The View from the Porch: The Chisenhall Conundrum

ChisenhallA lot of the Indians content here at EHC has largely been in support of the team and its players. This is a dangerous line to walk in the Cleveland media world and, yes, I consider us part of that because we have an audience (thank you!) and some guys that really understand the sports landscape in the city. The reason it’s dangerous is because supporters are labeled as apologists or shills for the team. Those that criticize are welcomed with the “one of us” mentality.

As I suggested during a conversation on Twitter with some of my EHC colleagues and other respected Cleveland sports blogosphere residents, this happens because it’s far easier to criticize than to acknowledge. Fans that are still hellbent on voicing their anger over the CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee deals seem content to forget that Michael Brantley and Carlos Carrasco came out of those trades. Fans that feel the need to consistently belabor the “Dolanz are cheep” argument conveniently ignore that the Indians have locked up in-house players to contract extensions and also went out and spent on free agents like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Those that blame Chris Antonetti or Mark Shapiro for the team’s lack of success willfully ignore the moves that worked out handsomely. Yan Gomes, Corey Kluber, and Carlos Santana came from Esmil Rogers, Jake Westbrook, and Casey Blake. Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw came from one season of Shin-Soo Choo. Marc Rzepczynski came from Juan Herrera, a light-hitting infielder that has not played above Single-A. They’ll also ignore that the Indians have a playoff appearance and 177 wins over the last two seasons, which is hardly a lack of success.

Those that complain about the draft tend to forget that TJ House was a 16th-round pick. Cody Allen was a 23th-round pick. Kyle Crockett was a fourth-round pick less than two years ago. Tyler Holt was a 10th-round pick. Roberto Perez was a 33rd-round pick. Jason Kipnis was a second-round pick who changed positions and made it to the Majors in two seasons while on the fast track to the bigs. Continue reading

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A Formula For Success: Constructing Cleveland’s Bullpen

Of the top 10 bullpens in Major League Baseball last year, Cleveland’s pen had the most innings pitched.

There were 39 pitchers who made at least 70 appearances last year. Cleveland had four, including 80 appearance man Bryan Shaw. Terry Francona used Shaw, Cody Allen, and Scott Atchison for 70 innings each, give or take a few here or there.

When Francona was managing the Red Sox from 2004 to 2011, he utilized his bullpen less than every team in baseball outside of the Angels and White Sox, at least in terms of innings pitched. But he had one of the most effective bullpens, proving that less usage equals greater success. But he did that because he had the pieces in place.

You could go on with a list of names from some of the most important pieces like Jonathan Papelbon to someone like former Indian Dan Wheeler. But it isn’t the names, so much as it is the roles those names fill and how the roles lead to results. Continue reading

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Review – Sunshine in the Vault

1On March 6, Netflix debuted “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” written by former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” star and writer Tina Fey and starring Ellie Kemper (“The Office”) as a survivor of a doomsday cult, with all 13 episodes of the first season available to stream right now. Ed Carroll provides his thoughts on the first season with minimal spoilers.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is an unconventional show for Netflix. Whereas the streaming service’s three flagship series (“House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “BoJack Horseman”) all were created for Netflix and revel in their lack of a network anchor (and lack of censors), Kimmy Schmidt looks like something you would have seen on NBC Thursday nights a few years ago, smashed somewhere in between Fey’s own “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Community.” NBC actually sold the series to Netflix, who picked up Kimmy Schmidt for a second season as part of the agreement. Continue reading

A Healthy Rotation Can Win The Central Division

1Going into the 2015 season the Cleveland Indians have a starting rotation that has been talked about as one of the best in all of Major League Baseball. Riding the momentum they built during the second half of 2014 has not only made them a trendy pick but a smart pick as well. This is a young group of starters that is either in their prime or coming into their prime. Things definitely look promising going forward.

In recent days there has been a few reported hiccups in this rotations armor. First Gavin Floyd is heading to the MRI table for his sore elbow. Josh Tomlin was scratched from his start and has already had an ultrasound on his “cranky elbow”. While both of these items may only be precautionary in the early days of spring, it does make you think about the depth of the rotation as a whole.

The meat of the rotation seems to be okay right now with the five best starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House and Danny Salazar all have gotten through the early part of Spring Training unscathed to this point. The potential issues that losing Floyd or Tomlin for significant time are causes for concern. That would leave Zach McAllister, Shaun Marcum and Bruce Chen as the “Calvary”. While I am intrigued by Marcum and his bounce back potential to a useful backend starter leaning on this group for any period of time is not ideal to the success of the 2015 season. Continue reading

Orbiting Cleveland: James Jones has become an asset to the Cavaliers

Orbiting

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(Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

Eighty-two games.

For any team to be successful over the long haul that is an NBA season, contributions must come far and wide. Everyone needs to step up to the proverbial plate when that time comes.

Over the last few weeks, perhaps no player on the Cleveland Cavaliers has personified that idea more than James Jones.

Admit it, when the Cavaliers signed Jones this past August, your response was somewhere along the lines of, “Well, they’re just signing another one of LeBron James’ buddies,” “Who cares, he won’t play anyway,” or “James Jones? Really?”

That type of response was justified, especially considering Jones’ recent track record.

Last season, the small forward played only 20 games for the Miami Heat while averaging 4.9 points. His three-point shooting percentage (51.9 percent) was impressive, but we’re talking about just 20 games here.

Keep in mind that Jones had not averaged more than 13 minutes per game since the 2010-11 season. In fact, over entire 12-year career, he has averaged more than 20 minutes per game on just two occasions.

So yes, by all accounts, it appeared as if this signing was simply an effort to appease the King.

But here is what many of us seem to forget. Continue reading

A Dream of Spring on a Lazy Sunday

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Were proud to have the Diatribe’s Al Ciammaichella with his weekly installment of ‘A Lazy Sunday.’ Today, Al discusses a variety of spring topics, including his prospect rankings, Francisco Lindor, the Indians place in Major League Baseball, Brantley’s potential in 2015, upticks from three starters, worries for another starter, and close look at the player that the season could hinge on: Brandon Moss. On a sidenote, we here at EHC are proud to have Al on our team. There’s nothing I love more than to grab a cup of coffee, and read a Lazy Sunday. Now you can do it right here at EHC. Tune in over the coming weeks to find more content from Al, as #EHC begins to spread its wings.

Make sure you check out Al’s site, The Diatribe!

You can also check out all of Al’s work, right here at #EHC!

All photos used in this piece are attributed to Al Ciammaichella.

Real baseball is here! Well, spring training baseball is here, and with the rest of the country stuck in the throes of winter, spring training baseball looks pretty good right now. The sample sizes are small, the pitchers aren’t stretched out, and the stats are meaningless. But Yan Gomes is throwing runners out (and hitting home runs), Bradley Zimmer is legging out triples, and Trevor Bauer is back tinkering with his delivery. It’s baseball! Indians baseball! In the sunshine! I can’t stop using exclamation points! We’re less than a month away from the games that count, as the Indians open the season in Houston on April 6.  Then, just a few days later, the home opener on April 10, which is the first in a three-game series against the reigning AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers. It’s certainly not a must-win series or any nonsense like that, not in early April. But it sure would feel good to come roaring (pun) out of the gates and take three from the Motor City Kitties, announcing our presence with authority and making sure the Tigers know that their reign at the top of the division is crumbling beneath them like the marble columns of the Roman Empire. And if one of those games involves hanging a ten-spot on Kate Upton’s boyfriend and chasing him out of the game in the 3rd inning, so much the better. If you’re not excited for the prospect of real, actual baseball that counts in the standings, there’s something wrong with you. Continue reading

5 Breakout Candidates for the 2015 Tribe

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Jason Kipnis
2014: .240 / .310 / .330 / 6 HR
STEAMER: .253 / .328 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .256 / .330 / .388 / 13 HR

Kipnis entered the 2014 season as not only a major part of a promising young core, but also one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise. A breakout player in 2013, his 2014 campaign saw a massive decline in production on the field. Off-the-field, Kipnis was dealing not only with injuries, but also the departure of his best wingman in Vinnie Pestano and the pressure of Kevin Love’s arrival on the Cleveland Playboy Scene. Kipnis needs to regain his 2013 form if he hopes to continue his quest of trolling for phone numbers from drunken coeds on West 6th. He realizes “I had a really sweet 2013” won’t cut it with most ladies in Cleveland’s party scene and early returns of “I know Michael Brantley” haven’t resulted in the numbers he’d like.

Trevor Bauer
2014: 5-8 4.18 ERA 1.38 WHIP
STEAMER: 10-11 4.45 ERA 1.38 WHIP
ZIPS: 8-9 4.29 ERA 1.40 WHIP

Bauer, the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been an enigmatic character in his short time with the Indians. Sporting top-shelf stuff, his approach and ability to be coached have been questioned throughout his professional career. Off-the-field incidents include recording rap tracks and personally building a drone most recently seen flying over the Indians practice facility in Goodyear, ARI. Bauer’s somewhat peculiar personality has also been a controversial topic on Twitter; with many fans lashing out at him for both performance and attitude. Having proven himself as belonging in the big-leagues, Bauer will spend the 2015 season attempting to make the leap to top-of-the-rotation starter. Team officials are quietly expecting big things, as Bauer spent the offseason building not only his drone, but also a machine designed to collect fan hate and turn it into consumable energy. Bauer hopes this new Tweet-fueled rage-ahol will provide an extra 200-300% on his fastball. The true test will be pitching coach Mickey Calloway’s ability to harness to additional energy for good as opposed to evil. Expect Bauer to make headlines a few more times in Spring Training as he collects enough hatred to sustain through a long season.

Carlos Carrasco
2014: 8-7 2.55 ERA .985 WHIP
STEAMER: 11-9 3.53 ERA 1.20 WHIP
ZIPS: 6-6 3.71 ERA 1.24 WHIP

Carrasco’s season may be less a breakout for him as an individual as much as his impact on those around him. Coming to the Indians as part of the Cliff Lee trade, Carrasco showed his potential in 2011 with a 3.54 ERA over his first 15 starts. Elbow trouble derailed his season and eventually led to Tommy John surgery. Carrasco struggled to recover his prior success before moving to the bullpen in 2014 and posting a 2.30 ERA over 43 innings. He sustained that success in a move back to the rotation posting a 1.30 ERA over ten starts in the second half. Beyond his pitching prowess, Carrasco provides the “enforcer” the Indians have lacked since the right-handed scary monster Shelley Duncan left following the 2012 season. Carrasco’s 97 mile-per-hour fastball with head-seeking action provides plenty of intimidation as opposing teams will be forced to make tough decisions such as “Do I want to try to get a hit, or do I want to die tonight.” In a tough AL Central race, these are the types of advantages that can swing the entire division.

Lonnie Chisenhall
2014: .280 / .343 / .427 / 13 HR
STEAMER: .263 / .317 / .429 / 15 HR
ZIPS: .271 / .325 / .429 / 14 HR

Chisenhall had a monster first-half in 2014 before tailing off down the stretch. A top prospect throughout his time in the Indians’ minor league system, the team hopes 2015 is the year Chisenahll is able to make the leap to being a more consistent offense-focused 3B. Entering his age 26 season and having tasted success in the front-half of 2014, Chisenhall cites his biggest motivation for 2015 being “known for something other than the name Lonnie. It’s awful. My 7th grade girlfriend broke up with me over this name. Please call me Chiz or literally anything else instead.” Various members of the Indians’ front office have given Chisenhall 2015 goals of a .260 batting average, 15 homeruns, and “Lonnie” making the top 300 list of new baby names in Cleveland.

Nick Swisher
2014: .208 / .278 / .331 / 8 HR
STEAMER: .233 / .319 / .382 / 13 HR
ZIPS: .229 / .316 / .386 / 14 HR

With the recent news that Swisher isn’t deceased, expectations for his 2015 season have ticked up slightly. After signing a large contract with the Indians prior to the 2013 season, Swisher saw a decline in his overall numbers but still helped propel the Indians to the Wild Card play-in game by hitting seven homeruns in September and October. The following season, Swisher battled injuries and a prolonged slump before finally having season-ending surgery on both knees. Having been a model of consistency in his career – both in terms of health (145+ games played in 8 consecutive seasons prior to 2014) and performance (only two seasons below .800 OPS in prior eight seasons to 2014) – Swisher is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season. The Indians hope that a return to form will help fans shift their criticisms and heckling to members of other teams, instead of the hometown Indians. Mark Shapiro was quoted as saying, “Hopefully in 2015, Nick Swisher teaches Cleveland how to love again.”

Indians Prospect Countown: #5-1

1Here it is…

The Diatribe’s Al Ciammaichella finishes up his 2015 Indians’ Top 30 prospects list with the Top Five. To some, today’s list starts off with a name that has been known in the inner circles for a few years, but has gone largely unnoticed by both national pundits, as well as most casual fans. If things fall the right way though, he could find his way into some major league playing time. The rest of the top five includes a high upside catcher, two high upside outfielders that could either play center, or get pushed to the corner, and perhaps the best prospect in all of baseball, who I’m guessing most readers will be able to guess.

If you’ve missed the first five installments, you can find them here, at Everybody Hates Cleveland:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

Prospects #10-#6

You can also check them out at The Diatribe here:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

Prospects #10-#6

The photos used in this piece were provided by Lianna Holub, via Lianna Holub Photography. Make sure you check out her facebook page, and give it a like! She’s an amazing baseball photographer who is about as official an EHC photographer that you’ll get! Keep checking out EHC for more of her fabulous work!

Check out prospects #5-#1, after the jump: Continue reading

The View from the Porch Guide to Spring Training

Corey KluberIt seems that there are a lot of people out there that don’t understand the point of Spring Training. When the Indians’ social media accounts are littered with “Where’s Brantley?” or “We lost 10-0 smh” comments during Spring Training games, it fills me with a combination of rage and disbelief. How can a group of people be so out of touch with the purpose that the month of exhibition baseball in Arizona serves?

In light of this horrifying development, I’m going to use this week’s View from the Porch as a Guide to Spring Training. Included will be thoughts on what to look for, what to watch for, what Spring Training means, and what to take away from Spring Training.

Let’s start with a very simple concept. Spring Training stats mean practically nothing. For one thing, the sample sizes are so small that it’s nearly impossible to make any meaningful conclusion about a player’s performance. Starters in the everyday lineup and players getting serious roster consideration will get around 60 at bats during the Spring, barring injury or illness. Asdrubal Cabrera posted a .357/.438/.518 slash line in Spring Training last season. He did not do that, or anything close to it, during the regular season. Ryan Rohlinger batted .346 in 26 Spring Training at bats. He batted .233 for Triple-A Columbus last season.

Corey Kluber ended Spring Training 2014 with a 5.60 ERA. Josh Tomlin, even in the hitter-friendly conditions of the desert, posted a 3.54 ERA. Kluber won the American League Cy Young. Tomlin hung a 4.76 ERA. Carlos Carrasco was 3-1 (yay win-loss record!) with a 5.17 ERA. He gave up 24 hits in 15.2 innings of work.

One bad outing, like Kluber’s seven runs on 11 hits in six innings against Colorado on March 22, is going to have an enormous impact in a small sample. He didn’t pitch that well overall anyway, but unless you’re watching the game, you cannot put any context on the performance. This will be addressed again later on. Continue reading

Indians Prospect Countdown: #10-6

1The Diatribe’s Al Ciammaichella continues his week-long look at the Cleveland Indians’ 2015 minor league system’s top 30 prospects here at Everybody Hates Cleveland. Today Al breaks into the top ten with a “troubled” but talented pitcher, a rebounding starter, a newcomer to the system, the forgotten shortstop, and a former first round pick trying to make a splash.

If you’ve missed the first four installments, you can find them here, at Everybody Hates Cleveland:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

You can also check them out at The Diatribe here:

Prospects #30-#26

Prospects #25-#21

Prospects #20-#16

Prospects #15-#11

The photos used in this piece were provided by Al Ciammaichella.

Check out prospects #10-#6, after the jump: Continue reading