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Indians Indians Archive Pié in the Sky: The 2012 Indians' All-Hot-Stove Team!
Written by Andrew Clayman

Andrew Clayman

indians-hot-stove-stars2012 copyGENERIC 1940s NEWS REEL VOICE: Wahoo! What an off-season! Yes, your Cleveland Indians have certainly been busy beavers this winter. After a thrilling 2011 season in which they missed the pennant by the slimmest of 15 game margins, the Tribe has retooled for another big run at those pesky Motor City Kitties in 2012! Just look at all the new, exciting faces making their way to the Arizona desert for spring training this year. …Why, there’s former Seattle all-star Jose Lopez—a fine power-hitting infielder indeed! …And over there, it’s the celebrated ex-Chicago farmhand Felix Pie-- don’t get too hungry, though, folks. He pronounces it Pee-ay! …Hey, isn’t that the Chris Ray who saved 33 games for Baltimore in 2006? It sure is! Yessir, it seems like Cleveland’s young chief operator Mars Shaponetti has signed up enough new talent to field a whole team unto itself. In fact, maybe that’s the perfect way to help all you Tribe fans meet a winter’s worth of marvelous spring invitees. This is the 2012 Cleveland Indians All-Hot-Stove Team!

The 2012 Cleveland Indians All-Hot-Stove Starting Lineup

To be an All-Hot-Stover, the only qualifications necessary are (a) that you were acquired by the Indians during the 2011-2012 offseason, and (b) that you've played in the Big Leagues at some point in your life, even if nobody would remember it. So let's check out the bountiful winter harvest, shall we?!

russcanzlercard copy copyFirst Base
Russ Canzler
Extra, Extra, Read all about it! Just when you thought the Tribe had missed the boat on a bigtime first baseman, as of this morning, they nabbed themselves an MVP! The 2011 International League MVP, no less! Say hello to Russ Canzler, a former 30th round draft pick who hit .314 with a .930 OPS for Durham last year. His reward? Getting swapped from the Rays to the Tribe for "cash considerations." Hear those footsteps, Matt LaPorta?

joselopezSecond Base
Jose Lopez
And what about adding some veteran pop? Well, along with being a versatile jack-of-all-trades in the field, Jose Lopez is also arguably one of the greatest hitters of his generation. Granted, nobody has probably ever made that argument before, but you could. It's a free country. Anyway, Lopez has gone a bit AWOL since a successful 2009 (25 homers, 96 RBI with the Mariners), but the same could be said of Susan Boyle, and we all know that waddling lassie can still bring it.

Gregorio Petit
Gregorio, Gregorio, wherefore art thou, Gregorio? Why, he’s in Goodyear, challenging Asdrubal Cabrera for the starting shortstop job! Every team would love to have a .348 hitter on their squad, and that’s exactly what this 20-something Venezuelan hit for Oakland in 2008 [in 23 at-bats]. He did not play in the Majors or Minors in 2011, but neither did another pretty good shortstop… Cal Ripken, anybody?


andylarocheThird Base
Andy LaRoche
With Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Carlos Pena all signing with other American League teams, the Tribe had to keep pace by nabbing a former NL slugger of its own. Considering he averaged more than 25 dingers per season from 2005-2010, Adam LaRoche certainly looked like someone who could fill that role—- which is why Cleveland signed Adam’s similar-looking younger brother Andy [who has 22 homeruns in his entire 5-year career]. “I love both my sons equally,” says Mrs. LaRoche, and who are we to argue?!

Matt Pagnozzi
Every team of free agent nomads needs a good signal caller, and Matt Pagnozzi can get the job done just like his famous uncle Tom [no racial undertones intended] once did in St. Louis. Better still, young Matt [he’s actually 29] feels right at home in Goodyear, as he grew up next door in Gilbert, Arizona [actually it’s a good hour drive away].  Pagnozzi is ranked #3 by Baseball America in VCMRPUIP (Velocity of Catcher’s Mask Removal on Pop-Ups in Play).

aaroncunninghamLeft Field
Aaron Cunningham
From a distance, this former Athletic and Padre looks pretty much like every other 6-foot, right-handed, banjo-hitting reserve outfielder in baseball. But Aaron Cunningham is from Alaska-- our biggest and weirdest state—where summer days go on for weeks. Sounds like a pretty outstanding advantage for a young Alaskan Little Leaguer-- endlessly shagging flyballs under a sun that never sets. Over time, it probably turned A.C. into a baseball X-Man of sorts. It's just that-- to this point-- he's been hesitant to reveal his mutant nature, posing instead as a forgettable hack with a .231 career average.

felixpieCenter Field
Felix Pie
He was a Baseball America Top 50 Prospect for three years running, and despite hailing from the Dominican, we’re almost certain he’s still just 26. Grandma always said, a good Pie needs time to cool on the window ledge before it proves that it’s not a huge disappointment. Well, Felix, cooling time is over. Everybody in Cleveland wants to see what you’re made of! And I hear tell it’s lemon meringue!


ryanspilborghsRight Field
Ryan Spilborghs
“Spilly” was a cult hero in Colorado, where’s his off-the-charts immeasurables and fun loving ways endeared him to his teammates and the Rockies faithful. His last name is Belgian, but it could also work as the name for a race of clumsy androids on Dr. Who. Our secret hope is that Ryan and Shelley Duncan serve as the Tribe’s fourth and fifth outfielders, forming a future drive-time radio duo known as “Spilly and The Sloth.”

fredlewisDesignated Hitter
Fred Lewis
As any student of the game could tell you, a Fred Lewis only comes along about once every century. In fact, you have to go back to 1886 to find the last Fred Lewis. He was an outfielder for the St. Louis Maroons named Frederick Miller Lewis, and he was a damn fine hitter with a .296 career average. Now Cleveland’s hoping lightning strikes twice, as they inked a deal with an exciting new Fred Lewis [he’s actually 31]. Who’s that over your shoulder, Michael Brantley? Why, it’s Fred Lewis!

kevinsloweyStarting Pitcher
Kevin Slowey, Derek Lowe
The Indians’ big hot stove payout went to Derek Lowe, but as oxymorons go, we prefer Slowey's Fastball to Lowe's High Pitch-Count. Admittedly, Kevin was not wildly successful last season in Minnesota (0-8, 6.67 ERA), but according to Wikipedia, he scored a 1420 on his SAT’s, so the kid’s got the noodle to bounce back. That is, unless he loses his job to an intriguing newcomer named Roberto Hernandez Heredia.

danwheelerBullpen Junior Mafia
Dan Wheeler, Robinson Tejada, Jeremy Accardo, Chris Ray
And what’s a hot stove stockpiling project without crusty old bullpen arms? Odds are, one of these four previously useful relievers will log substantial innings again in 2012—stepping in for the annual Joe Smith DL stint or taking Chris Perez’s roster spot after a mid July firesale.  Our good money is on Wheeler, whose traditional middle reliever goatee speaks to his dedication to his craft.


Remember, the hot stove season isn’t over, so it’s possible this impressive list of impact acquisitions could grow even longer. For the mean time, though, I think we can all agree that the Cleveland Indians have been extremely aggressive in free agency, and that a World Series Championship is almost unavoidable with these new pieces in place!

Bla bla bla, additional Felix Pie pun, bla la bla.


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