Friday, June 13, 2008

Sitting Down with Mr. Blue Sky

Just as the Family Truckster took on the last of its cargo for a trip to Milwaukee, word came down that Victor’s elbow was much more than a “balky” elbow and that Josh Barfield is going to see the same hand specialist that shut down Atom Miller’s season. After channeling my inner GOB and yelling, “COME ON” about 15 times (by the way, if you don’t get that reference or the link – just do yourself a favor and go get hooked on “Arrested Development”), I piled the fam into the car for the 7-hour trip with the highlight being the 12-2 win on WTAM (which you can get clear into Wisconsin, amazingly) en route.

Upon arriving, with my spirits in the dumper because in case you haven’t heard…the season’s over, I decided to call my good buddy Mr. Blue Sky, who always has a way of brightening my day with his unbridled enthusiasm and perspective on all things Tribe-related:

The DiaTribe: Mr. Blue, I wish we were talking on better topics…but it’s good to see you.
Mr. Blue Sky: Great to see you too. What do you mean? What’s going on?

DT: You didn’t hear? Victor’s out for 6 to 8weeks and Barfield could be a goner for the season.
MBS: No, I heard that…so, what’s the problem?

DT: Maybe you didn’t hear me right…Victor’s on the shelf until MAYBE the end of July, joining Fausto, Jake, and Travis on the DL. Going into the season, that’s our #2 and #3 starter and #3 and #4 hitter. Season’s over…raise the white flag.
MBS: But, with this news what has changed since, say, Wednesday? Victor’s been at 50% for the LAST 6 weeks, thanks to his hammy and elbow. His inclusion in the middle of the lineup was doing more harm than good when you consider what he’s done since the beginning of May:
May - .221 BA / .269 OBP / .279 SLG / .548 OPS, 5 extra base hits, 8 RBI in 86 AB
June - .207 BA / .333 OBP / .241 SLG / .574 OPS, 1 extra base hit, 3 RBI in 29 AB
THAT’s what you’re so worried about leaving the lineup? You’re confusing your perception of the type of hitter Victor HAS BEEN because of the player you’ve seen in the last few years with the player that he IS right now, which is a shell of his former self, incapable of power or anything more than a well-placed single. If anything, this will hopefully give him some rest to get back to the player that you remember, with his return (as you say) slated right around the Trading Deadline. If the team happens to be floating around the top of the AL Central, could you name another hitter (assuming that Victor’s at full capacity) that you’d rather see the team add in terms of a bat?

DT: I guess not, but it’s VICTOR! If one player were to don the “C” of a Captain for this team, wouldn’t it be The Stick?
MBS: Look, these numbers are by no means designed to diminish Victor’s worth to the team and his leadership and presence in the clubhouse will undoubtedly be missed and his efforts to remain in the lineup through these injuries is valiant (if perhaps misguided); but the fact has become very apparent that his bat (as it has been contributing) simply won’t be missed in the lineup. Regardless of the intangibles that Victor brings, wouldn’t you rather see if Kelly Shoppach at 100% is able to contribute more to the team than Victor at 50%? Isn’t it time to find out if those “Shoppach could be an everyday catcher for a number of MLB teams” phrase we always hear has anything to back it up? Isn’t this why Shoppach wasn’t dealt in the off-season, to retain the depth that this team is relying so heavily upon right now?

DT: Boy, I know a lot of people will say that you’re just “Mr. BS”, but I feel better about Victor…but what about Barfield?
MBS: What about him? You didn’t actually think that his promotion was going to magically result in production from 2B, did you? His promotion had very little to do with him, and much more in getting Asdrubal right in Buffalo in the hopes that Asdrubal could return at some point later in the season to contribute. Barfield was posting a .679 OPS in Buffalo with 48 K to 13 BB this year…did you think that he would suddenly improve against the MLB pitching that he would face after struggling against AAA pitching? Barfield’s injury changes very little, except for Jamey Carroll getting more playing time and the depth of the team at the big-league level being thinned out a little bit more. You may not know anything about Jorge Velendia…but it won’t matter as he’ll see less time than Andy Marte.

DT: OK, but the Westbrook thing…that’s just crushing.
MBS: For 2009, yeah that causes some issues…
DT: No, I mean right now.
MBS: I suppose if by “right now” you mean until Fausto comes back…which looks to be soon. Aaron Laffey has been as good as Westbrook has ever been in his career for almost two months now and Carmona’s scheduled to throw 50 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday which means that, barring any unforeseen setbacks, he should be back to replace Sowers (who, for most teams, is more than a suitable #5 starter…today) and get the rotation back in line. It certainly affects the depth of the rotation, but enlighten me as to another team that would lose their #2 and #3 starter heading into the season (and the pitcher that is arguably their top prospect in AAA) and survive as the Indians have.

DT: Then what about 2009?
MBS: That’s another topic for another day; let’s keep this conversation about this year.

DT: Fair enough. But these injuries mean that C.C. will be gone sooner rather than later, right? I mean, the writing is on the wall.
MBS: Again, why the rush to judgment? Did the road just get a little tougher for the Tribe? Sure, but Victor wasn’t contributing (and neither was Hafner before his DL stint) and the starting pitching depth has stepped in admirably to keep this team in the race, relatively speaking. They’re 6.5 games out with an optimal part of their schedule coming up. Hold off on the “what would the Cubs give up for 3 months of C.C.” talk until this thing has some time to play itself out in the next three weeks.

DT: But what about all these reports that the Indians have sent scouts out to watch other teams’ prospects?
MBS: I’m not in the business (nor do I pretend to be), but doesn’t this happen regardless of whether a team is looking to make a deal…or at least shouldn’t it? Shouldn’t the Indians have a scout trolling around different organizations’ minor league affiliates at all times to see if they can find another Asdrubal for Eduardo Perez deal or see if they can pluck Sizemore out of A ball if the time to trade should present itself. I think that the national media has grabbed onto this C.C. thing and convinced all of us that it’s going to happen. There’s still lots of baseball to play before July 31st and who’s to say the return for 3 months of C.C. (if it comes to that) isn’t a couple of high-ceiling, low-level prospects? If that’s as good as it gets, why wouldn’t the Indians hold onto him in the off chance they can keep it close until these guys (Carmona, Hafner at 80%-90%, Victor at 100%) come back and make a charge?

DT: OK, so it’s still too early on C.C. What about the bullpen?
MBS: Ummm…well…Scott Elarton is…hmmmm…sorry, I have to be honest on this one – I’ve got nothing for you on that one. I guess my best advice would be to see what kind of bulk packaging BJ’s has for TUMS…because you’re going to need it unless somebody (anybody) steps up to protect a lead.

DT: You know what? That’s OK, Blue Sky…you allayed most of my fears this morning. You know you’re my boy Blue, right?
MBS: Always.

DT: Hey, we’re headed to the Brewers-Twins “Showdown” tonight with an extra ticket…any interest in rooting on the Brew Crew to see if they can help the Tribe out tonight in the Central with a W over the Twinkies?
MBS: Wrong ELO song (great link, though), but you know I’m in. Let me just grab my Dave Bush jersey and the cornhole board and cooler because we’re tailgating, right?
DT: We are in Wisconsin. When in Rome…


csusi said...


Cy Slapnicka said...

thank you. as payment for your changing the mood, i'll give you a tune to hum you through the rest of your friday 13th and into our next series victory:

Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but blue skies from now on

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly by

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
(Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see)

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
Nothin' but blue skies from now on

rodells said...

Some good stuff recently at the Minor League Insider from Mirabelli and Atkins. Quick snapshot (from Atkins):

On Lonnie Chisenhall: First and foremost, in player development we love youth and tools. He has both of those things. He is 19-years old, he has hit ability, he has power, and he has a plus arm. We are very excited about his athleticism and his ability to play short. The thing we love about being 19 is we have some time to develop him. Most likely it will be a traditional path where he plays at Lake County and Kinston, and then at some point his performance will start to dictate where he belongs. If he is dominating a level we will get him out of there. John Mirabelli and Brad Grant delivered those two attributes of youth and tools to us, and if we can hopefully see that in his performance that is what excites us.

On Trevor Crowe: You know, it is interesting. It has been such a tough run for Trevor. The injuries, and this year another one to his back that he tried to play through a little bit too long potentially thinking he might be an option for the major league team in spring training. That set him back a little bit and he is just starting to get settled in. I don't think the .200 batting average is what we will see here in the next few weeks. His hard hit percentage and his on-base percentage are both creeping up. He is such a good athlete and hard worker that eventually the numbers will start to pan out and match his tools.

To date, we've also "signed 9 of their 50 picks, including 7 of first 14 picks."

milwaukeeTribe said...

Have fun here in brew-town this weekend!

Look out for breaking levees, rising waters, and falling trees!

Cy Slapnicka said...

did anyone not think the kooz was going yard or getting walked last night? i wore my rally pie t-shirt for the first time all season friday. i think its going to be worn for games until we lose. for the record, i opted not to wear it saturday....for some dumb reason.

Rockdawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.