Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Doing Some Gardening on the Farm

With so much frustration and consternation about the parent club, let’s take another look at what’s happening in the minors:

Buffalo Bisons (32-34)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Kelly Shoppach - .300 – 3 – 7 - .955
Franklin Gutierrez - .291 – 4 – 22 - .802
Ryan Garko - .260 – 7 – 39 - .799
Joe Inglett - .311 – 1 – 13 – .764
Ben Francisco - .259 – 7 – 28 - .752
Andy Marte - .260 – 5 – 18 - .718
Kelly Shoppach has shown that he can hit in Buffalo (though he thrived in Pawtucket last year, so that’s no surprise), so hopefully the Indians will get some confidence in Shoppach to give some Victor some time away from the shinguards. I wouldn’t be surprised if, next year, Broussard and Victor would split time at 1B with Shoppach playing C when Victor grabs the first baseman’s mitt.

Marte has shown signs of coming around, and won’t turn 23 until October. Again, I would expect Marte to see the topside of the organization at some point this year. Just probably not until late July or August or so.

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Jeremy Sowers – 7/1 – 1.37 – 1.15 – 48/26
Jeremy Guthrie – 3/1 – 2.78 – 1.21 – 38/17
Andrew Brown – 2/3 – 2.52 – 1.54 – 35/26
Brian Slocum – 0/0 – 2.61 – 1.02 – 24/9
Tom Mastny – 1/0 – 2.70 – 1.26 – 23/7
Danny Graves – 0/0 – 3.07 – 1.02 – 7/1
Edward Mujica – 3/0 – 0.00 – 0.98 – 14/3
Jeremy Guthrie replaced Jason Davis today, and Davis’ career with the Indians is in flux once again. Do you keep him in the bullpen? Do you put him in the rotation to get him regular work? Do you shop him? Does he have the mental toughness to be a big-league pitcher? I expect Davis to get behind a lot of these pitchers in terms of being a possible replacement, particularly after the Sunday night disaster (after which Davis didn’t show a lot of emotion).

To answer the question of whether there are legitimate alternatives in Buffalo for arms, there’s 6 pitchers with ERA’s under 3.07. Granted Dunn Tire Park is not Jacobs Field, but isn’t it worth giving Mujica or Brown a shot over Mota?

Impressed by Mujica’s numbers in Buffalo? Consider that Mujica has now run his scoreless streak to 34 1/3 innings, with 31 K’s to 12 BB’s on the season between Akron and Buffalo.

It pains me to say this (trust me it does), but don’t be surprised if Danny Graves makes his way back to Cleveland if the Tribe is still searching for answers in the bullpen and Graves can get his act together in Buffalo. I don’t think he’d be the first option (Mujica, Brown, and even Slocum would be better alternatives), but he does have some experience.

Akron Aeros (40-22)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Kevin Kouzmanoff - .423 – 9 – 38 – 1.149
Ryan Goleski - .311 – 2 – 8 – .881
Ryan Mulhern - .270 – 7 – 32 - .884
Brad Snyder - .251 – 8 – 33 - .747
Eider Torres - .271 – 0 – 20 - .647
That’s right, the Aeros are 62 games into the season and Kouzmanoff is hitting .423! Seeing as that he’s blocked at 3B by Marte, and there is a dearth of 2B prospects in the organization, don’t be surprised if Kouzmanoff makes the switch to the middle of the infield. Despite the huge numbers, Kouzmanoff isn’t that great of a prospect as a soon-to-be 25 year old player who’s never played above the AA Level.

I threw Torres in there because he’s a slick-fielding SS, and with Peralta struggling (offensively and defensively) and Vazquez, his alleged defensive replacement, booting 3 balls in his first game, he’s a name to keep an eye on. He can’t hit for ANY kind of power, but he’s a good glove with some speed (23 SB’s), something the Tribe could use off of the bench.

Snyder’s struggles continue, and his stock has to be dropping in the organization as other players will soon pass him by, unless he can cut down on the strikeouts (1 strikeout for every 3.71 plate appearance…OUCH).

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Adam Miller – 6/4 – 4.00 – 1.17 – 67/18
Tony Sipp – 2/0 – 2.45 – 1.09 – 33/7
Sean Smith – 7/0 – 1.80 –0.97 – 37/18
Nick Pesco – 3/2 – 4.03 – 1.24 – 33/14
Bear Bay – 4/3 – 3.30 – 1.24 – 58/21
Aaron Laffey – 1/0 – 2.50 – 1.17 – 7/6
The young arms are starting to hit Akron (Miller – 21, Sipp – 22, Smith – 22, Pesco – 22, Bay – 22, Laffey – just turned 21) and they're thriving. Don’t be surprised if some of these pitchers, notably Miller and Sipp, make the move to Buffalo to keep their development going. Right now the Buffalo rotation includes journeyman Rob Bell, a reeling Jake Dittler, and Jason Stanford (who’s sitting on a 5.10 ERA), so it’s not like the Bisons’ starters are chock full of prospects.

I think this is what Shapiro dubbed “the next wave of arms”. Let’s just get some of that “first wave” up to Cleveland, so we can keep the whitecaps rolling.

Kinston Indians (43-20)
Player – BA – HR – RBI – OPS
Wyatt Toregas (C) - .336 – 4 – 23 - .931
Trevor Crowe (OF) - .329 – 4 – 23 - .919
Brian Barton (OF) - .304 – 9 – 37 - .917
Matt Whitney (3B) - .236 – 7 – 22 – .803
Stephen Head (1B) - .209 – 6 – 35 - .636
The big name here is Trevor Crowe, last year’s #1 pick. Some have projected him as the 2B of the future, though he’s never played the position. The Indians kept him in the outfield to keep his focus on offensive production and to keep his development on track. Torregas’ numbers are a bit of a surprise that could earn him a trip to Akron, while Whitney and Head (two top picks of the past few years) are scuffling a bit. Barton is a 24 year old player in A ball who’s more likely to end up an aeronautical engineer (that was his college major) than a Major League player.

Pitcher – Won/Loss – ERA – WHIP – K/BB
Chuck Lofgren – 9/3 – 1.79 – 1.10 – 58/22
Joe Ness – 5/2 – 2.69 – 1.28 – 55/27
Scott Lewis – 1/1 – 0.85 –0.77 – 67/7
Jensen Lewis – 6/3 – 4.06 – 1.29 – 43/18
This team just lost Sean Smith and Aaron Laffey to Akron, and still look at the arms that remain. Those arms are the main reason that the K-Tribe just clinched the 1st half title. Lofgren is the most highly-thought-of prospect here (plus, he turned 20 in January), but look at those numbers for Scott Lewis, a 23 year old from Ohio State. He has 67 strikeouts to 7 walks in 53 innings.

These arms complete the “wave” of pitchers in the lower levels of the minors. The law of averages dictates that, among these studs in Akron and Kinston, there will be injuries and players who reach their ceiling before they make it to Cleveland. But just remember this depth in pitching when you consider this long-term plan for continued contention.

Sometimes it’s hard to lose sight of the organizational overview, as the Indians struggle to hit their stride.

Hopefully, the Tribe can take some W’s out of the Bronx in the next few days. Something to consider – Guthrie last pitched in Buffalo on the 9th. If Jason Johnson struggles against Big Ugly, the Indians have a spot starter on hand.

2 comments:

Cy Slapnicka said...

Wow, experienced the WGN Suite at Wrigley last night. I must say, everyone should get that opportunity once. Amazing seats looking directly down the 1B line. Fridge full of beer, grub, and a desert cart that they wheel around in the late innings that featured snickers cheesecake, lemon bars, carmel apples, regular cheesecake, sundaes, brownies, brownie sundaes, a variety of cake, you get the picture. Fat guy in a little coat.

I've decided, Wrigley's charm is great...but their scoreboard is just terrible. Every time I go there I am constantly searching for information and cannot find it. They can keep the traditional look for all I care, just put relevant information in places where people can find it.

T-Bone said...

rumor has it someone's gonna be a proud pappa before long???