Do the Cleveland Indians really have the worst outfield in the big leagues? Hey, Hoynsie

Do the Cleveland Indians really have the worst outfield in the big leagues? Hey, Hoynsie

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Do you have a question that you’d like to have answered in Hey, Hoynsie? Submit it here or Tweet him at @hoynsie.

Hey, Hoynsie: Do the Indians have arguable the worst outfield in MLB? Please explain how they expect to win a pennant with this collection of has beens and never were offensive players? This coupled with their weak-hitting catchers creates a serious offensive power failure that will put pressure on the rest of the lineup. – Jerry Birk, Chardon.

Hey, Jerry: The outfield is jumbled and there are health questions about Michael Brantley and Brandon Guyer. And they did lose Jay Bruce and Austin Jackson to free agency. But when the Indians reached Game 7 of the World Series in 2016, they did it with manager Terry Francona platooning at all three outfield positions. He even played Carlos Santana in left field. And that outfield arrangement produced runs at a good rate all season long.

There is still five weeks left in spring training. That should give the front office time to sort things out. Having Bradley Zimmer in center field will certainly help defensively and a healthy Lonnie Chisenhall is a solid two-way player in right against right-handers. Still, the outfield is a puzzle with more than a few pieces missing.

Just how much veterans Melvin Upton and Rajai Davis contribute bears watching. As for catchers Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, last season they combined for 94 RBI, the fifth highest total among MLB catching tandems.

Hey, Hoynsie: What are the chances Danny Salazar pitches significant innings for the Tribe this year? Can they get value for him if they try trading him as damaged goods? It feels like he’s on his way to another team. – Jim Norris, Olmsted Falls.

Hey, Jim: If Salazar is healthy, I believe he’ll help the Indians whether it’s in the rotation or bullpen. Right now, he’s dealing with a sore right rotator cuff that could cause him to open the season on the disabled list. Teams showed interest in Salazar over the winter, but with his latest injury, following two years of right shoulder and right elbow problems, I don’t think the return would be much.

Who is going to trade for any injured pitcher?

Hey, Hoynsie: The Tribe currently has Brady Aiken sitting in the minor leagues. He was the No.1 pick in all of baseball in 2014 and the Tribe’s No.1 pick in 2015. Is he going to play a part in the Indians near future? – Ben, Columbus.

Hey, Ben: Aiken is coming off his first full season since Tommy John surgery. The results weren’t great (5-13, 4.77 ERA) at Class A Lake County, but he made 27 starts and stayed healthy. The Indians were encouraged by it. Aiken is only 21 and it’s not like the Indians have a big need for starting pitching. He still needs time to develop.

Hey, Hoynsie: Can you explain what it means when a player is out of options? I am embarrassed to say I don’t understand the system. – Chris Brej, Westfield Center, Ohio.

Hey, Chris: When a player is added to a team’s 40-man roster, the team has three years or three options on that player. They can bring him to the big leagues and demote him to the minors any number of times over those three years without fear of losing him to another team.

When the three years are up, the team must put the player on waivers if they want to send him to the minors. Then he can be claimed by another team.

If a player misses an entire option year because of injury or expends his third option year before he has completed five professional seasons, he can receive a fourth option year.

Left-hander Ryan Merritt is one of a few Indians who are out of options this year.

Hey, Hoynsie: It seems like the Indians sign a lot of injured or veteran players to minor league deals headed into spring training. Do all teams use this means of obtaining players as much as the Indians? – Tom Goodsite, Sanford, Fla.

Hey, Tom: Every team plays about 30 exhibition games and they need bodies to get through the practice games. The Indians don’t just sign these players to fill out the roster. Austin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Scott Atchison, Joba Chamberlain, Jason Giambi, Rich Hill and several other players have helped the Indians after coming to camp on minor league deals.

Hey, Hoynsie: How much longer will the owners stand for Commissioner Rob Manfred’s drastic steps to overhaul the game? – Robert Pierce, Elizabethton, Tenn.

Hey, Robert: I don’t think Manfred’s intent is to dramatically change the game. He just wants it to move at a brisker pace. Limiting mound visits to six for a nine-inning game – other than visits to remove a pitcher – isn’t a bad thing. I don’t think a pitch clock would be a bad thing either.

I still think there are a lot of questions about the pace of play rules that will be added to the game this year. Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, visited Terry Francona and the Indians earlier this week and they still don’t have the exact interpretation of all the rules.

Francona said he heard that teams playing spring training games that are tied after nine innings will be required to play a 10th inning with the inning starting with a runner on second base. Supposedly fans voiced their displeasure about Cactus and Grapefruit League games ending in ties after nine innings when teams ran out of pitchers. MLB officials, however, have denied that this rule will be used this spring.

Reds 6, Indians 4

Reds 6, Indians 4

 

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — The Reds beat Cleveland Indians 6-4 in the spring training opener  before a crowd of 4,094 at Goodyear Ballpark.

The game in three paragraphs:

—Right-hander Sal Romano had a solid first outing. He went two innings and allowed one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out one. The run scored on Alonso Yonder’s solo home run. “It was nice to get back out there and face hitters,” Romano said. “It’s been a long time. All my stuff felt great. I was throwing strikes. That’s most important. Fastball command was pretty good.”

—Tucker Barnhart gave the Reds a 2-1 lead with a home run to right. Brandon Dixon hit a two-run shot in the sixth to open it up a bit. Rosell Herrera also homered — a solo shot. 

—Jose Siri ran into the center field wall, trying to make a catch in eighth inning. He had to leave the game. “He pinned his left thumb against the wall and knocked the wind out of himself,” Price said, “We’re hoping he’ll be fine.” 

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Tribe set for exhibition opener

Tribe set for exhibition opener

Cleveland Indians, spring training, in Goodyear, Arizona

Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

Spring training exhibition opener has arrived

Cleveland Indians, Spring Training, Day 8, in Goodyear, Arizona

Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

Friday’s game

Cleveland Indians, Spring Training , Day 6, in Goodyear, Arizona

Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

Terry Francona’s first spring starting lineup of 2018

Mariners Indians Spring Baseball

Ross D. Franklin, AP

Last season’s Cactus league record

Indians agree to deal with RHP Torres

Indians agree to deal with RHP Torres

Carlos Torres agreed to a contract with the Cleveland Indians, who lost two of their most dependable right-handed relievers in the offseason.

Torres, who has pitched at least 59 innings in each of the past four seasons, was added to help offset the subtraction of Bryan Shaw (Colorado Rockies) and Joe Smith (Houston Astros) in free agency.

Torres, 35, was 4-1 with a 4.21 ERA with the Milwaukee Brewers last season.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Indians close to adding veteran reliever Carlos Torres on minor league deal

Cleveland Indians close to adding veteran reliever Carlos Torres on minor league deal

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – The Indians have been in search of a durable reliever since Bryan Shaw signed a three-year deal with Colorado in December. It looks like they may have found one.

They reportedly have come to terms with right-hander Carlos Torres, pending his physical, to a minor league deal. Torres over the last two years has made 139 appearances for the Brewers. Shaw by comparison made 154.

The 35-year-old Torres was especially effective in 2016. He not only made 72 appearances, but pitched 82 1/3 innings. Overall, Torres went 3-3 with a 2.72 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 30 walks. He averaged 8.5 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per nine innings.

In 15 games, Torres pitched more than one inning.

Torres’ production dropped in 2017. He made 67 appearances, but still pitched 72 2/3 innings. His ERA jumped from 2.73 in 2016 to 4.21 and his average strikeouts and walks per nine innings trended in the wrong direction.

The White Sox drafted Torres in the 15th round in 2004. He made his big league debut in 2009. He’s pitched for the White Sox, Rockies, Mets and Brewers. Torres has been used in relief, except for one start with the Mets in 2014, for the last four years. He’s averaged just over 67 appearances per season in that time.

Last season the Indians led the AL in bullpen ERA. They have six relievers returning from that group including Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Dan Otero, Zach McAllister, Nick Goody and Tyler Olson. They’re looking for a seventh reliever and Torres could be the guy, but there is going to be a lot of competition.

Some of it is expected to come from the rotation. Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merritt and Danny Salazar are competing for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Whoever doesn’t win a job there could compete for a spot in the pen. Salazar, however, has a sore right rotator cuff and could open the year on the disabled list.

The Indians also have 12 pitchers in camp on minor league deals.