Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lazy Sunday Turning It On

Don’t look now, but the Indians’ bats are waking up and the Tribe has reached the .500 mark by winning 4 of their last 5 against the Yanks and the Jays. I’m not sure why, but the 6-run 7th inning on Friday night, when the Tribe bats finally got to Doc Halladay and battered the Toronto bullpen, felt like a turning point as the ENTIRE offense seemed to be in on the action. Obviously, it continued on Saturday night while The Babyfaced Bulldog, Aaron Laffey, brought his ERA under 2.00 (ho-hum) as the Tribe offense finally turned the faucet to the “ON” position.
And with good feelings all around, let’s take a Lazy:

In case you missed the mini-controversy regarding Joba and The Looch (which sounds like a children’s show), the Indians took exception to Joba screaming and pumping his fist after striking out Dellucci with a 6-3 lead to end the 8th inning one day after Dellucci skied a HR off of Chamberlain for the go-ahead RBI on Tuesday. At issue is Chamberlain celebrating what was a pretty insignificant moment in the game, regardless of how he felt about it personally. If the bases are loaded and your team in clinging to a 1-run lead, some emotion off the mound is not unexpected (how many times has C.C. done it), but to pounce off the mound, pumping your fist when your team has a three-run lead with no runners on to end the 8th…it gets to be a bit much. Chamberlain’s excuse that, “That’s just who I am. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve ever done it” rings hollow as the fact remains that if Dellucci (or any other player, for that matter) had reacted like that in a similar situation (say, hitting an 8th inning HR to add a run for your team, which is already holding the lead) would be replayed over and over on game highlights and there’s little question that retaliation would be in order.

But Chamberlain skated on this for the most part (with one exception, as per “Tribe Fan in Yankeeland”), as the NY media is prone to do for their own and not realize the double standard when Manny Ramirez admires a meaningless 7th inning HR in Fenway against the Yankees later in the season. Manny’s explanation that “it’s just me being me” will come across as disingenuous and cocky as the NY media figures to pounce on him for “not playing the game the right way” and showing up a pitcher. When that happens (and it will with the Yankees’ pitching staff and the fact that Manny knows EXACTLY what he’s doing), remember Joba bouncing off the mound to celebrate an 8th inning strikeout with a 6-3 lead and realize that what comes around, goes around.

A result of this whole Joba controversy (among other things) is the fact that David Dellucci is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on this team. He does his job, he gives maximum effort, he does all the right things (remember when he defended Barfield at the plate last year against the Blue Jays’ catcher?), says all the right things (he had every right to call Joba out on this), and he has a beard that I wish I could sport. Lord knows I’ve been overtly critical of Dellucci, particularly last year when his performance was (to put it kindly) mediocre. But I’ve turned the corner on The Looch – he’s the kind of solid veteran presence that plays hard and leads by example that this team so sorely needs, and don't for a moment think that Dellucci calling out Joba in NY, with the throngs of media in front of him, was lost on a team that is still amazingly young.

And still, one of the players that draws most fans’ ire is Dellucci. But why is the city of Cleveland (a town purported to love the “working class guy”) so down on this type of player and so anxious (present company included) to assume that Dellucci’s days are numbered as the BLC figures to return from an elbow injury at some point in June? Is the “promise” of the BLC that much more enticing than the production that Dellucci is providing?

Is this just another instance of the backup QB being the most popular guy in town?
Perhaps, but it is important to realize that every championship team has this type of player and, more often than not, they’re loved more than the superstars and the more talented players. Remember the reception that Trot Nixon got when he returned to Boston last year? Did you know that the Yankees discourage anyone wearing #21 out of respect for Paul O’Neill? PAUL O’NEILL! These players weren’t among the best 4 position players on their respective championship teams, but the masses adored them for their attitude, their hustle, and their ability – however limited it may have been. But in Cleveland, we bemoan the inclusion of Dellucci in the lineup, decrying his mediocrity and not appreciating the role that he fills on a young team full of talent outside of himself.

Consider that with Michaels in the Steel City, only four Indians’ position players have more than 5 years of MLB service time (Dellucci, Blake, Carroll, and Hafner) with one of them being the futility IF and another being locked in a fight for his offensive existence. So, why the outcry that Dellucci is the weak link on this team when he simply fills his role as the LH hitter who hits RHP very well and plays a competent LF? Is he going to get tons of All-Star votes? Not unless the DiaBride is stuffing the ballot box, but it’s time for Indians’ fans to accept these types of players for what they are and appreciate them in the greater context of this team.

It’s easy to bitch and moan about that which we deem to be insufficient and much more difficult to get past an ugly defensive play or waving at a third strike. But role players like Dellucci are doing what they’re being asked to do – fill a role – and perhaps it’s time that we appreciate them for that and not wish that the All-Star at every position strategy was coming back...because it’s not.

Off the soapbox and back to the LS, if you’re missing the “Week in Review” from Jay Levin of the LGT, it’s a nice capsulation of the previous week and flattens out the ups and downs of the daily grind of a baseball season. Although last week’s is now almost a week old, it’s always worth the read.

In case you missed it, indians.com beat writer Anthony Castrovince (the only Tribe beat writer that I read) has started a blog called “CastroTurf” (permanent link added in “Friends of the Feather”), which is much more low-key and informal than his normal pieces for the official site. He already broke the Michaels designation and the Michaels to the Pirates news, so it looks to be a good place to hit for breaking Indians news, as well as appreciating Castrovince’s sense of humor and insight breakdown from the pre-game notes provided to the media.

Andy Call of The Rep thinks that Barry Zito’s struggles will have an adverse effect on C.C. getting a 7-year deal. In reality, common sense and self-restraint by baseball GM’s should have an adverse effect on C.C. getting anything longer than a 5-year deal, but Zito’s not helping C.C. with his struggles in the Bay Area.

Tom Mastny’s heading to Buffalo to get some regular work (he certainly wasn’t getting it in Cleveland) and Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News thinks that Josh Barfield’s heading topside. I tend to disagree and could see Michael Aubrey come west on I-90 (something that Minor League Guru Tony Lastoria called earlier in the week) to give Garko a bit of a break (he did also just take a pitch off his wrist last night) and to serve as a better defensive 1B with the Tribe scheduled to go to Cincinnati next weekend. Because of the myriad of injuries he’s endured, Aubrey is in his final option year, so it would behoove the Indians to take advantage of a healthy Aubrey and see what he’s capable of for the parent club before a decision is forced on the team next Spring in Goodyear without Aubrey ever having received a chance. By the way, Barfield still has an option year AFTER this year, so that could play a part in the decision as well.

Terry Pluto touches on topics covered here over the last week and month regarding the struggles of the entire offense, the possibility of Andy Marte playing, and the fact that the Indians’ starting pitching may be deep enough to deal from a strength to augment the offense.

Grady’s coming at you in full effect with Kenny Mayne, acknowledging (among other things) that he meets girls in “bookstores”. My buddy Dozer ran into Grady and a friend from high school last year at a Tremont “establishment” that is known for its staff being, um…easy on the eyes. As bar time hit, the patrons were asked to leave...except for Sizemore and his boy. When the wait staff was questioned as to why he could stay, the replay was “that’s Grady Sizemore…he’s not going anywhere”.
Ah…to be 25, obscenely talented, filthy rich, and a popular guy at “bookstores”.
‘Tis a charmed life.

Finally, with rain threatening our plans to spend Mother’s Day at the Tribe game (the DiaBride’s idea…I swear), enjoy some music that just feels like a sunny day on a beach.

It’s time for this team to start acting like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes and not only separate themselves from the pack, but just leave the rest of the AL Central in their dust.
Happy Mothers’ Day!

13 comments:

Rockdawg said...

I don't target Delucci like many Clevelanders do, as my targets are well known by the readers of this blog (The Close and Kasey), but if there is a criticism to be made, it would be that Delucci's arm in the outfield is only slightly better than, say, a young Karl Hackel (although Delucci hasn't taken one off the nose yet).

How about "Don't Call Me Seslow" Breslow working 2 scoreless yesterday? (although he surrendered 3 hits) What is the book on this guy? I still have not actually SEEN him pitch...

t-bone said...

Jason Tyner? Urgh.

Baltimoran said...

"hey butchhead, this ones coming to you"

Hackel had a cannon, and played a great power foward in hoops.

i was critical of delluci, but saving us in the yanks game has changed my tune.

PC, did you watch the Costas show about the sports media...the guy who wrote "Friday Night Lights" (great book) basically just screamed at the creator of Deadspin for blogs destroying society. As i watched, I realized that your blog is the opposite of how they generalize blogs. You tend to stay more positive than even the writers with "credential" and even us posters rarely curse or go into players personal lives...so if you ever run into that Buzz fellow you can tell him where to take his bitter old man routine.

Paul Cousineau said...

Baltimoran,
I did finally see the Costas thing this morning (the whole program was excellent) after hearing quite a bit about it. I tend to agree with you that this site and forum are essentially the antithesis of what Bissinger was railing about as I think I try to stay informative and entertaining without delving too much into the absurd, obscene, or irrational.

I think that Will Leitch (of Deadspin) had it right when he said that good blogs, those that serve a purpose and have a legitimate voice (which I hope this is, among others that I do choose to read), will sustain themselves as other sites go by the wayside. It's no different from the evolution of newspapers, radio stations, or TV shows to where they are today...it's just a new medium that will take a while to shake itself out, one that is directly affecting those with "credentials" in terms of circulation, expertise, and advertising dollars, which scares the "old guard" that Bissinger was defending.

The interesting thing about it is that Bissinger (the "established writer") came off as the overly emotional absurdist rather than the "blogger" (which was spoken like it was a dirty word), choosing to base his argument on about .01% of the blogosphere while Leitch stayed above the fray and came across as intelligent and articulate on the subject.

As an aside, how about the fact that the guys who write FireJoeMorgan.com (a terrific site) are writers for "The Office" and are Harvard-educated?

TB,
As for Tyner, the only rationale I can see here is that the Indians are planning on making a move with Aubrey before the Reds' series, which doesn't start until the weekend. By calling Tyner up, they can very easily DFA him, exposing him to waivers. That, in turn, makes him available to every MLB team. It could be an instance of the Indians' trying to help a player catch on by putting him through the waiver process, forcing a team that could be looking for an OF (like, say, the Blue Jays with Wells' injury) to make a decision specifically on Tyner (whether to claim him or to pass) than just putting Tyner out on the street.

I don't see the move as much more than an acknowledgement that Mastny is better served getting steady work in Buffalo and perhaps clearing Tyner's spot in Buffalo for someone else. Later in the week, the Tribe can DFA Tyner without roster or option implications and call up either Aubrey, another pitcher, or Barfield for the Cincinnati series.

For as much vitriol as will certainly fly about a "AAAA" player and a marginal OF, it's a pretty insignificant move.

Paul Cousineau said...

I should add that Tyner would also be easy to DFA when Brodzoski (The Close) is healthy, whenever that may be, which would bring the number of relievers in the bullpen back to pre-Mastny option levels.

DontCallMeJoey said...

OK, OK, I'm on board. I think Dellucci is a serviceable left fielder and is coming up with clutch hits when most needed. (However, I will still call him "Susan" when he comes up to the plate....but mainly because I'm "baseball superstitious" and ever since I started calling him "Susan", he has been doing pretty well.)

Having (almost) given up on my 1st nomination of a nickname...I would like to nominate a 2nd Tribe player for a nickname. My 2nd nomination goes to Ben Fransisco...aka - "The Treat". I think the reference is obvious, but for those of you not in tune with the Rice-a-Roni jingle....you will soon be singing that little ditty in your head each and every time "The Treat" comes to bat. "Rice-a-Roni the Ben Francisco Treat"!

What do you think, Paul? Do we have a winner with my 2nd nomination? (I'm gonna keep trying until I have at least one to stick).

Paul Cousineau said...

Sorry DCMJ, you’re a little late to the game on that one.

From the time the nickname made its appearance here to the time that it was actually the title of a post, that one’s been done.

minktrapper said...

Speaking of nicknames, I thought the banner we saw for Blake, it said "Casey and the Sunshine Band"....was kinda clever for a bum player like him....I mean geeze, what he hitting with RISP? something like 450? what a bum

minktrapper said...

Paul, you weren't the only one who had female/mother support for watching the game today....my son and I took the wives to dinner at an almost unbelieveable time of 11:00 am with their approval(we told them it was to beat the crowds...) so we could get home to watch real-time..is it just me or do we seem to get rained out this year everytime we get on a roll?

Joshua Whitman said...

Paul,

What are the odds of you ever including Blake in the "Dellucci Group" of working class players? I'm thinking 1,000,000:1, in which case put me down for $50.

Paul Cousineau said...

MT,
I thought the same thing about the rain-outs as the skies opened this morning.

Not "great, Mother's Day is ruined"...more "just when our bats get hot"...

JW,
I had that whole Dellucci thing written as a Blake-Dellucci combo thing until I realized that people would simply stop reading at the mention of Blake as a valuable piece of the team (which he is, just not in his current use) and I decided that I would limit it to The Looch in the interest of everyone's blood pressure on Mom's Day.

By the way, my buddy C-Badd still thinks Blake is one of the five greatest "athletes" in Cleveland Indians' history. It's a compelling argument that I won't delve into, but listening to C-Badd talk to me about windmill dunks and decathalons that he feels Blake is proficient at make for a quick 9 inning game with some beers.

R.M. Jennings said...

I'm sure this has been noticed before, but I just realized that the Indians, as bad as they were for so long, never had a first overall draft pick. Since the beginning of the draft, they've been the worst team in the American League four times. However, each time it was a year ending in an odd number. This means that the worst NL team was the one to get the first pick in the next season's draft.

Just though that was interesting. Six NL franchises have never had a first round pick, but only the Tribe, Jays, and Red Sox have not in the American League. Let's hope we don't see the Tribe getting one anytime soon.

Les Savy Ferd said...

these starters are ridiculous! I can't remember a time in the recent past where a whole rotation has been so dominant.

Also, the defense last night was silly good. They even forced sportscenter to forgo the obligatory HR highlight from Garkopolis and show the athleticism of astrocab and Brady Quinn, er, that other guy.