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PECOTA: Indians atop tight division

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The new PECOTA projections are starting to be released in various forms. Today, Clay Davenport posted the Depth Charts for all 30 teams along with projected standings based on them. The Depth Charts combine the individual player projections for 2009 with estimated playing time allotments. This first draft (it will be revised over the course of spring training) shows the Indians leading the AL Central with 84 wins, while the other four clubs all winning between 74 and 79. The Indians and Twins in the 1-2 spots conform to my expectations. I am surprised that PECOTA sees the Tigers as a close third with the Royals only a few games behind. Good projection systems are inherently conservative, in that every player and every team represents a wide range of possible results in 2009, and the projection attempts to show the median result for each player and, in the aggregate, for each team. Based on injuries, breakouts, slumps and the way the ball bounces, all five teams have the potential to finish with 70 wins or 90 wins, but as spring training starts, PECOTA sees the Indians as five to ten wins stronger than their rivals. The system sees Victor, Garko, Peralta and Francisco as 750 OPS guys in 2009. Grady leads with an 860 projection, followed by 790 for both Choo and Shoppach. Among pitchers, the projected VORP leader (based on both production and innings pitched) is Cliff Lee by a wide margin, followed by Perez, Joe Smith (!), Wood, Carmona, Betancourt, Jensen Lewis and Scott Lewis, in that order.

Indians 2009, in 70,000 words

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More details about this later tonight ... but you can get your orders in right now.

Pitcher Profiles: Carl Pavano

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From SBN mechanicalizing blog Driveline Mechanics, LGT dabbler Kyle Boddy gives our latest signing the full eight-hour physical, possibly using the whole fist. Also includes a link to a nice writeup on Pavano from Fangraphs a few months back. As an aside, I have to wonder if Pavano isn't going to be like the Jason Biggs character in American Pie. We'll be rooting for him with absolutely no reservations, but still, there's no denying he has a habit of making an ass of himself in public.

Indians sign Carl Pavano

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UPDATED: As reported by Jerry Crasnick for ESPN.com, the Indians are a "strong candidate" to sign have signed Carl Pavano, who might be called a "recovering jackass" in the parlance of our time, to a one-year deal for an undisclosed sum, presumed to be less than $161 million. At the end of the season, Shapiro listed the club's main needs going into 2009 as an infielder, a closer, and a number-three starter, roughly in that order. Having already acquired one of the very best infielders and one of the very best closers available, the Indians have basically spent down the bulk of their payroll flexibility for 2009, so it's been fairly clear for some time that the Indians would have to go bargain-hunting for a starter. Crasnick's report characterizes the potential deal as similar to the famously well-structured and happy-ending Kevin MIllwood deal in 2005, only perhaps a bit smaller in terms of dollars. Pavano would joins Anthony Reyes as the two serious candidates for the last three rotation spots who don't have minor league options remaining. Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Scott Lewis, Zach Jackson and David Huff will also be competing for those spots, but any or all of those five can be stashed in Triple-A and called up as needed. Those seven pitchers combined for 69 starts in the majors last season, plus 66 starts in the minors and a smattering of relief innings.

Indians trade minor pitchers for Mark DeRosa

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Castrovince is now saying this is a done deal — and once again, the Indians smite a rival, as multiple sources reported the Twins were also deep into talks for DeRosa. Who we're reportedly giving up: Jeff Stevens — one of a small gaggle of power bullpen arms on the cusp of the majors, along with Tony Sipp, Adam Miller and John Meloan. (This is why Shapiro acquires a pitcher in every deal.) Let some other team have the BP footnote. John Gaub — A reliever with awesome peripherals last season, but at age 23 in Lake County, way way too old for his league. Chris Archer — Coming off a decent but unspectacular season at Lake County at age 19, great stuff but serious control problems. Might be the highest ceiling guy in this group, but pretty far down our list of toolsy young pitchers (Rondon, De La Cruz, Gomez). DeRosa is on a one-year deal for $5.5 million, he's defensively versatile, and he's an Ivy Leaguer — all thing Shapiro tends to like. Even though he's about to turn 34, he put up a 118 OPS+ following on 108 and 102 the two previous years, so I think you pencil him in for league-average production. In a versatile infielder, you certainly take that. DeRosa probably has below-average range at 2B, but not off the cliff.

More on jackasses (pun intended)

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I did a little guest spot on OverTheMonster, expanding on the topic what distinguishes mere mercenaries from real jackasses, the long history of non-rivalry between Boston and Cleveland, and what small differences still remain between the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Sizemore joins Team USA for WBC

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They asked, and Grady accepted. He's on the provisional roster, and it's safe to assume he's a strong favorite for the final 28-man roster. The article also notes that Victor and Fausto cannot participate without the team's permission, since they spent more than 45 days on the DL last season. Betancourt, who struggled out of the gate in 2006 after going to the WBC, may not be invited after his poor showing in 2008. As previously reported, umana pioggia ritardo Mike Hargrove will serve as a coach for Team Italy, whose provisional roster includes our great hero Sal Fasano.

Transactions: Indians Sign Kerry Wood

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Perspective on the Indians' signing of Kerry Wood to a two year, $20.5M contract.

It's official — Sabathia is a jackass

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You sign with the Yankees, you're a jackass. It's that simple.

It's Official - Wood is an Indian

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Kerry Wood passed the physical and has been signed. Still no official word on the details of the contract. UPDATE: It's a two-year deal for a guaranteed $20.5 million, plus a third year vesting option. Wood receives $10 million in 2009 and $10.5 million in 2010. The club option for 2011 is at $11 million, and that third year becomes guaranteed if Wood finishes 55 or more games in one season, either 2009 or 2010. Ironically, a pitcher is credited with a "game finished" when he blows a save on the road — he's the last pitcher once he gives up the walkoff — but not generally when he blows a save at home. It's an arbitrary stat, as the CBA generally prohibits the use of direct performance-based stats for incentive clauses, in favor of playing-time stats and indirect performance indicators such as postseason awards. For context, Bob Wickman finished 55-60 games in six different seasons. Wood finished 56 games in 2008, his first full season as a reliever. [Jay]

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