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!


t-bone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
t-bone said...

I agree we've got to let Sowers get this together up here. Unless he's really hurting the team by his presence. Take out that Yankees game, and IT'S TWO BAD STARTS!!!

I found where I saw that Kapler blurb, on Gammons' blog:
Someday, Gabe Kapler will manage the Boston Red Sox. He is starting in Greenville (South Atlantic League) on a five-year program to learn his trade and eventually get the Sox job when and if Terry Francona retires. This is what you need to know about Kapler. He approached one of his players, Zak Farkes, who happened to go to Harvard. "What is the best book you've read in the last year?" Kapler asked Farkes, knowing he is a voracious reader. Farkas identified the book, and Kapler told him he wanted to read it to better understand his player.

I thought I knew my baseball, but I had to look up Juan Nieves, wow.

That's all for now.

Cy Slapnicka said...

my head just exploded. you gotta warn us about stuff like this. looks good.