Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tomahawks and Tears

Another day, another bullpen loss…and so it goes.

After watching the Indians waste a Herculean performance from SuperSizemore and perhaps seeing the Hefty Lefty don the Chief while receiving the ball from his infielders with his bare left hand for the last time, it is with a heavy heart and with a tear in the eye that the Tomahawks are released.

In case you missed it (and serial poster Halifax, who e-mailed me about the situation after I wrote this, did not), the Dodgers look to have Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones, Hideki Kuroda, and Brad Penny joining the parent club after some DL time in the very near future. While Rafael Furcal and Jason Schmidt look to be out for a while longer as Juan Pierre joins them on the shelf, it looks like the Dodgers are getting healthy.

So what does this have to do with the Indians, you ask?
Well, if the Dodgers’ veterans were to get healthy, does anyone doubt that Joe Torre is going to play “known” quantities over the youngsters currently populating his lineup card (Loney, LaRoche, DeWitt, Ethier, etc.) as the Dodgers attempt to close the gap between them and the scuffling D-Backs in the NL West? If some of those youngsters, then, are deemed to be expendable because of the veterans’ returns, wouldn’t that then free them up to be included in some sort of package to bolster the Boys in Blue? Or does the fact that Furcal is out for 8 weeks mean that the deal could be bigger than just 290 lbs, in that more personnel could be changing addresses?

That evolving situation in LA, along with the other “alleged” landing spots for C.C., is where some attention should be focused to best understand the landscape of the market that exists for Sabathia as much as finding matches for him, talent-wise.

In the same vein, it will be interesting to see how the just-completed Rays-Red Sox series may affect how those teams prioritize their needs going forward. Will the knee-jerk reaction in Boston (by the fans and media, not necessarily the Front Office) to being swept in Tampa put the thought out there that Sabathia is that one missing piece to pass the Rays up and secure the AL East?

For as unappetizing as it sounds to think of C.C. joining Manny on the Dark Side to get a WS ring for the Red Sox, the Boston organization does boast the legitimate ready-for-MLB talent (currently blocked by other players on the parent club) that the Indians figure to look for in exchange for C.C. Names like Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, Brandon Moss, Michael Bowden, and their ilk could become serious trade targets (sorry, Clay Buchholz isn’t leaving Beantown anytime soon) if the Indians determine that the best package of players is coming from Boston…despite what it will do to Indians fans’ collective hearts to see the aCCe fortify what would easily be one of the best rotations in recent memory.

By the same token, will the Rays’ sweep of the Red Sox embolden the Tampa brass that the time is now to take a run at a ring and part with some of their phenomenal young talent (and drafting at or near the top of the draft year after year will do that to an organization) that is blocked by the other phenomenal young talent already in Tampa? Obviously, the Rays (short of a decided organizational shift in thinking and payroll) wouldn’t figure into the C.C. Sweepstakes that will commence at year’s end, so would they be willing to give their team a shot in the arm this year, or are they content to allow their young players to continue to develop with the idea that consistent contention is preferable to what a four-month-rental of the reigning Cy Young Award winner would cost them in terms of prospects?

Make no mistake, C.C. could be the difference-maker in the AL East or NL Central or wherever he goes and the Indians need to play this fact up to whichever team they’re talking to as pitting divisional rivals against each other to drive up the price would be more than beneficial in terms of maximizing the return for Sabathia.

While submitting her 25 votes for the All-Star Game (all Indians, all Brewers) last night prior to the 11:59 PM deadline, The DiaBride spotted the “GAME OVER” piece from yesterday and, after wondering aloud if the glass was still half-full around these parts and whether the naysayers had “gotten into my head”, she asked if the season was over if we didn’t have to watch all the games because they “didn’t matter anyway”.

In reality, she just wants to add “27 Dresses” to the Netflix queue and my excuse that Indians’ games take up most of our evenings is the main roadblock to that and other movies like it invading my home…but it raises an interesting question nonetheless - what are we watching these games for?

For me, other than my enjoyment of simply watching baseball and going to the structure at Carnegie and Ontario to do it in the flesh, it comes down to determining which of the current Indians fit into the 2009 plans and where. Many questions have revealed themselves in the first half of 2008 and the second half has turned into a type of extended Spring Training where these players will attempt to separate themselves and cement their position in the organization for 2009 and beyond.

At a certain point, we’ll get to see what some of these youngsters can do and figure out if help above and beyond what exists in the organization is needed (in addition to evaluating whatever the team is able to net for Blake – whose value grows by the day – and whomever else finds themselves not in Cleveland come August 1st) as they approach 2009 with hopes of better health.

Obviously, there’s plenty of time to dissect what has happened and what will happen and I plan on continuing to think about this team (probably a little too much) as the season winds down. Hope springs eternal in baseball as, every year, 29 teams come up short with the idea that next year is their year.
At this point, that’s all we have left.

Finally, it looks like changes are coming for the Tribe…and soon, probably having to do with a man known to some as B(TC), so take the holiday weekend to enjoy yourself and digest them. Lazy Sunday probably a little later than usual as the wireless connection up in Lake Chautauqua is spotty at best and I’ll probably wait until I’m back in The 216 (since I’ve recently been enjoying an ale known by the Chicago Area Code of 312, I’m embracing the trend) to trip the light fantastic on my keyboard.

Happy Independence Day!


Joshua Whitman said...

Just bought tickets to the Rock N' Blast Fireworks Show at Progressive Field on July 11th! Apparently there is going to be some sort of exhibition baseball game prior so should be a good time!

E. S. Furniss said...

As always, great stuff Paul. As much as the World Series losses hurt, this season is far and away the most disappointing Indians season in my life. To come from within one game of the World Series to this is hard to stomach.

I've always defended Wedge but no more...this team is as lifeless as their skipper. Where is the outrage? Could you see Ozzie Guillen or Lou Pinnella sitting by quietly with a team like this? On the bright side, 2/3 of the Outfield and 3/5 of the starting pitching staff is set for next year...everything else is a mess.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am looking forward to the next couple of weeks as a Tribe Fan. It will be a very refreshing break from the root canal like agony our team has put us through this season so far..
It will be interesting to see if C.C. holds up under the pressure of being thrust into a new environment...I will not be surprised if he doesn't...

Rockdawg said...

PTC, I once had to finish watching "Music and Lyrics" while DVR-ing a Browns game.

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

The LaPorta (and possibly Escobar also) rumors are getting real hot. If we're looking for this type of player(s), nobody is going to be able to offer more than this (maybe TB, minus Price, but my feeling is the Brewers are looking to strike fast). LaPorta and Escobar would be a major haul. I'd dangle more than just CC for them both. LaPorta for CC straight is interesting in itself.

Kershaw/Kemp for CC/Peralta is intriguing, but I don't see the Dodgers making that deal. Unless they are foolish, they certainly will not be including Billingsly in any CC rental deal.

t-bone said...

Jeff Weaver signed to a AAA deal today... CC going soon???

Todd S. said...

I can't believe Jeff Weaver is still allowed to be near baseballs.