Cleveland Sports Insiders

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The Sunday Drive with Santana, Salazar, Bauer and LeBron James

With Mother’s Day and Easter behind us, and with the Indians’ locomotive heading towards Father’s Day and the hopeful heat of summer, it’s time for me to dust off the trusty old Smith-Corona PWP 5000 Word Processor (look that one up) and start writing about Cleveland Sports again. With the off-season Cavs and Browns actually becoming more interesting than the in season Indians, there’s plenty to talk about in this week’s Sunday Drive.

I really don’t know where to begin with the Cleveland Indians, so I suppose I’ll start with Carlos Santana.  I was all for the Santana experiment when it started. I was excited even more to see Santana start there when the Tribe announced early in Spring Training that he was going to be the starter.

I’m less excited now.

This is when I wish I utilized my brain for my decision-making skills, and not my heart. Look. We all knew that learning the third base position at the major league level starting in December was a long-shot at best. Hell, I would even go so far as to say that it was an impossible shot, from December through March.

Instead, my trust for Francona-decisions allowed my sense and sensibilities to get thrown out the window. Instead, I kept thinking to myself, “Boy, if he gets out from behind the plate, his offense will improve.”

Think about that. On one hand, Santana won’t be catching all those games, so his legs should be fresh. Of course, he’s learning a new position…and third base to boot. I did talk about one offsetting the other, but my blind belief that he could overcome this without physically seeing him or talking with him was simply idiotic. Continue reading

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CSI: The Podcast 69: A top ten guide to the Cleveland Indians prospects

Indiansbaseballinsider.com’s Jeff Ellis joins IBI and CSI columnists’ Jim Pete and Michael Hattery to talk about the Cleveland Indians’ top ten prospects.

It’s always difficult discussing prospects because of the volatility of young players from season-to-season, but Jeff, Jim and Mike give their “very early” top ten list, prefacing it with the understanding that things could change from day-to-day, week-to-week and month-to-month, especially considering that we’ve yet to make it to spring training.

We all know that Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier are at the top of the list, but where will Jose Ramirez, Joe Wendle, Jesus Aguilar, Tyler Naquin, Bryson Myles, Trevor Bauer, Francisco Mejia, Ronny Rodriguez and many, many more show up? Is your favorite prospect on the list, or have they fallen out of favor?

Tune in after the jump, with our initial top-ten prospect pod-guide, in all it’s glory: Continue reading


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500 words or less…on Ubaldo Jimenez and Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer (photo: AP)

Trevor Bauer (photo: AP)

Can Trevor Bauer rebound from his struggling 2013 season?

Clevelandsportsinsider.com columnist Steve Orbanek and I bantered about the numbers of Danny Salazar‘s 2012 minor league campaign with Cody Anderson‘s stat line in 2013. Steve makes a good case for Anderson’s future in Friday, January 17th‘s Orbiting Cleveland.

Salazar and Anderson are different styled pitchers, but are on a similar trajectory.

From there, I began a cursory look at Trevor Bauer, pondering his future compared to Salazar and Anderson because of his day-to-day struggles to find the strike zone. While Bauer, Salazar and Anderson all have had varied levels of success, comping them while Bauer is struggling seemed unfair.

While pondering a comparison-study, one name stood out to me in relationship to Bauer: Ubaldo Jimenez. I cherry-picked Jimenez’s final season at Triple A Colorado Springs, as-well-as Bauer’s 2013 season in Columbus. Continue reading


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Orbiting Cleveland: Analyzing 2014 Indians top prospect lists

francisco-lindor-2013-bwOn Wednesday, Baseball America released its long-awaited 2014 Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects list.

The list is always interesting to see simply because of Baseball America’s reputation as being the standard in the industry when it comes to prospect rankings. The rankings are, however, subjective to the opinions of Baseball America’s writers, and debate is inevitable once they’re released.

That has already been the case this season as there were some surprises and some notable omissions. Without further ado, take a look at Baseball America’s listing for yourself: Continue reading


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The Spin Cycle: Should the Indians sign Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

In this week’s Spin Cycle, we are going to continue to look at the Indians’ starting rotation, as we have the past few weeks. The Indians have been quiet since they dealt Drew Stubbs this past December, because their club as a whole seems to be fairly complete. While the Indians have minor concerns at shortstop and third base, their pitching remains the question mark heading into the 2014 season.

How much of a question mark depends on who’s looking.

Today, we are going to focus the spotlight once again on Ubaldo Jimenez, who remains a free agent in an unknown market for starting pitchers.

Two weeks ago, we took a look at the #5 slot in the rotation, and Carlos Carrasco came out on top with 32% of the vote.

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Resolution dialogue at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

Jose Ramirez (photo courtesy of Lianna Holub)

It’s New Year’s Resolution time here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, as the Cleveland Indians’ enter the 2014 season coming off of a massive rebound during the 2013 season. They made the playoffs thanks in large part to a ten-game win streak to close out the season last September. Their stay in the playoffs was short, but the taste of October was sweet.

I’m ready for more.

I was browsing through my New Year’s piece last year, and it’s always interesting to take a look at what I was talking about. In my piece last year, I was actually focusing on…Shaun Marcum?

Here’s what I said:

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The Sunday Drive with Bynum trades, New Coaches and BASEBALL!!!

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

Bynum and Gasol (photo: NBA)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: an Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol trade makes zero sense unless you foolishly believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers can either be a factor in the playoffs or sign Gasol long-term. If you honestly believe that the Cavaliers can do either, than I have a bridge to sell you.

I am not saying that the Cavaliers should call it a season and just start losing basketball games for the sake of losing. What I am saying is that every team needs to weigh how much one player can improve a team in the short-term, vs. the long haul.

What will it cost to get Gasol? If it were just Bynum, I’d be all in. The move saves the Lakers money, and it would give the Cavs a player to keep Anderson Varejao‘s minutes down. That would be a win-win for the Cavs and the Lakers.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, a proposed straight up trade can’t be made since the Cavaliers would have to add another player to it to make it work monetarily. It’s been reported that the Lakers want Sergei Karasev in the deal to give them a piece that they can use in the future, but Bynum and Karasev still wouldn’t get the trade done.

The Cavaliers would have to include one other player along with Bynum and Karasev to make the deal work, and that player would likely be a throw-in, such as Henry Sims. Some wouldn’t consider that a throw-in, some may not. Either way, what short-term or long term goal does this achieve for the Cavs?

Nothing positive.

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Orbiting Cleveland: The rotation has a huge hole

Josh Tomlin (AP PHOTO)

Josh Tomlin (AP PHOTO)

Where is help when you need it?

That has to be a popular question amongst the Cleveland Indians front office right now.

After going 92-70 in 2013, the Indians are winners. Now how will they find a way to stay winners in the year to come?

That’s not an easy task, and it becomes even more difficult when you realize what the team must replace. They’ve already lost left-hander Scott Kazmir to free agency, and it seems as if there’s a good chance that Ubaldo Jimenez will be gone too.

That’s not good.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Tribe cannot afford to lose Jimenez simply because of his contributions to the team last season. After all, who would want to lose a pitcher who went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA?

That issue is compounded by the fact that the Indians already lost Kazmir, who signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland A’s this past offseason. Kazmir was no slouch himself in 2013 and went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA.

It’s not easy to replace performances like that, but it can be done, especially if a team has capable replacements available. Yet, that’s where things get somewhat dreary when predicting a forecast for the Indians’ 2014 season —the Tribe has nothing of the sort.
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Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez will be back in 2014

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

It may have taken some time, but it appears as if the Indians’ offseason plans are finally becoming a bit clearer.

During the past week, we’ve seen the Indians sign John AxfordShaun Marcum and trade Drew Stubbs to acquire Josh Outman.

None of these moves could be described as big acquisitions, but it does at least signal that the Indians are trying to address their concerns and get… better.

Better — that’s an interesting word to consider.

The Indians won 92 games last season and also earned one of the American League’s Wild Card berths. Knowing that, it’s not going to be that easy for the team to get much better; it’s very difficult to win much more than 92 games in a season.

So let’s consider that word one more time. Has this team actually positioned itself to be better in 2014?

Offensively, it looks as if that may be the case.

A platoon of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn will now replace Stubbs in right field. Murphy is coming off a rough 2013 campaign, but he does seem like a solid candidate for a rebound season.

Also, we know the back of the bullpen was a problem area for the Indians in 2014. They did improve that a bit by acquiring the lefty Outman, and Axford will now be the closer. However, Axford has not been a closer since 2012, and he also has a career average of 4.0 walks per nine innings. Tribe fans can probably expect that Axford has a comparable performance to Chris Perez, and it’s no guarantee that he will offer much more than that.

Also, it appears as if the Indians are banking on offensive players like Michael BournNick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera having much better seasons at the plate. It does seem likely that all three of these players could rebound, but what if then Yan GomesCarlos Santana and Jason Kipnis also have down years at the plate?

In all honesty, it seems fair to conclude that the offense has made a slight improvement with the addition of Murphy over Stubbs, and the bullpen does seem a bit more stable. The team now has two viable left-handers in Outman and Marc Rzepczynski, and that was not the case last season.

But there is one area where the team is noticeably thinner — starting pitching.

As of now, the rotation appears to be Justin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister. The fifth spot in the rotation will likely be decided in a battle between Carlos CarrascoJosh TomlinTrevor Bauer and Marcum.

Sorry, that’s simply just not enough.

The Indians have already lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, who both played integral roles in leading the team to the postseason last year. Do the Indians win 92 games without either of these two guys last year?

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12 Days of Christmas at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Progressive FieldIt’s Christmas time here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and what that means for the Pete household is a respite before loading up the Pete Family Truckster for a criss-crossing, 2000 mile trek up and down the East Coast, taking my family to both Florida and Pennsylvania over the next two weeks.

Trust me when I say that I’ll enjoy the respite of Christmas day with just my family, opening presents, watching 24 hours of a Christmas Story, and hopefully falling asleep at some point around 5:00 P.M.

Hopefully you’ll be doing the same.

With all of that said, it’s Wednesday, and the column must go on. I’ve decided to take a much more relaxed tone this week, and have delved into the land of theme.

With Christmas Day finally here, I’ve decided to go the route of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas for the 2014 Cleveland Indians.’ Oh, I could have rehashed the 2013 season (it certainly would have been easier), but thought it would be fun to take a look into Christmas’ future, rather than Christmas past.

Jeez, I just hope I, or the Indians, don’t bump into the Grim Reaper along the way.

Let’s give this a whirl…

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