, clearly, they are looking for guys who will be able to help them in September AND in the playoffs.  With that in mind, here is my assessment on which players they should bring up:

Pitchers:

Here is the thinking.  You either bring up relievers already on the 40 man roster to eat innings or you bring up starters and put them in the bullpen if you think there stuff will play up in relief as the league won't have 'a book' on them yet.  I don't think we have any of the latter but we do have some guys with ML experience who are already on the 40-man roster.  Here they are:

Austin Adams
Shawn Armstrong
Joe Colon
Shawn Morimando
Ryan Merritt

My guess is that you will see Shawn Armstrong and Colon in early September and Adams, Morimando and Merritt after Columbus finishes its playoff run.

As I said, I don't see any other pitchers in the minors who we could bring up

Position Players

The same match applies:  Can you help me in September and/or can you help me in the playoffs.  Teams have brought up speedsters and minor leaguers with big time power, thinking that as a pinch hitter they may help as, respectively, a pinch runner or a pinch hitter.  Here are some thoughts:

Giovanny Urshela - He is a plus defender at 3B.   Having him on the roster would increase the size of the rotation for 3B and OF.   Even if he didn't hit he might still be valuable as a late inning defensive replacement. 

Bradley Zimmer -  He has good speed and would be a good pinch runner and defensive replacement.   Of course he is not on the 40 man roster so we would have to remove someone but with Colin Cowgill available to be DFA'd, that shouldn't present a problem.  BTW Zimmer also go a bump in his performance this summer when he was promoted to AAA so maybe lightning can strike here, as well.    Even if it doesn't, Zimmer can still impact the game with his legs and his glove/arm combination.

Erik Gonzalez -  With Michael Martinez in the majors I just think you leave Gonzalez in the minors and bring him up at the end of the season.

Yandy Diaz - Another guy who would require Cowgill to be removed, he might be a good guy to have around when you need a pinch hitter as his glove is suspect but his bat looks good.   He is a GREAT lightning in a bottle guy, someone who could go through all of Sept and Oct. and give you great ABs because the league doesn't know him

Jesus Aguilar - Like Diaz, a guy without a glove who might be a good ML pinch hitter.  Unlike Diaz, Aguilar IS on the 40-man roster AND he has a little big league experience.

Francisco Mejia -  Don't laugh.   He is the classic lightning in a bottle guy.   I don't know his status for the being available for the Rule 5 this winter but, if he is, bringing up now instead of after the season makes more sense.   Of course, he has to be able to throw as his throwing is important if he is going to be the catcher in any games.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Final thoughts on the Olympics

First, baseball and softball in the Olympics?  The only reason I have ever liked those sports in the Olympics is because the US is good at them and it means more medals. 

This Olympics we had almost twice the number of medals as the next country!  So, no, let's not add baseball and softball back in.  I mean, why not just put American football in the Olympics?

One of the reasons that sports are not added to (or are removed from) the Olympics is because too few countries play them.  The US, in this Olympics, won medals in 25 of the 39 sports contested.   That seems about right to me and maybe a tad high.  So, now, we don't need any other sports added that will up our medal count.     

And what about going back to an all-amateur Olympics?  So it won't be the best players in the world at their sports.   It will be the best players who don't make a living playing that sport. 

Look, over 100 countries participated in the Olympics that didn't win a single medal.   Doesn't that seem a bit odd when the US won 121?  It is just more of the haves and have-nots.  Can't we find a way to level the playing field a little bit.

So, while we revel in the success of the good old USA in the Olympics, let's consider measures that open up the field instead of closing it up.   This is not the Olympics of the US amateur hockey players playing against the veteran Russian team that was, for all practical purposes, a professional team.     If it looks reasonable to do, let's think of going back to amateur-only participation.  The only reason I can see not doing that is that maybe there are still a few countries (China? Cuba?) that have state-run programs whose athletes are banned from playing professionally somewhere due to ideological reasons.   However, if that is not true and everyone has and chooses to use the opportunity to play professionally, maybe this should be amateur hour...once again

BTW, except for a wrestler here, a soccer team there and a track relay team that misfired...again,  this was about the most perfect summer Olympics I can ever remember the US having.   The people who were supposed to set records for medals did.   The teams that were supposed to win, for the most part, won.    And there seemed to be many more people the US didn't think were going to get medals who did compared to those who we thought would get medals who failed..some of them old guys like me!   

So, great job USOC and all the NGBs out there.   And thanks to the US athletes who, to almost the last one, showed that ANY kind of medal was a great accomplishment.   That was a refreshing change from past Olympics where, if we didn't win, it was considered a tragedy.  And thanks to all those who showed that the Olympic spirit was not just about medals.  

See you all in 4 years!