Alan Schwarz at Baseball America recently published a great interview with Ellis Burks. The former outfielder is now the special assistant to Indians’ general manager Mark Shapiro and he talks about everything from Burks’ experience at the winter meetings as well as his thoughts on his playing career. There’s a ton of good stuff here.
The Indians shored up their outfield yesterday when they signed the oft injured outfielder Trot Nixon to a one year, $3 million contract. Nixon was very good from 2001 through 2003 but since then he’s spent a ton of time on the disable list. it’s expected that Nixon will share right field with Casey Blake
Nixon is a solid outfielder who will take a walk. He has career on base percentage of .366 and he’s had more then 60 walks in a season five different times. Indians fans just have to hope he over his injuries.
The Indians signed right handed relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt to a one year, $840,000 deal yesterday. This will mean the team can avoid arbitration with Betancourt, who had another solid season out of the bullpen for the Indians. Betancourt doesn’t walk many batters, and while his strikeout rate was down last year, for less then $1 million, you take what you can. I think Betancourt is a bargain at this price.
The Indians also signed outfielder Jason Michaels to a two year deal worth $4.25 million. Michaels didn’t hit nearly as well as he did in 2005, but for the first time in his career he came close to touching 500 at bats. He makes for a good platoon player against left handed pitching although he struggled in the field last year (-8 fielding runs above average) at least compared to 2005 (14 fielding runs above average).
Kevin Goldstein recently unveiled his list of top 10 Indians prospects in his latest Future Shock column. Overall, Goldstein concludes that the Indians have a lot of depth, but the talent they do have isn’t particularly special.
They do have one guy that fell into the “excellent” category and that is right handed pitcher Adam Miller. The Indians first round pick in 2003 might actually be close to making it to the big leagues. Miller tore up Double A before he got knocked around at Triple A. Even better, this kid is only 22 years old. Goldstein talks about the Indians probably bringing him up some time in the second half so we should get a glimpse of what this kid can do.
Left hander Chuck Lofgren comes in at number two. He had a nice season at High A and he’ll get further tested in 2006 as he gets promoted to Double A. Number three, and the best position player, is centerfielder Trevor Crowe. Crowe had a nice season at High A until he got promoted to Double A and struggled. He’s a good, patient hitter who draws his share of walks. Goldstein sees the Indians moving Crowe to left field at some point because Grady Sizemore provides a pretty big roadblock in centerfield.
Baseball Prospectus wrote up a player profile on Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta. While the prognosis isn’t good, it’s not horrible either. It’s a great read and well worth checking out.
I know, this isn’t really huge news, but for Indians fans, it’s all we have. Keith Foulke came in to take his physical and this is the final stepping stone before the Indians officially sign Foulke. It looks like it’ll be a one year deal but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was an option for 2008 in there.
There’s no doubt the bullpen cost the Indians some games, especially early in the season. While Foulke seems like he’s past his better years, this would still give the Indians a bona fide quality option out of the pen.
Well, the deal is done. The Indians will pay Foulke $5 million for next year. There’s some performance incentives and a mutual option for 2008.
$5 million is a little more then I thought, but Foulke is a bona fide stud when he’s on. Hopefully we caught lightening in a bottle and he makes out entire bullpen better.
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