Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don’t…Stop…Thinking About Tomorrow

With Sunday’s scintillating win in KC (the AstroCab jersey is en route…seriously), the Indians have won their last 3 series, all on the road. It hasn’t been pretty, but guess who’s won 4 of their last 5 and 7 of their last 10?

YOUR first place Cleveland Indians!

Consider that the three losses have all been by 1 run (4-3, 2-1, 2-1), and the Tribe is starting to crest at the right time of the year.

Sadly, not much to go on for a Lazy Sunday, unless you want to read Sheldon’s Mailbag with the title “Ocker, you pompous idiot!” (if you don't believe me, click the link) or read the first Bill Livingston column in a year that doesn’t mention that he was once a young beat reporter in Philly when Dr. J was a 76er, giving him proper perspective on all things sports. I think that the Livy article was about Carmona, but won’t link it as it only eats up about 5 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

Rather, with the Tribe moving in the right direction (and many of the current issues evaluated in the past few posts), I thought it was a good time to bring up some questions about the team that may or may not be answered in the last 33 games of the season regarding the future of the makeup of the roster.

Regardless of how premature it may seem in the middle of a pennant race, here’s some food for thought about the long-term decisions facing the Indians:

The question has come up before, but the Indians hold options on Paul Byrd, Joe Borowski, and Aaron Fultz for 2008 – which options do the Indians pick up?

If they pick up Byrd’s option and 80% of the rotation is effectively spoken for, where does that leave Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers?
As trade bait?

Has Aaron Laffey leapfrogged both Lee and Sowers in the pecking order?
Will a strong finish to 2007 for him put him squarely in line for a spot in the 2008 rotation?

Where does Atom Miller (assuming he’s healthy) fit into that mix?

Has Frank the Tank done enough to earn a starting spot in the 2008 OF?

If Gutierrez does get the RF job next year, who plays LF?
Does Dellichaels stay in the mix?
Could Dellucci get moved despite 2 more years on his contract?
What about the BLC or Francisco?
What about the possibility of a Free Agent outfielder?

Will 2008 be the year that Casey Blake fills the Super-Utility player role most people think he is best suited to occupy?

Where do Josh Barfield and Andy Marte fit on this team going forward?
How has the recent performance of AstroCab (albeit in a VERY short timeframe) affected their future, as well as that of Peralta’s at SS?

What does the organization do if Hafner’s slump is more than just a slump?
What if an injury is found that is more serious than anyone thinks it is right now?

Are the pieces already in place (or at least in the organization) to allow this offense to recapture the success of earlier this year?

Will the team get anywhere with C.C. at the negotiating table?
Will C.C. cut off talks and pitch his way into Free Agency if a deal isn’t reached in Winter Haven?
How will a possible playoff run affect the negotiations?

Will the bullpen need it’s annual overhaul or are dependable arms finally emerging?
Has JoeBo earned another year of closing?

With Trot Nixon the only outgoing Free Agent (and he WILL be outgoing) after the season, how much roster turnover can be expected going into 2008?

Again, it’s entirely premature to have fully formed answers any of these hypotheticals (and I could legitimately commit 1,000 words to each), but they are questions that may be answered as the team continues to evolve through the end of this season. Seeing as how the shape of the Indians for years to come may be determined by the next 2 months (September and October), their first REAL pennant race (in 2005, they were really just playing an incredible game of catch-up, coming up just short) and possible playoff appearance, they’re still questions that need to be asked.

A very hot Minnesota team arrives in Cleveland Monday for a quick series with C.C. scheduled to go against Santana in the finale on Wednesday night.

Cleveland, welcome to the 2007 Pennant Race.


Art McGregor said...

Aren't there 33 games left in the season?

Maybe the '05 Tribe said, "we've only got 27 games left," when they actually had 33.

Would explain a lot.

Paul Cousineau said...

Fixed. Thanks GMV.

Voltaire said...

I certainly believe in this club. And, I'm using my new home in Cleveland to take the very short RTA ride to the Jake tonight. :)

Baltimoran said...

i think pluto is starting to slip now that he is on his way to the PD; he seems to have written the same article 3 or 4 times..."don't start Quinn yet, play Frye"

My next season wish list: peralta 3rd base, Cabrera short, and Barfield 2nd

Paul Cousineau said...

"My next season wish list: Peralta 3rd base, Cabrera short, and Barfield 2nd."

I'm torn between that and Marte - Peralta - Cabrera with Barfield as the back-up 2B when AstroCab moves to SS.
The bench would be Blake (1B/3B/OF)and Barfield (MI), who could step into any of the spots if someone (Marte) tanks out.
It gives the roster a lot of flexibility and experience off the bench.

I'm not giving up on current International League Player of the Week Andy Marte just yet. While he hasn't thrived in Cleveland, look at the corner that Gutierrez turned this year.

t-bone said...

I dont know, Gutz and Marte have the same number of MLB at bats. Gutz indeed seems to have indeed turned the corner, but in my eyes Marte has done nothing but regress. I'm worried that he's nothing more than a Four-A player at this point. His AAA numbers have been pretty identical to last year's.

I know we're still in the honeymoon period with Cabrera, but at this point, in 2008 I'd be in favor of Peralta (3b) - Cabrera (SS) - Barfield (2b) rather than handing things back to over Marte. My opinion on Barfield is sophomore slump. Look at his track record coming up thru the minors… hiccup in his AA year but still moved on to AAA without a problem and was in the bigs hitting .280 last year. If our entire lineup wasn’t going through what it has this year, we’d probably still be hiding him in the 9-spot and somewhat overlooking the .240 average because of his glove.

Next topic: Santa Claus got me a 2007 Tribe wall calendar. This month's featured player was Westbrook. As a result, he had a MONSTER August. Who is September, you ask? Pronk. Be ready AL pitching, he's about to explode!

I'm heading down tonight too, let's do this!

Voltaire said...

Okay, tonight was just too much fun. Gotta love the triple lay.

What non-existent offense?

Anonymous said...

t-bone, I'm not sure if you're a Let's Go Triber, but your very concerns have been discussed at great length here.