Today, according to the Tribe Insider on twitter, the Indians replaced hitting coach Jon Nunnally with Bruce Fields. Nunnally had been the Indians hitting coach since the beginning of the 2010 season and had been with the team since 2006. Before today, Fields was the minor league hitting coordinator for all levels. Since no official announcement has been made as of yet, it is only speculative why Nunnally was replaced. One possible reason is that the Indians hitters have struggled for the most part this season, with only three hitters batting over .250 right now. This move does not seem as impulsive as it could have been however, as it comes after the Indians have won 2 out of the last 3 games and did not occur over their long losing streak. The hitting coach is one of the hardest position to judge as batting struggles can base around so many different things. We just have to trust Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro know what they're doing and made the right move.no comments
The Columbus Clippers are 42-22, 22 games over .500 and on top of the entire International League in AAA. This is a testament to them and the fact that their team is made up almost entirely of Major League ready talent. The Clip Show roster includes former pros, Hector Ambriz, Justin Germano, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Josh Judy, Jensen Lewis, Anthony Reyes, Luke Carlin, Jason Donald, Nick Johnson, Luis Valbuena, Ezequiel Carrera and Josh Rodriguez. That makes 13 of the 29 players of the Clippers roster former Major Leaguers. Some of these players have just been on the Indians this season, but others like Lewis, Reyes, Johnson and Valbuena have had careers more than a couple years long. Along with those players with MLB experience, many of the other players are completely ready for the Major Leagues. This includes, Jerad Head, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Chad Huffman, Zach McAllister, Scott Barnes and Zach Putnam.
Value over replacement player (VORP) is an interesting and useful stat. It is a very complicated aggregate of a whole slew of stats, some conventional and others not. It is used to compare current Major League players with average replacement players, or all those players listed in the first paragraph. A VORP of 0 means that player is roughly the same as any random player you could pluck out of AAA.
Austin Kearns currently has a VORP of -1.1, ranking him 50th in the Majors among left-fielders. There are only 30 teams, so this means at least 20 ML back-up left-fielders are better than him. A couple random LF better than Kearns in VORP are Ryan Ludwick (7.3), Travis Buck (4.6) and Milton Bradley (3.2). It's good news, I guess, that Kearns is still better than Jason Michaels who has a VORP of -2.7. For those who like conventional stats, Kearns is hitting a line of .195/.290/.280. The .195 batting average is about 20 points lower than the next worst Indian, Lou Marson's, batting average.
Kearns other low point (other than being one of the worst offensive players in the league) is his defense. It is hard to point at any particular stats that show this other than simply watching him play. Kearns has awful instincts and has missed multiple catches going back on balls that Michael Brantley could have made without trying. Kearns has made a couple diving plays in the outfield this year, which some look at as impressive plays, but they are always on balls that could have been caught without the dive by a faster player, like Brantley or Travis Buck. While he has yet to make an official error this season, Austin has cost the Indians more than a couple runs than Brantley would have, due to his lack of speed, outfield instincts and arm strength. In the last game against the Yankees alone, Kearns cost the team at least 2 runs, possibly more, by allowing a double to Alex Rodriguez that should have been caught, then was unable to throw out any runners at the plate, even though he had multiple easy chances.
Due to the Indians position of lacking a true DH at the moment, Kearns could be released for a player at any position. With Grady Sizemore back to starting every day, Brantley in left and Shin-Soo Choo rarely needing a day off in right, Travis Buck can more than take care of the off days. With Orlando Cabrera no longer starting in the field, he is available to DH, meaning that the Indians don't even need to bring up a player that is ready to start, just one who will not hurt the team when he is used.
Who the Indians should bring up depends on where they think the biggest holes are on the team. Until a few days ago, the two weakest positions for the Tribe were second and third base, but both of these have been taken care of, at least temporarily, with the advancement of Cord Phelps and the improved play of Jack Hannahan. First base is a weakness, because Matt LaPorta has no back up outside of Carlos Santana, meaning his real back-up is Lou Marson, and he only has a VORP of 4.4. Designated hitter is the other obvious weakness, but this will be filled as soon as 4 days from now when Travis Hafner returns from the disabled list. The main choices in AAA ready to be advanced are Nick Johnson, Jerad Head, Jason Kipnis and Chad Huffman.
While Johnson has yet to prove himself in AAA, he has a long Major League track record and would fill in better than any other player at the first base, DH role. Head and Huffman are both outfielders, but have spent some time at other positions. Head has played a couple games at third, while Huffman has spend considerable time at first. This makes Huffman the more desirable of the two as the Indians don't need another outfielder right now. Most likely, Kipnis will have to wait until another infielder is demoted, meaning the failure of Cord Phelps or whenever the Indians tire of Adam Everett's weak bat. The best move in my mind would be to bring up Huffman immediately and release Kearns. I am aware of the emotional reasons Kearns returned to Cleveland, but the fact is he is not producing. With the plethora of young outfielders the Indians have available, the signing of Kearns didn't really make sense in the first place, but now it is just plain irresponsible to continue to put him in the field.no comments
The Indians called up 2B/SS Cord Phelps from AAA Columbus today, in a move we have been expecting for some time now. Phelps is a very good defensive second-baseman who has been forced to play shortstop due to the higher ceiling on Jason Kipnis (obtained in Cliff Lee trade). Cord was the best offensive player on the Clippers so far this season by hitting .299 with 24 extra-base hits. When Cord makes his debut on Wednesday he will be the only player on the roster who was drafted by the Indians. He is just one of the many players drafted by the Indians (Chisenhall, White, Pomeranz) in recent years who look to make a big splash in the Majors.
Phelps will probably be used mostly at secondbase where he will be a defensive upgrade over Orlando Cabrera. He could also be used to give Asdrubal Cabrera an occasional day off as he has played every game this season at short stop.no comments
During the first review of Tribe hitting in May, found here, I covered the top of the Indians ever changing lineup. This included Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. This review will cover the rest of the Indians hitters including Orlando Cabrera, Matt LaPorta, Jack Hannahan, Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, Shelley Duncan, Lou Marson, Adam Everett and Ezequiel Carrera.
Orlando Cabrera has been one of the Indians most consistent hitters throughout the first two months of the season. His consist hitting has been around .250, but he has not had long streaks of either hot or cold play. Orlando is a known quantity. He will get one single out every four at bats and makes very few outs on the base paths (only two during May, while taking 8 extra bases). He is the perfect placeholder both in the field and in the lineup while Indians patiently wait for the debut of either Jason Kipnis or Cord Phelps.
Mike already wrote an article about Matt LaPorta explaining his disappointing first couple of years as an Indian, available here. LaPorta hit only .240 during May, the second lowest of any starter. He did hit two home runs and knock in 11, pretty good numbers compared to the rest of the team, but bad numbers when compared to what he can potentially do. LaPorta has hit longer home runs than just about any other Indian and he had a slugging percent of .400, better than all but 4 other Indians. This is pretty good for the number 7 or 8 hitter. The problem with that is that LaPorta should be a number 4 through number 6 hitter. Since the Indians have no other option at first base, LaPorta will have plenty of time to prove himself as a true power hitter.
The Supermanahan moniker has been put on hold for the time being as Jack Hannahan absolutely fell apart in May. While he was one of the biggest surprises on the Indians during April, hitting .273 with 4 home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs. He did all this hitting 9th. During May, there was a drastic drop off. Hannahan hit .184 with no home runs and only 3 RBI. This is closer to what was expected from the defensive specialist before the season started and he is lucky he played well in April rather than May, because there is no way he would still be on the Indians if he performed like he did in May during the first month of the season. Early on Jack was playing so well that when the original projected third baseman, Jason Donald returned from injury, he was sent to AAA rather than called up to replace Hannahan. Hannahan lacks the consistency of Orlando and the lack of position depth of LaPorta. This means he will almost certainly be replaced if he continues this type of play, either by Donald or by upcoming phenom Lonnie Chisenhall.
Travis Buck, Austin Kearns & Ezequiel Carrera
Travis Buck is like a slightly better version of Austin Kearns. Both of them started on the roster this season, because Grady Sizemore was injured and remain on the roster now due to Travis Hafner's injury. Buck had 2 more hits than Kearns during April and 1 more hit during May. He also knocked in a couple more runs during that time than Kearns. Somehow during this time Kearns has played in more games than Buck, giving Buck a higher batting average (over 100 points higher in April, 5 points higher in May). While filling in for Hafner and Sizemore they have not really impressed, hitting .260 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI between the two of them in 23 games over the month of May. One of these two will obviously be sent down when Hafner returns in a couple weeks and it will likely be whoever is playing worse at that moment in time. Ezequiel Carrera only played in 5 games for the Indians in May, when both Hafner and Grady were out at the same time. He was involved in a few very exciting plays, but it is impossible to do any real evaluation of his play in such a small time.
The other player who has taken up some of the slack left at DH is Shelley Duncan. Duncan has rediculous power (he was only the 15th player ever to hit a ball into the 5th deck at Rogers Centre in Toronto) and has been extremely proficient as a pinch hitter this season. The problem with Duncan is that the mammoth home run he hit in Toronto was his only home run of May. Duncan's slugging percent of .310 in May is embarrassingly low, only surpassed by Hannahan for worst on the team among players with more than 25 at bats. Duncan also only hit one home run in April, but he had two more total hits in almost half as many at bats, leading to a drop in batting average from .370 to .190. This may show that Duncan is actually better at pinch hitting and limited duty than he is at starting every day. If this is true, he will fit perfectly back with the team when Hafner gets back and he can go back to pinch hitting and giving days off to Hafner, LaPorta and Carlos Santana. In an extremely small sample size Shelley Duncan has hit .667/.714/1.000 with 2 doubles and 7 RBI. Of course these numbers are insignificant and there are usually more RBI opportunities during pinch hit situations, but Duncan should get a chance to continue in this role to see if he can keep it up.
Adam Everett & Lou Marson
During May, Marson and Everett had only 44 combined at bats. While Buck, Kearns and Duncan have had a ton of chances with Sizemore and Hafner's injuries, Marson and Everett have been kept out of play due to the durability of the Indians infield. Asdrubal has yet to miss a game this season and Orlando has only taken 2 days off through May. Jack Hannahan has had the most time off out of the positions that Everett plays and he has only missed 7 games. The majority of Everett's games played have been as a pinch runner or defensive replacement. Even though he has been used in this quality, he only has one steal on the season. Everett has hit for a high average (.293), but has yet to have an extra-base hit. It is unfair to look at Everett from an offensive standpoint since that is not his main job on the team, but it still comes into play and it will be interesting to see what will happen with him during the inevitable call-ups of Chisenall and either Phelps or Kipnis.
Lou Marson has been as utilized as little as Everett, as the only position he can play is catcher, and Carlos Santana rarely even takes half a day off to play first base or DH. Marson has shown bursts of excellence, mostly in April when he hit .250/.321/.375 with 5 RBI in 7 games, but has dropped off as of late, hitting .167/.200/.250 in May with only 1 RBI in 8 games. This may be partially because of his limited playing time. Some catchers excel with the back-up catcher job, and fail when used daily, like Kelly Shoppach and Einar Diaz in recent Indians history and some catchers can only play well if given at bats every day. During Spring Training Marson was able to play almost daily, playing only 2 less games than Santana and it is possible that the regular playing time helped him during the month of April (5 of his 6 best games this year were his first 5 games of the season). Hopefully he can adjust to playing once week and play like he did during April, but if he can't I'm sure Luke Carlin would much rather play one game a week for Cleveland than 5 games a week for Columbus.no comments
The Tribe has surprised many this year by grabbing first place a week into the season and holding on to it at least through May. This success has been largely due to the Indians offense. May saw a drop off in runs scored compared to April, but the Indians still managed to do enough to win 14 games with only 12 losses. In April, the Indians were third in the league with 141 runs scored, while in May they were second to last with only 129 runs scored in the same amount of games. This drop in production was probably largely due to the fact that both Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore missed 13 games from injury, including 8 games where both players were missing. During this stretch, Travis Buck and rookie outfielder Ezequiel Carrera were both called up from AAA Columbus and forced into immediate action. While both played well and were involved in a few exciting moments, especially Carrera's game winning bunt single, they simply could not compare with the offense prowess of Hafner and Sizemore. The following is a review of how each player played during the month of May on an individual level.
Leading off is the Indians lead-off hitter Michael Brantley. Brantley was one of two players to play in all 26 games in May (the other being Asdrubal Cabrera). For the majority of May, Brantley was the Indians lead-off hitter, but for a short time that role was relinquished to Grady Sizemore when he came back from injury. Brantley has since been returned to his lead-off role and shown that he is the best player for the job. During May he is second on the Tribe in almost every major stat including runs (16), hits (27), triples (1), home runs (3), RBI (14), total bases (42), and steals (4 with one time caught). Brantley is also second best on the team in base-running +/- [(extra bases + steals) - (tag outs + caught stealing)], with ten more bases gained than times tagged out. Michael vastly improved upon his first month stats, possibly taking advantage of batting in front of Asdrubal Cabrera. Brantley has been showing improved power over his past, increasing his slugging percent in 2011 to .410, almost a .100 points higher than his 2010 slugging percent of .327. This has not been without its own reward as Brantley is now 4th in the AL in RBI as a lead-off hitter and has already knocked in as many runs in two months (22) as he did all of last year.
Asdrubal Cabrera has been the lynch-pin of the Indians offense all season and that was especially true during the month of May. Along with games played, Asdrubal lead the Tribe in at bats (106), runs (18), hits (35), doubles (7), triples (2), home runs (5), RBI (19), total bases (61), steals (5 with no times caught) and slugging percentage (.575). Asdrubal was not only the best player on the Indians during this time, but was also the best hitting short-stop in the AL. Hitting second in the Indians lineup every game except one this year, Cabrera has been immensely impressive and an integral part to the Indians run scoring machine.
What to do with Shin-Soo Choo. Choo has been the best hitter for the Indians over the last few seasons, mostly due to lack of competition with Grady and Travis Hafner missing so much time to injury. Each season for the past two years he has held a batting average of .300 with an OBP around .400 and a sluggin percent of over .480. This season Choo has had two consecutive months hitting below .250, most recently in May holding a line of .247/.336/.344. While playing every game but one in the three hole, he was only able to knock in 7 runs during the entire month. The two hitters ahead of him were on base 66 times and the "best hitter on the team" only knocked in 6 runs (the 7th was himself on a home run). After hitting only .250 in April, most Indians fans expected Choo to bounce back to his normal self soon after, but he has done the exact opposite, dropping his batting average 3 points and his slugging percent 56. Shin-Soo ended May with a 6 game hitting streak, so hopefully he is starting to come around. Since Manny Acta has been reluctant to drop Choo in the order, we will all just have to wait until Pronk comes back to pick up some of the slack (and baserunners) that Choo is leaving behind.
Carlos Santana actually did have the turn-around that people were expecting from Shin-Soo Choo. After hitting below .200 for the first month of the season, Santana progressed and hit .263 during May. This was probably because of his increased patience at the plate. Santana has been thrown the greatest percentage of balls of all AL hitters and took almost twice as many walks (18) as any other Indians hitter in May. Like Choo, Carlos only has 7 RBI, which may make you wonder, "who knocked in Brantley and Cabrera all those times.
For 11 games in May, the answer to that question was Pronk. Hafner knocked in 11 runs in only 11 games, tieing him for third on the team for RBI in May, behind only Cabrera and Brantley and ahead of a lot of guys who played as many as 14 more games than he did. Hafner lead the team in batting average (.351) and OBP (.442) during that time as well. There is no presence more missed in the Indians lineup than that of big Pronk, but there doesn't seem to be any help short term as Hafner will be out at least the first two weeks in June with a strained oblique. In his absence Acta has used a plethora of designated hitters the majority of the at bats going to Grady Sizemore, Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan.
The other half of the disabled duo, has already returned to the Tribe after only missing 13 games. Grady has been an odd piece to the lineup this season as he has played extremely well when he has played, but he has missed about half of the games this season so far on two separate DL stints. Even with his missing time, Grady still lead the team in doubles over the first two months. Grady only knocked in 4 runs and scored 6 times in May, but with his extra-base power, the RBI will come in time. Most of his production issues come from the fact that he was leading off for the majority of his playing time this month and there aren't many RBI opportunities when following Jack Hannahan, Austin Kearns and Lou Marson. Since Manny has dropped Grady down in the lineup, we should be able to expect a lot more out of him. It may even be possible that if Choo continues to struggle, Grady could be moved into the three spot where he belongs.
That's it for now, but look out for part 2 of the offense and a review of Indians pitching coming soon.no comments
Asdrubal Cabrera has really turned it on this season, becoming the Indians leader in games played, at bats, hits, runs, RBI, total bases, triples and home runs. He is on pace for career bests in just about all those stats and has especially seen an increase in power production. Cabrera already has his career high in home runs with 9. After last night's ridiculous effort where he went 5/5 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI, I thought now would be the best time to look at what he has done so far this year.
On the left side of the screen are Asdrubal's ability rating graphics for his entire career (the scale is on the top). Asdrubal started in 2007 after he was acquired from the Seattle Mariners and only played 45 games that season. This explains why his durability is so low that year. His durability was also low in 2010, because his arm was broken by Jhonny Peralta.
Using the picture at the top of the screen, it is easy to see that Asdrubal has always been a high average hitter. He has also been an average contact hitter with average plate discipline, but has been low in power and speed. These numbers are based on how he compares in single season averages to every batter who has had more than 50 games played in Indians history.
In 2011, while keeping his contact and plate discipline numbers about the same, his average and speed numbers are higher than ever. This is shown in conventional stats as well as Asdrubal is hitting .302 and stealing 6 bases without being caught.
His power numbers are the real outlier though. All these ratings are based on a maximum score of 99. This year Asdrubal has a power score of 86. His career average before this season was 37. Some Indians hitters who have averaged about an 86 for power over their careers with the Tribe are Ellis Burks, Hal Trosky, Matt Williams and Dave Justice. Only seven players have averaged more than an 86 for their careers in over 100 years of Cleveland Indians history.
The Indians media has caught on to a conversation held between Orlando Cabrera and Asdrubal in spring training, where Orlando told the other Cabrera to devote one at bat per game to power hitting. Another conversation was brought up where Orlando reminded him "don't forget about the homers." If it was that easy, somebody should have told that to Duane Kuiper. All signs point to this being an extreme aberration with a return to the norm being expected soon. With all that being said, no one can take away the home runs he has already hit and if he can keep it going, he will quickly make people forget about the power hitter that was Jhonny Peralta.
Currently Cabrera is on pace to hit 33 home runs. If he hits over 20 it will be one of the biggest turn arounds in Cleveland Indians history.no comments
Indians right-hander Alex White will miss 8-12 weeks because of a middle-finger sprain, Tribe head trainer Lonnie Soloff said Sunday. This type of injury is commonly called a "jammed finger." It is a sprain of the volar plate (floor) of the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. This is the joint at the junction of the hand and finger. In this case, the "jamming" of White's finger resulted with a sudden stretching of the right-middle finger. White sustained an axial loading force (distal to proximal) to the finger, combined with the finger being forced itno hyperextension.
White's finger will be splinted for up to three weeks and will follow that with another two weeks of range of motion and progressive resistance exercises. Good news is, no surgery is needed.no comments
A lot of things have happened today, so I thought it was important to make a note of all them here.
Tribe second-baseman, Orlando Cabrera has become an American citizen today. Cabrera will miss tonight's game against the White Sox to go through the ceremony in South Carolina. The Colombian native has played in the Major Leagues since 1997. Orlando was born in 1974 in Cartagena, Colombia and has now spent about half his life in the United States. Congratulations to Orlando Cabrera!
Travis Hafner's side injury may be more serious than the Indians are saying, and it has forced the team to make a move today. Relief pitcher Justin Germano was sent to AAA Columbus for super-utility player Luis Valbuena. Germano was statistically the worst pitcher in the Indians pen and will benefit from a short stint in AAA. While Justin has been on the team the whole season, he has only been allowed to pitch in 12.2 innings and has allowed 8 earned runs. Valbuena will provide some added depth with Hafner out, which is especially important with Grady Sizemore already on the disabled list. Luis proved something in Spring Training this year after struggling to the Indians over the last few years. In Spring Valbuena almost made the team by leading the team with 4 home runs and playing three different positions (shortstop, second base and third base). In Columbus, he has also added outfield to his repertoire and has continued to hit. Luis has 21 RBI with 4 home runs all while hitting .270. If he can play solid in the pros and limit his errors, Valbuena may be able to compete to win the utility job from Adam Everett. Everett has played well this season, especially on defense, but Valbuena has greater upside as well as more speed and power. I don't expect the Indians to go long down a man in the bullpen, so there will probably be another move made as soon as Hafner's situation is settled. He will get an MRI in Cleveland on Friday. If Hafner goes to the disabled list, Frank Herrman may get his fourth shot at the Majors this year.
On a sillier note, the entire Indians bullpen is now available to follow on Twitter. Rafael Perez was the last one to take the plunge. You can follow them at:
Rafael Perez @Raffyperez53
Justin Germano (AAA) @Jgerm39
Vinnie Pestano @VinnieP52
Joe Smith @thethree8
Tony Sipp @SippTony
Chad Durbin @chaddurbin37
Chris Perez @ChrisPerez54no comments
Manny Acta has pointed out a deficiency in the Cleveland Indians, whether he wanted to or not. The Tribe has been so hot, it's easy to look at the team as if everything is perfect, but if you don't constantly improve, you fall behind. It's important for any team to analyze their weaknesses and attempt to make them strengths. The Indians number one problem this season is the bullpen. This may seem to be untrue to the casual fan, because overall the bullpen performance has been fantastic, but that is mostly because of Manny Acta's strategy with pitchers. The Indians have had 11 close wins this season (wins with a three run lead or less). Of those wins, Chris Perez has pitched every single one and Tony Sipp has pitched in 8 of them. Perez has an ERA of 2.81 and Sipp has an ERA of 1.62, so the bullpen looks good from the back end. The next two most used pitchers in close wins are Rafael Perez and Vinnie Pestano. R. Perez has pitched in 6 of the 11 close wins with a 0.68 ERA and Pestano has pitched in 5 with a 1.84 ERA. Pestano was not used as a close game relief pitcher until the 19th game of the season, so he has a few less games played than he would if he had been in that role the whole season. Joe Smith has also been in this role less time then the rest of the team, but since he has come off the DL, there have been 8 close wins and he has pitched in 3 of them. Smith has a 3.38 ERA.
On the other side of the dichotomy, Justin Germano, Frank Herrmannn and Chad Durbin have been on the team the whole season and played in a total of 3 close wins combined, for a total of 2.2 innings pitched. Germano has an ERA of 5.00, Herrmann 8.31, and Durbin 6.75. Acta has obviously been afraid to use these pitchers in close situations, shown even more by the fact that 2 of those innings pitched came in an extra inning game. This would not be a problem for a team that was expected to lose 90 games, because there would be plenty of games where you just need someone to pitch, without a chance at winning, but this Indians team is in first place and winning almost every game.
Six of the eleven close games have been in the last nine games played, really taxing the Indians bullpen. Chris Perez has pitched in 7 of the last 10, Vinnie Pestano 6 of the last 10, and Rafael Perez and Tony Sipp have each pitched in 5 of the last 9 games. On the other hand Justin Germano has pitched in 2 of the last 14 games, Chad Durbin 2 of the last 9 and Frank Herrmannn hasn't pitched since April 12th, although he's been available to pitch in 4 games since then. Obviously this bullpen needs help, either from within or without.
Its probably too early to make a trade, since its impossible to tell right now which teams will be competing in October and which teams won't, so the answer will probably have to come from within. Frank Herrmann has been sent back to AAA Columbus, so the only pitchers that need to/could be replaced are Justin Germano and Chad Durbin. My suggestion for a replacement for Germano would be a pitcher familiar to the Tribe already this season, Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez was called up as a starter when Mitch Talbot was injurred and was sent back down when Carlos Carrasco came back from injury. Gomez didn't really impress as a starter, but when he was forced to pitch a game in relief when Carrasco was originally injurred, he performed very well. Gomez pitched 3 innings and only allowed 3 hits and was charged with one run that came in after he was relieved. Gomez is the best longman the Indians have in the system right now as the only three Clippers starters worthy of a shot in the pros right now are him, Alex White and Zach McAllister. White and Gomez have already had chances in the pros and looking at past precedents the Indians will not be willing to take McAllister from a starting role in the minors to make him a reliever in the pros.
For Chad Durbin's spot there are a lot more options. Carlton Smith, Zach Putnam and Jensen Lewis are the three top short relievers for the Clippers this season and all are ready for a shot at the Majors. Putnam has been the most impressive of the three, sporting a 2.41 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP while racking up 4 of the teams 12 saves. Zach has pitched in 18.2 innings, striking out 16 and only walking 4. Jensen Lewis is another familiar name to Indians fans, as he has been up and down through the Tribe's farm system for the last few years. There was even a time prior between closers when Jensen was named the closer on the pro team. Lewis has pitched 14.2 innings with a 3.68 ERA. Jensen looks to be having some control problems (8 walks and a 1.91 WHIP), but I'm sure he could find himself back on the Indians roster, as he has always been an above average reliever for the Indians. Carlton Smith has the best ERA of all Clipper relievers with a 2.35, has not allowed a home run this season and has a K/BB ratio of 18/5. Smith has only pitched 15.1 innings this year, but he has done his time in the minors, pitching in the Indians system since 2005 and deserves a shot at the pros sometime within the next two seasons.
At some point the Indians front office will have to admit that this team is better than they thought it would be and make some changes, eliminating the weakest players from the roster. The only two pitchers that are unworthy of a spot on this team are Germano and Durbin and hopefully they will be replaced soon, so at some point Tony Sipp and the Perez's can take a day off without worry.
Carlton Smithno comments
There's been a lot of talk lately about baserunning. Many people have been noticing the Indians ability as a team to go from first to third on a single and that they are always aggressive on the basepaths. Believe it or not, I actually keep a statistic that shows how many times the Indians take an extra base in a game. A player gets one extra base for every base they run to past the base value of the hit. This means that a player going first to third, or second to home on a single gets one extra base. If you score from first on a single you get two extra bases. Advancing on anything other than a steal also counts as an extra base as the runner gets to move up a base without being aided by a hit. This includes wild pitches, errors, passed balls, balks or any other reason a runner may move. In this post I'll be looking at extra bases along with steals, times caught stealing and other times tagged out on the base paths.
First off, there are only three batters who have played for the Tribe this year that haven't been either tagged out or caught stealing. Those three hitters are Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan and Shelley Duncan. This should give you a frame of reference and show that avoiding being tagged out is more a function of smart and conservative baserunning than it is of speed. So far through 30 games, only one player has been out on the basepaths more than twice (Asdrubal Cabrera at four times) and only three others have been caught as many as two times (Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley). Everyone else has been caught once.
There are only three batters with more than ten extra bases this season. The best of these is Orlando Cabrera with 18, followed by Michael Brantley with 15 and Carlos Santana with 11. When steals are added in, Shin-Soo Choo moves into this list with 15 bases. Choo leads the team with 6 steals, Brantley then follows with 4 and Asdrubal with 2. Combining steals and extrabases Orlando and Brantley tie with 19 each. This also gives Orlando the best ratio of bases gained to tag outs with 19/1. Extra bases and steals are only available to player who get on base (without hitting a home run or triple) so it would make sense that those players would have more extra bases. Brantley has been on base (by single, double, walk, hit by pitch, error or fielder's choice) more than any other Indian at 50 times this year. Both Cabreras and Choo have been on base more than 40 times each.
Of course, getting an extra bas also depends on the following batter getting a hit that makes taking another base possible. This makes the top of the lineup (Brantley has hit leadoff more than any other hitter) very efficient in this. The worst looking baserunners in the lineup look to be Asdrubal Cabrera. In 42 times on base, Cabrera only has 4 total bases (extra bases and steals) and has been tagged out 4 times. This probably comes from overconfidence on the base paths combined with less than blazing speed. Everyone else has a great correlation between times being safe going for an extra base and times being tagged out. Overall the Indians have been safe 111 times out of 147 (87% of the time) attempts to move up a base.
In games the Indians have won this season, they have averaged 4.14 extra bases and steals per game, in losses, that average is 2.67. While a large part of the discrepancy is probably due to an increased amount of hits in wins (9.43 per game) compared to losses (7.11 per game), good base running can never hurt. This team has proven to be successful running the bases so far this year, and will hopefully keep up this aggressive play, without losing out on efficiency, for the rest of the season.no comments