Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Lazy Sunday of What the What?

After some girl named Dana Eveland outpitched the reigning Cy Young Award winner (do you think that C.C.’s career performance in Oakland is a part of Antonetti’s portfolio during contract negotiations, just to remind the Hefty Lefty how he’s fared "close to home"), let’s take a look around a Lazy Sunday as I begin my internal attempts to convince myself that Cliff Lee is just the man to get the Indians out of the loss ledger this afternoon:

Terry Pluto attempts to examine what went wrong with Travis Hafner’s 2007 campaign by taking a look at some numbers, something I tried to do last June. The short answer is that nobody knows how Hafner fell off the map, how his once-legendary eye at the plate regressed this horribly (9 K to 2 BB so far this year) or how he’s meekly throwing the bat at the ball to protect himself, resulting in soft grounders. With the obvious caveat that it’s early in the season, the Hafner we’ve seen so far seems to be closer to v. 2007 than any of the more successful models that preceded it.

And, really, the performance of Hafner thus far mirrors the struggles that the whole team is having at the plate through 5 games. They’ve struck out 41 times (more than 8 K per game), while drawing only 15 free passes. What’s more disconcerting is that in the game against Duchscherer, in particular, the team was watching third strikes whistle past them. We all know that this team is going to strike out (they averaged 7.41 K/9 in 2007), but the team has struggled to get hits against pitchers not exactly thought to be among the upper echelon of the AL (interestingly, the most success they had was against Buehrle).

But what else is going on with the offense?
Is the hole that Victor’s injury created in the middle of the lineup that huge?
Since Martinez’s injury in the 2nd inning of the Opener, the team has gone 30 for 150 for a team batting average of .200 while scoring only 15 runs in the 43 innings that Victor has been on the shelf.
Is the trickle-down effect of losing Victor that severe?
Is the lineup simply not deep enough to absorb the loss of one of their main cogs?
Personally, I don’t think so as I think that the offense simply has yet to get untracked, not helped by Hafner's aforementioned performance, Peralta’s struggles in the #3 hole, and Dellichaels throwing an 0 for 13 up against the board in the first five.

Let me say this again in case you haven’t picked up on it – it is VERY early, but maybe Wedge should start trying to find some AB for the likes of Andy Marte, for whom it is apparently “very difficult to find AB for”, what with Casey Blake ensconced at 3B. Marte’s absence through the first 5 has even led Pronk Needs You to put out an APB on the young Dominican. I’m not saying he needs to be playing every day, but inserting him into the lineup against some choice LHP (like, say, Dana Eveland) is at least going to show him that he’s not destined to collect splinters until he is simply given his outright release, which is the way it’s looking in the short term. Ryan Richards over at the LGT put it best, saying that “now we see what would have happened if Brandon Phillips had he made the team in 2006.”
Unfortunately, I think he's right.

Speaking of the LGT, Jay Levin has updated his Prospect listing, which takes a decidedly different approach to the usual, “here’s my list” philosophy of these things. I’m going to redo the sidebar to include a permanent link to this, as well as Tony Lastoria’s Top 50. I’ll sprinkle some minor-league stats websites so you can keep tabs on how the players on the lists are progressing in their minor league endeavors.

With the temperature outside threatening the 50-degree mark and the game not starting until 4:00 PM, it’s time to hit The Great Outdoors and get myself ready for the first pitching match-up of the season (Lee vs. Blanton) that I haven’t thought favored the Erie Warriors.


Cy Slapnicka said...

i missed a pop foul today by 3 seats. wow, never realized how quickly those events and decisions happened. thoughts like "hey, that could land near me" are quickly replaced with "okay...put beer down, don't knock over women and children, don't get hit in the head on tv". awesome seats behind home plate at wrigley to watch Zambrano....its just a different game when you can call balls and strikes yourself.

my buddy was sitting across the aisle from tejada's wife and briefly chatted with her. according to my wife, she was wearing $1500 shoes to the ballpark. my $60 new balance looked way more comfortable and functional. i was disappointed he didn't ask if she noticed a change in migeul's ball size.

all and all a good day considering we came home and caught the end of Cliff's gem.

fukudome-ism is in full swing on the north side and derek lee should be pitched around until may.

Paul Cousineau said...

And from the "Baseball is a Funny Game that Continually Humbles My Knowledge...or Lack Thereof" Department, Cliff Lee goes 6 2/3 strong with 4 K and 0 BB while the first Andy Marte sighting shed some light on why he simply doesn't look ready as I cooked and ate a bag of popcorn from the time he started his swing to the time he finished it.

The offense looks horrible as the same impatience and dreadful AB reared their ugly heads with a lineup that included BOTH Dellucci and Michaels...something that should never happen again. The Tribe was lucky to get out of Oakland with a W, a testament to Lee's start and some phenomenal bully work.

Victor, Victor - wherefore art thou, Victor?

By the way, no sight of Cy on WGN in the Cubs' broadcast. And I was looking.

Jay said...

Hey, thanks for the links, Paul, although by the way, the sidebar one is busted. But hey, sidebar link, I truly am honored.

Hey, I had some nickname thoughts. One, I've started using Atom Miller over at LGT, but I was just thinking, have you thought of calling him Atomic Miller? I know it corrupts the original idea a bit, but it has an extra bit of zing, no?

Also, one of our regulars proposed "Stomp" for Jensen Lewis, which I think is pretty solidly on-point. What do you think?

Paul Cousineau said...

Fixed on the link.

I like Atomic, but more in the sense of The Atomic One.

Stomp is definitely in the hopper for Lewis...maybe even the leader in the clubhouse as it represents the best description of that funky delivery I've seen.