Saturday, September 20, 2008

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Featured now is a piece on why Gary Sheffield is a piece of garbage

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Get on the I-71 Express

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, your Wahoo Warriors will have a new AAA affiliate, right down I-71 South in the capital city of Columbus C-Bus, here we come! Good news for all of your lovers of the Red, White, and Blue, you will get to watch the development of future Tribe fixtures Matt Laporta and Wes Hodges. You may get to see a rotation that includes the likes of stud prospects “14 scoreless” Scott Lewis and David Huff (if they don’t make the big club). You may even get to feast your eyes on the making of a future closer in the fire-balling Adam Miller.

We will definitely miss Buffalo, Dunn Tire Park, and the pronunciation of the team nickname the “By-zons.” But its a complete no-brainer for the organization. Now is when the geniuses (ha ha) behind STO should capture the Columbus market and fill all of that empty paid programming and poker-show time with Clippers games and content in step with the Indians games and shows.

Here is another idea for the STO folks: how about a roundtable of local sports bloggers/writers like yours truly and the boys at The Cleveland Fan, which currently provides STO with all of their website content? Sign us up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Victor Victorious

In a season of frustration and injury, Victor Martinez finally got his moment. Too bad it took until September 16th to do so. Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning, Vic the Stick sent the 2,000 0r so fans still remaining at 11:30 home happy, with a three-run, walk-off blast to center off of Twins closer Joe Nathan. It was his second homer of the season and since his return from a three-month stint on the DL.

Amazingly, this was the first game-ending Home Run Nathan has allowed in an astounding 428 appearances (thanks to the PD’s Paul Hoynes for that factoid). Nathan also has owned the Indians for years. He came into the game lifetime against the Tribe 3-0 with 28 saves in 29 chances. As Victor rounded third and headed towards home, he was grinning like a Pacman Jones at a strip club. He slid into his awaiting teammates who piled on him in celebration. Said Martinez after the game “I felt just like a little kid running the bases.”

The Vic crush job put the ending on what was one of the more wild games of the year. The Tribe jumped out 8-1 in the first three innings and chased starter Francisco Liriano, thanks to a three-run slice from Ryan Garko and a solo shot from Asdrubal Cabrera in the second, followed by four more runs in the third capped by an Andy Marte RBI single. You know its not your night when Marte is beating you.

It seemed all good and even with The Zack Attack on the mound, an 8-1 lead seemed safe. That is why the play more than three innings and that is why Zack Jackson is nothing more than a spot starter/long man at best. Before you knew it, it was 8-5 after five. The Attack clearly had nothing left, yet Eric Wedge sent him back out for the sixth. Maybe it was because he was still evaluating the kid, maybe it was that he had no faith in his bullpen. Either way, The Attack gave up back to back singles to start the sixth before giving way to a plethora of Tribe relievers who came from the bullpen with gas cans in tow.

Juan Rincon gave up a two-run single to bring it to 8-7. In the 7th, Brendan Donnelly loaded the bases with one out and was bailed out as Carlos Gomez’s line shot went right at Marte who stepped on third to end the inning. Rafael “The Realtor” Betancourt looked about as good as a salad does to Artie Lange in the 8th. He walked four and gave up two runs before giving way to Moo-Heeks (Eddie Mujica). Raffy left after throwing 33 pitches (painstakingly slow in his delivery), only 13 of which were strikes.

That is when the fireworks began.

Grady Sizemore hit a one out, solo bomb off of the right field foul poll that deflated Twins reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado in the eighth. Then I sat and witnessed one no-name reliever after another on both sides get key outs. Ever heard of Jose Mijares before? Me neither. He pitched a scoreless 10th for Minnesota. Thomas “Nasty” countered with a two K top of the 11th. He was rewarded with the W thanks to the Victor blast.

What a strange night down at the Jake (I still refuse to call it Progressive Field). Interestingly, it was another up and down night for me and my Tigers/Tribe Flemings bet. At 10:45 PM, the Tiger led the Rangers 4-2 heading into the ninth and the Tribe trailed 9-8 in the eighth. I was livid over an easy blown win. The next thing you know, Fernando Rodney was failing to get an out for the Kitties and the Rangers had come back for a 5-4 win and the Tribe ended the night a 12-9 ”victor.”

Now the Tribe is 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the race for steaks.

As a wise man once said “ohhhhh loveittttttttttttttt.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who is This Kid? He's the Problem Solver

Tribe-Nation knows all about Adam Miller. Wahoo fan can tell you a lot about David Huff by now. Even a casual RWAB follower knows a tiny bit about Chuck Lofgren or Jeff Stevens; but who out there actually thought we'd see a dominating Scott Lewis here in September? Where did this young lefty come from and is this for real?

For the second straight outing, the soon-to-be 25 year old OSU product pitched a shutout as the Tribe topped the second place Twins 3-1. Lewis once again baffled the opposition by moving the ball all over the place and changing speeds and he rarely topped 87-88 mph on the radar gun. If you watch him pitch, he looks like a more confident Jeremy Sowers and reminds me of Scott Kazmir without the heat and David Wells without the beef. 14 scoreless innings in his first two big league outings and he has not done this against chopped liver. The Twins offense ranks 3rd in baseball in team batting average and the Orioles are ninth.

In January, Baseball America had him rated as the 7th best prospect in the Tribe organization and Tony Lastoria even had him as low as 14th. Right now I'd say you can move him up the list. With Sowers and Aaron Laffey having inconsistent seasons, why not put him in the mix for 2009? Again, health is a concern with this kid. Tribe "Top Men" will only give him one more start and then likely shut him down.

While "The Problem Solver" dazzled us once again, Travis Hafner continues to be a shell of himself. I know I know-- Pronk is just getting his feet wet again in the bigs and is going to need time getting used to playing every other day, but, he is 3 for 17 in his four games back with 4 strikeouts and 0 RBI. Last night, Travis came to the plate in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. I sat there and said to myself "Come on Pronk.. hit it hard somewhere" knowing full well he would not. Does that make sense? I was trying to will him to a warning track sac-fly and instead he chopped one weakly to Justin Morneau at first and nearly was doubled up 3-2-4 at first. I just hope in March he is pounding the ball again and ready for the 2009 season because he is vital to the team's success. Hitting 198 against righties is not going to cut the mustard.

Next thing you know he will be opting to kick field goals instead of going for the end zone and we cannot have that.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Kansas City Technique

What the hell, since the Browns and the Buckeyes dominated the local scene with two bad losses, why should the Indians fly under the radar after a completely lost weekend against those heavy-hitting Kansas City Royals.

As bad as the Buckeyes were, the Tribe may have been worse, looking like a bunch of dogs who wanted to be sleeping curled up on the couch, rather than to be out in the rain. Friday night’s tilt looked like the start of a big weekend. The Tribe bats were hotter than Alicia Sacramone, putting a 12 spot on the board in a 12-5 win.

Saturday’s day/night double-dip turned into a 3:35 back to backer where Wedge’s crew fell asleep at the wheel. They gave up a combined 16 runs on 31 hits, thanks to the likes of such stalwarts as Bryan Bullington, Masa “I should have been shut down two months ago” Kobayashi, and the seemingly lost Fausto Carmona, who has been doing his best Cliff Lee 2007 impersonation.

Sunday was no better. Jeremy Sowers, who seemingly pitches every single home Sunday game, lasted only three innings as the Tribe was blasted 13-3. Eddie Mujica, AKA Mr. 4A, got two outs in the fourth, then allowed five straight base-runners and took the loss. Tom “Nasty” Mastny continued his miserable campaign, allowing four runs in an inning to bring his ERA to 12.18. The lone bright spot on Sunday was seeing Fat Sal Fasano get a start behind the dish. Man, I love that fu-manchued fat man.

Notes from the weekend:

1. What has exactly happened to Carmona? He became so frustrated with himself after being yanked during Saturday afternoon’s loss that he chucked his hat and glove into the stands. The 19 game winner a tear ago has become a shell of his former self. The injury to his hip cost him seven valuable weeks and his confidence has never seemed to resurface. Last year, opposing hitters couldn’t lay off oh his nasty sinker. This year, the book seems to be out on him, lay off the sinker and sit on the fast ball. Fausto has to get back to his ‘07 form if the Tribe is going to contend in ‘09

2. Cliff Lee won his 22nd game Friday night and coasted into the ninth before he fell into a little trouble and Jenny Lewis had to close it out. Has there ever been a season in Tribe history where a player came in with so much baggage, so much to prove, and came in and just blew the entire league away with his abilities? The man I dubbed “Stiff Lee” in ‘07 have stuck it right to me and all of his other critics and is a lock Cy Young winner in the American League.

3. Not that anyone has noticed, but Shin-Soo Choo has become Tribe most consistent performer, and that includes Grady Sizemore. He ended the weekend hitting .300 with 39 extra base hits and 49 RBI in 273 at bats. Add in his cannon-arm and it makes for an everyday starter in right field you can count on.

4. Watching the Tribe bullpen arms this weekend makes it easy to remember this unti has to be re-built this offseason. As nicely has Jensen Lewis has filled in as the closer in the last 30 games or so, money must be spent on a top flight closer you can count on. Only Rafael Perez has shown any semblence of consistancy all year. Who knows what Masa will come back with next year. Rafael Betancourt’s nightmare season most likely won’t be repeated, but not even he can be counted on. Guys like Juan Rincon, Brendan Donnelly, Mastny, and Mujica? I saw way too much of them this weekend and know these four are not answers for 2009.

5. Bryan Bullington was really the #1 pick in the entire MLB draft in 2002? Really? Seriously? Guess who drafted him? The Pirates. Tells you all you need to know.

6. The Indians smartly did not bring up prized left David Huff to start the game Bullington did. No need to give him a taste yet. Our spies tell us that in the pecking order of Tribe pitching prospects its Huff #1 and then everyone else. Scott Lewis gets his second start tonight against Minnesota. Lets see what he has in store for us.

7. Congrats to Asdrubal Cabrera who was named co- AL Player of the Week. AC hit .455 with eight RBI including three multi-hit games. The kid keeps getting better and better. With Andy Marte falling off the table, it would surprise nobody if Cabrera is moved to his natural position of shortstop with Jhonny Peralta moving to third this offseason.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scott Freaking Lewis

That was a man-sized Major League Debut if I have ever seen one. Dude absolutely cruised to victory, making it look easy. Zero walks, three hits, and no runs in eight innings? I mean, are you kidding? Is there any end to the depth of starting pitching in the Tribe's system? Lewis is behind guys like David Huff, Adam Miller, and Aaron Laffey in the pecking order, yet he made a serious case for himself tonight with a dominating performance against the Orioles in the 7-1 win.

Speaking of this Orioles, they looked like they had licked the stamp and mailed it in the last two nights. One weak at bat after another, swinging early in the counts, not drawing walks, etc etc. I mean, its not as if they faced Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona, it was Jeremy Sowers and his 5.97 ERA and Scott Lewis who was making his first career appearance.

Enough about the O's. Tonight is a celebration of the kid from Ohio State. The Tribe's third round pick in the 2004 draft, was mixing speeds all night long and never let Baltimore hitters get comfortable. Shame on Eric Wedge for not letting him make the attempt for the complete game shutout. Lewis threw 96 pitches and was masterful. The Orioles never had two men on in any inning while the kid was dealing. He deserved a chance to finish what he started.

Naturally, Masa The Gas Can Kobayashi came in and immediately gave up three hits and a run. Masa has had no bullets left in his gun for two months. Luckily for The Grinder, the offense did. How about the Shop Vack? Two more pizza's for the best backup catcher in baseball, bringing his season total to 19.

Asdrubal Cabrera continues to prove the demotion to AAA was the smartest move the Tribe brass made all season. He had two more hits and three more RBI's. He was hitting .186 when he returned from his demotion July 18th. Right now, AC is up to .245 and has started the month of September on a 15-28 tear.

Back to Lewis, he was only supposed to be up here making one start in place of the sore-elbowed Anthony Reyes. I for one have got to see more of the young lefty.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Only 3,000 People Or So Cared To Be There

Did you see the crowd tonight in Baltimore? Peter Angelos must be spinning in his grave, the friggin guy isn't even dead yet. He gets what he deserves. I don't care what the attendance will say in the morning, there couldn't have been more than 3,000 people at Camden Yards watching the sad sack Orioles get schooled by Jeremy "Ziggy Sobotka" Sowers, he of the 5.97 ERA. (SIDE NOTE: That is a reference to season two of HBO's The Wire. Sowers and Ziggy - separated at birth)

Just how bad was it for The O's in the 6-1 loss? The Indians got RBI in consecutive innings from Michael Aubrey, David Dellucci, and Andy Marte. That's like getting beaten by a knife in a gun fight. Tonight also marked the return of Pronk. Travis Hafner actually looked good at the plate, getting hits in his first two at bats with solid line drives. He hadn't stung a ball like this once in the first two months while playing through a bulky shoulder.

Another thing - I know I am beating a dead horse and I know he had an RBI triple, but please explain to me why Dellucci got the start in left field and hit second? I mean seriously Wedge, what are you trying to prove here? Why should Benny Francisco and Franky G lose at bats this late in the season to this scrub dog who has no future with the club? The only explanation is they are trying to showcased him for an off season deal. There isn't any other single reason to play him. He is slow, he is old, he is a terrible outfielder with a pop-corn arm, and is hitting .244.

Do I say this every single week? I swear I do. I think the only dumber move in Cleveland sports right now is a certain football coach who elects to kick field goals down 21 points in the fourth quarter rather thank going for it on fourth and three.

Meanwhile, my Tigers/Tribe bet is coming right down to the wire. The Indians were percentage points ahead of Detroit entering tonight. I've got a steak dinner at Fleming's for four riding on this. I figured I'd be battling it out for first place, not third.

Another quick note - Tommy Hamilton said something on the radio tonight that made a ton of sense. The guy who would look great in a Tribe uniform next year is Orioles 2B Brian Roberts. Think about it. Here is the perfect #2 hitter. Great on base percentage guy with speed. He's an allstar caliber player and has a contract that ends after the 2009 season. The Orioles would love to snatch some of the Indians pitching depth and having Roberts in the lineup would settle the infield with Asdrubal Cabrera moving to SS and Jhonny Peralta to third. How does this lineup sound?

CF Grady Sizemore
2B Brian Roberts
C Victor Martinez
3B Jhonny Peralta
DH Travis Hafner
LF Ben Francisco
RF Shin-Soo Choo
1B Ryan Garko
SS Asdrubal Cabrera

Mix in Kelly Shoppach, Franky G, and Jamey Carroll regularly and I think you can contend if Pronk and Victor return to form. Two people I do not want to see in that mix are Dellucci and Marte. I'd say there's a good shot I'm gonna be right. Call me too optimistic, but it's not that crazy of an idea.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ho-Hum Another Road Kill

While clueless Romeo Crennel kicks field goals down by 21 points in the fourth quarter, the Indians just keep grinding out wins. While the Brownies try to be all sexy with their high powered offense and national tv hype, the Tribe pitches and fields and wins. While Braylon Edwards talks and drops balls, Cliff Lee shuts down the opposition en route to a 21-2 record. While fans search to see if #95 is even near the play EVER, Victor Martinez returns from a major injury to drive in 3 leading the Wahoos to a win over KC. While Sean Rogers and the high priced defensive line fail to touch Tony Romo, the Royals cannot touch the law firm of Perez-Betancourt-Lewis.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Looking Back On the Fake Trade

While we are winding down on the season of disappointments galore, all we can do is look back and scratch our heads with what-ifs. But one thing is for certain, the trade of my favorite whipping boy Casey Blake have excellent early returns. What sparked this way of thinking for me was an article I came across in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. Columnist TJ Simers wrote a laughable piece saying that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti "the best GM in the baseball," and that he "stole Blake" from the Indians.

Or really?

How do you consider it a theft when you gave up a future star catcher who at age 22, was the MVP of the Class A California League without even playing the last month of the season? Don't miss these numbers in his combined Inland/Kinston season:

.329 BA, 20 HR's, 112 RBI, 39 doubles, 89 walks, in 455 At-bats.

Don't forget a rocket arm behind the plate to boot. He instantly became a top-five prospect in the Indians system and should start next year as the everyday catcher in Akron. I can guarantee you will see him in Cleveland at some point in the next couple of years. It's been known that the Dodgers have talked about moving Catcher Russell Martin back to third base in the future, and now they are left without that stud catcher to do so.

Reliever Jon Meloan in the meantime was on the fast-track to the majors, before Colletti and his people tried to make him into a starter. When that failed, they dealt him to the Tribe, who smartly, put him back in the pen. This was a kid who according to Dodger blog Fire Ned Colletti Now on July 11 "has dominated at pretty much every level he's been at," and "Meloan's ceiling as a reliever is an elite setup man that has the toughness to work out of any situation."

Since coming over, he was working in the late innings in Buffalo (may they rest in peace). He has received a September call-up to the big club and will definitely be in the mix for a spot in 2009.

Not a bad little haul for a guy who was a free agent at the end of the year and the Dodgers may never see again after this fall. How can Simers judge this trade as such a success without knowing if this team can win, let alone even make it to October baseball? True, he is also talking about the Manny acquisition, a deal which can be considered a steal, but to lump these two together is poor journalism and shows a lack of research. Are Fake's numbers all that great? .277, 8, and 20 in 141 AB's. Solid yes, spectacular, no.

By the same token, me calling the trade a winner for the Indians this early is playing right into the same hypocrisy that Simers has fallen into. For all I know, Santana never makes it big and Meloan turns out to be 4A. That said, you can look at Shapiro's move as the right one.

It has given the Tribe brass an opportunity to play Andy Marte every day at third base without anyone impeding his progress. He has proven that he isn't the future, so now in the offseason, Shappy, Chris Antonetti, and company can evaluate the market and see if the want to move Jhonny Peralta to third, or acquire a quick fix until prospect Wes Hodges is ready. Hodges won AA Eastern League's 2008 Rookie of the year, hitting .285 with 16 HR's, and 91 RBI.

It also gives them another option for the beleaguered pen, which you have to believe will be in a state of flux next season. Other than Raffy Perez, Rafael Betancourt, and Jenson Lewis, nobody else is even close to assuring themselves a roster spot.

Lastly, the trade got Casey Blake out of my hair once and for all....unless the bring him back in '09. My worst nightmare.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cliff's Rollin on 20s.. With the Top Back

How does this happen? One year ago at this time, the Indians were giving Clifford Lee a courtesy recall from Buffalo knowing full well he was not going to help them down the stretch. Today, this all-man lefty is a 20 game winner and he took a bite out of the White Sox last night, chewed them up and spit them out and taunted them too. Lee goes the distance on a complete game five-hit shutout; the Tribe wins 5-0 and in the process Lee just about wraps up the AL Cy Young Award. 20-2!!! Wow!!

Cliff threw two pitches all night long last night and the first place Shysox could not touch his fastball or breaking ball. Mild-mannered all season long, we saw a very intense and even nasty side to Kristen's hubby last night as he stared down AJ Pierzynski (stunner) and even barked at the Chicago dugout after DDT'ing them. I was listening on the radio and would have liked to have heard a mention of this sidebar. Regardless, good for Cliff. When you win 20 and become the first Indian since Gaylord the Cheater in 1974 to do it-- go ahead and talk junk.

Quick note: I heard Mark Shapiro on the air during the game with H and H and he said some very interesting things. The team will try and get a closer and an infielder this off-season for sure, and he also made it a point to really tell the listeners that he liked Choo and especially Franky G a lot. Take that for what it is worth. My opinion? Franky didn't hit for us last year during the playoffs or when it mattered this year.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the Bad Old Days

Isn't that just like the 2008 Cleveland Indians? They played with packages just for fun, winning 10 in a row. They got us so excited as if maybe, even though late, they had finally turned the corner? They found themselves a closer to fortify their biggest problem area (by a mile by the way); they started hitting one through nine, they way their leader, The Grinder himself, has always wanted it? Victor Martinez is back from more than two months off.

What else could we have asked for from this lost season?

The worst team in the American League, the lowly Seattle Mariners of course show up for a three game series, and promptly return the Indians to what they really are; a team that cannot score runs to save their lives, and strand runners as if it was it was their job.

How exactly did this happen? Well, first off, we witnessed a seemingly endless string of putting runners on first and second with less than two outs, following up with a tailor-made double play ball. We saw trademark 2008 Tribe luck. In yesterday's extra-inning 4-3 loss. Closer Jensen Lewis allowed a run to put the M's up 3-2 with a men on first and second and one out. A DP ball heade right to second basemen Asdrubal Cabrera. The runner, Adrian Beltre, reached his hand out as to be hit ball the ball intentionally, causing a dead ball. A sure DP should have been ruled by the umps otherwise. With the extra out, backup catcher Jamie Burke single home a second run, to put the Mariners up two.

Naturally, The Indians countered with one in the bottom of the 10th, and lost 4-3.

The same thing occurred today; extra outs killed the Wahoos. The Zack Attack was struggling enough with his command, but a wild fielding error started his trouble in the five run fifth. The Attack's pick off attempt by Martinez at first allowed a run to score, moved runners to second and third with one out. In typical form, Yuniesky Betancourt hit what have would have been an inning-ending DP, but instead got an RBI single out of it, moving the Mariners to a 3-1 lead.

But there was still one more out to get thanks to the bone-headed mistakes by The Attack and Victor. Zack didn't get it. The biggest 2008 Indian killer, Raul Ibanez hit the next pitch right up the middle for an RBI single, and Beltre's two run shot ended Jackson's day for all intents and purposes.

You want more of a C-tease? The Red, White, and Blue rewarded you gladly in the seventh, eighth and ninth. In all three innings, the Tribe loaded the bases. In the seventh, it was Victor popping out with two out. In the eighth, all the boys had to show for a bases loaded, nobody out situation, was a Franky G fielder's choice and subsequent Jose Lopez throwing error scoring two.

The ninth was the ultimate. Down two with the bases loaded yet again and one out. Ryan Garko smacked one that looked like it was going right up the middle to tie the game, but reliever Roy Corcoran reached back and got a bare hand on the ball, deflecting it right to Betancourt at short, who started the game--ender. Just your garden variety 1-6-4-3 inning ending DP.

For the weekend, the Indians left 26 men on base, went 3-29 with RISP, and lost three games by a combined four runs. Wedge put it best after the game: "it seemed like all weekend we were one hit away."

Just when I got all excited again, this weekend blows like a hurricane (no pun intended) and its as if the team forgot everything they did over the past two weeks.

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One bright spot has to be the play of Shin-Soo Choo, who like Kelly Shoppach is forcing his way onto the field with his stellar play over the past month. He hit .309, with 4 HR, and 16 RBI in 81 AB's. His projections over a full season you'd take all day; around .275 with 44 doubles, 20 homers and 80 plus RBI.

The more he plays, the less DD does. And that is always considered a plus.

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Meanwhile, it seems like as much as I didn't want to have to deal with it, the last month of the season is meaningless. Wedge has been quoted as saying he'd like to go to a six-man rotation with Aaron Laffey joining Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee, Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Sowers, and the Zack Attack.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, he goes for #20 tomorrow night against the White Sox. It's been said 1000 times, but Cliff is trying to become the first Indian since 1974 to win 20 games. I was -2 at the time. Maybe even more amazing, is that no Indian since 1982 has even started a game with a chance to win 20. The fact that it's Cliff Lee doing this makes even more astounding after the year he had in 2007 and how he was dangled all winter as trade bait.

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Imagine if Cliff was this good last season? Would there have been any doubt we'd all be ring holders right now?

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, and if Mesa doesn't shake off Sally (I know its Sandy, but I think he is the most overrated player in Indians history)....If Fernandez doesn't make that error.....If Dave Burba doesn't get hurt in game three of the '99 series with Bosotn.....If Hargrove pinch hits for Jim Poole.....If Cory Snyder and Joe Carter hadn't been on the cover of SI....If Willie Mays doesn't make that catch off the bat of Vic Wertz....

And if my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ten in a Row Biatch!

First I'd like to quote The Diesel from yesterday's "In the Dugout" show on Detroit's AM-1130 WDFN: "Remember when Shaq rapped to Kobe "tell me how my ass tastes?" We'll I'd like to say to Mr. Illitch, Dave Dombrowski, and the $130 million Detroit Tigers a question; How you likin' fourth place?"

Seriously, our beloved Wahoos, losers of 10 in a row at the end of May, a team that traded its #1 starter (CC Sabathia); lost its #3 starter to Tommy John Surgery after just 5 starts (Jake Westbrook); lost its #3 and #4 hitters for more than three months each (Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez); traded it's third basemen during a career year (Casey Fake); and traded it's #5 starter in the midst of his best stretch of the year (Paul Byrd); have rattled off 10 straight wins while putting themselves just two games below .500. They have jumped 1.5 games ahead of the Motor City Quitties.

Remember those days in April and May where it seemed every game was lost 3-1 or 2-0? They seem like they happened in a different season. Rick Manning on last night's STO telecast pointed out that in the offense was ranked last in the AL through the all-star break, yet in the last 42 games, is averaging over six runs per. Remember when we all said this team had no power? In the three game sweep of the Tigers, the Indians hit nine homers.

Kelly Shoppach has 17! That would be the same number of pizzas as David Ortiz has in 34 less at-bats. Or Ken Griffey Jr has in 142 less at bats. What about Magglio Ordonez having 16 HR's in 173 more AB's tan the Shop Vack? Or Bobby Abreu's 16 dingers in 225 more at-bats? I could go on and on.

More numbers to chew on came in Paul Hoynes' PD game story:

-They've won 16 of 19 to climb from last to third in the AL Central.

-They are 28-16 since trading Sabathia

-It's the closest they've been to .500 since May 21st when they were 22-24

-The 10-game winning streak is the first of it's kind since April of 2002

You can say it's much easier to perform when there is no pressure. You can say that the Indians have caught bad teams on the downslide during this run (Royals, Texas, and Detroit), but 10 straight is impressive, no matter who is on the field against you. Six of these 10 wins were on the road. Zach Attack Jackson started two of these games. David Dellucci was in the lineup for six games, Andy Marte for seven.

Need we say more? We've said this before and we will say it again, where was this in May and June?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Bunch of Quitters

I won't even wait until the end of the game. I am blogging this in the bottom of the third inning. I have watched 13 innings in the last two nights of the Indians and the Tigers; two teams going in opposite directions. While the Tribe plays with spunk, like a team trying to win every game despite their current situation, Jim Leyland's club has licked the stamp. It's mail in time at Comerica Park.

If I am a fan of this team, I am sickened. $130 million pays for this load of crap? The mental and physical errors on a nightly basis are astounding. Once they fell out of contention, the Tigers have completely quit. The at-bats I have witnessed are laughable. Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen, and Gary Sheffield are playing like a bunch of guys planning their offseason tee times in Arizona, yet it is still August. They are first pitch swingling like they have a plane to catch, not working the count, and generally looking disinterested.

Last night it was Zach Attack Jackson on the hill for the Red, White, and Blue, yet the Kitties treated him as if he were Cy Freakin' Young. Jackson is 4A to the core. The book on The Attack is that he struggles with his control. Not that Tiger bats cared; failing to work the count even once, The Attack struck out six and walked ZERO. Then Mr. August Franky G ended things with his solo slice off of the great Gary Glover in the 10th. The Tiger at bats against Jensen Lewis in a 1-2-3 ninth were forgettable.

Move to tonight. Rookie Chris Lambert is making his major league debut for Detroit. After the first two innings, he fell apart. Yes, he did give up back to back jacks to Jamey Carroll (his first of the year) and The Shop Vack (a bomb to the left field seats), but his porous defense let him down and didn't allow him any room for error.

Lambert hit Asdrubal Cabrera. A Roger Dorn "Ole'" from the third baseman Ryan Rayburn started it off, allowing AC to score. Error #1. With two out, Jhonny Peralta's single to left was booted by noted dog Marcus "Home run or nothing" Thames allowing Franky G to score all the way from first. Error #2. Next up was our boy Double D Dellucci, who hit a fly ball to center that was completely misplayed into a double by Granderson, scoring Jhon. I don't care what the box score says, it was Error #3. Carroll finished off Lambert with a bloop job that fell in front of the jogging Mags in right for his second hit and second RBI on the inning.

Six Runs, Five Hits, Two Physical Errors, Two Mental Errors. One team tanking.

If I'm Jim Leyland I'm quitting after this season. He is too old and too wise for this shit. He has tried everything to light a spark under this team and nothing has worked. At the end of the day, they are a bunch of overpaid, old, quitters who have decided to mail it in once times got tough. This was a bad mix from the start.

SIDE NOTE - Benny Francisco just went deeeeeeeep. Two run shot. 8-0 Tribe.

Now GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike "Massah" Illitch have been letting things float in the press that they want to cut serious payroll this offseason. Easier said than done boys. Who wants Gary Sheffield at $12 million next year? Or Carlos Guillen at $11 million? What about that three year extension given to Dontrelle Willis in the Spring for $30 million? Dude can't even find the plate anymore and looks like he has Steve Blass Disease. Don't forget about Nate Robertson's three year, $29 million deal signed before the season as well. Seen him lately? That would be in the bullpen as he has been banished thanks to an ERA well over six.

Also not to be overlooked was the complete dumping of their farm system to trade for guys like Edgar Renteria (Jair Jurrjens who would look great in their rotation right now), Willis and Miguel Cabrera (Cameron "OF of the future" Maybin and Andrew Miller, who would also be in the rotation today). The only guys that are even on the scouts radar are RHP Rick Porcello and 1B Jeff Larish, who has been up and down this year. Porcello graduated high school in 2007.

As far as I'm concerned, it couldn't happen to a finer organization. Free, wild spending flat out hasn't worked Mr. I. Terrible chemistry + bad pitching + worse contracts = a recipe for disaster.

That my friends, is your 2008 Detroit Tigers in a nutshell.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Get Em On...Get Em Over...Get Em In

Looky Looky. Our beloved boys in Red, White, and Blue just went into Arlington and swept the Rangers, thanks to some clutch hitting and actual decent relief work. It was all capped off by a gritty, one run win in last night's finale. Things that we thought we'd see all year, we are finally starting to witness now. Like say, doing the little things to win. Take the top of the ninth for example:

With Raffy Perez and Jensen "2009 closer" Lewis unavailable, Juan Rincon failed at his shot to preserve an eight inning 3-1, allowing two runs, the last coming on a bases loaded walk by noted Indian killer "to see" Ramon Vasquez from Rafael Betancourt. Ryan Garko led off the top of the ninth with a single. He was replaced by pinch runner Andy Gonzalez. Kelly Shoppach layed down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, moving Gonzalez into scoring position. Franklin Gutierrez hit Eddie Guardado's next pitch back up the middle to score Gonzalez and put the Tribe ahead for good 4-3.

Get em on, get em over, get em in.

Betancourt closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Talk about things we haven't seen much of this season. There were so many positives to take from this series in that joke of a stadium in Texas. Saturday night, Jeremy Sowers threw a clunker after being forced to warm up three times due to a one hour-14 minute rain delay, yet the forgotten 4A special, Eddie Mujica, came in and threw two and 1/3rd scoreless relief. Meanwhile, the offense, trailing 7-1, kicked into high gear following Texas's six run fourth with a six run fifth, capped by a three-run pizza from The Shop Vack. Jamey Carroll's pinch hit RBI single in eight won it. Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis pitched three more scoreless innings for the much-maligned Tribe pen. Lewis even K'd the side for his sixth consecutive save.

Gutierrez continued his stellar play with the game-winning single in the ninth last night, as well as a 14 pitch at-bat that resulted in a double which gassed starter Vicente Padilla in the fifth. Ryan Garko, who has been absent most of the season, has 17 RBI in his last 15 games.

The Tribe brass may have struck gold in dealing for starter Anthony Reyes, who has been a rock of consistency since coming over from St. Louis. In his four starts as an Indian, he is averaging six innings, and has an ERA of 2.22. Last night he battled through seven innings, providing a huge lift to the taxed bullpen. Fausto Carmona seems as though he is finding his old groove once again, allowing just two earned runs in his last two starts. Cliff Lee is still being Cliff Lee.

What cannot be overstated is how important having a dependable closer is. Since turning the ball over to Jenny in the ninth, the Tribe is on a 12-3 streak, including the current seven-gamer, which Lewis has saved four. Says Mr. Grind-ball: "Jensen Lewis at the back end of the bullpen has been a key. It allows you to put your bullpen together." With the starters seemingly going 6-7 innings every time out, getting the ball to Perez and then Lewis gives the Tribe a chance to win every night.

Again, something we haven't seen all year.

With Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner (I'm not holding my breath here) on their way back, a .500 record is in sight. As are the third-place, $130 million Detroit Tigers, who are up next for the Wahoos. Most people could care less, but to your friends at DDD, this is a huge series. Two months ago, the Tribe was 10 games behind the Motor City Kitties, and now they sit just 1.5 games back. More Wedge-speak: "This means a great deal to us," Wedge said. "We want to finish with the best record and as high in the standings as we can. It's about pride. It's about competitiveness."

Don't expect a win tonight. The Zach Attack is on the hill for the Tribe and with the game ending at 11:30 EST last night, the boys most likely didn't arrive in Detroit until 3 AM. Armando Gallaraga, he of the 12-4 record and dominance over the Tribe this year (3-0), goes for the Tigers. Smells like a loss. The good news is, DDD's own King Diesel will be in the house tonight, not spending a dime toward's Illitch's pockets. Not to worry though, Jim Leyland is trotting out 4A supreme Chris Lambert Tuesday night against Cliff Lee. Fausto and Justin Verlander wrap up the three game series Wednesday night.

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Lastly, MAD PROPS to our fellow blogger over at The Diatribe, Paul Cousineau for the much-deserved credit from The PD's Terry Pluto in his Sunday column about the Tribe minor leaguers. Paul does about the best and most in-depth coverage you will ever want to read. No cookie cutter b.s. Congrats buddy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Da Franky G Show

Zach Attack Jackson was handed a 3-1 lead and couldn't hold it. He drilled poor Mitch Maier in the face, causing multiple facial fractures. Kelly Shoppach's two home run night looked like it may go all for naught. Then, Royals Manager Trey Hillman, who the night before pitched to Grady Sizemore with a man on, one out, and first base open, lifted Gil Meche after retiring 17 straight. Genius move Trey! I don't care of he had thrown 103 pitches. What are you saving him for?

Shoppach crushed his second homer off of Ramon Ramirez, Shin-Soo Choo walked, and AC bunted him over. Desperate to get an out, he went to closer Joakim Soria for a five-out save. This is a guy who is second in the majors in saves, and came in sporting a 1.48 ERA. (SIDE NOTE - I heard on the Tribe pregame show that he was a Rule 5 draft pick and was scouted by the epitome of 4A former Indians - Luis "Funky Cold" Medina). He walked Grady and then Franklin Gutierrez stepped to the plate. The red-hot Franky G hit an improbable, three-run shot to left field putting the Tribe up for good. Then to close out the game, Franky made a spectacular diving catch in right-field to give Jensen Lewis his fourth straight save.

How about Lewis's fourth save is the longest streak of consecutive saves for any Indian pitcher this year. Its August 21st!

Back to Gutierrez. I have wanted to see him succeed in the worst way. He is hands down the best defensive outfielder we have had in Cleveland in 20 years. The thought was he would step up big time at the plate in 2008 and take the next step. That hasn't happened. For the season, he still sits at .234, 7 HR, and 31 RBI. However, he is having a great month of August, hitting .346 with three homers, and 10 RBI. His last seven games he is on a .412 tear. This is the kind of stuff we've been expecting to see all year.

Meanwhile, Lewis got the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth, something rarely seen by a Tribe closer. Cliff Lee goes for #18 today at 12:05...DDD will be in the house for the potential sweep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time To End The Experiment

A while back I wrote that I had seen enough. No. Really. I have SEEN ENOUGH! Andy Marte cannot play third base every day for a major league franchise and gosh dang-it, it is time to take a big bite out of this reality burger and spit Marte out into the Tribe trash.

The young third sacker is hitting 187. ONE EIGHTY FREAKING SEVEN! He ranks 269th in the AL in hitting, counting guys that do not qualify in terms of number of at-bats. 269th. Wow. The Braves said sayonara and sent him to the Red Sox and Theo even discarded him to the Wahoos. If Andy could play, wouldn't he still be in the ATL or in Beantown? Now, in his defense, he was behind Larry Jones (Chipper) in Atlanta and Boston has always been chock full of third baseman (Billy Mueller, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell to name a few).

But Andy cannot cut the mustard. If Coach Wayne Hissler told him to rub some dirt on it and get back out there, it wouldn't matter ("Johnny Be Good" trademark). Donnie Murphy and Jason Smith, two dogs with fleas, are hitting for a higher average. Marte has 40 strikeouts and 10 RBI. Heck, Mike Mussina and Jeremy Guthrie, two pitchers, even have a higher BA. Marte hit 224 in July and maybe was finally starting to show a tad bit of promise; but in August he is back being Andy with a 205 BA and no home runs (zero.. point ZERO...).

Time to cut the cord.

Marte does have some value because his glove at third base has been very solid and he is only 24. There is still time. Maybe. Just not here. Move Jhonny Peralta to third base now and let him man the hot corner for September. See how he does. Why not? Andy seems like a nice kid, but let him give it a try someplace else. The Tribe needs better players and he aint better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not What We Want To See

Is this photo scary enough for you, Tribe fans? Yesterday afternoon King Diesel emailed me that #1 prospect and the man we are all hoping can save the franchise from more years of punch and judy corner outfielders and first baseman, Matt Laporta, was intentionally thrown at by the Chinese Olympic team during Team USA's 9-1 win. Laporta was alert and awake, but was taken to the hospital and made to stay overnight for precautionary measures after receiving a concussion.

Apparently, Laporta was being thrown at after his home plate collision knocked catcher Wang Wei out of the game. There is a right and a wrong way to retaliate, not that the Chinese National team, who is only playing because they are hosting the games, would know what that is. Funny, their manager, Jim Lefebvre is American, a longtime baseball man, who knows the unwritten rules. Their pitching coach is Steve Ontiveros, another American who played in the Majors in the 80's. These two should be forced to lose their citizenship. Said Lefevbre: "We do not throw to hit people. We do not teach that in China. We don't teach it in the United States. He tried to throw the ball inside and it got away from him."

He shouldn't be selling that bullshit, because nobody is buying it.

Meanwhile, Laporta was put at risk. The first thing I thought of was this is true Cleveland luck. He will probably never be the same again. But evidentally, he is a gamer. Our source in Beijing tells us "He (Laporta) actually wanted to stay in
the game but Davey (Johnson) said no."

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In other Tribe news, Travis Hafner debuted in Buffalo last night and had two hits in three at-bats, including a ringing double off the wall in a 5-1 Bisons win. Future rotation member and former #1 pick David Huff continued his fast-track season with the win, striking out eight in five 2/3rds. Josh Barfield continued his rehab, going 0-2 with a sac fly. Bisons fans will get a bigger treat tonight as Victor Martinez joins the Herd and continues his rehab assignment. He is scheduled to play six innings.

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Then you have David Dellucci. The man we want to drop like a stone has decided that what is going on in Cleveland for him just isn't good enough. In today's PD, he was quoted as being frustrated by his lack of PT of late.

"It's difficult for any player to be the best they can be when they're sharing time," said Dellucci, who has a year and $4 million remaining on his contract. "Any player that gets to see live pitching consistently is going to be better off. But I understand the process that's going on over here, and I'm pulling for the guys that are in the game when I'm not."

Memo to DD - you should be thankful that your agents were smart enough to convince Mark Shapiro to give you a three-year deal, because that is the only reason you are still here. Now he has the gall to say "oh, I'm not getting in a groove because I don't get regular at-bats." What a a deuche. True, Dellucci has been hitting the ball much better of late (15 for his last 34), but its not like he is sitting out every game. He has been in the lineup no-less than Franklin Gutierrez or Shin-Soo Choo.

Do you hear these two young guys complaining?

Nope. And these two are essentially playing for their jobs, while DD can do nothing and sit back and collect his $4 million a year. The only difference between Dellucci and Jason "K-Mike" Michaels is that third year on his contract.

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Finally, Terry Pluto put it down perfectly in print today: "it's not happening for Andy Marte." We've been saying it all year; he isn't a major leaguer. He has finally gotten his chance to play every day and he flat out can't hit. The numbers don't lie. Per Pluto: He has been the regular third baseman since the All-Star break and is batting .188 in that span. In 164 at-bats this season, he has only 10 extra-base hits (three home runs) and 10 RBI. On the year, his on-base percentage is .230. In August, he's batting only .190, so it's not like he's figuring it out. Most alarming, the right-handed batter is at .157 vs. right-handed pitchers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Battling To The End

Take away the three-error, 13 LOB abomination of Saturday, and the Indians went toe to toe with the best team in baseball and came away victorious in the series; capped off by a 4-3 win in Sunday's finale. This was the first series the Angels have lost to an AL team since losing to Tampa May 9-11.

True, the Tribe left nine men on Sunday, but you come to expect that these days when you see a bottom of the order which looked like the Buffalo Bison: Franklin Gutierrez (.231), Andy Gonzalez (.208), Sal Fasano (.314 - I love Fat Sal by the way, but the facts are he has been around more than Pam Anderson), and Asdrubal Cabrera (.222). Just compare the two teams and the Angels have the Tribe beat in every aspect of the game:

Starting Pitching: Who would you rather have, a rotation that boats five guys with 10 wins already including All Stars John Lackey, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana or a rotation that has Zach Jackson pitching every fifth day? Angels

Relief Pitching: Lets see, the Angels have the best set up man in the game (Scot Shields), a young fireballer heir apparent to the closer with an ERA of 1.10 (Jose Arredando), a veteran lefty specialist (Darren Oliver), and a closer who will easily break the the single season save record (Francisco Rodriguez). The Tribe has gone through four closers and other than Rafael Perez, has nobody who can consistently get outs. Angels

Lineup: One team has former and current all stars LF (Garrett Anderson), CF (Torii Hunter), RF (Vladimir Guerrero), 1B (Mark Teixiera), and on the bench (Gary Mathews Jr). A speedy third basemen in Chone Figgins, and studs up the middle in Howie Kendrick (.313 BA) and young Erick Aybar. The other has Andy Marte and David Dellucci playing regularly. Angels

Its no contest. Yet, I watched the Tribe scratch and claw and out-do the mighty team of The O.C. Eric Wedge has this undermanned team playing hard every single night. He has decided to go to Jensen Lewis as the closer and so far its worked. Jenny did pull a Jobo today (putting two guys on), but has saved three consecutive tries since Wedge went to him last weekend in Toronto. One of those hits was because of the no-doubles defense (which is so stupid, I get the concept, but why not play regular so BASE RUNNERS don't get aboard?). I like Lewis' grit. You can tell he wants the ball in the ninth. You never got that feeling from Masa or Rafael Betancourt.

Props also to Jeremy Sowers for another solid outing. He has his usual bad start, allowing two runs in the first, but settled down nicely, going six and 2/3, allowing three runs, one of which was unearned thanks to a Fasano passed ball. We ripped him good a few weeks back, but the former first round pick looks like he has a place at the #5 spot in the rotation. It was like old times for Sowers and old Vanderbilt teammate Lewis. "This was just like college," Lewis said. "Jeremy would start and I would finish. I told him during the anthem, 'I'm going to come in and save it for you. But if he doesn't pitch like he did, we don't have the chance to win. He did a great job."

Good to see Raffy Perez bounce back after his last long-overdue shaky outing. He retired all four men he faced, striking out three. Raffy Left needed just 14 pitches, 12 of them were strikes.

I've gotta say no matter how far out this team is, I still love watching them every night. Lets catch those Tigers for third place boys....We will be back tomorrow, an off day, to give you the story of my son's first Tribe game, which he attended Saturday,.

Friday, August 15, 2008

AC's D is the Key

Cliff Lee was a master of dodging trouble on Friday night. He went the distance to pick up his AL-best 17th win in the Tribe's 3-2 win over Disneyland's finest. It was the four double plays and the magnificent glove of Asdrubal Cabrera. AC made two spectacular plays, the first robbing Torii Hunter in the sixth, and then ending the game by going to his right, jumping and throwing out Garret Anderson from short center. The kid also had the game-winning RBI on a bases loaded walk in the seventh.

The Wahoos even managed to get to unhittable Jose Arredando, who came into the game with an 0.92 ERA. He faced four batters and didn't record an out. How Eddie Mujica of him!

We sound like a broken record, but Eric Wedge has to be credited for this team's mini-resurgence. They have played better baseball since the all-star break, and that is without CC Sabathia, Casey Blake, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Jake Westbrook, and any semblance of a bullpen outside of Rafael Perez. Cabrera has come back up from Buffalo humbled and looks like the fresh-faced energy booster of 2007.

A few notes:

-Victor went 0-2 as a DH in his first game of a rehab assignment in Akron tonight. 2B Josh Barfield starts his tomorrow night, also in Akron.

-Former overrated Tribe manager Mike Hargrove gets inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame tomorrow. He met with the media today and says he is re-energized and wants to manage again, after burning out and quitting on Seattle last season in the middle of a pennant race. Grover is a nice guy, but one of the worst in-game managers I've ever seen. I've got two words: Jim Poole

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Purging Continues - Byrd Flyes to Boston

Almost three full years in a Tribe uniform has come to an end for Paul Byrd. The crafty right-hander was all heart, guts, and guile during his stint with the Indians and was rewarded by being dealt to the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash. If ever anyone has made themselves into a hot commodity faster than Byrd, I'd like to see it.

After struggling mightily most of the year, the Byrd man completely re-made his season after a talk with Bert Blyleven about a month ago. He hasn't lost since. During that span, he has gone 4-0 in 28 innings pitched, allowing just four earned runs. I was at his last home start where he shut out the Tigers into the eight inning. After walking off the mound for the last time at the Jake, I wrote:

my respect level for the Paul Byrd reached an all time high. When he left with two outs in the 8th, I was one of the 24,000 strong giving him a well deserved standing ovation. In what could have been his final start as a member of Wahoo Nation, the Byrd Man was brilliant, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the team with the second largest payroll in the game.

Here is the bottom line, now is the time to say goodbye to the Byrd Man. His market value will not get any higher than it is right now. He seems to have righted himself and a pitching-starved contender like the Phillies, or maybe the Diamondbacks who are watching Micah Owings get lit up light a Christmas tree each outing could use a crafty, playoff tested pitcher like Byrd. Lets not forget that while C.C. and Fausto floundered against the Red Sox in the ALCS, Pauly won his start in a pivotal game four. Remember who started, and won the clincher against the Yankees in the Bronx? Paul Byrd.

That is something I will always love Byrd for. During the playoffs, he came up big when our twin 19 game winners couldn't. Both have filthier stuff, but didn't have the mental capacity of old #36.

Take a bow and a victory lap, Pauly. You earned it and you will be missed.

Four Straight - Two Entries for the Price of One!

Sorry we were MIA this weekend, King Diesel took over for a filler while the fam took the truckster for a roadie to Chicago, aka the best summer city in America. While we were gone, the Tribe pitching dominated the sad sack Toronto Blue Jays (prediction - Jays GM J.P. Richardi gets the ax at season's end) to the tune of a three game sweep. The Byrd man won his fourth straight start since talking to Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven and simultaneously getting national props from ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, who for weeks now has been saying on his radio show that Byrd is the guy contenders should be trading for and he can't understand why this isn't happening.

Back at the Jake last night for the start of a four game set with Baltimore, it was the Tribe bats who carried the evening, putting up a 13 spot while battering around Dennis Sarfate, Rocky Cherry, and Jamie Walker (meanwhile, this clown turned one good season in Detroit into a three-year, $12 million deal. Only Peter Angelos!). Five Indians drove in two runs a piece, including Fat Sal Fasano and Andy Gonzalez of all people. Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Benny Francisco all homered for three of the Tribe's 13 hits. At this point, the goal should be third place and beating the Tigers in the standings, Well, at least it is for me as I'm trying to collect my steak dinner at Fleming's for the second consecutive year from my boy from the D.

While the offense was Adrianna Lima-hot last night, Fausto Carmona's third poor star in his last four almost spoiled a beautiful evening at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Opponent's have wisely layed off his devastating sinker and he continues to walk too many guys. Last night it was four in six and 1/3 IP. Couple that with six hits, and Eddie Mujica's gas can, and the 7-3 lead he once had was ghost. Mujica came in with the bases loaded in the seventh and Nick Markakis unloaded them with one swing. Lucky for 4A Eddie, the offense bailed him out.

In Eric Wedge's everlasting search to find anyone who can get outs in the bullpen, newest Indian Brendan Donnelly was handed the ball in the 8th. While he did put two men on, he pitched a scoreless inning. Jenny Lewis closed out the 9th. This means the Indians actually won a game where Rafael Perez actually didn't have to be summoned!

What did we learn last night? Masa Kobayashi is apparently in Wedge's doghouse, not having pitched since the debacle in Tampa last Wednesday. Not coincidentally, this was last time the Tribe lost. We also learned that Andy Marte isn't a major leaguer at the plate. Oh yeah, we knew that already. Only he could manage to look so pathetic and go 0-fer when the rest of the team was battering around Oriole pitching. Fausto Carmona still has a ways to go to get back to where he was last year. If he is going to be our #1 guy, his control problems have to be curbed. Lastly, Jenson Lewis looks comfortable in the ninth. Yes, its only been two games, but he has the stuff and the demeanor for the role.

We will be down at the Jake tonight for Sowers/Olson. Not exactly Maddux/Clemens.
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How crazy is it that T and I both penned entries today, but here goes.

Tribe fans this summer will remember the opportunities lost. The countless games where the men that don the Chief on their caps would strand runner after runner and never score. The summer that died early because of injuries and certain young players who failed to prove that they are everyday major league material.

Monday night was a different sort of evening at Dolan Field as the Wahoos pounded Baltimore 13-8 and even blew a lead at the same time. Heck, Eddie "Demon Drop" Mujica served up four runs on four pitches and still got the win! This guy is an absolute mess most of the time and then other times actually commands his pitches pretty well. Regardless, it is nice to see the squad battle night in and night out. Andy Gonzalez, another 4A supreme, hit his first jack as a member of the RWAB.

Asdrubal Cabrera looks like he is coming around. The young shortstop, errrrrrrr, second baseman homered and then doubled in the go-ahead run in the 7th. I like the fact that he hit the ball hard from both sides of the plate and we have to hope and pray that his stint in Buffalo was as short as Artie Lange's trip to a rehab facility. AC is a keeper and will be an important part of this team next season. He has a swagger about him and does not talk much to reporters, which is fine. You cannot have a clubhouse full of the same types of cats. Just ask those Detroit Tiger$, whose mix is about as effective as "The Tonight Show" crew of Leno, Eubanks, and Melendez. Keep grinding Tribe.

One other note, this blog wants to give a shoutout to Tribe beat reporter for mlb.com, Anthony Castrovince. I like his stuff at http://castrovince.mlblogs.com/. Check it out.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Closer.. I Got Your Number

(Drumroll Please For Our New Closer)

Jenny Lewis.

The Pride of Skyline Chili Town (Cincy) mows em down (sort of) in the ninth tonight in Toronto and the RWAB garner in a 5-2 win over the Jays. Lewis earning his first career save and Anthony Reyes gets his first Tribe W. A solid pitching effort all around, including Raffy Perez. I like that Reyes threw strikes and his fastball has some late movement.

Benny Francisco and Shin Soo-Choo get it done with two out ribeye steaks. Twice for Benny.

Sidenote of the night. Lewis walks the leadoff man in the ninth and the STO crew starts telling the fans that they understand if they go into heart attack mode. I enjoyed it. Not sure if Paul Dolan did.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bloody, Bloody, Bullpen

If you want to know what the best way to kill a season is, just ask the 2008 Cleveland Indians for the answer. A BAD BULLPEN. Not just a bad bullpen, a historically bad bullpen. And to think back in April, we all thought this was the strength of the team. As bad as some of the bullpen's the Indians have had since the millennium, this has to be hands-down the worst. Today, we may have even reached "The Bullpen from Hell" status, with apologies to charter members Jamie Easterly, Rich Yett, etc etc.

It was such a shame too. We should be talking about Jhonny Peralta's five-hit explosion and how he is as locked in as we've ever seen him. Or how Eric Wedge benched Ryan Garko for not hustling. Or the RWAB's 13 hit attack. Or how Rafael Perez was lights out yet again in his two innings. Nah, instead it's all doom and gloom thanks to Eddie Mujica and and Masa Kobayashi's complete and utter disaster of a ninth inning that cost the Indians a game and a series.

With the Tribe up 7-4 in the ninth and Perez, aka the ONLY Indian reliever capable of getting anyone out, already done after two scoreless innings, Wedge decided to see what Mujica could do. How does, double, double, two-run Pizza sound to start the inning?

Just like that, the three run lead evaporated. Out went Mujica, in came Masa. An infield single in which Masa forgot to step on the bag started his day. A walk came next, and then a three-run homer off the bat of Carlos Pena ended an epic comeback by the Rays and a sickening choke job by the Tribe. The final Rays 10 Indians 7.

Mujica's line: 0 IP, 3 hits, 3 ER

Masa's line: o IP, 2 hits, 1 Walk, 3 ER.

The Rays scored six runs on five hits and a walk while Mujica and Kobayashi failed to record a single solitary out. Yankee and Red Sox fans everywhere are ready to kill these two. When I say the Indians bullpen is historically bad. I'm not joking. They are ranked last in the majors in saves, save percentage, and bullpen ERA. Take Perez out of the mix and imagine how bad it could really be.

Mujica, a four A special, looked terrible when he first came up, and then followed it with a 10 2/3rds scoreless streak. He became "Steady Eddie" for three weeks. That came crashing down in two of his last outings, where he has allowed seven hits and seven earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning. The coward was "nowhere to be found" after today's debacle according to the Plain Dealer.

Masa? He has been a model of inconsistency. He is single-handedly proving that great Japanese relief pitchers aren't translating. Did this guy really save over 200 games in his career before coming over? He is very Paul Shuey-like. One game, he is unhittable. The next, he couldn't get my grandmother out.

Rafael Betancourt, the best set-up man in the majors in 2007 has turned into David Riske. Put him in a tight spot and he wets himself. On Tuesday night, he was in trying to keep the Rays at bay and Evan Longoria crushed one that hasn't landed yet. He like id so much, that he let Cliff Floyd do the same thing two batters later. "The Realtor" is being foreclosed on. He is in love with his fastball and everyone knows it. It's all equaled up to a 6.27 ERA and 11 HR's allowed. Last season, he allowed just four in almost double the innings pitched.

Jenson Lewis went from a guy who looked like the 7th inning bridge to Betancourt and Perez and the heir to the closer job. Now, he is a guy still searching for his velocity who seems to be handling the 5th/6th inning middle relief job just OK.

The rest of the bozos like Juan Rincon (can you say "Steroids" and "finished"), Tom Mastny (I wish the Nasty one was better, but he isn't), Rick Bauer (peace), Craig Breslow (late), Jorge Julio (pair of ones), and Brian Slocum (4A), have ridden the Buffalo shuttle with little to no success. Now word comes that Mastny is out, Brendan Donnelley is in. Matt Ginter has moved out of the rotation and onto the DL, replace by Anthony Reyes.

It's a friggin' disaster, the whole season. But you can't win games without a decent pen. Decent isn't even in the vicinity these days for our boy Wedge and his trusty lieutenant Carl "what chu talkin' bout" Willis.

Lastly, off subject - props to Wedge for benching Garko for a lack of hustle after his first at bat. These guys are still playing hard for "King Grinder" and he did the right thing with the Garko incident. Garko even agrees: "I made a big mistake right there," said Garko. "It's the first time it's happened and it will be the last."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Give Wedge The Nod

I have my kids all week so heavy-duty Tribe viewing is on the back burner. However, I did catch the final four innings of the RWAB's 5-2 win over the Rays and I think it is time to give our skipper some "dap". Eric Wedge played a hunch and kept Rafael Perez in the game to pitch the 9th and it worked. Raffy-left had his good tight slider working last night and he baffled Tampa Bay hitters in the 8th and 9th innings for his second save of the season. Wedge let him go and too many times does not get the credit for a move like this.

"He was so efficient in the eighth, that I sent him out for the ninth with the lefties coming up," Wedge said. Even our main dog Dave Dellucci helping the cause with a 2 run bomb to right that excited the heck out of my son who nearly woke up his sister with his screaming downstairs.

Eric Wedge has kept this ship afloat. The Indians have been a gigantic downer this season and last place is still last place. You are what your record is... 49-62 is 49-62 and it is unacceptable. But.. BUT, the Tribe manager has done a very good job this season. These guys "grind" every single day. Most of the time the at-bats are battles and some of the younger players have improved (not many.. but some) and I do not think it is Wedge's fault that his entire bullpen collapsed on him and guys went in the tank. Last night Wedge managed to win and could have easily given Masa Kobayashi the ball in the ninth for a closer's role tryout again. I respect that.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lets Talk Shop

Honestly, is there anyone hotter than Kelly Shoppach right now? Last night's back-breaking two out, two run homer off of Kevin Slowey was a thing of beauty on several levels. Slowey has been the Twins best pitcher of late, coming off a complete game shutout in his last start. If you saw the homer, the pitch was spotted well, low and away, but Shop went with it and took it over the baggie in right, putting the Tribe on top for good 3-1 on their way to a 5-1 win. Coming into the game, The Shop-Vac was hitting .389 since the all-star break, good for fifth in the AL. He has four pizzas in his last five games, and his batting average now sits at a healthy .277 (through Saturday), up 27 points July 21st.

The natural talk these days is that with the Tribe getting little to no production from their bevy of first base options (Ryan Garko, AAA Michael Aubrey and Jordan Brown who hot for little power)and Casey Blake now gone to the left coast, Victor Martinez could be headed to first with Shoppach becoming the regular catcher in 2009. There is no doubt that Shop is forcing the hand of the Indians brass. He clearly is an everyday major league catcher. If you look at the position throughout MLB, you find me 10 better catchers than Kelly Shoppach right now. Here's a quick list of guys in the conversation:

Yankees - Jorge Posada and Pudge The Cancer - Yes, they are both better players, but long-term, you'd rather have the younger Shop than two guys who are at the end of their careers.

Red Sox - Jason Varitek - I don't care what Red Sox Nation says about the impact of Varitek in the clubhouse, they'd take Shop over Tek right now 100% for 2009.

White Sox - AJ Pierzynski - Having a career year. Probably has the edge over Shop on experience. He's a veteran, but not old.

Twins - Joe Mauer - Next.

Braves - Brian McCann - An offensive young stud.

Cubs - Geovanny Soto - A Rookie All-star. Age 25, hitting .275, 17 HR, 60 RBI. But who's to say Shop couldn't do the same if he were an everyday catcher in that Cubs lineup?

Pirates - Ryan Doumit - Like Shop, finally getting his first taste of everyday action. Showing his raw-power. He and Shop may be a wash.

Dodgers - Russell Martin - Like with Mauer, No contest here.

So what do the Indians do in 2009 at the catching position? A lot of it falls on what else happens in the offseason. There is no doubt that wholesale changes must be made. There are huge holes at 1B, 3B, and at least one corner OF spot. But if you can get a guy like an Adam Dunn for left field, there is no reason for Shoppach to be catching four-five games a week, with Victor at first, also serving as a two-game a week guy behind the dish.

Some will say Vic the Stick loses value as a first basemen, which is a statement of merit. He goes from being a top three player at his position (Catcher) to Casey Kotchman, high average, not enough power guy, at his new position (1B). But does that matter if Victor is back to his pre-injury form as the most clutch hitter the Indians have? A guy who will hit over .300 and drive in 100 runs?

Just some thoughts...The beauty of this is that Kelly Shoppach is forcing his way onto the field with his play. Something Mark Shapiro and his crew only wished they could see from guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Andy Marte, Ryan Garko, and Franklin Gutierrez this season.

The Rest of it....

Here is the rest of our appearance on More Sports and Les Levine...Sorry for the ghetto production.







Friday, August 1, 2008

Here is Part One

You will have to pardon the video/audio on these clips. I know it's kinda g-h-e-t-t-o. But the people at the production compnay were no help and I had to fend for myself. So this is the best I could do. Fast forward about 40 seconds to start. Enjoy part 1:


Just a Taste

For some reason, I still haven't been able to get get my hands completely on the segments in file form to put them up on youtube. The only thing I have is two large files (which cannot be condensed, or at least I haven't figured out how to do so), and the last 2 minutes of the show, which I put up. I'm hoping to get the rest today, but here is a little snippet of the show from Wednesday night with yours truly and Paul Cousineau from The Diatribe.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marte Sux, TD Does Not

I think I have seen enough of Andy Marte and I want to see more of TD. In case you missed yesterday's installment of "More Sports and Les Levine", the blog's own T did an amazing job filling in on the show as the host and talking Tribe. TD was comfortable and conversational and he and The Diatribe's Paul Cousineau did an excellent show. Too bad the Tribe could not celebrate the program by getting us a win. The 140 million dollar payrolled Tigers survive 13 innings to outlast the RWAB 14-12. Two teams with disgusting bullpens, one team with a disgusting third baseman. I've seen enough of Andy Marte. He cannot perform at this level. Period. End of story.

Marte is definitely good enough to be playing everyday in Buffalo and that is where he should be. Last night in the bottom of the 12th and a 1-0 count with the bases loaded and the infield mostly-in, Marte takes a 1-0 meatball against the great Casey Fossum and ground weakly to SS for an inning ending double-play. Nice Andy. All he had to do was a drive a ball to the outfield OR take a damn strike and work the count against a guy that had just walked two that inning. But he didn't and you want to know why? Because he is Andy Marte. He is not good enough. He wilts under pressure and he has 6 RBI in 118 at-bats. SIX!!!!

The decision should already be in. Next season the team needs to either move Jhonny Peralta or Josh Barfield to third base or they see what Wes Hodges can do and let him have some growing pains. Marte? Ship him to JP Richardi or some other sucker. Andy can be their problem.

EDIT FROM T - Thanks for the kind words from King Diesel. Ater last night's show, they handed me a DVD copy, but it wasn't in chapters, therefore I couldn't get the show up on youtube as their allow on 10 minute videos. The file format cannot be mainpulated by Windows Movie Maker, so I have put out the feelers to the people at Time Warner to email me the files in segments. I should be getting them early evening and the show will be posted as soon as I get the files.

In the meantime - Kelly Shoppach is a friggin beast. Ties the MLB record for most extr-base hits in a single game with five. Hits two jacks including that bomb to tie the game in the ninth off of Fernando Rodney. That bat flip on the Todd Jones Pizza was EPIC. Almost as epic as the fact that those pussy-cats from the D didn't throw the next pitch at Shop's head.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Watch Us Tonight

Just a reminder - tonight yours truly is hosting More Sports and Les Levine with the great Paul Cousineau of The Diatribe as my guest. We will be breaking down the Tribe, the trade deadline, blogging, and whatever else pops up. Channel 23 on Time Warner Cable.

I've been told it will be available on youtube tomorrow and we will post the embedded links on here as soon as we can.

Wish us luck....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bye Bye Birdie???

I was down at the Jake last night, and I have to say, my respect level for the Paul Byrd reached an all time high. When he left with two outs in the 8th, I was one of the 24,000 strong giving him a well deserved standing ovation. In what could have been his final start as a member of Wahoo Nation, the Byrd Man was brilliant, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the team with the second largest payroll in the game. The 5-0 win on a gorgeous night in C-Town was a ray of light in a season of clouds and rain.

Byrd did what he usually does, pound the strike zone. But since he tinkered with his windup three starts ago, he is 2-0, allowing just four earned runs in 19 innings and hasn't give up a home run, something he hadn't been able to avoid. He had allowed 11 in his previous seven starts.

Here is the bottom line, now is the time to say goodbye to the Byrd Man. His market value will not get any higher than it is right now. He seems to have righted himself and a pitching-starved contender like the Phillies, or maybe the Diamondbacks who are watching Micah Owings get lit up light a Christmas tree each outing could use a crafty, playoff tested pitcher like Byrd. Lets not forget that while C.C. and Fausto floundered against the Red Sox in the ALCS, Pauly won his start in a pivotal game four. Remember who started, and won the clincher against the Yankees in the Bronx? Paul Byrd. In 2005, he made three postseason starts for the Angels and in 2004 he made two for the Braves.

Even a mid-level prospect for Byrd would be a wise investment. It would clear some money and you never know with a prospect. Had any of you honestly heard of Coco Crisp when the Indians got him from the Cardinals for Chuck Finley? Losing Byrd would mean Aaron Laffey would step back into the rotation, no real loss there. Yes, Laffey has been struggling, but he is the future. Let him work it out with Carl Willis up here. He has been humbled with the recent demotion.

It's a no-brainer.

Reminder...tomorrow night at 6 PM on channel 23 Time Warner on the East Side and channel 17 on the west side, yours truly and Paul Cousineau from the Diatribe will be on More Sports and Les Levine.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stealing...As if Our Name Was Kenny Lofton

Fellow Friends of the Feather were abuzz over our controversial statement comparing that the day Casey Blake was dealt to the birth of my son. People, please. It's called exaggeration for effect. Yes, we have been Casey's biggest critic for years and we were glad to see him go, but he was a good solider here during his tenure and will be missed...Just not by us.

Keith Law of ESPN.com made it sound as though the Tribe made off with quite the haul for Fakey Fake in snagging Catcher Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan: In total, it's a great return for Blake, who at most would have fetched two draft picks this offseason, and could have fetched just one, with the players selected with those picks much further from major league value than Santana and Meloan. When you consider that Cleveland signed Blake as a minor-league free agent on a one-year deal in 2003, received almost five years of big-league production and flipped him for two prospects, the ROI on the original deal must be off the charts.

More good news per Law regarding Meloan: Long term, he should be an above-average short reliever, maybe even an unconventional closer because he can miss so many bats in spite of the average velocity.

The same day Fake was dumped, another Tribe deal flew under the radar. GM Mark Shapiro acquired former pitching phenom Anthony Reyes from the St. Louis Cardinals from Minor League reliever Luis Perdomo. Local and national experts think this was a very smart move by Shappy. Don't forget that as recently as two years ago, Reyes was the #1 pitching prospect in the Cardinals system, who started Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. One of our compadres over at The Cleveland Fan, Tony Lastoria (who also runs a terrific Indians Minor League Blog) has some solid insight:

This could be one of those trades where the Indians are banking on a change of scenery helping Reyes. We all know what that did for Brandon Phillips when they traded him to Cincinnati, or for Jeremy Guthrie when he moved on to Baltimore, so there is obvious hope here the Indians are able to have some luck go their way for once. Plus, the Indians have had a lot of success recently with sinker-ballers like Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, and Aaron Laffey, so it is possible some of that success could rub off on Reyes.

With Reyes, the Indians also acquired a player who should be under their control for at least another four years. Let's face it, the upper levels of the Indians system lacked anything that they could really rely on to help their starting pitching needs in the short term, specifically in 2009. Left-hander David Huff is the only pitcher who appears ready to help the team next year, and if right-hander Adam Miller can remain healthy or is not moved to the bullpen he is the only other option. Others like left-hander Scott Lewis, right-hander Frank Herrmann, right-hander Kevin Dixon, and left-hander Ryan Edell are all good depth options, but none of these pitches are ready to impact the Indians and become stalwarts in the rotation anytime soon, if ever.

On top of that, left-handers Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey have struggled this year. This is clearly an attempt to fill a starting pitching need next year and potentially beyond with a young pitcher who has loads of talent that has only been shown in spurts at the major league level. With how expensive pitching is in free agency - average pitching at that - taking a gamble on a guy like Reyes may not only be a gamble that pays off from a performance perspective, but from a cost-efficiency perspective as well.


As for losing a top guy relief prospect like Perdomo, Lastoria brings in the Blake trade, pointing out that when it comes being major-league ready, Meloan fills the loss of Perdomo in the Reyes trade, and is actually a much better relief prospect than Perdomo.

If you want a long, brilliantly written break-down of both trades, check out our friends at The Diatribe. A great take from their piece:

The real winner in the Blake deal, in the short term at least, is Andy Marte as NO even somewhat legitimate reason exists for him not to be in the everyday lineup. Unfortunately, with the number of games remaining being such a small percentage of the season, I’m not sure how much we’re going to learn about Marte or what numbers he would have to put up to stake a claim on 3B for himself.

If he goes out there and struggles, there’s no way they go into 2009 with him as the everyday 3B…because they could have done that back in May or June without much of a problem. If he thrives down the stretch (and by that I mean he would just have to crush everything to get back into good graces), I think he’d be an option at 3B for 2009 with no guarantee that his name would be written in permanent ink on a 2009 lineup card.

To a lesser degree, this trade benefits Ryan Garko as Gark has the opportunity now to salvage what looks like a lost season for him. His situation is different than Marte’s because of the body of work that he has already established in MLB (Garko has 979 MLB AB to Marte’s 378) and the fact that he has achieved some modicum of success prior to 2008 means that a solid final two months of the season could put Garko right back into the mix for 1B for 2009, whereas that ship may have already sailed for Marte. Of course, if Garko doesn’t turn it around to close out 2009, he could just be greasing his way out of the regular 1B spot for the coming years.

Both players will be given the opportunity to force their way into the plans for 2009 and beyond with Blake not taking AB away from anyone…that is, unless Michael Aubrey or Victor come to play some 1B or the Indians decide to see if Peralta can play 3B now instead of waiting for Winter Ball for a verdict.

Speaking of which, your pal T will be guest-hosting "More Sports and Les Levine" on Time Warner Cable (channel 23 on the East side, trying to find the channel for Akron/Canton and The West Side). Our guest will be Paul Cousineau, the man behind The Diatribe. King Diesel will also be making a phoned-in appearance to talk RWB baseball.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

CASEY BLAKE....DUMPED!!!!!

Top three days of my life:

1. February 28, 2007 - the day my son was born

2. April 6, 2008 - the day Kansas won the national championship getting me my first ring

3. July 26, 2008 - THE DAY CASEY BLAKE WAS TRADED!!!

The man I have hated and bashed for the last five years has finally been taken off our our hands. On ESPN.com right now, is this article: Dodgers send a pair of prospects to Indians for Blake. Seriously, I feel some movement in my shorts. The Tribe is getting A ball catcher Carlos Santana and AAA pitcher Jon Meloan. Meloan is a throw-in. Santana is hitting .323 with 14 home runs. He essentially replaces what Max Ramirez was in the organization, after he was dealt at the deadline last year for Kenny Lofton.

The Tribe could have received a pair of tube socks for Fake and I'd have been this giddy.

And so it ends, the Casey Blake era. Five years of this guy has been way more than enough. I have to give him credit though; this season he has been very solid at the plate and in the field. He has turned himself into a very hot commodity because of his versatility and likable personality. Nobody has anything bad to say about him as a teammate and person. Look at the stroke job by Dodgers GM Ned Colletti:

"Casey Blake is a gamer. His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season."

I just can't believe my dream has become a reality. Truth is, I will miss having him as a whipping boy. It doesn't matter what he has done this year, when the team is in the tank and there is no pressure. I can never forgive him for his awful first pitch 5-4-3 double play in the 7th inning of game seven in Boston, followed by his brutal error which started the opening of the flood gates which led to the loss.

But today is not a day to look back. Its a day to look ahead to brighter days filled without #1 in Red, White, and Blue. To quote Bill Ray Valentine in Trading Places "What a happy day! What a happy day!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

14-2 For Cliff? Perez as a Closer?

What bizarro universe do we live in where Cliff Lee can go from a clubhouse cancer who gets sent to the minors one year, then goes 14-2 and is the all star game starting pitcher the next? Lee was dominant again in the 5-4 win, but it was almost blown by current and soon to be former Closer Masa Kobayashi.

Cliff's line: eight innings, two runs, six hits, and 10 K's.

Masa's line: ZERO innings, two runs, three hits.

Raffy Perez had to save the day and was magnificent. With the tying run at second and nobody out, he retired Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris, and Nick Punto in succession to get his first save of the year. Will he get the next shot at attempting to be the Tribe Closer?

I was in the car during the beginning of the 9th and Tom Hamilton was classic. He sounded so bitter after Morneau took Masa deep. Here was his quote "you can bet the first thing the Indians will do this offseason is shop for a closer." It was vintage Hammy. Sometimes I think he wants it more than the players do.

As for Masa. His stuff was flat tonight. That happens way too often for someone counted on to finish games. I've said it many times, give me a flame-thrower at the back end of my bullpen. We haven't seen anything but soft-tossers since Jose Mesa, aka the Devil.

Meanwhile, watching Tigers closer Todd Jones give up a two out, two run pizza in the ninth to Jermaine Dye to blow a huge game against the division leading White Sox was just as enjoyable as watching Perez's magic act. Somewhere in Vegas, King Diesel was smiling. Nobody despises the Tigers more.