Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Point - Counterpoint

Watching this team perform over the last week, it got me wondering. Isn’t this the team that we were expecting when the season started?
Solid starting pitching, a potent offense, and a reliable bullpen (well as Meat Loaf said, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”) is what this young Indian team has shown and it has been exciting to watch.

The Positives
Starting Pitching
The starters have performed admirably, working deep into games and keeping the Tribe ahead or close, where they have the ability to come back with some late-inning rallies. Considering that all 5 of these guys are locked up for next year (at least), this is certainly the strength of the team going forward. Having starting pitching being the strength of your team? Yeah, that’s OK. It being the strength of the organization, as well, with Miller and possibly Carmona in the future, mix means that the Indians could use the rotation to deal from a position of strength to improve this team in the overall sense.

Big League Choo and Garko-my-God-did-you-see-how-far-he-hit-that?
Both players have proven (in short periods of time, I know) that they are ML-ready players. Choo’s defense (which was counted as a weakness when the deal was made) and Garko’s approach at the plate have been especially impressive. Choo and Garko have realized that their opportunity has arrived and are taking advantage. Could these guys turn into Luis Medina and Beau Allred? Sure, but, here at the DiaTribe, the mug of MGD is always half-full.

Catcher – 1B Platoon
With Garko impressing and Shoppach proving himself worthy of some ML at-bats, these 2 positions set up nicely for next year. If Garko continues to thrive, I have no problem giving him consistent innings as the starting 1B in 2007, with Victor behind the plate. Substituting Shoppach behind the plate for Victor once or twice a week would keep Victor fresh and would improve his offense, and possibly, his overall defense in keeping him fresh. If the Indians want to upgrade the lineup in the offseason, I would rank C/1B under the 2B/Corner OF priorities.

The Core of the Core
Grady and Pronk should be locked up until they’re in their late 30’s. That’s how you use some money to keep two of the best players in the AL on the North Coast for a long time. Both players are legitimate MVP candidates, an aberration for a team this far under .500. Keeping these two hitting close in the lineup assures that every inning in which they both bat will be interesting.

Works in Progress
The Bullpen

This is a running audition, and right now it looks like Dr. Tobias Funke's turn on the casting couch - a little disturbing.
Guillermo Mota has been cut loose, Fernando Cabrera can’t put consistently impressive outings together, Brian Sikorski is proving himself to be a journeyman who throws a 95 MPH-straight-as-an-arrow fastball, Carmona is still working his way back, and Jason Davis always presents the risk of going Jekyl-Hyde with Jason Dangerously taking the ball from Wedgie. The highlight has been the Indonesian, Tom Mastny (the 1st Indonesian-born player in MLB) who the Tribe stole from the Blue Jays for Johnny Mac. This is, and will remain, an audition for 2007 and it’s going to stay ugly.

The Dominican Dandy
Just as Choo and Garko have impressed in a short time, Marte has struggled at the plate. While his defense has been solid, if not strong, he seems lost at the plate. Whether he’s pulling off of pitches or weakly grounding out, he needs to establish some confidence in himself to realize that his talent translates to the Bigs.

The Negatives
Hector Luna
After deriding the trade as exchanging our 2B for nothing more than an inferior utility player (maybe inferior to Joey Inglett), I took a step back and decided to give Luna a chance. That has passed and this trade still looks horrible to me (though my StL Cardinal fan friend would disagree, based on Jelly’s performance). Luna is disinterested and fundamentally weak, not exactly the balm for what ails the Tribe’s infield. Due to his versatility, he may make the 2007 squad, but if he is given serious consideration for the 2B job, I’m logging a formal complaint.

The Record

The fact that the Tribe is 53-65 on August 15th? That’s a negative. A big negative, particularly with the Tigers coming back to Earth and watching the Indians mount an offensive. Too little, too late.
I still think this team can finish at or around .500, but it disappoints me to no end to write that in mid-August.

Let’s hope that the positives outweigh the negatives for the final 6 weeks, as they have for the last 2 weeks.


Cy Slapnicka said...

Ephraim suspended for substance-abuse violation

As John MacEnroe would say, YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS????

rodells said...

Who was the other player we got in the Hafner trade? I thought it was Mastny, but maybe not......

Paul Cousineau said...

Pronk and Aaron Myette for Einar Diaz and T-Bone's favorite cousin, Ryan Drese.

Rockdawg said...

Dr. Tobias Funke rules....Is there any way that Frye can snap the ball to himself?

t-bone said...

interesting survey that came over the indians.com mailing list today. most intruiging questions were that asking for mon-thu night start times (7:05 or 7:35, or no pref), friday night start times (same), saturday start times (1:05, 6:05, 7:05, 7:35, no pref).

also, if you havent seen that minor league fight on deadspin with the team of my namesake (KC T-Bones), check it out.

Cy Slapnicka said...

Wow, great fight.

While I was on there, I noticed the post about Hafner that links to a Mistake post. I can't even begin to explain how much I love this. These guys need to interview Pronk about this. He seems like he's got enough meathead in him to give the guys an exclusive.

Some of the responses are solid as well, my favorite...
"So, the more important question applies the Superman rules of time travel.

So, if everywhere is fair on a far enough ball hit, could Pronk hit a ball so hard that it approached the speed of light, orbit the planet at such speed, and then hit himself in the head just before his homerun swing, thus preventing the ball from being hit in the first place?"

PC, I think the stakes have been raised. Impress me...

Cy Slapnicka said...

Another great post I could resist putting here in case you don't follow the links and read on....

"When Hafner goes deep, he swings from his Pradonk-a-donk-donk."

Cy Slapnicka said...

Good article by pluto today.

t-bone said...

after a pretty decent interview with new cavs forward scott pollard, good ol' kenny roda asks him if he's going to wear #69 with the cavs. i cant make this stuff up.