Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mess With the Bull, You'll Get the Horns

The Extreme Makeover of the Indians’ bullpen has begun, with Matt Miller and Rafael Betancourt hitting the DL, Rafael Perez being sent back to AA Akron, and “Smoke ‘Em” Brian Slocum and Jeremy Guthrie joining the parent club.

Miller’s elbow injury looks like it’s going to end his season, as surgery and a 4-6 month recovery time is the outlook. Betancourt will be out for 3-4 weeks, as he recovers from a back strain, and don’t forget that Fernando Cabrera is still on the shelf in Buffalo.

So, let’s review – 15 games into the season, ¼ of the Indians’ Opening Day Pitching Staff is on the DL, all replaced by youngsters from AAA. Carmona, Davis, Slocum, and Guthrie will all get extended looks and opportunities to prove their worth to the Front Office.

Right now, the bullpen looks like this:

Brian Slocum and Jeremy Guthrie, the 2 latest additions, have thrived in AAA while the other major bullpen prospect, Andrew Brown, has struggled with his control. Slocum is a converted starter who has done well since his transition to the pen, which has allowed him to be aggressive and focus on 2-3 pitches, as opposed to the 4-5 pitches he was using when starting. Guthrie, who pitched out of the rotation in Buffalo, figures to be the long man in Cleveland who may find a permanent home in the bullpen if he recaptures the effectiveness that made him a #1 pick of the Tribe. His success this Spring and in Buffalo could translate to an extended stay in Cleveland, in what may be his permanent home, the bullpen.

This shuffle will likely play itself out in the next 3 weeks as Miller will likely go onto the 60-day DL, allowing the Tribe to add another pitcher to the 40-man roster (Ben Howard, Steve Karsay, Felix Heredia, Rob Bell, Jeremy Sowers, or Tony Sipp could all be options). Betancourt and Cabrera will return after some rehab time in Buffalo, and MAYBE Danny Graves will get a one-way ticket onto the Indians’ Dominican Summer League team (which would only strengthen the pitching staff).

During those 3 weeks, the youngsters will have pitched enough innings to sort themselves out in the quest for a solidified bullpen.

After a much-needed win (despite a Sticky 9th inning) against the Royals, the Tribe will try to touch up Joe Mays to take the series tonight.

More importantly, the Cavaliers make their return to the playoffs, after 8 years away, with this afternoon’s game against the Wiz. The best thing that I read about the game is that LeBron James isn’t talking to the PD because beat writer Branson Wright picked the Wiz to win the series.

I don’t know why, but I love that. Maybe because I can picture the scene in the locker room:
Wright: “LeBron, what are your thoughts going into the series?”
LBJ: “More importantly, what are yours Branson; since apparently we’re going to lose?”

It goes right up there with the Paul Silas beauties, “Am I speaking Chinese?” “See you next Tuesday. Sound it out.” and the classic “I don’t talk to you” when addressing Roger Brown.

Go Cavs.


Baltimoran said...

much rather these injuries happen now rather than august, at least they'll know what they got with these young guys.

Luckily for the CAVS, i can't afford to go to any playoff games. the King was amazing today, I'm interested to see if Damon complains about barely playing, it was a good choice by Brown, he didn't need the world's greates shooter who can't play defense when the cavs were up by 15 and snow playin well. The crowd sounded great

Rockdawg said...

I can't even bring myself to talk baseball today. i have been watching the NBA playoffs, and I think this could be the best year (starwise) in a long time. The highlight of the day today was when Kobe got clocked in the forehead on the way to the basket, which the ref didn't call. The Lakers called a timeout, during which time a knot developed on Kobe's forehead. As he came out of the huddle, he pointed to it, and yelled to the ref (with ABC capturing it, slightly) "This ain't no ******* foul? This ain't no mother ******* foul?"