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** OFFICIAL ** Cleveland Indians thread - 2020: Same crap, different year

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Waiting for Next Year chimes in on the subject

Yesterday, Indians GM Mark Shapiro spoke to the media and addressed what is on the minds of Wahoo fanatics like myself – the vacancy of field boss. Shapiro will be casting a wide net in efforts to find himself a new manager; a position he says will be filled “by the end of the World Series.”

Shappy and his trusty assistant Chris Antonetti have put together a list of 30 candidates, which they said they will pair down to eight to ten. From there, they will conduct phone interviews and narrow the list down to a final three to five, who they will interview in person.

You have all seen many names bandied about in the press. From John Farrell to Mike Hargrove to Dave Clark, some are more realistic options than others. Being a dyed in the wool, baseball and Tribe fan, I have put together my list of candidates who I think are the best options to lead this young club in 2010 and beyond. In order from most desirable on down, here is what I’m thinking:

1. Farrell – The current Boston pitching coach and former Tribe farm director is perfect for the job. Though ESPN had reported over the weekend that he had taken himself out of consideration, the validity of that story is up for debate. The guy knows the organization inside and out and is said to have a great working relationship with Shapiro and Antonetti. He would be coming over from a winning atmosphere and would also be an asset with the young arms. Farrell still lives in Cleveland during the offseason. Seems like a perfect match.

2. Tony Pena – OK, so he failed in his first managerial job in Kansas City and quit on the job. That is definitely a strike against him. However, as a player for the Indians and a field general, Tony commanded the respect of his teammates. Currently on the staff with the Yankees, Pena would offer something that is sorely needed with the Indians brass – a Latin voice. Sure, Luis Rivera was the first base and infield coach, but he was more in the background. I loved Pena’s grit as a player and he has received high marks with his time with the Yankees.

3. Rick Manning – I know this is a reach, but I’ve been banging the drum for Manning since mid-season. As the longtime Tribe color analyst, he knows the team like few others do. He is a former player and a Clevelander since the 1970’s. He gets the fan base and the community. One thing you can say about him is he is not afraid to be critical. I have no idea if Manning is even interested in moving to the field, but to me, it seems like a great idea. It worked in Arizona with Bob Brenly and in Houston with Larry Dierker within the last decade.

4. Bobby Valentine – So what if he just signed a deal to work with ESPN, that means nothing. You know Bobby V only did this to get his visibility back after five seasons of managerial success in Japan. While he can be wacky and abrasive at times, Valentine’s top skill is working with young kids and re-building programs. The question is, would Cleveland be high-profile enough for him? The fans, for one, would love him. Eric Wedge with the media, he certainly is not.

5. Willie Randolph – True, his team choked majorly two years ago in New York so badly that it set the standards for choking (equalled by the Tigers this week), but doesn’t he deserve another chance? Right now, he is being groomed to take over in Milwaukee when Ken Macha retires/gets canned. One thing you can say about Willie is that his players love him. Look back at his time with the Mets and as a coach with the Yankees. One player after another wanted to run through a wall for him. He has managerial experience under his belt, something that no Tribe manager has had coming in since John McNamara in 1990.


You may be asking “where is Mike Hargrove” on this list. My thoughts on Grover are simple – bringing him in is nothing more than a PR move. While he is one of baseball’s all time nice guys, a great in game manager, he is not. I still say anyone could have gotten to the World Series with the talent he was given during the great run in the 90’s. His last two managerial stops in both Baltimore and Seattle were considered failures as well. Want to bring Grover in as a front office advisor? I’ve got no problem with that, but he should not be managing this team a second time.

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Farrell has "little interest" in Tribe job

The Plain Dealer's Cleveland Indians beat writer, Paul Hoynes, reports today that Cleveland has been granted permission by the Red Sox to talk with Boston pitching coach John Farrell about the Indians' open managerial position.

Hoynes reports, though, that the "feeling, however, is Farrell is committed to stay in Boston."

The Boston Herald emphasizes the limited interest, if any, Farrell might have in joining the Indians. Writes Sean McAdam:

Meanwhile, for the third year running, John Farrell has turned down the chance to interview for a managerial opening. The Cleveland Indians, for whom Farrell once served as director of player development, wanted to interview him to replace the recently fired Eric Wedge, but Farrell has declined, the Sox said.

And, from a report in the Boston Globe:

Even before the Indians contacted the Sox to request permission to speak with Farrell, Farrell told the Sox he wanted to stay. Once the Sox received a request, general manager Theo Epstein scheduled a meeting with Farrell to discuss his future.

“Based on everything we’ve talked about, my strong expectation is he’s going to stay here,’’ Epstein said. “We’re excited about that. He’s an important guy to the organization.’’

Farrell’s close ties to the Indians made the Sox sweat. Farrell lives in Cleveland in the offseason, pitched for the Indians from 1987-90 and in 1995, and was their director of player development from 2001-06.

More names on list: Also reporting that Farrell likely has little interest in becoming the Indians manager is Jim Ingraham for the News Herald and Lorain Morning Journal. He also writes:

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti are both at the club's spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., conducting organizational meetings.

Shapiro said last week in his meeting with the Cleveland media that while in Arizona he and Antonetti will be conducting phone interviews with eight to 10 candidates for the Indians' managing job, and will eventually narrow the list of candidates to between three and five, who will be brought to Cleveland for further interviews.

Farrell will apparently at least go through a phone interview, although both Shapiro and Antonetti already know a great deal about Farrell, having worked with him closely for six years in Cleveland.

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You got the sub-title wrong, #1 should be finding a new owner.

#1a should be making the thread ***Official

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You got the sub-title wrong, #1 should be finding a new owner.

#1a should be making the thread ***Official

Hopefully, I made both of you happy.

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Farrell says he's not interested

CLEVELAND -- The next manager of the Indians will not be Boston pitching coach John Farrell.

Farrell, former Indians pitcher and farm director, has withdrawn his name from consideration. He told GM Mark Shapiro this morning.

"It's an honor to be considered for the job," Farrell to The Plain Dealer. "Especially for a team that I played for, my father played for and where there are so many people I know and respect. All those things considered, my desire is to fulfill the commitment between Boston and myself.

"There's no denying there is an intent to manage at some time. But I have a mutual commitment with Boston that I feel I should fulfill."

Farrell pitched for the Indians from 1987 through 1990 and again in 1995. He was their farm director from 2001 through 2006 before taking leave to become the Red Sox's pitching coach.

Tom Farrell, John's father, pitched in the Indians minor league system. He was teammates with Herb Score and Rocky Colavito at Class AA Reading.

Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, assistant general manager, are conducting phone interviews with "eight to 10" candidates to replace Eric Wedge, who was fired with six games left in the just completed season. The interviews are being conducted from their spring training headquarters in Goodyear, Ariz., as the Indians go through their organizational meetings.

The top three to five candidates will be brought to Cleveland later this month for further interviews.

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Former Nats manager Acta among the candidates

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta is one of the candidates to replace Eric Wedge as manager of the Indians.

Acta told The Plain Dealer Wednesday evening that he already went through a phone interview with General Manager Mark Shapiro earlier this week.

Acta also will interview with Houston on Friday for their managerial opening.

"I'm excited and honored to be part of this process," Acta said. "This team was only one game away from the World Series two years ago. They have lost some pieces, but I think things are going to be very exciting in Cleveland very soon. We are still very early in the process and I have to respect that process."

Acta managed the Nationals for three seasons before being fired in July.

I see he's brown-nosing already. :rolleyes:

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At best, or worst, a good or bad manager may be responsible for an extra 2-3 games for his team, or lose the same amount if he is clueless. This team needs players, good ones, or they will be battling the Royals for 4th.

I only see the WhiteSox being significantly better next season, so the Indians need to take advantage of a poor division while they can.

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LOL @ Rick Manning at #3 for manager. My goodness that is the reach of all reaches. I actually talked to somebody last night that knows him VERY well, and while we didn't talk about managing in particular (I just read that post now), we did talk about his offseason lifestyle and little of it includes baseball.

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Bobby Valentine a finalist :thumbup:

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Bobby Valentine, whose New York Mets reached the World Series in 2000, is one of the finalists for the vacant Indians manager's job.

Valentine, 59, it has been learned, will come to Cleveland this week for a second interview. He is expected to be one of "three to five" finalists to interview with GM Mark Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti.

Shapiro and Antonetti last week conducted phone interviews with eight to 10 candidates during the Indians' organizational meetings in Goodyear, Ariz., their spring training headquarters.

Valentine has managed 15 years in the big leagues. His last year was 2002 with the Mets. He spent the last six years managing the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. He also managed them in 1995.

The Marines would not renew Valentine's contract, despite fan protest, at the end of the 2009 season. They said they could no longer afford his salary. Valentine made almost $4 million as the Marines' manager this year.

Valentine managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92. He managed the Mets from 1996-2002. He has a career record of 1,117-1,072.

In Texas, Valentine had four winning seasons and finished with 581-605 record. In New York, he had five winning seasons for a 536-467 record. The Mets' World Series season of 2000, in which they lost to the Yankees, was his only postseason appearance.

Valentine played parts of 10 seasons in the big leagues from 1969-79 with the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mets and Mariners.

Manny Acta, fired as Washington's manager in July, and former Indians third baseman Travis Fryman, the Tribe's Class A Mahoning Valley manager for the last two years, are believed to be two of the other finalists.

It's also believed the Indians have contacted Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, but it's unclear if they'd have to wait until the Los Angeles is finished with the postseason to formally interview him.

Shapiro said he'd like to have a manager in place by the end of the World Series. The Indians fired manager Eric Wedge with six games left this year. The Indians went 65-97, their worst finish since 1991.

The only way I see BV taking this is purely out of ego. He thinks he can do wonders with this team. Maybe he can; I can't see Cleveland being the bright spotlight he seems (IMO) to crave.

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Manny Acta begins final round of interviews

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Manny Acta knows about rebuilding. His won-loss record has the scars to prove it.

Bobby Valentine knows about starting over. After managing in the big leagues for 15 years, he spent the last six seasons not only managing in Japan, but learning to speak, write and read the language.

Acta will go through his second interview Tuesday for the Indians vacant manager's job. Valentine will do the same later this week. They are two of what could be as many as five finalists to become the 40th manager in Indians history. GM Mark Shapiro would like to have a manager in place by the end of the World Series. Game 7 is scheduled for Nov. 5.

The identity of the other finalists are not known, but Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach and former Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly and Indians minor league managers Torey Lovullo and Travis Fryman were interviewed last week while the team was going through its organizational meetings at their Goodyear, Ariz., spring-training complex.

Fryman, former Tribe third baseman, could be a finalist, but he told The Plain Dealer on Monday morning that he did not know if he was coming to Cleveland this week. Fryman has spent the last two seasons managing the Tribe's Class A Mahoning Valley Club. Lovullo, another former Indians infielder, has spent the last four years managing the Indians' Class AAA clubs in Columbus and Buffalo.

If Mattingly is a finalist, he'd have a hard time getting to Cleveland this week. The Dodgers played Game 4 of the NLCS Monday night in Philadelphia. The Indians may have to wait until the Dodgers' postseason run is over, or they could visit Mattingly on an off day, such as Tuesday, in Philadelphia.

Shapiro told reporters recently that he'd have no problem waiting until after the World Series to interview and hire the right manager if he was unavailable because of postseason play.

Acta, 40, managed the Washington Nationals from 2007 until he was fired on July 13. The Nationals, generally regarded as the worst team in the big leagues, went 158-252 under Acta.

On Friday, Acta interviewed for Houston's managerial job. Afterward he told the Houston Chronicle, "I learned that rebuilding is tough, rebuilding is cruel and can be grueling, but those are the types of jobs that go to people like me. Obviously, you're not going to take one of those big-time managers to do some of those jobs, but we have to get our foot in the door. We did it and it was a tremendous experience and we can use that moving forward."

Acta was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. He taught himself how to speak and read English and has tutored many Spanish-speaking players. He became a U.S. citizen in 1999, while still holding his Dominican Republic citizenship.

He was a minor-league infielder for six years in Houston's system. He managed another eight years in the minors for Houston. He also served as third base coach for the Expos and Mets from 2002-06.

The Indians are heavily invested in player development in Latin America and Acta could help them in that regard. He's managed winter ball in the Dominican and Venezuela.

Valentine, 59, took the Mets to the World Series in 2000, where they lost a subway series to the Yankees. His overall record as manager of the Rangers and Mets is 1,117-1,072. He managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan from 2004-09. The Marines were one of Japan's worst teams, but he helped them reach the Japan Series in 2005.

The Marines would not renew Valentine's contract, despite fan protest, at the end of the this season. They said they could no longer afford his salary. Valentine made almost $4 million this year.

Valentine recently returned to the United States where a job with ESPN was waiting. His contract has an out clause if he is hired as a manager.

Fryman, 40, was in the Arizona Instructional League last week with the Tribe when he talked with Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti. He enjoys managing the short-season Mahoning Valley club because it still allows him plenty of time to spend with his wife and two sons.

The time demands would be greater as a big-league manager or coach. Fryman, who played 13 years in the big leagues, knows that, but felt it was important to hear what the Indians had to say.

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Bud Shaw: Indians could do worse than Acta

CLEVELAND -- Manny Acta's record with the Nationals doesn't recommend him, but a friend in the business whose opinion I trust on baseball matters emailed this week to say it was more a reflection on the team than the manager.

There were some questions about his alleged lack of fire and failure to correct mistakes in fundamentals. But to be fair, every losing manager gets painted with that deficiency these days as more players come to the majors without showing much attention to the game's finer details.

In a July column for the Washington Post, Tom Boswell (not the guy who emailed me) quotes Stan Kasten as saying the organization wanted Acta to be the long-term answer. The situation clearly deteriorated, with the firing of a pitching coach and the Nationals eventually made the move. The column gives you a look at Acta's situation, pre All-Star break

Acta is in town for a second interview today. The Indians are also believed to still be considering Bobby Valentine, Travis Fryman and Torey Lovullo. Valentine probably has the most box office clout but Acta's demeanor and experience in a rebuilding situation makes him the better choice.

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Acta's a smart guy, read some things he's said in the past, he knows the numbers aspect of the game at least. No idea about player mgmt or anything like that, but he'll at least be an upgrade from Wedge regarding the numbers aspect of the game, on both sides of the ball.

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Looking forward to CC vs Lee Game 1 in New York. I hope it happens. Heartbreaking, but still great.

Does anyone feel any emotion towards Thome? I'm still very blah on the guy....although it's been a while. I guess it's more of I'd rather see CC or Lee win than Thome not to win.

Edited by Bobcat10

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Acta makes his case

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When Manny Acta was 22, a coach from the Houston Astros looked him straight in the eyes and said, "You're not good enough to play in the big leagues."

Acta, from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, the birthplace of so many great big leaguers, took that hard. Then he decided to do the next best thing -- make the big leagues as a coach and manager.

He's done that, but he wants to do more. He could get that chance if he's hired as the Indians 40th manager.

Acta went through his second interview Tuesday with the Indians. He met with team president Paul Dolan and several members of the front office.

"Now that I've made it as a manager, my goal is to become a mainstay manager in the big leagues," Acta told Cleveland reporters after the seven-hour interview that started at 8 a.m. "I'd like to manage 20 to 25 years like some of those top five or six guys in the game that you guys know about."

GM Mark Shapiro named three other candidates for the job -- former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, Indians Class AAA manager Torey Lovullo and Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly. Shapiro didn't name Mattingly, but it was clear who he was describing when he mentioned a candidate with "current commitments."

The Dodgers are playing the Phillies in the NLCS.

Shapiro said he's also considering two other candidates, but has not interviewed them.

Columbus Clippers photoColumbus manager Torey Lovullo will get his chance at an official interview with the Indians on Friday. Lovullo, who has managed the Indians' Class AAA teams in Columbus and Buffalo for four years, will interview Friday. The interview dates for Valentine and Mattingly are fluid. Valentine, who spent the last six years managing in Japan, is busy with his postseason commitments on ESPN.

The Indians indicated there could be an interview on Thursday.

Shapiro would like to have Eric Wedge's replacement in place by the end of the World Series. He added that he's more than will to go deeper into the off-season if it means hiring the right manager.

Travis Fryman and Mike Hargrove, two familiar names to Indians fans, did not make the final cut. Fryman, former Indians third baseman, has spent the last two years managing the Indians' Class A Mahoning Valley club. Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti interviewed him last week during the team's organizational meetings in Goodyear, Ariz. Fryman was at the Indians' spring training headquarters helping out with the instructional league team.

"I came away, as I always do when talking to Travis, impressed," said Shapiro. "Impressed by his passion for his players and leadership vision. The more he worked into it [the interview], the more it was clear he has a desire to do it and will do it in an impactful way at some point."

Hargrove, who managed the Indians from 1991-99, didn't have a formal interview, but talked with Shapiro a couple of times.

"He's a guy I have an immense level of respect for and an appreciation of," said Shapiro. "I made the decision at this time, that it just wasn't the right fit for a variety of reasons.

"One thing I wasn't sure of going in, and it became completely clear to me -- Mike has a passion and a desire to manage again."

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PD's Terry Pluto on Manny Acta

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Can Manny Acta be a good manager for the Indians?

Who knows?

He spent 2 1/2 seasons with a franchise that is baseball's version of Devil's Island, the Washington Nationals. It's so bad that his first season record of 73-89 was considered a positive.

The next two seasons, it was baseball business as usual in the nation's capital -- a 59-102 record followed by 26-61 mark and being fired at mid-season. He was replaced by Jim Riggleman, who had a 33-42 record and may be retained as manager for next season.

The Indians are very serious about Acta, who also is a finalist for the Houston Astros' job. He certainly ranks ahead of Class AAA Columbus Manager Torey Lovullo, who is expected to be in town for another round of interviews this week.

How does he stack up next to remaining finalists Bobby Valentine and Don Mattingly? Hard to know. Valentine has a plush deal with ESPN. Mattingly is an impressive guy, but his coaching career consists of two teams -- the Yankees and the Dodgers.

You can imagine the financial culture shock Mattingly will experience if he ends up in Wahoo red, white and blue when stars are traded away -- rather than brought to his team as is the case in New York and Los Angeles.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Acta does bring something to the Indians that they desperately need. He is a strong Latino presence, a baseball man respected south of the border.

That is not reason to make him the manager. But it's a driving force to add Acta or someone like him to the new coaching staff. Baseball has a huge Latino influence. The young players from the Dominican, Venezuela and Latin countries need baseball role models.

When former manager Eric Wedge fired veteran coach Luis Isaac, it was a major mistake, but not for the reason some fans assumed. The Indians had bad bullpens with Isaac, although there is no reason to blame him for that.

But with 44 years in the Tribe organization, Isaac was the kind of coach who could help young Latino players acclimate to the big leagues. He was replaced by Chuck Hernandez, who simply didn't have the same status with Tribe players as Isaac. The only other Latino coach was Luis Rivera.

This is not about political correctness, it's simply common sense.

At the moment, the Indians have 11 Latinos on their 40-man roster. It's a safe bet at least eight will be on the 25-man roster. Having coaches who can speak Spanish is a huge advantage, especially since it's possible to find qualified Latino coaches if a team makes the effort.

Rudy Jaramillo is considered perhaps the best hitting coach in baseball. He is on the open market after leaving the Texas Rangers in a contract dispute. The Indians not only need to spend money for a manager, but also for top coaches.

The right coaching staff is critical here, where the team relies on so many young players.

So if the Indians hire Acta, they should consider Mike Hargrove for a bench coach position. Not because Hargrove is white and a team wants some racial balance or to hit a quota. Diversity also means having different ranges of experience on the coaching staff.

Hargrove has managed the Indians, Orioles and Mariners. Acta is only 40 and can be helped by the 59-year-old Hargrove. He not only understands the big league game -- but also knows how it is played in Cleveland, on and off the field.

General Manager Mark Shapiro said Hargrove is not a candidate to replace Wedge, but also stressed that Hargrove has the "energy and passion" to manage again. He'd be ideal for Acta, Mattingly and even Valentine because of his background with the Indians.

The Indians allowed Wedge almost complete power to pick coaches, and most were from the farm system and were much like him. The only one with major league managerial experience was Joel Skinner, who was an interim skipper for the Tribe after the 2002 All-Star break.

The interview of Acta hopefully is a sign that the Indians are looking not only at the manager's job in a different way, but also a new approach to the coaching staff.

I dunno. It seems like Pluto pushing a PC hire, even though he says he's not. :(

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PD poll as of 12:55 on 10/21/2009:

Who would you like to see become manager of the Indians?

Manny Acta -  7% Torey Lovullo -  2% Don Mattingly -  38% Bobby Valentine -  30% None of the above -  21% Total Votes: 4,228

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BV goes interviewing

This time around, when it came to hiring a manager, GM Mark Shapiro wanted to expand the search. He didn't desert his home base, yet he cast his nets as far and wide as possible.

The next two candidates scheduled to interview today and Friday at Progressive Field to become the Indians' 40th manager reflect that search. Bobby Valentine, who has managed 2,189 games in the big leagues and another seven years in Japan, arrives today to meet Shapiro, Indians President Paul Dolan, assistant GM Chris Antonetti and others. Torey Lovullo, who has managed eight years in the Indians' minor-league system, including the previous four at Class AAA, will interview Friday.

Former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta interviewed Tuesday. Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, whose team faced possible elimination Wednesday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against Philadelphia, hasn't been scheduled for an interview yet.

Valentine, 59, has managed and succeeded on the game's biggest stage. He took the New York Mets to the NLCS in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. As the Mets manager he had five winning seasons and a record of 536-467 from 1996 to 2002.

He also was fined $5,000 and suspended for two games for appearing in the Mets dugout during a game in June 1999 wearing a fake mustache and sunglasses after getting ejected. If he gets hired as the Indians manager, he may need that sense of humor since the Indians lost 97 games this year.

Valentine started his managerial career with Texas in 1985. Former Rangers GM Tom Grieve, an old teammate with the Mets, hired him.

"I didn't interview anyone else," said Grieve, a Rangers broadcaster. "I didn't even interview Bobby. I just told our president, Mike Stone, 'This is the guy.'

"I played for Ted Williams, Joe Torre, Ken Boyer. I've been around a lot of baseball people and I've never met a guy that knows the game like Bobby Valentine. If baseball had an SAT test, he'd score at the top. Bobby could be a hitting coach, pitching coach, base-running coach or outfield coach. He knows every facet of the game."

When Valentine first started managing the Rangers, they couldn't afford a scout to file reports on their upcoming opponents.

"Bobby bought two satellite dishes," Grieve said. "He had them installed outside the clubhouse so he could watch the teams we were going to play and write his own scouting reports.

"When we trained in Pompano Beach, Fla., the city owned the stadium and wouldn't build us a batting cage. Bobby went to a fishing store, bought the netting and poles and built the cage by himself. That night, somebody stole the whole cage. I've never seen him so disappointed."

Valentine managed the Rangers from 1985 to 1992. They had four winning seasons under him.

"You can tell how I feel about Bobby," Grieve said. "I love the guy, but there's another side to him. He has his detractors, but if you delve into their reasons, they are pretty shallow."

There already have been whispers that Shapiro and Valentine will never coexist.

"Some of his detractors are intimidated by him," Grieve said. "He's a confident guy. I don't think he's ever been embarrassed a day in his life. That can make some people uncomfortable. They don't want to hire someone they think is smarter than them.

"But if it's about, 'Who can we hire to be the best team we can be?' If that's what you care about, he's the guy."

Grieve said one of Valentine's faults is that defeat eats at him.

"He's a lot like Billy Martin that way," Grieve said. "It's not comfortable losing and being around him. At the same time, he has patience with young players. He can lead them, he can teach them and he can motivate them. He has more charisma than anyone I've ever seen."

The Indians are going to be young next year and no one knows those young players better than Lovullo, 44. Twenty-two of the 30 players the Indians ended this season with played for Lovullo this year at Class AAA Columbus.

"He's got experience with most of the guys projected to make this team next year," said reliever Jensen Lewis. "That's important. One of Torey's defining characteristics is that he's a great communicator. When you're out there playing, you know he's got your back."

Said pitching coach Scott Radinsky: "A lot of managers never leave the batting cage during BP. I told him he should go out in the outfield when the pitchers are shagging.

"A starting pitcher sees the manager every game because they're in the dugout. A reliever might talk to the manager once in five days because he's in the bullpen. It means a lot to those guys. I know because I was a reliever. That's a good quality of Torre's."

Friday's interview won't be new ground for Lovullo. He interviewed for the Dodgers job in 2005. In 2004, he interviewed for the baseball job at UCLA, his alma mater.

Lovullo, with 595-531 record in the minors, won championships at Class A Columbus in 2002, Class A Kinston, N.C., in 2004 and Class AA Akron in 2005.

"If the Indians are going to get where they're trying to go," said an NL scout, who scouts the Indians' minor-league system, "they're going to have to develop players and win at the major-league level. Torey can do that.

"He's gone about this in a processed way. He's driven to be a major-league manager and he knew he'd have to pay his dues."

If Lovullo doesn't get the job, he could be a candidate for the big-league staff. So could two of his coaches -- Radinsky and hitting coach Jon Nunnally. Every hitter who was promoted from Columbus this year raved about Nunnally, who is currently Caracas' hitting coach in Venezuela.

Columbus finished last in the International League this year, but had the best batting average.

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Bobby V wants to manage the Tribe

I mean, what else is he gonna say? :thumbup:

CLEVELAND -- Bobby Valentine has some catching up to do and he's not afraid to admit it.

Valentine, following his interview Thursday with the Indians for their manager's job, told reporters that after managing the past six years in Japan, he needs a crash course on the Indians, the AL Central and what he called a "whole generation of major-league players that I've only seen on TV."

"I don't know as much about Cleveland as someone interviewing for their manager's job probably should," said Valentine. "I could have crammed for the last six days, read every article and called every friend to get every bit of information just in case one of guys asked me who the starting third baseman is going to be next year. I didn't do it.

"I can tell you that I don't know about the American League. I don't know about the Central. I don't know about the Indians. But I sure as hell am willing to learn, and spend 28 hours a day if necessary, to know everything that I could possibly know."

Valentine has some other information gaps. Such as the growth of baseball statistics over the past four years. What do all those funny abbreviations mean, anyway? Not to mention what's required to police baseball's steroid problem.

Yes, Valentine has the longest and best track record of any of the four finalists the Indians are considering to replace Eric Wedge. The others are former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta, who interviewed Tuesday, Tribe minor-league manager Torey Lovullo, who interviews today, and Dodger hitting coach Don Mattingly, whose interview has yet to be scheduled.

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Pluto: Valentine is intriguing, but comes with risks

For the Indians, Bobby Valentine is a baseball wild-card.

He has spent the past six years managing Japan, and admits being out of touch with the American League. He claims no expertise about the Tribe's roster and confessed to skipping his homework.

He also happens to be the only candidate to replace manager Eric Wedge who has any success as a major-league manager. His stance seems to be: If you want me, take me as I am. I'm not about to beg for this job.

Odds are that he'll make a major impact in the dugout, either good or bad.

The former Mets and Rangers manager may turn out to be hopelessly out of touch with the American game, a guy out for one last big payday at the age of 59.

Or perhaps a driven Valentine can transform the Indians into a hustling, overachieving team that will be embraced by their hardcore fans. He knows the team will be young with a blue-light special budget, but promised he won't act like he's in perpetual spring training. Not at this stage of his career.

"I'm a lousy loser," he said.

If Tribe fans want something different, that's Valentine.

Even his critics admit that he is brilliant and innovative. He also can be ego-driven. He has a history of battles with the front office. Some of his players viewed him as self-serving. He appears to be the opposite of former manager Eric Wedge, who usually defended his players and the front office as if they were beloved members of his family.

But maybe the Indians need a guy who has found a way to having winning records in such diverse places as Texas, New York and Japan. Maybe they need someone who won't be wedded to strict pitch counts. Valentine vowed not to let anyone throw 160 pitches in Japan, but seemed to think up to 135 a game could be acceptable for some starters in certain circumstances.

Maybe they need a unique approach to spring training, one that would incorporate much of the strict Japanese methods. Given the slow starts and the failed bullpens in five of the previous seven seasons, a new approach is imperative -- no matter who becomes the next manager.

Valentine is the complete contrast to the other candidates being considered this week.

Class AAA Columbus manager Torey Lovullo has paid his dues in the Tribe minor-league organization, managing at every level. Earlier this week, former Washington manager Manny Acta was interviewed.

Acta and Lovullo are immersed in modern baseball statistics and the accent on communication -- speaking more of the language of today's front offices than what was heard from Valentine. The same is probably true of Dodgers coach Don Mattingly, apparently the fourth candidate.

Valentine proved to be a quick study as he found a way to be a success in Japan, not easy in a completely foreign baseball culture. He is fluent in Japanese. If he is hired, he vows to work "28 hours a day" to learn about the Indians and the American League.

The Indians believe Valentine can still be relevant and effective.

What is not certain is if Valentine truly wants the job, or if he will stay with ESPN next season and perhaps wait for a bigger market team to come courting. Washington also is believed to be considering Valentine.

Bobby Valentine to the Indians? It's hard to imagine, but it's kind of fun to think about.

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BTW, October 22nd is the 12th anniversary of Game 4 of the 1997 World Series where the Tribe beat the Marlins 10-3.

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Today's edition of the DiaTribe

Pull quote re: the next manager:

If you’re looking for a leader in the clubhouse (at least to me), I’m thinking that Acta looks like the most logical fit. While a total outsider like Valentine makes sense on many levels, there remains the idea that Mark Shapiro has created this new “window of opportunity” with the trades of this summer and that the dismissal of Wedge put him in the crosshairs of being the next on the firing line if things continue to go awry. With that in mind, what would the introduction of a complete wild card like Valentine mean? Couldn’t it result in Shapiro and a guy like Valentine not meshing with the end game being Valentine’s dismissal and Shapiro’s claim that Valentine never fit in, without the Indians getting a proper read on where the shortcomings in the organization lie?

The simple fact is that this managerial selection will have as much bearing on the future of Mark Shapiro as GM of the Indians as it will the longevity of any of these candidates’ future with the Indians, so if Acta comes with the credentials, the image, and the backing of baseball people that assert that he was in an untenable situation in Washington – enough to satisfy Shapiro that he’s the pick to win in Cleveland (with Acta putting forth the idea that he would look at internal candidates like Lovullo, Columbus hitting coach Jon Nunnally, and Columbus pitching coach Scott Radinsky to build his coaching staff), then Acta should be the guy.

However, that selection should be made with the understanding that the Indians’ Front Office is hiring the guy that they feel fits in best with what they have in place and any continued failures by the product on the field will no longer be able to be chalked up to deficiencies in the dugout, but up to the offices at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario as well.

Essentially, Shapiro could pull the trigger on Valentine and then blow him out the door if/when (more likely when) it blows up. It would allow him to keep his job. If he goes with Acta and they continue to suck, Shapiro is on the unemployment line...probably ending up with Steve Phillip's gig on ESPN. :popcorn:

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At best, or worst, a good or bad manager may be responsible for an extra 2-3 games for his team, or lose the same amount if he is clueless.

People really believe this? I'll give a hint, managing a major-league club is more than filling out the line-up card and making the call to the lefty specialist.Spare me the link to the Baseball Prospectus study. I've already read it.

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Given the finalists, I think Acta is the correct choice. And get some damn good coaches too. That's all I really have.

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BTW, October 22nd is the 12th anniversary of Game 4 of the 1997 World Series where the Tribe beat the Marlins 10-3.

no one celebrates almost winning like tribe fans
Charger fans should embrace this concept. It's all you've got.

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This is from about 2 months ago - it talks about holding varying members of the organization accountable.

Part 1 - Larry Dolan

Larry Dolan purchased the Cleveland Indians in 2000 for $323 million dollars; for his trouble, he has watched the Indians advanced to the playoffs just twice, a sharp contrast to the five consecutive playoff appearances that preceded his purchase of the team. On the surface, Mr. Dolan appears to be a near perfect fit for the ownership of the club: born in Cleveland Heights, he graduated from St. Ignatius and has lived and worked in northern Ohio for the majority of his adult life. At the very least, it's clear that Dolan purchased the Indians not simply because he wanted to own a baseball team but because he wanted to own a baseball team in Ohio. I'm sure no one needs to be reminded that this is an exceedingly salient point in any discussion of small-market ownership.

Despite these marks on the positive side of the ledger, it's time to take everyone to task. It's now been nine years of the Dolan Era and the returns have hardly been encouraging. Is it time to fire Larry Dolan?

•We sent a rational human being to do a raving lunatic's job.

Dolan is, by all accounts, a highly capable lawyer and businessman of high intelligence. I'm sure he can adequately perform some rudimentary risk analysis and I'm also relateively sure he can balance a bank book. That is, frankly, a bad thing. In baseball's current economic climate, which is not yet on trial, the owner of a small market team can only guarantee his team's success by behaving in ways that are wholly financially irrational. If Dolan wants to compete more than twice every decade, he ought to give up the ghost on this measured approach that he and Shapiro are peddling and go out and purchase a handful of all-stars. There's no guarantee that you'll win a world series but there's always a chance that you'll get a chance to rip the heart out of a squad of hometown stars from some sleepy hamlet.

•An entire organization has been infected with the disease of ferociously wrong-headed loyalty and it came from the top.

Fans of the Cleveland Indians' became acclimated to immediate success throughout the late 1990's. The perception is that nearly every signing or trade that the Peters/Hart era executed returned immediate dividends and there's more than a grain of truth to that. It's easy to say that the previous regime was blessed with some luck at the beginning and were able to parlay that into financial flexibility at the end. It might be more accurate to say that Peters and Hart showed Dolan, and everyone else, exactly how perfect a front office had to be in order to build a winner in a place like Cleveland. You can't whiff in trades, free agency or the draft, at least not very often. As soon as it became clear that Shapiro had holes in his swing (namely free agent position players and the draft) Dolan should've been making moves to suck Shapiro's knoweldge out of his skull and replace him. If your GM isn't near perfect at the beginning of a small market rebuild then you simply can't build a consistent winner and Shapiro was imperfect from the beginning, evidenced by the Alomar trade and the draft classes in 2001 (supposedly Shapiro's handiwork), 2002 and 2003.

Fine, though, it's understandable to give Shapiro, a holdover from the Hart regime, a number of free passes at the beginning of his tenure. Indeed, this loyalty seemed to be rewarded when the Indians burst onto the scene in 2005, exactly ten years after the last great Cleveland dynasty had emerged. However, the Indians' inability to consistently contend since that point (the late, great team of 2007 notwithstanding), all while everyone involved in the Cleveland front office and coaching staff seemingly stood around and told each other how great a job they were doing, has become simply unpalatable. Now, just four years on from what should've been the return of winning baseball to the shores of Erie, the Indians are entering another rebuilding process, largely because Dolan was so loyal to Shapiro and his methodologies that the GM was infused with the hubris to not make changes when things weren't working.

Perhaps Shapiro deserved Dolan's loyalty all along but the confidence in him created a culture in which everyone seemed totally confident in everyone else: Shapiro was supremely confident in Eric Wedge, Eric Wedge was supremely confident in David Dellucci and ESPN pundits were supremely confident that the Indians were contenders. The only person who didn't inspire confidence was Luis Isaac but, no worries, Chuck Hernandez made everyone feel supremely confident, again.

•Attempts were made to create stability above all else, a foundation on which the Indians can't afford to build.

There has been a grave miscalculation on the part of both Dolan and Shapiro as to just how small the margin of error is for a small market team in this era of baseball as opposed to any other and just how agile the organization must be in order to compete. The values that the Indians have adhered to since Dolan's purchase and that were assumedly coming from the top, things like stability and loyalty to both players and coaches, are the values of an old guard, old money breed of baseball. They are the sorts of things that the Yankees and Red Sox can talk about a lot because they don't have to worry about outfoxing the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Indians ought to have been more willing to be impulsive and even rash, to take bigger risks, whether they be firing a manager fifteen games into a season or deficit spending more significantly in order to patch over the holes in the 2006, 2008 or 2009 rosters or paying Ozzie Guillen a bunch of money to come to town or finally sitting David Dellucci down for good or having five games a year where tickets only cost a dollar. The only chance to consistently compete on the field or at the box office without matching Boston's payroll is to be so far ahead of the curve as to be pushing the boundaries of what is even socially acceptable. I understand that doesn't sound like a particularly rational approach or like a particularly appealing business model but this is the world into which Dolan purchased.

When you try to run a highly professional/stable organization, it makes it unacceptable to do something that might come across as unfair or somehow uncouth. This has never been better exemplified than by the outrage that local columnists expressed over the firing of Luis Isaac; Hoynes et al were just parroting what Dolan's regime had told them about the importance of a guy like Luis Isaac, of the human element, of keeping your friends close. In reality, moves like firing Luis Isaac ought to have been routine; the Indians should've been doing things far more incomprehensible every season, things that bloggers couldn't get their heads around, to the point that local columnists wouldn't express anything but a shrug over Isaac's dismissal and perhaps a comment to others in the press box: "What are they doing in there?" Dolan should've been cultivating a culture of mad scientists not one of polo shirts, pleated khakis and fanny packs.

To distill: Mr. Dolan, the perception of your team by both fans, analysts and industry professionals is one of steady-handedness, nearly computerized decision making and a maddening level of dittoheading surrounding terms like professionalism, integrity and loyalty. In short, it appears that you tried to run what amounts to a mom and pop operation like a Fortune 500 company. That's not going to work. If you're bringing a knife to a gunfight, the only way you win is if everyone else thinks you're insane. You're the Continental Army not the British: don't you get that?

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Joe Posnanski has some thoughts on being "unconventional"

So, I’m reading Why Does E=mc² (and why should we care?) which you will note is different from E=mc²: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation. I read that one too. It’s interesting, at least to me, that I have enjoyed both books immensely even though I still have no idea — NO IDEA — what E=mc² really means. I am so mathematically challenged. It’s ludicrous that I keep messing around with baseball statistics.

The reason I suppose I’m so fascinated by the formula — and this is something that the book I’m reading now does a marvelous job of explaining — is just how utterly counterintuitive Einstein’s thinking (and the various breakthroughs that led to Einstein’s thinking) really was. And still is. These bizarre concepts that time and space are not constant (and that they blend together), that there is no such thing as absolute motion, that mass and energy are interchangeable. It is literally beyond my understanding that if you could somehow travel at 99.999999999% of the speed of light, you could make it to Andromeda galaxy and back in 100 years — but 6 MILLION years would pass on earth while you were gone …

Like I say, I still don’t understand it. But some remarkable experiments back it up. Our world has changed dramatically and our understanding of the Universe entirely because of the way Einstein imagined the world. And even all these years later, it makes NO SENSE to the human mind (or at least to my human mind). It’s so completely contrary to how our minds have been trained to think and work, that it does not seem possible that scientists and mathematicians were smart enough, imaginative enough and (perhaps most of all) rebellious enough to find these brilliant concepts.

So … what the heck does that have to do with baseball? Well, nothing … except, yes, I continue to think about this whole idea of being unconventional in baseball. The other day, I wrote a column about Bill James with the core idea being that baseball teams can bury themselves by being what he calls “too professional.” A few people have wondered what he meant by “professional.” Brilliant Reader Stewart explains it this way: “Most people don’t really want to win at all costs. People will say that, but it doesn’t stand up. If you gave people two options, with A being to lose but look good doing it, and B being to win but have everyone laugh at you or criticize you for how you did it, people would SAY B, but really when given the option in everyday life will come a lot closer to A.”

I would take Stewart’s thought one step further. I DO think people would take Option B if they were GUARANTEED to win. But that’s an impossibility. There are no guarantees. And it seems to be that people are so afraid of Option C — losing AND having people laugh at you — that trumps everything. I think people throughout baseball would rather lose conventionally than risk losing unconventionally.

Like this: You’re a high school loser (or, wait, no, that was me). You could (A) not ask anyone to the prom and more or less go unnoticed, (B) ask out the most beautiful girl in school (the one you’ve had the crush on since the 5th grade) and maybe have her say yes and make you suddenly the coolest guy around or © ask the most beautiful girl in school and become the school punch line.

My guess — and my experience — is that C would scare most people enough that they would not even try B. They would stick with A and stay home and watch War Games again. Not that I know anything about this.

So it goes. I feel certain that if a team was absolutely guaranteed a pennant if they went to a four-man rotation, that team would go to to a four-man rotation. But unless Mr. Applegate comes along, you can’t get those guarantees and the heaping amount of abuse that would come down on any team that would fail with a four-man rotation* keeps everyone in line.

*Pitchers going down like bowling pins! Union grievances! Free agents refusing to even talk to you! Columnists and talk radio hosts calling for your head! Mass hysteria!

And that’s a real shame because it’s almost certain that if you got together a few bright baseball minds who were willing and eager to go against convention, to break these unwritten rules, they could probably reinvent the way baseball is played and win themselves some trophies along the way. Several brilliant readers reminded me of this wonderful piece by Malcolm Gladwell about how underdogs can win. It gets to the heart of things better than I am here.

But I guess what strikes me as I read about Einstein conceiving an entirely new universe is that if we could be so far off about something seemingly as fundamental as time and space and motion, how likely is it that teams are totally wrong about the most effective ways to win baseball games?

I mentioned Bill James again … you know that he said he could throw 10 wildly unconventional ideas at me right off the top of his head, but he only actually mentioned one: The off-the-wall idea that maybe some team (say the Pittsburgh Pirates) simply decides that they will stop scouting and acquiring anyone who throws 90-plus mph. Just stop. You throw 95? Good for you, we’re not interested.

I will repeat: Bill wasn’t saying a team should actually do this. He was saying that a team COULD do this, though. I mean, seriously, what would happen? Let’s run a little thought experiment: You’re running the Pirates. And let’s say this was true:

50% of all potential big league pitchers who throw 95 mph will be good big league pitchers.

2% of all potential big league pitchers who throw 83 mph will be good big league pitchers.

I’m sure those percentages are way skewed — no way that half the 95-mph throwers are good big league pitchers, and I have no way of knowing about the 2%. But you can fill in any number you want … the point is we say there are 100 potential pitchers who throw 95, and in this scenario 50 of them will be good pitchers. OK, well, you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates. How many of those 50 do you think you’re going to get? You are competing against 29 other teams that also want guys who can light up the radar gun. The vast majority of those 29 teams have more resources than you do, more scouts poking and prodding those prospects, more money to sign them, more clout to draw them in, more status among players and their families and their agents.

So — my guess? You’re not getting any of those 50. Zero. Oh, you might get some of the 95-mph throwers who WILL NOT be good big league pitchers. And, sure, there’s a chance you could luck into one. But it would take luck. Best bet: A big fat zero.

No, look at the other side. There is much larger pool of pitchers to pick from who top out at 83 mph, or 81 or whatever. Say there are 500 of those. By this formula, 2 percent of them could pitch effectively in the big leagues — that would be 10 pitchers (maybe you don’t believe ANY of them will be good … we’ll get to that in a second). Now, you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates — what are the chances you would get any of those 10?

Well, again, I’m guessing here: But my feeling is that if you have decided to just stop looking at the 95 mph guys and focused ALL YOUR ENERGIES on these slow-throwing guys, well, I think the chances are pretty good that you would get some, most or even all of those 10 pitchers. Why? Because, generally speaking, other teams are not investing much effort in scouting people who top out at 83. They are not scouting those players, they are not making much effort sign those players, they’re not spending draft picks on those players. They simply do not VALUE those players. if you focus all of your effort on it — and you believe in what you’re doing — you will probably figure out which of those slow-throwers has the command, quirkiness, control or movement necessary to get big leaguers out. And if you choose to value command and quirkiness and control and utterly devalue the radar gun, you should be able to corner that market.

Now, there would be people who would say this is a pointless market to corner — that 83 mph pitchers is a dry well. Maybe that’s true. But MAYBE it’s not true. Maybe you can find a cool study that suggests an 83-mph fastball down and away is just as effective a pitch as an 94-mph fastball down and away. Maybe you can point to a collection of ineffective pitchers who can throw really hard (Exhibit A: The Kansas City Royals bullpen) and conclude that speed isn’t all that compelling when it comes to getting out big league hitters. Maybe you would do the math and find that the best slow-throwers would make a better staff than one filled with bottom-third hard-throwers.

Maybe. Look, this is only one idea, and nobody (and especially not Bill) is saying it’s a great idea. But what the heck, it COULD work. And if over the last decade you are the Pirates, the Royals, the Nationals, the Reds, the Orioles … what has worked for you?

One idea. I brought up the other day this idea of building a team of great defenders with absolutely no concern whatsoever for their hitting. Seattle has tried something like this, and it has worked surprisingly well. The Mariners can’t hit a lick, but defensively they are 77-runs better than average according to the Dewan, and they are still above .500 despite scoring the fewest runs in the American League (and only San Diego has scored fewer runs in baseball). What if you took this idea up another notch, and tried to get 100 runs better than average. Or 150 runs better than average. What if you simply found great defensive players at every position? I don’t know. What?*

*Not to bring the Royals back into this … but apparently the Royals have gone on a full-fledged assault to try and win left fielder David DeJesus a Gold Glove. I mean, my friend and Royals TV announcer Ryan Lefebvre talks about this EVERY NIGHT now. They actually had a text poll asking Royals fans who is the best Royals outfielder this decade — DeJesus, Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye or Johnny Damon (and in one of the sadder moments in Royals fan history, DeJesus won). Royals PR guy Mike Swanson is sending out fliers to managers and coaches pushing David as a Gold Glove candidate. Dick Kaegel at is writing about it.

I don’t know: This whole thing just makes me sad. I would say that David DeJesus is a good left fielder. He makes a lot of nice plays. And he doesn’t have an error, which is nice. Yes, the Dewan plus/minus has him at exactly 0 and ranks him the 15th best left fielder in baseball, making him as average as average can be. But his UZR is quite good — plus-11.8 run — and ranks him third in the league. From my own observation (not that my own observation means much), the UZR tells a fair story; he’s a good left fielder. And anyway, managers and coaches don’t look at all that Dewan and UZR stuff. And when you compare him to every other fielder on the worst-fielding team in baseball, yes, he looks positively Yaz-like out there.

But we all know that:

1. Left fielders almost never win Gold Gloves. Nor should they in the current system — left fielders are there almost exclusively because they aren’t as good defensively as the center fielder and can’t throw as well as the right fielder. The last American League left fielder to win a Gold Glove was Rickey Henderson in the strike year of 1981. That would be 1981. That would be when David DeJesus was 2.

2. He’s in left field because he wasn’t good enough to play center.

3. He’s unquestionably not even the best left fielder in the league — NOBODY would rank him ahead of Carl Crawford. Nobody. I mean NOBODY. Please. NOBODY could watch those two guys play and say “Oh yeah, DeJesus is better.” NOBODY. I mean it. And Carl Crawford has NEVER WON A GOLD GLOVE. OK? The defense rests. Court is adjourned. Thanks for coming.

So, how in the heck is he going to win a Gold Glove? If they gave out TEN American League Gold Gloves to outfielders, he wouldn’t get one. And he wouldn’t deserve one. I do appreciate that we’re in the dwindling days of a lost Kansas City season. And I like David DeJesus. And look, there’s no harm in trying to win a likable player an award. But this just seems about as productive as mowing your driveway. Focus all your energies and Greinke and the Cy Young — that’s the one thing that should happen and could bring some brightness to this dark season.

One idea. Hire Bill James. It’s interesting, several people made the point (a couple of people made it rather angrily in fact) that if Bill spends so much time thinking about how to be unconventional and beat the system then why does he work for the Boston Red Sox, a rich team that doesn’t need to beat the system. It’s interesting because Bill made the EXACT SAME point during the game we were watching. “In many ways,” he said, “I work for exactly the sort of team that doesn’t need me.”

Here’s why he works for the the Boston Red Sox: They hired him. They were smart enough to do that. They were smart enough to believe his voice could help make them better. It wasn’t like there were 30 teams banging on his door. Bill James has lived 40 miles from Kauffman Stadium since the park opened, and he probably was the most prominent Royals fan in America until Rush Limbaugh because Rush Limbaugh, and he was reinventing the game. And when things started to go bad for the Royals, they didn’t hire him to be GM or assistant GM or some whole new position. All these teams that NEEDED the ideas of Bill James and NEED them still … well they were afraid to get laughed at. And they stayed home on prom day.

One idea: Dump the five tools as a scouting device. Just dump them. Create a whole new way of scouting players. This was some of the thinking behind the famed 2002 Moneyball draft — which made up some very entertaining pages. You might remember the A’s drafted Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, Ben Fritz, Jeremy Brown, Stephen Obenchain and Mark Teahen in the first round.

Now, so much was made of the A’s taking Jeremy Brown in the first round — you will remember him as the fat catcher from Alabama — that it has gone fairly unnoticed that A’s actually did quite sensationally with their picks. Nick Swisher has a career 114 OPS+ and, if you prefer more solid numbers you can say that this will be his fourth consecutive season with at least 22 homers, 80 walks, and probably 80 runs. Will he become the star he flashed in 2006 when he hit 35 homers, walked 97 times, drove in 95 runs and scored 100? Maybe not. But he was taken 16th overall and he’s the best every day player taken from that point until the end of the first round.

Blanton is a very solid pitcher … and I’ll just admit it, better than I thought. I expected him to get beat up in Philadelphia. He has a very solid 3.77 ERA, and he has been sensational since the end of May (7-3, 2.49 ERA, 94 Ks, 25 walks). True, Matt Cain was the very next pick … and Cain is a better pitcher. But Cain was a high school pitcher, and the A’s had determined that high school pitchers were too big a risk for them to take. I’ve always thought that was a bit misunderstood too: Billy Beane was not saying that high school pitchers would never become stars. What he was saying was that the risk of taking a high school pitcher was too great for a team that did not have the resources to gamble. What he was saying was that the A’s did not claim to have the supernatural powers to predict which high school pitcher (or player, for that matter) would be good four or five or six years into the future.

The next four high school players selected after Cain were Sergio Santos, John Mayberry (who did not sign), Greg Miller and Matt Whitney. And that’s the point.

Ben Fritz, Jeremy Brown and Stephen Obenchain did not pan out for various reasons. But Mark Teahen is a pretty good big league baseball player — the best selected in the final 15 picks of the first round. To get three every day players in the first round of a draft is remarkable. And it’s especially remarkable when the team doesn’t pick until the 16th overall pick.

Point is: The A’s really did have success by going against conventional wisdom on scouting. But another team could take it even deeper I think. Break some eggs. Destroy some traditions. Throw stuff against the wall. I think a few brilliant readers made the point very well: Even the stuff that people call “unconventional” in baseball is really tame stuff like hitting the pitcher eighth or using your closer for two innings or hitting away with a tie score in the ninth and a man on first. That stuff is really barely coloring outside the lines.

Why not try the four-man rotation again? It worked for a long, long time. Even long relievers pitch on three days rest all time? Why not try it?

Why not try a 10-man pitching staff? Give yourself an actual bench, give the manager a chance to go with real platoons, give yourself more of a chance to match up on the OFFENSIVE side rather than the DEFENSIVE side.

Why not hit your best hitters second and fourth because certain well-formed statistics show those are more important spots in the batting order than third? Why not dedicate your entire organization to being the best in all of baseball at one small thing like going first to third and second to home (like the Angels do) or throwing strikes (like the Twins do)?*

*Another ridiculous aside but: I love the fact that year-in, year-out the St. Louis Cardinals have excellent fielding pitchers.

Dewan Defensive runs saved by Cardinals pitchers

2004: 19

2005: 17

2006: 7

2007: 12

2008: 3

2009: 7

And runs saved by Baltimore pitchers over the same few years.

2004: minus-14

2005: minus-12

2006: 0

2007: minus-11

2008: minus-13

2009: 6

What does this actually mean? I have no idea. Maybe nothing. But I like it … I’m moved by the fact that it is important to the Cardinals that their pitchers field their position well and it hasn’t meant squat to the Orioles. The Cardinals have won a lot of games over those years.

None of these ideas that I’m mentioning are particularly unconventional. A team could play a four-man outfield or a five-man infield. A team could insist that every single one of their players switch-hit. A team could create a team where the shortstop would come into pitch when necessary and the pitcher would go to short, like in little league. A team could do all sorts of crazy and interesting things in an effort to beat the stacked odds.

And … I wish a team would. I fully appreciate that there has only been one Albert Einstein … and nobody running a baseball team would be confused for him. But just reading more about him and his universe-shaking formula reminds me once again: We really don’t know much about anything. The things that baseball people accept as certain truth almost certainly is NOT certain truth. You wish these small-market GMs who have been stuck in this spiral of losing for so long would take a chance, break away, try stuff that will shock the system.

Or as another genius Jerry Seinfeld once told George Castanza: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

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Tim Belcher - new pitching coach

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tim Belcher is the Cleveland Indians' new pitching coach under first-year manager Manny Acta.

Belcher, 48, has served the Indians as a special assistant to the baseball operations department for the last eight years. He will replace Carl Willis, who was fired along with manager Eric Wedge and the rest of his coaching staff on Sept. 30.

In 14 big-league seasons, the native of Sparta, Ohio, went 146-140 with 4.16 ERA. Belcher pitched with seven big league teams, winning 10 or more games in nine seasons.

As a special assistant, Belcher worked with the Indians player development system in instructing and evaluating pitching talent at every level in the minor league system. He also scouted other teams, providing advance scouting reports for the last several years for the Tribe's big-league coaching staff.

Belcher pitched at Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio and was the No.1 pick in the 1983 draft by the Minnesota Twins. He did not sign and was the No.1 pick of the Yankees in the now defunct secondary phase of the draft in January of 1984.

Dyslexic newborn monkey >>>>> Carl Willis. :shock:

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Shelton is the coach we'll probably miss most. Willis, meh I guess. But, you get rid of the manager, you get rid of 'em all. Skinner too I assume?

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Radinsky, Tolman and Smith join Belcher on Acta's staff.

Cleveland Indians name Scott Radinsky, Tim Tolman and Steve Smith to Manny Acta's coaching staffBy Paul Hoynes, The Plain Dealer November 16, 2009, 11:36AMCLEVELAND, Ohio -- Manager Manny Acta's coaching staff is starting to take shape.The Indians today announced the signings of bullpen coach Scott Radinsky, bench coach Tim Tolman and third base/infield coach Steve Smith. Pitching coach Tim Belcher was signed last week.Radinksy, a former big-league reliever, has been the Indians Class AAA pitching coach for the last three years. He has coached in the Indians system for the last six years. He made 557 relief appearances over an 11-year big league career.Tolman, a former big league outfielder, was on Acta's staff in 2007 and 2008 in Washington. Last season he was Seattle's minor league coordinator of instruction. He was the Indians minor league field coordinator from 2003 through 2006. He managed Acta in Houston's minor league system.Smith has coached third base for Seattle (1996 through 1999), Texas (2000-2006) and Philadelphia (2007-2008).

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Sandy talked his way back to Cleveland

Sandy Alomar Jr.Sandy Alomar Jr. really wanted to return to Cleveland.

The Mets offered him a job to coach first base and instruct their catchers on Jerry Manuel's big-league staff. Last week, General Manager Omar Minaya seemed certain Alomar would accept that job and remain in New York, where he'd been the catching instructor for the past two years.

Tuesday, however, the Indians announced Alomar would be new manager Manny Acta's first base coach. How did it happen?

"This developed over the last week," said Alomar, speaking to Cleveland reporters Wednesday on a conference call. "I talked to Omar relentlessly. At first he was skeptical, but I was persistent. When he gave me the opportunity to talk to the Indians, he knew I wasn't coming back."

Said Indians GM Mark Shapiro: "I think Sandy was emphatic about his interest to join us. Omar remained open to it. Ultimately, he understood Sandy's unique ties to the Indians."

Alomar, one of the most popular Indians ever, played in Cleveland from 1990 through 2000. He won AL Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove and helped the Indians win five AL Central Division titles and reach the World Series in 1995 and 1997.

"I'm very excited," Alomar said. "This is a great opportunity to return to a place where I have a lot of great memories. My family is very excited."

Alomar, one of the best catchers in team history, will have a young group to coach. Kelly Shoppach, eligible for arbitration, is the veteran with four seasons in the big leagues. Lou Marson, Wyatt Toregas and Chris Gimenez finished last season as rookies.

Top prospect Carlos Santana is scheduled to open the season at Class AAA Columbus, but could be in Cleveland by midseason.

Alomar developed a catching program for the Mets, who instituted it in spring training last season.

"Being a catcher at the major-league level is not an easy thing," he said. "I like guys who take charge and show leadership.

"It's not just knowing the opponent's hitters. A catcher has to be ready to make adjustments against them very fast. Each big-league team has so much information that they adjust quickly. It's like playing chess."

Alomar played 20 years in the big leagues.

"I understand my time as a player has come and gone," said Alomar, 43. "It went quickly. Now, I feel I'm a coach."

Alomar said he'd like to manage one day.

"Right now, it's baby steps," he said. "If I'm going to manage one day, I want to be prepared."

Two of Alomar's five children, Marcus and Marisa, live in the Cleveland area. Alomar lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Margred. He has three other daughters -- Leanna, Brianna and Isabella.

Quick takes: The Indians could add a veteran starting pitcher, utility infielder and right-handed hitter, probably a first baseman, just in case Matt LaPorta (left toe, left hip) isn't ready to open the season.

Former Indian Omar Vizquel, a free agent, is a candidate to fill the utility infielder's job. Boston reportedly also is interested.

When Acta's coaching staff is complete, they will meet in Goodyear, Ariz., on Jan. 18 to review the team and prepare for spring training.

Acta is scheduled to watch Jake Westbrook pitch in Puerto Rico in December. Acta said if Westbrook (right elbow) makes it through spring training healthy, he'll be the Opening Day starter April 5 against Chicago.

Acta says he'd use Kerry Wood in a four-out save situation under the right conditions.

Gary Thurman, Indians outfield and base running coordinator, will work with the big-league club in spring training. Bench coach Tim Tolman and Acta will handle those duties during the season.

The Indians have debated the need for a veteran catcher.

"Our rotation is so young that you can say we need a veteran catcher," Acta said, "but last year we had veteran guys in Victor Martinez and Shoppach and certain things didn't click."

Acta said the two bullpen catchers, who have yet to be named, will come from inside the organization.

Justin Masterson, Acta said, will go to camp in the starting rotation.

On the chances of Santana opening the season with the Indians, Acta said, "Under the right circumstances you do want a guy to play some Triple-A baseball."

Look for Grady Sizemore, if healthy, to stay in the leadoff spot.

"We don't want to put too much pressure on Michael [brantley] right away," said Acta.

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Shoppach traded to TB for PTBNL.

And then we have to shut down Santana....although I hear he just got sick and it's precautionary. Doesn't sound like anything physical.

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It looks like I'm going to need a vicodin prescription because I'll be doing this a lot: :)

Tribe to trade Wood?

INDIANAPOLIS -- At the winter meetings last year, the Indians signed Kerry Wood to a two-year, $20.5 million contract. This year at the winter meetings, they'd like nothing better than to trade the hard-throwing Wood or draw the blueprints for such a deal at a later date.

Pat Rooney, the agent who negotiated Wood's deal with the Tribe in Las Vegas last year, will meet with the Indians this week to see what they have in mind.

"Kerry has no problem with Cleveland," said Rooney, when asked if he'd requested a trade. "They've always been honest and up front with him. Last year he was the last piece of the puzzle and they couldn't get to him."

The Indians, coming off a strong second-half finish in 2008, felt they were a closer away from contending. They paid big money for Wood, but it turned out the only thing they contended for was last place in the AL Central. They made it, too, finishing in a tie with Kansas City.

Along with the last-place finish, the Indians traded away key players Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, Mark DeRosa, Rafael Betancourt, Ryan Garko, Carl Pavano and others. If they aren't in full-bodied rebuilding mode, they are definitely in rebuilding mode light. This isn't what Wood, 32, signed on for and the Indians know it.

A trade would definitely give Shapiro money to spend this winter in terms of filling other needs on the team. Chris Perez or Jensen Lewis would be candidates to replace him for a lot less money.

The Indians, however, are in no position to eat a big chunk of his contract. They might be in a better position to make a deal next July or August. After spending the last two years trading CC Sabathia, Casey Blake, Martinez and Lee in deadline deals, they certainly know the ins and outs of the procedure.

Wood would have to cooperate as well with a good first half. He was 20-for-26 in save situations last season. He never got on the mound enough to find the consistency all closers need in the ninth inning. It made for some explosive ninth innings.

There are a lot of free-agent closers on the market. Billy Wagner signed with Atlanta, but Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Kevin Gregg, LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde are still available. That market could be much smaller Tuesday depending on whether Rodney, Lyon, Gonzalez, Soriano or Valverde accepted arbitration from their old clubs by Monday's midnight deadline.

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Tribe names Jon Nunnally hitting coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indians have named Jon Nunnally as their hitting coach. They will officially announce the move Wednesday.

The hiring of Nunnally completes manager Manny Acta's coaching staff with the exception of a bullpen catcher. Tim Belcher (pitching), Scott Radinsky (bullpen), Sandy Alomar (first base), Steve Smith (third base), Tim Tolman (bench) and coaching assistant/bullpen catcher Ruben Niebla were already announced.

Nunnally was the hitting coach at Class AAA Columbus last year. It was his third year in the Tribe's minor-league system.

He played 14 years professionally, starting his career in the Indians' minor league system. He spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues with Kansas City, Cincinnati, Boston and the Yankees. Nunnally hit .246 with 42 homers and 125 RBI in 364 games in the big leagues.

Nunnally in 2005 was suspended for 15 games when he tested positive for an illegal substance while playing in the Pirates' minor-league system.

Dave Wallace, one of the Tribe's bullpen catchers last season, could fill the last spot on the staff.

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Pessimism is foreign word to Acta

Perhaps he'd better get used to this word -- FAILURE.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Manny does hats.

Looking as dapper as Frank Sinatra, or Humphrey Bogart in one of those old black-and-white detective movies, the Indians' new manager met the press Tuesday at the winter meetings wearing a black fedora to go along with his black jacket, shirt and pants.

"I like hats," said Acta.

Acta moved easily through the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott. He seemed to know everyone. He bumped fists with Jim Bowden, the general manager who hired him to manage the Nationals in 2007.

"I said when we hired him he was going to be the next Jim Leyland and I still feel the same way," said Bowden.

Acta couldn't take two steps in the crowded lobby without somebody hugging him, shaking his hand or interviewing him. He was a man in his element.

When Acta sat down at his designated table to talk to reporters, someone said Tony La Russa had been drinking out of a can of nearby Pepsi during an earlier interview. Acta grabbed the can and rolled it on his sleeve.

"I want to rub a little of him on me," he said.

Then he started talking about the Indians.

"The first thing we need to do is stop dwelling on the guys that left," said Acta, "because they're not coming back. We need to embrace the new kids that came aboard and are already ready to contribute at the big league level, and to face what it is.

"That's the type of team and market that we are. This is what we're going to do. We need to work hard, out-smart, out-work, out-scout, whatever we have to do to stop from falling into the excuse that we just don't have the right payroll."

The Indians' payroll is expected to be somewhere between $56 million and $65 million. Last year it was $85.1 million.

The list of players no longer here is long and familiar. Yet Acta does not think the Indians are starting over.

"I just don't agree when people are saying that we're rebuilding," he said, "because we have a lot of pieces in place."

He started naming names: Shin-Soo Choo in right field, Grady Sizemore in center, Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, Jhonny Peralta at third, Travis Hafner at designated hitter.

Then he turned to the farm system with Carlos Santana, Hector Rondon, Nick Weglarz, Carlos Carrasco and others. The Indians' youth and farm system was as important as the third guaranteed year GM Mark Shapiro gave Acta in prying him away from Houston in November.

The Astros, according to experts, have a barren minor-league system. It has a roster dotted with aging players on the decline and approaching free agency.

"I think this was a perfect fit for me," said Acta, referring to the Indians.

Some forms of perfection come with flaws.

Acta knows that Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona, his two most experienced starters, have to prove they can still pitch and win in the big leagues. He has to piece together the rest of the rotation from the suspect talents of Justin Masterson, David Huff, Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Rondon and Carrasco.

In the middle of the lineup, Travis Hafner must rediscover himself after two years of injury and poor performance. Left field has to be settled among Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley and Jordan Brown. Matt LaPorta has to recover from two surgeries and prove he can play first base every day. No one knows if rookie Lou Marson is an everyday catcher.

In the bullpen, closer Kerry Wood needs consistent work and Rafael Perez needs to leave last year's demons behind. Jensen Lewis has to keep the ball in the park and Tony Sipp and Chris Perez must prove their hot streaks last season weren't mirages.

Then there is the biggest problem of all: how to deal with Sizemore's pirated Internet pictures to his girlfriend?

"I haven't seen them, because that's really not going to help me win one more game," said Acta. "I think it's sad, people using stuff like that to basically get into people's private lives. But you have to be aware of it."

Acta said he'll go to spring training with the idea of winning the AL Central. He expects the same from his players.

"We don't want to compete, we want to win," he said. "That's what we want to establish."

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Carlos Santana to have surgery / Miller may be done?

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carlos Santana, the Indians' catcher of the future, will miss the next eight to 10 weeks after undergoing surgery Tuesday in Baltimore to have a broken hamate bone removed from his right hand.

Adam Miller, at one time the franchise's starting pitcher of the future, may miss the rest of his career. Wednesday was that kind of day for the Indians at the winter meetings.

A broken hamate bone is as traditional a baseball injury as a torn rotator cuff. It comes from hitters grinding the knob of the bat into the palm of their hands. Sometimes the hook-shaped hamate bone at the base of the palm snaps.

Julio Franco did it when he was a young shortstop with the Tribe and went on to collect 2,586 hits. Santana is going to live and prosper even though he might be a bit behind when spring training begins on Feb. 21.

Miller, however, has taken a knee in baseball's great ring of chance. He might not beat the count.

Last month, after three surgeries on the middle finger of his right hand, Miller was in Goodyear, Ariz., the Indians' spring training home, trying another comeback. He was playing catch at 90 feet.

"Usually I get a sign," said Miller. "There's a little soreness or something. This just came out of nowhere."

What followed was a sense of looseness in his finger. A few days later it was back to Baltimore for another operation by Dr. Thomas Graham, who on Nov. 18 removed a tendon from Miller's ring finger and inserted it into his palm at the base of his middle finger.

When the Indians look at the mess their starting pitching is in right now, they know things would have been better if Miller stayed healthy and Jeremy Guthrie hadn't been lost on waivers.

Guthrie is long gone and the Indians have no idea if Miller will ever pitch again.

"We're in uncharted waters with him," said GM Mark Shapiro. "Not many people have experience with the injury. It's a setback. Until he throws again, we don't know where we are."

Miller is long and lean, a perfect pitcher's body. Through a six-year minor-league career, it was not surprising to see him throw as hard as 98 mph. Sometimes he'd hit 100. But because of his right middle finger, the last part of his body to touch the ball before he sent it toward the plate, his career might be over at 25.

"There's a reason for everything," said Miller. "I hope there's a good reason for this."

Miller figures it will take 12 weeks before he's ready to throw again. He hasn't been able to make a fist with his right hand for a long time. The movement in the finger will be limited for the rest of his life.

"But I don't need to make a fist to throw a baseball," Miller said.

What happens if he just can't make it back?

"I like everything about baseball," said Miller, drafted out of high school in McKinney, Texas by the Indians in 2003. "I'd like to stay in baseball. Maybe I could go back to school and be a coach."

The Indians say Santana broke his hamate bone taking batting practice in winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He played one game before getting hit by the flu. When he came back, his hand started to hurt.

He was brought to Cleveland to be examined and then sent to Dr. Graham in Baltimore.

"This isn't a [bad] setback for Santana," said manager Manny Acta. "We're thankful it was discovered at this time of the year. The only downside is that he didn't get to play winter ball and work on some things."

Santana was named the Eastern League MVP last season after he hit .290 (124-for-428) with 30 doubles, two triples, 23 homers and 97 RBI at Class AA Akron.

"I know lots of hitters who have had this injury and come back in four to six weeks," said Acta.

If only the same could be said about Miller.

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Indians make Rule 5 selection

Indianapolis -- The Indians took right-hander Hector Ambriz from the Arizona Diambondbacks with the fifth pick in the Rule 5 draft.

They must keep him on the 25-man roster once the season starts or return him to Arizona for half of the $50,000 purchase price.

Milwaukee drafted Indians left-hander Chuck Lofgren with the 14th pick. Lofgren pitched at Class AA Akrsons and Class AAA Columbus last season. He was 3-1 in eight starts at Akron and 6-10 in 17 starts at Columbus.

The Brewers will see if Lofgren can be a left-handed speciliast out of their big-league bullpen.

Ambriz went 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts at Class A Mobile and 9-9 in 22 starts at Class AAA Reno.

The Diamondbacks drafted him out of UCLA in the fifth round in 2006. They paid him a $160,000 signing bonus.

He's 6-2 and 235 pounds.

At Mobile, Ambriz struck out 32 and walked six in 29 innings. At Reno, he struck out 103 and walked 40 in 127 2/3 innings.

Ambriz will go to big-league camp with the Indians and try to make the club as a reliever. He's been a starter for much of his career, but the Indians feel he has a chance to help their pen right away because his stuff will "play up' as a reliever.

The Indians took right-handed hitting outfielder Brian Horwitz from the Giants in the Class AAA phase of the draft. Horwitz played 21 games with the Giants in 2008, hitting .;222 (8-for-36) with two homers and four RBI.

Last season at Class AAA Horwitz, 27, hit .290 (61-for-210) with 10 doubles, two triples, four homers and 26 RBI. He missed the last month of the season with a ribcage injury.

Horwitz is a corner outfielder and will probably open next year at Class AAA Columbus.

The Indians lost left-handers Anillins Martinez and Matt Meyer in the Class AAA phase. Florida took Martinez and St. Louis draft Meyer.

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I have no issues trading Wood. :thumbup:

I don't either, GB. It's just frustration with this whole spinning in circles. Are we contending, rebuilding, or something in between?

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