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Real quick, here are a few Tribe related things floating around the net:


First up, a top ten prospect list from Matt Hagen at The Hardball Times:


Cleveland Indians


1. Carlos Santana: One of the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball, Santana brings solid defense to the catcher position and the type of power bat and middle-of-the-order mentality that could make Cleveland fans quickly forget about Victor Martinez.


2. Hector Rondon: Rondon's electric four-pitch arsenal is the envy of minor league baseball, but his tendency to lose focus and leave pitches up and over the plate will need to be remedied if he is going to succeed against major league hitting. His questionable endurance could be to blame in late innings. He is very good, but not a perfect prospect.


3. Lonnie Chisenhall: Sporting the swing and approach of a true professional hitter, Chisenhall impressed in 2009. He has a developing blend of power, patience, and contact skills that make me think he has a good chance to be an above average major league third baseman. An All-Star, though, may be stretching it.


4. Jason Knapp: Knapp has the ceiling of an ace, and the work ethic and smarts to get to that point. His high-90s fastball is his meal ticket, but the rest of his game lags behind. Watch for his secondary stuff to take a step forward in 2010.


5. Alex White: White is expected to make an immediate farm system impact in 2010. His tremendous repertoire will keep hitters off-balance from the get go, but Cleveland will surely be keeping an eye on his mechanics and control.


6. Michael Brantley: The plate patience, contact skills, and speed equal up to an underrated lead-off prospect. It may take some time for Brantley to produce like a lead-off hitter at the major league level, though, as I think he is destined for an up and down early career. Stay patient.


7. Alexander Perez: As a 20-year-old, Perez made a seamless transition from the Low-A Sally League to the High-A Carolina League. The key to his future success will be how his repertoire and talented right arm react to the added muscle that Cleveland will insist he put on. This is a key off-season, as Double-A competition awaits.


8. Nick Weglarz: Weglarz has his fair share of fans, and I know why they are attracted to him. He is a well-built power hitter with demonstrated plate patience to back it up. But his bat still has plenty of holes in it, and they will be exposed even further as he continues to face better competition. He often looks uneasy when facing top-notch pitching, which is not a good sign headed forward. He still has upside, but I'm more skeptical than most.


9. T.J. House: House is a likable lefty with developing secondary stuff. But, despite his youth, I don't think he has a whole lot of upside. I do like his odds to become a solid mid-rotation starter, though.


10. Carlos Rivero: It's easy to dismiss Rivero at this point, as it seems like he has been on Cleveland's prospect radar screen forever. Yet, he is just 21-years-old and has a clean swing that still has power projection left in it. Cleveland hasn't given up, and neither should you.




Lisa Winston at mlb.com is next as she discusses the ranks in the farm:


Influx bolsters Tribe farm system

Trade acquisitions, Draft class bring more pitching

By Lisa Winston / MLB.com


The midseason non-waiver Trade Deadline is always an exciting time for baseball fans as they watch closely to see what their favorite Major League club does, be it acquire a big-name player or trade one away, often for a handful of top Minor League prospects.


But in the flurry of the moves, few may stop to think about how an influx of new prospects might affect an organization.


No team got such an immediate influx of young talent within such a short time span in 2009 as the Indians.


Thanks to a chain of five trades, in which they dealt established big leaguers such as ace Cliff Lee, catcher Victor Martinez, pitchers Carl Pavano and Rafael Betancourt, and infielder Mark DeRosa, the Cleveland farm system suddenly swelled by a dozen talented prospects, 10 of them pitchers.


What people might forget, though, is that new players need to somehow be woven into a system that is already established, fit into Minor League rosters that are already set, learn a new organization's philosophy. And some of that new system's players may find their jobs impacted as well.


"It's a challenge," admitted Ross Atkins, the Indians' director of player development, who was kept pretty busy in July and August just making sure that the transition was as seamless as possible. "First and foremost, we try to determine what we think is best for each new player's development in every facet, not just where he should play but what he needs to focus on and what we need to do to communicate that to him."


Among the players the Tribe acquired via trades in 2009, two -- pitchers Justin Masterson (from the Red Sox) and Chris Perez (Cardinals) -- went straight to the Indians' big league roster, while the rest spent at least some time getting acclimated in the Minors.


Atkins, meanwhile, made a point of getting on the road and meeting each new player individually before bringing the entire new crew to Cleveland after the season ended to hold a mini-orientation.


"We had them learn about our values and morals, and talked to them about our plans for them individually," Atkins said. Atkins also made a point of updating any Indians prospects whose status was affected by the additions.


"I revisited each individual the moves directly affected, because there may have been changes that had nothing to do with their performance."


The influx of pitching has certainly given the Indians a more balanced system up and down the line.


"We're not heavy at just the upper levels or just position players like it was a year ago," Atkins said. "It's more balanced throughout now."


The lower-level pitching additions, in particular, have Atkins excited.


"Getting Nick Hagadone [from Boston] and Jason Knapp [from Philadelphia] and adding them to a pair of [Class] A ballclubs [was big]," Atkins said. "That's a pair of pitchers who throw 100 mph; extremely projectable arms."


Meanwhile, the Indians' 2009 Draft class also added to the fast-track group of players, as the team heavily skewed its picks towards the college ranks. In fact, every one of the 28 players who signed with the Indians, including top pick Alex White (North Carolina) and second-round pick Jason Kipnis (Arizona State) came out of either college or junior college. The team did not sign a high school pick.


Looking ahead, Atkins predicts that two players, speedy outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitcher Hector Rondon, could be ready to be impact players in the big leagues in 2010. The system's top prospect, catcher Carlos Santana, who comes off an Eastern League MVP campaign, is certainly expected to be a star when he arrives, but he could be another year away since the club is not going to rush him if it impedes his all-around development, especially on defense.


With a 65-97 record this season, the Indians are definitely in rebuilding mode, but no team did more to add to its coffers in 2009 in that department.


On the field in the Minors, the team went 382-380 (.501), finishing right in the middle of the pack at No. 14. Double-A Akron, behind Santana's leadership and bat, won the Eastern League title, and its manager, Mike Sarbaugh, earned Manager of the Year laurels. Short-season Mahoning Valley finished second to the Staten Island Yankees in the New York-Penn League finals.




MLB.com's Preseason Picks


Carlos Santana, C: Picking Santana was sort of a no-brainer, as he had been one of the best hitters in the Minors in 2008, when he combined for a .326 average, 21 homers and 117 RBIs between his time in the Dodgers organization and his arrival with the Indians following a deal for infielder Casey Blake. A switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate, Santana was known for his work ethic as he continued to improve his defense. It was hard to predict anyone else for the honors.


Hector Rondon, RHP: Rondon had just been added to the 40-man roster after leading the system with 145 strikeouts in 2008 when he posted a 3.60 ERA at Advanced A Kinston. Boasting a plus fastball with good life, offset by a changeup and slider, he was even more impressive the first half of 2009 as he dominated in 15 starts at Double-A Akron with a 2.75 ERA and 73 strikeouts with just 16 walks in 72 innings. Rondon came down to earth a bit in a move up to Triple-A Columbus with a 4.00 ERA there, but combined for a 3.38 ERA to continue to rank as one of the system's top starting pitching prospects at just 21 years old.


MLB.com's Postseason Selections


Carlos Santana, C: Did Santana live up to his preseason billing? Just ask Eastern League pitchers, as he earned his second league MVP honors in as many seasons, hitting .290 with 23 homers and 97 RBIs while showing power to all fields for Akron. His .413 on-base percentage led the system and he added a .530 slugging percentage and 90 walks, both of which led the league. Santana, who represented the Indians in the 2009 Futures Game, continued to work on his defense and has a strong arm and good agility for that premium position.


Eric Berger, LHP: In his first full season, the eighth-rounder from 2008 out of Arizona posted a 2.45 ERA in 21 starts between Kinston and Akron, moving up quickly through the ranks while striking out 100 in 110 innings and limiting hitters to a .227 average. He is a "max effort" pitcher, so it's unlikely his fastball, which sits around 90, will add many more ticks. He needs to continue developing his offspeed offerings.


Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.










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Mark Podolski at the News Herald writes that Grady Sizemore "can't be any worse than he was last season, right?" in a hopeful piece about next year. Sure as hell hope not!


Even though it was a lost year, Grady was on top of John Dewan's list of the best baserunners in '09! Cue the trumpets. No way I can get these tables to line up so go here for the neatly formatted look:




Who are baseball’s best and worst baserunners?

November 25, 2009


In The Bill James Handbook 2010 we analyze a player’s baserunning ability. For each player, we measure his ability to move first to third, second to home, and first to home in addition to the number of outs he records on the bases and how he fares in double plays.


While this year’s Handbook evaluates how each player performed in 2009, I thought it would be fun to take a look at baserunners over the past five years. We took a look at each player’s baserunning gain (stolen bases are not included) in order to determine baseball’s best and worst baserunners for the past five seasons.


Best Baserunners, 2005-2009


Player Baserunning Gain


Grady Sizemore +104

Chase Utley +96

Willy Taveras +95

Ichiro Suzuki +91

Randy Winn +90


According to this study, Grady Sizemore is the best baserunner in baseball with a +104, despite only a +4 in 106 games played this year. Think of that +104 as 104 extra bases taken compared to an average runner. Chase Utley, the only infielder on this list, comes in second with +96 and had an excellent year this year with a +27. Willy Taveras is slightly behind Utley, followed by Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Winn.


Worst Baserunners, 2005-2009


Player Baserunning Gain


Bengie Molina -106

Carlos Lee -97

Brian McCann -83

Yadier Molina -82

Mike Lowell -81


Ordinarily, when we do a Stat of the Week that involves catchers, the Molina brothers appear on some sort of "best-of" leaderboard. When it comes to baserunning, however, the two Molina brothers with starting jobs are two of the five worst baserunners in baseball over the past five years. At -97, Carlos Lee is right behind Bengie Molina’s league worst net gain of -106. Mike Lowell also makes the list of worst baserunners, and is the lone infielder in the bottom five. In 2009, Lowell was an abysmal -27. The worst baserunner in 2009, Juan Rivera at -35, just missed the five-year list with -80.


Interestingly, despite Rivera's -35, the Angels were baseball's best baserunning team with a +77 team score. The top five teams in 2009 were:


Best Baserunning Teams, 2009


Team Baserunning Gain

Los Angeles Angels +77

Colorado Rockies +70

Toronto Blue Jays +62

Philadelphia Phillies +46

Arizona Diamondbacks +45

San Francisco Giants +45


The Kansas City Royals were the worst at -97 as a team.


Happy Thanksgiving!





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I know you're thankful for Joe Pos. He talks about Grady too, in a future Hall of Famer article.


7. Grady Sizemore. Injuries and general woes wrecked his 2009 season, and took him off the best-player-in-the-league watch list … but I’m betting on David Wright to get his power back, and I’m betting on Sizemore to return to form. He’s just 27, and a healthy Sizemore is well-above-average at every part of the game except throwing … he’s a well-above average defender in center, a well-above average baserunner, a well-above average offensive player with well-above average power. There just aren’t many complete players out there, and only a handful who are spectacularly complete. Yes, I’m betting on Sizemore to have a rebound and be one of the best in the game for a while.


One odd thing about Sizemore is that his batting average has dropped each of the last three seasons — from .290 to .277 to .268 and finally, last year, to .248. He walks quite a lot so that has made up for some of it. Still, it’s weird. I suspect a part of the problem is that it’s hard to punch up a good batting average when you strike out as often as Sizemore (he has struck out once every four or five at-bats his entire career). I think there has also been this weird vibe around Sizemore because he was expected to be one kind of player (fast, scrappy, moderate power, Johnny Damon type, good defense, leadoff hitter) and ended up being a slightly different player (still fast, big-time power, good defense, leadoff hitter whose skills seemed better suited for the middle of the lineup — numbers through age 26 match up to Barry Bonds).


For a while, we in the American League Central would have a fun argument — who is better, Grady Sizemore or Curtis Granderson? Two left-handed hitting center fielders with power and speed. Both had rough 2009 seasons for different reasons, and the argument has derailed somewhat. Granderson looks to be on the open market while Sizemore has to come back from injury and doubt. I hope the argument re-emerges but both players are so likable. Sizemore has some edges: He is better against left-handed pitching (though not great) and he’s almost two full-seasons younger than Granderson.






Good find with the baserunning article, too. The Tribe looked unbelievably slow and gutless at times last year, but how nice would a Brantley-Sizemore-Choo top of the order look next year? It seems like I'm the only guy who'd like Grady batting in the 2-hole, but Choo just seems picture perfect as a #3 hitter to me. Like Victor with legs.

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GREAT stuff, CIMO. I'm loving the "Victor with legs" reference to Choo, BTW.


As for Sizemore in the two-hole, might be a good time to break out Pinto's lineup analysis. Now I just a did a quick and lazy look at last year's numbers and our current depth chart. Obviously, a lot can change and hell if know if Marte will break camp as our starting first baseman. That said, the optimal lineup, based on last years numbers is:




If you check that out, you'll see Choo at the top of the order in every lineup. There's a Hafner/Cabrera/Sizemore mixture batting second, Shoppach/Peralta third, Sizemore/Hafner/LaPorta clean-up and then the rest (Marte has a lock on the 8 spot).


Means little, but still fun to mess with that thing.


As for the HOF, one of my all-time favorite players is on deck and Tom Singer writes about his chances:


11/27/09 2:00 PM EST

Alomar eyes first-ballot Hall nod

Superstar unmatched at second base for over a decade


By Tom Singer / MLB.com

It is safe to say that if Roberto Alomar had only hung up his cleats following the 2001 season, he would already be in the Hall of Fame.


In 2001, Alomar completed a 14-year run at second base that was second to none: 12 consecutive All-Star selections, 10 Gold Gloves, 190 homers, 1,018 RBIs, 446 stolen bases, a lifetime .306 average.


He was also a key cog in helping three of his four teams into multiple postseasons -- the Blue Jays (1991-1993), Orioles (1996-97) and Indians (1999, 2001) -- after his debut with the 1988-1990 Padres.


But then, traded by Cleveland, he went to New York to become a Mets pariah and start a three-season spiral that saw him hit .262 for three more teams, adding only 20 homers, 116 RBIs and 28 steals to his legacy.


And even with that career sunset, there would still be no question about Alomar's imminent Hall of Fame election if not for a heat-of-the-moment lapse on Sept. 26, 1996, when in an escalating argument against a called third strike, he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck.


The participants long ago moved past an incident which continues to haunt Alomar, to the point of being a nagging sidebar to his Cooperstown candidacy.


"I wish I had a Hall of Fame vote because I would certainly vote for him," Hirschbeck recently told the New York Daily News, adding, "I have to say if the spitting incident was the worst thing Robbie ever did, then he's lived a real good life."


The inherent irony is that the regrettable episode occurred behind home plate, outside of the foul lines. Because, between the lines, Alomar had no peer as his generation's best at his position.


His was a Hall of Fame-worthy career, one which measures up favorably with enshrined second basemen.


The most recent -- Ryne Sandberg (2005) -- had 282 homers, 1,061 RBIs, 344 steals and a career average of .285 in 2,164 games.


Nellie Fox drove in 790 runs and stole 76 bases, Eddie Collins had 1,300 RBIs in 2,826 games and Joe Morgan had 268 homers and 1,133 RBIs in 2,649 games.


Alomar's final line: 210 homers, 1,134 RBIs, 474 stolen bases and a career .300 average in 2,379 games.


The youngest member of one of baseball's first families, the son of Sandy Alomar and brother of Sandy Alomar Jr. doesn't minimize the significance of this "final campaign."


In an interview with The Associated Press leading up to Friday's announcement of the official 2010 Hall of Fame ballot, Alomar said, "We, as ballplayers, when they mention your name, that you can be talked about being in the Hall of Fame -- if I get there it will be the end of the book. The greatest feeling of my life."


A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election, with leadoff great Rickey Henderson and former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice reaching that threshold to gain entrance in 2009.


Former Expos and Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson (67 percent) and former Twins ace Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent) had the highest totals among those not elected in 2009 voting and remain eligible for 2010. They're joined on the ballot this year by a group of newcomers that also includes Reds superstar shortstop Barry Larkin and Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez.


Results of the election will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6.










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Liking the sound of Carlos Santana. However, what are your thoughts about him developing into an everyday defensive catcher? From most of what I know or have heard about the guy, it's always about his bat ... and a good one at that. Smart at the plate, with bat explosion on solid contact.


What about his arm? I don't think I've ever heard anything about his arm in throwing out runners.

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It seems like the consensus is that he has a canon, but still needs to work on the mental side. Calling the game, managing pitchers, etc. Our man Tony Lastoria is always the guy to turn to for prospects.


Santana has been widely mentioned as just an offensive catcher, but he clearly has the work ethic and untapped talent to become a good defensive backstop. He showcases excellent arm strength with a lightning bolt for an arm, which is no surprise as he is a former third baseman. As a converted third baseman and outfielder, last season was only his second year playing the catching position, but he loves playing there and has grown into the position well by becoming more comfortable back there as the season went on. He loves to throw the ball behind the plate, whether it be throwing out potential base-stealers or throwing behind runners on base. He has a great passion for catching and loves to take charge; he is a leader. He has good hands, and is already at least an average receiver with the potential to become an above average receiver.


The Indians love his arm strength behind the plate. His throwing has not been much of a problem for him so far in his transition to catching, but his receiving skills behind the plate are still very much rough around the edges. The Indians will continue to work with him to develop him behind the plate in receiving the ball, calling games, blocking balls, and throwing out runners. If he has trouble adapting to catching in the higher levels, it is always possible the Indians may convert Santana back to third base or even put him in the outfield. Either way, the bat will play somewhere. But, at the moment he is 100% entrenched at the catching position and there are absolutely no plans to move him from out behind there.



Definitely an easy guy to root for.


And for what it's worth, in terms of just throwing out runners, he's listed as throwing out 24 runners last year, at a 30% clip, last year.



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It seems like the consensus is that he has a canon, but still needs to work on the mental side. Calling the game, managing pitchers, etc. Our man Tony Lastoria is always the guy to turn to for prospects.





Definitely an easy guy to root for.


And for what it's worth, in terms of just throwing out runners, he's listed as throwing out 24 runners last year, at a 30% clip, last year.




Awesome ... I did not know that he was so recently converted from third base. Although I'll question the comments about him being a third baseman and an outfielder so throwing from the squat behind the plate should come natural. I disagree, it's a much different throw ... although I'm sure he still has a cannon, I just wouldn't translate the positions that way. Catching is a rare breed ... hard to believe one could convert this late in his career.

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the thing about santana is that when they say that he needs to work on his communication with pitchers, they mean that he needs to learn english. this is the reason he wasn't up this year. he needs to learn the language before he comes up to the big leagues, otherwise he will just be working with fausto.

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the thing about santana is that when they say that he needs to work on his communication with pitchers, they mean that he needs to learn english. this is the reason he wasn't up this year. he needs to learn the language before he comes up to the big leagues, otherwise he will just be working with fausto.



Santana got better as the year went along in language skills.


He was a major league option in September according to Ross Atkins, Indians Big Boss of the Minor Leagues


Remember the Indians also got Lou Marson and wanted to look at him in September, Santana hasn't

even seen an AB or caught a game above AA yet in his career.


Bringing Sandy Alomar aboard to help these kids both in the actual mechanics of catching and more importantly the Mental aspect of the game is a very strong step forward in the development of both these players and for the Indians

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I disagree, it's a much different throw ... although I'm sure he still has a cannon, I just wouldn't translate the positions that way.



I agree. A catcher has to bring his arm more or less up to his ear and fire where a infielder can take more of a pitcher's motion and drop the arm below the shoulder.


As a catcher, never let the inside of your arm face away from the target.


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