Tag: Casey Kotchman

Ranking the 8 Indians That Cleveland Must Get Rid of Before 2013

At 64-91 (.413), the Cleveland Indians are the worst team in the American League, sharing the exciting title with in-division rival Minnesota after Cleveland beat the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. With just seven games remaining, the Tribe is set to finish a season with fewer than 70 wins in a season for the fourth time since 2000.

There are and have been a lot of issues for the Indians throughout the 2012 season. Some of these included: The bullpen, the left-handed lineup, the inability to find a powerful right-handed bat, the unwillingness of ownership and management to make a move to help the team contend, the inability to find leadership to get out of their excessive losing streaks and the inconsistency from players the team was counting on for big things in 2012.

Now, heading into another rebuilding session, the Cleveland Indians have to do some things to shake up the roster. The 40-man roster has a lot of useful names and many more useless names. Highlighted by players set for tremendous pay increases, the Indians have a lot of decisions to make before Opening Day of 2013.

Depending on the direction that management and ownership takes, you could argue with many, many names. I’m taking the path of a complete rebuild, developing talent by acquiring near-ready prospects and making a drastic change to the every-day roster.

While some names could shock you, so has the 20-50 record in the second half. If that hasn’t done the trick, how about the 27-58 record since losing control of first place in the AL Central on June 23 for the final time of the 2012 season.

The fall from grace demands change.

Begin Slideshow

Cleveland Indians 2012 Outlook: Nemesis, Tigers Be Thy Name

The first week of September, 2011, Tribe fans packed the Jake for three straight games to watch the Detroit Tigers bring the Cleveland Indians‘ Cinderella regular-season run to a screeching, crashing halt.

The Indians threw Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Fausto Carmona at the Tigers, but to no avail—Detroit swept Cleveland. By the time Detroit swept Cleveland in another three-game series at Comerica Park at the end of the month, all had been decided.

After last season, no Wahoo Warrior will underestimate Detroit in 2012. The Tribe’s main competition in the AL Central Division came within two games of the World Series last season and added the 2012 free-agency class’ most high-profile prize: Prince Fielder.

Additionally, Chicago and Minnesota will certainly enjoy healthier rosters in 2012, as both clubs saw their 2011 seasons marred by injury. 

If the Cleveland Indians participate in the 2012 postseason, they will have undoubtedly bested their rivals from “that state up north.” Can the Indians negate Detroit’s profligate spending through sound management and small ball?

Tigers owner and Little Caesar’s founder Mike Ilitch has made a point of demonstrating his personal and financial commitment to adding a World Series title to his four Stanley Cup rings.

Fielder provided Tigers fans with the red meat—read, instant gratification—they sought after a stinging defeat at the hands of the Texas Rangers in the ALCS. The Prince could deliver Detroiters their first World Series title since 1984.



Back in the “Fortress of Frugality,” formerly known as Jacobs Field, the Dolan family, GM Chris Antonetti, President Mark Shapiro and the gang retaliated with the only weapon on which they can rely in a small market—pitching.

To bolster their pitching arsenal, the Tribe acquired the services of veteran professional Derek Lowe as well as the new Anglophonic ambassador to the Tribe’s Spanish speakers, control-man Kevin Slowey. At first base, the Indians required an everyday player hitting above the Mendoza Line. Enter Casey Kotchman, a tested career .268 hitter.

While Tribe fans may not enjoy the big-splash, SportsCenter-worthy acquisitions of big-market clubs, they can rest assured knowing their organization has resurrected itself several times in the last decade and has learned a thing or two about developing a baseball team from the ground up.

I was in my freshman year of college in 2007, the last time the Tribe played in the postseason. Before the Red Sox broke our hearts in the ALCS, the Indians eliminated the New York Yankees.

Surrounded by Yankees fans, I relished in posting one particular note on my neighbor’s door. It outlined exactly how much the $200 million Yankees organization had shelled out for each hit, each out, each run. Obviously, I taunted him with the fractional price the $61 million the Indians had paid. 

Before long, CC Sabathia was pitching for the Yankees against Cliff Lee and the Phillies in the World Series while the Indians sat at home. As an Indians fan, you really have to pick your windows for talking trash.

Now the Indians face a hegemonic power who threatens not just to pilfer the All-Star lineup we perennially rebuild, but to dominate our division and preclude us from playoff contention for the foreseeable future.

Will the 2012 Indians and their fans rise to meet the challenge? 

You can follow Brian on Twitter @StepanekButton 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Tampa Bay Rays Make Bold Move, Bring Back Carlos Pena

The Rays continued their January search for offense yesterday, signing former Rays slugger Carlos Pena. Tampa Bay’s search for a first baseman is finally over, and the Rays have to be satisfied with the move.

Pena, who played for the Rays from 2007-2010, agreed to a one-year contract worth $7.25 million.

The deal is great news for both the Rays and Pena. By signing Pena, the Rays filled in a big hole on their roster. They picked up a power-hitting and run-producing first baseman, which was exactly what they needed.

Pena seemed even more thrilled when learning he would reunite with the Rays this season. Pena texted “Sooooo excited … !!!!!” when first finding out about the news. The joyful reaction is not a surprise, as all of Pena’s best memories were during his four years in Tampa.

Pena, now 33 years old, smashed 144 homers and 407 RBIs with a career line of .238/.368/.516 during his four seasons for the Rays. During those seasons, Pena collected a Silver Slugger Award, a Gold Glove Award and an All Star selection. He also put up some impressive home-run totals, belting 46 dingers in 2007 and hitting a league-leading 39 round-trippers in 2009.

His big bat in the middle of the lineup and his slick fielding at first were both a huge part of the Rays’ success in past years.

When signing Pena, the Rays essentially picked the veteran first baseman over Casey Kotchman. Kotchman had a surprisingly successful season in 2011, batting a high .306 average while playing terrific defense. Did the Rays make the right choice by choosing Pena instead of Kotchman?

Considering the offensive numbers starting first basemen are expected to put out in the MLB, Pena is definitely the more valuable player. A healthy Carlos Pena pretty much guarantees you 25-plus homers and 80-plus RBIs.

Kotchman is a much better contact hitter who’ll probably strike out a lot less and hit for a higher average, but he simply is not capable of producing as many runs as Pena in the middle of the Rays’ lineup.

10 home runs with 48 RBIs and .306 average are numbers you more often see from a middle infielder, not a starting first baseman. I don’t want to take anything away from Kotchman’s excellent 2011 season, though, especially considering he didn’t enter the season with high expectations.

In conclusion, the Rays are doing a great job of continuing to add bats to their roster. Bringing back Pena is a real sigh of relief for Rays Republic after long winter months without a first baseman. It will be fun to watch Pena return to Tampa in 2012, where he is needed more than ever before.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball: 10 Players off Waivers To Help You Down the Stretch

Fantasy baseball managers are all looking for that one missing piece to put their team over the edge and into the playoffs. However, it is much easier to try to find a diamond in the rough than it is to actually find that diamond.

Nevertheless, here are 10 players (one from each fielding position, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher) who have the best chance of both being available in your league and helping you dominate the end of the season.

Begin Slideshow

10 Offseason Moves the Seattle Mariners Need to Build Around Felix Hernandez

The list of things that went right with the 2010 Seattle Mariners season starts and ends with Felix Hernandez.

King Felix should be the favorite for the Cy Young after a stellar season that includes a 2.31 ERA (second in baseball), a 1.06 WHIP (tied for fourth in baseball), and 227 strikeouts (second in baseball). 

Ichiro Suzuki is pretty good too, recording his 10th straight 200-hit season early last week.

After that, however, the Mariners roster is a collection of misfits, underachievers, over-the-hill veterans, and colossal busts. 

Felix Hernandez is one of baseball’s best pitchers. But as that 12-12 record shows, he can’t do it alone.

Here are 10 offseason moves Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik should make to get Felix some help and put the Mariners back into the playoff race.

Begin Slideshow

MLB Trade Rumors: Seattle Mariners Remaining Trade Chips

The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline passes this Saturday, and baseball’s buyers and sellers will be in negotiations all week over potential deadline trades.

The Seattle Mariners are undoubtedly sellers at this year’s trade deadline. At 39-60, the Mariners sit 18.5 games behind the AL West leading Texas Rangers, and have already traded away this year’s most sought after trade target, ace pitcher Cliff Lee.

Having made a clear move towards selling at the trade deadline, the pressure is now on Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik to prepare his team for contention in 2011. Zduriencik must now decide what other players, if any, he can deal at the deadline.

Here is a quick list of five current Mariners who could have new addresses by next week.

2B Jose Lopez

The Mariners seem to have a future built around LF Michael Saunders, C Adam Moore, 1B Justin Smoak, and last year’s first round draft pick, converted 2B Dustin Ackley.

Ackley was recently promoted from Double-A West Tennessee to Triple-A Tacoma, and in his first game in Tacoma, he hit a walk-off sacrifice fly. Ackley is a sure bet to factor into the Mariners’ future, and if they want to get him big-league experience this year , they may try and shop Lopez for additional prospects.

The Phillies are actively searching for a replacement middle infielder, as injuries have plagued regular 2B Chase Utley and 3B Placido Polanco. With Polanco currently filling in at second base, the Phillies have the flexibility of searching for a second baseman or third baseman.

Don’t be surprised if the Phillies make a play for a middle infielder—it might turn out to be Jose Lopez.

Chance of Being Traded: Medium

1B Russell Branyan/1B Casey Kotchman

The Seattle Mariners currently roster first basemen Justin Smoak, Casey Kotchman, and Russell Branyan, and have Mike Sweeney on the Disabled List with back problems. It’s a crowded infield, to say the least.

The simple fix to this situation would be dealing one-time-starter-but-now-ineffective Casey Kotchman to a contender as a late inning defensive replacement and occasional pinch hitter. Unfortunately, his .215/.294/.654 line is uninspiring, and is unlikely to coax a contender into exchanging prospects for his services.

Seattle’s acquisition of Russell Branyan in late June was so uncharacteristic that Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times thought the initial report of the trade was a hoax. At the time, Seattle was 14 games out of first place, and seemingly out of contention in 2010.

Now, if the Mariners want to deal a first baseman, Branyan may be the most attractive trade bait. It would be ironic for the Mariners to acquire and trade Branyan within a month, but the current roster makes him disappointingly expendable, and Jack Zduriencik might make a move that is best for business, and not just fan appeal.

Here’s to hoping that a rival executive wakes up and says, “I need a .200 bat with Gold Glove caliber defense.”

Chance of Being Traded: Low

RP David Aardsma/RP Brandon League

Every year, relief arms are dealt at the Major League Baseball trade deadline. Often, closers become set-up men and specialists are exchanged as teams race to acquire quality arms (a seemingly unending race). Since 2005, notable names such as Eric Gagne, LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, Arthur Rhodes, and George Sherrill have been moved in deadline deals.

Jack Zduriencik has a malleable bullpen in front of him. Sending 26-year-old RP Mark Lowe to Texas in the Cliff Lee trade was shocking, even though Lowe was injured, because Lowe has a power arm and high potential. Now, Zduriencik must decide if he will also move 27-year-old Brandon League and 28-year-old David Aardsma.

Aardsma seems the most likely to leave Seattle. His 2.52 ERA last season is looking more and more like an exception to his career numbers, and some clubs have shown interest in his services.

League is a more complicated issue, because Zduriencik gave up former first round pick Brandon Morrow to acquire League earlier this year. Morrow’s 4.71 ERA is nothing impressive, but he has fanned 119 batters in 107 innings pitched, and is still in his mid-twenties.

If Zduriencik decides to move League, he could face criticism if he is unable to obtain at least a Morrow-caliber package in return.

Chance of Being Traded: High

It remains to be seen what the Mariners will do in the coming week, but don’t be surprised if any of these names move elsewhere as the Mariners build for 2011.

Do you agree with these potential trade candidates? Comment below with your thoughts!

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Report Card: Grading the Performance of the Mariners’ Off-season Pickups

Although cloudless days continue to appear in Seattle’s summer sky, locals are still advised to carry umbrellas… because Jack Zduriencik is quickly plummeting downwards.

Just months after being hailed as a hero in the Emerald City for his roster overhaul filled with top-flight players, the Mariners general manager is now being scrutinized for not meeting his team’s needs in the off-season. Much of the blame is being pointed towards Zduriencik for the lost 2010 season, which carried in high expectations but has completely faltered.

However, the atrocious 35-53 record should be linked to the under-performance of the players, especially those acquired last winter, not the man that signed them.

The All-Star Break is the perfect time to evaluate how the season has gone thus far. Similar to the end of first semester, it’s time to handout report cards and grade the newest Mariners based on their first-half play.

Begin Slideshow

Winners and Losers in the Seattle-Texas Cliff Lee Trade

On Friday, the Seattle Mariners traded ace Cliff Lee and reliever Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers for switch-hitting first baseman Justin Smoak and three other prospects. 

Sportswriters and analysts are split on which team came out with the better end of this trade. Several pundits believe that the Rangers won out by landing a legitimate ace atop their rotation, while only sacrificing one of two high-potential first basemen in their system (the other being Chris Davis).

Others believe that the Mariners won out by acquiring a better package for Cliff Lee than they paid for him this past offseason. 

Like any trade, several teams, players, and division races will be affected by its completion. Here is a quick rundown of the biggest winners and losers in the Cliff Lee trade.


WINNER: 2010 Texas Rangers

I put the “2010” in front of this label because the Texas Rangers certainly improved in this deal, but it might not last long term.

Considering only this season, the Rangers are guaranteed winners in the Cliff Lee trade. They currently sit 4.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, and, with the acquisition of Lee, are primed to extend that lead in the second half of the year.

It remains to be seen if trading Justin Smoak within the division will backfire on the Rangers, but in 2010, Cliff Lee gives them an even greater chance to win their first division title in over a decade.


LOSER: 2010 New York Yankees

The New York Yankees boast the best record in baseball, but last Friday they looked like fools in the race for Cliff Lee.

On Friday morning, the Mariners and Yankees agreed in principle to a deal for Cliff Lee, but the Mariners backed out of negotiations after concerns about second base prospect David Adams’ health.

The Mariners quickly partnered up with the Texas Rangers, while the Yankees watched their agreement in principle fade into thin air.

Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees were “livid” at the Mariners decision, and one Yankees official fumed that “You just don’t do business that way.”

However, as the gentlemen at Lookout Landing noted, business is business, and the Yankees have been on the other side of the deal at least once in the past. 


WINNER: The Rest of the AL East

Entering the All-Star Break, the Tampa Bay Rays sit only two games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East, and the Boston Red Sox are within striking distance at five games back.

Had the Yankees acquired Cliff Lee, the chances of catching New York may have grown exponentially. 

Tampa Bay Rays’ manager Joe Maddon said it best when he told the St. Petersburg Times that Lee’s trade to Texas was “better than the Yankees.” Maddon preferred Lee going to the National League, but, like the rest of the AL East, he was more than happy to see Mariners-Yankees negotiations falter on Friday morning. 

Regardless of remaining trades, the rest of the AL East can breathe easier with Cliff Lee in Texas. 


LOSER: The Los Angeles Angels 

Similar to Joe Maddon’s displeasure over Cliff Lee’s potential trade to the New York Yankees, Mike Scoscia and the Los Angeles Angels could not have been pleased to hear that Lee was bound for Texas.

Angels OF Torii Hunter went as far as saying that Seattle broke the unwritten rules of baseball by dealing Lee within their own division. 

On Friday morning, the Angels sat 4.5 games behind the Rangers and faced increasing speculation over potential trade deadline acquisitions. With Lee’s arrival in Texas, the Angels now face mounting pressure to respond with an acquisition of their own.

The Angels are expected to pursue a corner infield power bat to replace Kendry Morales, who is out for the season due to injury. Within the past week, the Angels have been linked to Washington 1B Adam Dunn, Milwaukee 1B Prince Fielder, and free agent 1B Carlos Delgado. 

Regardless of who the Angels acquire, if anyone at all, their path to the 2010 AL West Championship is now more difficult with Cliff Lee in Texas.


WINNER: Texas Rangers 1B Chris Davis

Two years ago, Chris Davis was supposed to be the star of the future for the Texas Rangers. In 2008, Davis was ranked as the Rangers’ second best prospect, behind only SS Elvis Andrus. 

That same year, at age 22, Davis blasted 17 homeruns in only 80 games, and seemingly grabbed control of the Rangers’ first base position for years to come.

Since his spectacular debut, however, Davis has struggled mightily.

Davis was demoted in mid-July 2009 after a horrific first half. In early 2010, following an abysmal three weeks, Davis was again demoted in favor of 23-year-old Justin Smoak.

Since his demotion, Davis has been hard at work, posting an impressive .354/.403/.555 line with Triple-A Oklahoma. With Smoak’s departure, the Rangers again place their faith in Davis, and he may have the job for good this time.


LOSER: Seattle Mariners 1B Casey Kotchman

Casey Kotchman is a defensive machine. He is currently working on an MLB record in consecutive games without an error, but his offensive woes have heavily contributed to a lackluster 2010 Seattle Mariners offense.

In early June, the Mariners called up Mike Carp from Triple-A Tacoma to add offensive firepower to the first base position. This move failed, as Carp hit .167 in only 30 at-bats. In late June, the Mariners acquired Russell Branyan from the Cleveland Indians to again try and add pop at first base. With Branyan’s arrival, Kotchman had lost a hold on the everyday first base gig.

After the arrival of Justin Smoak, Kotchman may have lost hold of a roster spot with the Seattle Mariners. At this point, he is not much more than a late-inning defensive replacement.

It remains to be seen if Kotchman will be dealt (not many teams will have an interest in his .208 batting average), but with the acquisition of Justin Smoak, Kotchman has clearly become expendable. 


That’s it for the list. Comment below with who you think were the biggest winners and losers of the Cliff Lee trade!

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Felix Hernandez Gives Mariners Another Gem Performance!

— Michael Saunders’ three-run homer helped Seattle to a 5-1 win Saturday night at Safeco Field.

The Seattle Mariners cruised through a typically tidy game — getting quality pitching from Felix Hernandez and a minimal amount of offense — when something out of the ordinary broke out.

Nearly a week’s worth of runs by the Mariners.

They scored four times in the sixth inning, as many runs as they’d produced in their three previous games combined and beat the Cincinnati Reds for their third straight win, 5-1.

Michael Saunders delivered a blow that made everyone relax, a three-run homer with two outs in the sixth that gave the Mariners a four-run lead. Hernandez handled the rest, striking out nine and holding the Reds to five hits in the Mariners’ second straight complete game by a starting pitcher — Hernandez’s second this season to bring his record to 5-5.

“It was a total momentum shift when Saunders hit the big home run,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “It gave Felix a little more life out there, too, because we hadn’t given him a whole lot of run support.”

It has been puny.

The Mariners hadn’t scored as many as five runs in any of Hernandez’s starts since May 18 and on Saturday it seemed they were headed toward another hold-your-breath finish.

Ichiro Suzuki’s solo homer gave the Mariners an early 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Reds got their lone run on Jonny Gomez’s RBI single off Hernandez in the fourth.

After that, Hernandez allowed only one hit to the next 14 hitters.

Wakamatsu said that was the key to the complete game by Hernandez, who’d thrown a career-high 128 pitches in his previous start on June 13 at San Diego.  Wakamatsu pulled him with one out in the ninth inning of that one.

“He went quite a few pitches last outing and we earmarked not going over 120,” Wakamatsu said. “I was awfully happy I didn’t have to go get him out there.”

Hernandez, still throwing a 95 mph fastball and sharp-breaking curve in the ninth inning wasn’t about to exit before the final out of the game.

“I was going to finish this,” Hernandez said. “He wasn’t going to take me out after eighth.”

Wakamatsu didn’t despite Joey Votto’s one-out single in the ninth. Hernandez got Scott Rolen on a fly ball for the second out and Gomes on his ninth strikeout of the game.

It continued a run of stellar starting pitching that began Wednesday when Jason Vargas held the Cardinals to one run at St. Louis. Cliff Lee pitched a complete-game shutout over the Reds on Friday, and Hernandez gave the Mariners their first back-to-back complete-game victories since 1996 when Bob Wells beat the Angels and Bob Wolcott beat the A’s.

By the end Saturday, the Mariners were a team without tension for the first time in nearly three weeks. The last time they won by more than three runs was June 1 when they beat the Twins 7-1.

The sixth inning made all the difference.

Jose Lopez hit a leadoff single against Reds starter Sam LeCure and Franklin Gutierrez doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out.  Josh Wilson popped out to first base for the first out before strategy broke out.

With a base open, the Reds intentionally walked Casey Kotchman — who entered the game with a .184 average — and gambled that they could get Rob Johnson to hit a ground ball.

Instead, he launched a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored Lopez to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

LeCure’s next pitch was an inner-half fastball that opposing pitchers have haunted the 23-year-old Saunders with since his first call-up to the majors last season.  He has worked hard to handle that pitch though, and this time he got all of it.

Saunders pulled it deep over the right-field fence, off the facade of the second deck, for his fourth home run this season. It was only the seventh three-run homer by the Mariners this season.

“I think it boils down to a lot of work and coming into my second call-up,” Saunders said. “I told myself I was going to be aggressive and not put too much pressure on myself.”

In return, it eased the pressure off Hernandez as he cruised to his 33rd career victory at Safeco Field, tying him with Freddy Garcia and Joel Pineiro for second place in all-time victories at the stadium. Jamie Moyer is the leader with 55.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Backfired: The Worst Moves in Seattle Mariners’ History

Sometimes, I think that my punishment in life for all the bad things I’ve done, and will do in the future, is being a devoted Seattle Mariners fan.

It’s not an easy life, and one that takes a certain kind of person to fully commit to it.

We must be masochists. The constant pain and despair that my team has brought me over my 23 years on this earth is enough to drive a man straight into the arms of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

I know there are other fan bases out there with similar, or even harder, teams to root for. Looking at you, Cubbies, I feel your pain.

Perhaps the largest cause of headaches for us Mariners fans is the fact that it seems that the moves we make to improve seem to always blow up, ending in tears for all those involved.

And now, we go back into the darkness, and look at some of these front office mishaps.

P.S. I hate you Bill Bavasi.

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress