Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lazy Sunday Looking Forward

After watching Jeremy Sowers show some promise (no, I didn’t watch it…thanks, FOX!) yesterday in what are inexplicably probably my favorite Tribe uniforms of all time, it’s time to get going on a Lazy One:
Starting off with a piece that appeared on Friday, Terry Pluto has his thoughts on what the Indians’ lineup should look like for the second half of the season. Some of it is fairly obvious (and Pluto admits as much), but to me the evaluation of position players as this season winds down breaks into two groups fighting for 2009 jobs.
I look at it this way – the only givens (assuming no trades are made) for 2009 in the Tribe lineup would be Grady in CF, Hafner (if healthy) at DH, and Victor, Peralta, Cabrera, and Francisco (with the caveat that he finishes the year well and The BLC sticks around as insurance) with positions as yet to be determined.

Their positions and the remaining positions, then, are going to be determined by a few convoluted “position battles” to see what pieces fit where for 2009 and where help from the outside may be needed (other than LaPorta’s eventual ascension to the middle of the lineup).
I got into one last week that had to do with the C/1B/LF “battle”, but to repost what I said last week -
“If Shoppach keeps hitting at the pace he is, he becomes the de facto C, with Vic at 1B and LaPorta in LF.
If Garko can come close to his 2007 (finding his 2006 isn’t happening), Vic stays behind the dish and LaPorta goes to LF.
If Chootierrez AND The Ben Francisco Treat show enough to merit them taking up BOTH corners of the OF (and I think that The Frisco Kid has claimed one spot for 2009 with his play this year), Vic dons the tools of ignorance once again and LaPorta mans 1B.”

The other “battle” is essentially to determine what ¾ of the infield looks like next year with the Indians having to determine what they have in Josh Barfield and Andy Marte in the last half of 2008. As it stands now, I think that the 2009 infield composition really comes down to whether either (or both, ha!) are legitimate options to play every day in 2009. Depending on what we see with Barfield and Marte, then Jhonny and Asdrubal fall into line accordingly at positions dictated by the performance of Barfield and Marte in 2008 and what can reasonably be expected for either in 2009.

If Barfield plays well enough to merit a look at 2B for 2009, Asdrubal and Peralta make up the left side of the infield (though Jhonny’s bat is not quite as valuable as a 3B) next year. If Marte establishes himself as a viable candidate for 2009 (and, really, I can’t even put numbers down that makes this happen), Jhonny stays at SS and Asdrubal stays at 2B.

If both Barfield and Marte excel…well, I suppose you cross that bridge if it presents itself. If they both fail, then you look for the piece that holds either 2B or 3B (Orlando Hudson, Mark Grudzielanek, Mark Ellis, etc.) that bridges the gap to Akron 3B Wes Hodges for 2010 without blocking him, with the flexibility of Peralta and Cabrera falling in line accordingly.

Sheldon Ocker has a similar piece to Pluto of what should be done, etc…with similar conclusions, in Sunday’s paper. He also touches on the Jhonny Peralta trade rumors that seem to be floating out there (after saying that he doesn’t think that Peralta can play 3B, which is a factor that needs to be determined heading into 2009 for reasons listed above) with Cabrera playing SS in Buffalo.

I’ve avoided the whole “Trade Jhonny” thing for the most part (outside of the Dodgers connect-the-dots insinuations), but it bears addressing as if you’re really considering trading Peralta, you have to get AT LEAST one position player who is ready to contribute now who is at least as many years away from Free Agency as Jhonny is. Moving Peralta is not unloading an unnecessary piece of the Indians’ team, particularly given his age, his production (albeit streaky), and his contract. Despite his flaws, Jhonny is an offensive presence in an Indians’ lineup that is short of them at the moment and for the immediate future.

A quick reminder on Jhonny’s remaining contract:
2009: $3.65M
2010: $4.85M
2011: $7.00M club option
You’re telling me that you’re going to find comparable production for those salaries over the next three years? Unless you’re filling a gaping hole with a comparably productive player ready to step right away who is further away from FA working under such a club-friendly contract, I don’t know how you can justify moving him, given his hitting and affordability.

It also bears mentioning that Peralta is YOUNGER than both Francisco and Garko, who are still trying to establish themselves as viable MLB players (something Jhonny has done) and is 7 months older than Barfield, who is also quite an unknown quantity.

While he may not be the ideal SS in many people’s minds due to his defensive deficiencies, he is a known quantity offensively at a young age, working under an affordable contract for the next three years. If you’re looking to move him, a player who is as equally established, under the same club control timeline is the baseline to deal with. Throw in the fact that moving him means that all four IF spots for 2009 will consist of players trying to establish themselves and I’m not sure why we’re looking this gift horse in the mouth.

Elsewhere, it looks like Jeff Stevens and Matt LaPorta have made the US Olympic team, which will keep them busy until August or so. Maybe both can parlay some international success into some North Coast success as the leaves start to turn come September, as long as it does not throw the 40-man decisions off or unnecessarily affect their service time.

While I’m not sure who this “LaPorta” guy is who made the US Team (if you don’t know I’m kidding, welcome to the site), here’s a fantastic piece on Jeff Stevens, the PTBNL in the infamous deal involving “The Franchise”. My favorite part of it is Buffalo pitching coach Scott Radinsky’s quote on Stevens’ even-keeled temperament, which may suit him one day in the back end of the Tribe bullpen. Quoth Radinsky, "He can go out there and get his [butt] kicked and give up a tying run, but he's fine. He'll go back out there today and strike out the side. He's got that ingredient you just don't teach, and he's got 'it.'”

“Even Stevens”, anyone?
By the way, the “Seinfeld” episode is the reference there, the one where things always even out for him, not the Disney Channel tween show that Google reports is the most oft-referenced “Even Stevens”.

Outside of Cleveland, another starter finds himself in need of some new return address labels, as Joe Blanton is headed to the Phillies for a package built around 2B Adrian Cardenas. This is not very relevant here as Blanton and CC occupy completely different planes in the MLB Starting Pitching Pecking Order and the Indians damn well better have gotten better players for CC, right?

Absolutely, but let’s put Cardenas (the centerpiece of the return for the Athletics) in perspective by way of names you may have heard of fairly recently (and seeing how all they’re in the Florida State League with Cardenas) with some 2008 numbers from A-ball:
Adrian Cardenas (Age 20)
.309 BA / .374 OBP / .444 SLG / .818 OPS
Taylor Green (Age 21)
.288 BA / .370 OBP / .421 SLG / .791 OPS
Matthew LuCroy (Age 22)
.319 BA / .374 OBP / .500 SLG / .874 OPS
Where is the line sitting currently for the PTBNL, and when do we find out the official list of (gasp) 4?

Speaking of prospects, serial FanPoster APV over at the LGT did a nice mid-season update on Jay Levin’s definitive preseason list of “Prospects that Matter”, which can be found at the sidebar at any time for a quick refresher or for enlightenment.

Back to the unending topic that is the CC deal, Ken Rosenthal is sticking to his guns that Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt vetoed a deal for Sabathia, despite McCourt’s denial of such claims. Interestingly, in the same piece he mentions that the Brewers may be trading JJ Hardy because Alcides Escobar (a SS whose name was thrown around in the CC rumors) is “untouchable” as a trade target.

Apropos of nothing having to do with this season, one of my favorite writers, Joe Posnanski, begins his rundown of AL stadiums no longer in use with his homage to the ballpark of his youth – Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Finally, after professing my love for the throwback jerseys that the Tribe wore against the Padres (on the night K2 hit the granny off them to win it…ahem), I was told that they sold the jerseys at the Team Shop. After hitting the team shop, I learned that the smallest size they carry “in-stock” is a 56, which would be like me swimming in a pool of polyester…what with my current suit size at 38R (you think I joke when I say I tip ‘em at $1.50 soaking wet).

But the jerseys that the Indians wore yesterday…Sowers at the top and The BLC below…MY GOD! If someone can tell me where to score one of these jerseys…well, I just don’t know what I’d do.


Hermano said...

I'd love one of those jerseys, too. If someone emails you, will you post it on the site?

Barb said...

Keep an eye on eBay, you never know what will show up out there.

Rockdawg said...

PTC, I agree 100% on the Peralta situation. Although he can be a frustrating player to root for, with his ADD and lack of consistency, it could be A LOT worse, especially when you consider his age, contract, and power.

I wouldn't go so far, however, to say that Sowers "showed promise" in his victory. Although he notched the "W", he still surrendered 4 ER in 6 IP (good for a 6.00 ERA on the day).

Now that he is approaching some solid IP over the last two seasons, the numbers are less than impressive, and really not improving as I had hoped:

2007 - 67.1 IP/6.29 ERA/24 K/21 BB
2008 - 50.1 IP/7.33 ERA/29 K/22 BB

Alot of our attention lately has been on how the offense will look to improve over the next couple years. But breaking down the SP and Pen for next year, what do we REALLY have? The General, Fausto (coming off a minor injury), Westbrook (complete question mark), Laffey (continuing to impress, but still young), Byrd (???), Sowers (see above). Combine that with a Pen that has been about as bad as it gets, it's not gonna matter if LaPorta, Hafner, Vic, etc. play up to expectations, b/c we'll be losing games 10-7.

adamvanarsdale said...

Thanks for the shout-out. Barfield's injury, while not terribly meaningful for our on the field performance this season, does suck looking ahead at 2009. It would have been nice to see 2 months of what he could do in Cleveland. Hopefully he'll come back early enough in August to get substantial time in (athough with Cabrera back up...not sure how that happens).

I'm not sure what to do with Peralta. I've mentioned trading him on LGT, in part, because he's clearly one of the most valuable non-essential players we have. I agree that he can't be traded without getting a major-league ready guy in return, but he might be our best way of getting some kind of a corner bat (for either the OF or IF) and possibly a young pitcher.

Paul Cousineau said...

Most of the leads I got had to do with (as Barb mentions) scouring eBay for them. But a reader named Tim Harrison is a bit of a pro at this "throwback jersey on eBay" thing and says that if you type "Cleveland Indians", then one size up from your suit size (because they made them tighter then), it will get you right into the throwbacks in your size. My first quick search netted all jerseys in my size, but not what the one I was looking for.
I'll keep on it though...

I absolutely agree with you and think that our two biggest needs that can't necessarily be filled internally are a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a lockdown closer to let the rest of the bullpen sort out.
Right now, I'd put our rotation for next year as:
Acquired Arm

As for the bullpen - throw it against the wall and see what sticks for the rest of the season, I guess.

I'm a big admirer of what you contribute over at the LGT in terms of keeping tabs on the youngsters in an attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff on the farm throughout the season.
Couldn't agree more about Barfield...although he does have an option for 2009, which could come in handy.

Jason said...

I think Peralta's "defensive deficiencies" are completely overblown by both the fans and the media.

Statistically, he's not that bad defensively -- and I'm not just talking about fielding percentage (#3 among AL SS). Looking at statistics that specifically measure a players "range" (ZR, RZR, OOZ, etc), Peralta ranks between #3 - #5 among AL shortstops (i.e., never lower than #5 in any category).

I think Jhonny's status as a defensive liability is largely perceived based on the fact that he replaced one of the best defensive SS ever to play in MLB. Statistically, he's been doing a fine job on defense, and that explains why he has the confidence of both Shapiro & Wedge.

Rockdawg said...

If we could only find this "Hermano" fellow.

Learn about Arrested Development

csusi said...

will anybody else's hopes start to rise if we get it down to single digits in the games back category?

Joshua Whitman said...

csusi, I hate to bring this up, but the Tribe is 7-1 since you posted the following. Don't know what mysterious powers you have working here, but keep it up.

As far as hope goes, as a No-Real-Sense-Of-Reality Tribe fan, I'll continue to hold out hope until we are mathematically eliminated. But even then I may not be convinced it is over.

csusi said...

yeah, that post was a bit vicious. but it represented the pain i felt that night. but, i dont know what it is. could be stupidity or the heart of a lion that continues to beat inside of me, (wouldnt it be really funny if somebody talked like that and was dead serious) but, i cant seem to give it up. the more years i continue to watch baseball the more im convinced that baseball is the craziest sport when it comes to making absolutely no sense most of the time. im speaking mainly in terms of "chance" and the the possibility of the unlikely becoming the likely. you guys feel me? anyways.

i want hafner and victor back. i miss them. with victor, as corny as it sounds, victors spirit and way about him adds something refreshing to this team, even in the midst of loss. and when it comes to hafner, as much as that feeling earlier on in the season was present as he strode to the plate of "he's probably gonna strike out on a horrible pitch" right behind that was the feeling of, "cmon hafner, you have the potential to crush the hell out of this pitch. make it happen". of course the latter didnt occur all that much earlier on. but still, i feel both of them have the ability to spark hope. well for me anyways. and i miss that.

single tear.

carmona is back though. how bout that.

i dont know boys. with the white sox and twins losing games and our tribe in the midst of darkness finding some way to win, i feel theres something funny in the air. i dont know what it is, but its getting me wound up. and if it comes down to us minimizing that games back number to a single digit, you can bet your bottoms dollar (never in my life have i understood that phrase) im treating this division title as something that can be obtained.

i just hit play on the "power of love" by huey lewis. everybody join in with me:

"The power of love is a curious thing. Make a one man weep, make another man sing. Change a hawk to a little white dove. More than a feeling thats the power of love"

im an idiot.