Thoughts on the last week of May 2012: Same old story: injuries, doubters, and the AL Central race

Every year it seems to be the same old story. The same old players, the same old injuries, the same old excuses. Grady’s been sitting on the bench since before the year started. Now old man Hafner has a gimpy knee. Top that with A-Cab (finally back) and Santana (oh my head hurts), and our best hitters are gone on a team which desperately needs hitting. Not like it matters, this team cannot hit against left handed pitching. But, this 1-5 week has disheartened me. After the sweep of the Tigers, I had high hopes. I’m a dieheart though. I subscribe to MLB.TV. I try to make at least 5-6 games a year. I listen to Hammy on the radio at work. I listen to Uncle Rizzy in the morning. I’m the defination of an above average fan. But, when fans get the same old excuses, different year routine, it leads to them not showing up at Progressive Field.

Chris Perez wonders why fans show up? He should look at Hafner and Sizemore. He wonders why fans don’t show up. Look at Shapiro and his refusal to get a right handed bat. Do we need to wait till Matt LaPorta to gets called up and fail again for us to get a legit right handed bat? When Hannahan gets off the DL, will we remove the only righty from our lineup in Jose Lopez. Who’s hitting decently. All I have to say my friends, is Johnny Damon. I rest my case. It’s a pattern for the Tribe, every year, at least recently. Promising start only to be stopped by injuries, front office blunders, and the curse of Kenny Lofton. And I’m not even getting started about the starting pitching. It’s stuck in the Dominican Republic. *Waves hi to Fausto…I mean Roberto Hernandez Heredia.*

Oh good luck today, D. Lowe. Get your sinker working again and you’ll have a legit chance for the Cy Young. Then the Tribe will trade you like Sabathia and Lee. Not like it matters. This is probably your last hurrah year anyway.

A fresh start

I haven’t touch this blog much since the 2008 season. Life has been rather busy for me. In the past year and a half, I’ve finished my Master’s in Library Science, got an awesome job at a great hometown company, Sherwin Williams, and got engaged to the man I love.  I haven’t had much time to write about the team I love, the Tribe.

But now that life has settled down a bit, I look forward to writing about the 2012 season. Despite the moves the Tigers made, there is still hope for the Tribe to win the AL Central this year. I’ve been listening to Spring Training ball intently on the MLB “At Bat 12″ app for Android. This is a great deal for all you out of towners. 15 dollars for unlimited radio feeds for all games, all year on your mobile device. Let me tell you, its been getting me through the work day this March.

I’ve been really excited listening to the Tribe play ball this spring. Despite the injury to Grady, I like what I’m seeing from the competitors for the third outfield spot. When I first heard news that they resigned Grady, I knew it was a waste of money. And sure enough before Spring Training games start, Grady is already out till July. 5 million down the tube. But, Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham have been impressing me this spring. Duncan’s power and tenacity will likely ultimately win him the starting role in left come April, but the at bats I’ve heard from Cunningham have lead me to believe he has a good future. He’s out of options, though, I believe. So I hope they add him to the 25 man roster over LaBustPorta. Time will tell.

Another interesting fight we are looking at is the fight between good ole’ Lonnie and Jason Donald. Even though Lonnie is hitting better than Donald this spring, I think Acta is gonna pick Donald to start due to his exerience and ability to play multiple infield positions. I hope they give Lonnie a good chance, though. He’s a good young hitter with good pop and I think the Tribe’s future at 3rd.

Hope to keep this updated regularly this year. Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, its Tribe Time now and this spring has been exciting so far.

Am I dreaming?

Or did the Tribe bats come alive tonight? Maybe it was just because we were facing Dontrelle Willis. But, wow. Too bad Barfield didn’t have a hit, but, I think it might just be first night jitterz. And lets give a hand to Cliff Lee, the first man in the AL to earn 10 wins. If he doesn’t get an All Star bid, something is wrong. Box score from tonight because I’m finally proud to post it.

Cleveland AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Gutierrez, CF 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 .252
Francisco, LF 3 2 0 0 2 0 0 .302
Martinez, 1B 3 2 0 0 2 1 0 .280
Garko, DH 3 1 1 4 0 0 0 .264
Peralta, SS 4 0 1 1 0 1 0 .231
Choo, RF 3 0 1 1 0 1 0 .333
Blake, 3B 3 1 1 0 1 0 3 .241
Shoppach, C 4 1 1 2 0 3 2 .221
Barfield, 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Totals 32 8 6 8 5 6 6  

BATTING
2B: Choo (4, Seay).
HR: Garko (6, 1st inning off Willis, 2 on, 1 out), Shoppach (2, 2nd inning off Willis, 1 on, 0 out).
TB: Gutierrez; Garko 4; Peralta; Choo 2; Blake; Shoppach 4.
RBI: Garko 4 (34), Shoppach 2 (6), Peralta (22), Choo (5).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Blake; Barfield.
SF: Choo.
Team LOB: 4.

FIELDING
E: Blake (7, fielding).
DP: 2 (Peralta-Martinez, Peralta-Barfield-Martinez).

 
Detroit AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Renteria, SS 3 0 1 1 1 0 2 .267
  Hollimon, M, SS 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Polanco, 2B 5 0 4 1 0 0 0 .289
Thames, DH 4 0 0 0 0 2 6 .242
Ordonez, RF 4 0 1 0 0 1 3 .315
Cabrera, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 1 4 .270
  Larish, 1B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .136
Guillen, 3B 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 .300
  Raburn, 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .182
Inge, C 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 .223
Clevlen, LF 3 1 1 0 1 1 2 .125
Granderson, CF 3 0 0 0 1 0 3 .236
Totals 33 2 7 2 5 7 22  

BATTING
2B: Polanco (15, Lee).
TB: Renteria; Polanco 5; Ordonez; Clevlen.
RBI: Renteria (30), Polanco (20).
2-out RBI: Renteria; Polanco.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Cabrera 2; Thames 2.
GIDP: Renteria; Ordonez.
Team LOB: 9.

 
Cleveland IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Lee (W, 10-1) 5.0 6 2 2 2 5 0 2.52
Perez 2.0 1 0 0 2 1 0 3.34
Betancourt 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 7.00
Kobayashi 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3.06
 
Detroit IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Willis (L, 0-1) 1.1 3 8 8 5 2 2 10.32
Bautista 2.2 1 0 0 0 1 0 3.71
Rapada 3.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3.46
Seay 2.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2.75

HBP: Garko (by Bautista).
Pitches-strikes: Lee 88-56, Perez 31-17, Betancourt 17-9, Kobayashi 13-10, Willis 64-27, Bautista 40-27, Rapada 30-18, Seay 24-16.
Ground outs-fly outs: Lee 2-8, Perez 4-1, Betancourt 0-2, Kobayashi 1-2, Willis 0-2, Bautista 2-5, Rapada 4-4, Seay 2-2.
Batters faced: Lee 24, Perez 7, Betancourt 4, Kobayashi 3, Willis 12, Bautista 10, Rapada 10, Seay 7.
Inherited runners-scored: Bautista 3-3.
Umpires: HP: Larry Vanover. 1B: Mike Everitt. 2B: Tim McClelland. 3B: Mike DiMuro.
Weather: 80 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 3 mph, Out to CF.
T: 3:06 (:57 delay).
Att: 38,440.

The moment we’ve all been waiting for…

Asdrubal Cabrera has been optioned to AAA Buffalo. His .184 was the lowest batting average in the AL among those with enough at bats.

Josh Barfield will be starting tonight at 2nd batting 9th. It’s about time, Wedge. It’s about time.  Maybe, maybe now, we can get some offense from the middle infield. I have more confidence in Barfield now than I have Cabrera. And I was on the Asdrubal fanwagon last summer. But with the guy looking like he’s swinging for the fence every time, when he’s truly a contact hitter is a sight for sore eyes.

If this slump continues, someone has to call for Derek Shelton’s job.

Return to Blogging

I’ve been somewhat distraught about the Indians lately. Well, somewhat isn’t the right word. I am distraught about the Indians. Between the Tribe, as a team, playing mendoza line baseball in May (.218 team BA in May), things aren’t looking pretty good. With Jake Westbrook being put on the DL again, and it looks as though the probable starter with being Brian Siocum tonight, the Tribe pitching situation isn’t looking much better. Yet, because the AL Central is the worse division in baseball, and the Tribe is still on 4.5 games out, we can’t make a major deal (such as dealing CC) to finally get a bat. When the Tribe hits, it only seems to be a blowout like they did last night in their 13-9 victory over the Rangers. Yet, the Tribe cannot seem to drive in runs with men in scoring position. It says a lot about one’s offense when one’s cleanup hitter hasn’t hit a homerun and its June 3rd. JUNE 3RD!! Yet, there seems to be no solution to the Tribe’s hitting woahs.

Each week, though, Indians.com beat writer Anthony Castrovince answers mail from fans. This week, he’s answered a few questions about the Tribe’s struggles lately. Sometimes I agree with him, other times, I don’t. But, I’m going to try to answer this week’s questions my own way. Maybe I can get some ideas out about how to make some positive change on this team to finally get them hitting.

With the Tribe offense needing a shot in the arm and the ever-changing roster order, isn’t it time to move Grady Sizemore from the leadoff spot? At this point, what could it possibly hurt to try?
Isn’t it time to move him to the cleanup spot? With 11 hrs and 30 rbis, he needs to be there. Will it happen? Not a chance. Wedgie is as stubborn as a mule. Just like he loves the leftie-righty bullpen matchups, he loves Grady in the leadoff spot. Yet, him constantly hitting solo homeruns and being stranded on base isn’t going to help the Tribe offense. My suggestion would be to send down Asdrubal Cabrera. He’s not hitting and he needs to work on adjusting his swing on a big league level. He hit last year because the big league pitchers didn’t know how to pitch to him. Now that the pitchers have, he’s making nothing but ugly swings and trying to pull the ball when he’s truly a contact hitter. My suggestion would be to give Josh Barfield another chance. True, he’s only hitting around .260 in Buffalo, but if given the proper motivation to try again, he might hit. We have enough defensive depth in the middle infield with Jamey Carroll that it gives Asdrubal the time to go back to Buffalo to fix his swing. I think if we insert Barfield or Dellucci in the leadoff spot and have them switch off from the 1 or 2 hole, we might get more production out of the top end of the lineup. Then, if you get Francisco-Sizemore-Martinez in the 3-4-5 slot, the Tribe might actually score some runs. Will this happen though: not a chance. Just something to think about, though.

Do the Indians have a team psychologist? I could use an appointment, with the way games have been going lately. But more materially, it seems like the persistence of the Indians’ offensive struggles must be primarily mental. It’s gone on too long and is affecting too many talented players for it to be anything else.
I don’t really know it they’re talented or not. Last year’s offensive outburst could be a fluke. It could not be. But I think Pronk could use a psychologist. I don’t know if the injuries are in his head or not because he hasn’t been hitting since 2006.

How many more games will have to slide through the Indians’ fingers before they do what they did in 2006 and start to gear up for next season and make some trades?
Until the Indians are 10+ games back, don’t expect a trade. Our biggest trade bait, CC Sabathia, has struggled this year (though, he’s done better lately but not many wins because of the Tribe bats.). If the Indians do make a trade, it’ll be for a bat and not rebuilding purposes. As long as the Indians are not in the cellar before the All Star break, the Tribe is not going to be rebuilding.

You know, I didn’t think I was going to miss Trot Nixon, but he kept the team loose. Now I don’t see any of that veteran presence that doesn’t let things get too high when you’re winning or too low when you’re not. These guys are not having fun. Who are the leaders on this team?
Trot Nixon is a bum. Thank God he’s gone.

As for the leaders of this team, I think there are a few silent leaders on the team, leading by example. Their names are Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore. Yet, despite this, I have to agree that someone needs to step up and play the important clubhouse role of being a leader in terms of morale. I could possibly see Victor Martinez or David Dellucci stepping into that role, but that has yet to happen. Where’s Kenny Lofton when we need him?

What are the chances that us Indians fans will never have to see Andy Marte again when Travis Hafner gets off the disabled list, now that Shin-Soo Choo is back? Please tell me what I want to hear.
With the way Pronk’s hitting, who knows. I for one and for giving Marte another chance. Give him a week straight playing 3rd and see what he can do consistently. I think the reason why no one is hitting it because they’re all concerned about whether they’re gonna keep their spot on the roster come tomorrow. I think that’s the reason why Garko isn’t hitting. I’ve never been one for platooning, though.

Also, I think if we get rid of Marte, he might turn into a Brian Giles type player. And we all know that story…

What’s with Ryan Garko’s new batting stance this year? Is there any particular reason he dips to the ground on a majority of his swings? Maybe he is practicing for the limbo party taking place at the end of June, because it certainly is not helping out his average.
He’s swinging for the fence, plain and simple. I also think Peralta and Cabrera have that problem too. Once they start hitting for contact, rather than for the fence, the swing will correct itself.

Watching this hitting is awful. The batters have no plan, put themselves in bad counts and have poor overall at-bats. Something is not being communicated. Isn’t it time for Derek Shelton’s job to be on the line?
*Starts singing “Hit the Road, Jack”.*

Bye bye, Shelton. Good riddance. 

Heading to Progressive Field Friday Night

So, I’ll be heading to Progressive Field tomorrow night for the first firework night of the season. Hoping for good weather. There are thunder storms in the forcast.

More importantly, though, I’m hoping for CC to finally pick up his first win of the season. As I’ve stated before, this is a contract year for Sabathia. With the Indians signing Fausto Carmona to a 4 year deal today with club options for three more, the Indians should be secure without Sabathia. But, I’d like to see the Indians somehow pick up Sabathia’s contract at the end of the year. But at the rate he’s going, in his last two starts, this year is not going to be as good as his Cy Young performance was last year. One can only hope for the best. Lets hope the Tribe can at least pick up the win tomorrow to pull to an even .500 and catch up with the Royals and the Chi soxs in the central race. Either way, I’m hoping I’m not a curse. I went to the ballpark 6 times last year. Every time the Tribe lost. I want to snap my own personal losing streak.

Either way, look for pictures and a report tomorrow night.

Joe BLOW

My Statment to Joe Borowski: Do you remember April 19th 2007 against the Yankees? Or did you just forget that night when you blew tonight’s save?

Tonight was eerily like that night last April. Only versus the Angels. Hunter got you good just like A-Rod got you last year. Please forget tonight ever happened and jump back quickly. Or, Tribe, only give him a 1 run lead. He seems to perform better when he has more pressure on him.

Yet, somehow, I can see you leading the AL in saves again. You never cease to amaze me, Joe.

Westbrook had a good game… Where were the Tribe bats?

Looking at the boxscore, Westbrook pitched a solid game.

He pitched 7.1 innings with 12 ground outs. It was Jake’s day and he really had a good outing. And on a normal day, he would have gotten the win. But where were the Tribe bats?

Ok, we were pitching against JOHN DANKS. This kid, in only his second year, went 6-13 with an ERA hovering around 6! (5.5 to be exact). This isn’t a Mark Buehrle. This isn’t even a Johan Santana (Thank you, Mets, for taking him out of the AL Central. Although, we did have his number last year). This is JOHN DANKS. We should have had a field day on this kid. Yet, we had blown opportunity after blown opportunity.

For example, Kelly Shoppach (probably the most sought after and valuable backup catcher in baseball) in the 6th inning put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Casey Blake over to 2nd which only made it one out. Did the Indians capitalize on this opportunity? No. Grady grounded out and then Michaels grounded out. (How long do we have to wait until we see Ben Francisco in an Indians uniform, Wedge? Michaels and Dellucci have made a few good plays in the field this series, but have not hit. I want to see the International League batting champ do some damage in a Tribe uniform, rather than a Bison uniform.)

Yet again, in the 7th, the Indians wasted another few golden chances to win the ballgame. After Garko doubled in Pronk, and Gutierrez reached on a two base error, with only one out, the Indians should have gotten at least one run. What happens? My man, Asdrubal, grounds out, then the Mighty Casey flies out. End of inning.

And in yet another dumb move by Wedge, he lets Westbrook start the 8th. Doesn’t he know by now, that near the end of the game, particularly after a semi long inning, Westbrook gets tired and makes stupid mistakes like leaving his sinker hanging. Wouldn’t he think it would be smart to bring in Raphy Bentancourt to preserve the tie? I don’t care what Westbrook’s pitch count is! If he doesn’t have a perfect game going, you bring in Bentancourt to save the tie. Period.

This game was lost by missed opportunities and stupid coaching. Oh boy Wedge, you could have won this one! I blame this game on you. Westbrook pitched a hell of a game. And with that kind of game, one has to be hopeful about the year Westbrook might have.

Traitor

03stribeh.jpg
On a brisk night in Cleveland, the king of the double play, “Fab” Fausto Carmona had 3 double plays.

It was a rare night too as Fausto also had 4 strikeouts as he picked up his first win of the season. One of them was while the crowd loudly chanted traitor as the mighty Jim Thome struck out. Epic.

Westbrook hits the mound in a few minutes as the Tribe goes for its first sweep of the season. Westbrook had a good spring. Hopefully, its a sign of things to come.

Drama filled opening day

Jim Thome just loves to his the long ball at Jacob’s….er Progressive Field. He added two jacks to his lead as the reigning king of the homer at Progressive Field. Those two shots, though, were only the beginning of the drama which unfolded at Progressive Field today. And if that’s any indication of the season to come, I don’t know what is.
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With the exception of the two HRs given up to Thome, Cy Cy Sabathia had a decent outing. But the outing also is reflective of his game 1 ALDS performance last year: shaky at best. Lets hope those nerves were just opening day jitters on a contract year rather than an indication of things to come. Then again, if CC doesn’t have a good year, we might be able to keep him in an Indians uniform. Only time will tell. Many say CC is going to turn into a Bartolo Colon, winning the Cy Young, then busting. Buster Onley of ESPN doesn’t think so after ESPN the Magazine’s cover of CC and Onley’s prediction that the Tribe will win it all. We’ll see.

Still, the drama continued at Progressive Field. After the Indians broke out in the 2nd inning, taking a  7-2 lead, when every one thought it would be easy sailing for the rest of the game, drama had to come. And it came via the heart of the Tribe, Victor Martinez.

Martinez hurt himself sliding into second base after a ball got away from AJ Pierzynski. Victor left the game with a hamstring injury. Lucky for the Tribe, he got up and walked off the field. He’s currently listed as day to day. I pray to God he’s back soon. He’s the heart of the Indians team, and he’s needed in my fantasy league. :P Thankfully for the Tribe, though, Kelly Shoppach filled in just nice for Vic.

Kudos to Sizemore, Gutierrez, and Blake. All three had an excellent day. Sizemore with the HR, Gutierrez going 3-3 with the HR, and Blake driving in the winning runs. Its a good start to a bounce back year for Sizemore today. Gutierrez is proving to the critics that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he will be a premier hitter in this league. And a sleeper fantasy pick. And again, Blake is showing he can be clutch when it counts.

Another kudos to the best reliever in baseball, Raphy “Right” Bentancourt.  He picked up the win and was super clutch in a few jams, particularly in the 7th inning. And even though Joe Borowski gave up a HR to Dye, he again proved he gets the job done, picking up his first save of the season. And what good would Borowski be if he didn’t give us a little drama? Come on, that’s the appeal of Joe Borowski: scare us, but still, somehow, lead the AL in saves and get the job done.

So sit back, Tribe fans. The Central is going to be a horse race this year, and the Indians are going to make it interesting. Today is only a taste of things to come!

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