Thursday, April 05, 2007

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

The Opening Series a season does not make, but taking 2 of 3 from the White Sox in the Cell feels pretty good. The series was not without its worrisome moments, but winning series after series, particularly on the road, is how successful seasons are built.

The Sox series certainly had its high points and brought some concerns to the surface; so, first – the positives:

Grady Sizemore is on pace for 162 HR, which is certainly something to shoot for. Seriously, a fantastic start as long as it doesn’t develop into the old “Kenny Lofton Syndrome” that revolves around trying to put every ball over the RF fence. With Sizemore, that’s not a huge concern, but it bears watching. What is very positive about Grady’s performance thus far is that he is 4 for 5 with 2 HR against LHP this season after struggling last season to the tune of a .214 Batting Average and a .717 OPS with 54 K in 239 Plate Appearances against LHP.
Sizemore got some serious love from the boys at ESPN as Gammons reiterated his belief that The Super One will win the AL MVP, compared him to a young Chipper Jones, said that he projects to be a Derek Jeter-type player, and said that Grady may end up finding the cure for cancer before it’s all over. OK, I made that last one up; but the way that Sweet Pete was gushing about St. Grady, it wouldn’t have been that much of a divergence from his thoughts. Could we be on the precipice of seeing Sizemore establish himself as a top 5 player in MLB this season? The way that the first 3 games went, it certainly isn’t out of the question.

How does that 2nd spot in the lineup look so far? Nixon and Michaels have combined to go 8 for 13, 5 R, 2 RBI, 4 2B, 1 HR, and 15 TB in the first 3 games, not to mention the one ridiculous catch that nearly stopped my heart for good measure. With Sizemore and the early success of the 2 hole, Hafner and Martinez look primed for some serious run-producing opportunities.

The whole “Casey Blake in the 5 hole” experiment may not last as long as the Indians would have liked. He’s already left 13 runners on base in 3 games and teams will simply pitch around Hafner and Martinez if Blake can’t protect them in the lineup.

Speaking of protection in the lineup, has Jhonny Peralta v.2005 returned to provide that RH bat that we all thought would solidify this lineup going into the 2006 season? If so, Peralta’s bat from the right side would go a long way to stretching out the potency of the lineup and keeping pitchers honest with the Tribe heavy hitters.

Is it obvious yet what horses Eric Wedge is planning on riding in the bullpen? Betancourt and Hernandez have pitched in all 3 games and Borowski and Fultz have appeared in 2, with varying degrees of success. Tom Mastny is the only youngster to appear thus far as Jason Davis and Fernando Cabrera will apparently be fighting each other to not be the “mop-up guy” out of the bullpen.

Realizing that 3 games make up 1.8% of the season, the team looks just about as advertised after one series as it heads home. The offense is solid and is never out of a game, the starting pitching will keep the Tribe in games, and the bullpen remains the big question mark.

Oh, yeah. One more thing – I hate A.J. Pierzynski more than I thought I did. And I thought I hated him a lot.

Opening Day tomorrow, which some feel should be a citywide holiday, and with some merit. The folks down at the Jake for the Opener break down to a couple of categories:
The St. Patrick’s Day Crowd
These are the people looking for a reason to party and drink on a weekday afternoon, regardless of the occasion. The same group was down on West 6th a few weeks ago, chugging keg beer and doing Jagerbombs before noon to celebrate St. Paddy’s, regardless of their ethnicity. These people will arrive late and leave early, but they’ll cheer on their team while they’re there…their blood alcohol level will help them in that regard.

The One-Timers
These folks go to one game a year, the Home Opener, and can’t figure out who the 3B is or where Paul Byrd came from. They’ll complain that the Dolans are cheap and they won’t be able to figure out why Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome aren’t wearing the Wahoo. These “fans” will call themselves huge fans when the team starts winning as they fill up the bandwagon on their own.

The Diehards
No, not the people who get a free battery if they were alive when the Indians actually won a World Series; these are the people who brave the weather to sit and cheer for their team in good times and bad. They wear their headphones to listen to Hammy and keep their ears warm on an April afternoon. They come in their Indians’ hats, with their Indians’ jackets, covered by an Indians’ blanket, clutching their new media guides, and staying until the last out. They’ll visit Heritage Park and they’ll cheer for Ben Broussard or Richie Sexson (on the Mariners) for the “memories” of their good times as Indians.

If you fall into one of those categories and are heading to the game – enjoy! I’ll be sitting with the DiaperTribe (in his new outfit from the Team Shop picked up by the DiaBride tonight), discussing the strategy of hitting behind the runner.

Happy Opening Day!

1 comment:

t-bone said...

rambling thoughts...

cant complain with 2 out of 3, although we should have snuck out of there with a sweep.

i'm a few hours from heading down to the opener in what will most likely be the last season as jacobs field. just checked and see that it's 25 degrees outside right now. awesome. WTAM is down there broadcasting live and bob frantz just said it's snowing down there. sweet.

i went down to the heritage park opening and open house last weekend, got there late so couldnt thoroughly digest everything, but first thoughts are AWESOME. will be in there a lot this summer. the ray chapman plaque they found is about the highlight of the whole place, although i certainly chuckled to myself when i saw the wall of the "all time indians" team and saw pat tabler's autograph staring me in the mug.

on a related note, i read for weeknight games they'll have gates opening at 4:30 so for the first time since 1994, you can see the tribe take BP. this rules, and i hope to take advantage of this on a handful of occasions.

well, i'll stop rambling and have a couple "productive" remaining hours at work. GO TRIBE!!!