The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for August 27th, 2006

Quick notes: Carmona sent down, Sowers shut down

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 August 2006

Indians pitcher Fuasto Carmona was sent down to the minors yesterday. This is no surprise. Carmona has had, um, a few problems pitching recently. I’ll just leave it at that. Carmona will make two starts in Buffalo before being recalled to the team in early Septmeber. And this is where things get interesting.

Carmona (1-8) will likely replace rookie Jeremy Sowers, who has already thrown 168 innings — nine more than last season. Since the Indians are no longer in contention, they don’t want to overuse Sowers, who improved to 6-3 on Friday night.

At the start of this season Carmona was the most highly touted pitching prospect in the Indians’ farm system. He was called up early in the season to make a few starts in replacement of CC Sabathia and was about average–nothing spectacular, nothing horrible. Once Sabathia came back from the DL Carmona was moved to the bullpen, where he had a lot of success in middle relief (sub 1.30 ERA is 25+ appearances) and absolutely no success as a closer. Sowers followed a slightly different path. He got off to a tremendous start in the minors and was called up in June and after his first two starts (both forgettable) he’s been pitching very well since. It goes without saying that Sowers has solidified his spot in the starting rotation next season. Which is why benching Sowers for the rest of the season is a great move. He has nothing left to prove in what is being called Spring Training V 2.0. In a time when managers are becoming rebellious in their efforts to extract wins from their young pitchers (I’m taking to you, Jim Leyland) it’s nice to see the Indians make the wisest move possible for both the organization and the player.

Sending Carmona to the minors and then giving him starts in the majors in September could portend a trade this off season for one of Cleveland’s starting pitchers. Byrd and Westbrook are the two most likely candidates for a trade. Lee is often an aggravating pitcher–especially this season, particularly today–but he is under a reasonable contract for the next few seasons. Sabathia is here through the life of his contract and Sowers is not going anywhere soon.

There has been talk on a few Indians message boards about potential free agent signings this off season and, when the talk turns to pitchers, one name always appears: Jason Schmidt. When you consider the money saved from the fire sale in July, the TV money from SportsTime Ohio, and Dolan promising to spend a lot of money this off season, the Indians should have a lot of cash to spend when it comes to free agents. $22-$30 million is a fair estimate. Schmidt will cost a fair share, but if the Indians do make a run at him either Byrd or Westbrook becomes immediately expendable if Carmona shows signs of his former self. Even if Carmona doesn’t bounce back immediately there is no way the Indians will keep under contract six starting pitchers, five of which are making starter’s money. Spending $7 million on a sixth starter is not economically smart for the Indians.

UPDATE: Paul Hoynes is reporting that Sowers will make a couple more starts before being shut down for the season. He quotes Shapiro: “Based on where we are in the standings, why take the risk of an injury when we can take no risk?”

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