That's pretty good considering three of the four teams on the trip were 10 games above .500 when the Indians played them. Depending on what happens in today's game between the White Sox and Padres, the Indians may end the trip less than games back of Chicago, but more importantly, they can finish the day five games back of the wild card leader (currently Minnesota).
Update: The White Sox won in extra innings, so the Indians remain 10.5 games back
The constant on the West Coast swing was the pitching, but the hitting picked up when the Indians reached San Francisco. The Giants, who are in the midst of an awful stretch of baseball, gave up 22 runs to the Indians over the weekend, which I believe is the most runs scored by the Indians in a series this year. Grady Sizemore, Coco Crisp, and Ronnie Belliard provided much of the offensive punch on the road trip, and Aaron Boone and even Casey Blake got important hits during the 6-game stretch. With a season-long twelve game homestand upcoming, the Indians have a golden opportunity to run off some wins. First on the homsetand is the Colorado Rockies, owners of the worst record in baseball.
Other good news includes the return of Kevin Millwood, who should come off the DL before Thursday's game against Colorado. Jason Davis will probably get optioned back to Buffalo, but with six starters already on the Bisons' roster, it should be interesting to see how the logjam is resolved. But more importantly, the starting staff gets solidified with the addition of Millwood. Here's a VORP update of the staff:
That's pretty good, especially for the bullpen, where the Indians don't have any real weak links. As bad as the bullpen was last year, it's been that good this year.
My trade target for the week is Austin Kearns, who was just optioned to AAA by the Reds. Kearns hasn't been able to stay healthy throughout much of his young career, but the guy is a very talented player; this is a perfect time to buy low on him, now that Willy Mo Pena is back in the lineup for Cincinnati.
Here's some of the recent minor-league moves:
Traded OF John Rodriguez (AAA) to the St. Louis Cardinals for C Javier Cardona (AA)
Rodriguez was caught in a numbers game with the demotion of Ryan Ludwick and the promotion of Jason Cooper. Rodriguez was hitting a fairly pedestrian .247/.323/.447 this year after a good campaign in 2004. Cardona is a minor-league vet (he's 29 years old), and is a depth pickup
Promoted OF Jason Cooper to Buffalo (AAA) from Akron (AA)
Cooper, who I was ready to write off after a slow start this season, was hitting very well for the Aeros (.254/.359/.478) by the time he was called up.
Reinstated RHP Kyle Denney from the Disabled List (AAA)
I don't know who's out of the rotation, because the addition of Denney would mean six starters (Denney, Traber, Tallet, Guthrie, Cruceta, and Watkins) on the roster.
Released OF Darnell McDonald from Buffalo (AAA)
Released RHP Kyle Evans from Akron (AA)
The writing was on the wall for Evans, who had bounced around in the organization the last couple of years.
Promoted OF Brad Snyder to Akron (AA) from Kinston (A+)
The 2003 1st round pick reaches Akron pretty much on schedule. Snyder hasn't had a great season thus far, but the peripherals are still decent. It should be interesting to see whether he or Franklin Gutierrez is the everyday center fielder for the Aeros.
Placed 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff on the Disabled List (A+)
Another injury for a top prospect. Kouz probably would have been promoted to Akron by now, he was hitting .346/.398/.616 for the K-Tribe.
Activated SS Brandon Pinckney from the Disabled List (A+)