The deadline for the December 8th rule 5 draft was last night and the Indians made a couple moves in preparation. Danny Salazar, Juan Diaz and Scott Barnes were added to the 40 man roster and Luis Valbuena designated for assignment. Some high risk players that have been left off the protected list are Jared Goedert, Beau Mills, Trevor Crowe and obviously Valbuena. None of these players are really integral to the future of the Cleveland Indians, but I would have liked to see them protect Mills, who is an option at first base as early as next season. The majority of the players currently on the 40 man played for the Indians at some point in time last season and most spent some time in a starting role due to the many moves and injuries. This means there are a lot of protected players who don't have defined roles with the team and could very well be released before next season starts. In order to keep a player drafted during the rule 5 draft, the new team has to keep the player on the 25 man roster for the entire season or offer to sell him back to his original team. Because of this, most players below AAA are safe. In recent seasons the Indians haven't had any steals or really gotten burned by this draft, so it will be interesting to see if something happens this year in the rule 5 draft.no comments
Houston Astros manager Brad Mills says Carlos Lee will be the Astros’ starting first baseman in 2012, and that could open up a deal involving Brett Wallace to the Tribe. The Indians have been discouraged by Carlos Pena's high asking price and are not convinced that Matt LaPorta is going to hit well. Wallace has been in four different organizations since being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. After being treated like a hot potato by the Cardinals, Athletics, Phillies, and Blue Jays, Wallace finally found a home in Houston last season. He reached the majors and took over the first base seat for the departed Lance Berkman at the 2010 trade deadline. Through the first month of 2011, Wallace had a .383/.448/.543 triple-slash line that would have made Bill James proud. Wallace clearly was not this good — his line is heavily supported by a .466 BABIP — but that doesn’t mean we needed to ignore it. It just means he was extra lucky. Wallace’s bad debut season in 2010, in which he posted a .272 wOBA and was exactly replacement level, left many, including myself, doubting Wallace’s ability to be a major league hitter, much less to have a bat play at first base. Wallace had shown that he could spray line drives across the field — particularly in the minor leagues, where he routinely posted BABIPs above .340. Concerns lingered about the rest of his game, however. Was there power? Plate discipline? Neither showed up, and he even had uncharacteristic struggles making contact, which is why he couldn’t even salvage an above-replacement year despite a .326 BABIP.
Last year, the .446 BABIP through the first month was the rocket fuel behind Wallace’s line, but a space shuttle needs more than just fuel to get off the ground. His peripherals came together in April — his ISO, BB%, and K% are all better than the league average as well, which portends well for when the rocket fuel runs out and his BABIP returned to normal level after May.
PECOTA had originally projected Wallace’s rest of 2011 would rise all the way to a .335 wOBA, which although not terribly special, is much better than the .321 projected back in that March. Part of it is the fact that the peripherals have returned to a legitimate MLB level, the rest is that Wallace actually does have some of the traits that a high-BABIP player tends to have — a ton of line drives, and, more importantly, a consistent history of high BABIPs going all the way back to 2006 with the Cardinals Single-A team.
Unfortunately, Wallace did not finish the season as PECOTA had originaly projected. He slumped to a .234/.305/.320 the rest of the way.
He is a first baseman, and even though his peripherals are above average, none of them are significantly better than most major leaguers. As such, Wallace’s bat doesn’t provide much value unless he turns out to be a J.T. Snow or Doug Mientkiewicz with the glove. He can still be a league average player with his skills — something that none of the projection systems and many of the scouts weren’t expecting after 2010. Wallace’s fast start last season does give some amount of hope — the hope for a productive player — but hopes of a future star and cleanup hitter (a new Lance Berkman, say) are misguided. But at least it’s better than nothing.no comments
After much speculation the Houston Astros have been picked by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball as the National League team to move to the AL in 2013. This is being done in an effort to decrease the amount of in division games and align the divisions more evenly. With the move from the NL Central to the AL West, there will be exactly 5 teams in every division. A byproduct of this move is that each league will have an odd number of teams, necessitating interleague play throughout the entire season. Selig is also instituting a second Wild Card team in each league, increasing the number of playoffs teams from 8 to 10. Houston was the easiest team to move, although not the best. Because the point was to increase the AL West by a team and decrease the NL Central, it was easiest to directly move a single team from one division to the other. The Astros were also for sale and the move was entered as a stipulation into the purchase.
It seems a better move would have been to be patient, rather than rushing through the process, and move the Diamondbacks or Rockies to the AL West and the Astros to the NL West. This way no team loses their long history in their respective league and the Rangers would be able to maintain their cross league rivalry with the Astros. Every other city or state that has only two teams has one in each league (except Pennsylvania). This move will ruin that perfect dichotomy.
As far as the Indians go, we will have to see how the move plays out. It seems there is a benefit in a weak team like the Astros moving to the AL, where the Indians will play them more often. However, the Indians will probably play less games against the poor teams in the Central Division and will not be able to avoid National League powerhouses like the Phillies and Brewers.
Another thing to keep a lookout for is the designated hitter rule. With teams playing across league barriers all season long, American League pitchers will be constantly be forced to hit and National League teams will need to carry an extra bench player able to play as a DH. In the past the American League has dominated interleague play, winning more games every single season since 2004 and holding a .522 winning percent overall. This is most likely due to the fact that AL DH's are far superior to the pinch hitters used by the National League while playing in AL stadiums. If NL teams have to pay for an extra player just to compete during the upcoming extended interleague play, they may change their ideas on whether or not they want a DH.
The Indians are in a pretty good position as far as this goes, since they have the perfect pinch hitter in Shelley Duncan. The Indians also have a pitcher who can hit in Josh Tomlin, who went 2-2 during 2011 with a run scored and an RBI. Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe each have a lot of experience hitting as well as they just came over from the National League.
Overall the Indians look to be pretty well set up for the new changes to come. The extra Wild Card team can only help as the Tribe is ready to compete now. A second Wild Card could possibly allow a non-AL East team to finally win a Wild Card. Rather than looking at this in a negative manner as most people seem to be doing, let's keep an optimistic view on things and see how this all works out. You can't fight Bud Selig, so for now we should just sit back and watch how this whole thing works out.no comments
By exercising their club option on Fausto Carmona and trading for Derek Lowe, the Indians have assembled a rotation that is already accepting nicknames about being the best ground-ball rotation in the American League. Last season, Lowe, Justin Masterson, and Carmona ranked third, eighth, and ninth, respectively, in groundball percentage among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched, according to baseball prospectus. With all of those groundballs headed their way, one is to wonder how the Indians are fixed for infield defense. After July 22, when Jason Kipnis joined the infield and gave it the shape it would take for the rest of the season, the Indians were the fourth-best team in the AL at converting grounders into outs, yielding 211 hits on 860 balls in play (a .245 average). Over the course of the season, both the Indians and the Braves allowed a .242 batting average on groundballs, so Lowe can’t expect a huge boost in defensive support from the switch. Most of the Indians’ infield is young and entrenched, so that’s likely as good as things are going to get. In Lowe, the Indians have acquired a pitcher who in one sense seems primed to bounce back from a subpar season but in another, perhaps equally important sense, seems like a poor bet to improve. On the one hand, Lowe posted a 3.67 FIP, a quarter of a run better than the 3.92 he managed while recording anERA over a run lower than last season’s 5.05 in 2010, and his walk and strikeout rates have remained fairly stable over the past few seasons. It would take only a small step from there to look at Lowe’s high BABIP and sizeable ERA-FIP differential and forecast a return to form.
There is another hand, though, and what it holds for Lowe isn’t quite as encouraging. He will turn 39 next June and according to Brooks Baseball his fastball has lost roughly 3.5 miles per hour since 2007, the start of the PITCHf/x era. He’ll also be moving from the NL to the AL, which won't help cushion him from the effects of age. What will be even more interesting is to see who catches for Lowe. With is hard sinker and new-found slider, the Indians will need a catcher that is able to stop those balls in the dirt. The Indians will have to decide whether Lou Marson or Carlos Santana will get the bulk of the catching duties when Lowe starts.
That said, Lowe is still durable, having made at least 32 starts for 10 straight seasons while avoiding the DL entirely, and the Braves will be paying two-thirds of his salary. He’s not likely to be any better than a back-of-the-rotation arm, and the downside is even worse, but for the first time in a few years, the Indians have the makings of a rotation free of the likes of Mitch Talbot and Jeanmar Gomez. With Fausto still on the team, fans can only hope that he can fix his mechanical problems with new pitching coach Scott Radinski. When Carmona was at his best, in 2007, nearly 65 percent of his balls in play were hit on the ground. Over the last three seasons, that percentage has settled in around 56 percent, a significant decline given Carmona's inability to miss bats. Striking out just over five batters per nine simply doesn't cut it without pinpoint control, and Carmona's relationship with the strike zone has ranged from superficial to outright estranged. Unless Lowe proves to be as adept at reminding other pitchers how to throw their sinkers as he is at throwing his own, it's hard to envision Carmona justifying the Indians' expense. His return will leave them with at least two starters whose groundball rate has seen better days, though at least Ubaldo Jimenez is still affordable.no comments
The Indians made two moves today to shore up their starting rotation for 2012. First they picked up Fausto Carmona's $7 million option for 2012 (he has another one for 2013) and then they traded left-handed minor leaguer Chris Jones to the Braves for Derek Lowe. Lowe is turning 39, but has been extremely consistant, starting over 32 games each of the last 10 seasons. The 7 years prior to that he was used primarily as a reliever. His durability to really help an Indians rotation that was ripped apart by injuries in 2011. With these two moves the Indians rotation currently stands as such:
Remaining on the roster, but not included in the top 5 starters are Jeanmar Gomez and David Huff.no comments
Here for good:
Big Pronk is almost assured to continue being the longest tenured Cleveland Indian. Hafner is signed through 2012 with an option for 2013. To release him right now would cost the team $15.75 million and they would get nothing in return. There are also few teams that would be willing to trade for an aging slugger at that kind of cost. The Indians shouldn't even want to get rid of him at this point. Hafner was one of the best offensive players on the team in 2011 and barring injuries, could be expected to hit as many as 20 (wow that's a lot) of home runs in 2012.
The new and expensive (talent wise), ace of the Cleveland Indians is signed through 2012 with options for 2013 and 2014. He is only owed $4.2 million next year, so he is relatively cheap as far as money goes. If Jimenez can keep pitching at above a Paul Byrd level the Indians will almost certainly use both options as well.
Trevor Crowe, Matt LaPorta, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Michael Brantley, Frank Herrmann, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Santana, Vinnie Pestano, Ezequiel Carrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jeanmar Gomez, Nick Hagadone, David Huff, Josh Judy, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Cord Phelps, Thomas Neal, Nick Weglarz, Hector Rondon, Kelvin De La Cruz and Zach Putnam are all too young to have rights in baseball and will be treated like the team property they are. All these players will be signed next March as they make the team or get sent to AAA. They could also be released or taken in the rule 5 draft if the Indians decide to take any of them off the 40 man roster. They all could technically be traded as well, but they are extremely cheap (less than $1 million each) and all have potential to be important assets to the Indians roster.
These players will probably be back, but are at least given the right to ask for more money. Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael Perez, Chris Perez, Joe Smith, Shelley Duncan, Jack Hannahan, Justin Masterson, Tony Sipp and Luis Valbuena are all arbitration eligible. These players are all at different stages of their careers and will all be treated differently on an individual level. Look for the Tribe to offer long term deals to both Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera this offseason as they will look to lock them in for the next 5-7 years. Hannahan and Valbuena are both borderline players who had their replacements brought up to the Majors during 2011 season. If the Indians really believe in Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis they will release both Hannahan and Valbuena, using Jason Donald and Cord Phelps as the back ups at second and short.
Say goodbye to:
It's about time. If the Indians re-sign this waste of space then it may be time for a new GM. Durbin is thankfully a free agent and if he was an honorable man he would give some of his $800,000 salary for 2011 to the young relief pitchers (Nick Hagadone, Zach Putanm, Josh Judy and Jeanmar Gomez) whose roster spot he used up.
While he has talked about returning next season, at this point we have to assume that Jim Thome will announce his retirement before 2012. Even if he does come back, it will not likely be with the Indians as they already owe $13 million to Hafner and will not be able to afford to give two roster spots to full time designated hitters. More likely Shelley Duncan will remain on the team as a pinch hitter/back-up DH/third string firstbaseman/last resort outfielder.
Fukudome is a free agent as well and could be resigned if the Indians don't trust their outfield depth. With Michael Brantley, Trevor Crowe and Shin-Soo Choo coming off injury ridden seasons, they may feel like they need to sign a free agent outfielder. Fukudome was strong down the stretch and the Indians do have an odd sense of loyalty to some players (Austin Kearns) so it would be possible. It seems completely unnecessary to me and he would have to sign for much less than his previous 4 year $48 million contract so it is very unlikely he will be back in an Indians uniform.
These players have already been given their release.
Gone, but he'll be back:
Carlos Carrasco missed the end of the season due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. While many pitchers try to come back from this procedure after a year, it is usually closer to a year and a half recovery time. Expect to see Carrasco in the starting rotation again for the 2013 season. He isn't eligible for arbitration until 2014, so the Indians will almost definitely keep him around during his rehab.
Too soon to tell:
If you've been keeping track, you'd have noticed that I've covered every player on the 40 man roster (plus the 60 day DL) except two. These two players have options for 2012, but they far exceed the players actual worth.
Grady has a $9 million option for 2012 with a $.5 million buyout. That salary seems a little high for a player who hasn't played in more than 110 games since 2008. If the team had confidence that Grady could come back and contribute the way he has in the past over 162 games, the $9 million would seem cheap, but the liklihood of that happening is extremely low. Hopefully the Indians will pay Grady his half million now and will renegotiate with him to bring him back next year. I would hate to see a great young talent like Sizemore leave the Indians, but $9 million is too much if the Indians are going to sign a new free agent first baseman or starting pitcher. Grady may even be willing to take a drop in salary for an increase in guaranteed years, if the Indians want to take the risk of signing him long term.
The Indians ace from the last few years has sufficiently regressed to the point of possibly being the worst pitcher in the Indians rotation. He has options for 2012-2014, starting with a $7 million option in 2012. The Indians would have to be crazy to pay this. It is a team option with no penalty if they don't activate it. I think most people are getting at least a little tired with Carmona's mental lapses and this wouldn't be a terrible time to just see him leave the team. If he does stay with the Tribe he is in the same situation as Grady where he should have to renegotiate his contract.
Thanks as always to Cot's Baseball Contracts for up to date salary information for every Major League Baseball team. For more information about the Indians contract situation, check out the contracts section of Burning River Baseball.no comments
The Indians dropped two players from their 40 man roster today, most likely to make room for a couple players who are currently on the 60 day DL. Three of the four Indians on the DL (Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley and Josh Tomlin) will be activated before next season and will count against the 40 man roster. The two players released were Mitch Talbot and Jerad Head.
Talbot has been a consitant member of the Indians starting rotation for the last two season, starting 40 games over both years. He was less than effective with a final ERA of over 5.00 and a winning percent of .387. Last season (2010) the Indians just needed arms to fill out the rotation and go out on the mound every five days. That has changed with the addition of Ubaldo Jimenez. The rotation now stands as Justin Masterson, Jimenez, Tomlin, Fausto Carmona and one other pitcher (possibly David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez). With so much depth the Indians felt confident enough to give an average player like Talbot his release.
Head made his Major League debut this season, but has been a mainstay in the Indians farm system since 2006. He is in a similar situation to Talbot as he doesn't really stand out when compared to the large amount of talented outfielders in the Indians system. He is actually in a worse position, because the Indians have many more Major League outfielders than can possibly be used on the roster next year. Starters Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley will be back along with reserves Trevor Crowe, Ezequiel Carrera, Shelley Duncan and others that haven't made it to the bigs yet. Grady Sizemore and Kosuke Fukudome could also return depending on how the Indians decide to work their roster. Head ended up playing in 10 games for the Tribe, hitting .125 and knocking in one run during that time.
In somewhat related, but older news, Travis Buck refused a minor league assignment right after the season ended so he is no longer a member of the Cleveland Indians. This is pretty unimportant news given everything written in the last paragraph.
Here is the official current 40 man roster courtesy of the tribeinsider on twitter.no comments
The Indians made a couple moves today to fill in some vacancies in their coaching staff. Since Tim Belcher (pitching coach 2010-2011) and Tim Tolman (bench coach 2010-2011) have stepped down, Manny Acta needed to find new bench and pitching coaches. The perfect guys for both roles were already with the team in Sandy Alomar and Scott Radinsky. Alomar was up for the managerial job for the White Sox, but luckily for the Indians, that void was filled by Robin Ventura. Alomar was not the greatest first base coach, but he has a great mind for baseball and the closer he can get to Manny Acta's ear the better.
Scott Radinsky has been the Indians bullpen coach for two years now and has been directly in charge of the developement of such young phenoms of as Chris Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano. Radinsky has done an amazing job in the bullpen and hopefully he will bring that consistancy to the starting rotation. He has his work cut out for him with the wacky delivery of Ubaldo Jimenez and the enigma that is Fausto Carmona.
To take Alomar's spot as first base coach, the field coordinator for the Indians' minor league system was promoted. Tom Wiedenbauer will not only take over the duties of first base coach, but will also be the Tribe's outfield and baserunning coach.
The final promotion was Dave Miller taking Radinsky's spot as bullpen coach. Miller had been the minor league pitching coordinator for the Tribe for the last 10 years.no comments
About half way trough the season it was obvious the Indians' Bullpen was going to be something special. At the time I wrote an article called Greatest Bullpen of all Time? The results were inconclusive so I figured I would revisit the topic again now that the season is over, comparing the final results of the 2011 season to every other Indians Bullpen of the past 68 years (as before I will start in 1943, as use of the defined relief pitchers was rare up to that point).
The Indians team relief ERA ended up much higher than it was for the last post (was 2.99, ended at 3.71), but this was partly due to a number of new pitchers and the continued use of Chad Durbin, all of whom were excluded in the original analysis and will remain so. As with last time, only the top 5 relievers for each team were considered. On the 2011 team, these pitchers were Vinnie Pestano, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith and Chris Perez.
After staring at numbers for a half hour, I've concluded that the top 10 Indians bullpens of all time were 1954, 1968, 1976, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2011. This is based on ERA, saves, batting average against, WHIP, K/9 and a cumulative statistic called fantasy number that combines innings pitched, hits, walks, wins, saves, earned runs and strike outs.
1968 and 2007 are the only two pens that allowed more than 3 runs per 9 innings while 1954 and 1968 were the only years with less than 30 saves and 1992 and 2007 were the only years with a BAA of over .220. All the top 10 bullpens were tremendous, but 1968 and 2007 should be removed first, as they just can hold up. On the other hand 1954 lead all teams in ERA and BAA, while 2005 lead in saves and WHIP so these teams should remain in. Of the teams that remain, 1976 is the worst in ERA, WHIP and BAA so they are out. 1995, 2001 and 2011 are the only teams left with an ERA under 2.75, a BAA under .215 and a WHIP under 1.15, so they round out the top 5 while 1992 and 1996 are the last two dropped out.
With 4 of the top 5 bullpens of all time coming in the last 20 years, it may seem that there is some prejudice, but this is actually a result of increased specialization of roles. In the past it would have been unthinkable to use a talented pitcher in only relief roles as starters throw as many as 200 more innings than relievers do in an average season, but in the recent bullpen revolution, much more emphasis has been placed on the late innings of a game.
At this point there are few enough teams left to evaluate that we can look at individual players. The player with the biggest spotlight in any bullpen is the closer and the greatest single season by a closer in Indians history was by Jose Mesa in 1995. His 46 saves are impressive, but not as impressive as his 8 runs allowed all season. For comparison, Chris Perez gave up his 8th run in a game on June 21st. Mesa pitched 64 innings with an ERA of 1.13, a BAA of .203 and a WHIP of 1.03. No other Indians closer has had this kind of dominance. I ranked the rest of the closers of the top 5 bullpens like this; Ray Narleski (1954), Bob Wickman (2001 then 2005) and finally Chris Perez in 2011.
Since there is rarely a defined "set-up" man, I'll compare the second most used pitcher of each team next. The top reliever here has to be Don Mossi from the 1954 pen. Mossi had a 1.94 ERA in 93 innings, not quite up there with Jose Mesa, but better than any number 2. His .167 BAA was far superior to any modern equivalent. A close number 2 is Joe Smith from 2011, who finished the year with a 2.01 ERA in 67 innings pitched. The rest of my rankings for #2 men are Bob Howry (2005), Julian Tavarez (1995) and Ricardo Rincon (2001).
The best of the next most used pitcher on each team was Eric Plunk in 1995. Plunk had an amazing K/9 of 9.98 along with a BAA of .200 and an ERA of 2.67. He was even able to grab up 2 saves that Mesa missed that year. The rest of the rankings are Hal Newhouser (1954), Rafael Perez (2011), David Riske (2005) and Paul Shuey (2001).
In the 4th spot of the top 5 bullpens, Vinnie Pestano dominates. In his 2011 season, Pestano lead all of the #4 relievers in ERA (2.32), holds (23), BAA (.181), WHIP (1.05) and K/9. His K/9 of 12.19 was the greatest all time of any Indian pitcher who threw more than 25 innings. Following Pestano was Danys Baez (2001), Rafael Betancourt (2005), Dave Hoskins (1954) and Jim Poole (1995).
The last spot in the bullpen that I ranked is mostly filled with left handed specialists and relievers who were effective, but not often used. All 5 pitchers had ERAs lower than 3 except Tony Sipp in 2011. Steve Karsay in 2001 tops this list with an ERA of 1.25 and a WHIP of 0.86. Second, third and fourth belong to Arthur Rhodes (2005), Paul Assemacher (1995) and Tony Sipp. Bob Chakales and his 0.84 in 1954 are being ranked last because he only pitched in 10 innings.
Back to the overall ranking of bullpens, 2001 can be eliminated because they had two pitchers ranked 5th and this is about overall bullpen effectiveness rather than individual stars. With only 4 teams left, the worst two bullpens in ERA left can be removed. These teams were equal to the other two teams in most other stats, but allowed enough more runs to be considered worse. This knocks out 2005 and 2011, the whole reason for writing this exceedingly lengthy article. Now with two teams left, 1954 and 1995, one stat that I haven't mentioned yet seems important. The top 5 pitchers in the 1995 bullpen won 28 games compared to the 18 won in 1954. Tavarez lead the pen with 10, but Jose Mesa's 3 is even more impressive when added to his 46 saves. Even though the 1954 team played more games (154 compared to 144 in 1995) the '95 pen was used much more. Every 1995 reliever pitched in more than 40 games and they accrued almost 40 more innings than the '54 pen even though the earlier bullpen had four pitchers that made at least one start.
There's no question right now that the 1995 bullpen is the greatest Indians bullpen of all time, but if you ask me tomorrow, I may change my mind. Either way, the fact is that the two greatest bullpens of all time coincide with the two most winning Indians teams of all time (.721 Winning percent in 1954 and .694 in 1995). Both teams also made it to (and lost) the World Series. There is no question that a great bullpen is an essential part of a championship team and this should give Tribe fans some hope as one of the top 5 bullpens of all time will be returning in it's entirety in 2012.no comments
Since the Indians missed the playoffs and no offensive player was within the top 10 in the AL in any stat (except Carlos Santana at 3rd in walks), there probably won't be any MVP votes coming to Cleveland, but that doesn't mean the Indians don't have anything to look forward to in the coming weeks. Most are long shots, but the Indians did make waves this year and may get some post season credit for it.
The Indians ace is the team's choice for the Roberto Clemente award and has an extremely long shot at the AL Cy Young Award. There are at least 10 pitchers who were more successful than Masterson this season, most notably Justin Verlander who is a shoe-in for the award, but he does have a shot at the Clemente. The Roberto Clemente award is given away for a combination of on and off the field work. This award isn't always just given to the most talented player, so Masterson does have a chance at beating Verlander for this one. It is decided by popular vote and you can vote for Justin Masterson right here. Jim Thome was the Indians last Roberto Clemente award winner back in 2002.
One of the two offensive players to have a half decent season in 2011 was Carlos Santana. While he has no chance at any other award, he may have a case for the silver slugger at catcher. While he only hit .239, he did lead all qualifying catchers in at bats by more than 50, runs by 12, doubles by 2, home runs by 5 and walks by 24. He was second in hits, triples and steals and was within 5 of each stat. Santana actually does have a decent shot at this award since there were only 5 players that qualified for the batting title while playing catcher. The favorite for this is another Tiger, starting catcher Alex Avila. Avila leads the league in every stat the Santana is second, but the biggest advantage he has is his .295 batting average for 2011. While the Silver Slugger does take more in consideration than batting average, it is usually the most important part.
The Indians #1 star of 2011 not only has a shot at a Silver Slugger, but a Gold Glove as well. While there was some early season MVP talk about Asdrubal, that died down as his batting average did. Cabrera was second among AL short stops in home runs, doubles and runs and lead the league in hits and RBI. His batting average of .273 wasn't anywhere near as terrible as Santana's .239, but his competition is tougher as well. Ex-Indian Jhonny Peralta is his main competition for the Silver Slugger, because did almost as well as Cabrera in the counting stats, but didn't have as many at bats. All of Peralta's slash stats are better than Cabrera's. In fact, he lead all AL short stops in batting average and was second in slugging percent.
Cabrera should have a better shot at the Gold Glove as it is an award that is often based on reputation and Cabrera certainly has a good one. Asdrubal made a name for himself around the league this year by being a regular on Baseball Tonight's Web Gems with amazing play after amazing play. He certainly made the best plays on the Indians this year as can be seen in the Burning River Top 10 Plays. His direct fielding stats don't reflect his level of play as he had the 4th most errors in the league at short stop this year with 15. His .976 fielding percent was only good enough for 6th, but most of the voters understand that it was because of his much larger range than most shortstops. A more accurate representation of his play is Zone Rating, where he came in third with a ZR of 6.121. Derek Jeter, Marco Scutaro and Asdrubal were the only short stops with a Zone Rating above 6. Cabrera's main competition may come from Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy who lead the league in fielding percent and lead short stops in home runs, which shouldn't matter, but often does in Gold Glove voting.
Asdrubal is also the Indians representitive for the Hank Aaron award for the leagues best hitter. He has absolutely no shot at winning this award, but did deserve the nomination as the best hitter on the Indians. No Indian has won this award since Manny Ramirez took home the first one given out in 1999.
Rookie of the Year
Not only will an Indian not be winning this award this year, they probably won't next year either. The Tribe has a way of not letting rookies start until so late in the season they have no chance to catch up with the early leaders, but late enough to give them so many at bats they will not be eligible the next season. It happened last year with Carlos Santana and this year with Ezequiel Carrera, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis. Eric Hosmer has a good chance to win this year's award if it goes to a hitter. Vinnie Pestano was the Indians top rookie and has a little better chance, but it would be hard to give this years award to a relief pitcher with starters like Jeremy Hellickson and Michael Pineda available as choices.
Manny Acta's name has been thrown around in the discussion for Manager of the Year in the American League. From outside of Cleveland it looks like Acta took a terrible team and almost turned them into winners, but there are a couple reasons he probably shouldn't be considered for this award. First, he over used players that shouldn't have been on the team in the first place (Austin Kearns and Chad Durbin) in an effort to justify them being there. He also fired Jon Nunnally as a scape goat, following which the team performed even worse than they did before. He also possibly coddled his players a little too much, leading to the team breakdown at the end of the season. During the entire season he never let a single pitcher throw an entire 9 inning game. As Ron Washington has learned from Nolan Ryan, you have to get pitchers used to throwing more than they have to. By never throwing a pitcher 9 innings, the pitcher will then feel more tired after pitching 7. The same thing is true for the position players. Almost every injury this year was some sort of muscle issue. The way you work through those injuries is with extra strength and conditioning work. I'm not saying that Acta isn't a good manager. I like him and am glad the Indians resigned him for 2012, but he could not have been the best in the American League this year.no comments