With the Tribe taking 4 in a row from the Tigers, it's amazing that the last 15 runs scored by the Tribe have all come on home runs. All of that with Jhon and Pronk in extended slumps. To show how prevalent the HR has become recently, Casey Blake knocked his 20th HR today!
Before Wednesday's game, The Architect (Shapiro) was on the radio with some interesting insight. The thing about Shapiro's comments is that you often have to read between the lines for his true meaning. The high points and some thoughts:
- Shapiro said that SuperSizemore projected to eventually become a 25 to 30 HR guy, "once his power comes around". He also said that Grady will become the "prototypical #3 hitter". Let's think about this, Grady is having one of the most exciting seasons in recent Indians history, particularly for a 23 year old. Adding 25-30 HR power to what he's already shown may make Gammons sound prophetic when he said earlier in the season that the American League should write Grady's name in for CF in the All-Star Game for the next 10 years! Shapiro's other comment that Grady was the prototypical #3 hitter blew me away. Not in that it was a surprise, but let's do some math. How many current Indians are legitimate #3 or #4 hitters? I count 4 (SuperSizemore, Jhon, Pronk, and Tthe Stick) with another solid young hitter in Coco. I think that makes up 5 of the 9 batters in the lineup. With that kind of talent in the lineup for the next few years, other players (like Boone and Belliard) don't have to be spectacular, only solid. If they do, however, add one more big bat, we're on our way to watching an offensive juggernaut.
- When asked about Sticky's future, Shapiro said that he'll first find out if Wickman wants to come back. If he does, the Indians will determine if Wickman fits into their plans. When asked about moving a young arm to the closer role, Shapiro firmly stated that the closer role is not one that he would entrust to a youngster. He went on to say that if Wickman did not return, there were some solid options already in the Tribe pen. Translation: Wickman is unlikely to return (either by his choice or the Tribe's choice) and Shapiro will keep someone that he's comfortable with (saw pitch this year) to close games effectively (Howry/Rhodes). He also said that the bullpen's success will be difficult to duplicate. But you have to think that there's only three guys eligible for FA (Wickman, Howry, Sauerbeck). If they bring back Howry and sign a situational lefty, there's Cabrera, Brown, Miller, Tadano, and possibly Davis battling for one spot.
- Shapiro said that Peralta is going through an adjustment period as pitchers have now seen him and know what he's been successful against. It's now up to Peralta to adjust (as he has at every level to become a consistent presence in the lineup). Coincidentally, it was mentioned in today's PD that Peralta has been to the postseason for the past 5 years in the minors. Did someone say something about an environment of winning?
Enough of Shapiro-speak and analysis.
Today's PD also mentioned that with the Tribe likely to pick up Jelly Belliard's option, the only spot for Brandon Phillips next year (when he's out of options) is as a utility IF. Is anyone upset about this? I realize that B-Phil was the big name in the Colon deal, but if he doesn't work out (and it doesn't look like he's going to), are we upset? We only got an All Star LH starter and Stud CF in the deal. I have no problem cutting ties with Phillips this offseason and seeing if we can get something for him, while his stock may still be relatively high.
There's a good analysis of off-season questions, as well as how perceptions and realities change quickly in the analysis of players in Mistake by the Lake Sporting Times.
After a long weekend in Chicago (where I'll miss the Tribe, Buckeyes, and Browns - but will see a baptism), I'll analyze the holes for the 2006 season and the best way to fill them, pitting building from within against adding Free Agents.
On another Cleveland sports-related note, as if the Browns weren't up enough this season, here's more bad news.
Tampa Bay's up 2-0 in the 5th. If the D-Rays hold on, the Tribe moves into first place, all alone, for the Wild Card, with 22 left to play. The Tribe stands at 79-61 with a legitimate shot at 92-95 wins.