Is this thing on?

A play-by-play guy trying to survive in a mid-major world

Archive for the month “September, 2009”

Thats all folks…

The Indians season came to an end yesterday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky.  The Tribe erased a two run deficit to beat the Bats 4-2.  With the win the 2009 Tribe finishes with a 70-73 record.  After the game UTIL Brian Bixler, C/INF Robinzon Diaz, and RHP Eric Hacker were all recalled by the Pirates.  Bixler and Diaz are returning to Pittsburgh, while Hacker receives his first Major League call-up. 

Two players who did not get the call were 1B Jeff Clement and All-Star C Erik Kratz.  A left oblique strain will send Clement to the Gulf Coast League for rehab.  After 10 days or so, Jeff will join the Pirates for the remainder of the season.  As for Kratz…it’s a business and he is caught up in a numbers game.  The good news is that Kratz is expected to resign with the Pirates and perhaps this season puts him in a new light come spring training.  

It is too hard to tell who may be with the Indians for the 2010 season.  SS Argenis Diaz, RHP Brad Lincoln, and OF Jose Tabata are some of the younger players who you can probably pencil in for an April roster spot.  RHP Jeremy Powell wants to return to the Pirates and pitch in Indianapolis.  Powell has the support of Pitching Coach Ray Searage, who also wants to resign RHP Juan Mateo.  OF/INF Tagg Bozied is a favorite of Manager Frank Kremblas and may rejoin Krem in Indy for the ’10 season.  All the Pirates have to do is extend and invite and Bozied will be an Indian next season. 

OF Brian Myrow, UTIL Chris Barnwell, and 1B/OF Larry Broadway may be walking away from the game.  Myrow’s final six weeks was as good as anybody’s in baseball and more than likely gets him a job in 2010.  Myrow finished 7th in the league with a .307 batting average and was tops in the IL with a .419 on base percentage.  Making it the third consecutive season he led a league in OBP.  He was #1 in the PCL in 2007 and 2008.  It’s doubtful Myrow plays for the Indians in 2010, but I expect him to play for a 12th professional season.  

Chris Barnwell is walking away from the game at the age of 30, or at least he says he is.  Barney struggled in this his 9th season of pro ball.  Tagg is one of Barnwell’s best friends and he broke down during his postgame interview when discussing Barney.  Barnwell is going to focus on his baseball camps and may answer the phone is a team gives him a call.

Larry Broadway has some game left, but an interest in working for a front office may have more of a pull on him than playing the game.  I say its 40-60 that Broadway returns to play the game.  The odds are better than he finds an entry level job with a Major League front office.  For Broadway, it may be time to use his Duke degree. 

clubhouse 002.jpgThis is a picture of the Indians clubhouse hallway.  The boxes, bags, and suitcases you see will be tossed on a moving van and shipped to Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.  I was in the clubhouse early this morning and it’s hard to believe that it will be empty for the next six and a half months.  I hope the time flys by.

I will not be updating the blog on a regular basis, but do plan on posting throughout the next month.  I’ve promised to list my favorite cities and stadiums and am currently figuring out my scoring and ranking system.  Plus, the Indians front office will be heading to Chicago to see the Pirates play the Cubs.  (October baseball for BOTH the Pirates and Cubs, thank you schedule makers) I’ve already shared text messages with several players and I can guarantee you some photos and stories from those that have worn an Indians uniform. 

This blog was a lot of work, but it was all worth it.  I’ll consider this blog a success if you enjoyed it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Everyone’s feedback was terrific and the kind words I received from strangers meant a lot.  I was always caught off guard when someone would tell me they enjoyed the blog.  There are still a few more posts for me to make, but the 2009 Indianapolis Indians is officially over.  Thank you for being a part of the season and I hope you enjoyed the ride. 

Here are the final numbers…

AVG     Brian Myrow      .330 in 62 games

            Garrett Jones     .307 in 72 games

 

HR        Neil Walker       14 in 356 at-bats

            Steve Pearce     13 in 273 at-bats

            Garrett Jones     12 in 277 at-bats

            Erik Kratz          11 in 319 at-bats

 

RBI       Neil Walker       69 in 95 games

            Steve Pearce     54 in 77 games

            Garrett Jones     49 in 72 games

 

Runs     Brian Bixler       71 in 108 games

 

2B        Neil Walker       31 in 95 games

            Erik Kratz          30 in 93 games

 

3B        Brian Bixler       8 in 103 games

            A. McCutchen   8 in 49 games

 

SB        Jeff Salazar       16 for 16

            Garrett Jones     14 for 18

 

Wins     D. McCutchen   13 wins (T 1st in IL)

 

ERA     Ian Snell            0.96 (37.1 IP)

            Mike Koplove     2.35 (30.2 IP)

            T. Gorzelanny    2.48 (87 IP)

 

K          D. McCutchen   110

 

K/9       C. Bootcheck    11.7K/9 innings

            Denny Bautista  10.9K/9 innings

 

SV        C. Bootcheck    20        

             

Victory Field and only we are down to one game

The Louisville Bats scored 7 runs in the 6th inning Sunday night sending the Indians to their 5th consecutive loss.  This is the Indians longest losing streak of the season and not the way they wanted to wrap up the ’09 season.  Indianapolis will enter tomorrow’s finale with a 69-72 record making it the third straight losing season.

Some new developments with the team today.  Brian Bixler opened the 2009 season with an opportunity to become the next Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop.  Things have not progressed in that direction and tonight Bixler started at third base for the first time since his freshman year of high school.  Bixler walked into the clubhouse this afternoon and was caught off guard when he saw the #5 by his name on the line up card.  He handled it just like he handled to the move to centerfield, with a shrug of the shoulders and he went about his business.  Bixler made two terrific plays at third base and said it was all instinct. He didn’t get much action and said you have to be on your toes with every pitch.  It’s been a challenging year for the 26 year-old and he isn’t sure if it will end with a September call-up or not. 

Ah, the September call-up.  Each year after the Indians final game a few players will get the good news that they are heading to Pittsburgh.  The candidates this season are Bixler, C Robinzon Diaz, 1B Jeff Clement, RHP Eric Hacker, RHP Jeff Sues,  and OF Jose Tabata.  I don’t want to guess who will get the call, but I wish C Erik Kratz would be rewarded for his year.  Kratz is better than Diaz and in my eyes has passed by him this season.  The only problem is Kratz needs to be added to the 40 man roster. 

All season long I have taken pictures of all the stadiums in the International League.  Over the past couple of weeks some people have asked me about Victory Field.  So here are a few pictures of the stadium the Indians call home.  It was built in 1996 and is the oldest stadium in the West Division…and it might just be the best.

VIC 007.jpgThe above picture was taken as RHP Jeremy Powell delivered his first pitch in Saturday’s game.  Louisville’s Luis Bolivar popped the pitch to 1B Larry Broadway.  You can see Larry making his move off of first base.

VIC 009.jpgThe Indianapolis skyline is changing.  The construction beyond the left field wall is going to be a new JW Marriott hotel.  The windows that you see have not reached the halfway point.  It is going to be one great looking hotel, but might look a little out of place in Indianapolis.

VIC 006.jpgThe Indians finish the 2009 season with a 36-36 home record.  Victory Field is a pitchers park and the Indians numbers prove that point.  The pitching staff’s ERA is a run lower at home than on the road (3.31 to 4.40).  The Tribe scored over 100 fewer runs at home (259-364) and hit 31 fewer home runs (44-75).  The players wouldn’t mind the walls being moved in a bit and maybe some of their 118 doubles would have left the yard.

VIC 002.jpgI believe this is the most professional stadium in the league.  I’ve always like the green walls and the green seats.  Victory Field is impressive when it is empty and when it has 15,000 fans.  The landscape of the league has changed with new stadiums coming onto the scene in Columbus and Gwinnett.  I’ll be posting my final list of favorite ballparks once the season comes to a close. 

The Indians handed out their team awards prior to the game on Saturday night.  RHP Daniel McCutchen (13-6, 3.47 ERA) was named the Indians MVP.  Manager Frank Kremblas is the lone voter on the MVP award and he considered Erik Kratz, but in the end decided on the 13 game winner.  Hard to argue with Frank, but I would have voted for Kratz.    

3B Neil Walker was named the Indians player of the week and I think he took home the slugger of the year award.  His name was attached to something called the HR and RBI award.  Walker was the Indians MVP last season (it should have gone to Andrew McCutchen) and had a great finish to 2009.  Congrats to Neil for collecting his first Major League hit today with the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

OF Jose Tabata was named the Rookie of the Year.  He was only with the team for a month and did have a positive impact on the team.  The other option was RHP Brad Lincoln who more than held his own on the mound this season.

Kratz took home the defensive player of the year award and OF/1B Brian Myrow won the Indians batting title.  Finally, RHP Chris Bootcheck took home the reliever of the year award.           

Eric Hacker gets the baseball Monday afternoon for the Indians.  First pitch is set for 1:15 at Louisville Slugger Field.

   

       

            

Erik Kratz is an All-Star

For the first time in his professional career C Erik Kratz was selected to play in a mid-season All-Star game.  Back in July he made the most of it taking home the MVP award.  Earlier this week another honor came his way as Kratz was selected by the coaches and media to the post-season All-Star team.  He was excited and humbled by the honor and said that only once before in his career did he think he was even in the discussion for an All-Star bid.  Talk to the Indians pitchers and they feel this is a well deserved honor. 

Erik Kratz.JPGRHP Jason Davis said Kratz is the MVP of the Indians team (I agree).  RHP Ty Taubenheim said Kratz deserves the real reward of a September call-up.  Unfortunately for Kratz that would require the Pirates adding him to the 40 man roster…a long shot at best.  Kratz isn’t the only guy who is having a year worthy of a September call-up, but there may not be a player remaining on the team who deserves a 40 man spot more than Kratz.

Here is my 2009 All-Star ballot with the winner in parenthesis.

1B:  Kevin Barker, Louisville (Andy Tracy LHV) Tracy was one of the players I was considering, but in the end it was an easy call for Kevin Barker.  His overall numbers were better than Tracy and Barker is the MVP for the best team in the West Division.  What Barker meant to a playoff team is the reason I picked him for first base.

2B:  Kevin Russo, Scranton (Russo) Seth Bynum at Syracuse was the only other 2B I check out, but Russo numbers (leading the league in hitting) was the deciding factor.  To be honest, I don’t even remember Russo when the Indians played the Yankees.  This was strictly a numbers pick.

SS:  Reid Brignac, Durham (Brent Dlugach TOL) On my mid-season All-Star ballot I picked Brignac over Dlugach and still feel he is the better player.  Both are terrific young players, but I like Brignac’s game and his ability to get on base.  Dlugach strikes out a lot and Brignac is a wiz at shortstop.  This pick was purely a personal choice of Brignac over Dlugach. 

3B:  Andy Marte, Columbus (Marte) A rebound year for a former #1 prospect.  Marte was not an everyday player until late April and immediately started to rake.  I considered Indians 3B Neil Walker for about 2 seconds, but in the end one month (a really good month though…360+ batting average, 6 HR, and 34 RBI from July 30-August 31) does not make you an All-Star.  Besides in Marte’s final full month he won the IL’s Triple Crown.  He led the league in hitting, home runs, and RBI’s for the month of July. 

C:  Erik Kratz, Indianapolis (Kratz) The only other catcher to consider was Lou Marson.  His numbers don’t stack up to Erik’s and the big number for me is the Indians record in games he catches.  The Tribe is 45-38 in games started by Kratz compared to 24-32 when he is not in the starting line-up

OF:  Shelley Duncan, Scranton (Duncan) He was the best player in the league for the first two months of the season and over that time Scranton jumped out to a huge lead in the North Division.  Duncan leads the league in home runs with 29 and is tops with 92 runs batted in.  Seventeen of his 29 home runs were hit before June 1st and because of his quick start and what it meant to his club I also voted Duncan and the IL MVP.

OF:  Jorge Padilla, Syracuse (Jordan Brown COL) Padilla was any easy choice for me and honestly I didn’t consider Brown because he doesn’t have a position.  Jordan Brown will finish in the top three in hitting this season, but to me his year was not better than Padilla.  The Syracuse OF hit .367 in 95 games with an OBP of .424, compared to Brown’s .332 average in 108 games and OBP of .374.  At the time of his promotion to the Nationals, Padilla was leading the league in hitting and never hit less than .340 in any MONTH.  He hit safely in 39 of his last 42 games with Syracuse and made two pitching appearances.  He worked 1.2 of scoreless relief. 

OF Brian Myrow, Indianapolis (Jon Weber DUR) Yup, this was a homer pick.  Myrow injured his right calf on Monday night and is done for the season, but not before making an impression on me and the rest of the league.  Myrow was hitting .277 with 7 home runs and under 30 RBI playing part-time for the Charlotte Knights.  In late June he was traded to the Indians and he took off.  Myrow would go on to hit .330 with the Indians with an OBP near .450.  The 32 year-old (he’ll turn 33 on Sept. 5) will finish the year 1st or 2nd in OBP and have a top ten batting average.

SP:  Carlos Torres, Charlotte (Torres) Torres was a 10 game winner this season with an impressive 2.39 earned run average.  Torres struck out 130 batters over 128 innings and what impresses me is his 1.59 ERA at Knights Stadium.  Charlotte’s home park is one of the smallest in the league and it’s a challenge keeping hitters in the yard. 

RP Winston Abreu, Durham (Luis Valdez GWN) Valdez, a former Pirates farmhand, leads the IL in saves.  That’s probably why he was voted the reliever of the year.  I picked Abreu because he has the best numbers of any reliever this season.  I tend to devalue saves and look at K/IP, WHIP, and batting average against.  Every reliever is in play, not just closers.  Abreu this season struck out 73 in 48.2 innings of work.  He walked 14 and none of the 12 runners he inherited scored.  For those who vote on closers…Abreu is 14 for 15 in save opportunities. 

MVP:  Shelley Duncan SWB (Duncan) See above…the best player for the first two months of the season. 

MVPitcher:  Justin Lehr, Louisville (Lehr) Carlos Torres is the pitcher of the year, but no doubt Lehr is the most valuable pitcher.  Lehr began the season with Lehigh Valley and signed a minor league deal with the Reds at the end of May.  It was a wise move for the right-hander who would turn around Louisville’s season.  Entering June the Bats were in 3rd place and by the end of the month they would be comfortably in first.  In June, Lehr won all six starts with a 2.20 earned run average.  By the end of July he won 13 games for the Bats and was in the Reds rotation. 

Manager of the Year:  Rick Sweet, Louisville (Sweet) I strongly considered Durham’s skipper Charlie Montoya, but in the end picked Sweet.  My deciding factor was the turnover the Bats experienced throughout the year and how they never missed a beat.  Sweet did a great job of juggling a bullpen (LOU will finish with three different closers earning at least 10 saves) and incorporating several young players from Double-A.  It also helps that I see Sweet several times during the season and only see Durham 8 times.  Sorry Charlie! 

Rookie of the Year:  Austin Jackson, Scranton (Jackson) The 22 year more than held his own in his first year at Triple-A.  Jackson in near to top of the league with 140+ hits and has been around .300 for most of the year.  Because of his all around game I picked Jackson over Louisville’s CF Drew Stubbs.  Stubbs was too inconsistent at the plate for me to vote over Jackson.  One more note on Jackson…Wednesday he took over the IL lead with his 9th triple on the season.  That ended Andrew McCutchen’s 134 day stint as the leader in triples.  McCutchen took the IL lead way back on April 21st and was either tied or all alone with the lead even through he has been playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates since early June.  More impressive than his season is that ESPN didn’t do a feature on him since he is a future Yankee and on the cusp on the bigs.  Sorry, having trouble keeping my Midwest bitterness back.  Imagine if Andrew McCutchen played for the Yankees or Red Sox?  Pirates fan worry that he probably will within five years.  Ok, back to the blog…  

The Indians have only two home games remaining and four games left in 2009.  The Tribe is 69-70 on the season and is trying to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2006.  With the loss to Louisville last night the Indians will need to win out to have a .500 record within the division.  Hard to believe, but the Tribe has not had a winning record vs. the West since collaborating with the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

One final note…please read this article on former Indians OF and current Bucs legend Garrett Jones.  The home run Jones hit on September 2, 2008 (it’s discussed in the article) was hit off RHP Brian Slocum.  “Sloc” was a teammate of Jones this season in Indy.  The last update I had on Slocum is he is out of baseball and concentrating on his barber business. 

 

 

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