Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lazy Sunday as Frustration Mounts

As Cleveland collectively wonders how “Massaquoi” will look on the back of a Browns’ jersey and how passing on Rey Maualuga will haunt them…oh, about twice a year when they face the Bungles, it’s time to get going on a Lazy Sunday on the other team who nobody can figure out…YOUR 6-12 Cleveland Indians:

If you think that frustration is creeping in for you on your couch, how about The Atomic Wedgie eschewing his tried-and-true post-game Wedgisms to unload this on what I can only picture as an unsuspecting press corps:
“What bothers me more than anything is we're not making good outs,” said manager Eric Wedge, referring to the offense. “Outside of a couple of guys, our approach has been very poor. It's something we pride ourselves on and work hard at it. There's just no excuse.
“Whatever the hell it is, we better figure out it pretty damn quick because I'm not going to sit around and watch what we've been watching.
“We're beyond all this. They aren't kids anymore.”

For a guy that is painfully careful about keeping an even keel and measures what he says about his team, this quote is about as candid and angry as you’re going to see Wedge publicly.

What does that translate to behind closed doors?
I don’t know, but let’s hope that a post-game buffet was being cleaned up by janitorial services at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario and not being enjoyed by a listless losing team.

Unfortunately, these days for the Indians, there hasn’t been one aspect of the team that can be consistently blamed for everything as each of the three components have already played the role of spoiler for the team. At the beginning of the year, it was the starting pitching…then it was the bullpen…now, it looks like the offense is stuck in neutral.

Yes, I think that this team will start firing on all cylinders as the talent is there, but it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy transition from the inconsistency of April to what we can only hope will be some semblance of continuity once June rolls around.

Speaking of continuity, Terry Pluto has a piece that hits on all of the spots in the rotation and how nearly every pitcher currently in the rotation has shown signs of coming around. I’m not quite as optimistic on Reyes as Pluto is as a fair share of his “ability to get out of jams” has to be chalked up to luck as much as it does “grit” and once that luck runs out, Reyes could be looking at some big numbers on the scoreboard at the end of some of these innings in which he’s getting into trouble. Reyes to me looks to be too “lucky” with his BABIP at .167 and has now walked more batters than he’s struck out, which is not a good thing; so I hope I’m wrong, but if Reyes falls off of that tightrope he’s been walking, it’s not going to be pretty.

Pluto also mentions that Jake Westbrook is still targeting June 12th as the return date to the rotation and, while it certainly would be a boon to the team to add a consistent starter like Westbrook to the rotation that early, the date does seem a little optimistic and I’d rather for Westbrook to come back as close to 100% as possible instead of him focusing on making his return on an arbitrary date like June 12th (the one year anniversary of his surgery) that holds significance only for him.

Finally, with Pluto, he touches on Matt LaPorta crushing the ball in AAA and how close to Cleveland he may be. After I wrote something similar in the last Tomahawks piece, I received an e-mail from astute reader Rich Schumacher, who pointed out that the Indians may be delaying LaPorta’s ascension to MLB because of the service time that he would accumulate by being called up now, which would allow him to enter arbitration a year earlier by being what’s called a “Super 2” player.

Essentially, what “Super 2” means is that if LaPorta accumulates 86 or more days of service time this year, he’ll be eligible for arbitration at the end of 2011 as opposed to being eligible for arbitration at the end of 2012 if he accumulates less than 86 days of service time.

If the Indians are, in fact, looking to limit that service time, the date that you’d be looking at to manage his service time and to keep him under club control, without going to arbitration would be (with a hat tip to Jay at LGT) at the end of the first week in June and technically on June 5th.

From a cost control standpoint and from a player control standpoint, this management of service time makes sense, but to me with a guy like LaPorta, who is already 24 years old and has proven that his bat is ready for MLB, this is almost over thinking the process. If you’re talking about managing a 21-year-old’s service time, that’s one thing, but with LaPorta, you’re keeping him under wraps when he’s a better option right now in LF because of concerns that you may have to pay him three years from now or holding onto him for another year and simply doing so because the best-case scenario (that LaPorta is a stud) is the only option that you can envision.

In case you were wondering, after another HR and a 3 for 3 night on Saturday, here’s LaPorta’s updated line for the season:
.404 BA / .447 OBP / .789 SLG / 1.266 OPS with 5 HR, 3 2B, and 2 3B in 16 games

If you want to promote a guy who’s seeing the ball well and riding a wave of confidence to improve the parent club, there’s your guy…service time issues considered.

Moving on, I’m not really interested in this created “story” about Cliff Lee possibly being traded as, if you’ve read the initial “article” that caused the firestorm, you’re aware that there’s nothing to the story other than wild speculation and citing sources “familiar with the organization”…which means what exactly?

The way it was picked up, though, by all of the “legitimate” media outlets was pretty sad, though, as anyone with an ounce of sense could read the original “article” (which I’m not going to link as that would only legitimize it in a sense and you can find it pretty easily if you haven’t already seen it) could know that the piece was just some guy sitting there thinking, “hey…maybe the Indians would trade Cliff Lee”, then getting some vanilla, anonymous quotes to “back up” his position, failing to mention that trading Lee (who has an affordable option for NEXT YEAR) now would be trading him at his lowest point of value since…well, I don’t know, since he was left off of the playoff roster in 2007?

Overall, it was “journalism” at it’s very worst and the fact that it was picked up by mainstream media sources (The PD’s dreadful “Starting Blocks linked it with a title of “Will the Cleveland Indians ‘pull a CC’ and trade Cliff Lee at midseason?”) is beyond embarrassing…for them, I mean.

Back to the sanity of solid journalistic work, the always spectacular Joe Posnanski goes “Around the Horn”, dissecting the idiocy of Brandon Phillips asserting that on-base percentage doesn’t really matter all that much as well as naming Grady Sizemore his AL MVP…after two weeks.
Time to make room on that trophy shelf, Grady…

Posnanski also regales us with the return of “Banny Log”, which chronicles the life and times of Royals’ pitcher Brian Bannister, who happens to be JoePos’ favorite player since Duane Kuiper and also happened to lock the Indians’ lineup down on Wednesday’s game just after being called up from AAA.

Vince Grzegorek at the terrific ‘64 and Counting has an interesting look at the Cavs’ run in the playoffs and the impact it may have on Indians’ attendance while said playoff run in going on. Vince does a good job of dissecting what an extended run into the playoffs by the Cavaliers (which I think we all assume to be nearly a given) could mean to the Indians and don’t think that the Indians aren’t wildly aware of said impact on their attendance and their revenue.

Moving on, while I know that I, in fact, have a Twitter feed (though I’m really not sure what that means), it seems that Matt LaPorta also does, though again, I’m not really sure what that means or why it is compelling to anyone.

The best thing that I can say about Twitter is that “The Soup” brilliantly lampooned the week that Twitter may have collectively “jumped the shark” in terms of overexposure to people who (like me) have no idea what it is, but think that it’s the hot, new thing to do.
Quoth Joel McHale, “It’s the digital Macarena”…

Apropos of nothing having too much to do with the Tribe (or Twitter), it seems that Milton Bradley believes that the Chicago media is trying to make him “snap”:
"I'm just not into negativity," he said. "I can see already I'm going to be that guy that since nothing else is going on in here, 'We're going to harp on Bradley all year and see if we can get him to snap.' I'm not going to go for it. You can't get a good story if I don't talk to [the media]. You'll make something up, like you always do."

"If I talk to you, you're going to make something up, and if I don't talk to you, you're going to make something up. So just go ahead and make something up and leave me out of it."


Yeah, this is not going to end well…
Not even close to the end of April (23 AB total) in the first year of a 3-year deal and already paranoia is prevailing with Milton?
Given that most Cubs’ fans saw the signing of Milton Bradley as the direct result of the Cubs’ trade of DeRosa to the Tribe (the thinking being that the DeRosa trade freed up payroll to add the switch-hitting GameBoy to a RH-heavy lineup), it’s going to make DeRosa’s return to Wrigley all the interesting in June as Cubs’ fans will be treated to what they had…while being reminded of what they now have.

Finally, I posted last week how unbelievable it was to sync up the FOX feed of the 22-4 rout in the Bronx with Hammy and Hegan on the radio (yes, that was just last Saturday), and my brother-in-law sent me this link to SportSync, a piece of equipment that may actually make such an accomplishment possible for every game without too much effort.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I need to order my Brett Ratliff jersey so I can one day add it to the rag bin of jerseys graced with the words “COUCH”, “WYNN”, “McCOWN”, “FRYE”, “ANDERSON”, and “DORSEY”.

While I wait for it to arrive, I’ll hope that The Atomic Wedgie did more than put a burr under this team’s collective saddle and wake these guys up into playing a full game, with all aspects of the team contributing instead of watching 2/3 of the team set the team up for victory only to be sabotaged by that wayward other 1/3.

6 comments:

Tyler said...

Oh, good, Reyes has got the nerve and the execution to get out of jams. That's perfect, exactly what we're looking for from our relief corps.

Wait. Oh.

RE: LaPorta, you've got to figure it's either going to be soon, or not until after the arbitration date. The longer the team waits, the less valuable it becomes to start his clock.

Put another way, if they wait until mid-May, they may as well wait til July. He's not going to make that much of a difference in two weeks. But if they're going to say "screw arbitration," then they need to call him up half an hour ago and screw arbitration but good.

Alex said...

I think that putting Asdrubal in the second spot might have jump started this offense. If DeRosa keeps struggling for another month or so I think the Tribe should consider calling up the red hot Valbuena from AAA. Remember the spark Asdrubal gave us when we called him up in 2007? DeRosa could act as our 4th outfielder and 2B/3B backup.

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

It wasn't just DeRosa; lost in the generalized Sizemore love, Grady was oh-for-fifteen leading off games coming into Sunday, with three walks (and lots of swinging strikeouts), helping to make our first innings woeful compared to our opponents. Grady gets a hit today, we score early and despite Vic's GIDP, we nurse the lead home. It doesn't matter much that Grady's the leadoff hitter later in the game, but it darn well means something to start the game, and he's frankly been lousy at it this year up until today. And we need more of the same to jump start our offense.

(I never saw this stat reported anywhere, but I have to believe the Tribe was all too aware of the way our first innings were just not being ignited from the top. Cabrera moving up got all the attention, but if Grady wants to stir the drink, he's gotta be the straw...or something like that.)

csusi said...

first game of the red sox series in the books.

just had a JBO sighting.

Brass Collar Buckeye said...

Don't forget GRADKOWSKI!

At least the Tribe's rotation has been a touch more solid than the Browns' revolving door under Center.