The Indians found another guy who can fill in at the back of the rotation when they traded prospect Zach Putnam to the Rockies for Kevin Slowey. Putnam had worked in the Indians organization for a few years now and finally made his debut in 2011, getting most of his time out of the pen.
Slowey had an awful season for the Twins last year so you wondering what the Indians were thinking (Putnam made the Indians top ten prospect list). He was 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA but that was for an awful Twins team. He looks like a below average pitcher who managed to win his share of ball games despite some mediocre stats. His best season was 2008 when he threw 160 1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.99 and a 1.154 WHIP. He’s a typical Twins pitcher. Not a ton of strikeouts but a low walk rate.
The prospect lists continue to roll out and the latest is Kevin Goldstein’s. Topping the list is the lone five star prospect and that’s 2011 first round pick Francisco Lindor. He made his debut at High-A and while he only got into five games, he had a solid enough showing. That’s most likely where he’ll start the 2012 season.
Number two is Dillon Howard. He’s the second pick in 2011 and he signed too late to play. He’s a big guy and another high school guy so we won’t see him with the Indians for a while. Still, he’s pegged as having a 2015 debut.
Ronny Rodriguez is third and this shortstop struggled at the plate at Low-A but that was a nineteen year old. Like the other top guys, he’s several years away from a debut. Austin Adams (RHP) and Tony Wolters (SS) round out the top five.
1) Francisco Lindor SS
2) Dillon Howard RHP
3) Nick Hagadone LHP
4) Chen Lee RHP
5) Luigi Rodriguez OF
6) Zach McAllister RHP
7) Tony Wolters
8) Austin Adams
9) Scott Barnes LHP
10) Zach Putnam RHP
The Indians signed infielder Andy LaRoche to a minor league with an invitation to spring training. I also like these moves because adding guys with a little potential always makes spring training interesting. Once a top prospect in the Dodgers organization, LaRoche never panned out and now he’s 28. He had one decent year at Pittsburgh but outside of that, he’s been mostly used as a part timer. Last year he had a .654 OPS in 104 plate appearances and he didn’t have a single home run.
Jason Donald is LaRoche’s primary competition because he plays a lot of the same spots as the Indians utility infielder. Still, having a guy like LaRoche at Triple-A can be nice because he can fill in for a few different spots if someone goes down.
The Indians pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Cory Burns to the Padres and brought in outfielder Aaron Cunningham to the team. Cunningham has spent parts of four seasons as a part time outfielder for both the A’s and the Padres and he’ll most likely be the team’s fourth outfielder in 2012. He’s out of options so the minors is no longer one. His best season was 2010 when he had an OPS+ of 109. He’s a career .231 hitter but the Indians liked him because he can play both corner outfield spots.
Burns is a solid relief prospect so this wasn’t a give away. He struck out 70 in 59 2/3 innings for Double-A Akron last year and he has a career 188/35 strikeout to walk ratio with a 2.02 ERA in three seasons. He’s also been a closer at each spot and he has 88 career minor league saves.
Indians manager Manny Acta showed up on ten of the 28 ballots in the American League Manager of the Year award and that was good for fourth place. He picked up three second place votes and seven third place votes. Joe Maddon won the award with 26 first place votes and one second place vote. Jim Leyland (one first, 13 second and 10 third) came in second place while Ron Washington (one first, seven second and six third) came in third place.
Acta finished ahead of Joe Girardi, who was on eight ballots. The only other manager to be named on a ballot of Mike Scioscia, who picked up a second and a third place vote.
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