Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Tomahawks

How’s THAT for tense, playoff-caliber baseball!

For all of the crying about how the Indians have missed the opportunity to run away with the AL Central due to lack of offense with the ridiculously dominant starting pitching that we’ve had, the Indians now have a record of 18-20 since the All-Star Break. In fact, in their first 16, they were 8-8. In their first 27 since the break, they were 13-14.

Is it a great model of consistency to play around .500? Certainly not and surely it would have been nice to run and hide with the division while the Tigers really struggled. But it’s not like this team is suddenly losing 2 of every 3 games since the Break.

Oh, and 2 ½ up in the AL Central feels like a pretty good perch today.
And with that, release the happy ‘hawks:

The announcement came earlier in the week that Aaron Laffey will get the start on Friday as the 5th starter over Clifton Phifer Lee, and it’s hard to argue with it if the Indians are adopting the idea of putting the best players on the field, regardless of age, experience, or contracts (please tell me that they are).

Laffey went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in two starts since being sent down, while Lee has been less impressive, going 0-1 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP over his last 3 starts for the Herd. Laffey’s pitching with more confidence and with more of a sense of purpose than Lee, so it’s right for the Tribe to hand the ball to the hot pitcher and ride it out.

If The Taffyman struggles, Lee’s there to take his place and probably with a bigger chip on his shoulder than before. But, if Laffey continues at the rate he’s going, unaware that he’s pitching in MLB (Jair Jurrjens, anyone?), the Indians just found their 5th starter for the stretch run.

Speaking of the stretch run – looking ahead, here’s the breakdown of anticipated starts for the rotation for remainder of the season, including Laffey’s Friday start:
Sabathia – 7
Carmona – 7
Westbrook – 7
Byrd – 7
Laffey – 7
Spot Starter for one game of September 26th doubleheader – 1

With Carmona, Sabathia, and Westbrook going like they are, I'll take my chances. In August, the top 3 starters have combined for a 2.11 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and 3 times as many K as BB over their 13 starts.
I think that Eck said it best - WOW!

Not sure if anyone is as into Arrested Development as I am (probably the funniest TV show of all-time for me…yes, Seinfeld considered), so excuse me if I begin to refer to Franklin Gutierrez (who already is sitting on a few nicknames) as Franklin Delano Gutierrez.
Consider it homage to the puppet from Arrested Development fame.

If you’re not familiar with Arrested Development, this isn’t funny to you.
But if you are, here’s a montage of clips, including a video of the recording of “Franklin Comes Alive”, thought to be Franklin and GOB’s best work together.

Amazingly, September 1st is rapidly approaching and rosters can be expanded to help the parent club. MLB rules dictate that, for a player to be promoted for September, the player must already be on the 40-man roster.
So, who’s on the 40-man roster, but not on the current 25-man active roster?
RHP Mike Koplove
LHP John Koronka
LHP Juan Lara
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP J.D. Martin
RHP Matt Miller
RHP Brian Slocum
LHP Jeremy Sowers
PLUS whoever gets sent down when Laffey is called up for Friday's start (likely RHP Edward Mujica)

Not much to look at here, though Matt Miller could help eat some innings and Cliff Lee could serve as the long man/spot starter (particularly for one of the games of the September 26th doubleheader).

Of course, it’s possible that Lee could be kept in Buffalo so Victor can keep his sparring gear in his locker, but the Indians are going to need the possibility of having some length out of the bullpen and will need someone to start a game on September 26th, so Lee would probably return.

It’s likely that Sowers would stay in Buffalo to continue starts and stay on pace for his inning count progression. The rest of these guys are just filler, although Koplove does have MLB experience…ahem, Voltaire.

Position Players
1B Michael Aubrey
MI Joe Inglett
3B Andy Marte
OF Shin Soo-Choo
OF Ben Francisco
OF Brad Snyder

Position player-wise, with Dellucci’s return being pushed back, as he’s not even able to make a rehab appearance), it’s extremely likely that the BLC will make a return trip to Cleveland to add a LH bat off of the bench and some defense and speed. Francisco would do much of the same from the right side of the dish, existing primarily as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch runner.

Inglett could get promoted, I guess, though his role is already being filled by Chris Gomez). Inglett can come up only if he promises not to shave his mustache. Marte, Aubrey, and Snyder (of whom Marte is really the only one who could still be called a promising prospect, and that’s pushing it) will likely stay in Buffalo to maximize plate appearances.

Beyond that list are players not yet on the 40-man roster that will have to be added to it in the off-season to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. With these players, it’s possible to add them to the 40-man now and get rid of some of the excess baggage (Koronka, Lara, etc), then add them to the Tribe.
The players who will be Rule 5 eligible after this year:
RHP Adam Miller
RHP Sean Smith
LHP Mariano Gomez
LHP Scott Lewis
RHP Randy Newsom
LHP Shawn Nottingham
LHP Reid Santos
RHP Jim Ed Warden

Position Players
C Wyatt Toregas
C Chris Gimenez
1B Ryan Mulhern
MI Rodney Choy Foo
MI Argenis Reyes
OF Brian Barton
OF Jon Van Every

Again, not much jumps out here, particularly if the Indians want to keep Atom Miller on a regimented schedule in low-risk situations. Ryan Mulhern might get a look as a RH power hitter, as might Barton – but both would fall pretty far down the list of options. They could always add another catcher to the mix (whether it be Toregas or Gimenez or just call up some AAA body) to give the added insurance of carrying a 3rd catcher.

The lack of a viable 4th reliever out of the bullpen still has me a little worried about the stretch run; but that is a discussion for another day.

For today, let’s enjoy the view from the top.


Voltaire said...

Don't worry. I'm as huge an AD fan as they come.

Now, let's send the Royals back from whence they came.

doowop said...

What happened to Matt Miller? I always thought he would recuperate and then be back on the major league roster.

Voltaire said...

There's no reason for the Indians or anyone else to whine about needing another bullpen arm when Miller and Koplove toil away in Buffalo without a chance to prove themselves as viable members of the '07 team.

Thanks for the shout-out. ;-) I say Koplove has the track record in MLB to be a lock. Consider these stats:

3.78 career ERA (253 IP)
1.84 AAA ERA 2007 (49 IP)

The K/BB isn't great, but I say he deserves a shot.

And then their is the mysterious case of Matt Miller. Why isn't he here? I don't care if he always gets injured - let him pitch till he blows out his arm! He'll be great till that happens. DL him, call up Mujica, demote Mujica when Miller's healthy, and repeat. That makes the most sense to me.

Paul Cousineau said...

Wish there was a better answer on Miller. It's mystifying.

I do like the idea of getting as many IP out of Miller as possible before he is inevitably injured.

By the way, either he or Koplove (or anyone) DO have to be on the 25-man roster by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster, if it comes to that.

So, if one of them comes up, but not until September 1st, and establishes himself as a vital cog in the bullpen, he would be ineligible for postseason roster consideration.

Voltaire said...

Yeah, that would be the king of frustrations should the Indians find themselves in that situation.

And it's the same old story tonight...brilliant C.C. and ________ bats.

Baltimoran said...

when i wasn't cursing the indian's hitters last night, i got to listen to the royals announcers. they were solid yet spent an amazing amount of time hyping giveaways and other attractions to bring people to the "K". they even had some swarmy sales guy in the booth describing the special games and showing off the giveaways...they had bobbleheads, grey jersey t-shirts (modeled by the biggest douchebag i've ever seen, giving the double thumbs up), coffee tumblers, kids autograph day, family home plate photo day, small business day (with a speech from the royals gm??), 1$ hot dog day, kids running the bases day...and some others i can't remember. it would have been hilarious if the tribe wasn't getting owned by the kansas city bullpen...kenny's strikeout was terrible