It is the season for giving and former Indian Marty Cordova is praying and hoping for a little help during a rough time for his family.
Cordova’s 15-year-old daughter, Ashley McAdam, was in a car accident on Dec. 16 — hit by a truck as one of her friends pulled into her high school — and is in a coma. Beyond the head trauma, Ashley, who was a passenger in the crash, suffered a broken jaw, elbow and thighbone.
According to an Associated Press article, “Ashley has been in intensive care since she arrived at the hospital. Doctors have told Cordova that different people respond in different ways to brain injuries. Her eyes have fluttered open in the last few days, but she is still not responding to voice commands or requests to squeeze a hand or blink an eye.”
Ashley’s family has set up a Facebook page called, “Supporting Ashley McAdam,” where people can offer support. The link to the donation page to help support Cordova and his family for what is expected to be a sizeable medical bill is HERE.
Keep Cordova and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Baseball and the city of Cleveland lost an icon with the recent passing of Hall of Famer and Indians legend Bob Feller. The loss felt within the Feller family was greater and his absence has left a void this holiday season.
Feller, who owns multiple Indians franchise records, passed away due to complications from leukemia on Dec. 15. He was 92. On Friday, Christmas Eve, his family issued the following statement:
The Feller family would like to thank everyone for their warm wishes in the wake of Bob’s passing. In addition to being a national baseball icon, Bob Feller was a husband, father, and grandfather. He will be remembered for his intelligence and charm, grit and seemingly limitless memory — and we all yearn to hear just one more of his larger than life tales. Baseball was his deepest love, and kept him remarkably active right to the end. As a father, he lovingly taught the game to his three sons. Most recently, he returned to the mound and threw his grandson batting practice at age ninety.
Bob’s family was larger than us though, extending to Cleveland and well beyond. He loved the city and its people. We know we are not alone in our sadness, and look forward to celebrating his illustrious life with you in the coming months.
Lastly we would like to thank Cleveland Clinic and Hospice of the Western Reserve, for the care they afforded our entire family, and the members of the Cleveland media for respecting the family’s privacy. Most importantly, we are indebted to the Cleveland Indians for supporting Bob and his family throughout the years.
The Feller Family
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.
We got all the strawberry-and-jam wallpaper removed from the kitchen, cleaned out the junk the previous owners left in our basement (not the housewarming gift we wanted), redid a bathroom and installed a new light fixture without getting electrocuted. And, I got all my Christmas shopping done.
Alas, my vacation — with snow shoveling and sick baby included — has expired. It was good to take a break, but I’m also glad to be back. Today, first day back on the clock has been a busy one, too. The Indians announced that they signed free-agent outfielder Austin Kearns to a one-year contract.
The Kearns signing — worth a base of $1.3 million, plus incentives — marks the first Major League signing by Chris Antonetti since he assumed the role of Indians general manager. Not exactly an earth-shattering move or one fans aren’t familiar with. Shoot, Kearns was brought in by the Tribe last offseason, too.
What Kearns does is checks one item off Cleveland’s Christmas list. The Tribe has their right-handed-hitting outfielder to offset the all-lefty combo of Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo. Kearns can man all three spots and could potentially see limited action as a designated hitter.
Other items of note:
- Was saddened by the news of Indians great Bob Feller’s passing while I was away last week. Anthony Castrovince wrote a lovely piece as part of MLB.com’s tribute to Feller. I never had the chance to chat with Feller, but have read so much about him over the years. His story sounds like the stuff of tall tales. Most amazing is the fact that it’s all true. RIP, Mr. Feller. Cleveland and the United States as a whole lost a legendary man.
- Also while I was gone, the Indians inked shortstop Adam Everett to a Minor League contract. He will come to camp to compete for the utility infielder’s role. Everett provides depth at shortstop, but the Tribe feels he can also man second base or third base if necessary. And, just because Everett is in the fold, this doesn’t mean the Indians are no longer looking for infield help.
- Two notes related to Class A Kinston: 1.) The club has been sold and is set to move to Zebulon, N.C., following the 2011 season; 2.) The Indians signed Japanese righty Toru Murata to a Minor League deal over the weekend and he might open the year with Kinston. Murata’s deal is strictly of the Minor League variety and he is not being invited to Spring Training with the big league club.
- While the Indians have not officially announced the signing of free-agent outfielder Travis Buck, the sides have reached an agreement on a Minor League deal with a spring invite. Buck’s deal would be worth $625,000 if he makes the Major League roster. A source indicated that there were still steps to complete in the signing process. See: reviewing medical records provided by Oakland.
- In order to place Kearns on the 40-man roster, the Indians will need to make a move to vacate a spot. Antonetti said Monday that he anticipates designating a player for assignment. Could Shelley Duncan be a possibility? Well, he’s in the mix for the extra outfielder’s job as well as a part-time role as a right-handed DH “provided he’s on the roster,” as Antonetti worded it. We’ll know the move in the next day or two.
- When discussing that “extra” outfield role off the bench, Antonetti rattled off the names of Duncan, Trevor Crowe and Chad Huffman (claimed off waivers from the Yankees in September). Obviously, Buck would figure into that mix as well. Something to ponder, might be good to have someone around who can backup Matt LaPorta at first base besides catcher Carlos Santana. Duncan fits that description, as does Jordan Brown.
- As for the reports out there that the Indians have scouted veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, here’s all Antonetti would say: “We’ve scouted him in the Dominican and we’ll continue to watch him pitch. We’ve had some pretty good reports on him. His last outing wasn’t exceptionally good, but the others prior to that he pitched pretty well.” Indians are in the market for a veteran starter. Just saying.
- Asked if the search for third base help could last into the spring, Antonetti said “it potentially could.” He said the Indians are “content” with going into Spring Training with the current internal options. The front-runners would seem to be Jayson Nix, Jason Donald and Jack Hannahan. Donald is also in the mix at second. This is where additional help from a guy like Everett comes into play as well.
- Speaking of Nix, he ran into a bit of a hiccup recently during winter ball in Puerto Rico. After being hit in the head by a pitch, Nix missed nine games. He is feeling better and has returned to action. Nix headed to Puerto Rico in order to work on his defense at third base, one way to hopefully be ready to compete for the job there this spring.
In case you missed it, the latest edition of the Inbox is also up on indians.com.
You can still here the typing of the remaining media corps here in the workroom, but the numbers are dwindling as we all tidy up our stories, grab our luggage and bolt for the airport.
The Indians made a quick exit after standing pat during the Rule 5 Draft. The club opted against disrupting its 40-man roster in order to make a selection. The available options were not deemed significant upgrades over the group of players that is already in the fold.
On the other side of it, though, Cleveland lost a pair of players — infielder Josh Rodriguez and pitcher Jose Flores — in the Rule 5. Rodriguez went first overall to the Pirates, who will give him a shot as a utility man, and Flores went second to the Mariners, who plucked him up from low-A ball for a chance at a bullpen job.
The selections cost $50,000 each and the players are required to stay on their respective team’s active roster throughout the season. If they are removed from the roster, they must be offered back to the Tribe for a discounted price of $25,000. Cleveland would “absolutely” accept both players back, said vice president of player development Ross Atkins.
As expected, the Indians were quiet here this week in the Land of Mickey. The only deal that came to fruition was the signing of catcher Paul Phillips to a Minor League deal with a spring invite. He’ll compete for the backup job. Beyond that, these Meetings simply provided a forum for face-to-face dialogue with agents and other clubs.
Before I dart off to catch my flight back to Cleveland, I will leave you with the links to the stories I wrote this week in Walt Disney World. And you can rest easy, I was able to buy some Mickey-themed Christmas presents for MLBastian Jr.
Also, as of this afternoon, there was no further update on 92-year-old Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who was tranferred to hospice care on Wednesday. As soon as I hear anything else, I will let everyone know. So stay tuned on that front and keep Mr. Feller and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Over in his blog, Anthony Castrovince has a nice entry about Feller.
To the links…
- Thursday: Quiet Indians discuss possibilities at Meetings
- Thursday: Indians lose two prospects in Rule 5 Draft
- Wednesday: Tribe legend Feller enters hospice care
- Wednesday: Choo’s situation a hot topic at Meetings
- Wednesday: Tribe inks Minor League deal with Phillips
- Tuesday: Tribe outfield getting a look at Meetings
- Monday: Acta heading into season with perspective
- Monday: Indians laying groundwork to start Meetings
Feller, 92, battling leukemia, was recently admitted to the Clinic due to a bout with pneumonia. The latest developement is yet another setback in a series of medical issues that have hindered the pitching great over the past few months.
In August, Feller was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer in which the white blood cells interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Feller had to have about two quarts of blood infused into his system and began receiving chemotherapy treatments.
In September, Feller had a pacemaker installed to combat a heart ailment and also had a bout with vertigo. The most recent trip to the Clinic came after Feller developed a case of thrush, which is an infection of the mucus membrane lining of the mouth and tongue. The thrush interfered with Feller’s ability to eat, limiting his strength.
Feller pitched 18 seasons for the Tribe, posting a 266-162 record to set the franchise record for wins. The right-hander led the American League in strikeouts seven times, was named to eight All-Star teams and missed three years of his prime while serving in World War II.
Rapid Robert fashioned three no-hitters, including the lone Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history. Beyond victories, he is Cleveland’s all-time leader in innings (3,827), strikeouts (2,581), complete games (279) and starts (484).
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, Feller represents the longest-tenured living member of baseball’s elite class. Cleveland retired his No. 19 in 1957.
…and the Indians are still quiet.
For those of you thinking I’m out working on my tan and soaking up the Florida sun, you can rest assure that is not the case. Life at the Meetings is a constant mix of lobby circling and workroom working.
And it’s cold here. OK, “cold” is a bit much. It’s chilly. There’s no snow, so I’m not going to start complaining about the weather in Florida. Well, I won’t complain much anyway.
As for your Tribe, they continue to explore trades and entertain the idea of signing a handful of inexpensive free agents. It’s about building depth right now, finding a way to guard against injuries and also putting the team in a good position to keep young players on their development plans.
That is where a player like Nick Punto fits into the equation. The Indians have unanswered questions at third base, second base and in the backup role at short. Punto can assist at all three positions, taking some heat off the youngsters and allowing Cleveland to avoid rushing players into prominent roles before they’re deemed ready for such a task.
The Indians met with the agent for Punto on Tuesday and might meet again before the Meetings conclude. There appears to be mutual interest, but I’m not expecting a signing to come to fruition before we hop on our planes and fly back to C-town. Then again, one never knows. Things have a way of coming together fast sometimes.
One meeting on tap today for the Tribe involves preparation for Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. The Indians’ 40-man roster is currently at capacity, so Cleveland will meet this afternoon to determine whether it makes sense to vacate a spot in order to try to select someone in the Draft. A couple of third basemen eligible for selection are Brad Emaus (Toronto) and Taylor Green (Milwaukee).
Make sure you keep checking back here on the blog, reading indians.com and following along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. We’re scheduled to have lunch with manager Manny Acta this afternoon and we’ll meet with GM Chris Antonetti a bit later.
Stay tuned for more…
UPDATE: 2:11 p.m. ET — Following lunch with Acta and Indians pitching coach Tim Belcher, among others (including members of the Reds media corps and manager Dusty Baker), chatted with uberagent Scott Boras. Boras said that he has not met with Antonetti yet about a possible contract extension for Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Boras added that he does not anticipate meeting with the Indians GM about the matter at the Winter Meetings.
UPDATE: 2:29 p.m. ET — Indians make C Paul Phillips signing official. Minor League contract with an invite to attend Spring Training with the big league club.
UPDATE: 3:27 p.m. ET — CHOO EXTENSION TALKS
Scott Boras, the agent for Shin-Soo Choo, said on Wednesday that he has not met with Indians general manager Chris Antonetti about a contract extension for the star outfielder. Boras added that he did not expect to discuss the matter at the Winter Meetings.
“I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of discussing on those fronts right now,” Boras said.
Antonetti said earlier this week that such talks would likely come “naturally” due to the fact that he would need to negotiate an arbitration deal with Choo later this winter. Boras did not necessarily see it the same way.
“Most arbitration discussions don’t end in multi-year contracts, that’s for sure,” Boras said. “But, again, I’ve not had that discussion with Chris yet.”
Boras noted that a long-term deal with Cleveland could be more difficult than with other teams. The Indians finished last in the league in attendance in 2010, is scaling back its payroll and plans on fielding a young roster this coming season.
“That’s going to be Shin-Soo’s decision about what he may want to do or not do,” Boras said. “I do think it’s tougher, it’s always tougher, in situations where you’re a club that’s a developmental team, to know where the club’s going to be two or three years from now. So, those situations are always a little more difficult.
“But, again, we listen to every team and pass it on to the player and see what he says.”
UPDATE: 3:58 p.m. ET — Two items. 1) Mariners are reportedly interested in Indians second baseman Luis Valbuena. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Tribe had not discussed him with Seattle. 2) Among other things Boras talked about, he said the A’s still have interest in free-agent 3B Adrian Beltre. If that’s true, it is possible that the Indians would approach Oakland about potentially trading for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff.
UPDATE: 6:51 p.m. ET — In a sit-down with Antonetti, the Indians GM said he is hopeful that he will be able to chat with Boras about Choo’s contract situation “shortly after the Winter Meeetings.” Antonetti noted that Choo has expressed optimism about the club’s future in conversations they’ve had. The GM has every intention of talking about an extension.
ETCETERA: The Indians are still in the process of determining whether they want to clear a spot on the 40-man roster in order to make a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. Cleveland’s roster is at capacity and the club has the seventh pick (technically eighth due to a compensation pick earlier in the Draft for Arizona). Antonetti said there are some “intriguing” pitchers available, and the Tribe is probably also considering some of the third base/infield options out there. … Talked some with pitching coach Tim Belcher today about the rotation. He had high praise for Carlos Carrasco, who is the front-runner for the fourth spot on the staff. The fifth is likely down to Jeanmar Gomez, Josh Tomlin and David Huff. Belcher is hopeful that Huff will be able to bounce back from his 2-11 showing last year. Cleveland’s rotation could certainly benefit from having a lefty in the mix for a job. Belcher also said, in a perfect world, he believes the rotation could benefit from having a more experienced arm added to the mix this winter. … There was a rumor floating out there that the Indians had some interest in bringing Bartolo Colon back. I wouldn’t put too much stock into that one.
After two Meetings here at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort, I am now a pro at navigating my way around the lobby. Not sure how this skill will help me later in life.
As an aside, a big plus to being here this week if the fact that MLBastian Jr. is really into Mickey right now. One stop in a gift shop and my Christmas shopping will be done for the little man this week. Shhh, don’t tell him!
Things are still quiet on the Tribe front. There’s the rumors of having interest in outfielder Fred Lewis (a source told me the Indians did indeed inquire about him, but so have more than half a dozen other teams), and maybe Jeff Francoeur (not seeing it happening) or Nick Punto (as a utility man).
If those seem like minor discussions, well that’s because they are, and don’t expect the Tribe to be in on any big names this week or later this winter. The biggest name they’ll be talking about is Shin-Soo Choo, and that’ll be floating the idea of an extension with agent Scott Boras.
So, it’s more of the same right now here on Day 2. Make sure you keep checking back here on the blog, reading indians.com and following along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. We’ll be meeting again with GM Chris Antonetti this afternoon.
UPDATE: 5:51 p.m. ET — One online rumor indicated that the Indians had interest in free-agent shortstop Adam Everett. Probably the same type of infield utility role that the Tribe reportedly is interested in having free-agent infielder Nick Punto fill. Without going into specifics, Antonetti said today that the club could benefit from adding an extra infielder. More on our chat with Antonetti in a bit.
UPDATE: 8:13 p.m. ET — Indians are close to signing free-agent catcher Paul Phillips, formerly of the Rockies. Deal is not done, but would be a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. Another rumor swirling is that Mariners have interest in trading for Indians infielder Luis Valbuena.
UPDATE: 8:38 p.m. ET — The Indians met with the representative for free-agent infielder Nick Punto on Tuesday. Cleveland also met with a handful of other free agents as well.
Notes and quotes from Day 2:
- The Indians are out of the mix for 3B Edwin Encarnacion. His performance in the field is simply too much of a risk to put behind a cast of young rotation arms, especially when the group relies so much on grounders. EE’s bat is intriguing, but not to the point that his fielding issues can be ignored.
- Even though CF Grady Sizemore is making positive strides in his comeback from microfracture surgery on his left knee, the Indians have to be prepared in the event he isn’t ready for Opening Day. OF Michael Brantley is the favorite to move to center/leadoff if Sizemore is not fully recovered. The Indians have also inquired about free-agent Fred Lewis, though he only seems like a fit if the Indians do not currently believe Sizemore will return in time for Opening Day.
- The more immediate concern in the outfield is obtaining a right-handed hitter. The addition would simply be a player who could provide a day off for the regulars on days when a lefty was on the mound. Don’t expect Jeff Francouer in an Indians’ jersey, though. His price is rising with multiple teams interested.
- Antonetti noted that Jason Donald will see time at multiple infield spots in the spring. Donald remains in the mix for the starting role at second base. The Tribe could also benefit from more stability behind shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Punto would help in that regard, providing more depth around the infield.
- Catcher Carlos Santana (left knee) is back in Arizona rehabbing. Antonetti said his rehab has gone well and he will likely be slightly ahead of Sizemore when Spring Training begins. That said, Sizemore remains on his initial progression and should resume running activities some time in January.
- Asked of Jason Kipnis could be in the mix for the starting job at second base, Antonetti said you can’t rule anything out. Maybe so, but Kipnis has yet to play one inning at Triple-A. It seems more realistic that Cord Phelps makes a push for a roster job out of camp than Kipnis, who could benefit from more time on the farm.
- I don’t expect the Indians to leave these Meetings with a new rotation member. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tribe does not add an arm to its staff. If they do, it will probably be a late-offseason add. Manager Manny Acta and Antonetti are on the same page in terms of the belief that there is no reason to add a veteran simply to add a veteran. Leadership and mentoring are great attributes, but the Indians are more interested in quality innings. If the veteran options out there are not clear upgrades, the Tribe will likely stick with its developing in-house alternatives.
Teams have been busy leading up to this year’s annual offseason gathering, with Adam Dunn signing with the White Sox, Jayson Werth inking a seven-year pact with the Nationals, the Blue Jays trading away Shaun Marcum and the Red Sox pulling off a swap with San Diego to reel in Adrian Gonzalez.
As for your Indians? Well, don’t expect any huge, headline-hogging news this week in Lake Buena Vista. Tribe GM Chris Antonetti will surely be kicking the tires on some third base options, as well as looking into finding a starting pitcher, a backup catcher and a right-handed-hitting outfielder. Antonetti might also be hunting down uberagent Scott Boras for a chat about an extension for Shin-Soo Choo.
Us Cleveland scribes will meet with Antonetti this afternoon and Indians manager Manny Acta is scheduled to hold his sit-down today at 4 p.m. ET. While the Indians might not be the most active team at these Winter Meetings, I’ll do my best to keep up up to date on all that’s going on with the club.
Stay tuned for more…
UPDATE — 3:51 p.m. ET: One rumor making the rounds is that the Indians have some level of interest in free-agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur. The Royals, Phillies and Rockies have also been tabbed as suitors for the outfielder. The Tribe is in the market for a right-handed-hitting outfielder to help break-up the all-lefty combo of Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo.
UPDATE — 5:49 p.m. ET: The Indians, along with more than half a dozen teams, have reportedly inquired about outfielder Fred Lewis. On the surface, this doesn’t seem to be a fit. The Tribe already has three lefty outfielders and Lewis became increasingly unhappy as his playing time decreased down the stretch last season with the Blue Jays.
Notes & quotes from Day 1:
- Antonetti would not spill the beans when asked if he has met or plans to meet with Boras this week to continue talks about an extension for Choo. He did say that they will have to talk because Choo is eligible for arbitration, so talks of an extension will “naturally” be a part of the process. The GM noted that he is reluctant to discuss long-term deals once the regular season has started.
- In discussing the situation at third base, Acta said that Jason Donald, Jayson Nix and Cord Phelps could all be in the mix for the job, barring an offseason addition. “There is a chance of everything in the world,” Acta said. “There is a chance. We’re very deep and our depth is great up the middle.”
- Antonetti and Acta both emphasized the importance of having a strong defender at third base, especially due to having a young all-righty rotation that is so reliant on ground balls. That would seemingly rule out Encarnacion. But, Antonetti left the door open by saying, “If there’s an exceptional offensive player available at that position that may not be as strong defensively, we’ll be open-minded to that as well.” So, yeah…
- Antonetti is not one to dive into specifics, but I asked him if there were any surprise decisions at the non-tender deadline. Maybe the Tribe had its eyes on someone who they thought would become a free-agent. Antonetti replied, “Up to that point you have dialogue with teams to get some sense. There may have been a couple of surprises on either side, here or there, but for the most part a lot of the guys we expected to be non-tendered were non-tendered.” More to the point, the Indians probably would’ve preferred the A’s non-tender Kevin Kouzmanoff — not Encarnacion.
- If the Indians are going to find rotation help through free agency, a signing is not likely to happen this week at the Meetings. The Tribe needs more time to see how the market develops. “We’re not in a position to preempt the market,” said the GM. Obviously, if the Tribe is looking at trades, it could come sooner rather than later. It’s been pretty quiet on that front.
- Antonetti offered some unsolicited praise for former GM Pat Gillick, who was voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on Monday. Said the Indians GM: “I’m elated at the fact that Gillick got elected to the Hall of Fame. That is great. There’s not a classier, more respected person in all of baseball than Pat. He’s so deserving of that.”
- Acta noted that center fielder Grady Sizemore (left knee) passed a checkup on Sunday and remains on target for Opening Day. So far, the same can be said for catcher Carlos Santana, who is also making his way back from a left knee operation.
- While you can never have enough pitching, Acta likes the way his bullpen is set up for the time being. As things currently stand, it’s closer Chris Perez, with Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Jensen Lewis and Joe Smith under contract. Then, there will be a bevy of arms in the mix for the other jobs. Names that quickly rolled off Acta’s tongue were Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, Bryce Stowell and Vinnie Pestano.
- Asked about Luis Valbueno’s play in winter ball in Venezuela (.271 average, .341 on-base in 48 games), Acta had this to say: “The main thing is Luis’ playing. He needs to get
his confidence back. Hopefully before the year’s over, he gets up there in the .270s, .280s, .300s, and comes to camp re-energized.”