Recalled RHRP Jeremy Guthrie from Akron (MLB Debut)
What a difference a year makes. Last season most people (me included) were penciling in Guthrie in the rotation sometime during this season. We went ga-ga over his 2003 performance in Akron, and mainly wrote off his struggles in Buffalo as merely a learning curve. This year, without the appearance of injury, he regressed to the point that the Indians are trying him in the bullpen to at least glean something of value from him. Their argument for this move is that by eliminating two of his pitches, he'll be more effective. Some have theorized that a pitcher can have too many pitches in his repertoire; sometimes a pitcher can out-think himself when trying to get a batter out. Whatever the case, Guthrie is going to be tried in the bullpen for at least September, and he'll be re-evaluated next year. Compounding this situation is the fact that Jeremy is signed to a major-league contract, and he's not going to get any cheaper once his initial four-year deal is up. This shouldn't get as cost-prohibitive as the Baez deal, but it could get close if Guthrie doesn't figure things out by the end of 2005. I sincerely hope that this move allows Guthrie to get back to the impeccable control pitcher he was last year, or at the very least makes him a useful commodity to the organization.
Optioned RHRP Fernando Cabrera to Buffalo (AAA)
A victim of circumstance more than anything. Cabrera was thrown to the wolves thanks to Chad Durbin's "effort" against the White Sox. And while we're on the subject of turning starters into relievers, I think Cabrera is the perfect example of using a player's best traits to the team's advantage. He has one really good pitch (his fastball) and one decent pitch (his split). When he was starting, he had to use his inferior secondary pitches (slider, change) just to keep hitters off balance during their 3rd or 4th at-bats. Now that he's using only his best pitches, he's missing a ton of bats (only allowing 57 hits in 70.2 IP). I really think he could someday become at the very least a quality setup man.
Designated RHSP Chad Durbin for Assignment
I didn't like Durbin's implosion last week, but I think this is an overreaction. The Indians could have optioned him back down to Buffalo to get in another start or two, and it's not like the Indians are in a "win-now" mode. Of course, there's the possibility that Kyle Denney is finally going to get his shot in the rotation (meaning they'd need a roster spot), but Jason Davis is probably a more realistic choice at this point. He's been DFAd previously, so even if Durbin clears waivers, he doesn't have to accept outright assignment.
Recalled RHP Kazuhito Tadano from Buffalo (AAA)
I don't think the Indians really know what to do with Tadano; he's probably capable of starting for a stretch of a month or so, but he might be more valuable as a longman or even a closer. Seeing what Shingo Takatsu and Akinora Otsuka have done in high-leverage relief roles recently, Tadano may be steered towards that role; however, he's more of an unknown quantity than Takatsu or Akinora, who were closers in Japan. For now, he'll inherit Jake Westbrook's former stomping grounds as a swingman.
Optioned OF Grady Sizemore to Buffalo (AAA)
With Coco Crisp playing so well, Sizemore's initial cup of coffee is over. He'll go back to Buffalo, where the team is gearing up for a playoff run, and in need of a true center fielder. He'll challenge Crisp next spring as the team's starter in center field.
Recalled OF Ryan Ludwick from Buffalo (AAA)
Ryan has been mashing the ball for the Bisons, but because of his knee, hasn't played much, if any, in the field. So this leads me to believe that Josh Phelps may be the one who platoons with Jody Gerut the balance of the year, with Ludwick being the DH against left-handers. If Phelps can at least be adequate in the outfield, it gives the Indians another useful option that they can use in the coming years. Which of course, could make for direct competition between Ludwick and Phelps next year as the lefty-masher off the bench.