Tom Servo

*** OFFICIAL *** Cleveland Indians thread - Mr. Hand teaches Spicoli AND helps in the bully.

1,851 posts in this topic

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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I have no issues trading Wood. :(

I don't either, GB. It's just frustration with this whole spinning in circles. Are we contending, rebuilding, or something in between?
Gotcha. Well, that sucks about Miller, although not suprising. Too bad they can't get him a bionic finger. The Guthrie mention in the story is ridiculous....we f'n put him on waivers, that's what you get! lol Knew something was up with Santana after the shut him down early this fall. I heard he was "sick", but apparently there was more to that, as usual.

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Nagy to be Clippers pitching coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- If only these guys could still play.

The Indians recently hired their former All-Star catcher, Sandy Alomar Jr, to coach first base on manager Manny Acta's staff. On Thursday, they brought back their former All-Star right-hander, Charles Nagy, to be their pitching coach at Class AAA Columbus.

Nagy and Alomar were an enduring battery for the Indians in the 1990s. Alomar caught for the Tribe from 1990-2000. Nagy pitched for the Indians from 1990-2002.

Scott Radinsky, the Tribe's Class AAA pitcher coach for the last three years, was promoted to Acta's staff as bullpen coach. In another coaching move, Lee May Jr, was promoted from Class AA Akron to Columbus as hitting coach.

Nagy went 129-103 for the Indians. He finished his career with the Padres. He was a special assistant for Indians GM Mark Shapiro and the Angels' Class AAA pitching coach.

"There could not be a better fit for us than Charles Nagy," said Ross Atkins, the Indians' director of player development. "Not only regarding his major league pedigree, but his Cleveland Indians pedigree.

"I think he'll be ideal for helping pitchers get over the hump at Triple-A to the big leagues."

Make a move: The Indians made their only player acquisitions of the winter meetings Thursday when they took right-hander Hector Ambriz and outfielder Brian Horwitz in the Rule 5 draft.

Ambriz, 6-2 and 235 pounds, was left unprotected by Arizona. It cost the Indians $50,000 to draft him. If he doesn't make their 25-man big-league club coming out of spring training, they must offer him back to Arizona for $25,000.

Last season he 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.

"Our scouts like his stuff," said director of scouting John Mirabelli. "He has some power through all his pitches. He has a history, all the way back through college, of being a good strike thrower."

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 as a reliever. He's been a starter throughout 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.

"He throws a fastball, curveball and slider and has power to all his pitches," said Mirabelli. "Our scouts think his stuff will play up a tick in the bullpen. He pitched in a very tough environment in the [Pacific Coast League]. It's a hitter's league and he pitched in a big-time hitter's park in Reno."

The Indians have taken only three players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft since 1991. The last one was Travis Chapman in 2002. They selected him from the Phillies and then traded him.

They selected Horwitz in the Class AAA portion of the draft for $12,500. He's a right-handed corner outfielder who played briefly with the Giants in 2008. 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 rib cage injury.

He'll probably start next season in Columbus.

The Indians lost left-hander Chuck Lofgren in the big-league portion of the draft. Milwaukee selected him and will try to make him a left-handed reliever. Lofgren was the Tribe's fourth-round pick in 2004.

The Tribe lost left-handers Anillins Martinez (Florida) and Matt Meyer (St. Louis) in the Class AAA portion of the draft.

Reward time: The Indians have named catcher Carlos Santana and right-hander Hector Rondon as their minor-league players of the year. Santana received the Lou Boudreau Award as the top minor-league position player. Rondon received the Bob Feller Award as the top pitcher.

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Tribe goes dumpster diving

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians, in their ongoing scavenger hunt among the lower rungs of free agency, Tuesday signed right-handed hitters Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan to minor-league contracts. Each deal included an invitation to big-league spring training.

New manager Manny Acta wants to add at least one right-handed bat to balance a left-handed heavy lineup and to protect himself if first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta isn't ready for the regular season following surgery on his left hip and left big toe.

Kearns, 29, is the more accomplished of the two and has a chance to start in left field depending how the spring-training competition unfolds with Michael Brantley, Trevor Crowe and Jordan Brown. He spent his last 3 1/2 seasons playing in Washington, where Acta managed from 2006 until he was fired last July.

"He's been plagued by injuries the last two years, but he's healthy now and has had some success at this level," said Acta in a text message.

Kearns' 2009 season ended in August with a right thumb injury that required surgery. He became a free agent when the Nationals didn't exercise his $10 million option for 2010.

He spent his first 4 1/2 years in the big leagues with Cincinnati. The Indians discussed trading for him at least once during that time.

Kearns is a lifetime .256 hitter with 155 doubles, 105 homers, 422 RBI and a .780 OPS (.353 on-base, .427 slugging percentage).

Duncan, 30, was the International League MVP last season for Class AAA Scranton-Wilkes/Barre. He hit .277 (125-for-452) with 85 runs, 30 doubles, 30 homers and 99 RBI in 123 games for the Yankees' top farm club.

In parts of three seasons with the Yankees, Duncan hit .219 (32-for-146) with eight homers, 24 RBI, 15 walks and 38 strikeouts. He is the son of St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan, a former Tribe catcher. His brother, Chris, played with St. Louis and Boston last year.

"We are looking for a right-handed hitter with some power that can play the outfield and perhaps first base," said Acta. "These guys fit that profile."

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Roberto Alomar gets 1st chance at HoF today

NEW YORK — John Hirschbeck called Roberto Alomar on Tuesday to wish him luck in the Hall of Fame vote.

When Alomar spat on the umpire 14 years ago during an argument following a called third strike, it created a national furor. Now the two are fast friends.

“I know we both wish it didn’t happen, but it did,” Hirschbeck said. “On the other hand, I’ve told a lot of people who have called, I think it made us both better people for it.”

A 12-time All-Star second baseman, Alomar is among 15 first-time candidates on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, joining holdovers that include Mark McGwire, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Lee Smith.

Results of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America vote will be announced today and players must appear on at least 75 percent of the ballots to gain baseball’s highest honor.

“I’m positive that it’s going to happen this year,” Alomar said Tuesday. Edgar Martinez, Barry Larkin and Fred McGriff also are new to the ballot this year, and Martinez will test how Hall voters assess players who were predominantly designated hitters.

Alomar was suspended for five games following his September 1996 confrontation with Hirschbeck in Toronto’s SkyDome. At the time, Alomar said he thought Hirschbeck was under stress because his 8-year-old son, John Drew, had died in 1993 of a rare brain disease known as adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).

The player and umpire shook hands at Camden Yards the following April, and within a few years Alomar and his brother Sandy Jr. started helping raise money for a foundation the Hirschbecks started. Alomar worked to repair his image during the latter half of his 17-season major-league career, which ended in 2004. He wants to be remembered for his bat and his glove, not his saliva.

“That’s not me. Everybody knows who I am. It was one stupid moment that happened to me when I played,” Alomar said. “The main thing is I accepted my mistake. We are all human, and I went to John and apologized to him. And we’re both great friends. Out of something bad, something good happened. We have a great friendship.”

Alomar finished with a .300 career batting average, 2,724 hits, 210 homers, 474 steals, 10 Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. A standout during his time with San Diego (1988-90), Toronto (1991-95), Baltimore (1996-98) and Cleveland (1999-01), his play deteriorated substantially while he was with the New York Mets (2002-03). He finished with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona.

“In New York, if you don’t do as well as you want to do, then you’re going to hear some criticism,” Alomar said.

There are 26 candidates for the Hall, up from 23 last year, when Rickey Henderson was elected in his first appearance and Jim Rice made it on his 15th and final try. Dawson fell 44 votes shy of the 75 percent needed and Blyleven was 67 short. The last time the BBWAA failed to elect anyone was 1996 — and that was only the seventh election since the original selection in 1936 with no winners.

McGwire, hired in October as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, is on the ballot for the fourth time. Eighth on the career list with 583 homers, he has been stigmatized since evading questions from Congress in 2005 about steroids use.

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Zach Jackson traded to the Blue Jays

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians have traded left-hander Zach Jackson to Toronto for a player to be named.

Jackson was one of the four players the Indians received from Milwaukee in the CC Sabathia trade in 2008. Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta and Rob Bryson were the others. Brantley and LaPorta have a good chance to make the big-league club coming out of spring training this year.

Last season Jackson made the Tribe's opening day roster. He was optioned to Class AAA Columbus on April 22 to make room for left-hander Tony Sipp. He was recalled on May 27 and sent down the next day to make room for Tomo Ohka.

Jackson went 4-8 with a 6.05 ERA in 30 appearances at Columbus. He made 14 starts. He made just three appearances with the Tribe.

In 2008, Jackson went 2-3 with a 5.60 ERA in nine starts with the Tribe after the trade. He was Toronto's first round pick in 2004.

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Tribe prospects ranked

Pay no attention to the weather. Baseball spring training is barely a month away.

Respected minor league analyst John Sickels is ranking the top prospects for all major league teams. He calls his observations "extremely preliminary," yet they are quite interesting.

Sickels has ranked the Cleveland Indians' top 24 prospects (even though the headline reads "top 20"), in order, and they can be found on the website Minor League Ball.

The top three prospects in the Cleveland organization, according to Sickels:

1) Carlos Santana, C, Grade A: Needs a bit more polish with the glove, but looks like a future star to me. Bat looks awesome.

2) Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Grade B+: Coming along nicely with his beautiful swing, though I suspect he's two years away from being ready to help.

3) Nick Hagadone, LHP, Grade B: I'm assuming that the Tommy John recovery is complete and that he can take on a larger workload in 2010. Could push into B+/A- category if all goes well.

Among Sickels' general comments:

But the pitching. . .wow, there is a lot of depth in pitching. Hagadone and White have terrific ceilings, even if both still have some unanswered questions. Rondon should also be very good. Carrasco is an enigma, but one that is worth taking a chance on. There is just a huge variety of C+ arms beyond this group, mixing up guys with hot stuff, guys with projection, and guys with pitchability.

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I'd really like for Brown or Brantley to win that last OF job. Kearns, with his ties to Acta, could really mess things up. It's what Shapiro has done for years with his prospects. You know Acta gave two thumbs up for that aquisition.

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I'd really like for Brown or Brantley to win that last OF job. Kearns, with his ties to Acta, could really mess things up. It's what Shapiro has done for years with his prospects. You know Acta gave two thumbs up for that aquisition.

Yeah, just what we really needed. I've got some serious man-love for Brantley...met him last year on the winter tour. Pretty decent kid who seemed to be able to stay hungry.

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White, Chisenhall & Mills get spring invites

CLEVELAND -- The Indians list of spring training invitees increased to 16 today with the addition of seven of their own minor leaguers. Right-hander Alex White, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and first baseman Beau Mills, the organization's No.1 draft picks in 2009, 2008 and 2007, respectively, head the group.

The other four invitees are right-handers Frank Herrmann and Yohan Pino, catcher Damaso Espino and infielder Niuman Romero.

The Indians signed White to a $2.25 million contract last season out of the University of North Carolina after drafting him with the 15th pick in the first round. He didn't sign until minutes before the August deadline and wasn't able to pitch in the organization until the Arizona Instructional League. An invitation to big-league camp was part of his signing bonus.

White was 8-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 16 starts last year for North Carolina. The Indians will initially look at him as a starter, but there's a chance he could be moved to the bullpen in the future.

Chisenhall, a right-handed hitter, is coming off an impressive season at Class A Kinston and Class AA Akron. He hit a combined .258 (124-for-481) with 31 doubles, 22 homers and 92 RBI in 123 games. He hit .467 (14-for-30) for Akron in the Eastern League playoffs. Baseball America, in its postseason analysis, named him the Tribe's second best prospect.

The Indians took Chisenhall with the 29th pick in the first round in 2008. He started at shortstop, but played third last season. He made 22 errors in 78 games at Kinston.

Mills, who hits left-handed, hit .267 (138-for-516) with 33 doubles, 14 homers and 83 RBI last season at Akron. The Indians used the 13th pick in the first round to draft Mills in 2007. He's the son of Houston manager Brad Mills.

Hermann, 6-4 and 228 pounds, was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen last season. He opened the year at Akron before being promoted to Class AAA Columbus. He was a combined 4-4 with 2.95 ERA in 49 games, including five starts. He struck out 62, walked 18 and allowed 110 hits in 106 2/3 innings.

The Indians acquired Pino from the Twins for Carl Pavano in August. He was a combined 9-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 42 games, including 14 starts, at three different levels for the Indians and Twins. He struck out 122, walked 29 and allowed 110 hits in 127 innings.

Pino went 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 10 starts at Class AAA Rochester and Columbus. He struck out 58, walked 13 and allowed 49 hits in 65 innings. He went 3-3 in 14 games, including 12 starts, for Aragua this winter in Venezuela.

Romero made his big-league debut with the Tribe as a September call up last season. He hit a combined .240 (88-367) with 14 doubles and 35 RBI at Akron and Columbus. Romero, a switch-hitter, appeared in 10 games for the Tribe and collected his first big-league hit Sept. 12.

Espino, a switch-hitter, will be coming to his second big league camp with the Tribe. He hit .197 (14-for-71) with nine RBI at Akron and .261 (46-for-176) with 10 doubles, two homers and 14 RBI at Columbus.

Here are the Indians non-roster invitees:

Pitchers: Mike Gosling, Jason Grilli, Frank Herrmann, Yohan Pino, Anthony Reyes, Saul Rivera and Alex White.

Catchers: Damaso Espino.

Infielders: Brian Buscher, Lonnie Chisenhall, Mark Grudzielanek, Beau Mills, Luis Rodriguez and Niuman Romero.

Outfielders: Shelley Duncan and Austin Kearns.

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Westbrook number 1?

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians want Jake Westbrook to be their opening day starter April 5 in Chicago. Westbrook loves the idea, but first he has to become a pitcher again.

"I'll be more than happy to take on that experience," said Westbrook in a conference call with reporters from his home in Danielsville, Ga. "I think I'll be ready for opening day. But for now, I just want to be one of the five starters on this team."

Westbrook hasn't started a big-league game since May 28, 2008. The next month he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and hasn't tossed a pitch in an Indians uniform.

Yet the state of the rotation headed into the 2010 season is such that Westbrook is manager Manny Acta's best candidate to be a No.1 starter. If he stays sound for over 40 days in the Arizona desert, it would be Westbrook's second opening day start as an Indian.

Westbrook, shut down twice last season in the minors as he tried to make it back from surgery, finally saw progress in November and December pitching winter ball in Puerto Rico for Ponce. He made four starts for manager/former teammate Eduardo Perez and went 0-0 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 1/3 innings.

The opposition hit .294 against Westbrook. He walked six and struck out six, but after every start his elbow felt better than at any point during his lengthy rehab.

"Puerto Rico was awesome, a great experience," said Westbrook, 32. "My elbow felt great. It was encouraging to meet my pitch requirements and feel good the next day."

Westbrook reached 80 pitches in his final start, which Acta saw in person. In spring training Westbrook knows he's going to have to be ready to throw at least 100 pitches by the end of camp.

"This injury has taught me patience, but it was frustrating," he said. "The biggest thing I want to do is be a part of this team. I want to go through everything in spring training. I haven't been able to do that for a long time."

Westbrook will report to Goodyear, Ariz., in mid-February, well ahead of the Feb. 21 reporting day for pitchers, catchers and injured players. He's the biggest question mark in a rotation that has a lot of things working against it.

Talk, talk: The Indians have had several conversations with the agent for left-hander Rafael Perez to see if they can reach a contract without going to arbitration. Players and teams will exchange salary figures Tuesday.

Perez, who pitched well this winter in the Dominican Republic after a dreadful season in Cleveland, made $436,300 last year.

Tall cotton: GM Mark Shapiro is part of a new 14-man committee formed to discuss on the field issues with Commission Bud Selig at the owners meetings. The meetings began Wednesday and end Thursday.

Among topics of discussion will be reducing the length of the postseason, expanded use of instant replay, pace of game and umpiring.

Committee members include managers Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia; front office executives Shapiro, John Schuerholz, Andy MacPhail and Terry Ryan; owner representatives Chuck Armstrong, Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt and Dave Montgomery; Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and columnist George Will.

Finally: Look for right-hander Jose Veras to sign in the next 10 to 15 days. About six teams are interested in the hard-throwing right-hander, who was not offered arbitration by the Indians in December and became a free agent.

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Tribe signs Mike Redmond

The Indians on Friday signed their first free agent to a major-league contract this winter when they came to terms with catcher Mike Redmond on a one-year deal worth $850,000. Redmond will be the backup catcher, helping develop potential starters Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas and a young pitching staff.

It's believed the Indians entered the off-season with $3 million to $5 million to spend on improving a team that lost 97 games last season and finished tied for last place in the AL Central. They are expected to use most of that money to sign a free-agent utility infielder.

They made an estimated two-year, $3 million offer to re-sign utility man Jamey Carroll in December, but he signed a two-year deal with the Dodgers for $3.85 million.

The Indians have invited 16 players to spring training in February, but seven of them are their own minor-leaguers. Nine others will report on non-guaranteed minor-league deals.

If outfielder Austin Kearns makes the team out of spring training, he'll earn $750,000 with an additional $400,000 in incentives based on plate appearances. If not, he can play in the minors for $17,500 a month.

Right-hander Jason Grilli will make $800,000 if he makes the big-league club. If not, he can play in the minors for $17,500 a month.

The Indians are taking little risk with such contracts, but they're not doing much to stir ticket sales.

The White Sox, a division rival, have signed free agents Omar Vizquel, JJ Putz, Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay and Ramon Castro to one-year big league contracts worth a combined $7.36 million since the end of last season. They also took on Juan Pierre's two-year, $8 million contract in a trade with the Dodgers and gave Mark Teahen a three-year, $14 million extension after acquiring him from Kansas City.

In Detroit, the Tigers said goodbye to big-money free agents Placido Polanco, Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney. They continued to dump payroll by trading Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, but they still came to terms on a reported two-year, $14 million contract with free agent closer Jose Valverde.

The Royals gave free agent catcher Jason Kendall a two-year, $6 million deal and spent $2.45 million on free agent outfielders Scott Podsednik and Brian Anderson.

Even the frugal Twins, no doubt saving money to try to keep AL MVP Joe Mauer, have spent more this winter than the Tribe. Carl Pavano, who accepted arbitration from Minnesota, will probably make between $5 million and $7 million. They also signed reliever Clay Condrey to a one-year, big-league deal.

Chris Antonetti, Indians assistant general manager, says Redmond was signed because he knows the division and has a good reputation of working with pitchers and catchers. Marson and Toregas have spent less than a year catching in the big leagues.

After trading Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach, the Indians felt they were vulnerable at catcher. Losing top prospect Carlos Santana for eight to 10 weeks to a broken hamate bone this off-season didn't help.

Redmond, 38, has played 12 years in the big leagues. He spent the past five with the Twins.

He's a .289 (636-for-2,201) career hitter with 113 doubles, 13 homers and 238 RBI.

Arbo man: Indians left-hander Rafael Perez filed for arbitgration Friday. The Indians and Perez's agent will exchange salary figures Tuesday if a deal isn't reached.

The Indians have not had a player go to arbitration since 1991.

Finally: Free agent Ben Sheets threw for several teams last week, but the Indians didn't attend the workout. Sheets, who didn't pitch last season because of injury, is out of their price range.

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Hey Hoynsie!

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: Do you know why the Tribe isn't adding talent to a roster that lost 97 games last season? How do they expect to increase revenues by fielding a team that could lose 97 in 2010?-- Jason Stackhouse, New Orleans.

A: Hey, Jason: This winter, the Indians have signed one free agent to a major-league contract. That would be backup catcher Mike Redmond, who signed a one-year, $850,000 deal last week.

The only way the front office is going to improve this team from the outside is through trade or by getting lucky with a bargain-basement free agent on a minor-league deal. They have little, if any, money to spend.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: Might communication out of the Indians front office be quiet because owner Larry Dolan is interviewing for a baseball version of Mike Holmgren to improve the team's credibility and decision making? -- Bill Compton, Cleveland.

A: Hey, Bill: As I've said before, the Indians already have enough chiefs. What they need are better players and more money to acquire them.

One more thing: Why would the Indians, a picture of consistency, grace and class in the front office in comparison to the Browns, want to follow a team that changes directions every couple of weeks?

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: Do you think the Indians will pursue a trade for Jorge Cantu? He's reportedly on the market and would fill the Indians' need for a right-handed-hitting first baseman. Would the Indians be willing to move prospects for major-league talent after deepening their farm system over the last two seasons? -- David Bruno, Chagrin Falls.

A: Hey, David: If you trade for a player such as Cantu, you'd do so to make him a regular. He batted .289 (169-for-585) last year with 42 doubles, 16 homers and 100 RBI. It was my impression that the Indians were looking more for a bench player, who could fill in at first if Matt LaPorta isn't ready to start the season because of hip and toe injuries.

Cantu made $3.5 million last year with Florida and should get a big raise through arbitration. That wouldn't go over big in Cleveland.

That said, I think the Indians would be willing to trade some prospects to get the player they wanted.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: Does manager Manny Acta believe in a set lineup, batting order and set defensive positions? Was the musical-chair approach of the past the doing of former manager Eric Wedge or GM Mark Shapiro? Don't you think that contributed to Franklin Gutierrez not succeeding here? -- Eric Northman, Cleveland.

A: Hey, Eric: Acta told me he believes in a set lineup, but he'll make changes based on the opposition, pitching matchups and other information.

Wedge and Shapiro worked together well, but I believe the lineup changes were Wedge's call. I had no problem with that. I do think that moving players all over the diamond defensively was disconcerting.

Gutierrez seemed to put a lot of pressure on himself and I don't think the coaching staff or front office in Cleveland ever felt he was a starter. The trade to Seattle was the best thing that could have happened to him.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: I like the signing of Austin Kearns. Do you know what his career numbers are vs. left-handers? -- Joe Eversole, Pelham, Ala.

A: Hey, Joe: Kearns is a lifetime .262 (195-for-743) hitter against lefties with 41 doubles, 24 homers, 93 RBI, 150 walks, 161 strikeouts, a .389 on-base percentage and a .420 slugging percentage.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: Don't you think the Indians should provide me with two tickets to the home opener for recommending they sign Shelley Duncan? -- Mike Sedonic, Dunmore, Pa.

A: Hey, Mike: There's a contract in the mail. You're going to be their new Midwestern scout.

I'm kicking myself for not following your suggestion. I could have had a scoop.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: The signing of Mark Grudzielanek on top of Austin Kearns smacks of desperation. Is there any hope that the Indians can compete this season? If not, when? -- James Wensits, South Bend, Ind.

A: Hey, James: The Indians are well past desperation. They will compete this year because the schedule says they must, but as far as contending, forget about it. The only way the Indians can have a decent season is if they get some unexpected performances out of their starting rotation.

Q: Hey, Hoynsie: I'm having trouble getting excited about the Mark Grudzielanek signing. Won't the Tribe just develop him for five years and then trade him for a second- or third-tier prospect? -- Joe Cepec, Dublin.

A: Hey, Joe: Now that's funny.

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More dumpster diving - Tribe gets Brian Bixler from Bucs


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Indians have acquired infielder Brian Bixler from Pittsburgh for minor league infielder Jesus Brito. Bixler was added to the 40-man roster and will compete for a spot on the big-league club as a middle infielder in spring training.

Bixler, 27, hit .227 (10-for-44) with five runs and three RBI for the Pirates last year. The right-handed hitter spent most of the season at Class AAA Indianapolis where he batted .275 (111-for-403) with 71 runs, 23 doubles, eight triples, nine homers and 43 RBI.

The Pirates drafted Bixler, from Sandusky, with the second pick in the 2004 draft. He made his big-league debut in 2008.

Brito hit .366 (49-134) with 36 runs, 12 doubles, eight triples, three homers and 25 RBI for the Indians' Arizona Rookie League club last year. Then he hit .333 (30-for-90) with 16 runs, seven doubles, two triples and 18 RBI at Class A Mahoning Valley.

The Indians' 40-man roster is filled.

Filled with garbage, I'm sure... *sigh*

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Sandy Alomar is a man with plan

GENEVA, Ohio -- A couple of years ago, Sandy Alomar Jr. was sitting and thinking about catching. It bothered him that when he came to the ballpark and watched batting practice everybody was doing something except the catchers.

The infielders caught grounders. The hitters hit and ran the bases. The outfielders shagged fly balls. The pitchers ran in the outfield.

Alomar was coaching with the Mets when he devised a program for catchers in spring training and the regular season. In November, that program was one of the reasons the Indians hired him as their first-base coach and catching instructor.

Of course, Alomar had built significant equity in Cleveland long before that. He caught 11 years for the Tribe, went to six All-Star games, two World Series, won a Gold Glove and was named AL Rookie of the Year in 1990.

"But he didn't get the job for what he did in Cleveland as a player," said manager Manny Acta. "He got the job because he's a very good coach."

When pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., for spring training on Feb. 21, the program will go into effect. There is much work to be done.

Rookies Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas will come to camp trying to win the starting job. Mike Redmond, 38, will be the backup. Carlos Santana, the catcher in waiting, will be there as well. It's unclear how much work he'll be able to do as he recovers from a broken hamate bone in his right hand.

"When Mark Shapiro and Manny presented this job to me," said Alomar on Tuesday on the first day of the winter press tour, "the goal was to teach the game to these young catchers. ... I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Alomar's program is about preparation.

"I don't want our catchers to be surprised by a play in the game," said Alomar. "You have to have game-speed practices. You have to re-evaluate every day.

"We basically want our guys to be prepared in the first inning. You don't want the first inning to come by and the catcher can't throw the ball to second base because he wasn't loose."

The roots of the plan comes from the coaching Alomar received over 18 years in the big leagues.

"Everything I was taught about catching was based on repetition," he said. "My question is 'when do you do you repeat stuff in a game?' ... Once you made an error, that play isn't going to come back. You have to do different things. Not just repeat, repeat, repeat.

"You need to repeat to get the foundation of the play, but after that, you start switching back and forth. You have to make your body aware of different situations. That's what I came up with. Making catchers aware of different situations in practice ... not just one."

Catching is hard, painful work. No one knows that better than Alomar, and he is not going to squeeze his catchers so hard they won't have anything left for the game.

"You don't want to wear anyone out," he said. "But if you do it smart, the quantity of the workout doesn't have to be a lot. It's just little, meticulous things. I would never put them in a situation I wouldn't put myself in."

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Acta makes winning impression at town hall

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio -- It was 33 degrees Monday night. January's first big snowfall had finally melted, but large flakes were once again drifting through the air.

On the winding road leading to the auditorium at Brecksville-Broadview High School, the costumed members of the nightly hot dog race at Progressive Field were waving cars to their appointed parking spaces. Slider greeted the occupants of those cars at the door. A cardboard Grady Sizemore, in full uniform minus his coffee cup, greeted them just before they took their seats.

About 600 season-ticket holders RSVP'd that they'd be attending the town hall meeting with new manager Manny Acta. An estimated 400 showed.

At this point of the off-season, with spring training starting Feb. 21, it appears that Acta's hiring will be the biggest addition to a team that lost 97 games last season. When a team has signed exactly one free agent to a big-league contract since the end of last season, and that player is a backup catcher, what other conclusion can be reached?

In any case, Acta was a hit.

"Manny, you're a breath of fresh air," said one season ticket holder.

The question and answer session, hosted by TV announcer Matt Underwood, was being taped by SportsTime Ohio for later use. With the lights shining down on him, Acta asked the fans, "If anyone is bothered by the glare off my bald head, just say something. I can always borrow a hat."

The STO portion of the night lasted about a half-hour.

"Is that it?" said Acta, disappointed things had ended so soon. "Does anyone else have any other question? I've got nowhere else to go."

After the cameras were turned off, and some autographed balls and bats were raffled off, Acta answered questions for about another 40 minutes.

Some highlights:

• On Shin-Soo Choo's military obligation to South Korea.

"Nothing is finalized, but he's in the process of becoming an American citizen," said Acta. "I'm glad you asked that question. It was one of the first ones I asked Mark Shapiro when I interviewed for the job."

• On backup catcher Mike Redmond, 38, the only free agent the Indians have signed to a big-league contract this off-season.

"He's going to be great for our ballclub," said Acta. "He knows the division very well. I don't worry about his age. He's fresh. When you back up Joe Mauer, you don't play that much."

• On left-hander reliever Rafael Perez potentially becoming a starter.

"Yes, there is a chance Raffie Perez might start sometime this year," said Acta. "He's going to go into spring training as a reliever. You don't want to take him from 80 innings to 180. ... But if someone is struggling in the second half, we could start to get him ready for [2011]."

• On Travis Hafner, who couldn't play more than three or four games in a row last season because of weakness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

"He's feeling better than ever," said Acta. "We're very encouraged by our medical updates. Right now, he would have to come to my office [to say he can't play]. I want him in there every day."

• On Jake Westbrook, proposed Opening Day starter, who has made five starts in the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery to his right elbow.

"I saw his last start in Puerto Rico," said Acta. "He had good command and was throwing all his pitches for strikes. I could tell by the look on his face he was pain free. There will be no restrictions on him."

• When asked by Underwood what Fausto Carmona he expected to report to camp this year, the good Carmona, who won 19 games in 2007, or the bad Carmona, who went 5-12 last year, Acta said, "The good one. You weren't expecting me to say the one from last year, were you?"

• On who influenced him most as a manager.

"Bobby Cox is my hero," said Acta. "I think he's the John Wooden of baseball."

• On the games being too long.

"I don't mind the games being long," said Acta. "At the end of an inning, I can go to the bathroom."

• On what worries will keep him up at night during the season?

"In baseball we're trained not to worry about too many things that keep us from sleeping," said Acta. "You can let a ball go through you legs one day and get the game-winning hit the next. ... If you have things that keep you up every night in baseball, you'll die."

Based on what kind of season this could be for the Indians, those are good words to live by from the Tribe's 40th manager.

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As expected, Tribe quiet on FA front

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here's the latest update on the free agent talent race in the AL Central, where the Indians lost 97 games last year to finish in a last-place tie with Kansas City.

When we last left the Wahoos, they had signed exactly one free agent to a big-league contract. They're still at one and counting, that one being catcher Mike Redmond, who signed a one-year, $850,000 deal.

The Twins, who won the division in a one-game playoff with Detroit, have signed right-hander Carl Pavano to a one-year, $7 million deal, DH/1B Jim Thome (one year, $1.5 million) and right-hander Clay Condrey (one year, $900,000).

The Tigers, who lost the one-game playoff to the Twins, signed closer Jose Valverde to a two-year $14 million deal. That will make up for the free agent loss of closer Fernando Rodney and set-up man Brandon Lyon. Rodney signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Angels, while Lyon signed a three-year, $15 million deal with Houston.

Detroit added free agent left-hander Brad Thomas.

The White Sox, who may have the best rotation in the Central, spent over $7 million on spare-part free agents Ramon Castro (one year, $1 million), Andruw Jones (one year, $500,000), Mark Kotsay (one year, $1.5 million), JJ Putz (one-year, $3 million) and Omar Vizquel (one-year, $1.375 million).

They also made trades for Mark Teahen and Juan Pierre to help a sagging offense.

The Royals, who have finished last or tied for last in five of the last six years, have been busy as well, compared to the Tribe. They've spent almost $12 million on Brian Anderson (one year, $700,000), Rick Ankiel (one year, $3.25 million), Jason Kendall (two years, $6 million) and Scott Podsednik (one year, $1.75 million).

Kansas City acquired Josh Fields and Chris Getz from the White Sox for Teahen.

The scope of the Indians' inactivity is startling. In preparation for their 97-loss season last year, they spent over $20 million on free agents Kerry Wood and Pavano. In 2007, the last time they made the postseason, they spent almost $29 million on free agents David Dellucci (three years, $11.5 million), Aaron Fultz (one year, $1.65 million), Joe Borowski (one year, $4.25 million), Keith Foulke (one year, $5 million), Roberto Hernandez (one year, $3.5 million) and Trot Nixon (one year, $3 million). Foulke retired before the opening of spring training and the Indians didn't have to pay him.

To have any chance of winning this season, the Indians will have to be nearly perfect and exceedingly lucky. Their top earners -- Travis Hafner ($11.5 million), Jake Westbrook ($11 million) and Wood ($10.5 million) -- must play well. The trouble is Hafner and Westbrook have been hurt for two years and Wood was inconsistent in the closer's role last year.

Indians executives believe the season will be decided by the starting rotation. They have no idea what they're going to get out of Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, David Huff, Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Mitch Talbot, Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon.

Baseball Prospectus, via its PECOTA ratings, predicted the Indians will finish fourth in the Central this year with a 77-85 record. At this point, that appears optimistic.

Straight talk: Manager Manny Acta said Monday that Shin-Soo Choo was studying to be an American citizen as a way to avoid the two years of military service he owes his native South Korea.

The Indians said that is not so.

Choo is exploring avenues which would allow him to continue playing uninterrupted with the Indians. Some of his options include establishing residency in the United States, which is different than becoming a citizen; playing for South Korea in the Asian Games and winning a gold medal and continuing to work with the South Korean government.

Not so: A rumor on said the Indians were considering trading Carmona to create salary space so they could sign free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.

The Indians may have talked about doing that, but the chances of it happening are slim. It's not like there's a big demand for Carmona, 13-19 in his last two seasons.

Hide and seek: One of the things Sandy Alomar Jr., as catching coach, is going to stress is how to hide their signals. "We did that with the Mets last year and the stolen base attempts against us went way down," said Alomar.

Memory lane: Kenny Lofton, selected for the Indians' Hall of Fame last week, was asked if he remembered reaching far above the center field wall at then Jacobs Field to rob Baltimore's B.J. Surhoff of a home run on Aug. 4, 1996.

"Like it was yesterday," said Lofton. "It was one of my most memorable catches. The funniest part was looking at the guys in the bullpen when I reached over the bullpen [fence] and caught the ball. I looked down at those guys and they were going crazy. I'll never forget it."

Lofton went to one World Series with the Indians and reached the postseason six times overall. When asked why they never won a World Series, Lofton said, "I think we had the team and the players to go out there and do it. It was just fate. It just wasn't our time."

Finally: Acta and his new coaching staff met in Goodyear, Ariz., recently to talk about the team and season.

"It was a bonding session," said Acta. "I'm very pleased with how the meetings went." New hitting coach Jonathan Nunnally, working in the Caribbean World Series for Venezuela, took three days off to attend the meeting.

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Sorry I wasn't updating this - I was out of town getting people back in electric in our area south of Pittsburgh.

Latest edition of Hey Hoynsie!

Hey, Hoynsie: Holy mackerel, did GM Mark Shapiro and the Cleveland Indians braintrust really offer Orlando Hudson -- benched by the Dodgers last year for Ronnie Belliard -- over $5 million? Say it ain't so Hoynsie! -- Jim Esteridge, Beaumont, Texas.

Hey, Jim: They offered Hudson a two-year deal worth $10 million. Some of the $10 million was included in a 2012 club option as part of the buyout clause.

Hudson preferred to get his money up front, and signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Twins.

I would have loved to see the Tribe get Hudson. He's a Gold Glove defender and could have helped their pitching staff. He would have allowed Luis Valbuena more time to develop without being overexposed as the starting second baseman. He also could have hit No. 2 in the lineup, which would have allowed Asdrubal Cabrera to hit No. 3.

Hey Hoynsie: Do you think it was time for Eric Wedge to go and do you like the direction the Tribe is going in? -- Johnny D'ambrosia, Garfield Heights

Hey, Johnny: If the Indians retained Wedge, he'd be entering the final year of his contract following a 97-loss season. There's no way the front office could have given him an extension this winter and if the Indians started badly again, there wouldn't have been any choice but to fire him.

In that regard, I think firing Wedge was the right call. I don't think he was dealt the best of hands over the last two seasons with his best players getting traded every other day.

As for the direction the team is going in, I hate to give up on a season before the first pitch. That's what the Indians have done by withdrawing from the free agent market and making a couple of minor trades.

My comment: OOF

Hey, Hoynsie: Seems to me that the Tribe is doing a lousy job of marketing or I'm totally missing the message. Shouldn't they be talking up the potential of Michael Brantley, Luis Valbuena, etc., instead of being so guarded about their 2010 status? I mean, we have just undergone yet another major selloff and the consensus is that they are "going young." Then we hear talk of pursuing Orlando Hudson and other marginal vets. I'm starting to wonder if they have a plan at all. -- Terry Modory, Middleburg Heights

Hey, Terry: The Indians are looking for value. Veterans such as Hudson, Jermaine Dye, Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock have a certain amount of value.

I also think they're looking for some people to carry the load. If a veteran on a short-term deal can ease the burden on a young player such as Brantley, Valbuena or Matt LaPorta, it would make sense to sign him.

The Indians are indeed going young. But the worst thing you want to do is let a young player get beat up in the big leagues. You run the risk of losing him. Remember Brandon Phillips.

Peter Bavasi, who turned the Indians organization on its head when he was president, said the key to rebuilding was to distract the paying public by juggling a few bright objects (read: veterans), while the real work of team building was being done. I don't think a couple of veterans would hurt this team.

Hey, Hoynsie: I'm still crushed by the Victor Martinez trade, not to mention dumping Cliff Lee with a year left on his contract at a lowly $9 million. I will not be watching the Tribe via the MLB package for the first time in years. Honestly, I have no idea what I'll be doing as summer evening baseball is very relaxing. I'll read your articles and the box scores, but I don't have the stomach for the Dolans. I tip my cap to you for covering this team through this ownership. -- Jimmy Moss, Pittsburgh

Hey, Jimmy: You sound like a good fan. Can't blame you for being discouraged, but remember every baseball season tells its own story. Some of it will be good, some of it will be bad and some will be downright funny.

I'm glad you'll be reading my stories on I'll be doing Twitter updates as well. If you're really not going to watch the Tribe on TV, maybe you can station yourself on one of the many bridges that cross the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh and stare off into the distance. Your nerves will thank you.

Hey, Hoynsie: When was the last time the Tribe had a true first baseman? And why don't we have one now? It seems they take someone and put them at first base just to keep them in the lineup. It started with Jim Thome when Cleveland got Matt Williams and Thome moved to first. They've been doing it ever since. -- Terry Tomasch, Parma

Hey, Terry: I think you've asked this question before. My best guess is that the last true first baseman employed by the Indians was Mike Hargrove. But I had no problem with Thome at first base, especially when he was hitting 30 to 50 homers a year.

Hey, Hoynsie: Would you guess that in 2011 or 2012, the Indians would trade Grady Sizemore for a couple of pitchers who have major-league potential so we could contend in 2012-2013? -- Joe Eversole, Pelham, Ala.

Hey, Joe: I don't know who the Indians will get for Sizemore, but I do know they'll trade him sometime in 2011 or in his club option year of 2012. Sizemore will make $8.5 million in 2012 if the Indians pick up his option.

There are a couple of things that could hinder the Indians' ability to trade Sizemore. None of them are deal breakers, but they do represent hurdles.

If Sizemore is traded before 2012, the club option becomes a player option and he could turn it down and become a free agent. Should the Indians pick up the option at the end of the 2011 season and trade Sizemore before Jan. 1, 2012, he can void the option and become a free agent. Sizemore will get $500,000 for the first time he's traded during this contract.

Hey, Hoynsie: Why did the Tribe not make an effort to sign Omar Vizquel? They had a need for a veteran utility infielder, the money was not unreal, and he would have obviously provided a marketing boost. I get that Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez aren't coming back, but this one really is a head scratcher. -- Steve Cornelius, Avon Lake

Hey, Steve: Talked with Adam Katz, Vizquel's agent, at the winter meetings. Yes, the Indians were interested in re-signing Vizquel, but Vizquel made it clear that he wanted to go to a big-city team that had a thriving art community and lots of museums. Honest. Cleveland was on his list, but Chicago held a bigger allure. It had nothing to do with what the Indians did or didn't do.

Hey, Hoynsie: I assume that all the invitees to spring training will show? Is Wally Bryan invited? -- Harry Thomas, Cleveland

Hey, Harry: Wally Bryan wasn't invited, but he may appear as Jose Ozoria.

The Indians paid Bryan, who said he was Ozoria, a $575,000 bonus as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic. Afterward they discovered that the 17-year-old Ozoria was really the 20-year-old Bryan.

Hey, Hoynsie: I was wondering how Jason Knapp, the cornerstone of the Cliff Lee trade, was progressing. Was his "loose bodies" surgery a success?-- Joseph Ladd, Cleveland

Hey, Joseph: Every surgery performed on a professional baseball player, no matter what team he plays for, is called a success. Knapp has been rehabbing in Goodyear, Ariz., but isn't scheduled to start throwing until after the start of spring training.

It sounds like 2010 will be year 43 of my fandom without a World Series title. :football:

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Shapiro out - Antonetti in??

CLEVELAND -- There will be changes at the top of the Indians organization. Team President Paul Dolan has a press conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

GM Mark Shapiro is expected to take another job in the organization, reportedly as team president. He will be replaced by Chris Antonetti, his current assistant. The rumored change would not take place until after the 2010 season.

This will be Shapiro's ninth season as general manager. He started working for the Indians in 1992 and worked his way to the top spot on the baseball side of the front office. Antonetti has been Shapiro's top assistant and vice president of baseball operations since Shapiro replaced John Hart in November of 2001.

Antonetti has turned down at least one GM's job and several interview opportunities with other teams to stay with the Indians. He's a graduate of Georgetown University. He joined the Indians in 1996 as an assistant to the baseball operations department.

I was hoping he'd get fired... ;) Edited by Tom Servo

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I normally wouldn't print comments from posters as I think most of them are knuckle-dragging neanderthals, but this comment was so stunning even the PD had to run a poll on it:

Our current GM is being rewarded for putting a nice profit on the bottom line in a very tough economy. Moving him up the ladder saves face for the owner. Putting a new guy in charge at the GM level is an attempt to win back the fans. Having Mr. Shapiro still running the organization insures a profit. A new GM completes the face-lift that's needed to this aging problem of poor fan support.Support the players. GO TRIBE!

In the end, IMO, it really doesn't matter. The Dolans are still running the show and this poster pretty much nailed it.

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Can't even get excited for spring training.

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:yawn:Can't even get excited for spring training.

:bow: Haven't been less excited about a season since 1993.

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:yawn:Can't even get excited for spring training.

:bye: Haven't been less excited about a season since 1993.
Pretty much agree here. Want to see some of the kids grow up, but we could be seeing Grudz, Branyan and company being trotted out there way too much.

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Hey kids, was wondering if you could talk to me about Choo. Is he still obligated for military service in South Korea or has he found a way around that and what are his prospects goin forward, is he going to get better or has he hit his ceiling asfar as production? It's a fantasy baseball question obviously, just wondering if he's worth taking over more established AL outfielders or play it safe and avoid him due to the lineup and his military issues. Any info would be appreciated.

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Hey kids, was wondering if you could talk to me about Choo. Is he still obligated for military service in South Korea or has he found a way around that and what are his prospects goin forward, is he going to get better or has he hit his ceiling asfar as production? It's a fantasy baseball question obviously, just wondering if he's worth taking over more established AL outfielders or play it safe and avoid him due to the lineup and his military issues. Any info would be appreciated.

Choo, 28 in July, had a breakthrough season in 2009, hitting 20 home runs with 86 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .300 average, but the native of South Korea is required to serve two years in the military by the time he turns 30.

"It's hanging over my head a little bit," he told the Associated Press at Indians camp in Goodyear, Ariz.

Choo said if the Indians approve it, he could play for the South Korean baseball team in the 2010 Asian Games in November, and if the team wins the gold medal his military obligation would be waived. If that doesn't work out, he could refuse to return to South Korea or apply for citizenship in the USA.


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Finally got to see Carlos Santana in a spring game That guys bat is major league ready. I get the same feeling watching him that I did watching a young Carlos Delgado years ago. Cleveland has something special here.

Nick Welgarz also looks to have a major league caliber bat.

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Finally got to see Carlos Santana in a spring game That guys bat is major league ready. I get the same feeling watching him that I did watching a young Carlos Delgado years ago. Cleveland has something special here.Nick Welgarz also looks to have a major league caliber bat.

So hey Indians fans!! What is the plan with Carlos? If he keeps mashing AAA pitching like he has started out, will he see time in the majors this year or is the plan to give him a full year of minors duty to get better at calling a game?

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