Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tomahawkin' from the Top

Rather than subscribe to the belief that losing a series in Boston means that the Tribe can’t hang with the “big boys” of the AL, I’ll take the contrarian view that the Indians faced the Red Sox best 3 starters (while their best two didn’t see the mound), won the game that their best pitcher in the series started (anyone who wants to join Paul’s Byrdies can see the sidebar for membership info), and had a chance to win each of the first two games in the 9th inning.

At last count, the Tribe went 4-2 against the other 2 best teams in the AL on the road.
I’ll take that every day of the week and twice on Saturday.

Does the series expose some flaws? Sure, but we knew that Grady strikes out a lot and that the platoon of Dellucci and Michaels is not exactly setting the league ablaze.

But, let’s take the series for what it was – a difficult series that didn’t set itself up well (pitching match up-wise) for the Indians against a team that is very likely to be in the playoffs.

With that little confidence boost, let’s release some tomahawks:
Has anyone heard that Ryan Garko chokes up on his bat with 2 strikes and changes “his approach” to make contact? I JUST heard that. Fascinating stuff.
It’s time for Lonnie Soloff to come over to Fernando CaBBrera’s locker (which HAS to be Jason Dangerously’s old locker the way that Ferd is pitching) and say, “It looks like that heel injury from last year is flaring up.”
It should be said not a question. It should be a statement.

CaBBrera needs to figure out how he went from a magnificently effective reliever (1.50 ERA in April) to the second coming of Gas Can Graves (11.57 ERA in May). At this point, there’s no way that the Atomic Wedgie can use CaBBrera in a game of any importance (how he was allowed in Tuesday night’s game is beyond me, especially with Sowers pitching reasonably well), so it’s time for Fernando to take a 15-day DL stint, followed by some rehab assignments to get his mechanics back. I don’t care what puts him on the DL (or what the team reports); just get him some help out of the spotlight of a MLB game.
On the flip side, can we please see more of Raffy Perez? In 5 IP, the kid has 6 K’s and 1 BB, which garners some consideration as the anti-CaBBrera. Realizing, of course, that 5 IP does not a career make, he’s been vicious against LHP (no hits, walks, etc.) and pretty effective against RHP (.690 OPS against).

With Hernandez (please, make it stop), CaBBrera, and Koplove taking up spots in the bullpen, what’s the harm in seeing if Perez can stick as the 2nd LHP out of the bullpen?

While we’re at it, how about giving Hernandez a spot on the coaching staff and call up someone with a chance of being useful – like recalling Eddie Mujica and actually pitching him?
Has anyone else noticed that STO has a problem coming out of the “Update Desk”, generally coming back with the pitch en route to the batter or with the first pitch having already happened?

Not a big deal. Just annoying.
Anyone hear during the telecast that Coco Crisp isn’t talking to the Boston media? Add his name to those cuddly characters Milton Bradley and Brandon Phillips as former Indians who have a much higher opinion of themselves than anyone has of them.

Seriously, do you think that the Boston media comes into the locker room dying for a quote from Crisp, only to be regularly crushed when they realize that he’s not talking to them?
How in the world do they finish and article without the words and wisdom of Covelli?
The pronounced splits for the Tribe OF platoon members were expected, but how about this:
Against LHP
Dellucci - .150 AVG / .190 OBP / .250 SLG / .440 OPS
Nixon - .225 AVG / .283 OBP / .300 SLG / .583 OPS

Against RHP
Dellucci - .248 AVG / .314 OBP / .394 SLG / .709 OPS
Nixon - .294 AVG / .376 OBP / .412 SLG / .788 OPS
How is either of those guys even seeing LHP?

And, surprisingly, the player who has the better numbers (almost against both) is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Jason Michaels:
Against LHP
Michaels - .279 AVG / .295 OBP / .442 SLG / .737 OPS

Against RHP
Michaels - .265 AVG / .339 OBP / .388 SLG / .727 OPS

There’s no way, with Shoppach and Michaels on the bench that Dellucci or Nixon should see a LHP…ever. Accept each player for what he is, a LH bat incapable of hitting LHP. Allowing either Dellucci or Nixon to hit against LHP at any point during the remainder of the season is irresponsible.
And what, exactly was wrong with giving Andy Marte some AB’s against LHP to move Blake to RF and give him some looks at some ML pitchers? Fully understanding the rationale of giving the Indians some bullpen depth for the Boston series in case of a 2 inning outing from Lee or Sowers, the seemingly insignificant move has larger ramifications.

The Indians have now used Marte’s last option, meaning that he will go into the 2008 season out of options. And for what? For Mike Koplove to be in the bullpen for the series? For a team so aware of players’ options and service time, it certainly came as a bit of a surprise.

As it looks right now, though, Marte figures to be in Buffalo until later in the season.
Does the Red Sox pitchers’ effectiveness against the Tribe for most of the series have anything to do with former Tribe front office cog John Farrell being the pitching coach for the Red Sox? You have to think that Farrell has intimate knowledge of all of the Indian hitters and had a pretty good game plan for pitching to those players.

Handing a well-thought-out game plan to the likes of Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett makes good pitchers great.
Am I the only one cheering for the Devil Rays to beat the Tigers, but not because of the way that it would affect the AL Central race? The D-Rays and Yankees are tied at the bottom of the AL East and nothing would please me more than being able to cut the AL East standings out of the paper with the date attached.

That would be Tampa and their $24,123,500 payroll putting up the same record through nearly 1/3 of the season as the Yankees and their $189,639,045 payroll.
The posting fee for Dice-K? $51.1M. The Tribe’s 2007 payroll? $61.1M.
Score one for the good guys.
After a tremendous road trip that further established the Indians as a player in the AL, it’s back to Cleveland for a BIG series against the Motor City Kitties.

I’ll be heading down to the Jake for Thursday (until I can no longer take the fact that I am missing the Cavaliers’ systematic breakdown of the Pistons) and Friday, so I’ll do my part.

Time to lay the smack down on Detroit, from a couple different angles.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Coming Out on Top

After completing the sweep in Detroit and vaulting themselves from ½ game back in the Central to 2 ½ in front of the Tigers, the Tribe heads to New England to take on the equally hot Sawx, fresh off a sweep of of the woeful Rangers.

In Detroit, the Indians did what they needed to do, riding the strong performances of their best 3 pitchers this year to put themselves in position to win each game. Speaking of the Tribe arms in Detroit, would anyone have thought that C.C., Byrd, and El Diablo would be the 3 best starters as we enter June? If a playoff series were to start this week, those 3 would be your horses for the race.

Who would have predicted THAT coming out of Winter Haven?

The downside, of course, to seeing those 3 go against the Tigers is that the Indians will have to go into Boston and try to steal a series win with Lee, Sowers, and Byrd taking the pill. Did I mention that the Red Sox will counter with their formidable troika of Schilling, Beckett, and Dice-K? That’s right, no Julian Tavarez sighting for the Tribe this week; we get the big boys from Beantown.

The Boston series will present an interesting test for the Indians as the teams are built very similarly (albeit with a slight payroll disparity) as they rely on their strong starting pitching, a balanced lineup flush with patient hitters, then cross their fingers that their evolving bullpen is able to gel and hang onto the lead that the starters usually hand them. It pits 2 of the best 3 offenses in the AL against each other (1.CLE, 2.DET, 3.BOS), so the quality of the pitching may be the deciding factor. Let’s all hope that Lee and Sowers show up with their Dr. Jekyll faces on while their Mr. Hydes are too busy throwing down some Sammies (or Sammy Lights) at the Cask’n’Flagon for the first two games.

The best 2 teams in the AL face off for the next 3 days, and it could be a statement series for the Indians if they’re able to take a couple of games with their best starters sitting in the dugout for the series.

But, sweeping the series in Detroit provides an awfully nice start to the 10-game stretch against the AL’s best, a stretch during which the Indians could conceivably go 7-3 or 8-2.

Great morning to be a Cleveland sports fan!
Let’s keep these good vibes rolling!
Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lazy Sunday from the Buddy Rice Fan Club

I’d like to thank Bud Selig and the folks at FOX and MLB for putting the Tribe-Tigers on 15% of the TV’s in America yesterday so I was forced to watch the Cubs-Dodgers (with a huge Cubs fan, who even admitted that he’d rather see the Sabathia-Verlander match-up) in Milwaukee, then switch over to ESPN during the Indy 500 Parade at a Memorial Day Party to see if the Indians could hang on to another win against the Motor City Kitties via the screen crawl at the bottom of the set.

As the score became final, that glorious “F” followed the score on the crawl and the obligatory fist-pumping and yelling ensued. Apparently Indy driver Buddy Rice appeared on the screen for the first time as the one-man celebration was going on, causing a party-goer to sidle up to me and ask if I was a big Buddy Rice fan. Rather than suffer the mockery that would come with admitting that I had just spent 25 minutes watching a crawl on the bottom of the screen, I professed my adoration for Buddy Rice. As the conversation turned to some, apparently smoking hot, Venezuelan female driver, my thoughts turned to a possible series sweep with El Diablo taking the hill.

For the uninformed a Faustian agreement is a deal with the Devil, so I’m hoping that this El Diablo thing catches on for Carmona’s starts - to the point that we can all go David Puddy and paint our faces to “support the team”, yelling into station wagons filled with priests?

Remembering Torii Hunter’s comments after Carmona’s dominance of the Twins (not the “hung-over” comment, the one where he said that RH hitters are lucky to break a bat and get a cheap hit against Carmona’s filth) has confidence high for the Sunday night game on the WWL tonight against a Detroit lineup that is heavy in RH lumber.

Regardless, with the unpleasant taste of the Royals series out of my mouth and the fact that the Indians have started this HUGE 10-game stretch against the AL’s best (7 vs. DET, 3 vs. BOS) with a 2-0 record leads us into a very happy, but quick, Lazy Sunday:

Terry Pluto offers a very good explanation of the Andy Marte call-up.

Newsday discusses the Rangers’ impending fire sale and lists Cleveland as a possible destination for Eric Gagne. Personally, I’d rather take Otsuka (and his 1.02 ERA) unless Gagne can show that he can stay off the DL for an extended period of time.

Finally, news from the opponents’ camp as Ken Rosenthal comes through with an interesting piece on Justin Verlander and how the Tigers are trying to prevent the innings pitched in 2006 from having the Mark Prior/Kerry Wood effect on his career.

Break out the brooms tonight, Friends of the Feather!
Go Cavs!
And…um…go Buddy Rice?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not a Foregone Conclusion

After Jeremy Sowers’ impressive outing last night to avoid the series sweep in Kansas City (and hopefully get some momentum going into a big series in Motown), consider these numbers:
Jeremy Sowers – 9 games started
5 “Good Starts” – vs. CWS, LAA, MIN, BAL, KC
33 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

4 “Bad Starts” – vs. NYY, BAL, LAA, CIN
15.2 IP, 14.36 ERA, 2.43 WHIP

Cliff Lee – 5 games started

2 “Good Starts” – vs. LAA, CIN
15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

3 “Bad Starts” – vs. TOR, OAK, KC
15.1 IP, 9.98 ERA, 2.02 WHIP

Essentially, you never know if you’re going to get Buddy Love or Professor Klump (or Professor Julius Kelp, it you’re a big Jerry Lewis fan) when these two take the hill, so it’s going to be up to the Indians’ deep thinkers to decide who the better option is to take the bump for the parent club every 5th day to give them a chance to win.

Throw into the mix that Cliff Lee retains an option (and that Wedge completely destroyed him in the post-game interviews on Wednesday night) and this whole “When Jake comes back, Sowers goes to Buffalo” thing could get a lot more interesting.

If Sowers strings together some solid starts and Lee can’t gain command of his pitches while coming out unprepared to start and “brain-cramping” in the field, it’s very possible that Lee is the one that gets the “wake-up call” on the ride to Buffalo. Of course, Sowers could put a few more “Bad Starts” on his stat sheet and make the fact that Lee has not shown any consistency a moot point.

“But Lee signed a long-term deal”, you say. True, but this year he’s scheduled to make $750,000 or about $400,000 more than Sowers. While it’s true that Lee is owed $12.25M through the end of 2009, if the Indians are truly serious about putting the best players on the field, regardless of salary, this could be interesting to watch as the two LHP with a penchant for fly balls stake their claim to what has become the 5th spot in the rotation.

Off to Wisconsin for the holiday weekend, where I’ll thankfully be able to see the Saturday game on FOX and the Sunday game on ESPN (unless ESPN decides to break in with coverage of Roger Clemens going to a New York steakhouse for dinner, then dissecting his ability to order food, cut food, eat, etc.).

Monday includes a trip to Miller Park to see the NL Central leaders, drink some Miller products, and watch some sausages run around.

The satellite office in Milwaukee should be set for a Lazy Sunday (and maybe Monday), but feel free to go nuts in the comments.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Taking Out Some Frustation

The Indians dropped their 2nd in a row to the Royals due in large part to Cliff Lee, Mike Koplove, and Fernando Cabrera (who will heretofore NOT be known as K-Brera, maybe CaBBrera works better).

Last night, Lee didn’t even contribute his usual 5 innings and his awful fielding decisions undermined what started off as a promising night. With Jeremy Sowers going tonight, let’s hope that Koplove (or Cop Love) has enough FOP stickers on the back of his car when his car gets in the express lanes back to Buffalo to make room for Rafael Perez, who would offer a 2nd LHP out of the bullpen (after Fultzie’s 4 pitch walk on Tuesday) and can offer length in case of another Sowers stinker.

Since the Indians have now dropped the first 2 games of the “easy” series in this road trip (with Detroit and Boston being the other stops), I need something to make myself feel better.

As if on cue, arriving in the old inbox is this missive pertaining to the Yankees entry that appeared here about a month ago:
The subject line on this one reads, “Your bullsh*t article about the Yankees!!” which, I feel, sets the tone.
With that intro, I give you the inspired wordplay offered by one Liam C. Flynn, a student at Columbus State Community College:
I just wanted to let you know that I just saw your article and I must tell you that you don't know sh*t about anything. Yankee fans are the most loyal in sports today. I am from Manhattan, and trust me I hate the bandwagoners just as much. When you say that we're arrogant, f*** yes we are because the rest of the fans in baseball hate us, so that gives us the right to be arrogant. Learn your sh*t before writing another stupid article like that again bud!

I forwarded this to the DiaBride, who made some comment along the lines of how it was weird to read “hate mail”, but I disagreed. I can’t consider this “hate mail” because I love it so very much. I couldn’t have articulated better myself the holier-than-thou tone and circular logic (they have the right to be arrogant because the rest of fans in baseball hate them) that inhabits most Yankees’ fans views, put forth in that language most beloved by Yankees fans – incoherent, expletive-filled, confrontational babbling.

I was going to take the high road on this, but the Indians have lost 2 straight to the Royals and it’s time to work on the speed bag.

Mr. Flynn,
It’s nice to see that the dial-up modems at CSCC are just now getting this entry to you, but I just wanted to make you aware of a little something that’s available these days to quicken your merge onto the old “Information Superhighway”. It’s referred to as a digital connection, or even DSL. You may find this hard to believe, but some places even have connections to the Internet that are wireless. Just thought you would like to know that so you could stay a little more topical.

Moving on, Yankees fans are the most loyal? To who?
Yankees fans are the most notoriously fickle lot among all sports fans. It’s one of the things that make them so unbearable. The assumption that the Yankees should win the World Series every year and, if they don’t, someone is to blame and someone’s head is constantly on the chopping block that is the back page of the New York tabloids couldn’t be more disloyal to anything having to do with the team. It’s one thing to be loyal to a team through thick and thin; it’s quite another to moan and complain every time your team doesn’t win what you now assume to be your birthright, the World Series.

In regards to your feelings that you have a right to be arrogant, let me be the one to inform you that the reason you likely have few to no friends in Columbus is because you actually feel this. As anyone who has attended a Midwestern university (which, sadly, CSCC doesn’t count as), I can tell you that we all knew THAT guy from New York who walks around campus all day looking like Turtle from “Entourage” – decked out in your NYY gear, just begging someone to engage you in a discussion about the Yankees. That New York guy was the guy who lived on everyone’s floor, always bemoaning the fact that there was nothing to do in “this cowtown” and if you were back in “The City”, you’d be going nuts right now, blowing it up. Know what, Liam? Nobody’s keeping you in Ohio, unless CSCC was the only place that would accept the obvious failures of your education to this point, as evidenced by the laughable diction and language of your e-mail.

Don’t worry, “bud”, if you follow the path of most New Yorkers with your attitude that slum it in the Midwest for a year or two, after living in a single in your residence hall next year (because nobody can take your rightful arrogance for longer than 2 minutes), you’ll be back home in your beloved NYC with stories about how much better New York is than the rest of the backwoods country.

Until that happens, please keep your Yankees gear in your dorm room until your team actually approaches being 5 games back and doesn’t hang all of its hopes on a 45-year-old “physical specimen” whose body has avoided the ravages of Mother Nature (just like Sly Stallone’s “miraculously” has) and will pitch every 5th day.

If you read this (via the dial-up modem) before the All-Star break, Mr. Flynn, I hope that you are enjoying the summer in Ohio and that someone has recently offered you a one-way trip out of our state and back to the sewer from whence you came. I suggest you take it.
Faithfully submitted,
The DiaTriber, Sergeant-At-Arms

Ah, that feels much better.
Now it’s time for the Indians to stop looking past the Royals and avoid the series sweep on their way into Motown.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Baseball? Not Tonight

With the Indians just rolling, winning every which way, it’s time to go a little off-topic to address something that’s been bothering me since Opening Day of 2007. The bothersome development is the sad state of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

Has an institution that was so revered and loved ever fallen so far so fast?

Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the overall decline of ESPN, which I feel started with Craig Kilborn’s stint on SportsCenter. You won’t find a bigger fan of Kilborn from those days than yours truly, but what he started was a movement by the ESPN “personalities” to become a bigger draws than the games and highlights themselves. A trend exacerbated by Kenny Mayne, then Stuart Scott, SportsCenter became half stand-up, and half anchors’ “taglines”. Lost in the mix was the actual coverage of games and insight and analysis that intelligent sports fans appreciated on a daily basis.

When ESPN made the movement to bring in loud-mouthed newspapermen, trying to make a name for themselves (Mike Wilbon being the exception), it only added air under ESPN’s jump over the shark.
Don’t get me started on how ESPN Classic went from a fantastic concept to a joke of a network, airing “Classic” bowling tournaments, World Series of Poker tournaments, and drag races.

Sadly, included in this decline is our beloved Baseball Tonight, which for years was a revolutionary concept – a nightly show of highlights of every game, inside information from Peter Gammons, insight and opinion from Harold Reynolds, and an occasional visit from well-spoken, intelligent baseball men (like Bobby Valentine or Buck Showalter) who took the opportunity to stay involved in the game while between jobs.

Baseball Tonight was a nightly fixture for any intelligent, interested baseball fan. Between Gammons’ genius and infinite knowledge of seemingly every player in every organization in MLB (yes, his contacts are that good) and Reynolds calling like he saw it (regardless of whether you agreed with him, it was at least articulate and had opinions based in logic and MLB experience) – the show was relevant every night. Some segments worked (Web Gems), while others didn’t (remember the “Name the Flying Baseball” that introduced the HR of the night), but you had to watch it because you didn’t want to miss Gammons slyly intimating that a trade was afoot or Reynolds hilariously pretending to swing a bat about 3 times in a telecast to show what a player was doing wrong.

Well, as with most good things, it has come to an end.
Maybe it was Gammons’ health scare that convinced him to not stay on the nightly show, or Reynolds’ unceremonious firing from ESPN, but the show has devolved into a 3-ring circus. With the addition of John Kruk and Steve Phillips to the everyday lineup with Karl Ravech (who must just sit there every night wondering what the hell happened), the show has lost all credibility and fails to even be interesting. I can’t tell you the last time I sat through a whole show, which would be simply unheard of a mere 2 years ago, when my post-game viewing revolved around it.

The problem with the show in its current incarnation is that it seemingly tries to be like The Best Damn Sports Show Period or TNT’s NBA Studio Crew (a bunch of guys who enjoy each other and talk sports while having fun); the difference is that there’s nothing fun about the show, and the personalities couldn’t be less compelling (unlike Chuck and Magic). To pass the show off as anything remotely insightful or “insider” is irresponsible.

Blame John Kruk and the ridiculous comments that he makes and the rest of the studio for letting him skate on his nightly inaccuracies and bombast just because he talks the loudest. Kruk’s exchange with Orel Hershiser about Chris Young and Kruk’s absurd ideas about how Young should pitch smarter because he’s from the Ivy League, which were challenged by Orel, lends only a microcosm as to why Kruk is the wrong analyst for this show as he just yelled louder than Orel to make his “point”. He may know something about baseball, but it certainly doesn’t come across as he appears lazy or misinformed for not knowing things about MLB that even casual fans do. Kruk is a personality and a meathead, who has a place in TV – but please, not commandeering the Baseball Tonight set, bullying his patently false information and ill-formed opinions on the dwindling viewership.

But Kruk comes across as Stephen Hawking when compared to the embarrassment that is Steve Phillips. Phillips once famously said that Cliff Lee was the best LHP in the AL (over Santana, Francisco Liriano, C.C., Zito, Buerhle, Kenny Rogers, etc.), leading Reynolds to scoff (correctly) that Lee wasn’t even the best LHP on his team. The problem now (among many, many others related to Phillips) is that nobody challenges Phillips as he makes observations and opinions that are regularly about 95% crazy talk. He provides no inside information (shocking for a former MLB GM) and deals mainly in generalities, which should basically be vanilla, except that those generalities are ALWAYS wrong. I never thought I’d be able to completely tune out a man who spent time as a Minor League Player and a MLB GM who SHOULD know something about baseball. But every time that Phillips appears on my TV, my radio, or my computer, I rush to get his ignorance and misinformation as far away from my brain as possible so as to avoid any possible osmosis from the Village Idiot.

It’s a sad state of affairs when I go out of my way to NOT watch Baseball Tonight and it’s not because they show Red Sox and Yankees highlights for 20 minutes, analyze those two teams for the next 20 minutes, THEN get into the other highlights of the night – sometimes not even showing ONE highlight from a game. In an hour, they won’t show ONE highlight from an MLB game, but can talk about Darrell Rasner’s injury and what it means to a team 10 games out of 1st (in mid-May) going forward. I was able to get over that fact (BBTN has always been Red Sox/Yankees Central) because the rest of the show was so chock full of highlights, so informative and compelling.

Is BBTN too far gone to save?
I don’t think so, but it needs to return to its roots, to become the source for baseball information for intelligent baseball fans everywhere. Send Kruk back to BDSSP or send him to the locker rooms of different games where Kruk is most comfortable, enjoying some post-game pops with the boys. It would certainly be an improvement over having the players call in, which in this age of technology is frankly embarrassing. As for Phillips, I don’t care…give him the Old Yeller treatment or do whatever is needed to make him disappear from the baseball broadcasting landscape forever.

Then what can be done with Baseball Tonight?
It’s likely that Gammons won’t return to the nightly gig, but Tim Kurkjian and Buster Olney (or how about Rob Neyer) need to make up a rotation for a permanent spot on the set, where they can impart their passion and knowledge about the inner workings of the front offices around MLB. For former players to join the desk to provide insight and analysis, why not have Hershiser to talk about pitching and Tony Gwynn (who now has a contract with TBS) to talk about hitting? Those two would be able to explain why a player would be mired in a prolonged slump or why a reliever may be experiencing some recent difficulties.

It’s telling that I’d rather watch the one-hour show on FOX (with Zelasco, Karros, and Kennedy) on Saturday than watch any episode of BBTN at any point during the week. It’s because the FOX show focuses on baseball and offers the opinions of informed broadcasters, while BBTN has become a shell of its former self.

Years ago, a good trivia question was what the E in ESPN stood for (it’s Entertainment).
Now, the better question is what the S stands for.

Baseball Tonight, in its current form, is just one example of that disturbing trend.
It is the example that disappoints me most as the summer nights continue.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Fun with Numbers on a Lazy Sunday

After another clunker by Sowers (where he remains that one pitch away from magically getting out of an inning, instead victimized by that one pitch that becomes a 3-run HR), remember that Westbrook is still probably 4 weeks away from returning; so Sowers will likely have at least 4 or 5 more starts to rectify his issues. If, by that time, no progress has been made, a move to Buffalo is inevitable as the Indians need their 5 best pitchers in the rotation, regardless of past success. Here’s hoping that Sowers can figure out what ails him in Cleveland, which is the best place for him to do so; but with the Tigers not slowing down, the Indians need their best chance to win every night. When Sowers no longer fits into that category, a change will be made. Until then, he’ll be in Cleveland.

Passing the quarter pole last night, I decided it’s time to get into some projections of where the Indians players statistics might end up this year; but before we get into the numbers game, a quick Lazy Sunday:

Paul Hoynes reports that Andy Marte will play against LHP upon his return from rehab, but doesn’t address the reason why. The fear that Marte’s return would take Blake, Garko, or Nixon out of the lineup brought out the “if it ain’t broke…” argument, but Nixon’s performance against LHP (.504 OPS vs. LHP, .838 OPS vs. RHP) and the fact that he’s coming off off-season back surgery became the deciding factors in bringing Marte back to Cleveland, rather than having Gutierrez take those AB vs. LHP. Against LHP, Marte will play 3B and Blake will play RF; while against RHP, Blake will stay at 3B and the Dirt Dog will patrol RF.

Hoynes also touches on the fact that Brandon Phillips doesn’t give interviews to Cincinnati reporters. It’s been well-documented here, but Phillips’ belief that he is destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown, meaning he’s held to a different set of rules makes me happy that he no longer takes up a spot on the Tribe roster, regardless of his performance on the field.

During Friday night’s game, Phillips took off 2nd base with one out as the batter lined an out to CF. Phillips, mid-way between 2nd and 3rd, immediately stopped, took off his batting helmet, and started walking back to his spot in the infield for the next inning as he was doubled up at 2B. Phillips made zero effort to make it back to prevent the inning-ending force out as his arrogance, petulance, and penchant for prima donna behavior showed through in one simple play.’s Gennaro Filice (which sounds, frankly, like a made up name) lists Carmona and Sowers in his 5-up, 5-down column.

Apparently, Keith Foulke’s retirement may be short-lived. That is, if you believe anything in a Boston paper.

Finally under the “A Man Can Dream, Can’t He?” ledger, the Rangers’ reporters believe that Texas may have an interest in moving Mark Teixeira. He in under contract until the end of 2008 and is a GIANT bat at a Gold Glover at 1B.

With that out of the way, we’ve officially hit the quarter pole of the season and it’s time to pull out the calculator and make some projections. Using some simple math (and an Excel spreadsheet, but please excuse the way the tables look as Blogger is not exactly easy to import a table into), here is how the Indians’ position players project out over a full season. Since it’s often difficult to figure out how a player is doing regarding RBI or HR or R without looking at the League Leaders, this provides an easier way to look at what the Indians are on pace to do.

With the obvious caveat that this is simply taking the numbers of the players thus far and extrapolating those numbers out, here we go:


Yes, that would be 60 RBI from the LF platoon of Dellucci and Michaels and 60 RBI from Garko. If not for the run production from the C and the SS position, that would be unacceptable. Speaking of the SS position, welcome back Jhonny v.2005!

While compiling the pitchers, something stood out that was shocking – had you told me at the beginning of the season that the Tribe would hit the quarter pole with 3 combined wins from Westbrook, Lee, and Sowers, I would have bought stock in Mylanta. Yet, here they sit, atop the AL Central, on pace for 100 wins with the pitchers that entered Spring Training as their #2, #3, and #4 starters combining for 3 wins.

Here are the rest of the projections for the pitchers:


Obviously, Sowers isn’t going to to 0-16 (is he?) and Aaron Fultz isn’t going to go 12-0, but how about those 2 horses at the top?

As serial poster Tyler pointed out earlier in the week, the number of appearances for The Big Borowski is pretty high and may be the reason that the Indians look to fortify the bullpen – to take some of the load off of JoeBo’s arm. Remember, he failed a physical in Philly, so that many appearances could not be a great idea.

Those numbers can change pretty dramatically one way or the other, but we’re getting to a point where the sample sizes are big enough in 2007 to make some judgments.
These projections could go a long way in determining what those judgments would be.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Keeping Up With the Joyces

With tickets to the first game of the “Battle of Ohio” (not a rivalry, regardless of what anyone says) with my buddy Joyce (a Cavs’ season ticket-holder) and the wives, I knew I was in for an interesting evening. The Cavs were showing the game at the Q for free, the Reds were in town, and downtown was actually THE happening place to be on a Friday night.

After watching the Tribe treat Kyle Lohse like…well, Kyle Lohse, the game was well in hand behind Garko’s blast (we decided that his ancestors had a name like Garkopopadopolous or Garkowskivich, which was shortened at Ellis Island) and, honestly, the Reds being on the field.

The Tribe game was, of course, overshadowed by about 15 people in our section checking their cell phones to get the score of the Cavs-Nets game because the Jake offers no updates on the scoreboard. As the Nets crept closer in the 3rd quarter (we had no idea why), the decision was made to forsake the last 3 innings of an Indians win to see the final quarter of the Cavs game. Hustling down the ramp from upper deck, not spilling a drop of beer, we found our way to the main concourse and a TV that was showing “The Donyell Marshall Show” to us and 300 of our closest friends packed around the TV.

We decided that we needed to either go to the Q or a local watering hole to catch the end of the game to (fingers crossed) celebrate a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. After chugging our beers, we sprinted (yes, sprinted) from Gate B (near the bleachers) to “Local Heroes”, which is the old “Cooperstown”. After nearly throwing up everything that we just Frank the Tanked at the Gate B exit, we caught our breath to make it into the bar for the final 5 minutes of glorious basketball.

There is no more satisfying feeling than sitting in a bar full of Cleveland fans, watching LeBron jump on Marshall’s back during a post-game interview while the Tribe put the finishing touches on a win.

That is, until you start stressing about the Pistons series.

Ah…the joy of being a Cleveland fan – never able to enjoy the moment, only dreading what you assume to be the inevitable.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Team Teflon

The Indians completed the sweep of the Indians as El Diablo outdueled Johan Cyntana and The Little Engine that Could is developing into a full-blown freight train. The obstacles that have been thrown up in front of them simply become items in the rearview mirror.

The Opening Series against the Mariners was cancelled due to snow?
No problem…watch the fans make some snow angels and get ready for the Angels.

The Angels’ series gets moved to Milwaukee due to inclement weather?
Roll with it. Then take the series from the AL West-contending Halos in front of those crazy Wisconsinites.

Cliff Lee starts the season on the DL, followed by Jake Westbrook?
Don’t sweat the technique. Just plug Fausto Carmona in there and watch him rattle off a 5-1 record (including 2 wins against Johan Santana) with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Carmona’s pulling his best Grady Sizemore (circa 2005) impression…daring the club to send him down to Buffalo. How about this quote from Torii Hunter on Carmona after the complete game shutout -“That dude is filthy. ... If you've never played the game, listen to me, I'm a hitter. Right-handers have no chance unless they get lucky and get a hit on a broken bat.” Um…it’s time to call a realtor, Fausto.

Joe Borowski blows the final game in New York, letting up a 5-run 9th, allowing the Yanks to sweep?
All good. Unfazed, the Tribe just rattled off 11 wins in their next 13 games.

Travis Hafner proves to be human after all, batting .163 with a .679 OPS in the month of May?
That’s fine. The rest of the team has stepped up to the point that they have scored 10 more runs than the Red Sox (94 to 84) and 13 more runs than the Yankees (94 to 81) in the first 15 to 16 games of the month. The Indians 94 runs for the month of May, by the way, lead all of MLB. The most notable contributors include Nixon (14 RBI), Peralta (14 RBI), and the Stick (12 RBI).

Borowski blows another 9th inning game in heartbreaking fashion against the A’s?
Water off a duck’s back. Bring on the divisional rival Twins to beat up on as they sweep their way through the series, outscoring Minnesota 24 to 8. The Twins best chance to win, with Santana, sunk just as quickly as the 95 MPH sinker (?!?) coming out of Carmona’s hand.

The point is, this team has not been given the easiest road to hoe, but it continues to put the blinders on, keeping their collective head down and winning. They sit on the 2nd best record in the AL and 4th best in all of MLB despite the fact that the offense is just now hitting it’s stride and the fact that the bullpen still has an air of uncertainty around it.

If anyone else just waiting for the next barrier to go up in front of the Indians, that’s just your natural reflex as a Cleveland fan and you’re not alone. But nothing sticks to this team, (that’s now 10 games over .500) as it has rolled over all the speed bumps to this point and doesn’t show any signs of letting little things like home games in Milwaukee, two complete meltdowns by your closer (albeit in the midst of getting 12 saves), enduring injury to two of the vital cogs of your rotation, getting jobbed by the umps against Baltimore, and a very un-Pronklike month get in the way of staying on a roll.

The team that we are seeing right now is the team that we all expected going into 2006.
Remember that, the optimism of last March? The Tribe was fresh off of a playoff push, at the top of most Power Rankings to start the season and was the trendy pick to win the World Series. Well, that team has finally arrived, ready to fight this thing out until the end in the AL Central and beyond.

Maybe it’s a year too late, but better late than never.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Lovely Evening...Until...

Once again, the Erie Warriors have responded well to a crushing 9th inning defeat (first against TB after the A-Rod/JoeBo fiasco and now after the GameBoy/Jack Cust debacle), as they’ve cruised to two straight against those rotten Twinkies. In the first 2 games against their divisional rivals, the offense is simply rolling, the starting pitching has been dominant, and the bullpen (K-Brera not included) has done their job in preserving leads in two blowouts.

After spending the first 6 innings at the Jake tonight, watching C.C.’s Crew in the Bleachers put K’s on the board (inexplicably they refuse to post C’s) and enjoying a tremendously balanced offense that went deep into counts against noted strike-thrower Carlos Silva before going off on an ineffective Denys Reyes, I left the Tribe game to catch the 2nd half of the Cavs game. Only to have my night ruined…by one Mr. Joe Tait.

Nothing against Tait (how could anyone hold anything against the 2nd most popular figure in the organization…and 1st before the 2005 Draft), as he was simply the bearer of bad news as the Cavs laid an egg in Game 5 against the Nets.

So, I moved back to the Tribe on WMMS and good ol’ Hammy, who took me to my “Happy Place” for the drive home.

The Indians have an opportunity to sweep the series in the 3rd game tomorrow with Fausto Carmona taking on Johan Santana. In March, that would have seemed like a certain loss.
But, it is not March and much has changed with both El Diablo and Santana.

On the clerical front, the dust has settled (somewhat, as more changes are certainly possible) here at The DiaTribe, and I’m excited about the new look and some new features. The most notable new feature is the tab labeled “Smoke Signals” on the sidebar that links all Google News that pertains to the Indians.

After each game, “Smoke Signals” will have a link to the game-wrap from all of the papers that cover the Tribe, the AP game-wrap, as well as any other newspaper that may be covering the Tribe (like the St. Paul Pioneer Press coverage of the Tribe-Twinkies series), so it is quite convenient.
Prior to each game, it will provide links to the game previews from the same sources.

It also will show the “Notes” sections from most of the print media that covers the Tribe every day, despite that it may only display one story. Any time that there is a “Related Articles” link, it will show all coverage of similar ilk. For instance, when each paper had a piece this morning on how a decision will need to be made on whether to bring Marte to Cleveland or option him to Buffalo when he gets off of the DL, “Smoke Signals” linked the story from the ABJ, but you could access the similar pieces from the PD, the Canton Repository, the Columbus Dispatch, and Rotoworld, among others.

Basically, it updates all day long with new and different Tribe stories from a TON of sources, and since I am unable to provide all of the news that happens with the Indians when it happens (as many of you already know) and prefer to post every few days with thoughts, opinions, and observations this new “Smoke Signals” feature could not complete the site any better.

Also, I’ll now be able to provide “tags” or “labels” from each post that will link to any other time that subject has been broached here on The DiaTribe. That is, at the end of a story that discusses Fausto Carmona, you’ll be able to hit a link at the end of the post that provides a link to EVERY single story that contains a reference to Fausto. So, when the Jason Dangerously trade to Seattle is completed (it has to be done by may 20th), you’ll be able to track through all of the posts going back 2 years to see the exact moment that JD ceased being Jason Davis and became Jason Dangerously. It’s not automatically done, so it is a bit of a project to create that history on the site. When the project is complete, I’ll let you know. For now, be aware that it is a work in progress to provide some history and continuity to the site.

Much more to come on the state of the site (and a giant shout-out to T-Bone who did a lot of the legwork and design work as we were THOSE guys glued to a laptop at a bar on a Tuesday night) and I certainly welcome any comments or criticism as I really am trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to find all things Tribe in one place (while enjoying some choice witticisms for your humble captain); so if there’s a link that you check every day that might be interesting to include (no need to mention Paul’s Byrdies, as it’s been linked), let me know via the comments section.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Construction Underway

As you may have noticed, The DiaTribe is getting a facelift thanks to T-Bone, the WiFi and 3o-cent wings at the Winking Lizard in Lakewood (where we were NOT involved in the fight that required a call to the Lakewood PD).

Please pardon our dust as we finalize the plans, but the DiaBride just called to say that the dreaded awful weather headed to NE Ohio is arriving and sitting at a bar sucking down MGD's (as T-Bone continues his quest to finish the 2007 Winking Lizard World Tour of Beers) is not the ideal place to ride out a storm.

As it stands, the Tribe is sitting on a 15-7 lead.
All is good.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lazy Sunday and The Tale of Two Pitchers

Everyone can step away from the panic button as the Indians ended their 3-game losing “freefall” despite the fact that Pronk was out of the lineup, getting a much-needed day off. They did so behind the sinker of El Diablo, who was able to overcome a rough 1st inning – no small feat for the sometimes-jumpy Carmona (more on him later) – to put together another quality start for the Tribe.

A quick appetizer of Lazy Sunday before we get to the Mothers’ Day feast:

Paul Hoynes reports that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (playing in Orange County in the state of California) are looking for some offensive help, listing the players on their “wish list”. Pay close attention to these names, as they’re likely the same ones that would be available to the Indians if they decide at some point that they need to add another bat in the lineup.

Personally, I’d rather see them add an 8th inning set-up guy to stabilize the bullpen even further and provide some insurance in case all of these innings catch up with The Big Borowski, as opposed to adding another bat down the stretch.

Ken Rosenthal lists some of the same names as Hoynes when discussing the other LA team’s need for some offense, then fawns over “Grady the Great”.

Shelley Ocker says that Jason Davis should be a starter somewhere, as soon as he can refine that third pitch, which Ocker says, “is not an insurmountable problem”. Actually, Davis’ lack of control of a 3rd pitch is precisely the reason that JD left the Tribe rotation.

Ocker then responds to some reasonable mail regarding his absurd C.C. for A-Rod article last week (which I won’t link because it is so embarrassing to read) with his usual high-and-mighty tone that lessen his credibility as the weeks go on and these mailbags continue to be printed.’s Jon Heymann answers a mailbag question about the wisdom of signing C.C. to a long-term deal.

Some local hack politely submits his ideas for a new commercial campaign for the Wahoo Warriors.

Terry Pluto weighs in on the Carmona-Sowers discussion, which leads us to the topic du jour:

Carmona’s performance thus far has been nothing short of extraordinary, when his very public struggles as the closer from last year are taken into account.
But, when Westbrook returns from the DL, where does Carmona go?

Conventional wisdom has the Indians sending down a “struggling” Jeremy Sowers to leave Carmona in the rotation, but that may be a little premature. While Sowers has not looked good in his last few starts, there isn’t one thing that stands out about his pitching that throws up the obvious red flags to be rectified in Buffalo. The beguiling success that Sowers had last year that was so hard to define (low K rates, ability to get out of jams with smoke and mirrors) is just as confounding when those balls that were hit directly at fielders last year are now finding the gaps and his ability to get out of those 2-out jams has seemingly vanished.

If Sowers does return to Buffalo, is he going to be able to face the type of competition he needs to face to make sure that his location and “pitching plan” are back to their 2006 levels? Which is to say, the difference between a MLB hitter and an AAA hitter is profound enough that Sowers, still missing his spots, is likely to still find success at AAA. A fastball that ends up and over the plate, instead of low and away, is going to be handled differently by a Timo Perez (who sits on a .942 OPS in AAA for the Toledo Mud Hens) than a Gary Sheffield.
Don’t think that the Indians aren’t aware of the immense difference between legitimate MLB players and AAAA players. The fact that they recently hired Baseball Prospectus’ Keith Woolner, who invented VORP (a theory that measures the value of a player over an easily attainable player, or essentially a AAAA player) gives a pretty good idea that they’re aware that Jeremy Sowers mowing down the Jeff Mantos of the world is quite a bit different than his performance against the Mauers and Morneaus.

A reasonable argument can be made that Sowers, because of the way that he pitches, can only fine-tune his repertoire against MLB hitters. He’s a finesse lefty who relies on control and keeping batters off-balance, something that’s much easier to do to a 27-year-old in his 5th season in Columbus than it is against Vlad Guerrero in Anaheim.
Sowers’ success last year (remember, he had the 2nd best ERA in the 2nd half of the season in the AL last year, behind Santana and ahead of C.C., Bedard, and Wang) has earned him more than just a ticket to Buffalo after 3 bad outings. Perhaps it’s that opponents now have tape and an approach against Sowers as they’ve adjusted to him. Now, it’s on Sowers to make the counter-adjustments that will decide if the Tom Glavine comparisons are valid or if Sowers projects more like Juan Nieves.

So, what will be done with Sowers and Carmona?
Admittedly, both will probably get 3 to 4 more starts before Jake comes off of the DL, so this may all sort itself out in the meantime. Sowers could continue to struggle with his command or another injury may befall the rotation (knocking firmly on wood) that allows Fausto to stay in the rotation, which he has certainly staked a claim to do. Or Sowers could recapture whatever he’s been lacking from his 2006 performance and solidify the rotation even more.

With the rotation performing as well as it is, allowing Sowers to figure out what he needs to, (in Cleveland, not in Buffalo) is a luxury the Indians can afford right now. If, however, Sowers is unable to improve on his recent outings (and Carmona continues to channel his inner Brandon Webb), the Indians’ hand will be forced and Sowers will find himself at Dunn Tire Park trying to resurrect the pitcher that threw 2 CG Shutouts in the 14 games he started last year.
Happy Mothers’ Day everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Late Night Lunacy

In an attempt to hang with the Tribe during a night game on the West Coast, it’s time to see what the High Life has wrought and put the pen to paper on the peripherals of the ballgame:
It’s time for Casey Blake to decide what direction this facial hair thing is going to go. Is he going to stick with the Sonny Crockett look or is there a Dan Foutsian beard in our future.
On the topic of facial hair, does anyone know how I can contact Nick Swisher to let him know how much I enjoy him in those Geico commercials?
For all of the talk about how the Indians “gave away” Milton Bradley every time the Tribe faces the Game Boy, did you know that identifies the illustrious Gabe Kapler as the player most comparable to Bradley, in terms of career performance. That’s the same Gabe Kapler who retired last December. Maybe being cartoonishly muscular for those K-Swiss commercials caught up with Kapler.

Looking at Milton, by the way, I have to wonder if Bradley is following the old Kapler training regimen. Bradley is noticeably thicker and there’s no way he’s the 190 lbs. that he’s listed as. He is in the Bay Area…he is likely frustrated with being injured…it’s just strange, that’s all.
Watching the A’s tonight reminded me how much I dislike the two-color hats (bill in a different color than the hat) that they wear. I think that only the A’s, Braves, and Tribe have their primary hat as the two-color hat. Eventually, I’d LOVE to see the Tribe go all blue, all the time…but that’s as likely as Chief Wahoo getting larger, rather than smaller.
While the recent stagnant offense and shoddy play is (hopefully) just a bump in the road, remember if the team can go 5-5 on the road trip, they did pretty well.

After a 5 run 7th for the A’s that blew the doors off of this game, it’s time to go to bed.

The DiaperTribe will likely be up in about 6 hours.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Farewell Jason Dangerously

The Indians decision to DFA Jason Davis yesterday came as a bit of a surprise, but it represents a larger change in philosophy by the Indians in that it shows a commitment to winning now, regardless of the “potential” of players they may lose in the process. The flexibility gained in having his roster spot occupied by a pitcher with options remaining was eventually deemed more important than hanging onto Jason Dangerously, hoping for him to put all of the pieces together in a Tribe uniform.

The impetus for the decision was likely the game in which Jake Westbrook left in the 2nd inning with an abdominal strain in a 2-1 game. The situation seemed tailor-made for Davis to serve as the team’s long man and eat up some innings to save the rest of the bullpen. However, the Atomic Wedgie showed that he had no faith in putting JD in a game that wasn’t already decided (that is, a blowout – regardless of whether the Indians were winning or losing), and put Cabrera into the game in the 2nd inning. When Davis finally did come in to relieve Cabrera (again, only to start an inning as Wedge had lost any confidence in bringing Davis in with runners on…and justifiably so), Davis promptly responded by walking in 2 runs.

The writing was on the wall at that point that the Indians had a need for flexibility in the bullpen in case of a short outing for a starter (Tom Mastny was the only reliever with an option), and they had an obvious need for a pitcher that could throw 2-3 innings, then get sent back to Buffalo. With Mastny (and the rest of the bullpen) pitching very well, JD became the odd man out and a move had to be made.

But don’t think that it was a snap decision. There’s no question that the Indians entered 2007 with their long-standing hope that Fernando Cabrera and Jason Davis would develop into the late-inning relievers. While Cabrera has pitched himself into the late-inning mix, Davis continued to struggle and became a non-entity in the bullpen. His “electric, filthy stuff” never translated into consistent effectiveness and the Indians could no longer afford to trot JD out of the bullpen, unsure if they were going to have to immediately have another reliever up to bail Dangerously out and save the inning.

Before the “Danys Baez Syndrome” is mentioned (that is, the Indians screwed him up by bouncing him back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen), remember that Davis has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for all of last year and thus far this year. While he finished the 2006 season strongly to end his 2006 with a 3.74 ERA, the beginning of 2007 looked more like the JD we all grew to know for most of his career. That is the JD that, in 2006, allowed 15 of 21 inherited runners to score as opponents hit .406 with RISP & 2 outs and 6 for 10 off of him with the bases loaded and 2007 looked like more of the same.

The difficulty in the decision came from those rare outings when he would spot his 90+ MPH fastball and throw the nasty splitter that had us all thinking, “this guy could be Joe Nathan”. Well, Joe Nathan he is not. Maybe someday he will be…but today is not that day. Neither is tomorrow.

Cushioning the loss of JD (if you really think it is that great of a loss, you must be a close friend) is the fact that the Indians are sitting on some very capable relievers in AAA (Mujica, Perez, etc.) who can now be moved back and forth from Buffalo to keep the flexibility that will become necessary (particularly when these Seattle make-ups become a factor) later in the season.

Perhaps some pitching coach can fix whatever ails Jason Davis, or can build his confidence to the point of him becoming an effective MLB pitcher. But that will not happen in Cleveland, as they now have 10 days to trade him. Given the dearth of MLB pitching league-wide, it’s likely that a trade partner will be found, but don’t expect much more than a Single-A player.

The most unfortunate thing may be that I’ll no longer to use my favorite Cleveland Indians’ picture of the Taxidermist, but I’ll be over it soon.

I’d like to say, “Jason Dangerously, we hardly knew you.”
But, I can’t. We knew him all too well.

What’s bigger than the whole “JD development” situation, is that the decision shows is that the Indians are not content to allow a player, whether homegrown or not, to work out the kinks on a contending team. If Trot Nixon’s signing (relegating the BLC to Buffalo) or Andy Marte’s extended “rehab” in AAA weren’t proof enough, this is the definitive stroke that the Indians are going to field their best MLB team every day without regard for the possibility of making the old “hindsight is 20-20” move.

The “win now” attitude that this move trumpets should be music to the ears of any Indians’ fan.

Supa-Dupa Sizemore


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Lazy 2nd Round Sunday

Finally, the Cavaliers will start their 2nd round game (though game 3 will not occur until SATURDAY!), so it’s time to rattle off a quick LS:

The headline in today’s PD – “Indians’ losing skid reached two games” – precludes any of the articles from the PD from inclusion (not that there were any must-links). I know that the writers have nothing to do with the headlines, but come on.
It’s reminiscent of the PD headline leading up to the Browns’ Draft – “Browns will pick player”. The front page that day, I think, read, “The Sun will set tonight”.

Sheldon Ocker checks in with his weekly dose of irresponsible writing with some ridiculous conjecture. If you make it all the way through, you wasted more time than I did.This column appeared in an actual newspaper from an Indians’ beat writer? Ugh.

Back in the realm of quality sportswriting, Ken Rosenthal examines the two different paths that the Milwaukee Brewers and the Indians have taken to their hot starts.

Apparently, Rosenthal also reports that the Yankees asked about Paul Byrd.
Sorry Sheldon, no mention of your C.C. for A-Rod nonsense. See, this is how credible writers use SOURCES and not just wild imagination when reporting on baseball.

Jim Ingraham checks in with some ex-Indians. Let’s see – Wickman and Thome are injured, Kouzmanoff may have lost his job to…wait for it…Russell Branyan, Omar is being dropped to batting 8th in the lineup, and Ben Broussard is simply not playing in Seattle.

Not mentioned is that Kevin Millwood just hit the 15-day DL, as well as Bob Howry injuring himself moving a grill.

The folks in Detroit have noticed that the Indians are winning despite not playing their best baseball, even if that news hasn’t reached the Indians’ press box.

Off to watch some basketball, where the current incarnation of the Cavaliers attempts to replace these guys as my favorite Cavs team:
Go Cavs…and beat the Orioles, Indians…please? C.C.?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Solidarity Movement

Chemistry and camaraderie are certainly not measurable quantities and we’re still only about 25 games into the season; but this team is, as Lou Brown would say, “starting to come together, Pepper…starting to come together.”

Realizing that post-game whipped cream pies in the face mean about as much as me wearing my lucky shirt to the game, it shows that this team is loose and playing to win, as opposed to playing tense and playing not to lose. Perhaps Dellucci, Nixon, and Hernandez do lend more to this team than 2 LH bats and a few rotten innings of relief work.

We all pointed to Alvaro Espinoza putting bubble gum on the top of people’s hats as the great example that the Indians of the mid-90’s were always loose and in on every game. The Indians stand at 17-8 without playing their best and coming back to win games they have no right winning. Maybe whipped cream pies are today’s bubble gum hats.

The greatest example of this team pulling together and acting as one unit came out tonight as Josh Barfield came around from 1B and tried to score on a Sizemore liner that Alex Rios dropped in CF. As Barfield headed toward home, Blue Jays’ catcher Jason Phillips (and his 2007 version of Chris Sabo Rec-Specs) blocked his path and successfully tagged Barfield out. Phillips got up and taunted Barfield, pumping his fist and screaming at a now-called-out Barfield.

Barfield had some brief words for Phillips, but then in comes Dellucci, from the on-deck circle, to confront this guy that looks like that kid from the “Christmas Story” in the line for Santa Claus. It’s not clear if Dellucci asked him if he liked the “Wizard of Oz” or at least the Tin Man, but harsh words were spoken and it was on. The benches cleared but (like any baseball fight not involving Dennis Cook or Nolan Ryan) it amounted to nothing.

However, other than Dellucci completely endearing himself to thousands of Tribe fans by sticking up for Barfield, the moment represented something much larger.

This team is in this thing together and they’re rolling. Whether “veteran leadership” or a sense of solidarity plays a major role in that can never be known as it’s not something that is exactly quantifiable. Certainly the talent on this team is not hurting the cause.

Whether this continues all season long and the Tribe is able to cobble together one of those magical seasons that we all desperately need remains to be seen.

Whether the additions of the veterans on this club have anything to do with it will remain a point of conjecture all season.

What is known, and measurable, is that the Indians stand at 17-8, two full games up in the AL Central and sitting on the best record in MLB.

For now, let’s sit back and enjoy the view from the top.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tomahawks Flying

The Indians sit at the top of the AL Central, the Cavs did as they should have by sweeping Washington, and Canton has been contacted for a mold of Joe Thomas head and shoulders – so, all is right in the world of Cleveland sports…enjoy it.

With the spirits high, let’s release some tomahawks:
Everyone clamoring for the Indians to trade a starter to allow Carmona to remain in the rotation can now sit in the corner quietly as Westbrook left tonight’s game with some sort of lower abdominal strain. Look, Carmona has pitched magnificently and has certainly earned a spot in the rotation; but there simply wasn’t a spot for him and he provides the Indians’ with pitching depth that every team longs for (ask Brian Cashman).

Now, with Westbrook ailing, the reason that Carmona is designated as the “6th Starter” becomes obvious. To trade Byrd at this point means that you’re an injury away from having Sowers, Carmona, and Miller (and their combined experience of less than a year) make up 3/5 of the rotation for a contender. No thanks.
Anyone else surprised to see Fernando Cabrera come out to replace Westbrook and serve as the team’s long reliever? It was a tailor-made situation for Jason Davis to eat up some innings and save the part of the bullpen that actually contributes to the Tribe’s success. The game, however, was close, and The Atomic Wedgie’s disdain for putting JD in a game that’s not already decided showed through.

Wedge’s concern proved legitimate as JD relieved the devastatingly effective K-Brera (a tip of the hat to Roger Dorn at the LGT for that one) and promptly walked 2 runs in to put the Tribe behind. It’s time to give JD his walking papers and call up Edward Mujica, who is destroying AAA hitters to the tune of 12K’s in 10 scoreless IP while amassing 6 saves. I can deal with Hernandez’s struggles because he has a track record of success, regardless of his age. JD has only a track record of unfulfilled potential and disappointment.
Back to K-Brera, whose slider and fastball combination is simply unhittable right now. He has staked a serious claim on getting a long look at getting the 7th inning role with an eye on the 8th in case of a Rocky Betancourt implosion. With K-Brera and Nasty Boy Tom Mastny, the wheat of the young relievers is certainly separating itself from the chaff.
In case you haven’t noticed (to paraphrase fwembt), Jhonny Peralta is hhiting the bhall vhery whell.
Perhaps I’m spoiled by not seeing a lot of commercials due to the advent of DVR, but does anyone else think the Subway commercial, the one with the two announcers talking about some sort of Indians’ promotion, could possibly be the worst 30 seconds of television on right now?

As amusing as the Fred Martin Superstore Car Guys are (trust me, they know cars…and embroidered polo shirts), the Subway commercial is just as infuriating. I’ve seen it probably 100 times and couldn’t even tell you what they’re advertising because I can’t get over the fact that it looks like it was produced by a high school kid starring his dad.
Finally got a chance to see Heritage Park last night (during the rain delay) and it is a must-stop for any Jake visit. It’s extremely well done and designed, though they could work on the drainage as puddles were everywhere after Tuesday’s downpour. The Ray Chapman plaque that was found in the bowels of the Indians’ offices and found a permanent home in Heritage Park is the obvious highlight…that, and the brick with Pat Tabler’s signature on it, among the other 100 Greatest Indians.
Does the “ruling” by MLB regarding the protested game just reek of the old “because I said so” rationale to anyone else? Do they realize how far-reaching this decision is? Apparently, the Cardinals are asking if the 1985 World Series is now theirs because of Don Denkinger’s gaffe at 1B that cost them the Series. Seriously, does this allow the umpires change a previous decision…at any point in the game?

It was a terrible decision by the umps that night, but an even worse decision from the MLB Ivory Tower to uphold it. Thank goodness they don’t serve those plastic bottles of beer at the Jake (and that Indians fans maintain a certain level of civility and sobriety at games) or Bottlegate II could have erupted.
If Westbrook isn’t put on the DL, expect the BLC to go back to Buffalo as he offers the Indians a redundancy as their 4th LH OF while Ben Francisco essentially replaces Casey Blake as the RH OF on the roster while Blake takes over full-time 3B for the foreseeable future. It still will probably happen if Westbrook is put on the DL, but not until Jake’s spot in the rotation comes up – which is when the return of El Diablo will occur.
I hope that Travis Hafner is taking a long look at the Fu Manchu emerging on Trot Nixon’s chin, as well as the glorious facial hair on Sal Fasano – because if he ever grew one, he would be ready for his guest appearance on American Chopper.

Once again, the Indians don’t play their best baseball and keep it close all night long as the Indians continue to find ways to remain competitive for every game.

Let’s all hope that Cliff Lee shed his “Five and Flee” persona in a rehab assignment and his first start doesn’t tax an already taxed bullpen for the series finale.