The 2010 Indians
The Indianapolis Indians 2010 schedule was released last September. For months I have know that on April 8th the Tribe will be playing the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park. There is a schedule near my Victory Field desk and everyday I’m reminded there will be an 8 game road trip beginning Thursday the 8th. Looking at a schedule and counting down the days is not enough to prepare you for another baseball season.
Last night I threw enough clothes into a suitcase to get me through the next week and I hope I didn’t forget anything. Turns out, I’m not the only one who felt a little rushed this morning. A few of the coaches walked onto this morning’s bus convinced they forgot something. Last year the Tribe opened at home and the week affords you the chance to get your feet wet and ease into the long season. This year the Indians will visit three cities over 8 days and jump feet first into this 2010 season.
Let’s meet the latest edition of the Indians. For the second straight year Frank Kremblas is the skipper and Jeff Branson returns as the hitting coach. The newest face in the clubhouse is pitching coach Dean Treanor. Dean has been a manager as recently as 2008 and last season spent the year as the pitching coach for the Altoona Curve.
RHP Brian Bass is an Indian for the first time in his career. A season ago he made 48 appearances out the Baltimore Orioles bullpen. Bass will pitch out of Tribe ‘pen this season.
LHP Brian Burres will be in the starting rotation. He pitched in Las Vegas a year ago and pitched in 2 games last year for the Blue Jays. Burres will start on Monday at Toledo. Last year in Vegas his teammates included former Indians Jonah Bayliss, Bryan Bullington, and TJ Beam.
RHP Vinnie Chulk was one of the final cuts in spring training. I have seen Chulk a couple of times most recently with Columbus. Chulk has good career numbers and will pitch out of the bullpen.
RHP Anthony Claggett was acquired late last season from the Yankees. Claggett can start or pitch out of the bullpen. He’ll go to the ‘pen for now. He is one of FOUR players on this years roster (soon to be FIVE when Daniel McCutchen joins the team next week) who the Pirates acquired from the Yankees.
RHP Kevin Hart is tonight’s opening day starter. He battled McCutchen for the Pirates #5 spot and will have plenty of run with the Indians. Hart will get his chances this year with the Pirates and had solid minor league numbers. The Pirates acquired him from the Cubs last July as a part of the Tom Gorzelanny deal.
RHP Steven Jackson returns the Indians bullpen. He has a good sinker, but last year didn’t pitch well for the Indians. He has big league stuff and if he puts it together this year will return to the Pirates ‘pen.
RHP Chris Jakubauskas is a starter and will pitch on Sunday afternoon. I am hoping he has a nickname or there is some way we can shorten his last name. CJ (how’s that?) pitched in 35 games last year for Seattle. My guess is he is starting in Indy to keep his arm stretched out as long relief insurance for the Pirates.
RHP Jeff Karstens pitched for the Indians late last year on a rehab assignment. He was dropped of the Pirates 40 man roster and will have to earn a return visit. I think he can do it. Karstens has always had good minor league numbers and I expect the same this year.
RHP Brad Lincoln has already been called “Franchise” more than I can count. The Texan went 6-2 last year with the Indians and pitched better than his 4.70 ERA would indicate. Kevin Hart may be the next man up, but Lincoln is the pitching prospect Pirates fan are waiting on. He will be in the Tribe starting rotation for most of this season. His first start is tomorrow night.
RHP Jean Machi had terrific numbers in winter ball. Machi had a 2.12 ERA in 13 relief appearances last year with the Tribe. He is penciled in as this year’s closer.
RHP Jeremy Powell returns to the Indians. The veteran will turn 34 this June and has plenty left in the tank. A year ago Ray Searage told me JP was the pitching staff’s MVP. Powell will start and pitch in long relief. He knows he needs to be the most dependable guy in the ‘pen because of all the different things he can do.
LHP Donnie Veal is looking to make a leap this summer. A rule 5 pick in the winter of 2008 pushed Donnie to the Pirates ML roster. He was not ready for bigs and when he made a rehab appearance with the Indians in June it was his first career triple A game. Veal was a reliever last year and will be a starter this year. His ’10 debut will be on Saturday night. I’m curious to see how he does for two reasons. First, he was one of the pitching stars in the Arizona Fall League. It’s not something to get all that excited about, but proves he can make the transition from ‘pen to starter. The major reason I’m curious is Veal had control issues as a reliever. It felt like every batter he faced went to a full count. You can’t have that as a starter and maybe I’ll see a different pitcher than I did a year ago.
C Erik Kratz returns to the Indians after posting career numbers in 2009. Kratz wasthisclose to making the Pirates opening day roster. He is not a prospect (and never has been), but last year he played himself into a guy who can help the Pirates. A year ago he went from a back-up to an All-Star and will open this year as the primary catcher.
C Luke Carlin is a switch-hitting catcher from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He played in 10 games with the D-backs. Carlin played for Canada in last year’s World Baseball Classic and while with the Padres he caught Greg Maddux’s 350th career win. How cool is that?
3B Pedro Alvarez is the best prospect in the Pirates organization. Do you remember the buzz surrounding Andrew McCutchen? Whenever ‘Cutch made a great catch or ripped a triple he would always get a standing “O” from the Victory Field crowd. Well, the hype surrounding Pedro is 10 times greater than what you saw with McCutchen. The fans in Pittsburgh are ready for Pedro RIGHT NOW and after watching batting practice on Tuesday, I can see why. The #2 overall pick in 2008 has a great demeanor and if you want to see him this summer; get to the park early. He may not be playing 3B for the Indians in July.
**this may be asking too much, but with the parks the team is playing in the next week…I say he’ll have 3 home runs by the time we get back.
INF Doug Bernier played for Scranton last season and will play all over for the Indians. Can I add him to the list of players acquired by the Yankees? The others came to the team via trade or claimed on waivers. Bernier is a free agent, but he does come from the Yankees. He will open the season on the DL.
SS Argenis Diaz may be the best defensive SS in the International League. Diaz played in 43 games with the Indians last summer after a trade with the Red Sox.
2B Brian Friday looks exactly like former Indians MVP Brian Bixler. Now before Indians fans get excited and Pirates fans look for a knife; I’m only talking about their appearance. Friday is built like Bixler and he was wearing #3. Friday will make this Triple-A debut tonight. Bixler will make his debut with Columbus tonight after getting dumped by the Pirates.
1B Steve Pearce is now out of options and it’s put up or hit the road time. He looks like he is in great shape and in addition to first, he will play some outfield. This will be the 4th year he will wear an Indians uniform. What more can I say? We know he’ll be solid at first, disinterested in the outfield, and hit with men on base.
UTIL Neil Walker is back in Indianapolis, but it’s a much different feel from past years. IN 2008 Walker was name the Indians MVP and last year he appeared to be on the brink of the big leagues. I’m sure that feels like a lifetime ago. This year the former #1 pick will play at 3B (once a week), 2B (once a week), 1B (maybe), and the OF (plenty). For good measure he brought his catching gear, but that’s got to be the last place he wants to play. All that Neil knows is he will play everyday. He just doesn’t know which of his four gloves to use.
OF Brandon Jones is in his first season with the Pirates. He comes from the Braves system and I have seen him in both Richmond and Gwinnet. Big time power and Indians fans have witnessed it first hand. In 2008 Jones BLASTED a home run off Bryan Bullington into centerfield pine trees. Jones will play everyday in the outfield.
OF Brian Myrow was the Indians 2nd half MVP and has led his league (PCL ’07, ’08, IL ’09) in OBP the past three seasons. I see Myrow as more of a DH and fill-in guy with the Indians. Either way, this team is better with him in the line-up. There are more priority guys on the roster, but you will have to convince me there are better hitters.
OF Brandon Moss was a late spring cut and is back in the Triple-A for the first time since 2007. Moss was an all-star slugger while with Pawtucket. Former manager Trent Jewitt (now with Syracuse) LOVED Moss. Trent felt like his power was unmatched at that time and his hands were a difference maker. Moss never did hit enough with the Pirates, but I’m looking forward to watching him play. From what I hear he is a great guy.
OF Jose Tabata made his Triple-A debut last year at the age of 20. Whether you believe that age or not is up to you. I can tell you the young man from Venezuela has been playing in the State since he was 16. There is no doubt he is more polished than a normal 21 year old. Last year I was impressed with his speed and ability to hit to all fields. He needs to develop power and he needs to develop that this year.
OF Jonathan Van Every is expected to be an everyday outfielder. Van Every was an All-Star with Pawtucket back in 2008. He clubbed 26 home runs that season, but injuries prevented a breakout 2009. Van Every and I have spoke once before…he was the star of the game in the 2008 opener. Pawtucket beat the Indians thanks to his play.
I think this can be a special year for the Indians. How about a line-up that includes Tabata, Alvarez, Myrow, Walker, Jones, Moss, Van Every, and Kratz? Of course you don’t win anything on paper and this is the minor leagues. It’s the Indians job to prepare today’s players for the big leagues. When they are ready, they’ll be plucked away and another player will step in. So let’s sit back and get ready for an exciting start to the season.
First pitch tonight is at 7:05 from Huntington Park. Kevin Hart makes his Indians debut against Clippers right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
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