Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lazy Sunday Looking for a Pair of Aces

Had you told me Friday afternoon that the Indians’ two aces would look more like a 2 and a 9 (off suit, to boot), I would have called you crazy. But a combined 6 2/3 IP between the two over the last two games, yielding 14 combined hits, 10 combined walks, and 10 combined earned runs have netted a combined 3.60 WHIP and a 16.20 ERA for C.C. and Fausto against that staggering offensive juggernaut, the Oakland Athletics.

I’m not going to dwell on those two (especially after the title of Saturday’s piece combined with the performances of Fausto and The Fist of Steel) in the best interests of my blood pressure; and, remember, I’m the one saying that it’s still early…but this team is playing with no sense of urgency, seeming to go through the motions, whether it be an inordinate amount of walks from the pitching staff or the hitters meekly making outs inning after inning.

Maybe we’re looking at 2006 again, when the players read and believed what was written about them following the 2005 season, believing the press clippings and thinking that they can show up and just win games by virtue of being the more talented team. You may remember that the Indians were 9 games behind the “surprising” Tigers in mid-May and 16 games out by mid-June?

It’s early, it’s early, I know.
But it can get late quick in these parts if someone doesn’t step up and put an end to this detachedness and disinterest emanating from the clubhouse. That someone is usually your best pitcher, who sets the “tone” for the rotation and the team every fifth game. Well, our two best pitchers just laid eggs – and I’m hoping the rest of the pitching staff and the team isn’t thinking that the trail that they’ve blazed over the laast two nights is the path to October…because it’s not.

With that off of my chest and realizing that I’m suddenly putting all of my eggs in Cliff Lee’s basket again on a Sunday to avoid a sweep, let’s take a Lazy Sunday:
Tim Brown of Yahoo.com has a piece that I’ve read probably 15 times as frustration mounted during these Oakland games to remind me that the Indians remain a talented team. It just doesn’t look that way right now.

As the Fausto contract hit the newswires this week, everyone was weighing in with Jim Ingraham offering the best synopsis of the situation.

Also on the Fausto front, Terry Pluto took some time to review the Indians’ philosophy and the players locked into Cleveland through 2010 (and yes the link is page 6 of 13 from Pluto’s article as the boys at cleveland.com remain oblivious as to how to properly include lists or tables on the web). Terry identifies the players working under contracts (with final option years indicated):
Betancourt – 2010
Carmona – 2014
Hafner – 2013
Lee – 2010
Martinez – 2010
Peralta – 2011
Sixemore – 2012
Westbrook – 2010
He fails to mention, though, the players that are still not even arbitration-eligible who COULD figure into the burgeoning “core” listed above.
Notably, those names (with their last year under club control as of today indicated) would be:
Cabrera – 2013
Garko – 2012
Gutierrez – 2012
Lewis – 2013
Perez – 2013
And that doesn’t include the players still in the pipeline who haven’t made an appearance topside yet. All in all, some nice planning by the Tribe brass…of course, considering that these guys can start playing like they ARE one of the top teams in MLB and stop playing just like they THINK they are one of the elite teams.

Tony Lastoria, who is actually IN Kinston (despite the fact that this remains a “hobby” for him and not his livelihood…I think) to watch the K-Tribe, continues to provide exhaustive coverage of the minors. His piece on Kelvin De La Cruz makes me want to check the Captains’ schedule to see what all of the hubbub is about.

Keeping it on the farm, I know it’s a little late to the party, but Indians’ prospect Jordan Brown (he of the consecutive MVP awards in Kinston and Akron) has started an online diary (though he’s only done this first post) which reminds us that these “prospects” that some people obsess over are little more than kids trying to fulfill their dream simply by doing the best they can.

Apropos of nothing having to do with the Indians, two fantastic articles appeared this week in two of my favorite places, Deadspin and Fire Joe Morgan…before clicking, though, be warned that these are not PG, or even PG-13 pieces.
First, Deadspin takes aim at the way that many sportswriters have become as detached as the players they cover, as the people who read their columns have no way to relate to the types of experiences that these guys write about. The column asserts that the sportswriter is no more of a “common man” than an athlete and the lack of shared experiences with their readers makes them no more of a peer of the reader than the players. It’s an interesting look at what people want to read and how they want their information presented to them.

Over at the brilliant FJM, they take an AOL writer to task for his article that “Baseball Stats Mania Rates a Zero”, which basically calls all statistics not called “Batting Average” and “Home Run” stupid and used only by nerds. As they always do, FJM breaks down the article sentence-by-sentence, pointedly exposing the writer while breaking down the old “this is what baseball should be because this is what baseball has always been” argument one glorious one-liner at a time. Whether or not you fully subscribe to the idea of Sabermetrics (and if you visit here often enough, my guess is you at least are aware of it), the breakdown and dismissal of the old, tired argument that people have trotted out for years (“I don’t need stats to tell me what my eyes see”) is absolutely terrific.

Just so we keep this section in threes (because…you know…everything in baseball happens in THREES…ba dum dum), here’s another great article from Deadspin who somehow got ESPN’s Kenny Mayne to sit down with them and answer their questions, despite ESPN purportedly instructing all of their employees to limit their references and recognition of the “blogosphere”.
In completely unrelated news, ESPN announced Kenny Mayne will now be hosting “Around the Horn”…I’m kidding…it hasn’t been announced yet.

With the weather outside feeling more like Cleveland and the Masters’ Final Round going up against Cliff Lee’s ascension to the “stopper” role on this team (yes, this is what I’m reduced to), enjoy a Lazy Sunday giving the “PREVIOUS” button on your remote a workout.
Thank goodness for DVR,

13 comments:

Charlie said...

You mention 2006. At some point, one has to question the role of Eric Wedge in this team's track record of both slow starts and of failing whenever there are any expectations for them.

Cy Slapnicka said...

they pointed out during the broadcast yesterday, that david dellucci's rbi walk was the first rbi from our LF ths year

C.C. Ya Later said...

Pitching, Pitching, Pitching.

If we learned anything in 1995 it is that good pitching will beat good offence.

I seem to remember long stretches last year wonder what was wrong with our offence, but we still seem to win games because our starters consistently gave us 6+ strong innings and our bullpen was nearly untouchable (aside from the occasional JoeBo meltdown.). Our pitchers are averaging 4.5 walks per game after averaging 2.5 last year.

I remember during the Cy Young debate last year, a lot was made of how CC had a significant number of wins after an Indians loss. So far this year he has not been doing that (granted he’s only had two opportunities). And now we look to the guy that fought his way in to the rotation to stop this losing streak, unnecessary pressure because the “Ace” did not do his job. Once CC gets things turned around, the rest will follow. If the pitching can keeps things close, our offense will find a way to win.

minktrapper said...

Cliff Lee....CC and Fousto who?
It's amazing what a mid-life stint in the minors can do for a fella?
And are those Oakland players soft or what? What was with those Al Qeida masks they were wearing?

Paul Cousineau said...

In this crazy Bizarro World that we are witnessing, I'm not sure what's happening.

Night is Day.
Cliff Lee is good.
C.C. Sabathia is bad.
Up is Down.

Halifax said...

Cliff Lee was simply amazing today. Granted, the weather was cold, but Lee was absolutely POUNDING the zone with surgical accuracy. Later in the game the curveball began to fly and the fastball was even more effective.

If this is the Lee we can look forward to seeing the rest of the season, and Jake continues his run, the Indians WILL win the division, even with their sometimes-inept offense.

Another observation from the game is one David Dellucci. This is actually the first time I've seen him play this year. He looks like he's swinging the bat ok. He'll hit the ball hard (when he hits it). We'll see how he goes.

It's a long year.

Steve said...

I think once CC and Fausto find the strike zone we will see a commensurate rise in Wedge's managerial IQ.

Baltimoran said...

Rockdawg would be happy to know that with the tribe up 3-1, one Oakland announcer mentioned that Borowski was warming up and the other guy said "thats good knews for the A's."

Rockdawg said...

Sunday's victory was the very definition of something called "Pitching Depth"

The uni's were fantastic as well.

Les Savy Ferd said...

Clifton! Wow, that was impressive. a previous poster was right, Cliff and jake are the new CC and Fausto (even though to his credit, Fausto's 3 accumulated starts have been pretty damn good) up is down, the orioles, A's and Royals are good and that great ghostbusters quote about revelation--something about dogs and cats sleeping together real wrath of god type stuff, your honor.

CC will find his grove and the Indians will again have a top 5 in MLB rotation and even though this line-up loves the strike-out (why don't they marry it?) there are a lot of Ws in the future.

Keep in mind the whole NFL season analogy. 1 NFL game equals 10 MLB games. this mini-slump only becomes a problem if the tribe are still below .500 say... week 3, and even then look at what the Yankees accomplished last year, or the Phillies.

early.

t-bone said...

godd@amnit brodzoski (the close)

minktrapper said...

the pitch manny hit was an 82 MPH fastball? according to hammy...
godd@amned wedgie loyalty

t-bone said...

gun on espn said 83, but it didnt even look that fast...