Friday, April 08, 2005

Deja Vu All Over Again?

As Sticky Wickman blew a 3 run lead in the ninth, all I could think was, “This cannot be happening again”. Rewind to the opening of 2004, where most thought that Jimenez and Stewart, while by no means spectacular, would be serviceable relievers in lieu of the injured Wickman. Well, both turned into gas cans who couldn’t be in the rear view mirror soon enough. Are we fooling ourselves again this year? Coming into the year, I thought that the bullpen had been significantly upgraded, then this. Wickman’s only recorded out was on the sac fly that won the game! But, before we hit the panic button, let’s look at Rivera and Foulke getting pummeled and chalk this one up as an aberration. Lost in the meltdown was the strong showing of Kevin Millwood. If he can turn in a performance like that when he toes the rubber, then “Bravo, Mr. Shapiro”, and let’s see if Clement and Lieber fare as well.

Today, the Indians snuck one out of Chicago by coming back in monster fashion to take the game in extra frames. The hits kept coming, after Contreras handcuffed the Indians’ lineup (as usual) and the bullpen bailed out a shell-shocked Cliff Lee. Most impressive was Rocky Betancourt (if you listen to Wedge’s press conferences, his Raffy sounds like Rocky; thus, heretofore, he will be referred to as Rocky) who did what he does: throw strikes, with great results. Big mistake by Ozzie Guillen, only having Luis Vizcaino left in the pen. Tony LaRussa, he is not.

Also, the Tribe locked up Vic the Stick…until 2010! This contract is a great deal for the Indians, assuming the Stick stays healthy. Don’t be surprised if other players begin to follow suit, with the line starting with C.C., Hafner, and any other young player (maybe Coco?) who proves he belongs in the majors with continued productivity. After John Hart issued his masterstroke in the early ‘90s, I thought that most player agents had wised up to this strategy, to avoid being paid below market value in the prime money earning years of a player’s career. I guess that the security of guaranteed money and a long-term deal is too compelling to a young player still establishing himself in the Big Leagues.

1-2 against the White Sox in Chicago isn’t bad. I know that it could’ve been 2-1, but let’s figure that Wickman and Takatsu’s meltdowns balance each other out, and hope that the Indians study some tape of Mark Buerhle and Jose Contreras before we meet again.

Next game tomorrow night, 7:05 vs. the Motor City Kitties.

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