Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Treat of a Lazy Sunday

The sun is shining, the weekend is a long one, my tickets for Monday night’s game are procured, and (most importantly) the Tribe is back in the win column, thanks to Mr. Ben Francisco putting the team squarely on his back (quick show of hands, who saw that string of words coming at any point this season). Isn’t it funny how a Tribe win makes food taste better and puts a little more bounce in your step? Bouncing around the room, it’s time for a Lazy One:

Thank goodness for the win (even one) as even the faithful are getting frustrated with Wedge’s in-game decisions and lineup construction…and the argument to the contrary is getting harder and harder to see.

In case you’re off of sports magazines as a whole, SI’s Ben Reiter checks in on the Tale of C.P. Lee, which was included in this week’s Bizarro Baseball issue.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times thinks that the AL Central is NOT a weak division based on the quality of the starting pitching in the division and intimates that the offensive struggles of the White Sox and Tribe are more of a result of excellent pitching as opposed to dreadful hitting. He includes some quotes from Garko that I hadn’t seen before using weather as a factor – “A big part of that is cold weather, and that's always going to favor the pitcher over the hitter. We've played in some miserable conditions, and we're all cold-weather cities, even though Minnesota has a dome. The pitching has been so good, and when you have pitching, you know you're going to be in every game.”
So…it’s the weather. God, I hope so.

On the offense, TSN’s Sean Deveney checks in with his thoughts on the Tribe’s offense…because you haven’t read anything about that yet, right?

Back to the Central, Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus (in a piece about the ChiSox) says that the eventual AL Central winner could be sitting on 88 to 89 wins, which would mean that the Indians will have to go 66-51 (or .564 baseball) through the balance of their season to get there.
Something to shoot for, Carl.

Ken Rosenthal checks in with a piece on Carlos Quentin and his availability over the winter. Watching Quentin ravage the Indians (relatively speaking) in Chicago, it makes the fact that the Indians did not make a bigger move for him over the off-season even more frustrating. If you’ll remember, Quentin was one of the targets in a piece I did…um, last November…to upgrade the OF. While the White Sox gave up a highly touted prospect, he was still a very young and raw player (whether you like it or not, Nick Weglarz is about as close as we get in our system to 1B Chris Carter) and the Indians’ inability to bring Quentin to the North Coast (or any of those other players, 7 of 15 of whom are on new teams this year…and include Quentin AND Josh Hamilton) certainly hurts given the production from the corners. On the same topic, Jon Heyman grades out the Winter Trades, listing the Hamilton and Quentin deals among the top four.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20 on this (though that list of 15 was from NOVEMBER) and it’s not known what teams were asking for out of the Tribe organization, but Quentin (more so than the rest) feels like the one that was attainable and got away.

Terry Pluto has some thoughts on how to fix the Tribe offense, mentioning the popular Garret Atkins move as well as throwing Matt Holliday out there as an option. The Atkins interest makes more sense to me, given the fact that Andy Marte’s time with the Indians seems to be short and the closest the Indians come to a “3B of the Future” is Wes Hodges. I’d have to think that the Rockies, given where they play, would be wise to hold out for groundball-inducing Aaron Laffey in any exchange…and I’m loathe to let Laffey go with C.C. and Byrd gone after this year.

On the Holliday issue, here’s your “caveat emptor” on Matt Holliday and the Coors Field Effect. So before the cries go out that Matt Holliday would solve all of the problems on this team and that the Rockies MAY be looking to move him, remember that his performance away from Denver over the last four years is more reminiscent of Aubrey Huff than Albert Pujols.

From the “here’s how to fix the Indians’ offense” file, Paul Hoynes feels that sending Asdrubal down to AAA and calling up Josh Barfield is another answer, but (as I addressed in the last comments section) it rings hollow for me. Asdrubal’s OBP is actually .003 higher than Barfield’s last year while providing superior defense at both 2B and SS. Barfield, in Buffalo, has responded to having to “earn” his way back onto the team by posting a .247 BA /.289 OBP / .384 SLG / .673 OPS against AAA pitching. I have no question that Cabrera could benefit from more seasoning in AAA, but Barfield is not an upgrade and if we’re trying to put the best MLB team on the field every night, Cabrera represents that for the Tribe over Barfield.

By the way, can we finally debunk the notion that Kevin Kouzmanoff (referenced in Hoynes’ piece as a middle-of-the-order hitter) is the “one that got away” as he’s sitting on a .700 OPS in the National League with 5 walks against 41 K. Look at that K/BB ratio again (and realize that he’s whiffed more than Sizemore and Peralta this year) and tell me, with a straight face, that you miss him. Would he be playing over Casey Blake or Andy Marte? Who knows…at this point it looks like Casey Blake would be starting over George Brett and you or I would see plate appearances before Marte, but the continued characterization of Kouz as Mike Schmidt reincarnated is just bunk.

Apropos of nothing Tribe-related, my new favorite writer Joe Posnanski has the most clearly articulated piece on Derek Jeter that I could ever imagine, balancing the fact that Jeter IS a good player against the notion that Jeter is a once-in-a-lifetime player. Bravo, JoePo…bravo.

With the news that Fausto is DL-bound (learned via a text from T-Bone after spending the day ingloriously putting in the dock at my parents’ place in Chautauqua), let’s hope that he can figure out his mechanical difficulties before rushing back and revel in the fact that the Babyfaced Bulldog (Laffey, whose May ERA is lower than C.P. Lee’s April ERA was) will remain topside to strengthen his MLB resume.

Finally, let’s hold off on overanalysis as to why Scott Elarton is on the team (they needed a long man after Carmona’s short start and Julio and Lewis were spent), why Georgie GasCan is still on the team (he won’t be for much longer and Lewis has an option), and why Edward Mujica is on the team ahead of Rick Bauer (Mujica has had a nice stretch of innings recently, is already on the 40-man and has options while Bauer, who has pitched very well in Buffalo, would have to be added to the 40-man and would have to join the 25-man for good as he’d have to clear waivers if a quick roster move was made, which it will be with Westbrook and Choo coming to Cleveland soon). When Westbrook returns, one of them will head back down (does it matter who?) and when Choo returns, the Tribe will have to decide whether keeping two LH hitting OF who thrive against RHP (Choo and the Looch) is preferred over having the extra bullpen arm on the roster.

Enjoy the long weekend and let’s take a series today…please?


csusi said...

not mentioned, so i apologize if its a little off topic. but, how about the return of j-bo. 2 warning track fly ball outs, a base hit, followed by another warning track out. missed ya j-bo, glad your back to stress the hell out of all of us.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...JoBo hit 88 mph once...84 or 85 otherwise. Let's face it...the type of stress JoBo brings will be a welcome relief from what we have been going through?

Rockdawg said...

Nice job Tribe...that's a way to follow up a big win. Nothing like scoring 1 run in 10 innings, then losing on a routine base hit that turned into a GW triple....Someone answer me these two questions, how are we only 4 games out? And how do we have a better record than the Tigers? (I know, the pitching is still ROCK SOLID)

I refuse to acknowledge that the return of "The Close" is in any way a benefit to this team.

dave said...

is barry bonds available ? he maybe the biggest jerk in baseball but he can hit . one hitter could change our whole teams outlook maybe get everyone untracked.

Rockdawg said...

I now know what it is like to be an A's fan.

Rockdawg said...

I just read the last post and all 22 comments that went with it. A couple thoughts...

Trading CC right now would not be wise. Although this team seemingly can't hit a ball out of the infield, IT IS ONLY MAY 26 AND WE ARE ONLY 4.5 OUT. Our next three are against the Sox, so the Tribe could possibly be only 1.5 back by Wednesday.

Going back to PC's 3-year analysis of our lineup, we HAVE to be a little more patient here (we actually had 9 hits yesterday).

I don't think that Barfield is a better option than Drooby-Droob-Droob, although a short respite may allow him to tweak his approach a little bit.

But, as I said before, we've got to be patient...Like the cover of SI, this is a Bizarro season...I mean, the freaking Beard's batting average is THIRD in the AL with RISP...This is a guy who secured last in the AL in the same category last year by a large margin.

Just let Wooderson's voice from Dazed and Confused echo in your ears....Patience darlin'...Patience.

Anonymous said...

Someone help me...would it be reasonable/possible for Hafner to voluntarily go up to Buffalo for a couple weeks to work on his hitting? or would this be out of the question? all I hear is how good he hits during BP..maybe some minor league pitching would do him some good...I am not well versed on the rule of his contract so maybe I am outa line asking this.....

Paul Cousineau said...

The only comparable situation I can think of is Giambi a few years ago being asked to go to the minors to try to find his swing (he didn't). If I remember correctly, Giambi would have had to clear waivers (not a problem given Giambi's salary) to be sent to the minors and would have to consent to going to the minors since he has more 5 years of service time.

Not sure if that would apply to Hafner, but that's the precedent I can think of. By the way, after looking like he had pulled out of it, he's now 3 for his last 21 again.

Heading down tonight to dodge raindrops and (hopefully) bring home the first win of a 3-game sweep that will put us 1.5 behind the ChiSox.

csusi said...

To come to hafner's defense a bit. I will say that even though there hasnt been much change in his numbers, i feel that some of his old annoying tendencies have started to fade. His contact with the ball has come a long ways since the beginning of this years lazy duds that never got into the dirt in the infield. These past few games ive seen him have some solid hits that have unfortunately found the gloves. But, the power in his swing seems to have crept back in. He also seems to be winning the battle and urge of swinging at trash. His patience seems better and he seems to be choosing the walk over the attempt to hit a ball nowhere near the strike zone. I dont know. I feel most of us have already thrown hafner under the bus, but i dont think he's that far off from turning things completely around. I wish the best for him. I also wish he'd quit taking first pitch strike EVERY SINGLE AT BAT. Time will tell i guess.

Anonymous said...

My son sent me a text message wonderering why Hafner was not playing...I think Hamilton said he was getting another "emotional" day off? My son wondered when we were gonna get one.....

csusi said...

ladies and gentleman, scott elarton. lets bring in the newbie in an intense situation for his first go. congratulations wedge, your a tool.

Jay said...

Thanks for the plug, Paul ... I just posted up your debunking of Kouzmanoff, great stuff. But ... hold off on the overanalysis of the bullpen moves? Whatever could you mean?

Joshua Whitman said...

Until our offense proves its worth, I don't see how any attention can be placed on the mistakes of pitching/defense.

Poor Benny made a costly error in right field that should have been a meaningless play if our offense could get a RISP hit.

Scott Elarton would not have ever seen the mound last night if, once again, our offense could manage a hit with a runner on third.

If we expect our pitching and defense to be perfect ever night because our offense is pathetic, we will all certainly be disappointed.