Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why the DL?

You may be wondering why the Indians placed Grady Sizemore and Joe Smith on the disabled list Monday. There wouldn't seem to be any need to do so because in September teams are permitted to expand their rosters from 25 all the way up to 40 players, if they so choose. So there is no need to place an injured player on the DL in order to call up a replacement from the minor leagues. Teams already have plenty of manpower in September.

So why did the Indians put Sizemore and Smith on the DL? It's a complicated issue, but the short answer is that it was done in case Sizemore and Smith are not ready to play by opening day next year, in which case insurance would cover their salaries while they were out with their injuries. That insurance only kicks in if the player is on the DL, so that's why those moves were made.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

One of the more revealing moments in this Indians season happened on Friday, Sept. 4, when the Indians' starting left fielder was utility infielder Jamey Carroll. The Indians were short on outfielders that night because Shin-Soo Choo had left the team to be with his wife, who was about to have a babey, and Trevor Crowe, who was activated off the disabled list the day before was not able to play the outfield. This raises a couple obvious questions: First, why was Crowe activated if he was still hurt enough that he couldn't play the outfield? And, secondly, how, with major league rosters able to be expanded in September, could the Indians run out of players for ANY position?

Playing an infielder in the outfield because you don't have enough outfielders in the month of September, when teams are allowed to expand their rosters up to 40 players, if they so choose, is inexcusable. It's also the latest in a series of strange decisions made by Indians officials throughout this season.

The decision to start Carroll in the outfield instead of the injured Crowe carried with it considerable irony as well. The Indians chose not to play Crowe in the outfield because he was injured, yet they played Grady Sizemore in the outfield virtually the entire season even though Sizemore was not only injured, but injured to the point that he needed not one but two surgeries.

It's been not just a bad Indians season, but a very strange one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Carrasco and Brantley debuts

Carlos Carrasco's debut with the Indians Tuesday night in Detroit was shaky, and not unexpected. Major league debuts for pitchers can be dicey. It's difficult to pitch effectively when the pitcher is also battling nerves. Carrasco's first inning looked like that of a pitcher who lost a battle with his nerves. The first six batters Carrasco facaed in the first inning all reached base, and he gave up six hits and four runs in the inning.

Carrasco threw 74 pitches in three innings, before being removed from the game, and I would dismiss his pitching line. You don't make a judgment on a pitcher off one start, good or bad, much less one start that is also the pitcher's major league debut. Let's wait until the end of the season, when Carrasco will presumably have had three or four more starts, before forming any opinions on him. This much is certain, though: Carrasco needs to be a significant addition to the pitching staff, and the sooner the better. The Indians traded Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to Philadelphia to get Carrasco and three other players, none of whom were ready for the major leagues at the time of the trade.

Carrasco is the first of the group to make it to the big leagues. If he's ultimately not at least a middle of the rotation starter, the Lee trade is going to look even worse than it already does.

Outfielder Michael Brantley also made his major league debut Tuesday night. Brantley brings two much-needed qualities to the Indians' lineup: He's fast, and he doesn't strike out very much. That should make him a good fit in an Indians lineup that has too many players who are slow and strike out too much. Brantley didn't hit for a high average at Columbus, but he is supposedly an above average defensive outfielder. He's a very interesting player who bears watching in September. An impressive showing in the last month of the season by Brantley may convince Indians officials to move Matt LaPorta to first base, in order to make room in the outfield for Brantley in 2010.