Tag: Aaron Laffey

Cleveland Indians LHP Aaron Laffey Traded to the Seattle Mariners for Prospect

The Cleveland Indians traded left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey to the Seattle Mariners for 25-year-old minor league second baseman Matt Lawson.

Just one year ago, second base looked like a weakness for the Indians after it was decided that Asdrubal Cabrera would move to shortstop. Since that time, veterans Orlando Cabrera and Adam Everett have been signed to one year deals.

Also, prospects Jayson Nix, Jason Donald, Luis Valbuena and Jason Kipnis have entered the second base picture.

On Wednesday, the Indians acquired more depth by adding Matt Lawson.

Lawson split the 2010 season between Double-A Frisco (Texas) and Double-A West Tennessee (Seattle), batting a combined .293 (134-458) with a .372 OBP, 26 doubles, nine homers and 56 RBI in 118 games.

Lawson was selected to minor league All-Star games in each of the past two seasons. He was named the best defensive second baseman in the California League by Baseball America in 2009.

Lawton was one of four prospects that the Mariners acquired last year in the Cliff Lee trade.

In four seasons with the Indians, Laffey was 18-21 with a 4.41 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

With Laffey gone, it looks like Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin will battle it out for the fifth spot in the rotation.

I wouldn’t take this trade as an indicator that the Indians are still interested in Kevin Millwood. Millwood just rejected a minor league deal from the New York Yankees. I doubt the Indians want to create another roster spot by adding him. I also don’t think they want to give a major league deal to a 36-year-old that went 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA and 1.51 WHIP last year.

Laffey is expected to compete for the fifth starter spot or as a long reliever for the Mariners. The comfort level that Seattle’s new Manager Eric Wedge (former Indians Manager) has with Laffey probably played a part in the trade.

“With Aaron, we felt we had the opportunity to acquire a left-handed pitcher with major league experience,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said. “We will bring him to spring training and give him a chance to compete for a position on our pitching staff.”

Early Winner: Cleveland. The Indians added a two-time minor league All-Star that can play defense. If Laffey was going to make an impact with the Indians, it would have been in 2009 and 2010 when their starting rotation was at its weakest.

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Tribe Talk: Hit The Road, David Huff


Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report’s Cleveland Indian fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the club each week throughout the season.


This week, we wonder if the Indians can find a viable replacement for David Huff in the starting rotation, debate whether there is any merit in keeping Austin Kearns around for the long haul, and cast our votes for AL All-Star game starters, all while wishing we didn’t have to watch pitchers bat. 


I would like to thank this week’s participants Nino Colla, The Coop, and Lewie Pollis for their contributions. This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and pitch in your thoughts on the questions we’re addressing this week.


Go Tribe!


1.  Huff has been optioned to Triple-A after going a dismal 2-9 in 13 starts.

This leaves the Indians with a difficult decision to make about what to do with his roster spot. Do you think the Indians should call up Laffey or Carrasco to take the roster spot?

Would you consider instead calling up a reliever to spell the tired bullpen for a few days and waiting to name a new starter until the team needs one on Friday?

What do you think will become of Huff? Does he truly have a chance to refine his skills and make it back to the bigs, or are his struggles an indication that he will never succeed a major league starter?


Samantha Bunten: The Indians were right to call up a reliever for a couple of days before they had to make a decision about the fifth starter. As to what happens after that, ideally, I wouldn’t call up either one of them. Neither has shown any indication that they deserve the spot in the rotation. But the Indians have to work with what they’ve got, so I suppose I would go with Carrasco. 


I really like Laffey, but he just doesn’t seem to have the stuff to be a viable starter. Laffey has proven that he can pitch very well for a couple of innings, but he starts to fall apart after four or five, and our overworked bullpen can’t spell a pitcher every time he starts for half a game. 


I don’t know if Carrasco can do any better – he certainly didn’t look like he could when he was given a shot to do so last season – but the Indians have nothing to lose by giving it a try. We know Laffey can’t handle the job. Let’s see if Carrasco can. 


I still believe Huff can come back from this. He has great stuff, he just can’t seem to control it right now. I think he needs to make a mechanical adjustment to his delivery, maybe change his release point. I also think it’s possible he’s tipping his pitches. These are things that can be corrected, and triple-A is the right place for him to do that. 


Nino Colla: There will be no consideration, you will see a player called up before the game on Tuesday and it will likely be a reliever, maybe Joe Smith or Jess Todd. The more likely is Todd because it is likely this person called up is sent right back down on before Friday’s game. 


When the time comes, I think they will pick Laffey, but that isn’t necessarily the choice I’d make. I think the club believes they owe Laffey an opportunity in the rotation after what he did in the spring and how they had to move him into the bullpen. He hasn’t been great transitioning into a starting role, but he’s been alright and like I said, I think it has more to do with the club wanting to make up for moving him. 


I’d pick Carrasco though because I think it is time to get an extended look at him. I know he hasn’t had the greatest season down in Triple-A, like Laffey’s small stint, but I’m ready to see what he has in tryout number two. 


If the club really wanted to reward the pitcher who deserves a call-up the most, and truly bring up the pitcher that has pitched the best, they’d call up Josh Tomlin. He would require a 40-man roster spot, but he’s pitched better than all the other current options the club has and sooner or later, especially if he keeps it up, he’s going to require some sort of shot, bullpen or rotation.


As for Huff, I think this is a move that is needed. His mechanics are all messed up and the only way to fix it is to work on it in a game setting. He can’t be doing that up at the major league level because no one will be able to tolerate that. Since he has the options left, send him down and let him fix his issues there. I think he’ll come back and be a better starter for it. I love Huff’s stuff, he just has to remain consistent and part of that is fixing his mechanics.


The Coop: As I’m writing this, the Indians have made their decisions about how to juggle the pitching staff. Not sure why they didn’t consult me, but I digress…. Actually, it seems if they did consult you, Samantha, by calling up Smith for an extra bullpen arm until Friday, like you suggested. Now all you need to do is figure out how to get these guys to get some hitters out.


As you said, the Indians were left with a “difficult” decision. In my view, the reason this decision was difficult was because neither Laffey nor Carrasco exactly dominated at Columbus. Had either one been particularly impressive, the decision would have been easy (and probably would have been made sooner). 


Basically, I’m fine with both of these moves. I’m not really sure what other options the Indians had. In some cases, I’m okay with letting a guy work out his issues in the majors, particularly when the team isn’t going anywhere. But when you have guys who have roughly the same talent level, as well as major league experience, hanging out in the minors, making a move is the right thing to do. 


I do have hope for Huff. He pitched very well at the end of last season, and I really thought he was turning the corner. Setbacks are common. He’s only 26, and time is on his side. Huff pitches to contact (not a lot of walks, not a lot of strikeouts), so he really needs to focus on how to improve on the little things that will make that pitching style successful. Developing his curveball and learning how to keep hitters off-balance are things that he can do to get better, and indeed, these things are best worked out in the minors.


Lewie Pollis: I think a trip to Triple-A is just what the doctor ordered for Huff; he really needs to recapture his control and ability to miss bats. 

A look at his strikeouts and walks shows you exactly why he was touted as a prospect yet has floundered in the Big Show. 8.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in the minors, 4.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in the majors. 


He’s been a completely different pitcher since he got the call last year, and he needs to rediscover the skills that got him this far in the first place. As for his replacement, why in the world are we getting Aaron Laffey? I’m sorry, but when you follow up a mediocre start to the season by walking almost a batter an inning in Triple-A (“For the most part, he’s thrown the ball over the plate,” Manny Acta said in a moment of unprecedented thoughtfulness), you don’t reward him with a rotation spot over Carlos Carrasco and Yohan Pino. I have nothing more to say.


2. The Tribe still has six road games left to play against NL teams this week, which is bad news when it comes to the nine-hole in the lineup.

The Tribe staff is just a terrible group of hitters, even by “pitcher standards”. C.C. Sabathia they’re not.

As a manager, is there anything you can do to compensate for the dreaded “easy out”? Do you think the Tribe has enough solid bats off the bench to solve the problem with well-timed pinch hitting?

Who is the best hitter and worst hitter on the Tribe staff right now? Who is the best hitting pitcher you’ve ever seen? 


Samantha Bunten: The “easy out” isn’t something anyone ever wants to cede to an opponent. But it would be much easier to swallow if the rest of the lineup wasn’t looking like a bunch of “easy outs” too.


The problem here isn’t that the pitchers can’t hit; they’re pitchers. Of course they can’t hit. The problem is that the hitters can’t hit, and so the fact that pitchers have to bat in NL stadiums contributes to a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place. 


The pitchers do need to learn how to bunt more effectively, but the bottom line is that it really isn’t their job to hit. Blame the rest of the lineup, not the guys who can’t make contact because they only have the opportunity to try it twelve times a season. 


I’m not sure there’s a “best” hitter on the staff right now. They’re all pretty bad. None of our starters are guys who have spent a significant amount of time pitching in the NL though, so you really can’t blame them when they’ve never had much opportunity to face major league pitching.


Best hitting pitcher I’ve ever seen? Hands down, without a doubt, it’s Dave Burba.


Nino Colla: You can’t compensate for the easy out, unless you get runners on base in front of the pitcher and use the bunt effectively. I really don’t care for this because it is just something every club has to deal with, including the NL pitchers, even if they get more time at it. 


I do want to say something in concerns to this and my problem is with the schedule, and this is something Manny Acta pointed out. What is it with the Indians getting nine NL road games in a row like this? It effectively cools off their hottest hitter in Travis Hafner by removing him from planet earth for nine straight games. No DH, no cleanup hitter…for nine straight games? That’s bogus. 


I’m all for interleague and it is cool that they play by the rules of the home ball park, but could the schedule makers not mix up these interleague games a little better so we aren’t without our cleanup hitter for nine straight games, especially since he was just getting hot as this road trip started? 


The NL is getting the advantage in interleague play, whether it is taking away the other team’s DH, or gaining an extra hitter of their own. So why not make sure the AL teams aren’t getting screwed in this situation?


The Coop: Let me put it this way – if the Indians’ first hitters get the job done and the pitcher does what he’s supposed to do on the mound, I’ll give up the “easy out” every time. Pitchers are there to do one thing: advance runners (usually by bunting). Not even National League teams count on their pitchers to do anything more than that. 


The hitting ability of the Indians pitching staff is a red herring. That being said, seeing as how none of the Indians pitchers have any hits this year, I can’t refer to any of them as “best.” Some are less bad than others, but at this point, “bad” would be an upgrade for most of them. 


In my opinion, the worst hitter on the team is Fausto Carmona. I almost feel bad for him, because it looks like no one ever even taught him how to hit. Two K’s and some terrible bunt attempts against Pittsburgh make him the hands-down winner. 


The best hitting pitcher I’ve ever seen is probably either Sabathia or Rick Ankiel. I think I’d give the nod to Ankiel, because he was good enough to still play in the majors as an outfielder, even when he completely lost his ability to pitch. Then again, his career average is only .250, so I’m sure his career will be over soon. But at least he made it last a little longer because of his bat.


Lewie Pollis: An AL team’s pitchers are unprepared to step to the plate? That’s absolutely unacceptable. I hope some heads are going to roll over that one. 


My memory is clouded by my youth at the time, but I remember being really impressed by Dave Burba’s swing. Other than that, I’d say Carlos Zambrano. Dan Haren has looked pretty good this year too.


3. Given his unexpectedly stellar performance so far this season, Austin Kearns has become a valuable asset to the team.

Generally, Kearns is considered a veteran player whose stay with the Tribe is temporary. Kearns is not thought to be part of the team’s future plans, but might that be a mistake?

Kearns is only 30, and the uncertainties about the health of Grady Sizemore and the true potential of Michael Brantley may mean that the outfield won’t be as crowded as we once thought.

Do you see any merit in the Tribe looking to hang on to Kearns beyond the 2010 season? If not, is this because you would prefer to see another player in left in the future, or is merely because the Tribe might not be able to afford him?

Would you be willing to spend the money to keep him around? How much would Kearns be worth to you, contract-wise?


Samantha Bunten: I really like Kearns. There’s nothing I would like more than to keep him around for a couple more years. But is that really the best way to spend our limited financial resources? Probably not. 


The system is full of outfielders with potential. Even if Kearns can outplay them all, what good is one guy who can hit well if the team as a whole is still miserably bad? Spend that money on something that will be a bigger step toward improving the team as a unit, like relief pitching or some middle infield depth. 


That said, if Kearns was willing to sign for a hefty discount for the next few years (three years at $4M per year, tops), I don’t think I could say no to that. It’s not the wisest move strategically, but it’s definitely appealing. 


Nino Colla: If this club didn’t have a stock of outfielders waiting around in Columbus that includes Nick Weglarz, Michael Brantley, and Jordan Brown, I’d sign Kearns to a three-year contract. I love this guy that much and now that he is healthy, he’s finally coming into that talent everyone thought he had. 


Now, because we have that glut of outfielders in Columbus (and heck if you want to throw in Jose Constanza, and the three guys in Akron, McBride, Drennen, and Henry, that’s fine as well) I would only consider bringing Kearns back as a fourth outfielder. Throw in the idea that the club has Wes Hodges potentially at first, which could shift LaPorta to left if you really really want to make things work offensively, and the fact that the club is getting some good play out of Trevor Crowe…


Yeah I think the club is better off trading Kearns at the deadline and settle with thanking him for his service. There are just too many options to see. It would be nice to have that solidarity in left field that Kearns has been provided, but economically, it would make more sense to find out if you have an answer in one of the five other options you have. 


I love what Kearns has brought to the table and love that he’s been able to revive his career in Cleveland. He wouldn’t go for being a fourth outfielder though, and he shouldn’t. Either way, he provides more value to the club in a trade than he does playing once or twice a week.


The Coop: I might take exception with calling Kearns’ season “stellar,” but I will agree that what he has given the Indians was unexpected. 


It’s sad, really, that we’re talking about the value and long-term future of a so-called “power hitter” who is hitting .280 with only seven dingers and 32 RBIs. It’s more of an indictment of how hapless the Indians have been. 


While Kearns’ season is good – relative to the rest of the Indians – it’s pretty mediocre by league standards. Kearns is fine as a veteran used to fill a hole, but he has very little overall value. If the Indians can trade him for anything worthwhile, they should. He’s on the downside of his career, and while he’s “only” 30, he’s not a guy the Indians should be building around. 


I’d rather see the Indians give the job to a young guy who wins his spot in the spring. Ok, so if they can’t trade him, maybe the Indians can resign him to a one- or two-year contract for a little bit more than the league minimum. But any more time or money than that would be troubling to me.


Lewie Pollis: If Kearns is willing to sign for a discount—around $3-4 million a year, definitely not more than $5 million—as thanks for giving him the chance to revive his career, I’d be interested. Unless we can guarantee that, though, I’d rather trade him at mid-season. 


Say what you want about the Indians, there aren’t many holes on our depth chart (or at least, there won’t be once a couple more middle infielders and pitchers gain some experience). Looking at our farm system, we’re not going to have trouble trotting out a solid player at each spot in the next few years. We’ve got a decent supporting cast; what’s missing is the stars. 


Even forgetting about his inconsistent past, Kearns is good, but he definitely isn’t great. I’ll flesh this out more fully in another article soon, but given our depth and the fact that we’ve got a significant chunk of change coming off the books after the season, I’d rather see us splurge on a star. Namely, Adam Dunn.


4. A commenter weighing in on last week’s Tribe Talk article suggested Josh Rodriguez as a possible replacement for the hapless Luis Valbuena.

What do you think of Rodriguez? Is he ready for a promotion to the majors?

Assuming you’ve seen enough of Valbuena, is there anyone else in the system who you might consider a viable replacement for him?


Samantha Bunten: I like J-Rod. He’s got great potential. But is he ready for the majors? No way. But hey, apparently Valbuena isn’t ready for the majors either, and he’s been allowed to spend a significant portion of two seasons on the big league roster anyway. I don’t see the harm in giving someone else a shot, even if the player might not be any better. Obviously, he can’t be any worse. 


Specifically, I would have some misgivings about whether Rodriguez’s bat can handle major league pitching, and whether he’s truly kicked the injury bug. But defensively, he’s worlds better than Valbuena. Any way you look at it, J-Rod would be an upgrade. 


Aside from J-Rod, Jordan Brown and Jared Goedert are the only other viable options. Neither of them are ideal either, but all three are probably a better choice than Valbuena. Heck, my dog is probably a better choice than Valbuena, and she drops pop flies all the time while chasing a tennis ball and doesn’t have the opposable thumbs required to hold a bat. 


Nino Colla: I love Josh Rodriguez, always have. The injuries knocked me off the bandwagon, because like with many minor leaguers, if a player isn’t playing or is out of sight, they are usually out of mind. But now that he’s healthy he’s really earning his way back onto prospect status and he really deserves a shot sooner rather than later. 


He started the year on the bench in Akron and has moved into a more regular role with Columbus since. Josh is a hard worker and good team player evident in his willingness to move around the diamond and the dedication he’s put into coming back from injury. He’s got a good glove at both short and second, so I know we can depend on him on either spot, unlike we can with Valbuena. 


We’ll need to see if his stick translates, but I say the most famous line you can when a player is hitting as poorly as Valbuena is. Could we really do any worse? I’m done with Anderson Hernandez and was before he even got here, ditto with Brian Bixler. Give me Rodriguez. And if you can’t do that, inject Jordan Brown with the gene to play second base and get him up here because Valbuena is putrid right now.


The Coop: Admittedly, I don’t know much about Rodriguez and haven’t seen him play, but from what I understand about him, he’s still a few years away (at least) from contributing at the major league level. Hopefully, he develops sooner rather than later, because the Indians middle infield depth is severely lacking in the entire organization. 


However, as Nino has pointed out, Valbuena is definitely a problem. As I have said here in the round table, I’ve been a supporter of Valbuena, but even my patience is wearing thin. He is just dreadful at the plate. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of viable replacements. Given that, I think the Indians are stuck with Valbuena for at least the rest of the year. 


The Indians have enough guys that can spell him as needed, but they will need to seriously re-evaluate this position in the off-season. Where’s Jamey Carroll when you need him?


Lewie Pollis: I’m all for giving J-Rod a shot. He’s showing great plate discipline and power, which can’t be said for any of our MLB middle infielders. It’s too early to call him up, as Jared Goedert has been raking in Columbus. 


I would give him some time at the keystone, see if he can handle the transition. With Lonnie Chisenhall waiting in the wings, he’ll need to learn a new trick anyway if he wants to be a part of the Tribe’s future.


5. Fun Question of the Week: Two weeks ago, we shared our picks for what we would like the starting lineup at the All Star Game to look like for the NL.

This week, it’s time to do the same for the AL. Please list your votes for who should be the starter at each position for the AL team.

Additionally, which player do you think should represent the Indians at thee All Star Game this year?


Samantha Bunten: C – Joe Mauer 1B – Billy Butler 2B – Robinson Cano SS – Derek Jeter 3B – Evan Longoria OF – Josh Hamilton, Alex Rios, Carl Crawford DH – Vlad Guerrero SP – David Price


As for the Indians representative, you have to give the nod to Kearns. Choo might be the guy I want to get it, but Kearns is the guy who has earned it. 


Nino Colla: C – Joe Mauer; 1B – Miguel Cabrera; 2B – Robinson Cano; 3B – Evan Longoria; SS – Elvis Andrus; OF – Magglio Ordonez, Alex Rios, Josh Hamilton; DH – Vlad Guerrero; SP – David Price 


I think the only tough choice comes down to shortstop, but I refuse to vote for Derek Jeter if it is ever close because I’m firmly a believer of giving someone new a chance once and awhile. Andrus has been studly. 


I think the Indians representative should be Santana. Wait, too early? Okay fine… Shin-Soo Choo by a Choo because of his stolen base numbers. Kearns has similar offensive numbers, but Choo means more to the lineup and also provides the running spark, not to mention his arm in right.  His route running not so much, but he’s got a gun out there that Kearns doesn’t. 


I’d give  Carmona some consideration and he still has some time to get consideration. It all depends on what pitchers make it and what outfielders make it, but I think it should be and will be Shin-Soo Choo.


The Coop: It’s worth noting that you asked who should be the Indians’ representative – singular – at the All-Star Game. There is only one, and it should be obvious to everyone, so does it even need to be said? 


Here are my votes. If you think there are glaring omissions, I can explain. I hate the Red Sox and I hate Ichiro.


 C – Joe Mauer 1B – Justin Morneau 2B – Robinson Cano 3B – Evan Longoria SS – Derek Jeter OF – Josh Hamilton OF – Magglio Ordonez OF – Carl Crawford DH – Vlad Guerrero SP – David Price


Lewie Pollis: Mauer is my catcher, but at this point I’d vote for V-Mart because the difference in their vote totals is a lot bigger than the difference in their talent. I have to go with Morneau’s 4.4 WAR at first base, and I’ll take Pedroia at second because I can’t bring myself to vote for a Yankee. I’m divided at shortstop and third, so I’ll take the underdogs: Gonzalez over Scutaro and Beltre over Longoria. Outfield is Crawford, Rios, and Choo, and I can’t resist taking Big Papi as my DH. 


Anyway, in response to your second question: CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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Aaron Laffey To Replace David Huff in Cleveland Indians Rotation

The Cleveland Indians announced on Tuesday that Aaron Laffey will become the fifth starter in the Indians rotation, replacing recently demoted David Huff.
Aaron was sent down a few weeks ago in order to build up stamina in hopes to returning to a starting role.  Friday against the Cincinnati Reds, he will get that chance. In Laffey’s last major league outing, he struggled to make it through an inning and a third while allowing six earned runs on two hits. Laffey is also yet to start a game at the Major League level but started four games for Columbus during his minor league stint.

Over the course of Laffey’s four minor league starts, Aaron posted a record of 0-1 but struggled with his control. Walking hitters has been Laffey’s downfall all season long as he walked 13 hitters in 20 appearances while with the Indians, and he walked 15 in only four appearance’s with the Clippers.

In the 2010 season, Aaron has posted an ERA of 5.61 and has surrendered 30 hits over 25 and two-thirds innings. One positive point to make about Laffey is that he has done a great job keeping hitters in the ballpark, only surrendering one home run this season and only 21 over the course of his career.

Laffey’s career Major League numbers to date include 44 starts, 290.1 innings pitched, an ERA of 4.49, and a total win/loss record of 16-19 (including relief appearances).

Many Tribe followers assumed that a young pitcher, Carlos Carrasco, would be the man to replace Huff in the starting rotation. Carrasco has pitched particularly well at the Triple-A level, posting a 5-3 record while striking out 65 batters.

Huff and Carrasco will have to wait to get another opportunity at the big league level but fortunately for them, their opportunities may come sooner than later. If recent trade rumors involving pitcher Fausto Carmona become true, then another spot in the rotation will need to be filled.

On a team that is struggling to make it through to September, opportunities for young players become frequent in the later summer months. If Carmona is shipped away, and if other members of the rotation continue to struggle, fans could be seeing Huff, Carrasco and even others at the Major League level quicker than they think.

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Tribe Talk: Is the Wait for Carlos Santana Finally Over?

Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report’s Tribe fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the Indians each week throughout the season.

This week, we argue for why Carlos Santana should be brought up to the majors now, make some early trade predictions, and share our best methods for distraction during a disappointing season.

I would like to thank this week’s participants Nino Colla, Lewie Pollis, and The Coop for their contributions. This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and pitch in your thoughts on the questions we’re addressing this week.

Go Tribe!

1. The rumor mill would have it that Christmas may come a little early in Cleveland this year; June, to be exact.

No, unfortunately, no one is saying that we’re getting a whole new roster. But the word on the street is that we will be getting an early Christmas gift this year in the form of Carlos Santana, who could be promoted to the majors as soon as two weeks from now.

Given the state of the team, and Santana’s numbers at Triple-A (which are impressive, but not totally overwhelming: .310 avg, 9 2B, 9 HR, 39 RBI in 42 G), are you completely in favor of bringing up Santana now?

Does your decision at all relate to how poorly Lou Marson is faring, or are you 100 percent convinced that Santana is ready to handle the majors?

Even if you are completely sold on Santana’s bat being Major League-ready, do you have any concerns about his defense, game-calling ability, or language issues not being quite up to snuff just yet?

Samantha Bunten: I’m completely in favor of calling him up now for two reasons:

First, he’s far enough along in his development that I don’t expect it would hurt him at all to be thrown into the fire. Even if he does regress a bit (at the plate, mostly), I don’t think it will be severe or at all damaging, and once he gets through the adjustment period of facing major league pitching I expect he’ll be fine. 

Second, this team and its fans NEED someone like Santana to give them a boost. Given what we’ve seen from Lou Marson, Santana being called up will only help the team, even if he only hits half as well as he’s hitting right now. 

And perhaps most important, this is exactly the sort of thing that could serve to re-energize the fanbase. I am never in favor of bringing up a player too early just to sell tickets, but I don’t believe it’s too early for Santana in terms of development, so there won’t be any negative side effect to selling a few extra seats. 

I’m sure he’s not fully developed as a game-caller, but then neither are half of the catchers in the majors.

Some of them never get there at all. If you consider the speed at which Santana has been able to develop his game thus far, there should be no doubt that he’ll be in command of his game-calling abilities sooner rather than later as well. 

Nino Colla: Let me go down the line here real quick. Language issues? No, I heard Chris Gimenez say that he communicates fine with his teammates and his English is actually better than people say it is.

Game-calling ability? I wouldn’t know, but if anything that would probably be the one thing holding him back. 

Defense? No, I saw him throw to second base on more than one occasion, he’ll be able to control the running game. I think he should be sound enough in terms of blocking balls and playing defense to where it shouldn’t be an issue. Even if he isn’t, the guy coaching first base knows a thing or two about developing that aspect of his game. 

That aside, we all know Carlos Santana is as ready as he’ll ever be in terms of his bat. While I’ve preached giving Lou Marson a shot, I think I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to see Carlos Santana come June 1st after he’s avoided Super Two eligibility.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen, but also wouldn’t be shocked to see it not happen. 

In a way, I’d also be okay with either outcome. If the club were to go with Lou Marson for a little bit longer, while painful, I don’t think I could object because the kid is still young and he’s still learning. He’s shown at times he can hit major league pitching and play above-average defense, so it isn’t like he’s been a complete horrid show from the beginning of April.

Look at it this way. Is Carlos Santana spending an extra month (if we were to assume he is called up in July anyway) really going to hurt anyone? Will it demoralize him to a point where he becomes a complete bust? Will it cripple the Indians’ chances of winning the division in 2010? The answer to all of those questions is simple, “No.”


The Coop: Get him up here, sooner rather than later.

It’s not that I think Santana is ready to handle the majors; in fact, I am prepared to witness the substantial growing pains that he will endure in his early years. But let’s be honest, Lou Marson might stick around the majors for a few more years but he’s got no upside whatsoever. 

He was drafted in 2004 and had played 22 career games in the majors entering this year. He’s done nothing to warrant keeping spot on the roster, and it’s not like he’s some savvy veteran who can at least make a pitching staff better by being out there. 

Also, when Santana arrives in Cleveland, he’ll have daily contact with Sandy Alomar, Jr., arguably the greatest Indians catcher ever. While catcher is certainly not an easy position to learn (especially for a converted infielder like Santana), the opportunity to learn from a former All-Star is as perfect as it gets. 

Santana also needs to start getting Major League ABs, plain and simple. What’s the worst that could happen? He hits .206 like Lou Marson? I’ll take the over on that one, thank you very much.

Lewie Pollis: Whoa, hold on there. This guy has a .994 OPS. He’s on pace for 30 homers and 132 RBI and has a .249 ISO. He’s walking more than he strikes out, and he’s even stolen four bases. Also, he’s a catcher. That’s not totally overwhelming?

Yes, yes, and more yes, bring him up now.

I don’t particularly care if the rest of his game isn’t fully polished, nor do I care if we call him up early enough that he becomes a Super Two player (we already kept him down long enough to ensure an extra year of team control). He’s the most exciting thing that will happen to the Tribe this season (I’m still predicting that he’ll be Rookie of the Year), and I want him NOW.


2. It’s time to take another look at the state of the Indians’ rotation.

Westbrook, Carmona, and Talbot are firmly entrenched as permanent members of the starting five, but things get a little fuzzier when it comes to the last two spots.

There has been talk of the struggling David Huff being sent to the minors, of Justin Masterson moving to the bullpen, and of Aaron Laffey being moved into the rotation.

Do you want to see Laffey get a shot at being a starter? If so, would you prefer to see him take Huff’s spot (with Huff being sent to Columbus) or Masterson’s spot (with Masterson being sent to the bullpen)?

Do you have any interest in seeing both Masterson and Huff taken out of the rotation for the moment? If so, who are the other pitcher aside from Laffey that you would like to see take over the additional spot in the rotation?


Samantha Bunten: I think Laffey deserves a shot at joining the rotation, and I think he should have had that shot from the beginning of the season. The only problem is, I’m not sure whose rotation spot he should be given. 

You can argue that Masterson may be better suited to the bullpen anyway, so the switch should be made accordingly, but I’m still not entirely certain this would be the best strategy.

Despite his struggles, I do see Masterson as a member of the rotation over the long haul, so it would be foolish to put him in the pen instead of letting him continue to gain experience and develop in a starting role. 

Huff is a little different; there would be no point in moving him to the bullpen, so to give Laffey his spot, he would have to be sent to Columbus. I’m not sure there would be anything to be gained from that for Huff. He’s struggling at the major league level, to be sure, but I don’t think that this is due to needing more seasoning in the minors.

At this point, he’s better off trying to work out his problems on a big league mound. 

So I guess I’m not sure what to do about this situation. I might allow Laffey a few spot starts and see how it goes. If he’s impressive enough that he’s able to force the issue, we might consider moving Masterson to the pen or sending Huff down if it proves to be the best solution. 

Nino Colla: You know I really don’t know what I want to see. I think I just want to see David Huff and Justin Masterson both do well to the point that this isn’t an issue. 

I’ve not been impressed with Aaron Laffey this season in that bullpen role and I’ve actually arrived at a point where I’m questioning if we should continue to bother with him. The club has shuffled him around so much, I don’t think even he knows what he is anymore. 

Masterson needs to keep at it, he deserves more than two months, and I said the same thing after two weeks and will probably say it again at the end of June. There is no one in Columbus busting the doors down to get into the rotation, so why bother right now? 

Huff seems to be in more immediate danger, but I don’t think I’d make a move on him either. It goes back to the same reason I wouldn’t move Matt LaPorta, what does he have left to prove? Sure you send David Huff down to “figure things out” or give him a “wake up call.” But is that really the answer? Wouldn’t it be far better if he figured things out at this level? 

This season is obviously going nowhere quickly so it isn’t like his lack of performance is holding us back from winning the division. Now if Huff had an attitude problem (something I don’t think is the case, I just think he gets too relaxed and that is what causes his struggles) then you could send a message that way, but really I see no purpose in that. 

As for Laffey… Does he deserve another shot at the rotation? After what he did in the spring (in other words, nothing to NOT deserve a shot) I think so, but after watching him handle the bullpen spot with moderate success, I’m not going to scream my head off for him to get that shot. His WHIP is atrocious and he can’t even get left-handers out enough to be counted on doing that if nothing else.

The Coop: Ahh, my favorite topic! I did not have much confidence in the starting rotation during spring training, but even the most optimistic observer would have to admit that they did not expect to have five consistent, above-average starters on which the Tribe could rely. 

I guess I’m a little surprised that one of the guys having the most trouble is David Huff, because he caught fire at the end of last year and I expected him to carry that success into this season.

While he’s struggled, you can’t pull the plug on a guy after two months and eight starts. The other problem with sending Huff to Columbus is that there is no suitable replacement. 

Aaron Laffey would be a great candidate; however, my hope is that Laffey actually replaces Masterson in the rotation. Of course, this is more of me believing that Masterson belongs in the bullpen—as I’ve previously mentioned on this roundtable—than necessarily thinking that Laffey is the long-term answer.

But, Laffey does have some starting experience and would be adequate for a fifth starter.

Lewie Pollis: First of all, I’m sick and tired of people beating up on Masterson. Sure, he’s struggling against lefties, but anyone who thinks luck isn’t the primary factor in his problems is just plain wrong. 

His luck hasn’t just been bad, it’s been historically bad. To put his .399 BABIP in perspective, only three pitchers in the last 10 years have had hit rates over .350, and exactly zero have exceeded .366.

And his 19.0% HR/FB rate would be the second-highest ever recorded since tracking began in 2002. So unless you’re prepared to say that Masterson is the worst weak contact-inducer in recent memory, his stats are going to improve. Period. 

Send David Huff to the minors immediately. He has no redeeming peripherals, and he needs to rediscover his ability to strike batters out (8.1 career K/9 in the minors, nearly double his 4.3 career K/9 in the majors). 

While we’re at it, let’s send Talbot down, too. Does anyone seriously think someone who walks more than he strikes out can maintain an above-average ERA? His .230 BABIP is the second-luckiest in the league. I don’t have the patience to go through past years’ leaderboards for him, too, but I bet that kind of fortune is similarly unprecedented.

Three words: crash and burn. 

Laffey is intriguing, but I’m not sold on him either. I don’t think it takes Bill James to realize that someone who walks more than he strikes out isn’t a good pitcher, but the real flukiness is that he has yet to give up a home run.

There’s a huge difference between his 3.64 FIP and 4.85 xFIP; even if you plug in his lucky 7.7 career HR/FB% with this year’s numbers, his FIP climbs to an uninspiring 4.53. Add in the fact that relievers’ numbers are usually better than starters’, and Laffey wouldn’t be much more than a marginal improvement. 

If you’re looking for rotation help, why not get it from the minors? Bring up Josh Tomlin and Yohan Pino, or maybe Scott Lewis and Hector Rondon. Any of them would be more fun to watch than Huff or Talbot.


3. We’re still a long way from the July 31st Trade Deadline, but we already know the Indians will be sellers this year and are in possession of a number of players who might be moved well before the deadline.

Obviously unless one of you has bugged Mark Shapiro’s office, we can only guess at who will be traded, where to, and when. Still, there’s no harm in speculating a bit.

That said, do you see the Tribe making any trades sooner rather than later?

Which players do you think will be moved this season between now and the deadline? Are there any players on the roster generally thought to be on the block who you do NOT think the Tribe will choose to trade this season?

Samantha Bunten: I’m going to guess we won’t see a lot of activity until we’re closer to the deadline, mostly because the Indians don’t have a lot to offer in terms of players anyone would be dying to acquire.

It’s a lot easier to sell early if you have someone another team would kill to get their hands on no matter the price or their own very specific needs. 

Thus I think the players on our roster who are potentially on the trading block won’t go until closer to the deadline, when other teams are either desperate enough to overpay for a really questionable pitcher (I’m looking at you, Kerry Wood), or better equipped to assess their specific small needs down the stretch. 

I don’t truly think we’ll be able to move Kerry Wood—the price is just going to be too high, even if the Indians are willing to sell relatively low. I imagine Jake Westbrook will at least get a few looks, and both Kearns and Grudzielanek could fetch an excellent return at almost no true cost to the Indians since neither is part of the future plan. 

Nino Colla: I think Austin Kearns will be dealt if he keeps hitting like this. The club isn’t going to block Michael Brantley—especially if Trevor Crowe continues to hit and Grady Sizemore misses an extended period of time—with Austin Kearns. 

That also being said, with Kearns going, so too will Russell The Muscle Branyan, as he also blocks Brantley by pushing LaPorta into left field more often than not, so I think both of them are on their way out of town come July. 

I think the groans about Jhonny Peralta have gotten so loud that Cleveland may end up dealing him and that isn’t something I would have said a few months ago. But the fans genuinely dislike the guy to the point where I think Mark Shapiro might, for once, listen to them and rid the club of a player that the fanbase can’t stand. 

I think more than anything they want to do it to give Andy Marte a legitimate opportunity to finally sink or swim at third base. Lonnie Chisenhall is still a year away at least, especially with his injury setback in Akron, so this club needs a third baseman beyond this year and while they could pick up his option, they may get more value trading him now rather than next year at the deadline. 

I’m on the fence in terms of trading Jake Westbrook. I think the club would like to have him back next year at a discounted rate (something I think he would feel he owes the team after spending most of that contract extension on the disabled list) because he still has the ability and is a great veteran for a rotation.

But I still think they may trade him anyway, because bringing him back in free agency isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

The Coop: It’s a funny thing about all the trades the Indians have pulled off over the last few years. Now that they’ve dealt three All-Stars, who else is left that will command any trade value? 

It’s not like we’re talking about Sabathia, Lee, and Martinez. Who are we talking about? Hafner, Wood, Kearns, and maybe Sizemore? Not exactly Murderer’s Row. 

Obviously, guys like Choo and Cabrera should be off the table because the Indians can still build around them, as should most of the guys who haven’t played more than a full season or two.

I think the Indians should also hang onto Grady, even though he’s clearly damaged goods at this point. 

Everyone else should be officially for sale, and the Indians should trade them for whatever they can get, even if it includes a couple extra fungo bats.

Lewie Pollis: I’ve started a weekly column called “Cleveland Indians Trading Post,” in which I’m looking at who might be traded and where they might go. 

I’m not even going to try to shrink my long analyses into bite-sized pieces, but so far I predicted that Austin Kearns would go to the Mariners, A’s, or Braves, while Jake Westbrook will be shipped to the Yankees, Mets, or Dodgers.

I think Mark Grudzielanek would also be attractive trade bait, and I’m sure someone will make an offer for Jordan Brown if the Indians keep pretending that he doesn’t exist. Jhonny Peralta (please please please please please ) could give a contender some infield depth now that he’s starting to look like a semi-respectable player again (if you squint). 

I think the same will eventually be said for Kerry Wood, but it seems like he just keeps looking worse and worse. And if I’m Mark Shapiro, I’m praying that someone makes me an attractive offer for Mitch Talbot.




4. It wasn’t so long ago that the Indians and that other Ohio team, the Reds, were in very similar positions: struggling at the major league level, but in possession of a system loaded with up-and-coming talent.

This season saw their paths diverge: The Indians are in last place in their division, and the Reds are in first place in theirs.

We spend plenty of time arguing about what the Indians did wrong (or even what we maintain they’re still doing right), but the fact of the matter is, the Reds put a successful team on the field first.

Tell us, what do you think the Reds did right that enabled them to put themselves in the position that they currently inhabit? Is there anything specific that you think the Reds did right that the Indians failed to do? 


Samantha Bunten: The Reds had one distinct advantage over the Indians in that their up-and-coming players were further along in the system. The Reds were already in the process of rebuilding for the future when the Indians were in the playoffs in 2007.

So to a significant degree, the Reds didn’t truly do it better, they just got a head start on the Indians. 

That being said, they have certainly made some decisions along the way that were arguably better than those made by the Indians in similar situations. I’m not sure I think the Reds are any better at player development than the Tribe, but they absolutely draft better (I would kill to hire away their scouting department for the Indians), and they’ve done an excellent job in choosing solid veterans to fill in holes around their prospects. 



Nino Colla:

Lose? Fellow-blogger Paul Cousineau put together a brilliant entry into TheDiaTribe on Sunday that pretty much made a fantastic point that I don’t think many people ever considered. Just because they are winning all of a sudden doesn’t mean they’ve “figured it out.”

Did the Rays figure it out? Yeah they got new management and that has been a big reason, but top-10 pick after top-10 pick (and hitting on those picks) certainly didn’t hurt. 

What have the Indians really failed at? Given the current system, their window is really small to compete and when you get injuries like some of the ones the Indians have had in the past few years to marquee players, it just compounds it all.

Let’s not praise the Reds for anything yet. It’s still May and while I picked them to finish second in the division, they didn’t exactly recreate the wheel in rebuilding their team. 


So far based off their team, they’ve made some good personnel decisions, point blank. They’ve brought in good pitchers throughout all outlets, made a few good trades (Brandon Phillips, whoops) and drafted well (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce), and mixed in some veteran signings (Orlando Cabrera, Johnny Gomes ) that ha ve panned out to be successful.

I’d hate to say they “got lucky” but in a way, they sort of did. I guess fortunate would be better. Fortunate that a lot of their decisions have worked out well. 

The Indians on the other hand haven’t been so fortunate.

They’ve made some bad choices in the free-agent aspect (both in the veterans they’ve signed and the extensions that they’ve given out, but you can’t really hold injuries to Hafner and Westbrook against them), haven’t drafted well (something they’ve addressed in the past few years), and have overall just haven’t seen some of their plan formulate as they wanted.

The Coop: I certainly don’t follow the Reds as much as the Indians, but when I look at their roster, three things stand out to me: scouting, player development, and patience. 

The Reds have a startling number of guys that they drafted or signed as free agents before other teams could scoop them up, and many of these guys are the reason for the team’s success. It is clear that their scouting department has done a wonderful job. It all starts from there. 

Once you find the studs, you have to develop them. Obviously, their farm system is doing the job as well, molding raw talent into major league-caliber talent.

And finally, once these guys make it to the majors, the big league club has to be patient with their early struggles. Many people have been calling the Reds an “up-and-comer” for the last few years. In fact, this year, I even heard a few people pick them to win the division. 


So, they have built up to the success they are experiencing this year. While those players have been the centerpiece of their success this year, they have also managed to successfully round out their roster with reliable veterans while purging their team of has-beens with bad contracts.

I’m not a fan of the Reds, but the Indians could definitely benefit from using this same approach. 

Unfortunately, I think the Indians do have a similar approach; they just have not executed it nearly as well.


Lewie Pollis: To make up for my loquaciousness before, I’ll make this short and sweet: their plan isn’t better, it’s just further along. 


This is the first time in 10 years they’ve been over .500; we’re just two years removed from reaching the ALCS, so don’t think for half a second that they’re better at this than we are. In fact, the Reds would have killed to have gone through the three-year turnaround between the end of the Glory Days in 2001 and our big bounce-back in 2005.



5. Fun Question of the Week: When your team is struggling, sometimes the fictional baseball world becomes more appealing than the real one. Baseball movies and books with happy endings can be a great distraction when your team is failing to provide the same sort of fairy tale ending in reality.

Do you ever use fictional baseball movies or books as a distraction from the frustrations of watching the Tribe? What are you favorites?


Samantha Bunten : Bull Durham is what gets me through the rough patches in the season, just like it’s pretty much the only thing that gets me through the offseason. 

Also, fantasy baseball, as the name would imply, is an excellent distraction during the season when your real, live team is struggling.

I actually think that generally speaking, fantasy is better when your own team isn’t performing well; not only does it help to relieve some of the frustration of reality, but since your real team isn’t doing well, you never run into one of those situations where you catch yourself hoping your team loses to an opponent because their starting pitcher is on your fantasy roster.



Nino Colla : I think every Tribe fan likes Major League , but I don’t think I’ve ever used it as a way to distract myself from what is really going on.

For the most part I live with the pain, but I do distract myself from the real baseball world by playing both Out of the Park Baseball and whatever video game I currently have. 


This year, now that I’m the owner of a Wii, that game is MLB 2k10 . Not the greatest baseball game ever (actually probably one of the worst I’ve ever played) but it lets me screw around enough to the point where it’s fun.

I’ve been using Adam Wainwright and his dominate curveball to drown my sorrows. Baltimore is on a warpath that will end in nothing more than a World Series victory. 

While we are at it, will there ever be baseball movies better than Bull Durham, Bad News Bears (the original) or Major League? I don’t think so. Until they start making the real life stories of players (I’d pay to see them turn Hank Aaron’s story into a motion picture) into movies, there probably will be nothing close.

The Coop: I’m more of a guy who limits his exposure to baseball when my team is struggling. It hurts too much to hear about league leaders and pennant contenders when I realize my favorite team is in last place. Instead, I juice myself up for baseball season by watching the classic baseball movies. 

My list is the usual suspects: Major League, The Natural, Field of Dreams, Pride of the Yankees. Also, I would recommend 61* for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen Fear Strikes Out . Of course, some of those aren’t exactly the most “upbeat” flicks, but they are classics nonetheless. 

I’m also looking forward to reading The Bad Guys Won , a book about the ’86 Mets. Drug addicts, womanizers, drunks… Hey, if the whole “scout, develop, have patience” strategy doesn’t work, perhaps the Indians should take a cue from those guys?


Lewie Pollis : I prefer video games. Whenever I feel depressed about the real Tribe, I turn on MVP Baseball 2005 (old school, I know) and watch my Indians destroy the rest of the league. 


At the end of July 2008, Victor Martinez is on pace for 60 homers. Trade acquisition Carl Crawford is batting .400 and is likely to be the founding member of the 50/100 club, and fictional 22-year-old J.J. Nunez is on his way to his second-straight Cy Young, thanks to his 100-mph fastball, 60-mph knuckler , and wicked, diving splitter. 

My Indians won the World Series in ’05 and ’06, setting some insane records on the way. Another trade acquisition, David Ortiz, had 96 homers in ’05, then racked up 196 RBI in ’06. Crawford has broken the single-season triples record (36) three years in a row, each season topping the last. And fictional Indian Johan Santana threw three perfect games between September ’06 and August ’07.

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