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Tag:Justin Masterson
Posted on: March 2, 2012 12:08 pm
 

Indians pick Masterson for opening day duty

Justin Masterson

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In somewhat of a surprise, the Indians have named right-hander Justin Masterson on opening day against the Blue Jays on April 5, instead of Ubaldo Jimenez, manager Manny Acta told reporters on Friday.

"It wasn't a tough call at all," Acta told reporters, including Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. "Everyone knew this guy was our horse last year and Ubaldo wasn't on top of his game. Justin wasn't our opening-day starter last year and he eded up being our No. 1. That's just one date. After the season starts rolling over, everyone is No. 1 on their day."

Jimenez will be the second pitcher in the rotation, while the last three spots will be occupied by Josh Tomlin, Derek Lowe and another pitcher, with that order to be determined later in camp. Kevin Slowey, Jon Garland, David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister are battling for the fifth spot in the team's rotation.

The Indians acquired Jimenez from the Rockies at the trade deadline last year, but he didn't quite live up to expectations. After finishing third in the Cy Young voting in 2010, he went 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA overall in 2011, and 4-4 witha  5.10 ERA in 11 starts for the Indians.

Masterson, on the other hand, was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA in 33 starts and 34 appearances for the Indians last season.

Last year Fausto Carmona (or, Roberto Hernandez) started the season for Cleveland, allowing 10 earned runs in three innings in a loss to the White Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the most runs ever allowed by a starting pitcher who threw no more than three innings in his team's first game of the season.

"I hope I can do a little better than what Rob did last year," Masterson told reporters (again, via the Plain Dealer.) "It's an honor to be out there. I want to set the tone for the team, the game and for the season."

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
 

Indians interested in Hafner-Burnett swap



By C. Trent Rosecrans

While CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Yankees and Pirates are still hoping to get a deal done that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh, he also notes the Angels and Indians have tried to get in on the talks for Burnett.

While the Angels are on Burnett's no-trade clause, the Indians deal could make some sense. The two teams are discussing sending Travis Hafner to New York in exchange for the much maligned right-hander.

So does it make sense for the Indians? Perhaps.

Let's not make any mistake, Burnett's not been good as a Yankee and he's certainly not been $82.5 million good. But it's also a mistake to dismiss Burnett as a someone who doesn't belong in the big leagues or in a rotation. The right-hander has enough stuff to tempt a team to give him big money -- in fact before the Yankees splurged on Burnett, the Blue Jays spent a lot of money on him.

Let's get the first part out of the way, Burnett, despite early concerns in his career, has been durable, starting 32 or more games in each of the last four seasons. In 2008, he led the American League with 34 starts and threw 221 1/3 innings. Last season, for all the complaints and even some early hooks, he threw 190 1/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings a start. He still struck out 173 batters -- he can miss bats. He also misses the glove too much, throwing a big-league most 25 wild pitches, hitting nine batters and walking 83.

While Burnett's road ERA was actually worse than his home ERA, he did give up homers at a slightly lower rate away from Yankee Stadium.

Burnett's ERA last season 5.15 -- not exactly a number you want to see in the probables -- but his xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching -- a measure of things pitchers are directly responsible for, while taking away the ability of his fielders and normalized for his ballpark) was a respectable 3.86. To put that in perspective, that was better than the likes of Mark Buehrle (4.14), Ervin Santana (3.93) and Trevor Cahill (3.90), and not much worse than the likes of Ryan Vogelsong (3.85), Jered Weaver (3.80) and Matt Cain (3.78). His career xFIP is 3.78 -- better than his career ERA of 4.10.

Burnett can add 10 teams to his no-trade list each season, with word that most of those teams are on the West Coast.

It still seems like the Pirates are the team that will get Burnett -- and he should help them -- picking up as little as $13 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett for the final two years of his contract.

The Indians still owe Hafner $13 million for this season and have an option for $13 million next season with a $2.75 million buyout, meaning they owe less than half of what they'd be on the line to pay Burnett. To make the deal, the Indians would likely need some money sent back to Cleveland, if not the $20 million they're willing to eat in a deal with the Pirates.

For the Yankees, Hafner is an upgrade of Russell Branyan or Andruw Jones, the two best candidates currently on the roster. Pronk's not the same hitter the Indians signed to a six-year, $66.1 million deal before the 2007 season, but he's still dangerous when at the plate, despite his injury concerns.

Hafner's home run rate has dropped from one per every 10.8 at-bats in 2006 to one every 25 at-bats last season (and a best of one every 21.1 at-bats in 2009 since 2006). But if he's healthy, his left-handed stroke would work well in new Yankee Stadium. While his power numbers have dropped, he still got on-base at a .361 rate, good for a 126 OPS+.

As for the Indians, a rotation with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Burnett and Josh Tomlin should help in their chase with the Tigers.

In the end, it all comes down to money and just how much the Yankees would take off of Burnett's salary for 2013, but New York may not want to give much if they're taking Hafner's $13 million this season and the buy-out.

The Pirates have some good, young prospects and could offer more future talent while the Yankees could add one of the veteran free agent DHs still left on the market like Vladimir Guerrero or Johnny Damon at little financial hit.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Boston Red Sox



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

One of the main reasons we came up with this exercise was because of the massive amount of fighting in the comments sections over who "buys" their teams instead of drafting and developing their own talent. In some cases, the accusations are true. In others, they aren't. While these Red Sox don't have Adrian Gonzalez or David Ortiz or Josh Beckett, you'll certainly see several key, familiar names.

Lineup

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF

Starting Rotation

1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Justin Masterson
4. Anibal Sanchez
5. Carl Pavano

Bullpen

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon
Set up - Daniel Bard, Rafael Betancourt, Frank Francisco, Hideki Okajima
Long - Kyle Weiland, Daisuke Matsuzaka? (Not sure I could stomach that ... )

Notable Bench Players

Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Freddy Sanchez, Engel Beltre

What's Good?

The top of the order is sick. If Hanley Ramirez had one of his good years, that's a top four that few in baseball could match. The entire pitching staff is really, really strong, too. Lester as an ace works fine and Masterson and Sanchez are pretty darn good in those slots. There was one point last season (May) when Sanchez was almost as good as anyone. Then you move into the bullpen and the back-end is what it was in 2011, with Bard and Papelbon. Here, though, we get to add Betancourt and Francisco to the mix. That's quite a bridge to Papelbon, and remember, this with a good rotation.

What's Not?

The lineup thins out quickly. It's not awful by any stretch, because Lowrie, Shoppach and Reddick are a decent 7-9, but Murphy isn't good enough to be a fifth hitter in a great lineup and we still can't be sure how Rizzo pans out. Also, there is no depth, either on the bench or in the bullpen. The onus is entirely on the main guys to shoulder the entire workload.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's avoid all the off-field crap and just focus on the issue at hand. Is this team better than the one that was in the AL playoff race until the final out of the season? The offense isn't as good, that's for sure. Most of the other spots are at least close, but the Rizzo/Gonzalez gap at first base is gigantic. Pitching-wise, though, this group is better, top to bottom. There's no Josh Beckett, but there also isn't a full season of John Lackey with mixed in Dice-K and then the spare-part injury replacements they had to use for most of the season. The real-life Red Sox won 90 games and this group feels like a similar one in terms of wins. It's not elite, but it's pretty good.

Next: Detroit Tigers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 1:58 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Cleveland Indians

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Cleveland Indians
Record: 80-82, second place in AL Central, 15 games back
Manager: Manny Acta
Best hitter: Asdrubal Cabrera -- .273/.332/.460, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 87 R, 17 SB
Best pitcher: Justin Masterson -- 12-10, 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 158 K, 216 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

Winning 80 games, finishing second in the AL Central and seeing the growth of several promising young players would have almost certainly sounded like a great goal to begin the season, after the Indians lost 93 games in 2010. But the way it all went down meant that the season ended up feeling like a punch to the gut. On May 23, the Indians won to give them a 30-15 record and a seven-game lead in the Central. They were even tied for first as late as July 20 and climbed to within 1.5 games in mid-August, but then the Tigers got hot and the Indians just couldn't keep up.

R.I.P. series
Still, the Indians saw great things from many young players, which provides hope for the future. Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano are absolutely a part of the solution in Cleveland.

2012 AUDIT

The Indians look to bring back a very similar ballclub to the one that finished the 2011 season. Full, healthy seasons from both Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo along with progress from many of the young players in house would help the Indians compete in the AL Central. According to most evaluation resources, the upper levels of the minors doesn't have much more help coming for the Indians -- because we saw all of the top prospects this season. Oh, and traded away the top two pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez.

FREE AGENTS

Jim Thome, DH
Kosuke Fukudome, OF
Grady Sizemore, OF (club option for $8.5 million)
Fausto Carmona, SP (club option for $7 million)
Chad Durbin, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • This may be unpopular, but I'd pick up Sizemore's option. He's still 29 and if his surgery last week fixed all the issues with his knee, it's entirely possible he returns to previous form -- which is an All-Star center fielder. Plus, having Sizemore around opens up a lot of options. If the Indians decide midseason to trade him, he could net a good return, assuming he's healthy. Michael Brantley could then slide over to center. But if Sizemore does return to All-Star form, they'll have a shot at locking him up as the veteran centerpiece of their young nucleus -- many of whom won't be free agents for four or five years.
  • A decision has to be made at first base. Do they give Matt LaPorta one more season to see if he finally sticks? He's only 26. He also hasn't even come close to reaching the potential that made him the main piece of the CC Sabathia trade. Another option would be to move slugging catcher Carlos Santana to first for good, making Lou Marson the everyday catcher. A final option is to pursue a cheap first baseman on the free agency market (Casey Kotchman would work) or trade for one. If the Dodgers decide to trade James Loney, he'd be a nice fit. Kotchman seems like a pretty good direction, as he'd be affordable and maybe even could be had on a one-year deal. LaPorta can serve as a backup and if he all of a sudden turns the corner, there's a spot waiting for him.
  • Invent a time machine, go back to late July and don't make the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. I kid, but man, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz would fit so perfectly with the direction of this team. Jimenez has been absolutely mediocre for the past season and a half. But what's done is done and the Indians have to hope he reverts back to the form he had when he started 2010 11-1 with a 0.93 ERA.
  • Mostly, these Indians need to stay the course. The youthful foundation is growing up together. Kipnis and Chisenhall have joined Santana, Cabrera, Masterson and the "Bullpen Mafia" as a strong core of players all still in their 20s and only scratching the surface of how good they can be. The 2012 season will provide answers to some questions (Sizemore, Carmona, how good some of the young players can be, LaPorta, etc.) to provide a better road map as to how the 2013 season will look. All the top prospects have either been promoted or traded, so what you see at the big-league level is what you get for the next few years. If everything falls into place, the Indians contend for the next three seasons. If injuries continue to derail Choo and Sizemore while several of the young players don't pan out, it's going to be a long next three seasons. Time will tell, but they need to see what they have.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 7:58 pm
 

10 finalists for Hutch Award revealed

By Matt Snyder

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has revealed 10 Major League Baseball players as finalists for the 2011 Hutch Award.

The award is given to a "player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of legendary baseball player and manager Fred Hutchinson" -- who played 10 seasons for the Tigers from 1939-1953, missing a chunk due to service in World War II. He also managed the Tigers, Cardinals and Reds during a 13-season managerial career. He then died of cancer in 1964 at the age of 45 and the research center was founded by his brother.

Here are the 10 players nominated for the Hutch Award this season, as chosen by the research center's national committee:

Billy Butler, Royals
Tony Campana, Cubs
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Torii Hunter, Angels
Justin Masterson, Indians
Brian McCann, Braves
Jake Peavy, White Sox
Josh Willingham, A's

Last season's winner was Tim Hudson of the Braves. The first winner was Yankees great Mickey Mantle back in 1965. A full list of past winners can be viewed by clicking here. The winner of the 2011 Hutch Award will be revealed in February.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:05 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Rivera saves No. 600, Guerra bombs

RiveraBy Evan Brunell

Mariano Rivera, Yankees: Rivera became the second closer with 600 saves when he set the Mariners down (but giving up Ichiro Suzuki's 170th hit of the season) to close out a 3-2 victory. Trevor Hoffman is the lone other closer to reach the mark, finishing with 601, so Rivera is also close to setting history in a record that will not be broken for a very long time. It was also his 41st save of the year, two behind Jose Valverde of the Tigers to lead the league in yet another impeccable season for the ageless wonder.

Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: Both Pedroia and Ellsbury rapped out a 4-for-5 night, with the Laser Show recording his first multi-homer game of the season with two blasts. Overall, he notched five RBI during a night where Pedroia joined the 20/20 club, scoring four times as well. Ellsbury added another four runs scored in the 18-6 trouncing, blasting his 27th homer of the season and driving in three. Ellsbury is now at .321/.380/.542 with the year, and Pedroia snaps a little slump with the night and is now slashing .300/.384/.471. Tim Wakefield grabbed his 200th win in the game.

Bruce Chen, Royals:  It's not often you see someone like Bruce Chen on 3 Up, but he blanked Minnesota over eight innings, whiffing eight and allowing just three baserunners. It was a dominating night for the journeyman who has settled into a nice career with the Royals over the last two years. His ERA is now at 4.04 and should receive some interest on the free-agent market with his second straight strong year. He returned to the Royals when no other team was willing to bite on Chen's resurgent year, but things will change now for the 34-year-old.



Javy Guerra, Dodgers: Javy Guerra spectacularly imploded night, handing the Diamondbacks a 5-4 victory in a positively awful top of the 10th. Here's how it went: Guerra gave up a leadoff single to Gerardo Parra, who earlier had drawn the ire of L.A. by getting into an argument with Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, staring at pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo after a brushback, then pimping a home run. He missed a pitchout, which allowed Aaren Hill to bunt. If he hadn't been bunting, the pitch would have gone to the backstop. Then he whiffed Justin Upton before intentionally walking Miguel Montero. All inning, he's been jittery, and he combusted by allowing a walk to Paul Goldschmidt on four straight balls. It's more of the same to Chris Young, with two significantly high fastballs followed by a ball low and outside, then another high fastball to walk in the winning run.

Cole Hamels, Phillies:
It wasn't a good night to be a Phillies ace, as Cole Hamels drew his eighth loss by lasting just five innings, allowing five runs (one unearned) en route to losing to baseball's worst team, the Astros. Hamels struck out six and walked one, so fared rather well there but couldn't buy an out in the field, giving up nine hits, a season-high. He's had such a good year overall, though, that the outing only set his ERA back to 2.71.

Justin Masterson, Indians:  Masterson got crushed in his continuing regression to the mean, coughing up six earned runs over five innings. He allowed eight hits and three walks, punching out just two as his ERA rose to 3.20 after ending July with a 2.56 mark and August at 2.83. He also gave up three homers in the losing effort. Masterson has taken a major step forward this year and make have evolved into an ace, but it will take until the end of 2012 to find out.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 4:50 pm
 

On Deck: Angels need Weaver to play stopper

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

WeaverCy Watch
: Jered Weaver allowed eight earned runs his last time out against the Blue Jays in his worst start on the year by far. That shot his ERA up to 2.13 from 1.78 and is quickly losing ground to Justin Verlander in the AL Cy Young Award race. Not only for that race does Weaver need to show up, but the Angels desperately need some help. Los Angeles is taking a five-game losing streak up against six straight for Texas, with Thursday night wrapping up a four-game series that has seen L.A. slip to seven games back. If the Angels want any hope of staying in the AL West race, a win tonight would be a good place to start. Colby Lewis goes for Texas. Rangers vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

ArizonaPhilliesTop dogs: The Phillies are 8 1/2 up against the Braves, with a 79-42 record good enough for first place in the division and in baseball. It's not as if the Braves are any slouches with 72 wins and the NL Wild Card race in hand, but Arizona is also in first place out in the NL West... with 69 victories. 'Zona goes up against Philadelphia looking to take the rubber game of the series and an outright win in the season series. Ian Kennedy has won seven consecutive starts and is after his 16th victory, which would lead the game. Vance Worley, meanwhile, is hoping to match Kennedy's run as he's won six straight -- but gave up six runs in four innings last time out. Diamondbacks vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

MastersonBattling out in the AL Central: This has already become a common refrain and figures to continue being one down the stretch, but there's a good battle set up between AL Central opponents. The Indians, two games behind the Tigers for the division lead, are attempting to fend off the White Sox, who are 3 1/2 behind Detroit. Cleveland has ace Justin Masterson lined up for battle against Phil Humber, who recently became a permanent member of the Sox's five-man rotation after the six-man rotation finally ended when Zach Stewart was moved to the bullpen. This is the rubber game of the three-game series, with eight games to come in September. "I know that every game means a lot because we're playing the White Sox and we're going to play Detroit, but there are so many games left that if we go day-by-day paying attention to that I'm going to get a heart attack," manager Manny Acta told the Associated Press. Indians vs. White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: August 16, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 5:21 pm
 

Hannahan's Indians teammates have his back

Jack HannahanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

After a couple of days of talking about Carlos Zambrano, let's look at the other side of the good teammate spectrum -- the tale of the Cleveland Indians and Jack Hannahan.

Hannahan is in his first year with the Indians, and after a hot start is hitting .214/.301/.331 with five home runs and 23 RBI in parts of 86 games. He's one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, and by all accounts a really good guy and teammate. However, he's not alone in the "good teammate" category in Cleveland.

Earlier this month the Indians were in Boston and Hannahan's agent Joe Speed got a call from Hannahan's mother that his wife was having contractions and my go into labor in a matter of hours.

Jenny Hannahan had been regulated to bed rest for nearly a month at this point, despite being barely in her third trimester of pregnancy. With Jack Hannahan and the Indians in Boston, it was apparent that the night was near.

So even while Hannahan was at bat in the game, Speed booked the first flight in the morning out of Logan airport in Boston back to Cleveland, even knowing that would likely be too late. His next step was calling about private planes. They were available, but they cost $35,000. Even though Hannahan has a contract for $500,000 this year, $35,000 is still seven percent of his annual salary -- that's a lot of money on a gamble that it would be the night Jenny gave birth.

After Hannahan was notified after the game of what was going on, he considered that, because it was the only way he'd be getting back to Cleveland before the morning. However, the price tag was just too high for the fiscally conservative Hannahan.

At some point after the game, teammate Justin Masterson asked Hannahan what was happening and as soon as Hannahan told him, Masterson told him get the private jet.

"Book it," Masterson told Hannahan, according to Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press. When Hannahan balked, Masterson insisted.

At that point, Masterson passed around a hat, getting donations from teammates. And pretty quickly, they had the $35,000 covered -- call it a baby shower gift from his teammates.

Hannahan booked the plane and once it landed in Cleveland, there was a limo waiting for him at the airport to take him to the hospital. Hannahan finally got to his wife at 3 a.m. and just 15 minutes later, John Joseph Hannahan V was born.

Although the youngest Hannahan was born prematurely and weighed just two pounds, 11 ounces at birth, Speed said son, mother and father are all doing well now, even though Hannahan's son has yet to come home.

These days you don't often get stories about the good guys -- instead I'll spend 10 hours writing 12 different stories on the actions of jerks -- but every once in a while you get a story like this, a good guy being helped out by more good guys. The Indians are two games back in the American League Central going into Tuesday night, but it's hard to think they're anywhere but first (or at least tied for it) in class. 

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