Is this thing on?

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

Archive for the month “July, 2009”

The boss is watching

The Indians and Columbus Clippers hooked up for a wild one last night at Huntington Park.  The nine inning game lasted THREE HOURS AND FIFTY-ONE minutes making it the longest 9 inning game the Tribe has played this season and it fell only 30 minutes shy of the Indians 14 inning game vs. Toledo back on April 12.  The clubs combined for 19 runs, 30 hits, and left a total of 20 runners on base.  With the 13-6 win the Indians snapped a five game road losing streak and pulled to within 4.5 games of the West leading Louisville Bats. 

The Tribe played last night under the watchful eye of Pirates GM Neal Huntington and will continue to do so until at least Friday.  Neal is going to be with the team for this series and then head over to Toledo and watch Ian Snell pitch against the team he struck out 17 times back on June 28.  Huntington had to be pleased last night with what he saw from Indians reliever Mike Koplove.  Killer came in with the bases loaded and no one out in the 4th inning with the Indians leading 7-3.  He retired Michael Brantley (line out to SS), Trevor Crowe (strikeout), and All-Star Jordan Brown (fly out to CF) to prevent the Clippers from scoring and basically saved the game for the Indians in the 4th inning.  When it was all said and done Koplove pitched 3 innings (only the 15th time in his last 548 appearances) and picked up his first win as an Indian.  Neal Huntington has done a nice job of putting together the Pirates bullpen, but should they trade an arm or two, he now knows what he might be able to expect from Koplove.  After last night (his 33rd appearance) he is now 2-4 with a 1.56 ERA.

The other big story from last night was the continued power surge from SS/CF Brian Bixler.  He homered for a career best third consecutive game and is riding a 7-game hit streak.  He has 11 hits over that stretch including the three home runs.  Brian went nearly 230 at bats without a home run until he launched a grand slam in game two of Sunday’s DH with Louisville.  He has led off each of the past two games with a solo shot.  Maybe even more impressive than the recent power has been his transition to the outfield.  Bix was told last week he was going to be playing in center and that he should begin shagging some baseballs.  This is a move that was made by the Pirates in the hope of adding to his versatility.  As a matter of fact, when I spoke with Neal Huntington yesterday he asked me how Brian looked in center and he went on to tell me that he wants to see more of him in the outfield.  I don’t think Bix needs to retire the infielder glove just yet, but it may not come out of the bag on this trip. 

Catcher Ryan Doumit will be behind the plate tonight for Tom Gorzelanny’s start.  Doumit is hitless in his rehab and until last night hasn’t see that many pitches.  Maybe the GM’s presence had something to do with that?  Doumit has hit the ball hard only twice  and showed more patience last night than in his previous games.  According to reports Ryan must show Huntington that his bat speed is back and his timing is where it needs to be or he will continue his rehab assignment through Sunday.  Doumit is targeting a Friday return to the Pirates and that can still happen if he looks good tonight and tomorrow afternoon.  No matter what he does tonight, his teammates are grateful he is providing the post-game spread.  The players will be chowing down on some Buca di Beppo after the game tonight.  I never eat the spread, but may grab a piece of Italian bread for the walk back to the hotel. 

This is my second trip to Huntington Park and the first time we are staying in downtown Columbus.  That seals the deal for the West as the best in the league when it comes to road trips.  You can walk to all four parks (Toledo, Indy, Columbus, and Louisville) and they are all in downtown settings.  On may walk to the park I stopped by Ted’s for lunch.  Everything was really good until I received my change.  I was owed 8 bucks back and the waiter gave me four $1 coins and two $2 bills.  Wha?  First of all, I’m getting a little tired of the $1 coins, they are great for ball markers and paying up skins, but I hate having them in my pockets.  When was the last time you were giving a $2 bill for change?  I was giving two of them!  I was planning on tipping four bucks and the return change threw me for a loop.  Was she setting up for a $4 tip by giving me the $2 bills and aren’t they supposed to bring you bad luck?  Well, I didn’t want to just give back the $2 bills because that’s too easy and I settled on a $5 tip (hey, it’s per diem and it’s nice).  So I kept the bills and I hope they don’t bring me any bad luck.

two dollar 002.jpgAfter leaving the team for family reasons on July 4th, All-Star reliever Chris Bootcheck is back with the team.  He father is improving and doing better by the day after having emergency surgery over the weekend.  Bootcheck has declined his invite to the Triple-A All-Star game so that he can head back home to be with his family.  That leaves C Erik Kratz as the lone Indians rep at the All-Star game.  Kratzy is thrilled with opportunity and this is his first ever selection. 

I’ll have more updates after batting practice. 

7:00 UPDATE:

The Indians have made some roster moves this afternoon.  Tagg Bozied is now a member of the Indians after signing a minor league free agent deal.  Bozied was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2000 and has been in Triple-A since the 2003 season.  Pittsburgh brings Bozied (pronounced Boez-AD) to the Indians via Taiwan.  He was playing overseas before his release and arrived at the ballpark today at 5:00.  He told me it has taken a while for his body to adjust to the time change and that it felt more like 5:00 am than 5:00 pm.  He is playing tonight at first base.  Catcher Milver Reyes was placed on the DL to create room for Bozied.

Donnie Veal (0-1, 6.43, 14IP, 16BB, 13K) has finished his Major League rehab assignment and has been called back up to Pittsburgh.  After today’s game the Bucs optioned reliever Steven Jackson and 1B/OF Steve Peace to Indianapolis.

Finally, Brian Slocum has been activated off the DL and pitcher Brad Lincoln has been assigned to Class A Lynchburg’s roster.  Lincoln will not pitch until he plays in the Future’s game this Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.  

Oh, I almost forgot, after talking to a few people…apparently giving $2 bills, $1 coins, and 50 cent pieces out as change is something Ted’s Montana Grill does.  So now it’s not that big of a deal because I know it’s their thing. 







A must see Snell video and my All-Star ballot

Before I get to my All-Star ballot I must post a link to a story that Henry Wofford from WTHR 13 (Indianapolis) did on Ian Snell.  It’s pretty amazing stuff because Ian opens up about the personal struggles that led to his requesting a demotion.  Here is the link to the story and video that aired during tonight’s newscast.  Ian Snell is schedule to next pitch for the Indians at Victory Field on July 4th.

The International League will announce their All-Star selections sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Earlier today the PCL squad was announced for the Triple-A All-Star game that will be played in Portland, OR on July 15th.  I turned in my IL ballot on Monday morning and want you to see who I voted for and why before the team is announced.  My only criteria are a player must be in the league at the time of my vote.  That eliminates All-Star locks RHP Tommy Hansen, RHP Homer Bailey, RHP Charlie Morton, OF Andrew McCutchen, INF Oscar Salazar, and C Matt Wieters, to name a few.  So without further adieu, here is my 2009 All-Star Ballot.

C:  Erik Kratz (Indianapolis/.280AVG/3HR/20RBI/.335OBP) Wow, right off the bat a homer pick!  I’m always a little uncomfortable picking anyone from the Indians because I may take into consideration intangibles that I see on a daily basis.  This is not the case, Kratz leads all active catchers in virtually every offensive category.  He is having a career year and I feel he deserves a spot.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Lou Marson (Lehigh Valley)

1B:  Barbaro Canizares (Gwinnett .325/9/42/.390) I have not seen a first baseman come close to his production.  He was an All-Star a year ago and in my eyes is more worthy this season.  It could also do with the fact that in 7 games this season Canizares hit .476 vs the Indians.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Andy Tracy (Lehigh Valley)

2B:  Brooks Conrad (Gwinnett .259/9/38/.356) There isn’t a clear cut second baseman and Conrad has solid numbers to go along with decent range.  He appeared in 46 games at 2B and 19 at SS so I felt he was a 2B and the best of the bunch in the first half.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Seth Bynum (Syracuse)

SS:  Ried Brignac (Durham .294/4/21/.352) This was a tough call between Brignac and Toledo’s Brent Dlugach.  Durham is the only team the Indians have yet to play so I’m basing my pick on numbers.  Actually, I’ve never seen Brignac play because he was either with Tampa or on the DL when the Bulls and Indians met in 2008.  I went with the Bulls SS because he has far fewer strikeouts than Dlugach (27 to 81) and has committed 4 fewer errors.  Really, that’s about it.  It was a tough call and I’d have ZERO problems if Dlugach is voted in as an All-Star.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Brent Dlugach (Toledo)

3B:  Andy Marte (Columbus .306/9/42/.340) When the Indians faced the Clippers in early May, Marte was not even a bench player…he was a coach who was on the roster.  Then he started to get some playing time and the one time #1 prospect is having a great first half.  Marte is currently riding a 9-game hit streak, his third hit streak of 8 or more games this season.  HONORABLE MENTION:  none

OF:  Shelley Duncan (Scranton Wilkes-Barre .290/21/65/.367) Duncan is the league’s leader in home runs, RBI, extra-base hits, and runs scored.  If he was playing for anyone, but the Yankees he would have been out of this league a month ago.  He is the leading candidate for IL MVP.  HONORABLE MENTION:  none

OF:  Austin Jackson (Scranton Wilkes-Barre .320/3/29/.386) This is purely a numbers pick for me.  Jackson didn’t do squat against the Indians in the teams 7 meetings hitting just .143 (4-28) with 11 K’s in 28 at-bats.  He is my pick as an outfielder based on what he has done to the rest of the league.  Jackson is the Yankees #1 prospect and at only 22 is having a great Triple-A rookie year.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Drew Stubbs (Louisville)

OF:  Garrett Jones (Indianapolis .307/12/49/.348) I cast my ballot on Monday and Jones was called up to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.  This is far from a homer pick when you look at the numbers that the left-hander has put up.  Include his career high 14 stolen bases and I feel Jones deserves an All-Star bid.  Jones hit .333 with a .539 slugging percentage for the month of June.  HONORABLE MENTION:  John Rodriguez (Scranton Wilkes-Barre)

DH:  John Rodriguez (Scranton Wilkes-Barre .283/12/44.368)  After considering him as an OF I decided Rodriguez would be my DH.  He has played 36 games in the outfield and 22 as a DH.  For me that is too close of a split to push him ahead of Jones in the OF and he is suited to be the DH. Matt LaPorta falls short because I don’t know what position he plays.  I could have plugged him in as a DH and maybe should have.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Matt LaPorta (Columbus) 

SP:  Clay Buchholz (Pawtucket 5-1/1.90ERA/ 75K/80.2IP) An absolute lock as the starting pitcher for the International League.  Only a limited Paw Sox offense is keeping him from winning each time out.  The highlight of the season for Buchholz was back on Memorial Day at Louisville Slugger Field.  The kid who threw a no-hitter in just his 2nd Major League start took a perfect game into the 9th vs. the Bats.  From that day on he was making my ballot.  

SP:  Matt Maloney (Louisville 5-4/2.30/67K/82IP) There are some names that deserve this spot, but they are currently in the Bigs and that keeps them off my ballot.  I was deciding between Maloney and Charlotte’s Carlos Torres (7-4/2.41ERA).  Maloney earned the spot after I checked out his individual starts.  In 7 of his 12 starts he has worked at least 7 innings and has gone past the 6th inning in all but one start.  That to me is consistency and it’s what makes him an All-Star.  Now go easy on the Indians this weekend.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Carlos Torres (Charlotte)

RP:  Fernando Cabrera (Pawtucket 0-1/1.03/36K/35IP) Cabrera is 16 for 16 in save opportunities and has allowed just 4 earned run in 27 appearances.  The numbers that stand out would be him holding opposing batters to a .161 average and having a miniscule 0.91 WHIP.  Cabrera didn’t give up a run in the June having last been scored upon May 30 at Indianapolis.

RP:  Chris Bootcheck (Indianapolis 1-2/2.91/48K/34IP) On the surface this looks like a homer pick (By the way McCauley…THREE Indians on your All-Star ballot?  I know it looks bad).  Bootcheck has converted 14 of 17 saves including his last 11.  Like Cabrera, Bootcheck didn’t give up a run in June and converted all 7 of his save opportunities holding opponents to a .162 average.  Chris was last scored upon May 25 at Gwinnett having gone 13 straight appearances without giving up a run.  Norfolk’s Jim Miller leads the league in saves, but his overall numbers do not stack up to Cabrera or Bootcheck.  Besides Miller has only worked more than one inning four times in 30 appearances.  HONORABLE MENTION:  Jim Miller (Norfolk)

There you go, my 2009 All-Star ballot.  We’ll see how I stack up against the selections. 


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