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Sunday Roundup

Plain Dealer:

It looks like 1B prospect Michael Aubrey may be done for the season with a back injury (vertebral contusion). And there's no real timetable for his return.

"Based on what we know, there is cause for concern, no doubt about it," Indians farm director John Farrell said. "He gets to the point in rehab where he starts to swing the bat, run and do other baseball activities - then the discomfort returns. We are exhausting every available means of remedy, to the extent of epidural injections, but we haven't been able to solve the problem."

This doesn't sound like something that's just going to go away. Aubrey, when he's been healthy, has looked like a very good prospect. But various injuries have kept him sidelined since he start his professional career.

Dan Denham is also being shut down for the remainder of the season with an oblique strain. 2005 was a breakout year for Denham, and should start 2006 in Buffalo.

Adam Miller is scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, which should be a nice test for him.

Speaking of breakout seasons, how about what Ryan Mulhern has done in Kinston and Akron this year? He's hit .321/.395/.711 with the K-Tribe and .342/.409/.643 with the Aeros. The right-handed first baseman was part of the Indians' 2003 draft class. Other players drafted that year: Adam Miller, the aforementioned Michael Aubrey, Brad Snyder, Ryan Garko, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Ryan Goleski, and Juan Valdes.

Beacon Journal:

Yes, another one of those articles. Because the Indians strike out a lot, they aren't clutch enough:

So why has producing runs been such a difficult task? Why has the Tribe's offense been so erratic? Base runners have been plentiful, but runs have been relatively scarce, as Cleveland's ranking in the American League hitting stats (seventh in runs) clearly shows.

A key set of numbers involves the Indians' performance with runners in scoring position. Following the lost weekend against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Tribe stood next to last in the league with a .261 average (Surprisingly, the team at the bottom was the New York Yankees at .258).

One of the hidden factors in Cleveland's low level of efficiency is strikeouts. Barring the relatively rare instance of a bases-loaded walk, batters who fail to make contact are at a severe handicap in trying to drive in runners from second or third.

But the art of the strikeout is something the Wahoos have mastered this year. Overall, only the Texas Rangers have struck out more than the Tribe, and this bad habit has carried over into Cleveland's efforts to hit with runners on second or third.

There seems to be an obsession among the local media about the strikeout. This goes back to the late 90s, when the Indians had players like Jim Thome, Richie Sexson, and Russell Branyan in the lineup. Of course, they could also hit the stuffing out of the ball, but that didn't seem to matter: they struck out too much!. This season, the strikeout seems to be an easy explanation for why the Indians aren't hitting with RISP.

Given that Texas is hitting .275 with RISP despite a high strikeout percentage, I don't think the Indians' low average has much to do with strikeouts. Just because you put the ball in play doesn't mean you'll get a hit, and batting average ignores "productive outs." Strikeouts are an out just like an infield popout is an out. Here's batting averages with RISP of several Indians' hitters with their strikeout percentage in parenthesis:

Aaron Boone: .255 (19%)
Ben Broussard: .222 (25%)
Jhonny Peralta: .293 (31%)
Ronnie Belliard: .297 (15%)
Grady Sizemore: .308 (25%)
Travis Hafner: .337 (23%)
Coco Crisp: .295 (16%)
Casey Blake: .179 (25%)
Victor Martinez: .259 (12%)

Can you see a correlation between average with RISP and strikeouts? I can't.