Fired Pitching Coach Scott Radinsky; Named Ruben Niebla Interim Pitching Coach
The Indians decided to let Radinsky go several days ago, but chose to wait until the losing streak ended to announce the move:
"We talked to Scott today," Antonetti said. "Certainly, we were mindful as we were going through the losing streak of how we were pitching at that point, but at the same time we didn't feel it was appropriate to make that decision while we were in the midst of it.
Ultimately I think the year-long performances of both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez drove this move. Both started out awful, got better in May/June, then fell off again after the All-Star break. A pitching coach lives and dies through his best pitchers, as a club is counting on those top (and often highest-paid) pitchers to perform. The successes of projects and prospects are nice to have, and will give a pitching coach a longer leash, but because Jimenez/Masterson regressed, Radinsky didn't get a chance to earn one.
Often a pitching or hitting coach ends up paying the price for a bad season, but in this case I think there were tangible reasons to make a move. Adam earlier this week compared the rotation's projections (using a weighted average) to the actual 2012 performances and found that in almost every case, the Indians starters underperformed the projections.
It's too bad that Radinsky is being let go, as he's had very good success with the bullpen, but it was probably never practicable to demote him back to bullpen coach.
Ruben Niebla will take over on an interim basis. Niebla has been with the organization for 12 seasons, and has already worked with many of the pitchers now on the Cleveland staff. I think it's likely the Indians name him the permanent pitching coach after the season, but I suppose they're just keeping their options open for now.
Placed Travis Hafner on the 15-Day Disabled List (lower back); Recalled IF Jason Donald from Columbus (AAA)
Thus far there hasn't been many details given on the injury or how long Hafner would be out, so it's hard to talk about what the Indians means to both the Indians and Hafner's career. Pronk was going to become a free agent at the end of the season regardless whether he finished the season healthy or not, so the injury only affects his potential value as a free agent.
Donald should get regular playing time, especially at third, as Jack Hannahan hasn't hit since the first six weeks of the season. He's played all over the infield and outfield in Columbus, so he's no longer just a middle infield backup. Jason hit .333/.406/.560 in July (Huntington Park caveats apply), so the Indians are hoping the minor-league hot streak carries over to the majors.
Released OF Johnny Damon and RHP Jeremy Accardo
Both have cleared waivers, and are free to sign with any organization. I think both could find AAA homes immediately. Perhaps a major-league club will take a chance on Damon, but I think it's more likely that he sits out the remainder of the season and give it one more go next spring.