Indians send struggling Carmona to rookie-ball

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Fausto Carmona coughing up seven runs in two innings against the Twins
last night was apparently the final straw for the Indians, as they
dropped the struggling right-hander from the rotation and sent him to
the minors this afternoon.

Rather than simply option him to Triple-A, the Indians have decided
to send Carmona all the way down rookie-ball, although with the Arizona
League still a couple weeks from getting underway it looks like he’ll
basically just be at extended spring training for a while.

Clearly the Indians feel that his struggles go beyond simply
pitching poorly and extend to the erosion of his mechanics or mental
state. Or maybe both. While extreme, the move is not totally without
precedent. Roy Halladay and Dontrelle Willis are examples of big-name
pitchers who were sent to the low minors at the peak of their
struggles, with the demotion working wonders for Halladay and, so far
at least, doing little for Willis.

Carmona came out of nowhere to finish fourth in the Cy Young
balloting two years ago, using his power sinker to go 19-8 with a 3.06
ERA and 137/61 K/BB ratio in 215 innings. Since then he has a 6.10 ERA
and 94/111 K/BB ratio in 181 innings, including an MLB-worst 41 walks
in 61 frames this season. He’s still working at 92-94 miles per hour
and still getting tons of ground balls, but just can’t throw the ball
over the plate consistently (although he’s not in Rick Ankiel
territory).

As part of the contract extension that Carmona signed in April of
last year, the Indians owe him $4.9 million next season and $6.1
million in 2011, and then have $28 million worth of team options from
2012-2014. Locking players up before they hit arbitration is a strategy
that the Indians and other teams have used successfully over the years,
but Carmona is looking like an example of how it can backfire.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.