Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Eastbound Tomahawks

As the Indians head back east after a 2-4 road trip, it seems that the offensive kinks that plagued the Tribe throughout the Oakland series could be finally on their way to being worked out. However, sabotaged by a dreadful start by Byrd (his second) and a bullpen that is giving up runs from unlikely sources (Betancourt, Lewis) while getting solid contributions from unlikely sources (Julio, Kobayashi) with a dollop of Brodzoski (The Close) thrown in for good measure, the Indians dropped their second straight series despite what may be…head bowed and hands folded…the return of Pronk.

With an off day looming, let the Tomahawks fly:

As the struggles of Dellichaels (combined .117 BA) have caused much hand-wringing on the North Coast, it’s time for the Atomic Wedgie to realize that playing BOTH of the players in the same lineup is not the solution to the problem. If both are going to be given the opportunity to work their way out of their funks while taking up one spot in the lineup – good luck, boys; but the inclusion of both in the lineup, presumably to rest Frank the Tank against RHP for…wait for it…Jason Michaels (he of the .690 OPS vs. RHP from 2005 to 2007) is just obtuse. Not only does Frank’s exclusion from the outfield worsen the overall team defense (Michaels’ phenomenal catch today considered), but in many ways, it hinders the growth and development of Gutz’s ability to hit RHP. We all know that Michaels can’t hit RHP…are we really THAT sure about Franky? I don’t think so, and Michaels replacing Gutz in RF for 2 of the first 9 games is inexcusable knowing what we know and with an eye towards developing Franklin Delano Gutierrez into an everyday player.

While we’re on the topic of Dellichaels, allow me to reiterate my belief that Michaels is the player who is ostensibly blocking both Andy Marte and Ben Francisco from potentially making contributions to the parent club. If Michaels is not able to show signs of life by, say, the end of April, it’s time to institute the Blake/Dellucci platoon in LF and give Marte everyday AB at 3B. While some would argue that Francisco should be given the first shot, understand that the Indians have THIS SEASON to determine if Marte is the long-term solution at 3B. If thE decision has already been made that he is not, then put the kid out of his misery and allow him to not rot on the Cleveland bench. If it is still up for debate however, what better way is there for the Tribe to figure out what they have in him in April, May, and June in a lineup that he’s not expected to carry a large portion of the offense.

Let’s be honest, Blake has been a butcher at 3B (third error today, which completely changed the complexion of the game before Vlad’s jack) and while Marte has looked stiff in his brief time at 3B, he was thought to be a plus defender when he was acquired, so what’s the harm in telling him that 3B is his (allowing him to relax) and seeing what he can do for 40 games?
If he succeeds? Fantastic, problem solved.
If he fails, you have the answer on whether he fits or not the Tribe’s long term plans and you then make the call to Francisco (to at that point perhaps join Choo in the Tribe OF) to give him a chance.

To me, you give Marte the shot (unless the club has soured, which I feel would still be premature given his age) before the idea of Francisco getting AB in Cleveland is entertained.

By the by, I’ll try to work something up on the impending departure (I hope) of Carson Kressley from our lives at some point in the next week or so, unless he suddenly goes Roy Hobbs on us…so expect that in the next week.

Do Masa Kobayashi’s eyebrows remind anyone else of the “Seinfeld” episode when Uncle Leo’s eyebrows get blown off and Elaine draws them on?
Dr. Resnick: No need to get angry. Calm down.
Uncle Leo: I am calm.
Dr. Resnick: Leo - I don't care for your demeanor.
Uncle Leo: Demeanor?

I’d like to thank the MLB schedule makers (that could be the first time those words appeared in that order in the English language) for allowing me to catch up on HBO’s John Adams while the Tribe is out west. If you haven’t caught it, it is a sparkling interpretation of David McCullough’s superb biography of one of our Founding Fathers. Paul Giamatti (who the DiaBride couldn’t believe was the son of a former MLB commissioner) is terrific as the subject of the miniseries, which brings to life the struggles and triumphs of the American Revolution.

After Travis Hafner got plunked by Justin Speier (or Just Inspire) in the 9th today, Hafner took a long look to the mound, glaring at the pitcher that he had so marvelously posterized the night before. As the stare went mound-bound, all I could think was that Pronk was back. That menacing, hulking entity that feasts on anything in the strike zone, eschews anything outside of it, and owns a little corner of the AL is back wearing #48.

Now if we could only get him to charge the mound after getting nicked by a pitcher and channel his inner Goldberg and just spear the poor sap on the bump…then I would make the proclamation of Pronk’s return from the mountaintops.

Paul Byrd has looked absolutely DREADFUL in his first two starts in the young year, to the tune of a 2.32 WHIP, twice as many walks (4...I know it's early) as K’s (2), opponents hitting .361 off of him, and an 11.05 ERA. While complaining about his dentist’s favorite client, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was so quick to say that a replacement for Byrd may be soon in the offing while I’m so lax on the handling of LF and insistent on allowing Dellichaels to continue getting regular AB through the end of the month, regardless of “his” performance.

I think that the reason is that Paul Byrd (or any starter) can single-handedly sabotage an entire game by putting the team so far behind the 8-ball that victory seems unlikely (as he did today by giving up 6 ER in 3 IP), while a batter simply constitutes 1/9 of a lineup and (as dark of a hole as his spot in the lineup may look) there’s only so much damage that ONE batter can do.

It’s an obvious conclusion, that the pitcher of any said game affects the game moreso than any one position player, but it helped me rationalize my statement (when I finally got to see the game at a Max and Erma’s) to my brother that, “Aaron Laffey’s probably coming up soon.”

I suppose I’ll give Byrd the benefit of the doubt, but his leash just got a lot tighter after those first two starts in my book.
Is it fair?
No, but it’s the way I roll.

Tribe heads back to the North Coast to see if they can return the “favor” that the A’s gave them a couple of days ago in Oakland. Until then, the Jamey Carroll jersey is en route to me; please don’t think any less of me…I’m a sucker for scrap.


Learning to Swim said...

Well stated. I have way more patience for a position player in a slump than for a pitcher with one bad outing, and I've always liked Byrd well enough. I love his old school windup but that's not enough to win games. I look forward to your next post. I'm pretty excited to have found some fuel for my Tribe addiction. It's lonely here in eastern NC. Thanks so much!

Jason said...

I really like Paul Byrd. In fact, I probably will buy his book when it comes up. However, I also think that it is looking like he has run out of smoke and mirrors.

I guess if he's this year's Cliff Lee that isn't so bad. Laffey or Sowers would be happy to step in, I'm sure.

Frankly, I'm a bit more concerned about the Hefty Lefty picking up right where he left off in October.

Paul Cousineau said...

Press conference at 3 PM at Progressive Field today for an announcement "regarding a player on the 25-man roster".

Best guess?
Carmona's getting a long-term deal and...HUZZAH for that!