Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've been asked to pen something, since once I've gone into blogging retirement, my beloved Cleveland Indians have started the season in the tank. Ready for some of my Tribe rantings a mere 15 games into the season?I know, we are just 5-10 and it's early, but don't fool yourselves Tribe fans, it's danger time.

1. C.C. Sabathia - what has happened to you? Since the playoffs started last year, C.C. has turned into mush. He has zero command. All season long in 07 he had pinpoint control, now he is a walk machine. One or two bad starts in a stumble, four or five bad starts is a trend, but what is nine considered? C.C. is on my fantasy team as well, so not only is he killing my favorite team, his is killing my WHIP and ERA as well. Not cool fat man. He will be benched starting next week. Seriously though, if C.C. doesn't right himself, the season will be sunk and he'll be dealt this summer for prospects.

2. The Left-Field Platoon - I don't care how David Dellucci is starting to swing the bat and what Eric Wedge tells me, this DD/Jason Michaels platoon needs to be blown up immediately if not sooner. Seriously. These two scrub dogs are 4th and 5th outfielders tops. This is a power position, yet we get no power out of it. You've got Ben Francisco who is in Buffalo for the third straight year who is a batting champion. He has speed and can play all three OF positions, yet his path is being blocked be these two jamokes? They are hitting a combined .177 with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Like KC Armstrong once said....Nice!

3. The Bullpen - I don't even know where to start. Do you blame Mark Shapiro for picking up the $4 million option on Joe Borowski and not even considering the fact that this guy caught lightning in a bottle last year with 45 saves. Did we really think that would happen again? What about the fact that bullpen coach Luis Isaac allowing a guy topping out at 82 mph trot out of the bullpen twice in a week and watch him blow games against Boston and Anaheim? Even Tribe radio men Tom Hamilton and Mike Hegan picked it up right away saying "something is clearly wrong with him."

Or do we talk about the fact that the magic of the '07 pen already looks like it won't repeat itself. Jensen Lewis' velocity is down. Rafael Perez has looked like the guy we saw in the Red Sox series so far, not the guy we saw in the '07 regular season. Rafael "The Realtor" Betancourt, the new closer, has already given up two HR's this season in seven IP, last year in over 80 IP he gave up just three. I'm not worried about him. He'll be fine.

What about Wedge going to Jorge Julio with a 2-1 lead in the 7th Tuesday night over Masa Kobayashi, Lewis, or Perez? He walked the first two batters he faced. There is a reason he was available on a minor league deal. This was as important as an April game could be, yet it was Jorge Julio out there? That was a headscratcher to say the least. So Borowski is on the DL, Tom "Nasty" is back, Craig Breslow has looked halfway decent as this year's Aaron Fultz/Scott Stewart/Jim Poole/Al Morman/Cameron Cairncross/Tom Martin/Carl Sadler 2nd lefty.

Do I think the pen will be fine? Yes, I do, but if you think we are going to get dominance we saw last year, you are fooling yourself. The Tribe pen has already blown three games in the 9th inning. Not good.

4. Casey Blake - How many more years can I take of this garbage? Take away his bases clearing double on opening day (the hit of the day, I admit) and the man I call "Fake" is hitting a robust .121 with 3 RBI. THE GUY IS YOUR EVERYDAY THIRD BASEMAN!!!! Like Left Field, Third Base is a power position, yet the Indians are getting NOTHING from the spot. At least Fake plays decent defense. Actually, we shouldn't really blame Fake, he is what he is and if Andy Marte wasn't such a bust, we wouldn't be in this position - year six of the Casey Blake era. Don't discount the organizational hole at third base. Wes Hodges is the closest thing to a hot prospect at 3B in the system, and he is in his first year in AA Akron. The only saving grace is that Fake is a free agent next year and hopefully will be long gone.

5. The Approach at the Plate - These last two nights have been brutal to watch. Where is the patient Tribe approach that Wedge preaches? These guys, one after another, seem to be hacking away at first pitches. From Grady all the way down to Fake, these guys look lost at the plate, save for the God that is Victor Martinez. The bottom of the order is a black hole. Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .182, Asdrubal Cabrera .173, and Fake .146. That ain't gettin' it done. Not like the Tribe bench has a ton of reserves that can help. Jamey Carroll? Andy Marte? J-Mike? Not exactly what the Red Sox have coming off the bench with guys like Sean Casey, Alex Cora, and Coco Crisp. The bottom line is that the starters better start hitting the ball.

6. We Need Another Bat - Do I sound like a broken record? I hear Trot Nixon is looking for work. Hahahahaha.

7. The Chicken Fingers Platter at The Jake (I refuse to call it Progressive Field) is an A-Plus this year. Also, love that the new cups are made from Corn. Tribe goes Green. Classic Dolan.

That felt good. Now it's only April 17th, but somebody needs to wake this team up. Lord knows Eric Wedge isn't breaking away from his "one game at a time, grind it out" approach. Nor should he.

No comments: