Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My All-Star ballot

Below are the players I have been voting for to make the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star starting rosters. Unlike some people, I do not of vote for my team's players (unless they are deserving).

American League:
*C - Victor Martinez, Boston
*1B - Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
*2B - Robinson Cano, New York
*3B - Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
*SS - Elvis Andrus, Texas
*DH - Vladimir Guerrero, Texas
*OF - Josh Hamilton, Texas
*OF - Magglio Ordonez, Detroit
*OF - Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle

National League:
*C - Ivan Rodriguez, Washington
*1B - Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego
*2B - Martin Prado, Atlanta
*3B - Scott Rolen, Cincinnati
*SS - Hanley Ramirez (was voting for Troy Tulowitzki before injury)
*OF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
*OF - Jason Heyward, Atlanta (did not change vote after injury)
*OF - Andre Ethier, Los Angeles

My predictions for starting pitchers
*AL: David Price, Tampa Bay
*NL: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado

This season, there are some close battles. Below is why I selected the players I selected, and my choices for potential backups.

American League:
*C - Victor Martinez, Boston

Martinez is my favorite player, but his numbers (.289, 9 HR, 38 RBI) are better than Joe Mauer's of Minnesota (.302, 3 HR, 34 RBI). Mauer, nonetheless, will earn the start. Kurt Suzuki of Oakland (.267, 10 HR, 35 RBI) would be my other backup selection.

*1B - Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Cabrera has arguably posted better numbers (.338, 20 HR, 67 RBI) than Justin Morneau of Minnesota (.347, 15 HR, 50 RBI). Because of fan ignorance, Mark Teixeria of New York (.230, 13 HR, 48 RBI) has garnered several votes. Other viable contenders for first base reserve sports are Billy Butler of Kansas City (.319, 7 HR, 40 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis of Boston (.301, 15 HR, 50 RBI)

*2B - Robinson Cano, New York

Cano (.358, 15 HR, 53 RBI) is the runaway choice at second base for the AL. Dustin Pedroia of Boston (.292, 12 HR, 41 RBI) was the best option at backup before he was injured. Now, Ian Kinsler of Texas (.294, 3 HR, 24 RBI) is the favorite.

*3B - Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay

Longoria (.296, 12 HR, 53 RBI) may not have the best numbers of all third basemen, but he is the most important to his team's lineup. Adrian Beltre of Boston (.349, 12 HR, 52 RBI) and Michael Young of Texas (.311, 11 HR, 51 RBI) should be the backups. Again, due to fan ignorance, Alex Rodriguez of New York (.281, 11 HR, 54 RBI) has garnered many votes.

*SS - Elvis Andrus, Texas

Derek Jeter of New York (.286, 8 HR, 39 RBI) will probably start because of the team's large fan base, but I prefer Andrus (.296, 24 RBI, 22 SB) because of his versatility. Asdrubal Cabrera of Cleveland may have earned a spot on the team had he remained healthy.

*DH - Vladimir Guerrero, Texas

There is no argument at DH, as Guerrero (.330, 16 HR, 63 RBI) is the only DH on the ballot hitting above .300. He is second among those same players in home runs and first in RBI.

*OF - Josh Hamilton, Texas
*OF - Magglio Ordonez, Detroit
*OF - Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle

To me, Hamilton (.343, 18 HR, 58 RBI), Suzuki (.335, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 21 SB) and Ordonez (.314, 10 HR, 49 RBI) are the three most deserving outfielders. Nelson Cruz of Texas (.321, 10 HR, 39 RBI), David DeJesus of Kansas City (.331, 5 HR, 35 RBI), Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay (.315, 7 HR, 38 RBI, 27 SB), Brett Gardner of New York (.321, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 24 SB), Alex Rios of Chicago (.307, 13 HR, 40 RBI, 21 SB), Vernon Wells of Toronto (.288, 19 HR, 47 RBI), Shin-Soo Choo of Cleveland (.285, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 12 SB) and Jose Bautista of Toronto (.232, 20 HR, 50 RBI) are viable candidates for the reserve roles.

National League:
*C - Ivan Rodriguez, Washington

Rodriguez (.301, 1 HR, 23 RBI) gets my vote because of his resurgence in Washington. Miguel Olivo of Colorado (.308, 11 HR, 38 RBI) has better numbers and should backup Rodriguez. That, however, would only happen if fan ignorance hadn't put Yadier Molina of St. Louis (.235, 3 HR, 30 RBI) and Brian McCann of Atlanta (.259, 9 HR, 32 RBI) toward the top of the voting list.

*1B - Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego

Albert Pujols of St. Louis (.312, 18 HR, 57 RBI) will clearly be the starter, so I went with Gonzalez (.302, 16 HR, 51 RBI), who is far more important to San Diego's lineup than Pujols is to St. Louis'. Joey Votto of Cincinnati (.313, 18 HR, 55 RBI) and Ryan Howard of Philadelphia (.295, 15 HR, 55 RBI) should also be All-Stars.

*2B - Martin Prado, Atlanta

Chase Utley of Philadelphia (.277, 11 HR, 37 RBI) was ignorantly voted the starter, but because of his injury, Prado (.335, 7 HR, 33 RBI) should get the nod. Brandon Phillips of Cincinnati (.313, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 10 SB) and Dan Uggla of Florida (.262, 15 HR, 55 RBI) both have a good chance of being named All-Stars.

*3B - Scott Rolen, Cincinnati

There's a big debate at the National League third base spot among Rolen (.300, 17 HR, 53 RBI), David Wright of New York (.310, 14 HR, 61 RBI) and Placido Polanco of Philadelphia (.318, 5 HR, 27 RBI). Polanco has been injured, however, which opens the door for Ryan Zimmerman of Washington (.285, 13 HR, 39 RBI) to get a look too. I went with Rolen because of his resurgence and his importance to the Reds' lineup.

*SS - Hanley Ramirez (was voting for Troy Tulowitzki before injury)

Tulowitzki (.306, 9 HR, 34 RBI) was my pick before his injury. Now, I am voting for Ramirez (.293, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 14 SB), who probably would have started anyway. Rafael Furcal of Los Angeles (.321, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 12 SB) would have gotten my vote had he not been injured earlier this season.

*OF - Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
*OF - Jason Heyward, Atlanta (did not change vote after injury)
*OF - Andre Ethier, Los Angeles

Braun (.299, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 11 SB), Heyward (.251, 11 HR, 45 RBI) and Ethier (.312, 12 HR, 47 RBI) are my selections for the National League outfield. I still give Heyward a vote because of the excitement he has brought to the game as a rookie. Manny Ramirez of Los Angeles (.322, 8 HR, 39 RBI) likely will start in place, assuming he is voted in. Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado (.302, 12 HR, 46 RBI), Marlon Byrd of Chicago (.311, 9 HR, 35 RBI), Matt Holliday of St. Louis (.302, 11 HR, 37 RBI), Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh (.298, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 19 SB), Jayson Werth of Philadelphia (.292, 13 HR, 38 RBI), Cody Ross of Florida (.295, 7 HR, 43 RBI) and Justin Upton of Arizona (.268, 14 HR, 39 RBI, 11 SB) are viable candidates for the reserves roles.

My predictions for starting pitchers
*AL: David Price, Tampa Bay

Price leads the American League with 11 wins and a 2.44 ERA. He also has 84 strikeouts. Clay Buchholz of Boston (10-4, 2.45 ERA, 64 SO) may also get the nod though. Hopefully, AL manager Joe Girardi doesn't give Andy Pettitte (9-2, 2.72 ERA, 74 SO).

*NL: Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado

There's no question Jimenez (14-1, 1.83 ERA, 102 SO) will get the start. Josh Johnson of Florida (8-3, 1.83 ERA, 107 SO) provides a compelling case, but Jimenez has been far better this season at the root of it all. St. Louis' Jaime Garcia (7-4, 2.27 ERA, 70 SO) and Adam Wainwright (11-5, 2.34 ERA, 114 SO) are also darkhorse candidates.

June 30 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 5, Toronto 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 11, Detroit 4 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 4, Kansas City 3 | Kansas City Star

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 42 35 --
Detroit 41 35 0.5
Chicago Sox 40 36 1.5
Kansas City 33 45 9.5
Cleveland 29 47 12.5

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 2, Toronto 1 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Detroit 7, Minnesota 5 | Detroit Free-Press
-Kansas City 3, Chicago White Sox 1 | Kansas City Star

Standings:

Team W L GB
Detroit 41 34 --
Minnesota 41 35 0.5
Chicago Sox 39 36 2.5
Kansas City 33 44 9.5
Cleveland 28 47 13.5

Monday, June 28, 2010

James to Miami?

Philadelphia and ESPN journalist Stephen A. Smith said on Dan Patrick's Radio Show that multiple league sources have told him LeBron James will sign with the Miami Heat, teaming with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to create a lethal trio.

The Heat, however, are short the money to sign three maximum free agent deals unless they sign and trade one of their players. The only logical choice would be youngster Michael Beasley.

Smith called the scenario "highly likely."

There are a few issues with this scenario though.

First, if Miami signs three max free agent deals, it will be difficult for the team to fill in the rest of the roster with enough talent to still be competitive. The Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s were an exception, but in today's market, I don't see that being a strong possibility. The Celtics' trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are nowhere near the caliber of a James/Wade/Bosh trio, which is why Boston has been able to make deep playoff runs.

Second, Miami is Dwayne Wade's city and it always will be as long as he is with the Heat. LeBron is a player who needs to be the No. 1 guy on his team (the exception being Team USA where there clearly isn't only one star), and in Miami, he would play second fiddle to Wade even if he posted better numbers.

Browns sign first draft pick

The Cleveland Browns have signed defensive lineman Clifton Geathers to a multi-year contract, making him the first 2010 draft pick the team has signed.

He was the team's second choice in the sixth round (pick 186).

The 6-foot-7, 300-pound player recorded 72 tackles in 36 games during his career with South Carolina. He also had six sacks for the Gamecocks.

Seven other draft selections, including quarterback Colt McCoy and cornerback Joe Haden, still need to be signed.

His uncle played 13 seasons in the NFL and his father was an NFL draft pick. His brother, Robert, plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Wood still not highly regarded tradebait

Indians closer Kerry Wood likely is still not be a highly regarded player to be traded, despite striking out the side in a save during yesterday's 5-3 win against the Reds.

Wood, who is making $10.5 million this season, is 1-3 with a 7.47 ERA and has converted just six saves out of nine chances. Known as a power pitcher, Wood has struck out just 14 batters in 15 2/3 innings across 18 games.

Yesterday's save was his first since June 18 and only his fourth this month.

Last season, Wood could only muster 20 saves.

Contending teams are always interested in hard-throwing relievers at the trade deadline, which is July 31st, but Wood's inconsistency overshadows his sometimes rocket arm.

Wood also has a history of arm troubles, including an injury that kept off the field this season until May 8.

He does, however, have a month to prove to a contender he can be a viable option late in games.

The Indians will surely still try to trade him regardless, giving Chris Perez a second chance to establish himself as a closer. If he doesn't work out, it's hard to say what will happen to the Indians bullpen in the future.

AP image via mlb.com

June 28 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 5, Cincinnati 3 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-New York Mets 6, Minnesota 0 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 10, Atlanta 4 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago Cubs 8, Chicago White Sox 6 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 10, St. Louis 3 | Kansas City Star

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 41 34 --
Detroit 40 34 0.5
Chicago Sox 39 35 1.5
Kansas City 32 44 9.5
Cleveland 27 47 13.5

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Choo further proves All-Star status

Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo furthered his resume to be named to this season's All-Star team with two home runs in a 5-3 Cleveland win against Cincinnati this afternoon.

Choo hit a solo blast in the first off Bronson Arroyo and torched him for a three-run shot on a very similar pitch in the fifth.

On the season, Choo has been Cleveland's most consistent player, hitting .286 through 73 games with a team-best 81 hits, 12 home runs, 13 doubles and 41 RBIs. He has also stolen 12 bases on 16 attempts and has an on-base percentage of .390, which ranks 16th among eligible players.

While those numbers are far from placing him in the American League's starting nine, they will be good enough to make Choo Cleveland's lone representative at the All-Star Game on July 13 at Angel Stadium in Los Angeles.

Choo has never been an All-Star, but as the team's best hitter and no pitchers on the roster posting stats anywhere near All-Star level, he will certainly get his first chance this season.

Cleveland has not had multiple All-Star selections since 2008 when both Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore were named to the squad. The last Indians All-Star starter was Juan Gonzalez in 2001.

James to Chicago?

For whatever it's worth, The New York Times is reporting that an unnamed NBA executive said he believes the Chicago Bulls are the favorites to sign LeBron James, by teaming him with Chris Bosh, calling it basically a "done deal."

James and Bosh would join a young core led by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. James spoke highly of the Bulls following a victory in a first-round postseason series between the two teams.

The New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to join the Bulls in meetings with James during the first few days of free agency, which begins July 1.

In the Times' report, the executive also said the Dallas Mavericks are hoping to be a part of the Ohio meetings. The report also said the meetings might just be a formality.

This report does not mean doom and gloom for Cleveland's chances of signing James, however. The Cavs can offer James the most money, hometown love and an owner willing to spend gobs of money to get whatever players James wants.

I still stand by my opinion that James will stay with the Cavaliers, but I also believe if he does leave, Chicago will be his destination. On paper, the Bulls, with James and Bosh, would instantly become favorites to win the Eastern Conference and one of the favorites to win the NBA title.

James would have to consider if the team could afford to keep both himself and Bosh while also signing Rose and Noah to extensions when the time comes.

'Tis the season of giving

It's summertime so it must mean the Cleveland Indians are about to sell off the veterans on its roster for prospects, who once develop will be traded again.

The first domino of a the 2010 firesale fell last night when the Indians traded first baseman Russell Branyan to the Seattle Mariners for a two prospects.

Ezequiel Carrera is a Class AAA outfielder who is hitting .268 with six doubles, two triples, no home runs and 19 RBIs in 61 games this season. He won last season's Class AA batting title with a .337 average.

While ranked Seattle's No. 15 prospect this season by Baseball America, he is currently on the disabled list with a hip pointer, making this the second season that Cleveland has traded for an injured prospect.

Juan Diaz is a Class A shortstop hitting .295 with eight doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 41 RBI in 70 games this season. He is also 8-for-10 on stolen base attempts.

Seattle will eventually receive a player to be named later or cash to finish the deal.

The Indians will pay a $500,000 buyout to Branyan based on the mutual option in his contract for the 2011 season while the Mariners will cover the rest of this season's salary.

It is unclear why the last-place Mariners are in the buyer's market, but the trade allows Cleveland to recall Matt LaPorta from the minors and play him as the everyday first baseman.

While LaPorta has struggled in limited time at the Major League level, earning regular at-bats with Cleveland will almost certainly help him develop into the power hitter he was labeled as when the Indians acquired him in 2008 after trading C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee.

Branyan disappointed as the team's only significant free agent signing this offseason, starting the season on the disabled list and hitting just .263 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI this season.

He had a resurgence with Seattle last season, hitting 31 home runs, making him an attractive free agent, even at age 34 with a history of back trouble. His fourth stint with Cleveland, however, caused the Indians more trouble than good.

This will more than likely be the first of many trades for the Indians, as free agents to be Kerry Wood, Jhonny Peralta and Austin Kearns are expected to be shopped for prospects.

Many teams have expressed interest in pitcher Fausto Carmona, but with one season and three club options left on his contract, he should stay in Cleveland.

The rebuilding process was brought to Cleveland by former general manager John Hart in the early 1990s, when he traded away veteran talent to create a team of All-Stars by the mid-1990s. His protege, Mark Shapiro, has found limited success during his rebuild (two winning seasons in 2005 and 2007), but he has not gained any fans by trading away several players before their primes instead of spending the money to resign them the past two seasons.

For now, the good ole' days of winning are over. Perhaps the young core of players Cleveland has this time can be signed to five or six-year contracts soon and win sooner (and more consistently) than the 2007 team did.

AP image via

June 27 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cincinnati 6, Cleveland 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 6, New York Mets 0 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Atlanta 4, Detroit 3 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 3, Cubs 2 | Chicago Tribune
-St. Louis 5, Kansas City 3 | Kansas City Star

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 41 33 --
Detroit 39 34 1.5
Chicago Sox 39 34 1.5
Kansas City 31 44 10.5
Cleveland 26 47 14.5

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cincinnati 10, Cleveland 3 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-New York Mets 5, Minnesota 2 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Atlanta 3, Detroit 1 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 6, Cubs 0 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 4, St. Louis 2 | Kansas City Star

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 33 --
Detroit 39 33 0.5
Chicago Sox 38 34 1.5
Kansas City 31 43 9.5
Cleveland 26 46 13.5

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shaw a coaching candidate

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw has been given permission to interview for the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching vacancy.

The Lakers granted the Cavs permission for an interview a few days, according to an AP report, and reporter Tom Withers reported on Twitter that the Cavs want to set up a meeting next week.

Cleveland has been through a tumultuous coaching search since Mike Brown was fired one month ago on May 25, being turned down by Michigan State's men's basketball coach Tom Izzo and left in limbo by former coach Byron Scott, who is also considering trying to win the Lakers' coaching job if Phil Jackson retires.

Jackson said earlier this week he is leaning toward retirement after winning his 11th NBA title.

Shaw, an assistant with the two-time defending NBA champions for five seasons, is also expected to be a top contender of the Los Angeles job if Jackson retires.

He played professionally from 1988-2003 with seven NBA teams and a professional team in Italy. Shaw has no direct connection to the Cavs other than having been a teammate to Shaquille O'Neal with both Orlando and the Lakers.

June 25 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Philadelphia 12, Cleveland 3 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Milwaukee 5, Minnesota 0 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 6, New York Mets 5 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 2, Atlanta 0 | Chicago Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 32 --
Detroit 39 32 0.5
Chicago Sox 37 34 2.5
Kansas City 30 43 10.5
Cleveland 26 45 13.5

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No pick for Cavs in first round

The talk around Cleveland before the NBA Draft was that the Cavs would try to trade into the bottom of the first round of tonight's event.

It is believed Cleveland was trying to work a trade/sale during picks 16-26, with strong interest in acquiring Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was drafted and traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder, however, to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future first-round pick.

The Cavs are interested in finding a young big man to eventually take over at center for the aging Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Depending on who is available, the Cavs still may make a move into the second round. Three centers were taken with the first three picks of the that round, however.

This day in '48 -- June 24

With the Cleveland Indians struggling, it's nice to take a look back when times were better.

On June 24, 1948, the Indians lost 4-0 to the New York Yankees, even though ace Bob Feller tossed a complete game.

The Indians outhit the Yankees 6 to 5, but three New York home runs doomed the Tribe. New York committed two errors, but Cleveland did not take advantage.

On June 24, 2010, the Indians lost 12-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies in interleague play for their fifth straight loss.

Cleveland got a home run from light-hitting Jason Donald, but 15 hits and two 5-run innings gave Philadelphia an easy win.

June 24 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Philadelphia 7, Cleveland 6 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Milwaukee 5, Minnesota 3 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-New York Mets 5, Detroit 0 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 4, Atlanta 2 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 1, Washington 0 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 31 --
Detroit 38 32 1.5
Chicago Sox 36 34 3.5
Kansas City 30 43 11
Cleveland 26 44 14.5

This day in '48 -- June 23

I'm bringing a new segment to this blog called This Day in '48. This will be posted several times a week but not every day.

With the Cleveland Indians struggling, it's nice to take a look back when times were better.

On June 23, 1948, the Indians lost 5-1 in 11 innings to the New York Yankees, allowing four runs in the top of the 11th.

It was a tight contest for most of the game, with the Yankees scoring once in the third and Cleveland scoring once in the seventh. Indians starter, Don Black, however lost his command in the top of the 11th, allowing a grand slam to Tommy Henrich.

On June 23, 2010, the Indians lost 7-6 to the Philadelphia Phillies in interleague play for their fourth straight loss.

The teams scored frantically, scoring runs in seven of nine innings. The real excitement, however, came in the ninth when Cleveland broke a 5-5 tie after Trevor Crowe scored on a fielder's choice. But, closer Kerry Wood blew that lead by allowing a two-run home run to Jimmy Rollins in the bottom of the ninth.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cavs notes: Williams doesn't want trade

Cavaliers point guard Mo Williams pleaded to the team on Twitter this afternoon not to be traded.

"Pls don't trade me, I'm not ready to go. I'm begging. My work ain't done yet. I'm on both knees....pls. I'm serious," Williams wrote on his Twitter account (mogotti2).

Rumors that Williams would possibly be traded picked up speed this week since the Cavs do not have any selections in Thursday's NBA Draft. By trading Williams as part of a package, the team could earn a draft selection, which would likely be spent on a center.

Williams has been labeled as expendable because of his lackluster play during the playoffs.

Coach speak

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson said today he is leaning toward retirement.

The leading candidate for the Cavs' coaching vacancy is Byron Scott, but it has been speculated that if Jackson retires, Scott would be a leader for the Lakers job.

If Scott accepts the position in Los Angeles, that would put another stall on the Cavs' search, which also included Michigan State's Tom Izzo decision to stay with the Spartans.

Draft rewind

Last season, the Cavaliers drafted Christian Eyenga, a European player not yet ready to move to the NBA. The selection remains controversial, as the team continues rebuilding with veterans as they try to win an NBA title.

Rival report: Royals to face Strasburg

Washington rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg will make his third interleague start against an AL Central team this afternoon. This time, the Kansas City Royals.

The game will start at 4:35 EST.

Strasburg is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three starts, striking out at least eight batters each time out.

As a team, the Royals have lost five games in a row and have the second fewest strikeouts (386). The Chicago White Sox, however, have the fewest strike outs among MLB teams (352), but Strasburg struck out 10 of the team's batters across seven innings in his last start.

He also faced the Cleveland Indians.

"I know he's got great stuff," Royals first baseman Billy Butler said. "Everybody knows that. I've seen him on TV. Actually, we've been watching him quite a bit. It's a good challenge for our offense."

The Royals send Brian Bannister to the hill this afternoon.

June 23 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Philadelphia 2, Cleveland 1 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Milwaukee 7, Minnesota 5 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-New York Mets 14, Detroit 6 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 9, Atlanta 6 | Chicago Tribune
-Washington 4, Kansas City 3 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 30 --
Detroit 38 31 1.5
Chicago Sox 35 34 4.5
Kansas City 29 43 12
Cleveland 26 43 13.5

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Captains strong in All-Star Game

Lake County Captain players performed well in tonight's Midwest All-Star Game.

Led by left fielder Bo Greenwell's 3-for-4 night, the East beat the West 6-2.

Greenwell, son of former Major League star Mike Greenwell, is second on the Captains in batting average at .310.

Lake County catcher Chun Chen went 1-for-2 in the game. He will play in the MLB Future's Game and leads Lake County in batting with .318.

Pitcher Nick Sarianides struck out the only batter he faced during the game.

June 22 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Washington 2, Kansas City 1 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 29 --
Detroit 38 30 1.5
Chicago Sox 34 34 5.5
Kansas City 29 42 12
Cleveland 26 42 13.5

Monday, June 21, 2010

Remember this guy?

With the Indian bullpen struggling, one can only speculate about how much Saul Rivera might have helped turn things around.

Rivera was traded by the Indians to Arizona Diamondbacks on May 17 for cash considerations, despite the staggering statistics he had compiled at Triple-A Columbus.

He was 2-0 in 15 appearances out of the Clipper bullpen, striking out 11 while allowing just one earned run in 17 innings pitched.

If a pitcher had numbers similar to that in Columbus now, they would be on the Cleveland roster tonight.

Rivera was traded at a time when the Indian bullpen looked solid. Now, however, the bullpen is in shambles with several players having rotated through since the trade.

But Rivera might not have been the answer either.

In four appearances with Arizona across two weeks days in late May, Rivera compiled 3.2 innings of work, during which he allowed 11 hits and nine earned runs for an ERA of 22.09.

He was returned to the minors on June 8. In three games with the Reno Aces, Rivera is 0-1 with a 12.46 ERA.

Of course, had Rivera stayed with Cleveland everything would have turned out differently, but based on his performance since the trade, it seems the Indians dodged a bullet by trading him.

Cavs announce new logo

The Cleveland Cavaliers announced a new logo (top) today.

The new logo sports more vibrant colors than the old logo (bottom) in order to correspond to colors from the past. Fans have shown an appreciation for retro Cavs uniforms and logos lately.

Laffey deserves shot at rotation

Indians pitcher David Huff was optioned to Triple-A Columbus today, opening the door for one of the Clippers' top starting pitchers to make the jump to the bigs.

Reasonable judgment suggests the top candidates for the promotion are Aaron Laffey (0-1, 3.98 ERA) and Carlos Carrasco (5-3, 4.26 ERA).

Yohan Pino (6-3, 4.36 ERA) and Josh Tomlin (6-2, 2.81 ERA) are also pitching well for Columbus but are not on the 40-man roster, which means Cleveland would have to shuffle that roster as well to promote either of them.

Between Laffey and Carrasco, the edge likely goes to Laffey, who opened the season in the Cleveland bullpen, but was sent to the minors on May 30.

He was 0-1 with a 5.61 ERA in 20 relief appearances and was sent to Columbus to become a starter in case Cleveland needed him later in the season.

The club likely didn't expect to need him back on the roster so soon, but Huff (2-9, 6.04 ERA) has struggled mightily this season.

Lack of run support and several errors by the defense have contributed to his win/loss record, but he allowed 88 hits and 47 earned runs in 70 innings across 13 starts.

The sophomore slump didn't effect Huff at the beginning of the season, when he was 1-2 with a complete game and just a 3.00 ERA after three starts. Last season, Huff led the team with 11 wins as a rookie.

Allowing hits has been an unfortunate staple of Huff's game though, as he allowed 159 hits in 128.1 innings across 23 starts last season.

Laffey is 16-19 in four seasons. He has made 44 career starts.

The team owes him an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation, much like they did with Huff after spring training. Laffey was a part of that battle for the fifth starting job, and now that Huff has shown he isn't ready, Laffey deserves a chance to prove he belongs.

It has been the season of minor league call-ups and opportunities for youngsters at Progressive Field this year, but in this instance, there should be an exception. Carrasco, part of the Cliff Lee trade, eventually will be a part of Cleveland's rotation, and while promoting him now would correspond with most of the other call-ups (Carlos Santana, Hector Ambriz, Frank Hermann, Jason Donald) Cleveland has made this season, it is not the right thing to do.

AP image via.

June 21 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Pittsburgh 5, Cleveland 3 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 4, Philadelphia 1 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 3, Arizona 1 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 6, Washington 3 | Chicago Tribune
-Atlanta 8, Kansas City 5 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 40 29 --
Detroit 38 30 1.5
Chicago Sox 34 34 5.5
Kansas City 29 41 11.5
Cleveland 26 42 13.5

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Santana leads me to fantasy greatness

Indians catcher Carlos Santana's home run this afternoon in a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh put my fantasy baseball over the top for a 10-0 week, the first of its kind in my league this season.

I picked up Santana on Friday and was rewarded this afternoon, as I was needing a home run to make a clean sweep of the board. My opponent had a home run on his bench today.

Currently, I am six games behind in my division, but I have had a place in the playoffs secured since the first week of the season.

The prize pool for the league is a pool of baseball cards and is played by moderators of several trading card websites. The league has 12 teams, is played on Yahoo! and uses a 10-category head-to-head format.

June 20 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Pittsburgh 6, Cleveland 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 13, Philadelphia 10 (F/11) | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Arizona 6, Detroit 5 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 1, Washington 0 | Chicago Tribune
-Atlanta 5, Kansas City 4 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 39 29 --
Detroit 37 30 1.5
Chicago Sox 33 34 5.5
Kansas City 29 40 10.5
Cleveland 26 41 12.5

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bosh and the Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring power forward Chris Bosh via sign-and-trade from the Toronto Raptors, perhaps in a push to entice LeBron James to stay in the city.

The trade, however, would leave the Cavs roster weaker than it was this season, when it had the best regular-season record in the NBA.

Antwan Jamison, 35, would likely be the centerpiece of the trade, but Cleveland would also likely have to include either J.J. Hickson, 21, or Anderson Varejao, 27, to offset the age factor. That would leave the Cavs with Bosh and Leon Powe at the power forward position.

As mentioned in the report, there is also a good chance Cleveland would have to buy a draft pick and trade it to the Raptors as well as pay some cash. That is a steep price to pay just to try and lure James back to town, but if James does bolt, that would leave the Cavs with a player to build around.

The trade, which I would say is unlikely to happen, would leave Cleveland's rotation looking something like this:

PG - Mo Williams (or Daniel Gibson is Williams is traded)
SG - Delonte West/Anthony Parker
SF - LeBron James (if he signs with Cleveland)/Jamario Moon
PF - Chris Bosh/Leon Powe
C - Zydrunas Ilgauskas/Shaq (if he signs with Cleveland)

I don't know about you, but I see those names and I do not see a championship in Cleveland's future. Williams, West and Z are good players, but they are far from being great underdog playoff players that are needed to win titles. Mo Williams is not Derek Fisher. Delonte West is not Jason Richardson. Both Fisher and Richardson played key roles in their teams' playoff runs this season.

Z is not in the same caliber as the top centers in the league. Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah would both dominate over Ilgauskas at this stage in his career. An aging Shaq can only do so much against the top young centers as well. When that happens, the Cavs lose in the playoffs.

LeBron has shown he can single-handedly win a game when he wants to. Instead of going after a guy for LeBron to share the ball (and contract dollars) with, Cleveland should focus on finding key role players that make the team go. The first step in doing that would be buying a draft pick and spending it on a promising young talent, maybe one that's actually in the U.S. this time.

Image via

June 19 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 4, Pittsburgh 3 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Philadelphia 9, Minnesota 5 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 7, Arizona 5 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 2, Washington 1 | Chicago Tribune
-Atlanta 6, Kansas City 4 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 38 29 --
Detroit 37 29 0.5
Chicago Sox 32 34 5.5
Kansas City 29 39 9.5
Cleveland 26 40 11.5

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rival report: White Sox to face Strasburg

The Chicago White Sox will get a taste of rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg tonight in Washington D.C.

Strasburg is 2-0 in two starts with 22 strikeouts, including eight against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday and 14 against Pittsburgh in his debut.

White Sox players have struck out just 317 times, the fewest among baseball's 30 teams.

"It looks like once he gets ahead of you, it's a defensive battle," Mark Kotsay said. "He does have a dominant strikeout pitch, and his curve and changeup are above average. I think attacking him early may give you the best chance."

His fastball tops out at 100 miles per hour more than once per game, his changeup runs around 90 miles per hour and his curveball is arguably already one of the better ones in baseball.

He will battle Gavin Floyd (2-7) tonight.

Straburg's next start is also expected to be against an AL Central team, this team the Royals next Wednesday.

Photo by Andrew Harner

June 18 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-New York Mets 6, Cleveland 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Colorado 5, Minnesota 1 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 8, Washington 3 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 5, Pittsburgh 4 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 5, Houston 2 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 38 28 --
Detroit 36 29 1.5
Chicago Sox 31 34 6.5
Kansas City 29 38 9.5
Cleveland 25 40 12.5

LeBron flash mob

A group of about 200 kids from the Boys and Girls Club and Shaker Dance Club joined together for a flash mob at Tower City Thursday afternoon, dancing to persuade LeBron James to stay in Cleveland.

Below is a Plain Dealer video of the event.

Dancing to keep LeBron James in Cleveland












Thursday, June 17, 2010

Browns release eight

The Cleveland Browns continue chopping down their roster, cutting eight more players this afternoon.

Veteran kicker Shaun Suisham was the lone notable of the group.

Other released were:

-Defensive back John Bowie
-Defensive back Benjamin Burney
-Defensive back Ramzee Robinson
-Running back Thomas Brown
-Offensive lineman Jason Capizzi
-Linebacker Auston English
-Wide receiver James Robinson

The Browns begin preseason play on August 14 at Green Bay.

June 17 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-New York Mets 8, Cleveland 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 2, Colorado 1 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 8, Washington 3 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 7, Pittsburgh 2 | Chicago Tribune
-Houston 4, Kansas City 2 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 38 27 --
Detroit 35 29 2.5
Chicago Sox 30 34 7.5
Kansas City 28 38 10.5
Cleveland 25 39 12.5

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interleague to put Hafner on bench

Travis Hafner has been one of Cleveland's top hitters the past week, having hit .364 with four home runs during his last seven games.

The Indians, however, are scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati starting Friday, which means there will be no designated hitter.

Hafner, having not played first base since 2007 nor taken significant infield practice this season, will likely not be in the lineup. Considering he is coming off an injury, there is no sense to try to play him at first base anyway, despite how well he is hitting.

But Hafner will become a prolific pinch hitter. He would only get one at-bat per game, however, which could cause some strain on the bench later in the game since there would have to be a defensive replacement the half inning after Hafner's plate appearance.

Rival report: KC gets 2012 All-Star Game

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is expected to announce that Kansas City will host the 2012 All-Star Game this afternoon on the field at Kauffman Stadium, according to the Kansas City Star.

The game is Kansas City's first major sporting event since the 1988 Final Four and is expected to bring the city nearly $65 million in economic impact.

Having been to Kauffman Stadium, I can tell you this will be a good opportunity for the Royal to showcase the renovations that were done to their stadium. It truly is no longer just an old stadium.

Photo by Andrew Harner

June 16 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-New York Mets 7, Cleveland 6 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 9, Colorado 3 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 7, Washington 4 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 6, Pittsburgh 4 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 15, Houston 7 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 37 27 --
Detroit 34 29 2.5
Chicago Sox 29 34 7.5
Kansas City 28 37 9.5
Cleveland 25 38 11.5

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Izzo stays at home, sends message to LeBron

Tom Izzo will remain Michigan State's men's basketball coach, rejecting an offer to coach the Cavaliers at double his salary.

In a statement, Izzo said, "It's been an agonizing week as I tried to make a decision about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Part of that opportunity could have been coaching LeBron James, arguably the NBA's best player.

Izzo visited Cleveland on Thursday and has been mulling his options since.

Ultimately, home lured him to stay, and he hopes LeBron will do the same for the Cavaliers in deciding where he will play next season.

"Just as I decided to stay home, I hope a 6-8, 270-pound forward in Cleveland decides to stay home," Izzo said in the statement.

A press conference is called for 8:30 p.m.

Conflicting reports on Tom Izzo

Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo reportedly will not take a job as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. A press conference for 7 p.m. is being reported by some outlets.

As of one hour ago, however, Eric Lacy of The Detroit News reported on his Twitter feed that the paper had not received any notification of a Tuesday evening press conference.

Brian Windhorst of The Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted that a players-only meeting has been called for Michigan State at 6:45 p.m., and Tom Withers of the Associated Press tweeted that there is no indication of any goings on at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.

In a time when college coaches have shown a lack of loyalty, it would be respectful of Izzo to stay with the Spartans.

Does LeBron wants wins or dollars?

I'm trying not to discuss the LeBron James situation that much because if I do, I'd be joining the circus, which I have frequently termed idiotic and way over the top.

But I couldn't let this article pass without giving my opinion about the topic.

New York Daily News writer Frank Isola blogged about LeBron and the New York Knicks yesterday morning, writing the following:
"With LeBron there is no way of knowing. I really believe he cares less about winning and more about his money and his image. This is why the Knicks have a legitimate chance of signing him. The Knicks don't have much to offer James when it comes to basketball. The best thing the club has going for it is New York City and Madison Square Garden."

Two things came to mind after reading that statement.

1) I don't 100 percent disagree.

LeBron has always left himself with "options" each time has has talked about new contracts. When he signed the three-year deal that expired after the season, he chose only to sign for three seasons to give himself options this summer. I would think he will try to work out something similar come July.

But what exactly are those "options" he speaks of?

I'm going with money and attention.

When that three-year deal was inked, LeBron knew he would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2009-10 season. At that time, he also knew he could sign a new contract worth more money after the 2009-10 season. The $60 million deal he signed included a player option for the 2010-11 season, but James opted out of it. Had the Cavs won a title in the past three seasons, that may have changed, but only because titles will be good for his image and garner him further attention.

Had LeBron signed a five-year deal in 2007, there would still be a media circus following 2011-2012 season, but not like the circus of this season. The reason? No Dwayne Wade. No Amare Stoudamire. No Chris Bosh. No Joe Johnson. Etc. I'm sure there would be stars, but probably not of the highest caliber like there are this season.

This is why I agree with with Mr. Isola's blog post. LeBron has played with passion on the court, but he's played with the Presidents off the court, signing several lucrative endorsement deals and associating himself with many high profile individuals. A missing key to Isola's argument, however, is that winning championships helps LeBron's image and marketability. So, money should not be the only thing LeBron is concerned with. Although, I do believe money has been driving his career thus far.

2) Why is New York a better fit if money and image is the object?

LeBron pretty much has everything he could ever want in Cleveland. Stars around him. An owner who will spend money to give him what he wants/needs to be a success. Endorsement deals with the biggest companies out there. National media attention with every highlight dunk, 40-plus point performance, trick shot and colorful quote. A home-grown fan base that followed him from Akron to Cleveland.

Most importantly, the Cavs can offer James more money than any other team this offseason. When combined with the fact that LeBron already has a lucrative off-the-court life in Cleveland, what good does to going to New York do besides offering him a couple futile years before contending.

AP image via ESPN

Cleveland Game Preview

Since there were only four games played last night, and none of them featured teams from the AL Central, this morning, I have a game preview for tonight's Indians game.

Team matchup: Cleveland Indians (25-37) vs. New York Mets (35-28) -- 7:05 p.m.

Pitching matchup: Justin Masterson (2-5, 4.74 ERA) vs. Johan Santana (4-3, 2.96 ERA)

Streak: Cleveland (L1), New York (W4)

Last 10: Cleveland (6-4), New York (8-2)

Last game: Cleveland (loss to Washington, 9-4), New York (win against Baltimore, 11-4)

Forecast: 77 degrees at game time with a 50 percent chance of rain

Monday, June 14, 2010

QB carousel continues

The Cleveland Browns did not name a starting quarterback after minicamp, effectively continuing a trend that has plagued the city since the 2007 NFL Draft.

Veteran Jake Delhomme, who will earn $7 million this coming season, is expected to be the Browns starter once the season begins, but either Seneca Wallace has shown tremendous promise or coach Eric Mangini just doesn't understand how damaging keeping starters a closely-guarded secret can be. Although, Mangini did suggest Delhomme is in the lead recently.

For example, letting Wallace believe he is in the race only to have him lose out to a guy who clearly was brought to town to be the starter would more than likely hurt his long-term confidence than help it. In the time right after the decision is made, Wallace would likely feel good about his abilities, but sitting a season on the bench behind a grizzled veteran will not help the confidence of a player who has been in the league since 2003.

If I were Wallace, I would want to know my place on the team and would want to practice as such. What if Wallace is to primarily be used in the wildcat formation but he spends too much time running reps with the first team? Then the wildcat plays probably struggle and both Wallace and Joshua Cribbs are not used to their potential.

The Browns have three quarterbacks on their roster, and none of them had any experience in Mangini's systems before this season. Wouldn't it make more sense to have one guy in place as the starter so he cane figure out how to best run the offense so the team has a better chance of competing during the season?

I understand that any coach should give all his new quarterbacks a chance to prove themselves in the system, but in the Browns situation, that should not apply. As mentioned, Delhomme is making starter money, Wallace is not (some $1.5 million). The Browns are a team on the rise and don't need any further distractions, or they will never make it over the top. Running first-team reps with two different quarterbacks will do just that.

In reality, there may not be anything to Mangini's not naming a starter. Perhaps behind closed doors he has already explained the situation to his quarterbacks, but who really thinks that has happened?

Parallels to 2007

In 2007, the Browns had two third-year quarterbacks, Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson as well as a touted rookie, Brady Quinn. That season, there was an open competition between the incumbent, Frye, and Anderson, which resulted in Frye winning the job.

Quinn sat the bench that season, must like rookie Colt McCoy is expected to do this season.

In the 2007 season's first game, however, Frye (pictured) was benched and traded away in favor of Anderson, who eventually led the Browns to a 10-6 record. In 2008 and 2009, Anderson and Quinn battled for the starting job, leading to inconsistency from both. Injuries did play a role, but when healthy, neither player looked confident enough on the field to win.

That all came among times of change, as there was a different offensive coordinator each season. Because no one quarterback was given the chance to truly learn the offense by practicing with the first team every day, the team struggled. There was obviously more to it than that, but if a quarterback is expected to be the team's leader, he should have enough confidence in himself and the team's offense to run it well.

Because Delhomme and Wallace have more experience than any of the quarterbacks in from 2007-2009, there could be different results, but I still believe it would be best for the Browns to name their starter as Delhomme and try to find the best way to utilize Wallace in the offense.

Delhomme image from The Plain Dealer
Wallace image from The Plain Dealer

June 14 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Washington 9, Cleveland 4 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Atlanta 7, Minnesota 3 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 4, Pittsburgh 3 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago Cubs 1, Chicago White Sox 0 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 7, Cincinnati 3 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 36 27 --
Detroit 33 29 2.5
Chicago Sox 28 34 7.5
Kansas City 27 37 9.5
Cleveland 25 37 10.5

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A day in the Strasbosphere

Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg dominated the Cleveland Indians in 5.1 innings of work during a 9-4 Washington Nationals win this afternoon.

Strasburg struck out eight and only allowed two hits, including a Travis Hafner home run. He did walk five batters, however.

He consistently hit 98-100 MPH on the radar gun but did slow the game down twice by calling the grounds crew out to work on the mound. He was booed by some fans when he was pulled from the game.

He is now 2-0 with 22 strikeouts after his first week in the Majors.

Three of Cleveland's first six outs were strikeouts, and Strasburg got Austin Kearns and Russell Branyan to strike out swinging to get out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth after he walked two.

He lost his poise in the bottom of the sixth, though. After being spotted a five-run lead by his teammates in the top of the inning and getting Shin-Soo Choo to fly out to center, Carlos Santana singled and Strasburg walked the bases loaded before being pulled. He showed frustration on the mound once he knew he was going to get pulled, a first for his young career.

Strasburg did help the Indians draw a crowd of 32,876, easily their largest since Opening Day. Hall of Famer Bob Feller watched the game from the press box, and Cleveland Brown kick returner Joshua Cribbs was also on hand.

A chunk of the crowd hit the exits after Strasburg was lifted.

Photos by Andrew Harner

June 13 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 7, Washington 1 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Atlanta 3, Minnesota 2 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 4, Pittsburgh 3 (F/10) | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 2, Chicago Cubs 1 | Chicago Tribune
-Cincinnati 11, Kansas City 5 | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 36 26 --
Detroit 32 29 3.5
Chicago Sox 28 33 7.5
Kansas City 26 37 10.5
Cleveland 25 36 10.5

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strasburg comes to Cleveland

By now, I'm sure you know that the most hyped pitching prospect in recent memory, Stephen Strasburg, will be pitching in Cleveland tomorrow.

I am well aware and will be at the game, so I hope to get some pictures (and possibly video) of Strasburg as well as several Cleveland players posted tomorrow night.

I won't be on the Social Media Deck, so I will not have updates during the game.

Carmona is overshadowed

Lost among the hype about the offense's performance the past four games, Carlos Santana's first Major League hit and home run and Stephen Strasburg's appearance in Cleveland tomorrow was a fantastic pitching performance by Fausto Carmona.

Nine innings. Three hits allowed. Twenty-two first-pitch strikes. Zero walks.

That's a pretty good stat line.

Carmona looked like his 2007 self (a season during which he won 19 games and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting) flawlessly retiring Washington batter after Washington batter in a 7-1 win tonight. The only hiccup in the 106-pitch performance being a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman.

A strong start from Carmona is a good sign for a pitching staff that has collectively struggled this season (4.58 ERA and 1.58 WHIP). Despite his 5-5 overall record, Carmona has been one of the more consistent Cleveland starters this season, having pitched at least six innings in all but one start and only allowing more than seven hits twice.

In Carmona's five losses, the Indians offense has scored just 11 runs. In his five wins, the offense has scored 26 runs. In his three no decisions, the offense scored nine runs. Now with the offense seemingly gelling, Carmona and all of Cleveland starters should start getting better run support, which almost always results in more wins.

Do I think Cleveland has a legitimate shot at making a run at the AL Central? No. But if Carmona and Mitch Talbot can continue pitching well as Jake Westbrook and the other starters get things straightened out, the Indians can potentially play spoiler in the AL Central.

Plain Dealer image

No report on the Tribe's game because...

I was not able to watch the Cleveland Indians play last night because I was in attendance at the Akron Aeros game.

It was nice to come home to see the bottom of the lineup had a good night hitting and that Travis Hafner hit another home run. I am also happy that Cleveland decided to start Carlos Santana at catcher immediately.

But I was mostly pleased to come home after the Aeros came from behind to win 4-3 against the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston's AA affiliate.

Down 3-0 after a sloppy first inning, featuring three walks, one error and three runs on one hit for the Sea Dogs, the Aeros did not look like a team that was on a 10-game winning streak.

But then came the fifth inning.

Jerad Head advanced from second to home on two ground outs after his lead-off double. Lonnie Chisenhall led off the next inning with a towering home run to the bullpen, which really put the energy back into the team and the crowd.

In the seventh, the Aeros strung together three straight hits, but they also left the bases loaded after a Chisenhall strikeout. Head later scored the winning run in the eighth inning after a couple timely hits.

Here are some of my observations from the game:

1) Lonnie Chisenhall is a good player. Cleveland's first-round selection of the 2008 draft impressed at the plate, showing patience and also hitting a home run (his third in four game). He seemed to do well with selecting the right pitches to swing at. As a third baseman, he really can't get to the majors fast enough to replace Jhonny Peralta.

2) The defense could use some work. The first-inning error came on a routine ground ball to first base, and several ground ball outs ended with a bounced throw into first base. Manager Joel Skinner is a smart baseball man and will get the defense straightened out though.

3) The team is clutch. The Aeros seemed to play with a sense of urgency after adding their first run to the score board. Notching a run in each of their last four innings is the only reason they won the game. More often than not, it seems the Indians don't have their sense of urgency when they get off to a bad start. Akron definitely used better pitch selection than what Cleveland typically uses in last night's game.

4) With 2009 first-round selection Alex White also in Akron, the future is looking a little brighter in Cleveland. If Matt LaPorta can get his swing down consistently and translate that into Big League success, the Indians could soon have a team built around a nucleus of these promising youngsters:

-Carlos Santana
-Matt LaPorta
-Lonnie Chisenhall
-Alex White
-Trevor Crowe
-Michael Brantley

Cleveland also has several other prospects in the wing that have potential. One can only hope these players became a solid group like the Belle/Baerga/Thome/Alomar/Lofton/Nagy group did in the early 1990s because it's no secret the Indians won't be signing a big-name player any time soon. The only difference position-wise between the two groups if the 1990s group had a second baseman and the current group has a first baseman. Otherwise, there is a pitcher, catcher, two outfielders and a third baseman.

Photo by Andrew Harner

June 12 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 7, Washington 2 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Minnesota 2, Atlanta 1 | Minnesota Star-Tribune
-Detroit 6, Pittsburgh 2 | Detroit Free-Press
-Chicago White Sox 10, Chicago Cubs 5 | Chicago Tribune
-Kansas City 6, Cincinnati 5 (F/11) | Kansas City Star-Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 36 25 --
Detroit 31 29 4.5
Chicago Sox 27 33 8.5
Kansas City 26 36 10.5
Cleveland 24 36 11.5

Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome to the Bigs

Catching prospect Carlos Santana has been promoted by the Indians. The team optioned Lou Marson to make roster space.

At this time, it is unknown if he will start tonight against Washington.

Yesterday, reports came out that said Santana would be promoted to Cleveland before the All-Star Break, but few likely expected the move to be made already.

Santana was hitting .316 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs at AAA Columbus, but he only throws out 23 percent of base stealers (9-for-31), the biggest concern in his overall game.

"He's young. He's got a cannon and he wants people to see it," manager Manny Acta said to The Plain Dealer. "Sometimes he gets a little long [throwing motion] because of it. He does fine during the drills, but it changes during the game."

Marson, a key piece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia, has struggled in Cleveland, hitting just .191 with one home run and 12 RBIs, but he was strong defensively, throwing out an AL-leading 35 percent of base stealers (14-for-40).

Veteran Mike Redmond is Cleveland's other catcher.

Plain Dealer image

June 11 -- AL Central Roundup

Links to results from last night's AL Central games:

-Cleveland 8, Boston 7 | Lorain Morning-Journal
-Kansas City 9, Minnesota 8 | Kansas City Star
-Chicago 3, Detroit 0 | Chicago Tribune

Standings:

Team W L GB
Minnesota 35 25 --
Detroit 30 29 4.5
Chicago Sox 26 33 8.5
Kansas City 25 36 10.5
Cleveland 23 36 11.5

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Branyan saves the day

The Cleveland Indians looked down and out twice against the Boston Red Sox in tonight's 8-7 win.

After two innings, Cleveland trailed 5-0 and already amassed three errors...actually Andy Marte had already amassed three errors. How long before he's out of town? I'm guessing 7-10 years.

The Indians quickly regained three runs in the third and then took a 6-5 lead in the sixth. Cleveland recorded 10 hits for the second straight night (they had 12 tonight).

The game stayed quiet until the ninth (other than some unruly fans), when closer Kerry Wood entered the contest. He recorded two quick outs, but a slider to J.D. Drew went awry, hitting him, and the next batter, Adrian Beltre, smashed a home run to put Boston back on top by one.

Cleveland again rallied back quickly, as Trevor Crowe walked, Shin-Soo Choo doubled and Austin Kearns walked to load the bases with no outs against hard-throwing Daniel Bard, who is replacing Jonathan Papelbon, who is on the bereavement list, at closer

Travis Hafner, who hit a grand slam in last night's game, struck out looking and Jhonny Peralta popped out in foul territory just behind the plate to bring up Russell Branyan, who entered the game in the seventh for Marte.

Branyan, who is hitting .252 and has 40 strikeouts in 40 games, stroked a ball to right field, which just barely found its way to the ground against a Boston shift. Two runs scored on the play and the Indians earned a series split with the Red Sox.

AP image via ESPN.com