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The Comings and Goings in Cleveland
- Updated: April 2, 2009
With just one week until they open up against the Rangers in Texas, the Cleveland Indians tweaked their opening day roster once again to make sure that it is just right. Their basic moves are that they placed outfielder David Dellucci on the 15-day disabled list where he will be until the middle of April. To fill his spot on the roster, the Indians recalled outfielder Trevor Crowe from their AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers of the International League.
Crowe has been the doll of the Indians’ farm system for some time now and they even made a few different attempts at altering his position to see if it would bring him to the majors at a faster pace due to the team’s immediate needs. For a while when he was with the team’s AA affiliate, the Akron Aeros, he was attempting to learn second base and even took practice doing double plays for basically a straight month until they decided that he should stick to the outfield unless the switch is really needed. Crowe has impressed many with his range in the outfield and if he is able to hit at the big league level as he did throughout most of his career in the minors, the Indians will finally have someone to help Grady Sizemore out with production from the outfield positions. Although he is by no means a large person, Crowe is very similar to Sizemore in that he has a good amount of speed and a decent amount of power, showing that he could be a very well rounded ball player.
Dellucci has done little during his few year stint with the Tribe to win over many of the Wahoo’s followers. Even though he has come through with some clutch hitting in very key situations over the past two seasons, the deal that he signed was too large for his capabilities and he has pretty much become a platoon corner outfielder. Even general manager Mark Shapiro will openly admit that signing Dellucci to that kind of deal was a mistake.
Overall, the Indians seem to have a pretty well rounded line up and no doubt look better than they did on opening day last year. With this being said, there are no shortage of holes in the team that need to be figured out. The team will probably have to wait a while to see what, exactly, is going to happen with some of the pieces that they are attempting to use to fill some of their perceived holes.
Tribe Signs Lara to Minor League Deal
With opening day just over a week away, the Cleveland Indians are still putting their nose to the grind and trying put together pieces of their team in order to fill some holes that really weren’t expected at this point. The Indians continued their love affair with pitcher Jaun Lara on Tuesday as they signed him to a minor league contract. Lara was originally singed by the Indians as an amateur free agent in 1999 and he has been all over the organization since then.
It took him until 2006 to make his major league debut and he has only appeared in the majors in two separate seasons. The left hander appeared in nine games as a reliever during the 2006 season as he pitched a total of five innings and compiled an ERA of 1.80. In 2007, at the age of 26, he appeared in just one game with the Tribe where he went 1.3 innings and gave up two runs. Despite the fact that Lara has had almost a decade to prove himself to the Tribe, and has not been able to convince the brass thus far that he is capable of pitching to their level, the Indians still see some promise in him and believe some of his best years may be ahead of him.
Pitching was not a problem that the Indians thought they were going to have for some time going into last season. At the end of the 2007 season they had a stable rotation with two players who finished in the top five in the American League Cy Young voting, and the player who led the league in saves. In 2008, their pitching blew up on all fronts as their closer could not enter a game without giving up the lead and they were forced to trade their ace because they could not afford him.
This will no doubt be an interesting season for the Tribe as manager Eric Wedge enters his seventh season at the helm. It really is hard to believe that he has been in Cleveland that long with all of the talent that they continually claim to have. While there is no doubt that he has caught some bad breaks throughout his time with the Tribe, he has also been given a longer leash than most major league managers could ever dream of.
Perhaps the best thing that could happen for the Indians on their home opening weekend is for it to snow because the last time they had to cancel games due to snow, they won the Central Division.
Tribe Trades Mujica; Sends Chulk to Minor League Camp
To make their problems in the bullpen more complicated, the Indians decided to get rid of another player who seemed to have a good amount of promise just two years ago. The Tribe officially traded pitcher Edward Mujica to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday and got virtually nothing in return. These kinds of trades are always astounding as the Tribe will receive either a player to be named later or some possible cash considerations. One has to wonder if they were just looking for a respectable way to send Mujica out of town.
The Indians also assigned reliever Vinnie Chulk to minor league camp despite having two roster spots open. Chulk has had a more impressive spring than some of the players who are still on the roster, so it shouldn’t be long before he gets the call to come up to the big club.
With just 38 of the 40 roster spots filled and still many question marks about the team, it raises the question of why aren’t a couple of players being given a longer look since they are allowed to stay with the club at this point.
The more time passes, the more it seems that a good amount of the Indians team seems to be in flux. The stability that seemed to be eminent for the club just last season, seems to have flown out the window. There is no doubt that the Tribe has some talented players, especially with Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee, but those two are not going to be enough to really get this team anywhere. Some of this is not the fault of the team’s management because it is know that a player who had a decent season one year was going to drop off the face of the earth during the next spring training.
Josh Barfield seems destined for a position with the team if not more out of his effort than anything else. Barfield has had trouble getting his batting average to the Mendoza line this summer. That’s right. Not getting above it, but getting to it. Even though this is true, he has made an effort to show manager Eric Wedge that he will play any position and never complain which may gain him a spot after all.
If this happens, one has to imagine that players like Matt LaPorta will be wondering how much more seasoning they need at the plate in the minors before they will be allowed to overtake a player like Barfield for a spot on the roster. This is not saying that LaPorta does not need more time in the minors, it’s just something to consider.
Bill Jordan is a contributor to BaseballReflections.com. He can be reached by e-mail at BillJordaniv@yahoo.com.