Monday, April 07, 2008

Perspective and Patience

With the Indians sneaking out of Oakland without “brooms” being mentioned, the last few games have been both frustrating and befuddling as the offense has seemingly been unable to overcome even a few games without Martinez anchoring the lineup. Blame it on the struggles of the rest of the middle of the lineup, notably Peralta (who has been moved back down the lineup after some games at #3), which has limited the runs as the Indians have not been able to string together hits or take advantage of the fact that Grady is getting on base almost ½ (OK, a .444 OBP…but still) of the time he steps to the plate.

Is the Indians’ offense frustrating to watch?
Absolutely…as the 2-1 victory on Sunday really was only made possible, offensively at least, by a muffed double play ball off of the bat of Asdrubal and the A’s decision to bypass Hafner to get to Garko (did you ever think you’d be pleased that an opposing team did that?), who is one of the only players, with Grady, putting up consistently good plate appearances.

The problem with Victor’s injury is that it has coincided with a few players stumbling out of the gate and the offense has simply not been able to overcome the combination of the injury and the slow starts. Specifically, the Indians have gotten little to no production from Peralta (who seems to have forgotten to bring a bat to the plate, preferring the fishing rod that he used throughout the 2006 season), Dellichaels (who is doing nothing to quiet the clamor for The Ben Francisco Treat to make the trip West on I-90, regardless of whether or not he truly represents an upgrade), Blake (who, as always, is what he is), or Shoppach (who, despite his defensive “prowess”, has ½ as many passed balls in 6 games as Victor had ALL of last year in 121 games behind the dish). The relative inadequacies of Frank the Tank and Asdrubal (in a lineup that isn’t getting production from much of anywhere except CF and 1B) are exaggerated without any other offensive support around the youngsters still adjusting to MLB.

But before anyone lifts the glass over the panic button, let’s put this in perspective of something that makes this a little more palatable – six games in the MLB season amounts to the equivalent of playing a little over one half of an NFL game in a 16-game season. So, if we’re talking equivalents, the 3rd quarter of the 1st game in the NFL season just started and, unless I’m missing the player that is single-handedly sabotaging the offense (as putrid as Dellichaels has been with a 1 for 20 start, “he” represents only 1/9th of the lineup and has reached base six times, via five walks and one double, in 6 games) in a Charlie Frye-esque manner, it is laughably early to start drawing conclusions or demanding action, as obvious as some of it may seem today.

The simple truth remains that the Indians are going to continue to stay in, and win, baseball games because of their strong starting pitching (hey, C.C., quit hitting “snooze”…these ones count) and the progression of relievers that looks to have picked up right there they left off last year (as long as Betancourt’s Saturday performance was only a hiccup). What that means is that the offense has some time to find its footing as the early season schedule is not as difficult as it may look (assuming that the Twins and Royals fall back in line with expectations), with the Tribe inexplicably not playing their 3rd game against the scuffling Tigers until June 6th.

Of course, if the calendar is about to flip to May, let’s make sure that Angela, Phyllis, Pam, and the rest of the Party Planning Committee is in the final stages of some Bon Voyage parties if lines are still showing up in the lineup:
Carson Kressley - .077 BA / .200 OBP / .154 SLG / .354 OPS
Casey Blake - .118 BA / .167 OBP / .176 SLG / .343 OPS
David Dellucci - .000 BA / .364 OBP / .000 SLG / .364 OPS

It’s been said here often, but the MLB season is a marathon not a sprint, and coming to snap decisions based on a small amount of games or plate appearances, as much as we’d like to at this point watching the Indians go meekly into the night, is short-sighted and dangerous (what happens if Dellichaels is jettisoned prematurely and Francisco struggles as a replacement…um, would we pray that the BLC is healthy or are we looking at the dawning of the Brad Snyder Era or the Trevor Crowe Era?) to the organizational depth that the club figures to lean on as the season progresses.

In the big picture, the Tribe sits at 3-3, keeping in line with the “formula” for 90+ wins (win 2 of 3 at home, go .500 on the road) with the offense effectively still in neutral. Are things going great in the early going or are they ideal? Certainly not, and the struggles of particular cogs of the offense (Hafner and Peralta) bear watching as well as keeping the leash tight on some parts that were thought to be possible weak links heading into the season (namely, Dellichaels) to see if they are able to finally assert themselves as viable MLB options.

3-3 is no great shakes, but it could be worse.
How, you ask?
As early as it is, starting the season 0-6 with an offense that was supposed to evoke memories of the 1927 Yankees, but is instead averaging 3 runs a game against the pitching staffs of the Royals and the White Sox…yeah, that’s worse.

15 comments:

Les Savy Ferd said...

Brodzowwwski!!!!

Riley, MD said...

I think it's time for Joe to go.

Rockdawg said...

I've been saying it for too long now...THIS GUY FREAKING BLOWS!!! Last year was luck, as I've pointed out his "historical" fluke of a season many times on this website. This guy makes Sticky Wicky look like a sure thing. Are you kidding me??? How much longer?? I think Joe Blow fits in quite nicely with the likes of Henry James, Larry Hughes and Kelly Holcomb, you know, players that people think are good but really suck. This guy is literally going to shorten my life, along with Kasey Blake. I'll give Blake some slack, because there is NOBODY to fill in at 3B (sorry Andy), but we've got good arms in the pen. Maybe Wedge prescribes to the Bill James theory that, often times you should use your best bullpen arms in the 7th and 8th innings, based on the opposing teams batters in those innings (another BJ theory that I cannot believe major league teams are too stubborn to use). OK, I feel a little better now.

Please Joe Blow, feel free to mix in some outs with your walks and walk off grannies....PLEASE!!!

Paul Cousineau said...

RD,
I've been waiting for this vitriolic post...I had a feeling it was coming this morning.

I wish you would have stated how you really felt about Brodzoski (The Close)'s ability and not held back like you did.

Remind me never to get on your bad side.

Ron Vallo said...

Paul:

Can' agree with you on this one, at least where the Dispeptic Duo in left field is concerned.

Michaels is a lifetime 270s singles hitter, which is fine if you play shortstop and have a glove like Omar, or are a spare part outfielder.

Delucci had a good season in 2005. Beynond that he's never been able to crack a lineup on a regular basis.

The two of them had two+ months last year to show us they don't belong together, at least not on my team.

I know you're big on depth, and I generally agree. But when you have a spot as dead as this in the lineup, with no history to show that you can expect anything but a dead spot the rest of way, it's time to do something.

Surely we can afford to give up some of our minor league depth for a decent outfielder and still have plenty of guys to go to on the farm if need be.

Yes it's counter to the plan, but winning this year is as good as any and we can do it without mortgaging too much of the future.

Paul Cousineau said...

Ron,
I'm not saying it shouldn't eventually happen...it should and (I think) it will. But we're SEVEN games into the season.

Pulling the plug on something this quickly is just counterproductive to getting any semblance of consistency. The lineup has already seen enough shuffling with Vic's injury, why throw a Ben Francisco (who still isn't likely to get consistent AB, unless both of the LF disappear simultaneously) in the mix?
Is he going to solve the offense's woes by himself?

I've been saying trade Michaels since January and think that this is probably going to end badly for the two of them. I think that you give Michaels and Dellucci until about Game 20 or even Game 30 (still only about 15% of the season) to show if they're still viable. If they're not, they're gone and the end to the painful wait isn't as long as the Trot Nixon Death Watch of a year ago.

As I said in the piece, if the numbers in late April are this or even close to this, they should have their bags packed.
But that's after 20-25 games, not 6 or 7.

Cy Slapnicka said...

"...to show if they're still viable" um, that would seem to assume that they were viable at some point in the past, wouldn't it? :)

Ron Vallo said...

I think cy said it better in about 20 words than I did in a couple hundred.

I don't mind waiting if I think there might be a payoff, but in this case I feel certain there won't be.

Let's say we give it 'til Mother's Day and then find a real solution. Or at least try.

Now can I get a little credit for "Dispeptic Duo?" It's a pretty good nickname no?

Cy Slapnicka said...

The way I see it, Dellucci is a sunk cost. The only reason he's still on the roster is because of his rather large paycheck. He isn't going to start hitting or garner more in a trade in 30 days. Dump him or Michaels now for a bag of balls, use the other as an insurance policy and lets see what Benny has to offer. I just can't see him being worse than the combined might of those two.

I'm not impatient, I just don't see the realistic upside here? I like the rally pie tradition, not the aging terrible player tradition at a corner spot...a la Boone, Trot, Dellichaels, etc. And yes, I realize how ironic it is that one of those aging terrible corner players started the rally pie tradition.

Paul Cousineau said...

Cy,
Agreed on Dellucci though it will be an interesting decision to make if Dellucci is showing zero signs of life when the BLC is healthy.
I could see them eating his salary over the last 1 1/2+ years if he's that much of a liability in the lineup come June and if the team feels that the BLC can be the LH OF that the team does need.

I think we're all on the same page, just maybe not the same paragraph. I think that Michaels and Dellucci DO have a track record...it's just been a while since they've looked remotely viable.

As for Michaels and Francisco, I'm still for giving Blake the LF at-bats that Michaels is getting and giving Marte a shot at 3B before Francisco is called up or handed a spot in the lineup.

The reasoning being that this team HAS to find out what they have in Marte THIS season, and preferably early this season. Blake has been a butcher at 3B and at least Marte has room to grow, as stiff as he's looked at 3B.

If Marte struggles, then you call up Ben (if he isn't already on the roster instead of Michaels) and start to give him steady AB.

If we're going to start working through the depth to replace some dead wood, let's at least see what we have with Marte before simply bypassing him for Francisco.

Ronnie,
I like the "Dispeptic Duo"...I don't think they'll be around as a couplet for very much longer, though.

t-bone said...

I think we need to give them a little more time, but my patience is thinning by the day. We know that they're 1 for 20-something combined on the year, and we also know they're the two worst outfielders we have. I mean, they tagged up and went 2nd to 3rd on Dellucci on a fly to left. Even Manning said "his arm's not even average."

Also, we need Skinner to stop waving guys home against the best outfield arm in the game.

t-bone said...

PRONK RETURNS!!! BALLGAME!!!

dave said...

why dont we get Lofton back he is a
lot better than these out fielders,than you can give ben,or someone else who is hot some at bats and not worry as much?

Rockdawg said...

I agree with PTC...we are only EIGHT games into the season. Even I will give some of these guys at least a quarter of the season to start playing...except for "The Close" (I forgot about possibly the best nickname on the squad). Joe Blow should go NOW. I read in SI an opinion about grooming the Atom Bomb into the closer role, since he can't seem to stay healthy as a starter...Haven't really researched that yet. Any thoughts?

Last thing I will say about "The Close" here (until he botches the works again)...Whenever he rolls out of the pen, all I can think of is Rudy Stein coming in to replace Amanda Whirlinger, and that "Carmen" music plays in my head repeatedly...Dum, da da da dum...da da da dum...da da da dum.

Paul Cousineau said...

RD,
As per Hoynes today:
"Adam Miller threw a 64-pitch simulated game over the weekend in extended spring training at Winter Haven, Fla. Miller was kept in extended spring after developing a blister on his right middle finger early in big-league camp.
The Indians are also trying to find out if Miller is over the right elbow and finger tendon problems he experienced last year."

I have a feeling these constant injuries are going to force him into the bullpen (maybe even this year), but he has to first prove that he's healthy, then prove that he's effective before he even enters the discussion.
The fact that he's still in Winter Haven is not a good sign.