Sunday October 2, 2011
Jeff P (Guest Writer – MLB reports): This was a long year for Cleveland Indians fans: From the acquisitions of Ubaldo Jimenez and Kosuke Fukudome, to falling in and out of playoff contention. The truth is that this whole year can be seen as one large accomplishment for the tribe.
The beginning of the year started with a bright future. The fans waited until June 27th, when the team decided to bring up one of their most hyped prospect, Lonnie Chisenhall. A little less than a month later, Jason Kipnis was added to the mix and the Indians started to receive even greater enthusiasm from their fans. The prospects were a large bright spot for the tribe, as 2011 was considered the hopeful end of the Indians slide of mediocrity (which lasted from 2008-2010).
Kipnis was a bright spot in the clubhouse, as August 10th represented the exclamation point in his career on the “Road to the Big Leagues.” Kipnis had a huge day, smashing five hits, including a home run and scoring 4 runs, leading the Indians to a 10-3 win.
The trade deadline in 2011 included a massive deal for the Indians as buyers rather than sellers, leading to controversy throughout Cleveland. Many fans weren’t familiar with the prospects which had been traded in the deal which sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians. Here is a scouting report of each dealt prospect:
Joe Gardner: Gardner is a left-handed pitcher, who is still currently in the minors. Gardner, 23, is known for his hard throwing sinker, clocking at 94 MPH. Left-handers are a true dread for him, as in AA, they have hit well over .300 facing him. His secondary pitches are inconsistent, leading to trouble, as hitters get used to his hard throwing sinker. Currently he is a reliever, though it’s expected for him to switch to a starter by the time he gets to the “Show”.
Alex White: White’s development has been strong to date. Some say his hard throwing sinking fastball, as well as his splitter as an out-pitch, could lead him to become a future ace. White, 23, throws not only pitch a nice fastball and splitter, but he can also throw a un-hittable slider across the plate. White is an innings eater, which is a huge part of his development. Start getting to know his name, because he has the potential to be a star.
Drew Pomeranz: Pomeranz has a nice speed fastball, which often leaves batters confused, with swings straight through the pitch. His command is usually very good, as he has a terrific arm. Pomeranz though needs more decisive pitches, as his only dominant pitch is his fastball. His fastball should lead him to become a successful number two starter, although likely in a few seasons from now. He also has a decent breaking ball, but not major league ready. With his performance to-date and size, there is no doubt that he will be exciting to watch.
Matt McBribe: McBribe is most likely the least-hyped prospect of the bunch. McBribe is a right-handed batter who hits for contact, with a decent power stroke. The former second-rounder can play multiple positions, and is developing at a decent pace. McBribe is only 20, but his future remains unclear at this point.
Ubaldo Jimenez: Ubaldo Jimenez came into the year as an all-star, a first half monster, a dominator. Is it so? Ubaldo Jimenez was looking like a perennial Cy Young candidate at the beginning of the 2010 season. However, all of a sudden, a breakdown occurred post all-star break. 2011 was considered a season of despair for Ubaldo, as his ERA ended at 4.68, and his win/loss ratio was poor. He still had a golden arm though and scorches his fastball right across the plate. Jimenez, is still a dangerous pitcher, which causes batters to continue to dread facing him. Even though his stats may seem poor, overall as a pitcher, he is far from a nightmare and a lost cause. With a full season coming up in the AL, expect a strong rebound.
Trade Overview: The trade was at first controversial, and still is, though to many it’s a clear win for the Rockies. The Rockies acquired four dominant prospects, who have great potential. The Indians acquired a hyped pitcher, whose dominance lasted for a few months in his peak. Now the Rockies have a robust farm system, as the Indians are left with an average farm, and a bad to decent number two starter. Ubaldo had been called in the past the next Roy Halladay, though many experts expected him to come back down to earth.
Looking at the Indians 2011 campaign: After the first half of the season, when the Indians seemed unstoppable, they started slumping. Once a slump comes, it’s hard to get out of it. The Indians were fighting to stay in contention, but as of September 17th, they were officially eliminated from the playoffs. A huge part of their success was Justin Masterson, who has emerged into the tribe’s ace. The Indians did struggle though during the year with injuries, which turned out to be a killer. At one point of the season, the Indians could barely find 4 pitchers to fill a rotation. For some time the team had pitchers starting with four days rest. Vinnie Pestano was a pleasant surprise in the bullpen, as his ERA maintained below 3.00. Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera were among the contributors in the hitting department. The Indians were in contention for much of the year, but poor performances from expected contributors including Ubaldo Jimenez, injuries, and long-lasting slumps, ended their season a few weeks earlier than the team hoped.
2012 Preview: A bright spot in the Indians organization is that their farm is filled with hard-hitting prospects. Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Lonnie Chisenhall, Nick Weglarz, and Shin Soo Choo, can leave Indians fans with smiles on their faces heading towards next season.
The pitching staff of the Indians is less certain, though they have potential in some strong arms. Zach McCallister, along with Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin, provide the team with a rotation built on youth, that could develop into an above average rotation in the wild central. The team also announced right at the end of the season that manager Manny Acta’s option for 2013 was picked up. Although pitching coach Tim Belcher will not return (deciding to spend more time with family), having the stability that Acta brings to the table as a manager is a great start for the team heading into next year. A lot of excitement is in store for Indians fans, and with a great deal of talented youth in the organization, can bring also hope among tribe fans.
***Today’s feature was prepared by Jeff P, Guest Writer to MLB reports. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter.***
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