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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Looking at Danny Salazar’s historical season (12.28.13)

Before the 2013 season, the last impact starting pitcher Cleveland’s farm system produced was Roberto Hernandez — then known as Fausto Carmona — way back in 2007. Every elite-level starting pitcher since then — Cliff LeeJustin MastersonUbaldo Jimenez, etc. — was acquired from outside of the organization.

That all changed in 2013 when Danny Salazar burst onto the scene. What Salazar did in his 10 regular season starts was nothing short of amazing. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.12 ERA, a 3.16 FIP, a 65:15 SO:BB, and 1.2 fWAR in just 52.0 innings, blowing away the competition in his first exposure to the major leagues.

Salazar’s start in the playoffs could have gone better — he only lasted four innings while allowing three runs — but overall Salazar’s 2013 was nothing but successful.

So what should we expect from Salazar in 2014? Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 28, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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Asdrubal Cabrera, plate discipline, and bouncing back (12.21.13)

Asdrubal Cabrera was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012, yet when Cleveland finally made the playoffs in 2013, the shortstop had arguably the worst season of his career. You can live with his below-average defense at shortstop when he is hitting, but after seeing his offensive line sink to .242/.299/.402 — only good for a 95 wRC+ — Cabrera ended 2013 essentially as a replacement-level player.

With mega-prospect Francisco Lindor honing in on a major league spot and Cabrera only one year from free agency, many fans are ready to move on from the incumbent shortstop following his down season. Lindor is not quite ready yet and should start the season in Double-A Akron, leaving the shortstop position free for at least a few months.

But who should fill that spot in the near-future? Would it be worth bringing Cabrera back for one more season?

To answer that, we should delve into why Cabrera’s 2013 season was as bad as it was. Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 21, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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Drew Stubbs traded to Colorado Rockies for Josh Outman (12.18.13)

Cleveland traded outfielder Drew Stubbs to the Colorado Rockies Wednesday in exchange for left-hander reliever Josh Outman. The trade was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Cleveland’s return was first reported by the Denver Post’s Troy Renck. Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 18, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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Envisioning Carlos Santana at third base (12.18.13)

With Yan Gomes established as Cleveland’s starting catcher in 2014, Carlos Santana has begun to work out at third base in the Dominican Republic. Finding a way to get Santana at bats away from the designated hitter spot is a good one, but one big question remains:

Will Santana at third base be more harmful than helpful?

The last time Santana played third base on a semi-regular basis was in 2006 during his stint with the Dodgers’ High-A affiliate. Per Baseball America at the time, Logan White, the Dodgers’ scouting chief, encouraged his scouts to target potential conversion candidates and this move was encouraged given the excellent results of moving Russell Martin from third base to behind the plate.

The defensive results for Santana at third were pretty bad — he committed 12 errors in 38 games in 2006 — but we know better than to judge a 20-year-old minor leaguer by his error totals. Francisco Lindor is a truly gifted defender, yet he committed 22 errors in 103 games in 2013. Plus, the Dodgers had Josh Bell — at the time a high-profile prospect — blocking Santana at third base.

So, did the Dodgers move Santana off of third base too quickly to accommodate another prospect? If Santana had stayed at third base, would he have developed into anything resembling an adequate defender at the hot corner?

We cannot answer those questions, but the more important question now is: can Santana fast-track himself into being a serviceable major-league defender at third base in one offseason? Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 18, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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Breaking down Axford: What went wrong and can it be fixed? (12.17.13)

Team president Mark Shapiro continually hinted that Cleveland would sign a reliever with closing experience in recent weeks and that prophecy came true Sunday night, as the team agreed to sign former Milwaukee closer John Axford.

The only reason Axford was available with three years of team control left is due to his struggles in 2012 and 2013. The right-hander posted a dominant campaign in 2011, but since then, the results have not been there.

The big problem for Axford over the past two seasons was the tripling of his home run rate. While that can be the sign of decreased velocity — not allowing a pitcher to blow fastballs by hitters in the zone anymore — Axford’s average fastball velocity has been in the same 95-96 miles per hour range from 2011 through 2013. Though he has given up more power against his fastball since 2011, that 2011 season was always an outlier; pitchers do not typically maintain a six percent home run per fly ball rate (the average is around 10.5 percent).

Where Axford has seen a decrease in velocity is in his secondary pitches. The right-hander uses a slider and a curveball to augment his fastball, and as the graph below shows, both have slowed since 2011. Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 17, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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Rejuvenating a brand: Ken Babby on the RubberDucks (12.7.13)

The Akron Aeros became the Akron RubberDucks on October 29 as owner Ken Babby changed the course of the franchise heading into his second year at the helm.

“The Aeros… had lost a lot of their fanbase over the last 10 years,” Babby said. “We decided it was time to rejuvenate a brand that had lost its way over time.”

I recently spoke with Babby about his plans to rejuvenate the franchise’s brand. In addition to the new name, we spoke about the community reaction to the RubberDucks, what is on the horizon for the team for the rest of the offseason, and what the future holds. Read More…

From Indians Baseball Insider, December 7, 2013

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in ZK. December 2013

 

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