After the debacle of the last 2 games, the offense exploded for 10 runs today to give Jake a W. With C.C.'s performance and the anemic offense against the Royals, this was a much needed boost for the skidding Tribe.
Casey Coleman had an interesting point in today's pre-game that had to do with last night's lineup (which looked like the Buffalo Bisons', maybe worse). His comment was that with the night game followed by the day game, Wedge had to sit some starters for one of the games. One could argue that Wedge would want to play them in the game that he thought he had a better chance of winning (with Westbrook or Sabathia on the mound). Whether or not that was the case, it was certainly an interesting perspective.
Looking at this team, there are some things in an overview that are becoming obvious:
- The starting pitching will continue to be the strength of this team for years to come. Guys like Millwood and Elarton may come and go, but the groundwork is laid with Lee, Westbrook, and C.C. (warts and all) to consistently put a strong rotation together. Mix in the fact that the rotations in AAA and AA are absolutely stacked with young talent (not to mention High A players like Adam Miller) and the future looks good, assuming of course that championships are built on pitching (which they are).
- The core offensive players on this team right now are Sizemore, Hafner, Peralta, and Martinez (slow starts and all). The complementary players on the team are Coco and Boone (if healthy). The rest of the positions, as far as I'm concerned, are up for grabs at the end of the year. Much more consistency is needed from 1B, 2B, and RF. Broussard, Belliard, and Blake are all decent players in their own right; but, if and when the Indians put a serious push together, I don't anticipate any of them to be around. Broussard and Blake are too streaky (and when they're cooler than cool...they're ICE COLD), and Belliard's annual swoon (coupled with the fact that it looks like he's not trying half the time) lead me to believe that FA's will be added in those spots (unless Dubois or prospects like Garko or Gatreau are given a chance). An All-Star is not needed at every position, but a player who doesn't constantly leave runners on the bases by whiffing or hitting into DP's is needed (and would be a welcome change).
- The bullpen will remain a work in progress, as evidenced by the high expectations and dismal performance of 2004 and, conversely, the early uncertainties and steady production in 2005. The pieces are there for the future in Riske, Cabrera, Betancourt, and even The Frisbee Thrower, Miller. There will always be relievers available in the offseason, and there are a few nice arms in the minors who translate well into the big league bullpen (Brown, Mujica, and Sipp). After 2004, the Indians' front office will never take this aspect of the team for granted.
- This team still needs to do a lot of maturing and learning how to win by playing smart baseball. A veteran presence (who's not hitting .220) is necessary to help this team establish some consistency, rather than letting streaks dominate their season. This team still gets too high and too low and can't find that middle ground of consistency. That, though, comes with time and experience of being there.
This team still has a legitimate shot at this Wild Card. Despite a lot of teams making a STRONG push right now (A's, Spankees), it is the middle of July. There are 2 1/2 months left in the season, where a lot can happen.
The Saturday Seattle game is on FOX nationally at 3:15. Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one? What's the angle? Grover coming back? Rhodes facing his old mates? My guess is the programmer who scheduled this one is back working at the FOX Tulsa affiliate.
How bad is summer TV? Between the 2nd rate reality shows (The Scholar, I Want to be a Hilton), and reruns of those AWFUL shows on during the normal schedule (Joey, every comedy on ABC), I find myself watching those VH-1 and E! "lists" more and more. If I see 101 Celebrity Oops' one more time, I might throw up. God forbid I go outside, for fear of melting. Seriously, though, when do Lost and Arrested Development start back up? Thank God (and the in-laws) for the Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld DVD's.
But I digress. Tribe faces Moyer tomorrow, who turns into Sandy Koufax in his prime whenever he faces the Indians' lineup. Hopefully, the Tribe can sweep and finish the homestand at 5-6 after a disastrous start.