Tag: Aaron Cunningham

Brian Matusz

Brian Matusz gets demoted after loss to Indians


The final week before the All-Star Game usually features a few demotions of starting pitchers with the idea that they can get a start in the minors during the break and then come back up afterwards. We’ll see if that’s the case with Brian Matusz here.

The Orioles demoted their left-hander Sunday after he gave up five runs — four earned — in four innings against the Indians. He fell to 5-10 on the year, with his ERA climbing to 5.42.

Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, was expected to open this season in the minors after posting a record-setting 10.69 ERA in 12 starts last year. However, he was very impressive in spring training in earning a rotation spot, and he did solid enough work for the Orioles for the first two months of the year, going 5-5 with a 4.41 ERA.

Unfortunately, Matusz’s loss today was his fifth in five starts. He has an 8.44 ERA during that span. He gave up homers to Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham in the loss today.

Matusz figures to get two starts in the minors before the Orioles reevaluate his status. If he pitches well, he might be back as the fifth starter right after the break. If not, then the Orioles may try Chris Tillman or Joel Pineiro as a replacement.

Damon makes early exit from Indians debut Wednesday because of “general cramping”

damon ap

From Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer comes word that new Indians left fielder Johnny Damon made a premature exit from Wednesday’s game against the White Sox due to what is being described as “general cramping.”

Damon officially joined the Indians on Tuesday and was making his Cleveland debut tonight. The 38-year-old finished 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

Cramping is usually a day-to-day thing, but there’s been no word from the Tribe about the severity of it.

Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham took turns filling in. The Indians have a night game Thursday.

Indians send Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A, release Felix Pie

Ryan Spilborghs

This was a tough day to be a veteran outfielder trying to crack Cleveland’s roster, as the Indians sent Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A and released Felix Pie.

Spilborghs signed a minor-league deal with the Indians after being non-tendered by the Rockies, but lost a camp battle with Aaron Cunningham to be the right-handed-hitting backup outfielder. He has 1,769 career plate appearances and is 32 years old, but Spilborghs has hit just .239 with a .679 OPS away from Coors Field for his career.

Pie was once a top prospect in the Cubs system, but couldn’t work his way into consistent playing time with the Orioles and had to settle for a minor-league deal with the Indians. He’s still just 27 years old and has a solid fourth outfielder skill set, but Pie has hit just .248 with a .673 OPS in 1,051 career plate appearances.

Grady Sizemore’s injury replacement, Michael Brantley, is injured too

Cleveland Indians v Texas Rangers
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Cleveland has shifted Michael Brantley from left field to center field following Grady Sizemore’s latest injury setback, but now Brantley is hurting too.

Brantley is expected to miss at least the next 3-5 days with a hamstring injury and Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that “the Indians are taking a cautious approach to try to make sure that Brantley will be recovered in time for Opening Day.”

If he can’t make it back in time for the opener the Indians’ third-string options in center field include Felix Pie, Aaron Cunningham, and Ryan Spilborghs. And they’d also have to find a new leadoff man, although Brantley’s career .316 on-base percentage makes him a questionable fit in that role anyway.

Running down the rosters: Cleveland Indians

Carlos Santana, Chris Perez

Even after giving up their top two pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians couldn’t maintain their hot start last year and lost their last four games to finish under .500 at 80-82. The offseason saw them shopping from the scrap heap, which isn’t unusual, but even as they were forced to pick from largely unwanted players, they did well with what they had. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t answer when the team that finished 15 games ahead of them last year added Prince Fielder.

Ubaldo Jimenez – R
Justin Masterson – R
Derek Lowe – R
Josh Tomlin – R
Kevin Slowey – R

Chris Perez – R
Vinnie Pestano – R
Tony Sipp – L
Joe Smith – R
Rafael Perez – L
Dan Wheeler – R
Frank Herrmann – R

Disabled list: Carlos Carrasco (R)
Restricted list: ex-Fausto Carmona (R)
SP next in line: David Huff (L), Jeanmar Gomez (R), Zach McAllister (R)
RP next in line: Nick Hagadone (L), Chris Ray (R), Jeremy Accardo (R), Robinson Tejeda (R)

The addition of Lowe from Atlanta was supposed to give the Indians the most groundball-focused rotation the league has seen in years. The Fausto Carmona situation, however, has taken some of the wind out of those sails, especially since it looks like he’ll be replaced by Slowey, one of the league’s top flyball pitchers. I don’t necessarily think that’s a downgrade, though. In fact, I’m not sure the Indians’ original strategy was such a good idea; they play in a pitcher’s park and their outfield defense figures to be quite a bit better than their infield defense.

The bullpen has two openings, with Herrmann and Hagadone competing against a host of veterans on minor league deals. I’m nervous about Perez in the closer’s role — his velocity is down a bit and his strikeout rate took a big tumble last year — but Pestano rates as maybe the game’s best reliever no one knows about. He can step in if Perez struggles.

CF Grady Sizemore – L
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – S
RF Shin-Soo Choo – L
C Carlos Santana – S
DH Travis Hafner – L
2B Jason Kipnis – L
1B Casey Kotchman – L
3B Jack Hannahan – L
LF Michael Brantley – L

C Lou Marson – R
INF Jason Donald – R
1B/OF Shelley Duncan – R
OF Ryan Spilborghs – R

Next in line: C Matt Pagnozzi (R), 1B Matt LaPorta (R), 1B-3B Russ Canzler (R), 2B Cord Phelps (S), 2B-3B Jose Lopez (R), 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 3B Andy LaRoche (L),
OF Aaron Cunningham (R), OF Ezequiel Carrera (L), OF Felix Pie (L), OF Fred Lewis (L), OF Trevor Crowe (S)

And then there’s the lineup. After re-signing Sizemore and bringing in Kotchman to start over LaPorta, the Indians will be able to go with nine left-handed hitters against right-handed pitching. Of course, things will get dicey against lefties. I think Cleveland might have been better off moving Brantley to center and adding a right-handed bat in Sizemore’s place.

That said, the Indians do deserve a ton of credit for bringing in the winter’s greatest haul in minor league free agency. That “next in line” group is probably the strongest any team can boast, and it gives the Indians plenty of bench options.

My controversial call above is sticking Chisenhall back in the minors. I didn’t want to do it, but the bench works much better that way. A right-handed-hitting backup infielder is a must, whether it’s Donald or Lopez. Hannahan, as a lefty, would be pretty useless as a reserve, but the Indians appear unlikely to cut him after re-upping him for $1.35 million last month. My preference would be for a Hannahan trade, leaving Chisenhall as the starter at third.

The Indians’ chances in 2012 figure to hinge on return to forms from Sizemore, Choo and Jimenez. If two of the three former All-Stars contend for a return to this year’s Midsummer Classic, then the Indians should be capable of winning 90 games and hanging in the playoff race.