Friday, May 30, 2008

Royals Eager To Welcome The Tribe

The Cleveland Indians begin an 11 game road trip tonight in Kansas City. The Royals are firmly entrenched in last place in the Central Division of The American League with a record of 21 and 33. They have now lost 11 games in a row. My bet is the Royals are looking to improve their record and stop their skid at the expense of the also struggling Indians. The two teams have met 5 times this season with the Indians winning 3 games. Cleveland has lost 8 of their last 10 games and is mired in much internal controversy.

Look for the Cleveland front office to finally make a trade very soon. Andy (out of options) Marte has been getting some playing time lately and many fans think he is being showcased. If so, he certainly has put on a disappointing display. There is more likelihood that the versatile Casey Blake, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, is the one being showcased, despite his poor batting average. He becomes expendable in this organization because of the need to move Jhonny Peralta to 3rd base, Astrubal Cabrera to SS, and insert the gutsy Jamie Carroll at second base.
As the Indians do a great impression of the their team from the 60’s, trying to “find themselves” (Peace, man), they are compromising the 2008 season. The fact is this team is…
They have wasted a great opportunity to run away with the division. Detroit is failing in so much as they were expected to be the powerhouse team. Minnesota is more of a pretended than a contender, and Chicago is left holding down the lead in the division but certainly could be overtaken. Instead, the Indians are going through the motions of allowing their hitters to work through their funk. When a player having hitting or pitching problems has options, they are relegated to the minors to work their problems out. Aren’t the best people to help them work out these problems at the major league level? Do Carl Willis and Derek Shelton have too much on their plate? You would think they would jump at the chance to correct an identified problem and get a player straight immediately. Eric Wedge and Carl Willis certainly made no secret about what they expected reliever Raphael Betancourt to do to be competitive; throw inside. Wedge stated that Willis has told Betancourt “more than 100 times” to throw inside but he refuses. What a bunch of Crap!

This team lacks the confidence in themselves to contend.
In the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game against the White Sox, the Tribe was down 6-5. Ryan Garko (pinch-hitting for Andy Marte, thank you very much) got on base via an error and Grady Sizemore walked. The first two batters reached base, down one run with no outs, and you got the feeling in the ballpark that the magic was back. Up comes Jamie Carroll with orders to bunt the runners (Cabrera pinch running for Garko) over to 2nd and 3rd. He executed the play with perfection. Ben Francisco comes to the plate knowing that a deep to medium fly ball ties the game and a single more than likely wins it. Francisco popped out on the first pitch. That brought Victor Martinez to the plate with two outs. Knowing he must hit safely or walk, Victor popped out behind third base to end the game.
It has been said that as Grady goes, so go the Indians. He’s having a "just OK" year. Can he get his offense back on track?
Is Travis Hafner too hurt to contribute? Can the team finally be honest about Haf?
Does the pitching staff tell the coach how they will pitch or does the coach tell the pitchers how they will pitch?
Why is Victor Martinez having a power shortage?
Can Cabrera, Peralta, Garko, Gutierrez, Blake, and Dellucci start hitting at least at a respectable level?

Tonight is the 54th game of the season. That represents exactly one third of the season. At 24 and 29, unless these questions are addressed and answered ASAP, this team will struggle to reach .500 the rest of the way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Was That Stench At The "Pro" Today?!

Brian "Killer" O'Nora
Last seen: In the vicinity of home plate at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday afternoon, pretending to be a major league umpire.
Description: Approximately 5'8" tall, 230 lbs, and suffers from poor eye sight, poor judgement, and extreme inconsistency.
Additional information: Use extreme caution with this individual as he is considered dangerous to the sport of baseball and fair play everywhere.
If apprehended, turn him over to Major League Baseball with films of the May 28, 2008 ballgame between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.
Accuracy to right handed batters 84.75% Leag. Ave. 87.54%
Accuracy to left handed batters 84.04% Leag. Ave. 85.06%
Consistency to right handed batters 90.47% Leag. Ave. 91.31%
Consistency to left handed batters 90.6% Leag. Ave. 91.56%

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Win, Don’t Get Excited…

The Cleveland Indians found a win last night. There is still much to do before this team contends again.
For example;

  • How do you like the reward Jensen Lewis received yesterday? He is by all measures the 4th best reliever on the staff with 27.2 innings in 20 games, 0-2 record during a run shortage, and he holds a respectable 3.58 ERA. The word is that he has some mechanical problems to work out to get his velocity back up. We truly do not have 9 months for this coaching staff to address any mechanical issues, better send him down where he can get some help. Perhaps he has mechanical isses but there is no hiding the fact that Lewis has minor league OPTIONS. By optioning Lewis and placing Carmona on the DL, room was made for Ed Mujica (8.31 lifetime ERA) and Scott Elarton (10.46 lifetime ERA).
  • Meanwhile, Jorge Julio and Andy Marte take up valuable space on the 25 man roster. Slide over for Mujica and Elarton…resembles more of a 21 man roster.
  • Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal writes today that he believes he knows what ails the Indians.
    “Slumping Tribe Suffers From Happiness Deficit.”
    He thinks that manager Eric Wedge is not keeping things loose enough, after all, baseball is a game. While most think that there is not enough accountability, could Sheldon really think there is too much? Perhaps you could agree if you saw anyone on this team (besides Ben Francisco) focused at the plate, or even stressing a little. Still, throwing names in a hat and pulling out a lineup may serve two purposes; improving upon Wedge’s 40 or so different lineups and truly loosening things up…Hmm.
  • Have you seen Joe Torre’s State Farm commercial?
    Love ya, Joe! Perhaps we will meet someday in a World Series. Both teams could certainly be on track…after this season.
  • How about Lebron James Vitamin Water commercial?
    Further proof the King can do anything. I wonder if he can hit a 90 mph fastball. Would he consider trading in his Yankee hat?
  • Do you think Victor Martinez really cut his finger trying to remove a hangnail? BAH! After he tangled with and lost to the plastic bucket last week there was much secrecy to the middle index finger injury that has kept him out of the past two games. First, it was a scratch, now it is a full-blown flesh tear that started with the removal of the hangnail. Being on this team and knowing their history of putting people on the DL, no wonder Victor tried to downplay the injury, as did Fausto on Friday night, as did Westbrook, as did Borowski, etc. Guys sitting in the clubhouse or on the bench must be thinking twice about coughing or sneezing.
  • Earlier this week, after three blown home run calls by the men in blue, Eric Wedge was asked how he felt about the possibility of instant replays in MLB. Wedge’s reply was, “Human error is part of the game. When you start something like that, where does it lead?” This of course was said before the umpiring committee totally blew the Ben Francisco home run Friday night. They blow them in the playoffs, they blow them in the regular season. The technology is there…use it for questionable home run calls. It would be quicker that the “ruling by umpire committee” as they obviously are guessing.

Here is hoping the Indians have a trade in the works to get rid of some dead wood/dead arms…Don’t hold your breath because they are scared to death to turn Andy Marte into another Brandon Phillips. And what’s with the on-again love affair with Scott Elarton? You can bet we will find out today...[insert scream here]. Go C. C., we need you all 9 today!

Friday, May 23, 2008

La La La La la La La!

The good news is that yes, the Cleveland Indians will eventually resolve their offensive problems. The bad news is that they will not resolve those problems in time to save the 2008 season. General Manager Mark Shapiro took a “wait and see” approach to the declining team batting average (last place in the American League) back in April. “We will not react until after 40 games,” was Shapiro’s response to inquisitive reporters and fans.
Manager Eric Wedge took on the same approach to the problem continually stating that the team will work this out and in doing so, they will really see what they are made of.
A little more than one year ago, the New York Yankees found themselves 15 games out of first place and managed to get back on track and make the playoffs as the wild card team.
The 2008 Cleveland Indians are not the 2007 New York Yankees.
Talk show hosts in Cleveland are chastising fans calling in, telling them that they are over-reacting and that this is a professional sports team that will eventually overcome their issues. As talk show host Mike Trivisonno on the Indians’ radio network states, “When the Indians are hitting, nobody knows who Derek Shelton is. When they are not hitting, everybody wants Derek Shelton fired!”
Not true. Not true in the least. The Indians are 22 and 25, 4.5 games out of first place, and 2 games out of last place. 47 games represents exactly 29% of the season and their winning percentage is .468. As long as the Tribe brass keeps the attitude that things will turn around, the fans do not think that management is doing enough to force a turn around. No one should be fire but accountability is lacking from top to bottom. this is the course that has been chosen for this team and we are to live with it.
If this team were committed to winning this season, Andy Marte would be long gone, Aaron Laffey and Ben Francisco would have broke camp with the 25 man roster, and the likes of Craig Breslow and George Julio would be part of some other team's AAA roster. At some point much earlier than 47 games, players options for the minor leagues would be disregarded for a winning record and attitude.

Enough! We are all tired of asking what is going to be done. Nothing will be done and nothing is being done. Soon, players will be traded, sent down, and released. After wasting 29% of the season, there is no urgency to pull this team out of their offensive woes. They will be allowed to work out their issues at the expense of the 2008 season.

So, if you love baseball and you love the Indians, you keep watching and rooting for your team, knowing the season is over and you wait for next year.

It is a shame that this talented group will fade into less than a mediocre season.

Perhaps the team will work things out for the 2009 season but you can be sure that the 2008 team will not be in the playoffs.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mirror Mirror…

On Tuesday, Detroit Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland commented to the media that his patience was getting short with his team’s dismal performance season to date. He said that if he has to start naming names and stop protecting players day to day, he would do that. When asked what effect that may have on the team, Leland responded,
"I don't give a [#@%&] what [@#@$%] it has," he said. "When people start making weak excuses in the newspaper, diversionary tactics and [#@$%], that rubs me wrong. I don't give a [&%$#] what effect it has. It can't have a bad effect, because we've been as [$%&@#] as you can be. So it can't hurt. I'm not looking for problems here, but I'm a man. I look in the mirror. When I'm [#$#@], I'm [$#$%]. And there's a few [$%&@#%] in that clubhouse right now that are [$#%] too. And they need to look in that mirror. Don't look at mine, look at theirs. And don't look at the guy next to them. Look in the mirror yourself. Don't be pointing fingers over here and why we're not doing well. That's all weak [$%#@]. Grilli's [%$%#], some of that other [#$%@] I read in the paper today, that's weak [#$%@]. Weak."

Cleveland manager Eric Wedge was asked about the effect losing was having on his team last night. He responded, "I don't think they're happy, and I don't think they should be," Wedge said. "But this is where the toughness really has to stand out. We can't feel sorry for ourselves or drop our heads. You've got to stand up and take it, look in the mirror, face it head on and keep fighting."

What’s with all the mirror references? The way these two teams are playing, you would think they broke all their mirrors already! Of course, Indians’ catcher Victor Martinez could make sure any remaining mirrors are out of commission. He took good care of a plastic sunflower seed bucket last night in the dugout. So thorough was Victor that he needed head trainer Lonnie Soloff’s assistance to remove his foot from the hole he kicked in the bucket!

Wedge keeps insisting that his team will come out of this offensive crisis. If not, we may need to save just one mirror so that we can reflect on the 2007 season.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ode to the Indians' Batters

Ode to the Indians' Batters

(sung to the tune of "Misty")

Swing at me,

I'm a strike above the knee

And I feel like I could be strike three

Even when I’m thrown flat,

I get missed when you’re swinging a bat.

Walk? no way,

And a thousand boo-birds sound their dismay

Or “you’re out” the umpire may say

A curve ball you will fear,

I get missed when your bat gets so near

You can say that you're taking a pitch

But it's just that I want you to twitch

Don't you know just how hopeless you seem

That's all part of my scheme.

On my own,

I pass through an exaggerated strike zone

Never knowing if the call will be blown,

My location you’ll hate,

I get missed when you stand at the plate.

We Are Still Here!

Harry Doyle: That's all we got, one goddamn hit (run)?
Assistant: You can't say goddamn on the air.
Harry Doyle: Don't worry, nobody is listening anyway.
Oh yes we are and we always will!

It's All About Accountability At All Levels

What's a manager to do?!
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes today, “No Free Pass for Tribe Hitters.”
Yes, Terry we couldn’t agree more but obviously, you are as frustrated as the Cleveland fans. This blog has been calling for a reaction since the batting slump began back in the first week of the 2008 season. Do we need to make a trade? No, not necessarily, unless a deal we can’t refuse comes a knockin’. Do we need to bring up guys from the farm? Yeah, it’s easy to say now that Ben Francisco should have been here from the spring but you are right, that is not the answer. You are suggesting that it is time to blame the players for their own batting woes. Everyone with a heartbeat and eyesight would agree 100%...but your solution?
Wedge should play Aubrey and sit Garko and Hafner.
Wedge should continue to play Francisco everyday.
Perhaps Cabrera should spend some time at AAA.
And on and on with what the coaching staff and front office should do…
What the coaching staff and front office should do?...BINGO!
That is the true frustration of the Cleveland Fan!
Here is a team that is terribly under performing. The fans are not present and down on the field to witness batting practice and the coaching sessions. And Wedge keeps conversations on those events private with respect to the players, as he should. However, when a team keeps under performing night after night, you have to wonder if the coaches are equipped to turn this team around.
Why did it take close to 9 months to fix Sabathia and Carmona?
What happened to Cliff Lee last year and who got him straight? Why did it take so long?
Why do the strikeouts continue since opening day? Why isn’t there any accountability (at least it appears that there isn’t) for called third strikes?
Last year, this team made their fortunes by being patient at bat and choosing their pitch. This year, if they are not swinging at the first pitch, the bat stays on their shoulders until strike 3 is called and they look at the home plate umpire as if he has a guide dog!
The average fan can only assume that the coaches are as frustrated as everyone else is. Eric Wedge speaks to the importance of preparation over results. But the fans do not see any reaction to missed opportunities and poor results, especially during the course of the game! Where is the coaching????
At this point, any reaction would be welcome, even if it were wrong.
Want the hitters to be accountable?
They must be held accountable to results and that is not happening.
We are at game 46 tonight. It is long past time for accountability on all levels.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Body Language!

Precious time and games are slipping away while the braintrust ponders in confused bewilderment.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No Apologies Intended, Just Well Wishes

In this morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brandon Phillips forgives the Cleveland Indians organization...but does not forget.

Brandon Phillips said that the Indians' organization mistreated him.
Said Phillips, "I forgive them for everything they did, but I'll never forget it. I won't."
In 2003, Phillips was handed the second base job out of spring training. He responded to this "mistreatment" with a .208 batting average in 112 games and 370 at bats. Upon being traded to Cincinnati, Phillips' numbers improved dramatically. Perhaps Phillips hit his stride while reaching a maturity level? Perhaps he merely hit his stride.

"The way I play the game, the way I pump my fist, the way I get excited, some managers don't like that," Phillips said. "I'm not saying just Eric Wedge. Dusty Baker loves it...It just gives more energy to the team. That's all it's about, me feeding energy."
There is no denying that the Brandon Phillips trade to Cincinnati will go down in G.M. Mark Shapiro's legacy as one of his worst. But Shapiro has made many good trades as well. More times than not, Shapiro's trades compliment manager Eric Wedge's mantra of respect for the game.

So good luck to you, Brandon. Look tomorrow in the paper or on the scoreboard and you will see that the Cleveland Indians are still able to play and compete very well without you. Same goes for Milton Bradley. These are two very talented players that will continue to do well in the major leagues, just not for the Indians and that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

Thanks, Satchel, we needed that! We can do much hand-wringing over our poor showing in Cincinnati this past weekend getting swept by the Reds. We could look back on how we had a hold on first place and let it get away from us.
Or, we can look ahead with a plan. Yes, it is true that our offense has been sputtering all season while our pitching and defense are sterling. We need to get all three "balls in the air" and keep them there.
On we go to Chicago. What a great opportunity we have in front of us. Chicago has a slim hold on our division title for the time being. With a good plan, we can take it back away from them.

  • Since bringing up Ben Francisco from AAA, he is on fire, so play him! Go with your hot hand!
  • Victor Martinez is what, #2 in the league in batting? Play him!
  • Manager Eric Wedge has had what, 40 different line-ups in 44 games? Well, go with #41! Tinker 'til it gels!
  • Your team is 12th out of 14 teams in the American League in strike outs? It's long past time for lessons to be learned, especially on called third strikes! It might be different if we were on top with Home Runs but we are 9th. The big strike out guys are Hafner, Sizemore, Peralta, and Blake. Funny thing, since Peralta was moved to the second spot in the line up, his strike outs are down. Beside changing the line up, it's just back to basics on striking out and holding guys's embarrassing!
  • Blake has a history of not hitting in the cluch...not this year! move him up in the line up and get those runs. In the 3 game series with the Reds, we left 47 runners on base! Play your hot hand!

The point is, bringing guys up from the minors is a gamble (it just so happened to work with Francisco and Aubrey so far), working on your current players' weaknesses makes sense.
No more rear view mirror, this team needs to be focused on the future, the immediate future to obtain the desired results.
Satchel Paige, what a talent, what a great man! If you ever had the pleasure to meet him, you are so much better for the experience!
Other bits of wisdom Satchel Paige shared with us;

"I never rush myself. See, they can't start the game without me."

"If a man can beat you, walk him."

"Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don't move."

"My pitching philosophy is simple - keep the ball way from the bat."

"When a batter swings and I see his knees move, I can tell just what his weaknesses are then I just put the ball where I know he can't hit it."

"You gotta keep the ball off the fat part of the bat."

Could it be that simple? It was, for Satchel!

"We're Not In The American League Anymore!

No, you are not in the American League and things are a bit different in a National League park. In two losses to the last place Reds, the Indians scored 5 runs on 15 hits batting just .214. They left 27 runners on base while striking out 19 times and walking only 5 times.

Not having the D.H. has not hurt the team nearly as much as not having a plan to make all nine spots in the batting order effective.

Pinch hitting Travis Hafner early in game one Friday night, though ill-advised had a positive effect as he connected for a solo home run. But in the top of the ninth inning, with right hander Cordero in relief, all three batters struck out, the first two (Blake and Carroll) on called third strikes and the final out (Sizemore) was on a checked swing that went too far.

Yesterday, Masa showed he was human and joined the failed save club of the Cleveland bullpen.
Still, if it wasn't for the starting pitching and the improved defense, this team would be sharing the bottom of the Central Division with the Tigers instead of hanging on to a piece of first place before the first pitch today.

It would be great to see a game plan that utilized the ninth spot in the batting rotation. Tony LaRussa seems to have it down, batting his pitcher 8th instead of 9th and using his bench each game. Tony feels that the 9th spot is more critical in game situations because it is followed by his swift contact hitter Skip Shumaker. Of course he developed that plan because he deals with pitchers batting on a daily basis. Still, the box scores are out there for everyone to see.

How can we cut down on called third strikes? Perhaps if we were swinging to protect the plate, the team batting average may just improve over 14th out of 14 teams and 12th in strike outs...hmmm.

Eric Wedge has a deep love for the game of baseball and he speaks to the respect of the game constantly. He handles his players with that same respect and demands that respect from them. He believes that preparation is more important than overall results. This has been a tough weekend for the team and just as tough to watch as the team appears to be struggling in uncharted waters, namely a National League ballpark.

Here is hoping that the preparation has a game plan that can win with a National League style. Don't be afraid to click your heels and alter the game plan for a more successful result today.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

To DH or Not To DH?

Since 1973, the designated hitter has been a part of Major League Baseball, but only in the American League in regular season play. Isn’t it time to unite baseball on this rule? Other than the All-Star game and the World Series, the designated hitter is not present in the National League, except when a National League team plays in an American League park during the regular season. The baseball purists will argue of the negative affect the D.H. has on the game. Since the inception of the D.H. rule, batting averages in the American League are higher than those in the National League. The advantages in the American League can be discussed and argued but isn’t it time to unite on this rule?
With inter-league play, the exclusion of the D.H. in National League parks makes the ninth spot in the line-up for American League teams pretty much an automatic out. Some American League pitchers are coached not to swing by their managers in fear they will risk injury. Today, Fausto Carmona of the Cleveland Indians batted in Cincinnati. Upon connecting with a weak swing, Carmona broke into little more than a walk down the first base line and drew the boos of the crowd. Cleveland has lost both games to Cincinnati by 1 and 2 runs.
What are the options? Get rid of rule 6.10 completely? Keep it the way it is? Make the D.H. optional to all 30 Major League teams? It is time to unite.

How important is inter-league play?
The battle of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, etc. are all strong arguments for inter-league play, mainly because these battles put butts in seats. But it has limited some of the older rivalries by diminishing the frequency of these teams playing in the regular season. For example, the Indians played only 7 games with, and are done playing the New York Yankees for the regular season. These series games always filled the ballpark in Cleveland, even when the Indians were not a winning team. Perhaps inter-league play should not take place until the D.H. issue is resolved.

What about the bats?!
Bats are shattering at a high rate since maple bat usage has increased. Serious injuries are being risked as fielders avoid shattered projectiles while fielding their positions.

All of these issues need to be addressed by the commissioner. Bud Selig, the sports world awaits action.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's A Mother To Do?!

By now, everyone has seen the picture of Gloria James coming to the rescue of her famous son, Lebron in game 4 of the playoffs between the Celtics and the Cavaliers. This incident took place on Monday, May 12 at the "Q" in Cleveland. Apparently Gloria James had had enough of the rough stuff on her son, first from the Wizards and now from the Celtics so she decided to take matters into her own hands. As her son was wrestled out of bounds on the receiving end of a hard foul, Gloria James rushed to Lebron's aid. In frustration, son said to mother words to the effect of, "Sit your sweet ass down!"
Tsk, tsk, tsk! This on the day after Mother's Day? What's a mother to do?
Well, since Lebron was not going to let her be his enforcer and protector, Gloria James turned her attention to another sport in town that may also be in need of her coaching talents and services. Besides, she knew she had some family business to take care of with the Cleveland Indians, especially after Lebron's faux pas during the Indians' playoffs with the Yankees last year.

So, mother James found herself coaching C.C. Sabathia out of the funk that he was in...Thanks Gloria!

Recently, she has been seen working with injured closer Joe Borowski as he makes his way back to the line-up from the disabled list.

But her biggest challenges are still ahead...Go Gloria, Go!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's The Masa With You? Kobayashi Is Our Closer!

Is there any doubt that Masahide Kobayashi is the Cleveland Indians' Closer? After saving 227 games in Japan, he has saved the last two games he has pitched for the mistake!

As said before, Rafael Betancourt is a very valuable pitcher to the Indians...just not as a closer!

Betancourt failed with a 4-1 lead in the top of the 9th inning this afternoon vs. the A's as he loaded the bases with one out. Enter Masa!

Was it perfect? Naw, he threw a wild pitch to advance the runners and make the score 4-2. Oops, no double play! That's OK, Masa induced both Mike Sweeney and Ryan Sweeney to strike out as he saved the day!




The Indians stay in first place as their record improves to 22-19.

Aaron Laffey gave up an unearned run in the second inning to stop the starters' streak at 44.1 scoreless innings. That's OK, we won and he pitched a great game giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 1 walk and 6 strike outs.
Other highlights;
Travis Hafner went 1 for 2 with 2 walks and...a stolen base!
Johnny Peralta (2 for 3) smacked his 7th home run in the 7th inning.
Ben Francisco went 3 for 4 with 1 RBI.

The Tribe is really putting the pieces together!

C.C. Goes Commando!

If David Dellucci is comparable to "Shipwreck" of G.I. Joe, certainly C.C. Sabathia can be "Commando!" Sabathia was "in command" last night as he pitched a complete game shutout that extended the 2008 Cleveland Indians' starters to 43.1 consecutive scoreless innings. That streak goes on the line again today at high noon when the Indians take on the A's for the final game of their 3-game set. Aaron Laffey gets the assignment and the streak is anticipated to continue and rival the 48 scoreless innings the 1948 Indians put together one magical season. Laffey's last outing against the Blue Jays was 7 scoreless innings. Hold on to your gun belts, this is gonna be a major assault!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Real American (League) Hero!

As we waited for the rains to pass last Sunday afternoon, there were some very interesting calls into the Indians' radio station on that gloomy Mother's Day. One caller in particular came up with a great comparison for obviously her favorite Indian. She compared left fielder David Dellucci with a G.I. Joe action figure. Since David has recently sported some facial hair growth, he does very much resemble "Shipwreck" of the G.I. Joe brigade...Too funny! The two radio hosts really got into the comparison and started to Google G.I. Joe and, sure enough, they were hooked on calling Dellucci G.I. Joe!

We have had some other comparisons, like Fred Flintstone for Ryan Garko and most recently actor Javier Bardem for Travis Hafner (that's much better than the "Shrek" reference any day).

But since David has been healthy this year, he did have a slow start at the beginning of the season but as of late, he is becoming our Real American Hero!

From hitting a home run to beat the Yankees to wrastlin' down that sure double against the left field wall last night, this guy is beginning to show that he can do it all.

Since being moved up to second, third, or fifth in manager Eric Wedge's line-up (depending on the opposing pitcher), Dellucci has responded with an increase in his batting average to .245 (and rising), 5th on the team in OBP, and 2nd in Slugging.

Go G.I. David!

Grady's Ladies really stole the show on Saturday night! check out the hopefuls in the stands as Grady and team beat up on the Jays...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What A Game!

Frank Thomas is out at the plate!
If you saw the Cleveland Indians host the Oakland A's tonight, you saw an incredible baseball game! Both Paul Byrd and Justin Duchscherer matched each other on pitching gems. Travis Hafner was able to knock in David Dellucci in the bottom of the first inning, and that was all of the scoring until the bottom of the 8th inning. That may have been all of the scoring until the 8th but definitely not all of the action.
Jack Hannahan stole 2 line drive hits and a hot, hot grounder playing 3rd base.
David Dellucci made a leaping catch off of the left field wall.
Casey Blake snagged a sure extra base line drive at 3rd.
Grady Sizemore made an incredible diving catch in short center field.
Asdrubal Cabrera, with his back to the plate, made a fabulous catch of a short fly ball between 2nd base and center field.
Frank Thomas tried to score from second base on a single in front of Grady Sizemore in the top of the second inning. As Thomas rounded third base, Sizemore threw a bullet to catcher Victor Martinez who was blocking the plate. Thomas appeared to stumble as he went down to slide into home around Martinez. It appeared Thomas slowed as his leg caught the dirt at home plate. He caught his left arm with the left leg of Martinez as he was tagged out before getting to the plate.
Travis Hafner had two key hits tonight.
Finally, Ryan Garko blasted a 3-run homer to extend the Indians lead to 4-0.
This was a great game and it appears the Indians may finally be putting things together!

Give Us Barabas, er Borowski!

Who'd of thought we would be begging for the return of Joe Blow?!

Yes, we all know now what a difficult job it is to be a closer. That fact has been well supported by the the Brewers' Eric Gagne and the Cards' Jason Isringhausen crying "uncle" and asking for a break from closing.

This must be the job nobody wants.

What about Masa Kobayashi? Wasn't the reason we got him in the off-season because he was this fabulous closer in Japan? Come on, put him to work, let's see what he's got. So far, so good! In 17 games, he is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He has 10 strike outs and 2 walks! Hey, that's not bad! Put him in coach, at least in more critical situations. He's going to be 34 years old in 10 days, what are we saving him for?

Rafael Betancourt is very valuable to the Cleveland Indians, just not in a closer role.

So, hurry back Joe Blow! We love you when you save a game and you did that 45 times in 2007. You even warned us that a lot of fans were going to start smoking again with you around!

Until Joe returns, how about Masa?

All hail Asdrubal Cabrera on his unassisted triple play last night! He was quoted in the morning paper (through an interpreter) that as soon as the ball was hit, he knew he had a chance for a triple play. Wow! Talk about having your head in the game!

It's too bad that his slick fielding and Cliff Lee's valiant pitching effort went for naught. We still have an energy crisis at the plate.

Manager Eric Wedge showed some emotion last night in his post-game interview and it was very welcome! When asked about the play by his second baseman, Wedge growled at the interviewer's question.

"It's a triple play," snapped manager Eric Wedge after the game. "I'm not going to talk about it. We didn't win the game."
Wedge was upset over the Indians' inability to hit Shaun Marcum and relievers B.J. Ryan (1-0) and Kelly Downs.
"Our approach was as poor, if not the poorest, I've seen here all year," said Wedge. "There's no excuse. We gave away at bats all night long. Their kid [Marcum] is a helluva pitcher, but we gave away at bats all night."

Hip, Hip, Hooray! Go get 'em Wedgie!

Things don't get any easier with the A's coming to the Pro tonight. This offense has got to get going!

This is a great team but they need a foot up their behind to get back on track. Here is hoping Wedge has a pair of size 16 combat boots he can get after them with!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the clubhouse…

For immediate release:
The Chicago White Sox blowup doll controversy has now spread to other major league baseball clubhouses, including that of the Cleveland Indians.
Major League officials are steadfast in their refusal to take any disciplinary action stating, “This is a team issue, not a league issue.”
Indians' manager Eric Wedge has called a team meeting for this afternoon prior to a double header with the Blue Jays at Progressive Field. The meeting will allow the team to "air out" the issue and not let it get "inflated."
Third baseman Casey Blake was quoted as saying, "We're still as 'pumped up' as ever."
First baseman Ryan Garko claims that the team is still "filled" with enthusiasm despite the "deflating" occurrence.
Click on the link below for an "expanded" view…
Warning, the following picture is graphic in nature and should be viewed only by responsible Cleveland Indians fans with a great sense of humor!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Outlook On Travis, Full Or Haf?

In today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sports writer Bud Shaw wonders what new theories will emerge on the Travis Hafner slump.
Shaw lists 7 theories on what is wrong with Pronk;

  1. He got married

  2. He needs to play in the field

  3. Someone else (actor Javier Bardem) has taken his place

  4. He lifts weights too much

  5. He’s in his 30’s and slowing down

  6. His mechanics are messed up

  7. He’s hurt

You can dismiss all theories except 6 and 7.
Let’s put #7 on the shelf for now. Hafner has stated that he is not hurt and the Indians’ medical staff has verified this. Still, he has taken some nasty fastballs in the arm, elbow, wrist, knees, hands, and face. Let’s assume Travis is truthful and the medical staff has done their job.
Now, on to #6.
Is Hafner’s swing broken?
Since batting .308 in 2006, Travis dropped 42 points in 2007. In 2007, he hit 18 less home runs and his slugging and on base percentages dropped significantly. Haf is off to a slower start this year. Over the last 2 seasons, many teams have begun to put an infield switch on the big guy.
What if this is a combination mental and physical problem? Did the switch get in his head? Is he overcompensating and changing his stance and swing?
These would be questions for hitting Coach Derek Shelton.
Who is Derek Shelton?
Shelton was in the Yankees minor league organization until he required career-ending surgery on his right elbow. He moved into coaching and has had some impressive accomplishments in the minors as a batting coach and a manager. He took over as the Indians’ batting coach in mid 2005 replacing Eddie Murray. Perhaps he is in over his head, perhaps not.
Manager Eric Wedge maintains that hard work and patience will turn the Indians’ hitting troubles around. The question is how much patience? Another question is, can a hitch in someone’s swing be recognized and addressed in a reasonable amount of time?
Are Derek Shelton and Carl Willis (Indians’ pitching coach) equipped to recognize mechanical problems in their hitters and pitchers? This seems to be the biggest question mark with this team. A player with this team gets into a slump and they do not seem to be able to overcome the slump. The entire team with few exceptions is trying to come out of a slump.
This blog has been calling for action for quite some time but action is not necessarily a trade or calling up the cavalry from the farm system. Instead, a reaction to problems quicker has been the plea. The Dolans and G.M. Mark Shapiro have a profit and loss statement to answer to. They must balance earnings vs. costs just as any business must do. But the manager and the coaches have a P&L of sorts to answer to. That P&L is team and individual player performance. As a team, the Indians are 13th in batting, 10th in on base percentage, and 13th in slugging percentage in the American League. They are dead last in hits, 2nd in ERA, tie for 12th in saves, and 2nd in fielding. My concern is that because G.M. Mark Shapiro has taken a “patience” attitude, so has the manager and the coaching staff. I am concerned that Willis and Shelton are not attacking the batting and relief pitching the way they should be. While I agree with being patient with the existing team, I do not agree with being patient with their under performance. Batting stances, swings, and approaches need to be analyzed and corrected. Pitcher’s wind ups and release points must be addressed, corrected, and monitored. C.C. and Fausto didn’t get back on track by just working through their difficulties. Their mechanical problems are well documented but what took so long to recognize and fix them?
Pronk is out of whack for over a year now. The fact that teams still put the switch on him proves that he is still a feared hitter. They are thinking that he may or will start hitting again at any time. Does Haf think that? He doesn’t appear to.
I think that the Cleveland Indians are a very good team. I truly believe that they are beginning to put it all together. I also believe that they should be running away with the Central Division.
The coaching staff must figure out these slumps and react much quicker.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys!

Come on, admit it...
When you saw the video of Richie Sexson charging the mound, did you jump up and say, "Go, Richie!"
I did. For good or bad reasons, I loved it! Guys were getting hit on both teams and it was time to end it, so "Sexy Richie" or "Big Sexy" (as he was called back in the days when he went deep for the Indians) decided to "sacrifice" himself to unite the team.
Perhaps, you say, I am giving Sexson too much cerebral credit? Perhaps!
Perhaps Richie could have waited for an inside pitch instead of just an eye high but over the plate pitch? Perhaps!
At any rate, his actions were spur of the moment, hot-headed, dangerous, and yet...heroic!
Come on, think back to when you did any level!
People may not remember that the other team couldn't get you out, how many RBIs you had, or how you may have been single-handedly crushing the opposing team, but they do remember that you lost it that night and maybe not even remember the reason why!
You know you love telling the story!
So what!
Nobody got hurt but you risked league suspension to stand up for your guys!
Great stuff!!!
You may remember an Indians' game last year on May 4th vs. the Blue Jays. Josh Barfield slid home hard on catcher Jason Phillips who was blocking the plate. After Barfield was called out, Phillips hovered over and challenged Barfield to let him know that he was upset with the slide. On deck batter David Dellucci would have none of that as he got right up in Phillips grill with extreme intensity! Phillips backed down, probably the fact that Dellucci still had bat in hand made a little difference.
I remember the play like it was yesterday but what I didn't remember was that Dellucci went out into left field, made a spectacular catch, then led off the bottom of the next inning with a double. I also didn't remember that the Indians won the game with a bottom of the ninth inning double by Grady Sizemore. The bravado displayed by Dellucci absolutely had much to do with the victory.
So, "Sexy Richie," take your suspension (surely one will be levied) and a possible fine in stride. As much as I like your creativity, throwing the helmet was over-kill. But your comments on the post-brawl interview, although tongue-in-cheek, were apologetic, not to the Rangers but to the fact that the incident took place at all.
"Rhubarbs" will always have their place in the game and although they are highly entertaining, they do serve a purpose when conducted properly...uh, when conducted?!
P.S. Did you see who played the part of peacemaker during the incident?
None other than Milton Bradley...that is rich!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Dream Line-Up for Tonight’s Game...

Facing undefeated Chien-Ming Wang tonight, here is my dream line-up that will never be handed to the umpire:

  1. Asdrubal Cabrera 2B
  2. Grady Sizemore CF
  3. Victor Martinez C
  4. Ryan Garko 1B
  5. Travis Hafner DH
  6. David Dellucci LF
  7. Jhonny Peralta SS
  8. Ben Francisco RF
  9. Casey Blake 3B

    This line up gives you two switch hitters in Cabrera and Martinez, three left-handed hitters in Sizemore, Hafner, and Dellucci, and four right-handed hitters that are capable of hitting right-handed pitching in Francisco, Blake, Peralta, and Garko. I believe you have to create a line-up as if every batter will bat in the first inning. You need to play out the scenarios in your head to give them the best shot at coming true. Here is the play by play (imagine the voice of Tom Hamilton);
  1. “Cabrera has worked the count to full. Wang winds and throws, Cabrera slaps a single into right field!”
  2. “Wang is really holding Cabrera close to first. Sizemore is ready with a count of 2 balls and 1 strike. Wang comes set, takes a long look at Cabrera on first, and delivers. Sizemore drives the ball down the line into right field! Cabrera is digging for 3rd as the throw comes in, he slides…SAFE! Sizemore is in at second with a double. What a great piece of hitting by Sizemore as he got his pitch!”
  3. “Victor Martinez, leading the American League with a .340 average, steps to the plate batting left. With no outs, you wonder if the Yankees will put him on to set up the force and face righty Garko. No, it appears they will pitch to Victor. Victor stands in, Wang to the stretch, he delivers and Victor lifts the first offering up and away, deep into the seats in right-center for his first home run of the season! That puts the Indians ahead by a score of 3-0!”
  4. “Garko stands in. He is really looking for an outside pitch. Wang winds and delivers and he hits Garko in the elbow! That’s the 5th time he’s been hit this year! He leads the team in that category. Garko appears to be alright as he makes his way to 1st base.”
  5. “Garko takes a lead at first. Apparently, Wang does not feel he is a threat to go. Hafner has worked the count to 2 and 2. Wang comes to the stretch and delivers, Hafner drives the pitch deep into center field, a-waaaaaay back…this ball is gone, deep into the bleachers! The Indians’ offense has come alive here in the first inning! Wow, what a drive! Hafner really put a hurting on that ball! Indians 5, Yankees haven’t been to bat yet and there is still nobody out in the inning!”
  6. “Dellucci, the hero of last night’s game steps in. Wang winds up and delivers, Dellucci swings and launches a shot into left field, this ball has a chance, it hits the left field wall and Dellucci reaches 2nd base standing! What a drive and the firepower continues! Whatever has gotten into these guys needs to continue!”
  7. “Dellucci takes his lead at second. Wang checks him as he comes to the stretch, the pitch and Peralta lifts the ball right over second base and into center field as Dellucci will score easily! 6-0 Tribe! How about that!”
  8. “Ben Francisco has worked the count to one ball and two strikes. He’s a pretty good two-strike hitter. Peralta steps away from 1st base. Wang delivers, Francisco drives the ball down the right field line past Giambi at first base and into right field! He’s got double on his mind as he rounds first and heads to second! Peralta is into 3rd base easily as the throw will come to second… here comes the throw and a head first slide by Francisco…SAFE! How about that?! Boy oh boy, this team is on fire! Still nobody out! You have to wonder what is going on in Wang’s mind. How long will they let him stay out there?!”
  9. “Blake is looking to bring home Peralta and Francisco as the Indians will bat around. Blake takes strike two. Casey has got to get some swings in. Now is the time to join the hit parade. Wang looks at Francisco on second and comes to the plate…Blake hammers this ball to deep left field! This ball is going to be out of here if it stays fair! There it goes, onto the Home Run Porch! Boy did he need that! Indians 9, Yankees may get to bat tonight but I don’t know when! What an inning!”

    That’s the line-up I want with the optimal outcome…Go Tribe!

Ozzie's Rant and The Tribe's Spark!

Did Ozzie cut his own throat?

Did he go too far?

On Monday, Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Chicago White Sox berated the Chicago fans and media for non-support of his team with a profanity laced rant. He claims they all have short memories and forgot that the Sox won the World Series in 2005.
Ozzie, as Paula Abdul said so well, “What have you done for me lately?”
2005 was two and one-fifth seasons ago.
As of Monday, your team was 2 games out of first place with a .467 winning percentage.
What do you want, a parade downtown?
The fact is, you are putting an inferior product on the field. It’s not oil or grain that we will buy no matter how high the price is driven.
Nowhere in the country does the free enterprise system work better than in professional sports; take major league baseball. Of the 14 teams in the American League, 6 of them are at or better than .500. Of the 16 teams in the National League, 10 of them are at or better than .500. That means 16 out of 30 teams, or 53.3%, are playing at a break even or better percentage. There are 14 teams that are not winning. They must improve or lose money (not make as much as they could with a winning record). This is the basis of our free enterprise system; winners win and losers lose.
So the question becomes, since Ozzie guaranteed a winning team or he would resign, is it time yet for Ozzie to fire himself?

"Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready To Play!" So said David Dellucci on Tuesday evening in the Bronx. Off the bench he comes late in the game to take the Indians from a 3-2 deficit to go ahead 5-3 with a 3-run pinch hit home run! “This is just the spark this team needs!” said radio color man Mike Hegan along side play-by-play commentator Tom Hamilton who agreed.
Spark? They may need a forest fire but we will start with this victory!
Tonight’s game is huge! Two undefeated pitchers go up against each other, Cliff Lee 5-0, 0.96 ERA vs. Chien-Ming Wang 6-0, 3.00 ERA. If Cliff can control the Yankees and give the Tribe another chance to win, we will be sure of winning this 3-game series and putting ourselves back on track…CAN’T WAIT!!!!

Rumor has it, the "Rocket" may throw out the first bat tonight!