Today marked the first Spring Training game in sunny Goodyear, Arizona. Over 6,000 fans watched as the Cincinnati Reds played host to the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. The first pitch of the game came at 1:11 MST, as Michael Brantley took as called strike from Reds pitcher Mike Leake. The Indians took an early lead in the top of the first inning after Brantley led off the game with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana. The Indians added another run in the second inning after Jason Kipnis singled and later scored on a Lonnie Chisenhall single. David Huff started for the Tribe, pitching two solid innings, giving up just 2 singles. The Indians added two more runs in the third inning when Carlos Santana (who reached on a single) scored on an RBI double by Casey Kotchman and Travis Hafner (who reached on a single) scored on a sacrifice fly by Kipnis. Vinnie Pestano came on to pitch in the third inning, retiring the Reds in order. The Reds came back to tie the game in the fourth inning, after pounding several singles and doubles off Indians pitcher Frank Herrmann. After the fifth inning, all the the game's starters left the game. After nine innings of play, the Indians and Reds ended in a 6-6 tie.
5. Tony Wolters, SS
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2010, Rancho Buena Vista HS (CA)
2011 Stats: .292/.385/.363 at Low-A (69 G)
Player Profile: He’s solid across the board and has an impressive bat.
Year in Review: This 2010 third-round pick broke a bone in his hand during spring training, but he impressed New York-Penn League scouts.
The Good: Wolters can do a little bit of everything. He has an advanced approach for his age, plenty of bat speed, and projects to hit for a high average with a good on-base percentage as well. His average speed plays up due to his instincts, and he’s a steady shortstop with a plus arm.
The Bad: Wolters is on the small side and will likely never have more than gap power. His speed limits his range a bit at shortstop.
Fun Fact: Wolters was at his best in his first at-bat of the game; he hit .331/.507/.525 in those plate appearances.
Projection: He could be an everyday up-the-middle player who can hit at the top of the order.
Fantasy Impact: He’ll bring a good average, on-base skills, and a handful of stolen bases, but find your power elsewhere.
Road to the Show: With so many young, pure shortstops in the system, Wolters might have to move to second base sooner than the Indians would like. Wolters, along with Lindor, the Captians could be part of one of the best middle-infield combos in the low minors .
Estimated Debut Year: 2015
(Scouting Reports courtesy of Indians Prospect Insider)
Tony Waltersno comments
|Name:||Albert Jojuan Belle||Position:||Left Field|
|Accolades:||4 Time All-Star (1993-1996), 3 Time Silver Slugger (1994-1996), Top 10 MVP (1993-1996)|
|Best Season (1995)||143||546||121||173||52||1||50||126||377||73||80||5||2||71%||.401||.690||.317||1.091||.374|
|Post Season Career||18||61||10||14||2||0||6||14||34||17||15||1||1||50%||.405||.557||.230||.962||.328|
Albert Belle taught the Indians what power was. Before him, the team never had a true power hitter. There were players with average power who played a long career, like Earl Averill and those who had slightly more power, but had shorter careers like Hal Trosky, Larry Doby and Andre Thornton, but none could compare to Belle. In 1995 Albert set a new high for home runs in a single season as an Indian with 50 (which was subsequently broken in 2002 by Jim Thome). At the same time he became the first player in baseball history to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same year. To make it even more impressive, it was a strike shortened season. The next year he blew past the team career record (226 by Averill) by smashing 38 home runs, destroying a record that had stood since 1939 (this record was also broken by Thome in 2001). He is considered the greatest leftfielder in Indians history.
Of all the members of the powerful Tribe teams of the 1990's, Belle stuck out the most. Not only was he the most talented offensively, but his love of the media and friendliness with the fans, especially children, made him infamous. His anger issues and disrespect towards members of the press were probably the only thing that cost him the MVP in 1995. His numbers far out-shined Mo Vaughn's that season, but the baseball writers decided to vote for the rotund Boston firstbaseman instead. This wall between him and the media is probably also kept him out of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Statistically, Belle remains second on the team in career homeruns and slugging percent (behind Manny Ramirez) and is first all time in isolated power. His slugging is especially impressive as he ranks 14th all time in all of baseball history. Every player in the top 40 in slugging percent is either in the Hall of Fame, is still on the ballot or is currently an active player (prior to the 2012 season), except Belle. In single season numbers, Belle owns the record for highest team slugging percent for his 1995 campaign and is in the top five for doubles (1995 and 1996) along with his number two in home runs. In postseason play, Belle is the only player that didn't play in both the 1995 and 1997 World Series to be in the top five in any important statistic. He holds that position in home runs, RBI and slugging percent, even though he only played in two seasons.
A story that exemplifies Belle's career occurred against the Milwaukee Brewers, before they moved to the National League. After being reprimanded by the first base coach for being tagged out to easily running to second during a double play, Belle made an adjustment to his game. Later in the game when the same situation happened, Belle slammed into Brewers' second baseman Fernando Vino, knocking him to his back. Belle was out, but the runner was safe at first and we were all reminded an important lesson on how you play the game. The fact that Belle is not in the Indians Hall of Fame yet is a complete travesty that will hopefully be rectified in the near future.
"Sit down. Men play this game."
Now that pitchers, catchers and yes, even the hitters have arrived to spring training throwing, hitting and running, injuries are going to occur. One of the first players of fantasy importance to get hurt was closer Chris Perez, who will be out until perhaps early April. Perez didn't rank as one of my top 20 closers for the pending season, as there were numerous red flags in his 36-save season from 2011, notably with strikeout rate, but he still seemed relatively safe in his role.
But this is what happens in late-February and March and the general result can be a good one for fantasy owners. In this case, Perez goes from overrated to … yep, a potential bargain, if he drops enough in your draft.
Vinnie Pestano was clearly -- if you remove saves from the equation -- the team's top relief pitcher in 2011, and he's likely to inherit closing duties until Perez returns. We don't know for sure that Perez will miss Opening Day, but this is a reminder that saves often result from opportunity, not performance. Perez fanned 39 hitters (in 59 2/3 innings) in 2011. He saved 36 games. I don't need to remind former Ryan Franklin owners in the fantasy realm that while strikeout rate doesn't tell us everything, it tells us enough that Perez wasn't the safest closer heading into 2012.
Pestano dominated right-handed hitters in 2011, permitting a .115 batting average, and while he needs work against lefties, let's just say if the Tribe let him close in 2012, he too could save 36 games. I don't think that's going to happen; Perez's injury doesn't seem to be a long-term issue, and since he's got that closer history, it's likely the team will give him the job whenever he is ready.
Knowing how potentially shaky Perez was even before the injury (high walk rate, .240 BABIP against), Pestano was on that list. For now, I'd still draft Perez over Pestano, because saves drive the bus in standard fantasy leagues more than effective relief pitching. Lower the season expectations for Perez a bit, perhaps to 25-30 saves, but he should remain attractive for the later rounds in a 10- or 12-team format, probably right where the likes of Twins right-hander Matt Capps, Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos and Dodgers right-hander Javy Guera are going. There's some degree of doubt with each of them as well.
|Name:||Luis Clemente Vega Tiant||Position:||Starting Pitcher|
|Nick Name:||El Tiante||Number:||33|
|Accolades:||1968 All-Star, Top 5 MVP (1968)|
|Best Season (1968)||21||9||0.700||1.60||34||32||19||9||0||258.1||152||53||46||16||73||264||0.87||9.2||0.164|
Luis Tiant was the first great Cuban born Major League pitcher and has won more games than any other player from his home country (229). In 1962, the Cleveland Indians signed the Cuban refugee out of the Mexican league and he went on to become a borderline Hall of Famer (garnered 30% of the votes in his first year of eligibility), playing for the Indians, Red Sox and others. Although he did not spend the majority of his career with the Tribe, he certainly left his mark. His 1968 season was especially spectacular as he set the Indians record for best opponents batting average during a single season and left marks in the top five in WHIP and ERA. He lead the American League in ERA and shut outs that season as well. That effort earned him fifth place in the MVP voting that year, but he didn't get Cy Young consideration until he went to Boston. In 1968 he lost the award to Denny McLain who took home 100% of the votes.
In 1969 Tiant had the biggest drop off in Indians history. No other pitcher in team history has went from being a 20 game winner one season to being a 20 game loser the next. His ERA for that season still looks good by today's standards (3.72), but is more than two runs higher than it had been the year before. The biggest difference between the seasons seems to be his control as he walked 50 more batters in ten less innings. The real reason for the change in win/loss record had a lot to do with luck as 1968 was an outlier for Tiant as far as being great goes and his 1969 numbers were certainly below his talent level. The change in luck along with a poor offense helped Tiant to this unique distinction.
As far as his Indians career goes, Tiant still holds a spot in the top five career BAA of all time and in the top ten in strikeouts, shutouts, K/9 and WHIP. Luis Tiant was eligible for induction to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 2012, but was not chosen.
Last season the Indians got with the times and embraced social marketing for the first time. Instead of punishing players for bypassing the press and talking directly to fans, they encouraged it. Over the last year many players have filtered through with some fading away and others showing their twitter excellence. Since I've yet to come across a comprehensive list of Indians twitter accounts, so I made one myself. This list includes every player within the Indians development system who has ever had an account and some relative information about them. The information provided should be useful when deciding if each player is worth following. Verified accounts have been checked by twitter.com to ensure these are the real athletes, but I am fairly sure of the accuracy of the rest as well. The language is the primary language tweeted.
1. Highest tweet per day average.
2. Indians player with the most followers (31,111).
3. Longest active Indians twitter account.
4. Has tweeted in the past, but has since deleted. Account is now inactive.
5. Newest Indian to twitter.
6. New account to replace his original @DHuff11.
7. Most total tweets.
8. Protected account. He'll allow you to follow if you request, but keep it nice since he isn't public yet.
9. Most followed minor leaguer.
10. Greatest mustache on twitter.
Along with the players, there are a few front office personnel and others involved with the team on twitter. Here are some of those accounts:
For those looking for the official twitter accounts of the different levels of the Indians organization, they can be found here:
|Lake County Captains||@LCCaptains|
|Mahoning Valley Scrappers||@mvscrappers|
For those wondering why some players have not been included in the lists above. Here is a list of inactive accounts (no tweets in 2012) and some that have been deleted:
The tale of Matt LaPorta is one that should be taken note of. He was originally on twitter before most of the team was and he quit before the Indians changed policies due to negative feedback. During the resurgance in 2011 when the entire "Bullpen Mafia" among others started tweeting, he reactivated his account. After a very short time the amount of negativity and death threats caused him to delete his account for good. Remember that these are real people who will possibly read everything that you send to them. It is like they gave you their personal cell phone number to send texts to all day. None of these athletes need to do this, it is for the fans enjoyment alone. If one person abuses this gift, they can be blocked individually, but if a large number of people do it, we will probably see the openness of these players disappear like the accounts of Nick Hagadone, Lonnie Chisenhall and LaPorta. If you don't have something nice to say, then don't @ mention someone. If Indians fans as a community can act like human beings then we all will be able to enjoy getting to know these players a little better.
6. Nick Hagadone, LHP
Drafted/Signed: First round in 2007, University of Washington
2011 Stats: 1.59 ERA (22.2-14-7-24) at Double-A (12 G); 3.35 ERA (48.1-42-15-53) at Triple-A (34 G); 4.09 ERA (11-4-6-11) in MLB (9 G)
Tools: He has a late inning-worthy fastball/slider combination.
Year in Review: He was part of the Victor Martinez deal in 2009. Hagadone had his second straight healthy season and missed bats during his short yet effective big-league debut.
The Good: Hagadone is an intimidating presence on the mound who comes at hitters with a mid- to upper-90s fastball that misses bats. His slider gives him a second plus power offering. He's made strides in his command and control, to the point they project as average.
The Bad: Hagadone has had Tommy John surgery and there is still considerable effort in his delivery. He had trouble falling behind in the count with the Tribe last year, and needs to throw more strikes with his slider as opposed to using it solely as a chase pitch. He's 26 years old, so there is little projection left.
Fun Fact: More than 50 pitchers have been selected out of the University of Washington. They've combined for only 85 wins in the majors and Tim Lincecum accounts for more than 80 percent of them. Can Hagadone be as effective out of the bullpen as Lincecum is in the rotation?
Projection: He’ll be a set-up man with some chance to close.
Fantasy Impact: It’ll be minimal, unless he's getting saves.
Future Outlook: Hagadone will compete for a big-league bullpen role in spring training.
(Scouting report courtesy of Tony Lastoria at Indians Prospect Insider)
|Name:||Jesse Cail Burkett||Position:||Left Field|
|Accolades:||Hall of Fame (1946)|
|Best Season (1896)||133||586||160||240||27||16||6||72||317||49||19||34||.461||.541||.410||1.002||.131|
Note: Jesse Burkett is included in this "All-Time Indians" series because I consider all the teams to play in Cleveland to be important to the city and the Indians history. This includes the Forest Citys, the Naps, the Blues, the Infants, the Buckeyes and of course the Spiders.
Jesse Burkett had a short, but hot, career with the Spiders that ended with the dismantling of the team in 1899. For his efforts, Burkett became the only member of the Cleveland Spiders to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame with the team. In his best season, 1896, he lead the National League in hits, batting average, runs scored, games played and total bases. He lead the league in hits and average the year before as well.
His Spider records are even more impressive as over a three year span (1896-1898) he set the records for at bats (624), runs (160), hits (240), batting average (.410) and slugging percentage (.541). Even compared to players in the modern age, Burkett still maintains the top three best seasons as far as runs scored, has the most hits in a season as a Cleveland player and holds the top two spots in both batting average and slugging percentage over a single year. If you get to know one player from the Cleveland Spiders teams of the 1890's, know Cy Young. If you get to know two players, make the second one Jesse Burkett. He died in 1953.no comments
They always say that pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training, but how can you believe them? We here at Burning River Baseball have terrible quality video and decent quality photos proving that the Cleveland Indians players have actually reported to Goodyear, Arizona. As many as tens of fans watched as Indians starters and relievers participated in the most the important training there is, PFP. After the pitchers moved to the bullpen to throw some real pitches while the catchers came out to hit a little batting practice. The group in the video below consists of all the potential starters in the upcoming season. Along with Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Tomlin were new-comers Kevin Slowey and Derek Lowe as well as Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff and Zach McAllister.
For pictures in addition to the video, check out my flickr page here. This page will be updated as I take more pictures.no comments
The Tribe recently signed veteran shortstop Cristian Guzman to a one-year deal.
Talk about doubling down: after already getting a four-year, $16.8 million deal from former Nationals GM Jim Bowden before the 2005 season, Guzman managed to have 18 months of relatively useful production into a two-year, $16 million extension signed during the 2008 season. The ink on the contract was hardly dry before he reverted to his "out-making" ways. His ephemeral offensive value had been constructed on a short-term jump in his line-drive rates and the concurrently higher BABIPs they produced, but walking in fewer than three percent of his plate appearances last year—a rate only surpassed in the NL by the swingin’ comedy team of Miggy and Bengie—guaranteed that he would once again show up on most “OBP sinkhole” lists. The Nationals once considerd a move across the keystone to hide his ever-decreasing range. It’s safe to say 2010 was his true level of production.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Guzman will compete for the utility infielder's job. His last year in the big leagues was 2010, when he played for the Nationals and Texas. The switch-hitter batted .266 (97-for-365) with two homers and 26 RBI. He played shortstop, second base and right field. Guzman said he had rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder three years ago and it prevented him from playing last year. He spent the first six years of his career as the Twins' shortstop where Indians fans hated him for turning hard ground balls in the Baggie-Domes rock hard carpet into "seeing eye" singles.
Cristian Guzman will compete for a spot on the 25 man roster.