Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Unfortunate Familiarity of a Lazy Sunday

Reeling from another loss and on my way down to the Cleveland Marathon…no, not to run, but to cheer on those that are and hold my cup of coffee at the “refreshment stations” (I’m kidding), let’s roll right into another Lazy Sunday with another lever being pulled from the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, this time with Dave Huff making his MLB debut in Tampa and with Masa being removed from our greater consciousness forever.

And…away we go:
Starting where we often do, Terry Pluto hits on many of the pertinent topics on the Reservation today, but leads off with the topic du jour (that’s the topic of the day…which sounds good, I think I’ll have that) – that being the movement of one Mr. Jhonny Antonio Peralta to 3B, saying that “the Indians finally accept the obvious and move Jhonny Peralta to third, Asdrubal Cabrera to short.”

Obviously, this topic has some wear on the tires, but Dennis Manoloff at the PD had a piece after the first alignment of Peralta at 3B-Cabrera at SS pleading for Peralta to stay at 3B with some well-thought out assertions and logic, even if they’re well-thought out assertions and logic that have been out there for a while. I’m not sure why the PD doesn’t have Manoloff do more pieces like this as he seems to have a pretty good grasp of what’s what with the Tribe and conveys an informed opinion without coming across as out-of-touch or sitting on an agenda.

What’s too bad is that I challenge you to find someone who knows that anybody at the PD writes about the Indians other than Hoynes and Pluto…maybe because this piece didn’t even make the print edition of the paper.
A piece by Livingston on horse racing the next day?
Sure, they’ll find a spot for that…but a timely article on the only team in town currently playing while the Cavs wait for their opponent?
Gonna have to squeeze that one into the “online-only” content category.

Back to the “Jhonny to 3B issue”, how about the human element of the situation, Mr. Castrovince?
Jhonny Peralta isn't thrilled with the prospect of bouncing back and forth between third and short. "It's not frustrating," he said, "but I'd like to be at one position, instead of moving all the time." When I asked him what he thinks of playing third tonight, he responded, "What do you think?" I think Jhonny's upset.

Want more of the feelings that Jhonny’s emoting, this time to Hoynes?
Asked if he preferred to play shortstop, Peralta said, “That the position I play.”

“What do you think?”…”That (sic) the position I play”?
Oh boy.
Um, Wedgie…time to put on that “Manager” hat and make this thing right as you’ve finally realized that this defensive alignment is the best use of your infielders and it sounds like somebody isn’t on board with this.

With this move to 3B for Peralta looking like it may find some roots before Memorial Day (and realizing that I’m going the “Hindsight 20/20” route), how good would Orlando Hudson look in the everyday lineup at 2B if the Indians would have signed him?

The O-Dog, who’s hitting at a .344 BA / .422 OBP / .523 SLG / .945 OPS clip, inked a one-year deal with the Dodgers that can be worth up to $4.6M in incentive bonuses, which is about $900,000 less than they’ll end up paying Mark DeRosa to move around the diamond, not to mention the three relievers (including this guy, who might have been useful) they gave up to get DeRosa.

Elsewhere, and on the topic of players who don’t respond to questions from beat reporters about their new role with a “What do you think?”, Andrew Humphries of the LGT has a nice piece entitled “In Praise of Aaron Laffey” lauding the job that The Babyfaced Bulldog has done wherever and whenever the Indians have needed him.

Want more praise of Aaron Laffey?
Here are the numbers from the relievers in the bullpen since Laffey made the move there on May 6th:
Laffey – 9 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 8 K

Herges – 7 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K
Lewis – 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K
Betancourt – 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 K
Wood – 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Sipp – 1 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 6 BB, 1 K
Kobayashi – 0 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 0 K
Vizcaino – 0 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K

Bullpen since Laffey’s move there on May 6th:
Laffey – 9 2/3 IP, 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
Rest of Bullpen – 22 2/3 IP, 5.16 ERA, 1.37 WHIP

Since his move to the bullpen, Laffey’s thrown 30% of the available innings to the bullpen in 11 games on his own and has let up 2 ER. In the other 70% of the innings thrown by the bullpen, the relievers not named Aaron Laffey have allowed 13 ER.

So where is Laffey more valuable, considering that Sowers pitched poorly enough in two starts for the Indians to promote Dave Huff earlier than they wanted to and Anthony Reyes has a 6.97 ERA in the two starts since Laffey made the move to the bullpen and has yet to make it into the 7th inning of any game this year?

Unfortunately, it’s probably still in the bullpen (as much as I hate to admit that) as the Indians’ bullpen (now next-to-last in MLB in WXRL) has pitchers who cannot string together consistently effective outings. Look at those numbers up above there for the relievers in the last week and a half and see how Stomp Lewis has been the most efficient reliever for the Indians (even taking into account his Friday night, after which HE was the singular target for Eric Wedge while everyone else in that bullpen has been just as, if not more, frustrating) along with Betancourt and how those two were as culpable for the loss on Friday as Tony Sipp and Jose Vizcaino were.

It’s become fairly comical with these relievers, if only because at this point if you’re not laughing in disbelief you’ve probably already ripped out all of your hair.
Maybe Rafael Perez has righted himself in Columbus and can replace Tony Sipp, who has quickly gone from 8th inning candidate to BB machine, or maybe the Indians are going to see what a guy like Steven Wright (oh wait…wrong link…this guy who has looked good in his few appearances out of the bullpen) can do before dipping into Zach Putnam or Hector Rondon.

While we’re grasping at straws and attempting to pull out all the stops here, maybe they could consider moving Ant Reyes to the bullpen considering these numbers:
1st Time Facing Reyes in Game
.182 BA / .270 OBP / .291 SLG / .561 OPS

2nd Time Facing Reyes in Game
.345 BA / .403 OBP / .618 SLG / 1.021 OPS
Reyes has pitched out of the bullpen before (with some modicum of success), but to me, if Laffey’s working in the bullpen right now (and little else is), why move what could be another question mark like Reyes into a bullpen full of question marks if you figure that he’s just biding his time in the rotation until Jake Westbrook is (hopefully) ready to return.

All told, Shapiro is right to tell Jon Heymann of SI that the bullpen has been “horrific”.

Speaking of the article in which that quote appears, Heymann becomes the next in line with another “Will the Indians trade Cliff Lee?” piece, complete with the SI.com front page showing Lee with the headline “Trade Bait” above CP Lee. Everything that Heymann writes is an extension of what was written earlier this year by that Danny Knobler guy, but the summation that Heymann puts out there comes as more than a little disturbing:
Most importantly, Shapiro isn't afraid to change course, as he did last year. So the Lee situation is worth keeping an eye on.

The issue there, quite obviously, is that while Shapiro may not be “afraid to change course”, if they just changed course last year, is this simply becoming a year-after-year selling off of veterans with one or more years left on their deal to re-stock the farm? Certainly some Indians’ fans see the organization as it is currently set up to be little more than that, an endless cycle of the Indians trading away veterans for prospects in what becomes a circular process, one in which “Next Year” is always the focus. Trading CC and Blake with months remaining on their deals is an entirely different animal than trading the reigning Cy Young winner with another full option year left on his deal in terms of declaring where the future of this team lies…and, more importantly, when.

I suppose if Lee is traded, it would validate that to a degree; but to me, watching the Indians queuing up what feels like Plan F or maybe Plan G in their lineup, their rotation, AND their bullpen, it would seem to me that they’re being pretty pro-active in attempting to find answers instead of sitting back and continuing to “let this play out”. For a change, there does seem to be some urgency and some moves that are being made that go against what has always been organizational philosophy.

While the results haven’t all been positive, the sense that they’re simply willing to give up on this year and focus on 2010 (during which Lee WILL still be under contract) is certainly not the one that’s being conveyed as the Indians moves are coming fast and furious.

With all of these moves being made to salvage the 2009 season there is a feeling that if the Indians haven’t thrown the kitchen sink yet at these problems, that the plumbing has been disconnected and sink is off the wall ready for the old heave.

Also on this “Will the Indians trade Cliff Lee” thing, I know about the marquee value of the FA Pitcher here, but why no articles so far on flipping Victor Martinez to add some parts? Doesn’t Victor have that same 2010 option and isn’t he playing about as well as he ever has…how is his situation different from Lee’s other than the dollars it would take to keep each past 2010?

It’s still too early to talk about stuff like that…isn’t it?
Let me check my handy dandy “How Early Is It?” Calculator, via Left Field Lampoon…

Finally, I think it’s time for everyone to pull their weight here to see if we, as a group, can help the Tribe get untracked…and this is what I’ve come up with:
In honor of Dave Huff’s first start, and with the full knowledge that Huff often sports upper lip fuzz (the “Huffstache”, if you will) at various times in the season, it’s time to go NHL Playoff Hockey style and grow out some facial hair.

Myself, I’ll be attempting to pull off the Chester Arthur look to do my part to turn this train around…that is, until The DiaBride cuts this idea off at the knees.

4 comments:

t-bone said...

RE: marathon...

ran my first 10k of my life this morning at the marathon festivities... who was there on e.9th right before we turned onto lakeside???

john f-ing adams banging the drum.

http://twitpic.com/5dcvytook this picture when i was on my way back to the car as he was still cheering on the marathoners almost 6 hours after start time.

Joshua Whitman said...

Two words to fix the bullpen: Luis Issac

csusi said...

one word to fix the bullpen: anthrax

A.G.B said...

That is a really interesting observation about the Mark DeRosa and Orlando Hudson comparison. And by "interesting" I mean horrifically upsetting.