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Weekend Update: 12/20

December 20, 2008
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Here is a quick rundown of what happened this past week:

- Right-hander Rob Bryson was our guest on Smoke Signals this week, and we talked to him for about 20 minutes covering everything from the C.C. Sabathia trade, how he is progressing from his offseason labrum surgery, what 2009 holds for him, some of the differences between the way the Indians and Brewers do things, and so on. Thanks again to Rob for coming on. There will be no show on Thursday December 25th and Thursday January 1st for obvious reasons, but we will air our next show inbetween those two holidays on a special night Monday December 29th from 9:30-10:30pm and left-hander Ryan Morris will be our guest. We’ll return to our normal time slot on Thursday January 8th at 9:30-10:30pm.

- Right-hander Adam Miller has already been moved to the bullpen for the 2009 season per GM Mark Shapiro’s comments earlier this offseason. That said, this should be viewed as more a temporary move and hardly anything permanent. The move to the bullpen makes sense for 2009 since he is only slotted to throw around 100 innings this coming season because he has totaled under 100 combined innings the last two years, and the Indians are not about to pump him right up to 150-180 innings next year as a starter. As has already been noted several times it could also be a way to keep Miller healthy, although his injury issues the last two years were more of a freak think and pitching out of the bullpen or starting probably would not have made much of a difference. More importantly, this is the best chance of getting him to Cleveland this year and finally getting a chance to use (see) his talent. While the Indians certainly have a lot of relief options at their disposal, it is much easier to mix in relievers over the course of the season than starting pitchers. However, once the 2009 season ends it is very possible that if he remains healthy that he could be moved back into the starting rotation for 2010. Of course this all changes if he comes to Cleveland during 2009 and is lights out in the pen and locks himself into a job there. Bottom line, the Indians have in no way given up on Miller as a starting pitching option in the future.

- The Indians signed shortstops Jesus Mechan and Wilson Valdez this week. Merchan would likely fill the utility position in Triple-A Columbus since he has lots of experience playing 2B, SS, 3B and some outfield. He is actually a very good hitter with excellent bat-to-ball ability, but is really lacking in the power department. Valdez is another utility option for Triple-A Columbus with very good speed and the ability to put the bat on the ball, but like Mechan lacks much power. These two additions seem to imply the Indians may be moving Josh Barfield at some point this offseason. With Luis Valbuena slotted to be the opening day second baseman, unless they are seriously considering Barfield as the starting second baseman in Cleveland (boy, I hope not), he appears gonzo and these two moves are in preparation to backfill his loss. It also seems like the Indians do not anticipate opening the season with Josh Rodriguez at Triple-A, and it looks like he will start the year at Double-A Akron at second base (Carlos Rivero at SS). By the way, former Tribe farmhand Eider Torres signed with the White Sox.

- The Kinston Indians have announced that former K-Triber and MLB All-Star Sean Casey will be inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame at the 2009 Kinston Indians Hot Stove banquet on Thursday, January 29th at the Hampton Inn in Kinston. A silent auction and social hour will begin at 6pm, with dinner to follow at 7:30pm. Tickets for the Hot Stove Banquet are $25. Tickets for the silent auction and social hour only are $5. As a Kinston Indian in 1996, Casey was a Carolina League All-Star at first base. Casey hit 12 home runs in 1996, leading the Carolina League with a .331 batting average. Casey was also second in the League in on-base percentage and third in doubles (31). Casey did all this in just 92 games, missing the last five weeks of the season due to injury. Casey’s .331 mark is the third highest season average in Kinston Indians History. Casey led Kinston to a 76-62 overall record and a Southern Division Title.

- Check out the new Columbus Clippers uniforms:

- Speaking of Triple-A Columbus, check out the new logo for the Indians old affiliate in Buffalo:

- The Indians Winter Development Program - which is an offseason program held at Progressive Field for the organization’s top prospects in the upper levels of the system - has been pushed back a week and will start on January 11th. Supposedly it has been cut from three to two weeks for the new guys, but the returnees will still attend for just one week as usual.

- Earlier in the week, the Indians announced the hiring of Junie Melendez as Area Scouting Supervisor for Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky.

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