Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Faustian Dilemma

After last night’s brilliant display by Fausto, the Indians find themselves facing a quandary as Cliff Lee is scheduled to throw one more rehab start in Akron, and then be ready to return to his spot in the rotation.
But, with Carmona pitching as well as he is (2.63 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP in his last 2 starts), is that spot there to return to?

Carmona’s mastery of the Twins as he outpitched Johan Santana (ever think you’d see those words put together?) was all the more impressive because the sinker that he throws generally induces ground balls. Since the Twins have perfected the art of pounding the ball off of the Metrodome turf, it was entirely feasible that they would dink-and-dunk their way around the bases, beating out infield hits all night.

But the Twins couldn’t hit Carmona solidly and swung early and often, something they don’t generally do, limiting his pitch count and accentuating his effectiveness as he moved quickly through a Twins’ lineup obviously built for the old “hammer the ball into the turf and run like hell” strategy (Jason Tyner was leading off).

Carmona has now put together two consecutive outstanding starts, against the Yankees and the Twins no less, and would be 2-0 if not for the A-Rod massacre.

So, the question remains – when Lee returns from the DL, does Fausto stay in the rotation in lieu of another starter, does he transition to the bullpen, or does he return to Buffalo to stay on his 5-day pitching schedule and remain the “6th Starter” in case of another injury.

As well as he has pitched, the answer is fairly obvious – he will return to the Bison rotation and wait for his next chance. In Spring Training, a line of thinking developed that if Carmona thrived in the rotation while Byrd’s 2007 start mirrored his 2006 start (which is to say, he started 2007 awfully), Carmona would take Byrd’s spot in the rotation and Byrd would move to the bullpen to become the highest paid reliever in Tribe history. When Matt Miller went down and his dominance of RH batters was lost, the scenario seemed more likely as Byrd’s 2006 numbers vs. RH (.695 OPS) far outpaced that of his work against LH (.972 OPS).

While Carmona has certainly staked a claim in the rotation and made the argument to stay there, Byrd has done nothing to suggest that he should be precluded from the rotation. That’s not to say that this arrangement couldn’t happen at some point down the road; but right now, Byrd’s exclusion from the rotation isn’t happening.

Could Carmona help in the bullpen? Sure, but the bullpen has settled down nicely since the early season jitters and moving Carmona to the pen means that either Nasty Boy Mastny gets sent down, when he has done nothing to merit it, or the team attempts to get Jason Davis through waivers as he’s out of options. Not to mention that a move to the bullpen for Carmona means that he’ll get less frequent work and his ability to pitch 5+ innings will be compromised as the season progresses and his arm becomes more used to the routine of a reliever.

At this point, it makes more sense for the Indians to send Fausto to the Buffalo rotation to keep his arm stretched out and on a regular routine for when (not if) he’s needed at some point later this season to step into the rotation. Having him as the 6th starter gives the Indians unheard-of insurance in their rotation and depth that would be the envy of most of MLB.

The explanation to Carmona would be that he’s done nothing to justify a demotion, but that, by staying on a regular schedule and being only a phone call away that his day to contribute every 5th day will come.

What may get lost in all of this is that Fausto just turned 23 last December, meaning he’s only 6 months younger than Jeremy Sowers and a little less than a year older than hotshot phenom Atom Miller. If you get excited about the success or potential of either of those players, Carmona has to enter the discussion of top, ML-ready pitching prospects and rather prominently.

If Sowers’ wild success since his promotion last year merits unbridled enthusiasm and Miller’s AAA starts merit them airing on STO (which I finally saw on DVR…thank you STO…and showed a wicked fastball and slider from Miller), then Carmona deserves to be right in the mix of the talk of the rotation for 2007 and beyond.

Very simply, when it comes to starting pitching for today and tomorrow, nobody puts Fausto in a corner.


Cy Slapnicka said...

i'd hate to see fausto sent down.

as for the shows, tnt nba runs away with it. the fox nfl show is great, but they added joe buck and aikman is awful. even though they aren't fixtures of the pregame show, i can't forgive them.

i can't handle BBTN b/c they used to be their own show and the format was awesome. now, we have them copying all the other sports shows, where we are force fed former "athletes" that always make sure we are aware that they once played...either through the connections they reference or them telling us how difficult X play or AB is.

i watched for their analysis, insight, and for the way they passed things back and forth between the guys. now its the john kruk show. and the first time i saw a phone interview with a player, i couldn't believe that people latched on to that idea in a production meeting.

i don't think one needs to be a former player, but i agree about grace, he's great. can't wait for sean casey to hit our tv's. i think omar would do a good job too. never heard him speak, but i think he's outspoken enough to be good.

bugs said...

While at the Flying Monkey in Tremont I took a random poll of six individuals bellied up to the bar. The question was who is the second basemen for the Tribe. The responses were as follows: three Jelly Bellies, one I don't know, one I don't care, and one Jessie Barfield (yes Jessie)... so I just walked away.

bugs said...

Picked up Sports Weekly and I felt like a proud papa seing my boy in print. Keep it up kid I see big things in your future. Seriously congrats on what I consider the best blog in the league.

Rockdawg said...

I am proud to say I was there at Municipal Stadium that day that Pat Tabler put his arm around a certain 10-year old, then proceded to use PTC in a demonstration on how to bunt.

As far as sports shows go, the NFL show on NBC with Collinsworth, Bettis, Costas and others is awful. NOBODY beats TNT, although the CBS golf crew is pretty close. I'm excited to see that Jaws will be added to the MNF crew this season, his in-game analysis is great.

Cy Slapnicka said...

good stuff....hopefully this gets jhonny going. does anyone else think heagan's voice has been cracking a lot this year?

btw, bw3 is offically dead to me now. i was at the chicago location for the tribe/cavs games today. first off, they don't get the mlb package so they couldn't show the tribe. um, aren't they a sports bar? secondly, they didn't know the cavs were on and i had to ask 4 times and it took them 20 min to put on the game. to do this, they had to change the channel from poker on one of the tvs. wow, how far they've fallen since they become a public company. this is the same location that once used to have their wait staff wearing shirts that said "bw3 - chicago...go tribe!" and had a huge chief wahoo on them.

rodells said...

Good call, Rocko, on the CBS golf crew. Not a show, but they are good at what they do, especially with the Faldo addition. If only they had Johnnie Miller......

Was at Game 1 the other day. Pretty much a dead atmosphere outside of a few runs for the Cavs. Didn't even seem that great last night from TV, until Haywood was enticing the asshole chants. I think we've pretty much all agreed as a city that the Wizards offer up nothing to the NBA playoffs. I have not had one second of nervousness, and compared to last year I would have never thought that was possible. Officially waiting for the 2nd round jitters....the Nets or the Raptors are going to give us fits.