Tag:Alex White
Posted on: March 8, 2012 4:35 pm
 

For Jimenez, Indians are 'like being in heaven'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The numbers tell one story.

The smile tells another.

It's too early in spring to know whether the numbers should be worrisome, whether it matters that Ubaldo Jimenez isn't throwing as hard as he once did, or whether it matters that he is giving up more hits and more runs.

It's not too early to realize that there was more going on with Jimenez and the Rockies than most of us realized last year.

Thursday, after Jimenez gave up two runs in an ugly first inning against the Angels, he spoke glowingly about his current employers (the Indians) and not as glowingly about the team that traded him to Cleveland last July.

"I feel happy here," Jimenez said. "This is like being in heaven for me."

As opposed to Colorado.

Jimenez wouldn't detail all of his issues with the Rockies, but he said they went back to his time in the minor leagues.

"It was kind of hard being with the Rockies," he said. "I went through a lot. People outside the organization don't know."

Jimenez told Foxsports.com earlier this spring that he wasn't happy that when the Rockies gave big new contracts to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, they didn't do the same with him. Jimenez signed an extension in January 2009, so he's making just $4.2 million this year and has a $5.75 million club option for 2013.

But Jimenez suggested his complaints went far beyond the contract, and the way he talks about the Indians hint at what those complaints were.

"You only hear good things about this organization," Jimenez said. "They treat everyone the same. They don't care how much money you signed for."

Jimenez's first two starts this spring haven't gone well. He gave up five runs in one inning Sunday against the Reds, although four of those runs were unearned. Thursday, he gave up two runs in a 31-pitch, two-walk first inning, then rebounded with a clean second inning.

Jimenez blamed his issues Thursday on a lack of command of his fastball, but his velocity was just 90-94 mph, a little low even in spring training for a guy who at his best is in the high 90s.

For Jimenez, getting through the second start of the spring healthy was an improvement over last year. He hurt his finger in his second start last spring, and the injury seemed to playh a part in his poor start to the season.

After going 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts for the Rockies, Jimenez was traded to the Indians in a deal that cost them two top pitching prospects, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Jimenez went 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 post-trade starts for the Indians.

White made news this spring by getting caught for drunk driving. Pomeranz has begun this spring with five scoreless innings for Colorado.

"[The trade] worked both ways," Jimenez said. "They're happy. I'm happy."

He's happy, and it doesn't even matter to him that the opening day assignment that belonged to him the last two years in Colorado will go to Justin Masterson this year with the Indians.

"He deserved it," Jimenez said. "He earned the spot."


Posted on: August 28, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2011 9:03 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Yankees start in Boston edition

Of all the pitchers who have ever made 90 or more career starts for the Yankees, A.J. Burnett has the worst ERA (4.82).

Of all the pitchers who have ever started 11 or more games in a season for the Yankees, Phil Hughes has the seventh highest ERA (6.46).

Good thing the Yankees don't really need to beat the first-place Red Sox this week, with Hughes and Burnett starting two of the three games.

Oh, they'll tell you that they do. They'll talk about the importance of winning the American League East, and of home-field advantage in the playoffs.

But the real importance of this week, and the real importance of every other week until the playoffs begin, is for the Yankees to figure out which of their shaky starting pitchers they can possibly hope to rely on in October. Boston is a good place to try to start figuring, in part because the Red Sox may be the team the Yankees eventually need to beat, and also because in 12 games against the Red Sox this season (10 of them losses), Yankee starters have a 7.54 ERA.

At the moment, Burnett would seem the least reliable, given his 11.91 ERA and 1.142 opponents OPS (Jose Bautista leads all major-league hitters at 1.092) in August.

In fact, with manager Joe Girardi once again promising that the Yankees will go from a six-man rotation to a five-man rotation after the series in Boston, Burnett is the leading candidate to be dropped.

The Yankees would like to think that Hughes is less of a concern, given that in five straight appearances heading into last week, he had a 2.08 ERA. Then Hughes was awful against the light-hitting A's (2 2/3 innings, six runs), and followed it up with the strange comment, "Hopefully I won't face the A's again for a while."

Instead, his next start is against the Red Sox, who lead the majors in scoring.

Hughes should know that; in three appearances against Boston this year, he has a 16.20 ERA.

Even when Hughes had good numbers, scouts weren't overly impressed.

"He was better," said one scout who watched him in a good performance. "But that's not the same Phil Hughes from when he was really good."

Hughes starts Wednesday night. Burnett, 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA in eight starts for the Yankees against the Red Sox, starts Thursday.

So the Yankees might want to win the first game of the series, behind ace CC Sabathia, on Tuesday.

And that, if nothing else, will make this feel just like a Yankee playoff series.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Diamondbacks ended the weekend with a four-game lead in the National League West (their biggest yet), which means they're guaranteed to enter September -- and next weekend's big series in San Francisco -- in first place. First, they'll play three games against the Rockies -- the team that was supposed to be challenging the Giants -- beginning with Rockies at Diamondbacks, Monday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. Monday's game also features Alex White, one of the two pitchers the Rockies got in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.

2. At this point, it's probably worth pointing out that Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in his four starts against the Red Sox this year, and also that his 4.95 ERA in August is easily his highest for any month this year. But there's no doubt that the Yankees trust Sabathia about 10 times more than they trust any of their other starters, so they'll expect him to win, in Yankees at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Sabathia faces the unreliable John Lackey, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester going against Hughes and Burnett the next two nights.

3. The Yankees talk about home-field advantage, and it's true that they're 41-26 at Yankee Stadium this year. But that's nothing compared to the Brewers, who have a 50-16 home record, with 17 wins in their last 19 games. That record has helped the Brewers turn the National League Central into a runaway, and has greatly diminished the importance of this week's series against second-place St. Louis. The Brewer record for home wins in a season is 54, and they could get close in the series that ends with Cardinals at Brewers, Thursday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo, who is 9-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 home starts, will be on the mound for the Brewers. One more thing about the Brewers: Despite playing in the smallest market in the majors, they'll sell their 3 miilionth ticket sometime this week.

Posted on: June 10, 2011 8:19 pm
 

Even if they fade, Indians are a 2011 success

NEW YORK -- There are two questions worth asking about the Indians, and there's no reason the answer to the two has to be the same.

Question 1: Can the Indians at least stay in the American League Central race all season, and maybe even win it?

Question 2: Will 2011 be a successful year for the Indians?

A lot of people are starting to suspect that the answer to the first question is no. The Tigers are hot, the White Sox may be getting hot, and the Indians' flaws have started to show. Their five-game lead shrunk to a one-game lead in just eight days, and there's every chance that next week's first-place battle in Detroit will begin with the Tigers -- and not the Indians -- in first place.

But even if the Indians never see first place again this year, even if they struggle to hold on with a winning record (they entered the weekend 34-26, after a 30-15 start), there's absolutely no doubt that the answer to the second question is yes.

As much as we talk about the Royals as the rising team in the Central (the team to watch in 2013, as I called them this spring), what's happened in the first 2 1/2 months proves that the Indians are every bit as much a team to watch for the next few years.

I missed that this spring. So did every scout I've talked to who saw the Indians in Arizona.

So, in some ways, did the Indians themselves.

"It's gone quicker than we thought," manager Manny Acta said Friday. "It's fun, because it's actually shortened up the plan."

The key so far has been the development of 25-year-old shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and 24-year-old outfielder Michael Brantley, who now look like players you could build around. Indians veterans say that Cabrera's leadership skills have impressed them every bit as much as his considerable on-field skills.

"He's got that 'it' factor," infielder Adam Everett said. "And it's fun to watch."

Indians players also rave about pitchers Alex White (currently on the disabled list with a finger problem) and Drew Pomeranz (currently at Class A Kinston).

Reliever Chad Durbin, who spent the last three years with the Phillies, said that even this rough stretch will be good for the Indians youngsters.

"It's outstanding for guys to learn how you feel when you win," Durbin said. "But it's also good to learn how to handle it when you don't -- especially when you're in first place. It's different to be a lead horse in any race."

The Indians have been the lead horse in the AL Central since April 7. There's every chance that run at the top will come to an end soon, every chance that this Indians team isn't good enough or ready enough to hang in there all season.

But there's also every reason to think that the Indians will be heard from again very soon.

"It bodes really well," Durbin agreed.

And long-term, that's more important than a couple of months in first place.


Posted on: May 2, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Is it time to believe in the Indians?

A week ago, I'll admit, I was still dismissing the Indians' hot start.

I'm still not ready to believe, but I'm getting there -- and not just because their 19-8 record is the best in the majors.

Plenty of teams play well for the first 30 games of the season, only to fade. In fact, of the last 12 teams to start a season 19-8 or better, only seven made it to the playoffs. The 2006 Reds started 19-8, and didn't even manage to finish .500.

One scout who follows the American League Central said Monday, "The best thing the White Sox and Tigers have going for them is that they're chasing the Indians and Royals."

Still, there are reasons to believe, according to scouts who have followed the Indians:

1. Grady Sizemore looks like himself again. When I did the Indians camp report in February, I wrote that the most interesting question for the Indians was "whether the Grady Sizemore of 2007-08 will return."

"He's back," one scout said. "He's moving awfully well."

2. Michael Brantley looks like Grady Sizemore, too.

"He's another Sizemore," the scout said. "He takes good at-bats, he can throw, and he can run."

3. Justin Masterson is better than he was, Josh Tomlin is better than you think, and Alex White can be a difference-maker.

Masterson started 0-5 last year. He's 5-0 this year. Scouts say he could be even better if he would consistently use his sinker against left-handed hitters, who are still hitting .295 against him.

Tomlin is 4-0, and on the way to living up to one scout's spring training prediction that he would win more games than Fausto Carmona or Carlos Carrasco.

As for White, the 2009 No. 1 draft pick who debuted Saturday against the Tigers, one scout called him "the real deal." Told that the Indians actually think 2010 first-rounder Drew Pomeranz will be better than White, the scout said, "Well, then they'll have two top-of-the-rotation guys."

White only joined the rotation because both Mitch Talbot and Carrasco are hurt, but this scout predicted that there's no way the Indians can send him back to the minor leagues now.

"They'll just have to pay him," he said. "They ought to sign him to a long-term deal right now."

4. Tim Belcher's message is getting through.

Belcher worked in the Cleveland front office after retiring as a pitcher, then became the Indians' pitching coach last year. One scout gives him credit for the Indians' strong start, saying, "Belcher has them pitching to a game plan. The stuff isn't that electric, but they make it work."

5. The Orlando Cabrera effect. Cabrera moves from team to team, but as one scout said Monday, winning follows him. Since July 2004, when the Expos sent him to the Red Sox as part of the Nomar Garciaparra deal, Cabrera has changed teams seven times, but has made the playoffs every year but one.

"He's a menace," one scout said. "He's not great at second base, but he wins."

And so, for now, do the Indians.



Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:50 am
 

3 to watch: The How do you know? edition

Already this year, Josh Johnson has carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning. And another into the seventh. And another into the sixth. And another into the fifth.

In five starts, he's never given up a hit before the fourth inning.

The easiest thing to do would be to predict that Johnson is going to throw a no-hitter this year.

And I'm not going to do it.

Not after talking to Edwin Jackson, I'm not.

Jackson threw a no-hitter last year, when he was pitching for the Diamondbacks. But when I asked him to guess who will throw this year's first no-no, he politely refused.

"How do you ever know?" asked Jackson, who now pitches for the White Sox. "Because if you'd have asked me if I was going to throw one, I'd have said, 'Never.' I'd have bet my paycheck that I'd never throw one."

How do you know?

"I always said I'd never throw one," said Mark Buehrle, Jackson's White Sox teammate. "And I've got two."

Buehrle was willing to guess, though.

"Somebody like [Justin] Verlander or Josh Johnson," he said.

Verlander has thrown a no-hitter, in 2007 against the Brewers. Johnson hasn't -- yet.

Johnson gets another chance Saturday in Cincinnati.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Since the start of 2009, Tim Lincecum has at least one win over every National League opponent, with one exception. Would you guess it's the Nationals? Lincecum lost his only start against the Nationals last year, and a Bob Howry blown save cost him a potential win in 2009. He gets another chance in Giants at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park.

2. Back in spring training, we asked when Alex White would make his debut with the Indians. We didn't guess it would be in April, and we didn't guess he'd be joining a first-place team. It is, and he is. The Indians' 2009 first-round pick is only getting a chance this soon because of two injuries to starting pitchers, but he will get a chance in Tigers at Indians, Saturday night (6:05 ET) at Progressive Field. One oddity, though: White is actually four months older than Rick Porcello, the Tigers' Saturday night starter. Porcello will be making his 63rd big-league start.

3. You wouldn't think Johnson would no-hit the Reds. The Reds haven't been no-hit since 1971 (Rick Wise) . . . unless you count that Roy Halladay no-hitter in the playoffs last year. Then again, Johnson's first major-league win came in Cincinnati, and in that game he allowed no hits . . . in three innings of relief. But no, I'm not predicting he throws a no-hitter in Marlins at Reds, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Great American Ballpark. How do you know?

Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 4:34 pm
 

Indians prospect White joins rotation

Alex White is coming to the big leagues.

The Indians announced that White, their top draft pick in 2009, will make his big-league debut Saturday against the Tigers. White takes the place of Carlos Carrasco, placed on the disabled list Thursday with inflammation in his right elbow.

White has a 1.90 ERA in his first four starts at Triple-A Columbus, with five walks and 28 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. White, whose fastball touches 97 mph, was ranked by Baseball America as the 47th-best prospect in the whole minor leagues.

The Indians don't expect Carrasco to be out long. Club officials said tests show no structural damage, but the team wants to be careful with the 24-year-old, who was part of the 2009 Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies.

The Indians replaced Carrasco on the 25-man roster by recalling Frank Herrmann from Columbus, but Herrmann is a reliever. The team will make another roster move to activate White on Saturday.

White was considered the Indians' top pitching prospect last winter, but club officials are now even more excited about 2010 first-round pick Drew Pomeranz, who is now on a fast track. Pomeranz had a great spring, is off to a good start at Class A Kinston, and will likely be promoted to Double-A soon.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com