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Rocky Colavito vs. Ron Santo: Favortism in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

OK, full disclosure: Mr. Rocco “Rocky” Colavito is my favorite baseball player of all time. Also, I have all the respect in the world for former Chicago Cub Ron Santo, a great ballplayer and a great human being, and I was saddened to hear of his recent passing.

Santo was no doubt an excellent baseball player…good enough for Cooperstown? Well, the Veteran’s Committee thought so, and that is good enough for me. Anything to do with his recent passing? I am sure it did, but again, he was chosen for the Hall fair and square by a crew of vets—good enough for me.

Did it have anything to do with the fact that he spent (virtually) his entire 15-year career in Chicago with the Cubs? I would say it absolutely did. Colavito belonged to six ball clubs during his 14-year career (eight with Cleveland), did this have an effect? Perhaps. Did they put up very similar numbers during their careers? That answer is yes.

Again and can’t stress this enough, no animosity at the selection at all; in fact, I believed Santo to be vindicated by it. But the point is this: If Santo gets in, what about Rocky?

Largely forgotten by most except die-hard Indians fans, did the fact that Santo played for a certainly more popular team earn his entrance in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Particularly today, when, despite having below-average teams, the Cubs still dominate headlines? I am not a Cubs hater, but baseball is a numbers game…let’s look at these numbers, shall we?

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2011 Cleveland Indians: Prospect Alex White to Debut Against Tigers

After being drafted in the first round (15th overall) by the Cleveland Indians in the 2009 June Amateur Draft, pitcher Alex White is set to make his debut on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers.

This move was prompted by the injury to Carlos Carrasco, who will spend some time on the DL. Starter Mitch Talbot was also placed on the DL, prompting the organization to promote Jeanmar Gomez to the parent club last week.

While Carrasco’s injury is not being considered to severe, Talbot’s, on the other hand, has been. While no official timeline has been given, it should certainly be longer than two weeks. Depending on the performances of White and Gomez, one could be sticking with the Tribe a little longer than the other.

The former University of North Carolina Tarheel has pitched in 30 professional ball games to date, spending the 2010 season with the affiliate Kinston Indians (high-A) and the Akron Aeros (AA). He has seen action this season with the AAA Columbus Clippers.

He was the organization’s 2010 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

White was invited to Spring Training this season. While he did not perform perhaps as well as some had hoped (0-1, 10.80 ERA in three appearances), it is clear that White has worked at least some the kinks out in the early-goings of the 2011 season. As skipper Manny Acta said in a recent interview, he has confidence in the young hurler:

“In spring training it’s hard to judge people,” said Acta. “You could see the poise and maturity level he had. His slider has improved in Triple A. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress. But he’s pitching well.”

So far, he has started four games and compiled a 1-0 record. Despite only earning one decision, he boasts an ERA of 1.90, a WHIP of 1.01 and a 10.6 K/9 rate.

White’s numbers have improved nearly across the board while spending the young season with the Clippers. His strikeout numbers are up, and his walk rate is much lower (he is issuing almost a full walk less per nine innings than he did last season).

The 22-year old right-hander will bring his overbearing fastball, as well as his improving slider and splitter, to Progressive Field on Saturday to square off against the Tigers’ Rick Porcello. Porcello has a 1-2 mark this season with a 4.76 ERA.

The series will be yet another important one, with the AL Central foes battling it out for position in the young season. A solid debut from White could put an exclamation point on the already exciting season for the Cleveland Indians.

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MLB Trade Ideas: 5 Moves to Ensure Indians’ Hot Start Doesn’t Halt Midseason

It is no secret that the Cleveland Indians have been playing some great baseball in their torrid start to the 2011 season. For the first time in a few years, the Tribe could find themselves in the position in the American League Central standings that they could emerge as ‘buyers’ at the All-Star Break rather than ‘sellers’.

Over the last couple seasons, we have seen C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Rafael Betancourt, Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Garko, among many others be dealt around the Break.

While there is no glaring weak spot on the roster as of yet, there may be some teams come the midpoint of the season who will be looking to clean house. Taking into account the fact that the Cleveland Indians are indeed a smaller-market franchise, these would be trades that would not only make sense on the diamond, but also in the checkbook.

While it is still very early in the season, the Indians could find themselves looking for pieces that could help push them to their first AL Central crown since 2007 and beyond with a deep run in the postseason.

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Grady Sizemore Sterling in First Start as Tribe Sweeps Orioles

I suppose just four words come to mind: Welcome back, Grady Sizemore.

Injured for the better part of the last two seasons, Sizemore went two-for-four at the plate, including a solo home run in only his second at-bat and a double in his third, in a better-than-expected debut for the stalwart center fielder.

The Indians rode solo home runs by Sizemore, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner, as well as another quality start from Fausto Carmona to beat the Orioles 4-2.

The game clinched the sweep of the Orioles and allowed the Indians to maintain sole possession of first place in the American League Central after 15 games with a record of 11-4.

Last season, the Indians posted a 7-8 record after 15 contests. In 2009, they were only 5-10.

But Sizemore is the real story here, making his first start in almost 11 months to the day, returned to much fanfare and standing ovations from the hometown crowd.

They had no doubt missed the player who enjoyed nothing short of brilliant years in Cleveland from 2005-2008. 

After Santana’s solo home run in the second inning, the three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner stepped up the plate in the third inning with an out. He grounded out to second base his first at-bat.

The response? A towering shot to right-center field that left the ball park and sent a message to the Cleveland Indians faithful; Grady Sizemore is indeed back.

His next at-bat in the bottom of the fifth, he laced a Brian Bergesen slider down the right field line for a stand-up double.

So the question is how good can this lineup be with a healthy and productive Grady Sizemore be?

In short, very good. With Sizemore reclaiming the center field spot, this will move Michael Brantley over to left field, making to Tribe outfield among the best in the league. Brantley is hitting at a solid .302 clip.

With the six walks he has drawn thus far, his OBP raises to .367. While Shin-Soo Choo has not caught his stride as of yet, he has notched 10 hits in the last nine ball games, and his batting average will continue to rise.

Designated Hitter Travis Hafner has looked like a vintage form of himself with yet another home run today. It was his fourth of the season.

Last season, it took him 36 games last season to belt No. 4. He is hitting the cover off the baseball, with a .354 average and nine RBI.

After the two disastrous opening games of the season, the starting rotation is boasting an ERA of 1.91.

The bullpen has been smothering for the most part; Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez and Chris Perez have yet to give up a run, with Chris Perez converting his first five save attempts and batters only hitting well under .100 off him.

Hang onto your hats, folks. The Indians will begin a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals starting Monday at 8:10.

The Royals have also started the season hot, and are currently one game behind the Indians in the AL Central standings, holding down second place.

Although it may seem a backwards beginning to the season, I cannot help but absolutely love it.

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Drew Pomeranz Is the Future of Tribe Pitching Staff

The Cleveland Indians have long boasted one of the best minor league systems in Major League Baseball. Although they may not necessarily have set the world on fire through the draft the past decade or so, the trading of stars (and superstars) have kept the farm system growing with plenty of exciting prospects.

Drew Pomeranz was not one of those received in a trade. It appears as though the Indians may have struck gold with their fifth overall pick of last season’s draft.

Pomeranz, in only his second-career professional start with the Double-A Kinston Indians, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Wednesday night. Although the Indians lost the ball game, how could you not be excited about the young lefty?

Through his first two starts, he has hurled 11 scoreless innings with only three hits allowed. Even more impressive—he has only walked two and struck out 17 hitters in that span. His WHIP is a minuscule 0.45 and he is averaging 13.9 K/9 innings.

Pomeranz was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 12th round of the 2007 draft when he was still in high school. He opted instead to go to college, choosing the University of Mississippi where he had a brilliant collegiate career. During his tenure at Mississippi, he was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and broke the school’s career strikeout record when he was only a junior.

Despite the fact that he could very well be pitching way above his designated Double-A level right now, Pomeranz is insistent he is taking his progression slowly, and wants to ready himself for a big league career at a reasonable pace

I’m here working on just showing them that I’m ready,” Pomeranz told, “That’s all I can do and throw my best. The rest is out of my hands.”

In his first start, he said he allowed his fastball to carry him through the game. For his second, he said he focused more on his changeup and his other off-speed pitches to get guys out.

Stop. Fast-forward to 2012.

There is at least a chance that starting pitcher Fausto Carmona will be dealt at the All-Star break or this coming offseason. The Tribe may try to rid themselves of his big contract, a deal that calls for $28 million to be paid to Carmona over the 2012-14 seasons. If this were to happen, could Pomeranz be ready to step up as a legitimate starter in the MLB?

Time will tell. The Indians have gotten some very positive returns from young guns Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Carlos Carrasco and Mitch Talbot. But the introduction of Pomeranz, as well as 2009 first-round pick Alex White from North Carolina, could give the Indians plenty of arms to choose from come spring training.

This spring training, it did seem like a couple starters in the rotation won their spot almost by default. Competition could breed excellence, and this would make the Tribe pitching staff that much better. With the hefty lefty Pomeranz and workhorse Alex White, it could make the rotation very formidable in the near future.

With a young rotation and a very young (and effective) bullpen, the Indians could have great pitching for years.

But for now, I will certainly be following Pomeranz very closely with much interest.

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Cleveland Indians for Real? Seven Straight Wins Have This Writer Believing

Something must certainly be wrong here. The Cleveland Indians, nearly a consensus pick to be among the worst teams in American League, have now won seven games in a row. Today’s 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners pushed their record to 7-2, good for first in the AL Central. Stranger? This mark is good for a four-game advantage over both the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.

What the heck is going on with this Cleveland ball club? Well, by this writer’s estimate, through the last seven games it has played like a club with nothing to lose, allowing the players to play loose, pressure-free baseball, and this has translated into some pretty big wins.

After looking just terrible the first two games of the season against the Chicago White Sox, they settled down and took the last game of the series…then three more against sexy World Series pick Boston Red Sox…then three more against the Seattle Mariners.

Admittedly, the Mariners are simply not that great of a team. Regardless, a sweep of a series in Major League Baseball isn’t generally anything to sneeze at.

So what has gone right for the Wahoos thus far, enabling them to their best start in nine years?

Well, starting pitching for one. This seems serendipitous due to the fact we only had one bona-fide starter this season in Fausto Carmona. Working down the rotation:

Carmona: After a rough start in Chicago, Carmona settled down immensely against the Red Sox, working seven innings of two-hit shutout ball. Though a no-decision, the Tribe won the game, 1-0.

Carlos Carrasco: The White Sox also ran roughshod on Carrasco. Like Carmona, he responded in kind against the Red Sox. In his second outing, he went six innings, only yielding one run and striking out six en route to his first win of the season.

Justin Masterson: Two great starts. Feels like two more than he had last season. Over 13.1 innings, Masterson is boasting a 1.35 ERA. In two winning efforts, he has only allowed two total runs and fanned nine. Opponents are hitting only .229 against the Jamaican hurler.

Josh Tomlin: Bested Erik Bedard today in Seattle. Seemed like Tomlin was lucky to even get a nod for a rotation spot this Spring Training, but he has turned in two quality starts, only surrendering four runs in over 13 innings of work.

Mitch Talbot: While he only pitched 4.1 innings in his debut this season, he struck out seven Red Sox. A good foundation for sure. He will take to the bump tomorrow when the Indians face the Angels in Anaheim.

Big question marks have been turned to exclamation points for the Erie Warriors thus far as well.

With Grady Sizemore out for the beginning of the season, Michael Brantley would have to step in and produce in the leadoff spot. He has indeed with a .303 batting average, including three doubles, five RBI and great defensive work out in center field.

Would Travis Hafner return to vintage form? Well, Manager Manny Acta has given “Pronk” two games off through the first nine, keeping him fresh to post a .375 batting average. This includes two home runs and six RBI, also walking three times ballooning his OBP to .433. This has been a great barometer for the slugger at this point in the season.

After missing much of last season, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has also been a huge lift for the Tribe. Treating him almost as a new acquisition, Cabrera is leading the team in home runs (three), RBI (nine), and is hitting at a solid .316 clip. A brilliant 3-for-5 performance including a home run and two RBI helped lead the Tribe to victory today.

Jack Hannawho? That would be Jack Hannahan belting his second home run of the season. The free agent signing with no fanfare surrounding him has played some of the best third base the Cleveland Indians have had the past couple years. His .286 average with seven RBI isn’t too shabby, either.

All of this without the best player in the lineup, Shin-Soo Choo, nearly reaching his potential. Choo is starting to heat up (five hits against his former team Seattle); watch out when he begins to hit his stride again.

I must admit, the title of this article is slightly misleading. Through blind ignorance, or perhaps arrogance, I believe my Indians have the goods every season to take home some hardware, so I guess you can say I always do indeed “believe”. After the first two White Sox games, there were almost no positives to take from them. The last seven have been a different story.

As stated before, the Indians are playing with zero expectations, and they know it, allowing them to just focus on baseball. In Boston, the sky is falling after a 1-7 start. In the Rock ‘n Roll Capital of the World, the Indians are just playing great, fundamental baseball. This includes great starting pitching, timely hitting, and jumping on opponents early so they can’t dig out. Yes this writer is believing…always has, and always will.

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2011 Cleveland Indians: Breaking Down the Potential Opening Day Batting Order

It has been announced that outfielder Grady Sizemore will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. Although this was somewhat expected, it will shake up the batting order come Opening Day for the Cleveland Indians.

Manager Manny Acta has been quiet about where Sizemore will hit when he returns to the lineup, not wanting it to affect how the other players ready themselves for the season. 

This batting order is just speculation, based on the author’s projections. It has been put together using precedent from the past, as well as how some of the Spring Training games have played out. 

While on paper the team may lack starting pitching, it is clear that the Indians will be more than capable of scoring runs this season. The team possesses a good amount of power in combination with plenty of team speed. 

Without further ado, the projected 2011 Cleveland Indians Opening Day batting order. An update on how Spring Training has gone for each hitter will also be included and assessed.   

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Try This On for Size: Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore Readying for 2011 Season

After two disappointing seasons where he only played in 139 total games, Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore seems primed and ready for a revival year. 

After only missing nine games from 2005 to 2008, Sizemore hit an unexpected injury bug in 2009, where he injured both his elbow and abdomen, and in 2010 where a microfracture surgery on his knee ended his season after only 33 games.

The 2010 offseason was devoted to a grueling rehab process for Sizemore, which left him (and Indians fans) longing for his return to the diamond for the 2011 season.

That anticipation came to fruition on March 23rd, when Sizemore first took the field for first time for the Cleveland Indians. He had previously seen action as the designated hitter on March 21st.

While he did not perform spectacularly on the field, making a couple routine plays in center, and going 0-for-4 at the plate, his return symbolized perhaps a new era in Cleveland Indians baseball. Over Sizemore’s past two injury-riddled seasons, the Tribe have gone a dismal 134-190. His return would certainly bolster an already formidable outfield with Shin-Soo Choo and up-and-comer Michael Brantley.

“I wasn’t expecting to get a whole lot of work in three innings,” Sizemore said in a recent interview, “it’s good just to be out there moving around, tracking pitches.”

Sizemore, as well as manager Manny Acta have stated that Sizemore’s return to the field will be closely monitored, and that he will not be rushed back into the fray. It has been reported that Sizemore will alternate between playing center field and being the designated hitter for the remaining Indians spring training games.

“The last hurdle will be that, diving for a ball, which will mean he’s not thinking about his knee or anything like that,” Acta told’s Jordan Bastian, “I don’t think he’s going to have any issues.”

Undoubtedly, Indians fans want the Sizemore of old to return to the lineup. From 2005 through 2008, Sizemore slugged 107 home runs, knocked in 325 runs, swiped 115 bases and chipped in 16 outfield assists. 

The Indians have made the announcement that Michael Brantley will start Opening Day at center field and in the leadoff spot in the batting order, but that means the Indians are righting a previous wrong; Sizemore may have been rushed back into action too early during the 2010 season, which may have exacerbated his previous injuries, and forced new ones upon him.

Even with Sizemore out of the lineup temporarily, the Indians signed Austin Kearns as a safety valve. Kearns performed well for the Tribe last season before being dealt to the Yankees around the All-Star break. The emergence of Travis Buck also can put the Indians faithful at rest for the time being.

With a healthy and productive Sizemore back into the lineup, the Indians are that much closer to embracing relevancy and fighting for contention in the American League once again. 

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MLB Spring Training 2011: Travis Buck Proving an Asset for Tribe Outfield

With the status of Grady Sizemore uncertain for Opening Day, and Austin Kearns’ off-the-field issues still pending, the Cleveland Indians have turned to a relatively unfamiliar face this Spring Training for stability in the outfield: Travis Buck.

Buck has logged 39 at-bats this Spring Training, tied for first on the team, while appearing in 13 games. 

He has made good use of his time with the club this spring, hitting .385 with three doubles, one home run, and five RBI. Including players with at least 25 at-bats, only Asdrubal Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall have a higher slugging percentage than him.

Buck was signed, with little hype, by the Indians on December 20, 2010 to a minor league deal.

The 27-year old Buck spent the first four seasons of his career with the Oakland Athletics. His finest season was in fact his rookie season, when, in roughly half the season with the big league club, he hit .288 with 34 extra-base hits, including 22 doubles and seven home runs.

Looking ahead to the 2011 season, Shin-Soo Choo is the most recently proven outfielder on the roster.  Buck could provide solid left-handed hitting depth in case Sizemore is injured again (or his progress rehabbing his knee does not move as quickly as we all hope), or Michael Brantley struggles.  Buck and Austin Kearns could certainly provide an adequate safety valve in either case.

As far as sure-handed gloves are concerned, Buck is also more than reliable. He has logged time in all three outfield positions in his pro career. Even further, in over 1,360 innings of play he has not committed an error, a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

While Spring Training is far from an indicator to how a player may perform in the regular season, Travis Buck may have punched his ticket to Cleveland for the 2011 season.

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Live from Arizona: David Huff Making Case for Spot in Cleveland Rotation

Left-handed pitcher David Huff has experienced a series of peaks and valleys in his baseball career. 

A stud coming out of UCLA, he was billed as the top pitcher in the Cleveland Indians system in 2008. After tearing through the minors, he was promoted to the big-league club for the 2009 season.  

That year saw the Indians compile a horrid 65-97 record in what would be former AL Manager of the Year Eric Wedge’s last season with the team. However, the rookie Huff was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal season.

He led the team in wins, compiling an 11-8 record. Although his 5.79 ERA was certainly nothing to write home about, the Indians were confident that the lefty would continue to develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

But the 2010 season had other plans for David Huff.

With the departures of Cliff Lee and Carl Pavano, Huff began the season as the only left-handed pitcher in the Indians’ rotation, and he was bitten by a horrendous sophomore slump.

In roughly half a of season of work, Huff went 2-11, his ERA ballooned to 6.21 with a WHIP of almost 1.70 and he averaged almost 11.5 hits allowed per nine innings.  Needless to say, by August Huff was sent to the minors to make way for other young pitchers the Indians were grooming. 

The former top pitcher in the farm system was quickly becoming an afterthought. 

Fast-forward to May 5, 2011: Huff logs three scoreless frames, earning the win in a 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He strikes two batters out and surrenders his first two hits of spring training. 

In his first two appearances of the new year, Huff is 1-0, has not given up a run, has a WHIP of 0.40 and has notched five punch-outs in five innings.

Apparently, he’s on a mission to make himself relevant again. 

After the game, manager Manny Acta said the following: “I thought it was a well-pitched ballgame today. David Huff really pitched very well. He used all his pitches effectively. He threw some good breaking balls, which is good to see, and some good changeups. He set the tone.”

In a season where Indians fans are relying on pleasant surprises to right the team’s ship, one could come in the unexpected form of David Huff, who was run out of Cleveland midway through last year.

It seems like there will be quite a struggle for the fifth spot in the Indians’ rotation, but don’t be too surprised if Huff lodges his way in.

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