Sunday, February 10, 2008

Last Lazy Sunday of the Winter

Despite a harsh wind blowing outside and the temperature in a free fall, Spring Training is now less than a week away as Pitchers and Cathcers are likely double-checking their travel plans to make it to Winter Haven on Thursday….finally.
And with that good news settling in, we’re off on a Lazy Lazy:

Terry Pluto comes correct and in full effect with an analysis of how the Indians’ starting pitchers and how their 2007 workload may affect their 2008 performance. It’s a legitimate concern as a troubling trend is apparent by simply examining the results of some AL Central foes who recently rode strong pitching into the playoffs (and more) and how they regressed in the following year:
Team ERA (AL Rank)
Chicago 2005 – 3.61 (T-1st)
Chicago 2006 – 4.61 (10th)

Detroit 2006 – 3.84 (1st)
Detroit 2007 – 4.57 (9th)

Cleveland 2007 – 4.05 (3rd)
Cleveland 2008 - ?
In the same vein, SI’s Tom Verducci identifies The Faustastic One as a young pitcher who could be an injury risk in 2008 due to an unusually heavy workload.

If what Pluto tells us is true - namely that pitching is the key for the 2008 Tribe (and it is) - count The Sporting News as among those bullish on the Tribe’s 2008 outlook, rating their rotation and bullpen as best in the AL. Obviously, having the best rated rotation and bullpen in February pales in comparison to having the best in October…but it certainly is encouraging that an unbiased TSN puts the Tribe’s rotation above that of the Red Sox and believes that their bullpen is sound from top to bottom for 2008. By the way, TSN rates the Tribe OF as 6th in the AL, which looks like a bit of a stretch to given the question marks flanking SuperSizemore with the measured mediocrity of Dellichaels and Frank the Tank’s predilection to look like Pedro Cerrano when a curveball leaves a pitcher’s hand.

On a brand new topic, Pluto identifies the Indians’ offer to Sabathia “in the $90 million range and it could go higher depending upon performance.” He also thinks that “Sabathia's agents are determined to sign for more than Johan Santana ($137 million) or any other pitcher.” As I’ve said before, I’m firmly of the belief that the Indians should entice Sabathia with a higher annual salary in lieu of the extra year that would expose them to more risk as the contract lengthens. The 5-year, $90M (bumping his 2008 salary and a 4-year extension) nearly mirrors the Zambrano deal that serves as a point of reference in terms of numbers and years. It almost certainly will take more but, if Sabathia’s agents are dead-set on surpassing what Santana signed for (when Santana held all of the chips with the Mets and has proven to be a better pitcher than C.C.); the Hefty Lefty is not long for Cleveland.

Hoynesie gets on board with reporting Santana’s deal correctly and what the real sticking point with the Sabathia negotiations are…in case you haven’t been paying attention – its years, not money. Dipping into his mailbag, then, Hoynes uses an effective common sense approach to answering some questions regarding Casey Blake and the infield.

Outside of the PD stuff, the rest of the local writers seem unaware that Spring Training is knocking on the door as nobody (ABJ, Canton Rep, etc.) had anything beyond the press releases announcing the signing of RP Brendan Donnelly (strictly a depth signing, hopefully in the Bob Howry Rehab vein) and SP Scott Elarton (simply an olive branch to allow Elarton to be in camp with someone to eat some innings in Winter Haven and to display his wares for a team NOT named the Indians…nothing more).

With Spring Training sooooo close (did I mention that yet?), I’ll take a look at some questions for the Tribe as they head to the sun of central Florida to…well…stretch and play catch for a few weeks.


Rockdawg said...
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Rockdawg said...

PTC, your firm stance to resist the many offers you get reminds me of a certain rock band called Pearl Jam, whose wise leader, a man named Edward Vedder, who, in the height of the bands newly found fame, pulled away from MTV, radio, and anything else that didn't involve writing and playing music. It seemd to work out pretty well for them.

BTW, do you thank the heavens every day for Terry Pluto finally switching to the PD. Has anyone even GALNCED at an ABJ since he left?

LBJ 4 PREZ, and I will ALWAYS despise Kasey Blake, the worst clutch hitter in either league (look it up)