Thursday, July 17, 2008

DCB Second Half Thoughts

As we all know by now, the Indians are sellers in the trade market (which by the way ends two weeks from today) and for all intents and purposes are out of contention in the AL Central. Or are they? Let's not get too excited. A four game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays has Eric Wedge's Grinders thinking positively heading into the second half of this disastrous 2008 campaign.

There have been some interesting Tribe takes in the past few days. The PD's Paul Hoynes gave his 10 suggestions to help repair this season. Captain obvious listed this one which we have been saying all year:

4. Make a decision: The Indians had an entire first half to find out if Andy Marte could play and wasted it. After trading Sabathia and retiring as a contender, Marte finally started to get some playing time at third base, but only because Ryan Garko was so far in that tank that Wedge was forced to move Casey Blake to first base.

What took so long?

It's time to play Marte and see what he can do. If he doesn't do it in the second half, then the Indians can part company with him and have a clear conscience.

The great Terry Pluto brilliantly broke down exactly how it all went wrong for the 08 Tribe. More of my favorite subjects came in this column. Including this nugget:

.000: That's Dave Dellucci (0-of-10) vs. lefties. For his career, it's .204. Since coming to the Indians, he is a .230 hitter with 12 HR, 50 RBI in 399 at bats. He has a horrible arm in left field and is 34 years old. Why is he playing when the Indians have young outfielders such as Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco and Gutierrez during this lost season? And to think they have Dellucci under control through 2009.

The best sports blog in the business, The Big Lead, gave their second half American League predictions yesterday and said:

*The Indians finish less than six games out in the Central, prompting many to wonder what might have been with Sabathia.

CBS Sportsline's lead Baseball writer Scott Miller wrote about each team and gave his Midseason Report Card. The Tribe received a"D."

The combination of disappointing seasons and injuries to core players doomed the Indians early. In hindsight, it has been downhill since the discovery of Paul Byrd purchasing Human Growth Hormone before game 7 of the ALCS last October. Nothing has gone well since.

We found another interesting bunch of takes from the Columbus Post Dispatch's Rob Oller, who says the Indians should tinker, what do they have to lose? In addition to the usual "give Marte a full time shot at third" and "move Grady Sizemore down to third in the lineup," this take is right on target:

Move sure-handed Astrubal Cabrera from second base to shortstop. Jhonny Peralta's recent improvement at the plate makes him a nice trade option; maybe the Tribe could find itself a reliable closer?

Yes, the first half was a nightmare. Yes, they are out of it. But that only means Shappy and his boys have ample time to evaluate. This is the last chance for guys like Franklin Gutierrez and Ryan Garko. Here is what I would do:

1. First things first - DUMP CASEY BLAKE. His value will never be higher than it is now. He's been a good solider and deserves to be dealt to a contender to be a jack of all trades guy.

2. With Peralta heating up, he should spend time at DH for now (see #3).

3. Bring up AC and play him at SS. Let Marte play 3B every day, giving him enough rope to hang himself. Once they see (which we all know already) that he isn't an everyday major leaguer, you start the transition of Peralta at 3B.

4. While this is going on, Garko mans 1B and given a shot to show more pop. You've got guys like Aubrey, Jordan Brown, Stephen Head, and Matt Laporta all waiting to take their shots at 1B. If he fails, you've got plenty of other options next Spring. Turning Victor Martinez into the regular 1B next year isn't that far out of the question. Kelly Shoppach has shown he can handle being the everyday starter behind the dish.

5. Designate David Dellucci for assignment. Why is he still here getting at bats? These AB"s should be spilt between the three young OF's - Gutierrez, Shin-Soo Choo, and Ben Francisco. The corner OF spots should be rotated between the three, with Francisco getting preferential treatment.

6. See if Masa Kobayashi can be the full time closer. If it fails, so be it. Move on to the next guy, Rafael Perez.

7. Find someone, anyone, who can pitch in the 7th and 8th innings not named Perez. I figured it would be Jensen Lewis, but he can't seem to regain last year's form. Eddie Mujica has been decent of late, but I'm still not sold. Who knows what is wrong with Rafael Betancourt. I'd like to see Jeff Stevens or Randy Newsom up here at some point, though Stevens has been named to the Olympic team.

and that is that.....

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