Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Thanks Blue

The umps' non-call for Wicky's balk (and it WAS a balk) allowed the Tribe to steal their 9th consecutive victory on the road. It also allowed us the pleasure of seeing one of the truly entertaining moments in sports - a Lou Pinella meltdown. After he launched bats everywhere after Coco's triple in the 7th, Lou really lost it after the non-call. Even the most elementary lip-reader could tell that Lou was not quoting Scripture.

Those types of games, though, are the types of games that the White Sox, not the Indians, were winning earlier this year. Now the Tribe seems to have all sorts of momentum (and a little bit of luck) on their side. Don't look now, but the Tribe is only 7 games back of the "uncatchable" ChiSox with 36 games (including 6 more against the White Sox) remaining. How great would it be if that last weekend series over the end of September/beginning of October at the Jake against the Sox was for the Central? I'll file that thought away for the moment to focus on the business at hand, keeping pace in the Wild Card.

Good article by Terry Pluto on the attendance at the Jake this year.

On the topic of attendance, to watch the camera pan the crowd at the Trop, there's no way that 8,500 people (as it's being reported) are there. How long can the Rays stay in Tampa? They entered the series with the Tribe on a bit of a hot streak, with the bizarre looking Jorge Cantu, and their other young talents, leading the way. Yet, there have probably been 15,000 people ACTUALLY at the first 3 games, with reported ticket sales around 25,000. It's kind of sad.

The Atomic One said that the Tribe will probably call up a third catcher, an extra starter (Jason Davis and Fausto Carmona were specifically mentioned), an extra outfielder, and an infielder for the September call-ups to go with the reinforcements in the bullpen when Miller and Rhodes return. It sounds like Phillips, Dubois, and Davis will join Tallet and Cabrera (who will likely stick around when Miller and Rhodes return) as the September call-ups. An appearance by Andrew Brown or a Kaz Tadano wouldn't be too surprising in that they're both on the 40 man and can add innings to the pen after a long season. I'm not sure what third catcher they'll add as The Stick and Bardo are the only catchers on the 40 man. They could always add Garko (who was drafted as a catcher) and make a move on the 40 man to get him on (dropping off Juan Gone, if his contract allowed it?).

Fausto Carmona's name was mentioned as a potential call-up, but the Tribe will probably opt for the more experienced Davis for now. Carmona will be an interesting pitcher to watch this coming Spring, though, as he has dominated AAA as a 21 year old, going 4-4 with a 2.51 ERA in the 10 games since he's gotten called up. He's gotten 44 K's in 68 innings, while giving up only 55 hits and 11 walks. I wonder if his success will allow the Tribe to move Davis to the pen (to battle Cabrera, Brown for available spots) in Spring Training and give Carmona a legitimate shot to make the rotation next year. Between Carmona (he's the starter) and Cabrera (he's the reliever), the Tribe can add some serious firepower to the pitching staff from within for next year.

The business at hand, of course, though is still keeping pace for the Wild Card and Elarton's egg tonight (it was bound to happen sooner or later) more than likely means that the Tribe can only scoreboard watch for the Yankees (Toronto up 9-0 in the 6th) and A's (Oakland up 9-0 in the 7th).

Can't win 'em all.

1 comment:

t-bone said...

Thursday, August 25, 2005
Catching Fire
By Tristan Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

Two weeks ago, this column discussed the promising future of Mets third baseman David Wright, who had a pretty good game Wednesday. With his 4-for-5 performance, Wright took over as the major-league leader in batting average among qualified hitters since the All-Star break, with a .383 mark. But can you guess who holds the American League lead in the category?

It's Indians catcher Victor Martinez, whose 3-for-3 performance increased his average to .382 (52-for-136). In 37 games since the All-Star break, he has eight homers, 27 RBI and a 1.066 OPS, re-establishing himself as an elite fantasy catcher.

Martinez's fantasy owners -- at least the patient ones -- are sure happy to get this productive bat back. He hit just .236 with nine homers, 35 RBI and a .692 OPS in 76 games in the season's first half, disappointing numbers for a guy coming off a year in which he set career highs with 23 homers, 108 RBI, 38 doubles and an .851 OPS. Once compared to a switch-hitting version of Mike Piazza as he was rising through the minor-league ranks, Martinez actually was outperformed by the declining Piazza in the season's first half. Piazza had a higher average (.260) and OPS (.748), more RBI (36) and matched Martinez's homers (9).

It could be possible that Martinez was merely enduring one of those adjustment periods many youngsters face early in their major-league careers. From Aug. 1 of last season to this year's All-Star break, Martinez batted just .237 with 15 homers, 64 RBI and a .714 OPS in 125 games. But he walked 51 times compared with 60 strikeouts, which are pretty promising rates for any young hitter. Not many players have that much plate discipline.

Another theory for Martinez's late-season 2004 slide and early funk this season was that the wear and tear of catching so many games a year ago took its toll on him at the plate. But if his 141 games last season -- 132 behind the plate -- really took something away from him at the plate, then why would he be hitting so well this year despite having caught 107 of the Indians' 127 games? Martinez is actually on pace for 144 games in 2005, three more than a year ago, so tiring out is obviously not a big concern. Don't worry about Martinez; it appears he's back and ready to claim status as the No. 1 overall fantasy catcher.