Indians Continue Making Moves
- Updated: March 31, 2009
Starting pitcher Aaron Laffey became the most recent Cleveland Indians to be given the news that he wasn’t going to start the season with the big league club when he was optioned to the Columbus Clippers of the International League. At the beginning of camp, many thought that Laffey would be on the roster when the team headed to Cleveland, but he will at least start the year in AAA. The left hander has spent a considerable amount of time with the Indians over the past few seasons and many fans in Northeast Ohio have taken a liking to him.
Laffey was originally drafted by the Indians in the 16th round of the 2003 amateur draft and did not take long to sign as he was under contract with the organization by July 1.
So far, Laffey has appeared in a total of 25 games with the Indians, all of which were starts. He was impressive during the Indians’ Central Division winning 2007 season when he was called up at the end of the year and went 4-2 while pitching just over 49 innings. While his winning percentage was not as stellar last year, as it dropped to 5-7, Laffey did see his ERA drop from 4.56 to 4.23.
During his time in the majors, Laffey has given up 157 hits, 78 runs (69 of which were earned), 12 homeruns, 43 walks and has struck out 68 while hitting 13 players.
Laffey has been all over the Indians system since coming to them in 2003 and has shown loyalty to the organization by being willing to play at whatever level the Indians needed him to during his time in professional baseball.
The Indians are heading into the home stretch of Spring Training with just a few roster spots undecided. The starting pitcher spot is one that is really flexible at the moment with Jake Westbrook not available at least until the middle of the season when he is supposed to be recovered from surgery. This makes the move of Laffey seem even more surprising although it does narrow down the field of candidates for the last position.
Carl Pavano seemed like an after thought going into camp, but now it looks like he will start the season as the team’s number three starter. Conventional wisdom would put last year’s Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation with Fausto Carmona following after him.
General Manager Mark Shapiro got together once again with manager Eric Wedge to come up with even more roster moves as Spring Training winds down. The Indians’ first move was to send another player down to the minor league camp. This time it was infielder Andy Cannizaro who received the bad news. The team then showed they have been keeping an eye on the waiver wire as they grabbed pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu after the San Diego Padres waived him and optioned him to the Columbus Clippers of the International League. To complete their day of moves, the Tribe also officially placed starting pitcher Jake Westbrook on the 60-day disabled list.
Cannizaro has seen action in a total of two Major League seasons, playing in 13 games in 2006 and just one in 2008. In nine at bats in the big leagues, Cannizaro has two hits, five runs, one homerun, one RBI and one walk while posting a batting average of .250. The right hander was originally drafted by the New York Yankees during the seventh round of the 2001 draft and later spent time in the Tampa Bay organization. Cannizaro was a long shot to make the team at the beginning of the spring, but stayed in camp a lot longer than many expected.
Ryu has been both a reliever and a starter at the Major League level, although he has only officially started one game in the big leagues in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. After a one season stint in the majors with the Cubs, Ryu went to the Tampa Bay organization where he pitched in 17 games in 2007 and just one last season. He has thrown a total of 39.7 innings in the majors with a record of 1-3 while posting an overall ERA of 7.49.
Westbrook being placed on the disabled list was really just a formality at this point. He is not expected to return to the Tribe until at least the All Star break when he will hopefully be able to give a boost to a starting rotation that is being much more pieced together than the Tribe brass thought it was going to be. Westbrook signed a lengthy contract with the Indians after some very productive years with a low ERA in a Cleveland uniform. Westbrook recently spoke about how thankful he is now looking back at the day when he was traded from the Yankees to the Tribe.
Bill Jordan is a contributor to BaseballReflections.com. He can be reached by e-mail at BillJordaniv@yahoo.com.