Wheeler of Fortune

April 23, 2012

Who needs Vanna White and Pat Sajak when you have Chris Antonetti and Manny Acta?

Last week the Indians recalled lefty reliever Nick Hagadone when Asdrubal Cabrera went on the bereavement list and missed road games in Seattle and Oakland. Today the Indians activated Cabrera and optioned Hagadone back to Columbus.

A curious move, given Acta had a second chance to get it right.

Veteran Dan Wheeler should be the odd man out. Wheeler had a horrible Spring Training (10.64 ERA, 20 hits and 13 earned runs in 11 IP, 6 home runs allowed and a .417 average against) but made the roster in a surprise, likely because of a solid major league track record in middle relief (25-43, 3.89 over 12 years). Informed he made the team, Wheeler celebrated by going HR, HR, 1B, 2B and HR to blow a 5-1 lead against the Reds.

In six regular season games Wheeler has improved to a 5.40 ERA but with a high 1.60 WHIP, only 1 strikeout in 5 innings and several loud outs. He’s this year’s Chad Durbin, useful as filler on occasion but subject to implosion and not reliable in close games.

In contrast, Hagadone was not scored upon in 5.1 innings at Columbus and in 3 games with the Tribe yielded one run over 3.1 innings (a run tainted by a poor play from Jason Donald which allowed the runner to score from 2B on an infield single), and struck out 4 for an ERA of 2.70. He pitched well in the Spring (2.53 ERA in 9 games), throws hard, can pitch more than one inning if needed and offers a reliable alternative if the other LHs in the bullpen falter (which may happen).

Shoulder issues slowed Rafael Perez in Spring Training (6 games, 5 IP) and so far this season his velocity and effectiveness are down although he pitched 2 scoreless innings Sunday against Oakland. Already an arbitration player, he becomes increasingly expensive if he stays an Indian (i.e., is not traded) and his future with the team is uncertain. Meanwhile, Tony Sipp remains maddeningly inconsistent with an 11.47 ERA and high 2.14 WHIP after 7 games. Sipp and RPerez are basically matchup lefties at this point, unlike Hagadone.

Hagadone is the future now and offers better a better quality option than Wheeler. Strike two on Acta.


  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Okay, the title and the first line almost made me spit iced tea out of my nose!

    While I agree with you, I knew this was exactly what they would do. Hagadone will probably be back soon enough (at least I hope).

  • Will McIlroy says:

    Glad to provide a public service.

    Sadly, this smelled like a done deal from the start. Maybe Acta recalls Wheeler from his days with the Mets and Houston.

    Not the best use of resources, especially with RPerez a bit brittle and Sipp being Sipp. A 3rd LH would help balance the bullpen.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Well the image of Chris Antonetti in a formal gown has driven me to the wine!

    If I were in charge I would have sent Sipp back to find his 2011 self. You’re right about Wheeler playing the part of Chad Durbin this season. He’s a 34-year-old, barely average pitcher who probably has no ego and no aspirations of being a star. He’s just happy to be in the bigs and doesn’t care if his job is to be an inning-eater kind of guy when the game is a loss. Unfortunately, sometimes the game ISN’T a loss until he comes into it. But I still would have sent Sipp back. Hopefully Hagadone will return soon and stick this time.

  • Will McIlroy says:

    In fairness to Wheeler, his command has improved the last 3 appearances but he has a limited role/future with the team. Just another example of the Indians always trolling for veteran re-treads rather than letting their own kids develop.

    Wheeler went 2-2, 4.38 for Boston last year, a team starved for bullpen help. They did not re-sign him.

    Both Sipp and RPerez worry me. Hagadone is the future and needs major league experience now.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • Drew says:

    R-Perez has been more consistent than not throughout his 6 years with the Indians. If he is gone after the season, the Indians will deal with that problem after this season.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Will, perhaps the Red Sux would like Wheeler back? I’m surrounded by their fans (at least those who aren’t yankee fans) since I live about 60 miles from The Fenz. As a Tribe fan living in exile I am most certainly enjoying the fans up here twist in the wind. Better have Antonetti get on the phone to Cherington and see who we could get for Wheeler…not that their roster looks anywhere as good as ours does right now. Oh Schadenfreude, how good you feel!

  • Will McIlroy says:

    Hard to have much empathy for the Beanie Weenies or Valentine. Sipp was good tonight.