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Again, it's the Indians, and again, one of us is MIA - Rob is settling in to Waterloo and deprived of internet access.

What can I tell you that he hasn't already? Not much. But you'll see Wednesday starter Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner's freak but non-severe hand injury, and the guy who hit a grand slam on his first major-league pitch if you proceed...

On to the Advance Scout!

Again, Rob's already done a great job of introducing you to most of the Indians' regulars, so this is going to be little more than a recap of what the Indians did this past weekend. I'll touch on a couple of less important guys who were overlooked last week and also point out a couple of prospects who have had nice breakout years and could be poised to help out Cleveland's rotation in a couple of years.

General: The Tribe won two of three in the unfriendly confines of Ameriquest Field in Arlington to continue their recent hot streak. They've won 9 of 11 ... On Friday, they got to Vicente Padilla early, slapping him around for three runs in the first and ultimately hanging 6 runs in 5.1 innings on the much-hyped free agent-to-be. Grady Sizemore was 3-for-3 with two walks, leading the first-inning rally off with a double and taking Padilla deep for a solo shot in the second. Starter Jake Westbrook, the kind of ground ball machine the Rangers should really look into acquiring to pitch in their launching pad, went seven strong innings. He struck out six, walked two and gave up two runs. Rafael Betancourt and Nasty Mastny pitched two no-hit innings to nail down a 7-2 victory ... On Saturday, the Indians hung a beating on righty Edinson Volquez, one-third of Texas' awesomely-acronymized pitching prospect trio of Diamond, Volquez and Danks. Again, Sizemore led the charge with a leadoff homer, and the Indians would go on to put up a 5-spot. In that inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff, DHing in his major-league debut, came up with the bases loaded hammered the first pitch he saw for a grand slam. Whomida? Volquez was yanked in the second and wound up on the hook for six runs. However, Josh Rupe, Scott Feldman and Rick Bauer combined to shut out Cleveland the rest of the way. Cliff Lee did his thing, going seven innings allowing four runs to leave with a lead. Fernando Cabrera pitched a spotless eighth to get the 6-4 lead to Mastny. Then it got interesting. Gerald Laird led off with a bunt single (Gerald Laird! A catcher!) Ian Kinsler followed with a sharp grounder past a diving Andy Marte down the line to left to put runners on second and third. Rookie Nelson Cruz grounded out right to Marte. Gary Matthews got ahead 3-1 and laced a single to right. Laird scored; curiously, Kinsler was waved home with one out and Michael Young and Mark Teixeira due up. Right fielder Casey Blake punished the Rangers for tempting fate, gunning Kinsler down on a bang-bang play. Young lined a 1-2 breaking ball up the middle, but Mastny made a slick glove save to escape his jam and nail down the save and the 6-5 win around three Texas hits ... On Sunday, the Indians ran into their old friend Kevin Millwood, who locked them down over 8 two-hit innings. One of the hits was a Kouzmanoff homer (two games, two homers) that accounted for Cleveland's only run. Millwood struck out ten. The Indians' bottom third of Shin-Soo Choo, Kelly Shoppach and Aaron Boone each whiffed twice. Starter Paul Byrd actually pitched around six hits to carry a 1-0 lead into the seventh, but back-to-back-to-back singles from Kinsler, Laird and Cruz, an RBI groundout from Matthews and a single from Young prompted manager Eric Wedge to summon Cabrera on zero days' rest to face Teixeira. Tex hit a grand slam on the second pitch he saw to effectively end the game right then and there. The Indians put together a hit and a run off reliever C.J. Wilson in the ninth, but that just made the Rangers call on Akinori Otsuka to squash the rally, close out the 5-2 victory and halt the Tribe's win streak at five ...

Travis Hafner: The biggest news coming out of that series came in the top of the 8th on Friday. Texas reliever C.J. Wilson beaned Pronk on the right hand with a fastball, and in less than a minute, it swelled up and turned purple. Hafner sat out each of the next two games, and the injury was what prompted the Indians to call up Kouzmanoff. I suppose that worked out OK. Hafner is still day-to-day and will probably return to the lineup by the end of the Jays' series. The hand is not broken ... On the bright side, the beanball came with the bases loaded, so Hafner earned his 117th RBI of the year for his pain ...

C.C. Sabathia: Big power lefty. He lights up the radar gun with his hard fastball and deadly low-80s breaking ball. When his changeup is working, he's unhittable ... Splits are backwards this year and always have been. I have no idea why ... Is very deserving of Cy Young votes, averaging more than 6.2 innings a start with a rock-steady 3.22 ERA, better than Roy Halladay's. Of course, his 10-8 record probably precludes him from finishing in the top 5, but he's replaced slumping Dan Haren as my official Personal Cy Cause Celebre. He's really improved in the last two years: while his K rate has steadily and tangibly gone up (6.65, 7.37, 7.94), his walk rate has done the opposite (3.45, 2.84, 2.13) and his ERA has cooperated (4.12, 4.03, 3.22). He's the real deal. Ask the last team he faced ...

Jeremy Sowers: Unoverpowering lefty who relies heavily on his slider ... Seems to be much more comfortable and aggressive against lefthanded batters. He walks far more righties than lefties, but lefties hit him for more power ... Sowers is throwing a low 3.6 pitches per batter ... He recorded back-to-back shutouts in late July to really make a name for himself. He's probably clinched a spot in Cleveland's rotation next year, but it will be interesting to see how he performs, because many of his peripheral stats scream fluke ... 3.5 K rate, 2.2 BB, 22.7% LD and .257 BABIP are not particularly encouraging signs. He is doing a very good job of inducing grounders (48% GB), but either that line drive rate is going down, that K/BB rate is going up, both, or that 3.42 ERA is going way up ... He has a bit of the Chacin clutchness in him. Sowers with nobody on: .275/.320/.389; with runners on: .220/.267/.374, and since he's a lefty, I'm guessing he does a decent job of locking down the running game. If he can keep that split right where it is, that will help immensely ... Sowers allowed zero extra-base hits last time out against the Jays ...

Jake Westbrook: Sinkerballer. Not much else to it ... His GB% has cleared 60 in each of the last three years, ever since his breakout 2004 campaign, in which he posted a 3.38 ERA ... His K/BB numbers are always much, much better against righty batters, largely because the pitch with which he misses the most bats is his slider, which works best against righties ... He's forced 25 GIDPs in each of the last four seasons ... Has good numbers against the current Jays; Cat's 5-12 with 2 walks is the best career line ... Is an excellent fielder, with good instincts and speed and an accurate throwing arm ... He's thrown three complete games this year ...

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Was called up over the weekend ... Newport Beach, CA native was chosen by the Indians out of Nevada in the 6th round of the 2003 draft. He'll probably meet up with fellow Wolfpack alums Lyle Overbay and Joe Inglett ... Has succeeded at every level he's played in the minors, and just demolished AA and AAA pitching this year ... and homered in each of his first two big-league games, including the aforementioned first-pitch grand slam ... Kouz will see time at DH and third base, spelling Andy Marte ... Kouzmanoff's trip to Texas for his major-league debut was a wild and wacky adventure that left him a discombobulated mess, according to Anthony Castrovince of His flight to DFW was delayed, causing him to nearly miss his first pregame stretching session. But he made it, and when his first at-bat came with the bases loaded, Victor Martinez sensed something special: "When [Kouzmanoff] came up, I told Cliff Lee, 'I'm going to call it right now. He's going to hit a grand slam in his first at-bat.'" And then everyone else in the dugout joined in, and Kouz made them look brilliant ... Kouzmanoff hit his slam in front of his parents and brother, and received no fewer than "about 25 voicemails and 30 text messages," according to Castrovince. "Some of the numbers, I didn't even recognize. I've got a lot of support. A lot of people are pulling for me" ...

Shin-Soo Choo: Wears a helmet with double ear flaps ...

Hector Luna: Has struggled mightily since arriving in Cleveland. His walk rate and isolated power are way down in the 74 PA sample, but he's still hitting line drives at his usual above-average rate. He should be fine ...

Rafael Betancourt:
This was mentioned on the Jays' broadcast of the series back in Cleveland, but Betancourt has a wacky nervous twitch, the kind of quirk of which baseball is sorely lacking. He tugs on his hat. It's one thing for a hitter to adjust his helmet, like Jonny Gomes does, but when a pitcher like Betancourt does it, it looks particularly weird ...

Fernando Cabrera: Sharing the primary setup man role with Betancourt ... Has a wild delivery that seems awfully conducive to short spurts of complete loss of command ... But his mid-80s splitter is devastating ...

Andy Marte: Dead pull hitter, as Rob pointed out. Once he gets any success at the big-league level (which he will), pitchers are going to pound him exclusively outside, and defenses are likely to come up with a shift for him ... He's struggling, striking out a quarter of the time and only hitting .211, but he is getting a fair bit of power ... His biggest problem, as it is for so many young power hitters, is laying off breaking balls ...

Brian Sikorski: Big 31-year-old righty was acquired from the Padres in exchange for reliever Mike Adams ... Sikorski spent the last six seasons in Japan. He had difficulty trying to catch on with major-league teams because the Yomiuri Giants always requested a decision on whether he wanted to return to Japan before MLB teams could seriously consider offering him contracts ... Sikorski hasn't pitched since last Sunday ... Lefties are creaming him (.326/.367/.717), but he's held righties in check (.214/.250/.429) ... Throws a fastball that occasionally sinks and hovers around 94 ... Out pitch is a very tight slider in the mid-to-high 80s ... Unfortunately, he's given up a homer almost every three innings ...

Nasty Mastny: Even with the close call on Saturday, Mastny has a 0.97 WHIP, a 29.5 K%, a 51.7 GB%, and zero blown saves as a closer. So far, so good ... Saturday's game was the first time since his callup he'd allowed more than one hit ... Hasn't allowed a homer yet ...

Prospect Watch: According to the Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes, a pair of Indians prospects took home their leagues' Cy Young Awards. 21-year-old righty Adam Miller went 15-6 in AA Akron, striking out more than a batter an inning with a 2.75 ERA, to claim Eastern League pitcher of the year honours. He's a high-school pitcher from Texas; he was the first sandwich pick in the 2003 draft. In the Carolina League, 20-year-old lefty Chuck Lofgren (another high schooler, from California) was 17-5 with a 2.32 ERA at A Kinston to win his league's award. He was taken in the fourth round in 2004.

Advance Scout: Indians, September 4-6 | 15 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Alex Obal - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 12:51 PM EDT (#154601) #
Update: Hafner is sitting out today's opener. Kouzmanoff is DHing. Here is Cleveland's lineup:

CF Sizemore (L)
RF Blake
C Martinez (S)
1B Garko
LF Choo (L)
SS Peralta
DH Kouzmanoff
2B Luna
3B Marte
CaramonLS - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 01:17 PM EDT (#154602) #
That is quite the platoon split Mr. Sizemore has.
Ski - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 01:22 PM EDT (#154603) #
Word on the street is that the Tigers could conceivably trade Jeremy Bonderman to add more offence to their club.....I don't know about anyone else, but if Wells ends up having to be traded, Bonderman would be a heck of a player to get in return - whadda y'all think?
Curtis Dixon - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#154606) #
With the expanded rosters, why does Gibbons insist yet again on having three catchers in the lineup? Let's get Lind and Hattig into the lineup, please.
Anders - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#154608) #
The Jays are probably just trying to figure out who they want to bring back next year - I can understand why they'd want to get Zaun and Phillips AB's.

On a side note, the Detroit Tigers are 26-4 against the Royals and the NL Central (3 games against each team) this year.  It's not like the other AL Central teams were at a disadvantage... but wow. Im not sure what this means.

CaramonLS - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 06:14 PM EDT (#154610) #
Bonderman has improved each year he has been in the league, he is still very young too, turns 24 at the end of August.

I personally believe you have to build from your starting staff outward, I think if you can get him and sign him to a deal such as ~3/18 (he has 2 years left now), it would definately be worth giving up Wells for him IMO, but yes it is a very steep price.

Ron - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#154613) #
There aren't any sources saying Bonderman will be shopped around.

Lynn Henning just wrote an article in the Det News today saying the Tigers will probably look for a big bat next season and have a lot pitching in the organization.

The Tigers have the most pitching (Majors/Minors) in MLB.

They already have Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman, Robertson, Maroth, and Miners as starting pitchers. Joel Zumaya and Wilfredo Ledezma can easily be converted back to full time starters. Humberto Sanchez and Andrew Miller are both knocking on the door with the Tigers. And then they also have Jair Jurrjens and Chad Durdin.

Frankly, the Tigers have too much good pitching.

The problem with a Wells to the Tigers trade, is that they already have a terrific cheap young CF in Curtis Granderson. And then they also have the best OF/CF prospect in the minors. It's too painful for me to say his full name. I'll just call him CM.

The Tigers will need a 1B next year. I wonder if Troy Glaus would interest them. I would be tempted to flip Glaus for Bonderman and then use the savings to help sign Wells.

If the Tigers do put Bonderman in the trade market, I expect virtually every team to make a call. It's not often a young proven 1/2 starter is available. Despite the fact it feels like Bonderman has been pitching in the majors for 7 years, he's still younger than McGowan, Chacin, Rosario, Marcum, Jannsen, and Purcey.

andrewkw - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 08:10 PM EDT (#154615) #
On the way home today I was listening to Wilner's post game show.  I don't listen all the time, but I generally agree with most of what he has to say.  As many callers called to complain about JP complaining about payroll and stating teams in the central compete with less money so the Jays should be able to as well.  Mike continued to say they don't play the Yankees and Red Sox 19 teams each which would wear them out if they played in the east.

Now we all know the Jays have done okay against the Yankees and Red Sox, but what about after the series?  Some caller asked Mike how the Jays do after facing the Yankees and Red Sox and he didn't know.  The caller said if they did well after then you have nothing to base your argument on, which I agree with.  I just assumed that the Yankees and Red Sox did wear out the jays given the fact they take so many pitches and both have higher obp's.
  So I did some investigating and was shocked at the results.   The Jays are 13-11 in the following 4 days after a Yankees / Red Sox series.  This does not count the time they went 2-1 against the Sox after playing the Yankees.  I used 4 days instead of games, figuring if the bullpen was taxed, Ryan or another reliever had to be overused, by 4 days later he would be recovered. The results were also somewhat skewed by a 1-3 mark against Seattle and Oakland, this was the road trip that the season faded away on, but it was also west coast games after 4 with the Yankees in Toronto with no off day.  I'm pretty sure the traveling alone would have worn them out never mind the Yankees.   Finally I did find the Jays are only 4-12 in the 2 games prior to series against the Yankees, while this may suggest that they are saving their big guns for the Sox / Yankees.  I'm not sure.  Most of the 0-2 marks before series were road games which the jays generally play poorly on and last few road trips have been far from successful.  I would like to examine further to see if things such as Ryan only pitched 1 inning because he needed to be saved for the Yankees series, or Doc came out after 110 pitches instead of going back out for another inning because his next start was against the Sox, but I don't have time now.  I thought I'd share what I've found so far.  
Anders - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 09:05 PM EDT (#154620) #
I think that the biggest problem the Jays would have with being in the same division as the Yankees and Red Sox is not so much having to play them 38 times a year - although that is a kick in the pants. The Jays have played about .440 ball against the two of them combined over the last, say, five years (Im just guessing off the top of my head.)

The main problem as I see it is that the Red Sox and Yankees went 95-67 and 95-67 in 2005, 98-64 and 101-61 in 2004, 96-67 and 101-61 in 2003, and 93-69 and 103-58 in 2002.  The Yanks are on pace to win 97 this year, the Red Sox 86.
If the Jays had won 90 odd games in each of the last four years theyd have... finished 3rd each time.

Various other teams in the American league have been good over periods of time, or have had up and down cycles... but the Yankees and the Red Sox are the only two teams that have the resources to be very good every single year. So in addition to always having to play two teams that play around .600 ball 38 times a year, the number of games the Jays have to win to make the playoffs every year is pretty much in the high 90's, where as in other divisions this isnt always been the case

Craig B - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 09:33 PM EDT (#154621) #
I don't know about anyone else, but if Wells ends up having to be traded, Bonderman would be a heck of a player to get in return - whadda y'all think?

If the rumors were true, I think the Jays would be all over that possibility although it always comes down to who else must be in the deal from both sides.  I'm a tiny bit iffy on Bonderman because he's shown some elbow problems, including a shutdown last season because of it.  But only a tiny bit; ultimately he represents an opportunity to add a #2 or even #1 starter to the rotation with two more years under the team's control.

A rotation of Halladay/Burnett/Bonderman/Marcum plus a fifth guy from inside the organization (Janssen, or Chacin, or even possibly Downs, who I think hasn't shown his true potential, or Towers if he can make it back) would be very, very good.  And yes, I'm sold on Marcum.  And Janssen, for that matter... I think both guys are major leaguers.
Paul D - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 10:20 PM EDT (#154624) #
If Detroit's really looking to trade pitching this off season, it seems much more likely they'd trade someone like Maroth.  Why would they trade their number 1 when they could probably get a decent bat for their number 6 starter, Maroth.
Craig B - Monday, September 04 2006 @ 10:44 PM EDT (#154625) #
Why would they trade their number 1 when they could probably get a decent bat for their number 6 starter, Maroth.

Because they don't want a "decent" bat, something that's a dime a dozen.  They want a top-quality bat, which Mike Maroth can't bring.  And I think the Tigers would see that Verlander is essentially ready to take the #1 starter job and they have a number of other young pitchers who will be competing for those jobs.  The Tigers are rolling in young pitching and Dombrowski is never afraid to trade a big star... he was quite happy to deal Tim Raines when Raines was still under Expos control.

The Tigers wouldn't trade Bonderman to paper a hole, but they would trade him to improve their lineup in the long term.
Advance Scout: Indians, September 4-6 | 15 comments | Create New Account
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