Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chris Perez Hurls For The Tribe!

So you think you have heard about all of the Indians' hurlers? Well wait until you digest this little tidbit (if you can)! It seems Indians' closer Chris Perez was about to sail comfortably through the 9th inning yesterday against the Cubs with a 4-1 lead when the ride got a little bumpy. A hit batter, a walk, and a double later with one out and Perez became more than a little upset! After screaming through his mitt at catcher Carlos Santana, Perez apparently called time out, laid down briefly on the grass behind the pitcher's mound, and then sat up and barfed on the field! Perez related the incident to when he played ball in the hot sun as a youth and having similar experiences. After eating lunch a little too early, he became overheated and experienced low blood sugar, thus causing the reaction. Chris, I am glad that you are OK but I gotta tell you, I love your style! Oh don't worry, the Tribe pulled the game out 4-3 but not until after the reliever found his own relief on the field. It kinda takes you back to a couple of scenes in the movie, "Major League." Jake Taylor and Ricky Vaughn are sitting in a bar and a young man asks Wild Thing for his autograph because Vaughn had been elected into the Hall of Shame that day for walking the bases loaded and then giving up a grand slam. Jake looks at Ricky and says words to the effect of, "You don't have to do something well if you do it colorfully." Later in the movie just before the playoff game vs. the dreaded NY Yankees, Willie Mays Hayes stops Jake Taylor to tell him that power hitter Pedro Serrano is looking for extra power and wants to sacrifice a live chicken in the club house. "Hey Jake man, we can't have guys throwing up all over the place!" Oh yes you can, Willie! There were probably a few other guys who got the dry heaves when Perez upchucked yesterday. You know that almost barfing sensation you get when someone else is in peril? This is big! We need to capitalize on this for the season! It is like the bubble gum bubbles that El Presidente (Dennis Martinez) was putting on guys hats in '95 while they were being interviewed. It's as good as the whipped cream pies in the faces of game MVP as they are telling Matt Underwood all about it after the game in '07. Chris Perez has put a new spin on "Hurler" as well as "Pitching in Relief!" Oh, there is money to be made and fortune to find! Can't you just see Alka Seltzer as a new sponsor of the Cleveland Indians? Picture Chris Perez holding up that little blue box of relief and saying, "I don't take the mound without it!" Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, oh what a relief it is! Chris Perez, not only have you become a very good reliever and closer in the American League, but you are doing it very colorfully as well!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Close Are They To Contending?

Is it the thrill of the upcoming season just one week away that changes our outlook to a more positive view?
After going to see my beloved team in Cactus League play, and now seeing them win lately with the regulars getting the majority of the playing time in spring training, I really like what I am seeing!
  • Our hitting was decent last year but is much improved in 2011.
  • Our base running was poor last year but much better right now!
  • Our fielding has improved...
  • Our relief pitching continues to improve since mid season last year...
  • Our starting pitching is keeping us from contending!

Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot, Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin...Ouch!

But if we could acquire just one more strong starter, this could be a very interesting season!

Two starters having a great season becomes contagious to the rest of the pitching staff!

Chris Antonelli and Mark Shapiro have a big decision to make in the next 7 days...contend or stay put?

I was disappointed in their recent decision to send Lonnie Chisenhall down to AAA. With Jason Donald on the DL for the start of the season, that gives 3rd base to Jack Hannahan, a good fielder who has not done well at the plate but has had a strong hitting spring. At least he is a 3rd baseman! The very last time I remember a AA ballplayer having a great spring and sticking with the team for the season because of injuries, he was the American League Rookie of the Year!

In 2005, the Tribe deep thinkers sent Grady Sizemore to the minors for more seasoning the day before the season started but quickly called him back up after the opener when "Roids Boy" Juan Gonzales wrecked his leg running out a grounder in his at bat of the season. Look at the season Grady had that year!

Come on Mark and Chris...roll the dice on 2011! Put some butts in the seats by contending with one more strong and proven starting pitcher!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Different Year, Same Results?

This is my first time ever at Spring Training. It is a great opportunity to view the Cleveland Indians prior to Opening Day.

What's new? What's the same?

Well, this is their third year in Goodyear, Arizona and the facility that they share with the Cincinnati Reds is fabulous.

When you enter the ballpark, looking around you are immediately reminded of the loss of Bob Feller in the off season.

Gaylord Perry was on hand to sign autographs and tell his wonderful stories.

Mark Shapiro was seen everywhere, from talking to ex-manager Eric Wedge on the field to walking the entire stands greeting fans. In fact, he and Bob DiBiasio were on our plane home on Sunday.

But somethings just don't seem to change.

Before Friday's game, the Indians were 4 and 9 and dwelling in last place in the American League season to date this Spring. Yes, we all know that Spring games mean little in the regular season and that it all starts anew April 1st. Well, try telling that to the world champion San Francisco Giants who dwell at the top of the National League this Spring.

The Indians played to a 5 to 5 tie in 10 innings with the Seattle Mariners on Friday, 3/11/11. Neither Eric Wedge or Manny Acta seemed very intent on winning the game.

The new infield duo of Astrubal Cabrera and Orlando Cabrera looked like they needed some more time to practice their double play exchanges as Astrubal flipped a ball to Orlando. Astrubal should have continued on across 2nd base and completed the double play. Instead, Orlando dropped the flip and was charged with one of the 2 errors made by the Tribe.

Lonnie Chisenhall made a slick running/throwing play on a hot grounder to 3rd base. This is our 3rd baseman of the future...Why not now? Yeah, yeah, yeah...options and all of that...who cares?! This guy has game, he hits, he fields, he is ready! Jason Donald suffered a wrist/hand injury over a week ago and has been delayed in his opportunity to take over 3rd.

Grady Sizemore has yet to get into a game this Spring. Grady more than likely will not be ready for the opener in Cleveland. The question that needs to be asked, will he ever be able to play again at full speed?

On Saturday, 3/12/11, the Tribe beat the Angels by a score of 2-1. The Angels were represented by a crew of guys mostly made up of guys you are not likely to hear about again this year.

Fausto Carmona started the game and was dominant. He pitched 4 scoreless innings giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, striking out 5 and "sinking" 6 ground ball outs.

Michael Brantley led off the game with a crisp hit. He looks very comfortable in center field. We need him to get off to a great start.

I have said this before but the game is beginning to resemble other sports with the constant barrage of entertainment. Between every batter there is a different blaring song and between almost every half inning there is a silly contest. The good thing is that there is no clock in baseball otherwise this sport would be out of hand with distractions like NBA games.

Some fans have no respect for the game getting up mid inning to get food, standing to take a picture just when a pitch is about to be delivered, etc. Other fans still maintain baseball etiquette and speak well of the game and it's lore between innings. It is refreshing to hear fans talk about their fantasy league picks, discuss prospects, and remember great performers and performances from the past.

So how will this team perform?

Starting pitching is the big question. But the lineup in the field is tough. Here is how I see the everyday lineup shaping up;

1. Michael Brantley, CF

2. Astrubal Cabrera, SS

3. Shin Soo Choo, RF

4. Travis Hafner, DH

5. Carlos Santana, C

6. Austin Kearns, LF

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B

9. Orlando Cabrera, 2B

I like this lineup! They hit and they field well. There is versatility with Shelley Duncan, Trevor Crowe, Luis Valbueno, Jayson Nix, and Jason Donald (when healed). The bullpen continues to improve since the second half of last season and they are quite stable now. It's starting pitching that will hurt this team. Fausto is solid but after him...Carasco got roughed up today...Tomlin needs to have a career year...Masterson must get consistent...same with Talbot, Gomez, and Huff...weak rotation!

If we want to compete, as Shin Soo Choo says we can, we must get another proven starter very quickly.

Let's see if we can change those same results!