Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sweeping Tomahawks

While the week has included two victories at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario for your humble host, how much better did having tickets for the games on Monday and Wednesday look when I bought them prior to the season starting?
Two games in mid-to-late September against the Twins?
We’ll probably see the Indians clinching the AL Central one of those games, right?

Or so we thought mere months ago.
Alas, the final visit to Progressive Field comes on Saturday night against the Motor City Kitties…”that series will probably decide the Central – we have to be there”.
So with a sweep of the Twins in our back pockets, let the tomahawks fly:

The 2009 schedule is out with a few enticing weekend getaways to see the Tribe on the road standing out. A series in Wrigley over a weekend in mid-June? I’m in for a game at Wrigley with the Cubs playing the Jamestown Jammers, as long as the Old Style is cold and Murphy’s Bleachers are in the cards for after the game…but the Erie Warriors hitting Wrigley? Who’s coming with me?

It’s pretty cool that the Indians will be New York’s opponent for the first game at new Yankee Stadium – though I’m sure that we won’t hear about that game AT ALL from now until April 16th, 2009. And while I’m putting out some pre-emptive moratoriums on that game, can everyone get the “We might see CC vs. Cliff Lee in that game” comments out right now? It’s just so hackneyed and easy to prey on Cleveland’s inferiority complex and making the assumption that CC WILL end up in the Bronx is so entirely premature at this moment that it’s laughable.

Oh, and that series in Boston to close out the season will probably be for home-field throughout the playoffs, right?
Stop…just leave me alone with my dreams for a moment.

Anyone catch that the 2nd best FA 2B just had season-ending surgery, just like the best FA 2B this offseason? That’s right – Mark Ellis is undergoing shoulder surgery to join Orlando Hudson as players that will be looking for long-term deals coming off of surgeries.

Do those injury concerns limit the number of teams interested in Hudson or Ellis or perhaps even work the number of guaranteed years that they figure to be offered this off-season down a bit?
God…I hope so.

Awfully nice to see that 430 foot bomb by that Hafner guy last night, which landed halfway between the right-centerfield wall and the Batter’s Eye Bar. It was absolutely CRUSHED and was quite a nice deviation from the swinging strikeouts and weak grounders that this Hafner guy seems to specialize in.

After reading in Steve Buffum’s B-List yesterday that Juan Rincon had allowed an absurd 10 of the 12 runners he had inherited when entering a game this year as an Indian (after allowing ALL 7 of the runners he had inherited to score as a Twin), I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to see how the rest of the Indians’ relievers fared when it came to stranding inherited runners.

Listed in order of effectiveness:
Slocum – allowed 0 of 3 inherited runners to score (0% of IR scored)
Breslow – allowed 1 of 5 inherited runners to score (20% of IR scored)
Perez – allowed 12 of 40 inherited runners to score (30% of IR scored)
Lewis – allowed 10 of 31 inherited runners to score (32% of IR scored)
Mujica – allowed 6 of 17 inherited runners to score (35% of IR scored)
Betancourt – allowed 10 of 28 inherited runners to score (36% of IR scored)
Elarton – allowed 2 of 5 inherited runners to score (40% of IR scored)
Kobayashi – allowed 7 of 16 inherited runners to score (44% of IR scored)
Mastny – allowed 3 of 6 inherited runners to score (50% of IR scored)
Rundles – allowed 2 of 4 inherited runners to score (50% of IR scored)
Julio – allowed 6 of 11 inherited runners to score (55% of IR scored)
Rincon – allowed 10 of 12 inherited runners to score (83% of IR scored)

Granted, some of these guys have not inherited that many runners, but you get the idea that blown saves have come in all shapes and sizes for the Tribe this year. And does it come as any surprise that Perez and Lewis have been two of the most effective at stranding runners? No, Slocum doesn’t count…and in case you were wondering, Craig Breslow has allowed only 9 of his 44 inherited runners to score as a Twin.

By the by, all of those numbers above add up to 69 of 151 inherited runners scoring on the year or 46% of inherited runners scoring on Tribe relievers. How does that compare to other teams? No idea…as finding THIS data is not exactly easily categorized or easy to find.

But why is that? Maybe I’m overestimating the importance of this attribute in a reliever (as I have been wont to do), but how is this not a more widely known, or at least more widely available, measure of relief pitchers? You would think that given the volatility of relievers, a stat like this would have to tell you SOMETHING about a pitcher that is quantifiable and can be used as some sort of greater evaluation.

Prompted by the realization that Edward Mujica is out of options (something that was told to me as he relieved Cliff Lee on Wednesday and the comment that “there goes the win” passed through my lips), I thought this was as good of a time as any to take a look at the players on the 40-man roster and what players are out of options after this year and which ones will retain options after 2008.

In addition to the players on the roster that were out of options this year (The BLC, Frank the Tank, and Marte) and players that options don’t really apply to (Grady and Fausto, etc.), here’s the list:
Out of Options After This Year
Michael Aubrey
Zach Jackson
Edward Mujica
Rafael Perez
Anthony Reyes
Kelly Shoppach
Brian Slocum
Brad Snyder

Options Remaining After This Year (How Many After This Year)
Josh Barfield (1 more option after 2008)
Asdrubal Cabrera (2 more options after 2008)
Ben Francisco (1 more option after 2008)
Ryan Garko (1 more option after 2008)
Aaron Laffey (1 more option after 2008)
Jensen Lewis (2 more options after 2008)
Scott Lewis (2 more options after 2008)
Tom Mastny (2 more options after 2008)
John Meloan (2 more options after 2008)
Atom Miller (2 more options after 2008)
Reid Santos (2 more options after 2008)
Tony Sipp (2 more options after 2008)
Jeremy Sowers (1 more option after 2008)
Wyatt Toregas (2 more options after 2008)

To me, Mujica and Jackson present the two most interesting players who are our of options as neither has solidified a spot for 2009, but could be carried out of Goodyear instead of a player retaining options if only to give them more of a shot at making an impression (and by that, I mean a “good” impression) on the MLB level.

Also, from the list of players with options, don’t be surprised if the likes of Barfield, Francisco, Garko, Laffey, Scott Lewis, Mastny, and Sowers see those options used next year and get familiar with the trip down I-71 to Columbus as the Indians figures to make moves at each of their respective positions this offseason.

Speaking of trips to Columbus, one of the worst kept secrets in recent memory has come out of the “shadows” and into the light as the Indians have announced that the Columbus Clippers will be their AAA affiliate starting in 2009. The four year deal has the Tribe’s top farm team playing in the new Huntington Park in downtown Columbus and allows the Indians to go after the Columbus fans (as if they’re aware of any sport that doesn’t involve sweater vests) that are right now probably split between the Tribe and the Reds.

MUCH more important than gaining fans in Columbus though (at least from a fan’s perspective) is that STO is allegedly planning to televise home games for the Clippers next year, meaning that fans will be able to see for themselves what players like Wes Hodges, Trevor Crowe, and Matt LaPorta (if he doesn’t break camp with the Tribe) look like with their own eyes rather than relying on simple statistics and hearsay.

Heading down to my last home game of the season on Saturday against the Tigers…this one will still decide the AL Central, right?


Brian said...

My wife and I are super excited about the Clippers announcement. Not surprising, of course, but still exciting. Now we can go to a game and not be rooting for a team associated with either an enemy (Yank) or a team we couldn't care less about out (Nationals).

We should be able to provide reports/news from down here in Columbus, if you want.

Erin said...

have the cubs set a date that single game tickets for '09 go on sale?...even though they aren't looking towards next year just yet.

Anonymous said...

Faousto is my new favorite Indian. Did you see Sheffield's bloody nose? ..PRICELESS!!

Rockdawg said...

After Manny left the Indians, I had to wait a couple years before I settled on my new favorite Indian, which became CC. Now that he is gone, I have been closer and closer to settling in on Victor as my new guy. But after last night, I think the Faustastic One may sealed the deal. Those pot shots to the top of Sheff's dome were awesome, and when Fausto threw over to first, I think he had every intention of beaning Sheff again. (did you see how HARD he threw that thing?)

It almost reminded me of the classic Ryan Nolan/Robin Ventura brawl, but with all the roles completely reversed.

During the offseason, it was going to be a given that I settled on a brand new Vic jersey, but now, I've got some tinking to do.

And Manny is still a beast by the way...If the Brew crew doesn't make it, I'll be pulling for a Red Sox-Dogers WS, so Manny can light it up against his former mates.

Jay said...

Pretty sure Aubrey will get a fourth option.