Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane

In light of little to nothing happening on the Reservation (probably for quite a while), it is finally time to delve into the 1st Annual Year In Review here at The DiaTribe, where the comments (good and bad) will come back to us in blazing Technicolor and we will all be exposed for what we wrote as the season progressed and how those comments look now in retrospect.

While I certainly won’t limit the content here to the past and will continue to contribute random thoughts on the Tribe, I’ll try to pound out one of these a week, so it should boil down to about 7 installments – which should get us to just around the beginning of February, when the Gladiators start practice.
Just kidding…it should get us to right around when the equipment trucks are getting gassed up and filled for the final trip to Winter Haven.

I figured it would be fun to examine the actual results on the field and the hits and the misses that were written here as well as some of the more entertaining comments (right and wrong in retrospect) by the best posters in the business.

And with that obligatory introduction out of the way, we’re off…
2007 Year in Review – April
What Happened
The Tribe endured a snow storm, a trip to Milwaukee, and A-Rod having “the greatest month of anyone in the history of anyone” all over their new closer's face to finish April 15-8, 1 ½ games up on the Tigers.

The offense was paced by Pronk (still donning the #48 before that Hafner chap took his place at some point in the season) as he finished April with 5 HR, 16 RBI, and a 1.021 OPS in 22 games. Sizemore (.926 OPS), Martinez (17 RBI), and Peralta (4 HR, 14 RBI) started strong, serving as signs of good things to come while the Aprils of Dellichaels (.244 BA, 9 combined RBI) and Josh Barfield (.425 OPS) showed that sometimes you can judge a book by the first chapter.

On the pitching side, the starters paced the winning with C.C. (3-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.32 WHIP), the Byrdman (2-1, 3.50 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) and Fausto (2-1, 3.76 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) showing that the rotation would prove to be the strength of the team despite the struggles of Sowers (who had more BB than K) and Westbrook (who, we would later learn, was pitching with an oblique strain). Unbelievably, the best relievers were Jason Dangerously and F-Cab while JoeBo indoctrinated us to the tightrope that he walked throughout the season.

Now for the reactions of yours truly and the serial posters in real time.
Remember the quotes are real and time-stamped to verify their authenticity:
According to Your Humble Host – Nostradamus
The obvious strength of the 2007 Tribe is clearly the starting pitching, particularly the quality at the top end of the rotation and the depth of the quality into the 7th and 8th starters (in Buffalo). – 4/1/07

Carmona will begin the season in the rotation and it’s feasible that, when Lee returns, he stays there if he finds early success. He clearly has the repertoire to succeed in MLB; the question of his mental readiness is what will determine if he logs some miles between Cleveland and Buffalo this year or stays on the parent club for good. – 4/1/07

Unless Betancourt or Hernandez can step up immediately, the Indians may be running open auditions for the set-up role, with the hopes that Cabrera or Davis can harness their stuff to translate into some 8th inning success. – 4/1/07

Peralta’s Spring performance has provided hope that he is closer to his 2005 form and has put his nightmarish 2006 in the rearview mirror. If Peralta is, in fact, ready to contribute anything close to his 2005 stat line, it will go a long way towards the Indians establishing themselves as an offensive juggernaut. – 4/1/07

So, the Indians, with their strong rotation and productive lineup have as much of a chance to represent the AL in the Fall Classic as any other club. – 4/1/07

I know that Slider and John Adams made the trip, not as sure about Jason Davis or Fernando Cabrera. Seeing as how The Atomic Wedgie is still only pitching Hernandez (yikes), Fultz, Betancourt, and The Big Borowski – there’s an APB out for JD and Cabrera. – 4/10/07

I know it’s only 2/3 of an inning, but it’s the same thing with Davis – inconsistency, inability to prevent runners already on base from scoring, and complete frustration. At a certain point with Davis, all of the talk about “electric stuff” and his potential to become Joe Nathan has to turn into the reality that he’s simply an ineffective reliever taking a roster spot away from a potentially useful arm in the bullpen. Allowing him to “knock the rust off” or try to harness his stuff while the Indians are in a position to contend, at any point in the season, is simple irresponsibility. Wedge’s current favorite ineffective reliever, Hernandez, left today’s game with an unspecified “right leg injury”, giving hope to the thought that another reliever can take his spot in Wedgie’s bullpen rotation. Maybe Hernandez will hit the DL and can go on a rehab assignment to figure out what’s wrong with him. Or…maybe he’s 42 and the tank’s simply empty. – 4/12/07

The contracts given this past off-season became irresponsible as the guaranteed years mounted up. Jeff Suppan (4 years…not bad), Ted Lilly (4 years…not bad), Gil Meche (5 years…ugh), and Barry Zito (7 years…good God) all received contracts longer than Westbrook’s extension. The wisdom in limiting the number of guaranteed years is tied to the idea that pitchers, and the inherent risks of their profession, can have SO many things go wrong going forward that the risk of a long-term contract can be minimized by limiting the guaranteed years. By limiting the extension to 3 years, the Indians don’t extend themselves out too far into the future, but lock up an innings-eater that’s averaged nearly 15 wins, with a 1.32 WHIP over the last 3 years. Comparable production for the next 4 years (2007 under his current contract, then the 3-year extension) is certainly worth the $11M per that the Indians will be paying. – 4/14/07

Will the contingent that said that the Dolan ownership would NEVER EVER sign a player to an extension or pay a player more than $10M a year please issue their mea culpas, in writing, to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario? The truth is that the payroll flexibility that the Indians have achieved allowed them to commit this money to Westbrook. – 4/14/07

Carmona’s mastery of the Twins as he outpitched Johan Santana (ever think you’d see those words put together?) was all the more impressive because the sinker that he throws generally induces ground balls. Since the Twins have perfected the art of pounding the ball off of the Metrodome turf, it was entirely feasible that they would dink-and-dunk their way around the bases, beating out infield hits all night.
But the Twins couldn’t hit Carmona solidly and swung early and often, something they don’t generally do, limiting his pitch count and accentuating his effectiveness as he moved quickly through a Twins’ lineup obviously built for the old “hammer the ball into the turf and run like hell” strategy (Jason Tyner was leading off).
Carmona has now put together two consecutive outstanding starts, against the Yankees and the Twins no less, and would be 2-0 if not for the A-Rod massacre. – 4/25/07

They’ve won every series (that I can remember, or at least care to remember – they didn’t play in New York yet, right) this year and the numbers that the team has put up include nothing that jumps out as entirely successful. No aspect of the team has carried the others, as the team has figured out a way to win convincingly, win ugly, and win with smoke and mirrors. For 2 years, the whole town has complained that the team has been unable to win close games, overcome mistakes to win a game, and have been unable to put lesser teams away as they should. So far this year, the Indians have done just that. They sit at 12-7 with no obvious reason for the .632 winning percentage. If it’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for success and it’s easy to argue that each aspect of the team could improve (maybe not the bullpen), this team may be poised for that breakout season. That breakout season when everything falls into place, that the close games end in victory, and the team is able to get on a roll that lasts all season. – 4/26/07
Remember that the formula for success, broken down simply works like this:
Win 2 out of every 3 at home (win every series) to go 54-27
Play .500 ball on the road to go 40-41
Combine those records and you end up at 94-68
Sounds easy, right? Well, obviously it’s not or every team would follow the simple roadmap for making the playoffs. – 4/29/07

Missing the Mark
Jake Westbrook, Jeremy Sowers, and Cliff Lee form a solid middle of the rotation led by Westbrook, who has earned his reputation as an innings-eater who always keeps the Tribe in games, regardless of the amount of hits he gives up. Sowers established himself as a thinking man’s lefty, in the vein of Jaime Moyer and Tom Glavine – a pitcher who doesn’t blow away anybody, but always gets out of tough innings and through games despite not possessing overpowering stuff. Lee, when he returns from an oblique strain, needs to re-establish his spot in the rotation as a solid LHP, capable of getting past the 5th inning while reducing the amount of HR allowed. If Lee is able to replicate the modicum of success that he had in 2005 and 2006, it will go a long way for the Indians to have 4 solid-to-excellent starters, a boast few teams can make. – 4/1/07

If Garko proves to be a huge detriment to team defense in the field, Blake may be handed the full-time 1B job and one of the young RH OF (Ben Francisco or Franklin Gutierrez) will take his spot in the platoon. – 4/1/07

Barfield’s defensive prowess, speed, and youth should endear him quickly to Indians’ fans that still miss Roberto Alomar as he establishes himself as another core player for 2007 and beyond. – 4/1/07

Marte is likely to show flashes of an impact bat with power and tape-measure shots, but he needs to lay off low-and-away breaking pitches and improve his OBP and pitch selection to develop as a legitimate RH power bat that many thought he would become as recently as this time last year. – 4/1/07

Mike Rouse figures to be strictly a defensive replacement in the infield, capable of giving the regular IF a break in late innings or on back-to-backs. – 4/1/07

ALDS – Cleveland over Oakland, Boston over Chicago
NLDS – Philadelphia over Milwaukee, New York over Los Angeles
ALCS – Cleveland over Boston
NLCS – New York over Philadelphia
World Series – Cleveland over New York
If it all breaks like that, sometime in late October or early November, Indians fans will rejoice worldwide and all will be right with the world. – 4/1/07

How does that 2nd spot in the lineup look so far? Nixon and Michaels have combined to go 8 for 13, 5 R, 2 RBI, 4 2B, 1 HR, and 15 TB in the first 3 games, not to mention the one ridiculous catch that nearly stopped my heart for good measure. With Sizemore and the early success of the 2 hole, Hafner and Martinez look primed for some serious run-producing opportunities. – 4/5/07

Andy Marte has established that, if he’s thrown a ball up in the strike zone, he has a nice doubles stroke to LF. Down and away – that’s another story. But, watching Barfield run around the bases as Marte poked those doubles, for some reason, excites me more than it probably should. – 4/10/07

With Westbrook signed, it’s unlikely that the Indians pick up Byrd’s 2008 option worth $8M and can use that money for other portions of the roster. Taking that into account, the 2008 rotation looks like this:
If the Indians are able to extend C.C., that rotation stays intact until 2010.
Think about that for a moment…that’s 3 full seasons with that stacked rotation. – 4/14/07

The Indians blew a prime opportunity to announce their arrival as AL heavyweights, instead looking like overmatched, overwhelmed featherweights. Never has there been a series in recent memory that was so utterly disappointing, so unhealthy for the lining of my stomach, and so heartbreaking as the last three days have been. Realizing that this is the 4th series of the season and the idea of a baseball season is never to get too high or too low (it’s a marathon, kids, not a sprint), the fact that the incapability of this team to put together a complete game that haunted them all of last season persists is positively horrifying. – 4/19/07

4 of the 9 regulars are hitting under .225 (Peralta, Blake, Marte, and Barfield), the team is hitting .212 with RISP, and the Indians are tied for the lead in the AL in errors (despite the fact they missed the ENTIRE Seattle series and have played 4 fewer games). And, miraculously, they're still 8-7. Maybe it's by luck, maybe it's a sign that they can win when not clicking on all cylinders.
Whatever it is, this team needs to pull themselves out of whatever extended Spring Training they think they're still in, before they run into a team (like the Yankees) that will simply exploit their flaws and their mistakes. Otherwise, this team is going to sink quickly to the bottom of the standings and dig themselves a hole too deep to get out of once (or if) they can correct these problems and play complete, error-free, fundamentally sound games. – 4/23/07

So, the question remains – when Lee returns from the DL, does Fausto stay in the rotation in lieu of another starter, does he transition to the bullpen, or does he return to Buffalo to stay on his 5-day pitching schedule and remain the “6th Starter” in case of another injury.
As well as he has pitched, the answer is fairly obvious – he will return to the Bison rotation and wait for his next chance. In Spring Training, a line of thinking developed that if Carmona thrived in the rotation while Byrd’s 2007 start mirrored his 2006 start (which is to say, he started 2007 awfully), Carmona would take Byrd’s spot in the rotation and Byrd would move to the bullpen to become the highest paid reliever in Tribe history. When Matt Miller went down and his dominance of RH batters was lost, the scenario seemed more likely as Byrd’s 2006 numbers vs. RH (.695 OPS) far outpaced that of his work against LH (.972 OPS). – 4/25/07

At this point, it makes more sense for the Indians to send Fausto to the Buffalo rotation to keep his arm stretched out and on a regular routine for when (not if) he’s needed at some point later this season to step into the rotation. Having him as the 6th starter gives the Indians unheard-of insurance in their rotation and depth that would be the envy of most of MLB. – 4/25/07

Opening Day tomorrow, which some feel should be a citywide holiday, and with some merit. The folks down at the Jake for the Opener break down to a couple of categories:
The St. Patrick’s Day Crowd
These are the people looking for a reason to party and drink on a weekday afternoon, regardless of the occasion. The same group was down on West 6th a few weeks ago, chugging keg beer and doing Jagerbombs before noon to celebrate St. Paddy’s, regardless of their ethnicity. These people will arrive late and leave early, but they’ll cheer on their team while they’re there…their blood alcohol level will help them in that regard.
The One-Timers
These folks go to one game a year, the Home Opener, and can’t figure out who the 3B is or where Paul Byrd came from. They’ll complain that the Dolans are cheap and they won’t be able to figure out why Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome aren’t wearing the Wahoo. These “fans” will call themselves huge fans when the team starts winning as they fill up the bandwagon on their own.
The Diehards

No, not the people who get a free battery if they were alive when the Indians actually won a World Series; these are the people who brave the weather to sit and cheer for their team in good times and bad. They wear their headphones to listen to Hammy and keep their ears warm on an April afternoon. They come in their Indians’ hats, with their Indians’ jackets, covered by an Indians’ blanket, clutching their new media guides, and staying until the last out. They’ll visit Heritage Park and they’ll cheer for Ben Broussard or Richie Sexson (on the Mariners) for the “memories” of their good times as Indians. – 4/5/07

The debacle of the Home Opener – 4/7/07

T-Bone’s fantastic Slide Show of the Home Opener – 4/9/07

I know, I know…the Indians are playing home games in Milwaukee…just like the team in Major League did for the 1989 film…on the same day the collector’s edition of the DVD was released…canceling the “Wild Thing Vaughn Glasses Giveaway” originally scheduled for the Tuesday game at the Jake. Look, I’ve seen the house that served as the outside of Roger Dorn’s house in the movie (it’s on Lake Drive in Whitefish Bay), so I’m aware of the similarities. The irony is not lost on me, nor is the ridiculous fact that the Indians are playing “home” games in Miller Park against the Angels. The DiaBride, in fact, thinks it’s all been planned by Paramount to sell more DVD’s. – 4/10/07

My unhealthy obsession with these all Blue Helmets with the Home Whites from the trip to Milwaukee – 4/10/17

It’s also very possible that Paul Byrd has been abducted in a manner reminiscent of The Last Starfighter and have replaced him with a Beta Unit android who is infinitely more effective than the actual Paul Byrd. I’m baffled by the effectiveness of the being wearing #36 thus far, so I’m just throwing it out there. I’m just saying…it’s possible. – 4/15/07

The first of many Anti-Yankee rants – 4/17/07

Some hack’s 1st foray into mainstream media – 4/24/07

Best of the Best
Wow the Tribe to win it all? I suppose Sizemore would be MVP as well!?!?!? I sure hope you're right man. – 4/1/07 – The Natural Mevs

Undefeated season, Grady is on pace for 162 HRs, and I've chalked up the Big Borowski for 81 saves. – 4/2/07 – Cy Slapnicka

i'm a few hours from heading down to the opener in what will most likely be the last season as jacobs field. just checked weather.com and see that it's 25 degrees outside right now. awesome. WTAM is down there broadcasting live and bob frantz just said it's snowing down there. sweet. – 4/5/07 – T-Bone

One of the funnniest things I've seen in recent memory was a Mil-you-walk-aya fan drinking a beer and holding a huge sign that said "Go Whoever." Classic. – 4/10/07 – Rockdawg

And this seems to be the end of the line for Davis. He might make a good ROOGY or long-man for a team that's not, you know, trying to WIN THE DIVISION. There is no baseball reason that this bullpen shouldn't be Cabrera, Mastny, Betancourt, Lara, Fultz, Borowski, and Eddie Moo or whoever's hot in Buffalo, right now. – 4/12/07 – Tyler

Second, Hernandez hasn't "done nothing but fail." You're working with a small sample size, but if that't the context, I will too. He was successful, IMO, in his first two appearances. Does that mean he's a lockdown 8th inning man? Of course not. But dismissing him (and Davis) based largely on 6 games and/or 2/3 of an inning seems incredibly, tendentiously premature. – 4/12/07 – Jeff

ah-hem fellas...um i think the yankees blog is down the hall. its right next to the art modell, john elway, and MJ boards.
unfortunately they are smashing the indians tonight, but i'm not about to talk about about how this team is hard to hate. i find it quite easy, with a juicehead at dh, a pretty boy at CF, SS, and 3B, two guys that talk about their man-love or lack thereof in the media, a guy that stole his old team's world series ball, and they may just employ clemens by season's end. in fact, the only person i do respect is rivera b/c he just goes out and does his job.
add on the media coverage and the fact that the espn broadcast just talked about how happy gay-rod was that he and jeter spent the summer on a mountain in wyoming for 15 minutes, i have no problems hating them. in fact, if i ran the scoreboard at an MLB park...i would wait until they high fived or embraced or just stood next to each other and i'd play this – 4/17/07 - Cy Slapnicka

I also enjoy walking up to everyone wearing a Yankee jersey in Cleveland or Cinci when they come to town, shaking their hand, and politely saying, "Wow! That's amazing. How long did it take you to drive from NYC? Or did you fly? That's amazing. It must be nice to see new ballparks all over the country. What do you think of Cleveland/Cinci?"
Then they say, "No, I'm from here." I pause for like 5 seconds in silence and then scream: "This guy hates baseball! Hey! Over here! This guy is not a real fan..."
Seriously. Ask my friends. That's what I do. – 4/17/07 – Millkey

While at the Flying Monkey in Tremont I took a random poll of six individuals bellied up to the bar. The question was who is the second basemen for the Tribe. The responses were as follows: three Jelly Bellies, one I don't know, one I don't care, and one Jessie Barfield (yes Jessie)... so I just walked away. – 4/19/07 – arodmvp

has anyone noticed that the espn crews are practically cheering for the yankees? its bad enough that their entire 3 game series was nationally televised. i think espn is one month away from wearing pinstripes on the air.
its amazing to me that fox sports has not stepped up and filled the void left by the self proclaimed worldwide leader and provided some good content. its sad when its more enjoyable to hear the espn desporte broadcast than the english version. i can honestly say, i allow my wife to change it to HGTV without protest. sportscenter's awfullness, coupled with baseball tonight filling the void left by quality broadcasters with phone "interviews" with players, makes it trying to watch.
HR could be on Dateline, cornered by Chris Hansen and he'd still be a more entertaining TV personality than Kruk and Phillips. – 4/23/07 – Cy Slapnicka

My hope is that Barfield will figure out how to hit and become more prominent in the offense. It would be nice if Marte could at least field the ball too. Anything to get the Mighty Casey out of the regular lineup. – 4/26/07 – Jason

sucks to be carmona right now, I just hope they keep starting him in Buffalo; its a nice problem to have i guess. – 4/29/07 – Baltimoran

Browns dominated draft day. Doesn't matter if they flame or win a Super Bowl. The moves were top notch by Savage. – 4/29/07 – rodells

How about this from the game story for tonight's (tuesday's) game: Although nothing has been finalized, Indians union rep Casey Blake confirmed that one of the four home games postponed by snow against Seattle last month will be made up when Cleveland visits Safeco Field from Sept. 25-27. ... – 4/29/07 - Tim

A fun ride it was, this 2007 season...and we're still going up the first hill on the roller coaster.

1 comment:

Ethan Michaels said...

I'm just starting a new blog.


Check it out if you've got some time and let me know if you'd want to exchange links.